A medal for stonewalling: one JFK secret the CIA plans to keep

Joannides medal

Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after misleading House investigators about what he knew about Lee Oswald. (Photo credit: CIA)

One of the most important documents uncovered by my lawsuit Morley v. CIA  is this photograph showing the previously unknown fact that CIA officer George Joannides received a medal after stonewalling JFK investigators about his assassination-related actions in 1963 and 1978.

I’ll talking about this photographs in oral arguments before a federal appellate court in Washington on March 19.

Along with the photo, the CIA was forced to disclose the citation on the Career Intelligence Medal, which commended Joannides for his performance in “diverse assignments of increasing responsibility at Headquarters, the domestic field, and overseas.”

Joannides Medal

(Obtained by Morley v. CIA, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.)


Joannides’ assignment to Miami in 1962-64 was his only assignment in the domestic assignment.  His most significant assignment at CIA headquarters was to serve as liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978.

In short, Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal, at least in part, for his actions as they related to the JFK assassination story.

Here is what is known about what he did.

‘…in the domestic field”

Joannides served undercover in Miami in 1962-64 as the chief of Psychological Warfare operations. His primary responsibility in 1963 was running the AMSPELL program, which funded the anti-Castro Cuban Student Directorate, a popular anti-Castro group.

In the summer of 1963  his agents in the AMSPELL had repeated contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald. They publicized and denounced Oswald’s pro-Castro activities, and even called for a congressional investigation of him. After JFK was killed, the AMSPELL assets publicized these contacts and published the first JFK conspiracy theory, claiming that Oswald and Castro were “the presumed assassins.”

‘..at Headquarters’

In 1978, Joannides failed to tell the House Select Committee on Assassination about his role in running the AMSPELL program, an omission which HSCA counsel Robert Blakey constituted “obstruction of Congress,” a felony.

In a detailed sworn affidavit former HSCA investigator Dan Hardway explained how Joannides obstructed Congress’s investigation in 1978.

What did the CIA find praiseworthy about his performance?

No one outside the CIA is allowed to know because a five-page memo explaining why Joannides was given the medal remains classified “at the CONFIDENTIAL level in the interest of national defense and foreign policy.”

(Incidentally, the facts stated in this post are not disputed, even by die-hard defenders of the official theory of a lone gunman such as  CIA historian David Robarge, CIA-endorsed scholar Max Holland, or dismissed  Marquette University professor John McAdams. )

Stonewalling JFK

(From a CIA court filing in Morley v. CIA)




  1. Bogman says:

    Yeah, nothing to see here.

    And the fact that Helms hired him and had Joannides report directly to him, and then withheld that information from the WC and HSCA and lied under oath about what he knew, is really all the ‘smoking gun’ this case requires.

  2. Randy Saindon says:

    Hello it is clear that CIA is iinvolved and play the game mess up all evidence I believe they dont want bad reputation against them or neither they murder the president for some good reason we might wont find out who did or why but someday we will.

  3. robert e williamson jr says:

    Those at CIA know what will happen if they cooperate as a result they have no other route to take to try and protect, what? A disgraced out dated rogue secret branch of government. The machinations they go through to cover for their lies defies logic something cryastal clear to any credible observer.

    The public benefit lies within the gut of the beast.

    We the public are driven by our patriotism to learn the truth here. What happened and why, not doing so because the agency doesn’t approve is not an option. Congress and DOJ should have forced CIA’s hand long ago their failure to act especially in light of the fact that CIA routinely intervenes in FBI, DEA and congressional investigations in ways that kill or other wise obstruct them. They call it “running out the clock”. I see that the preponderance of evidence is being presented to argue for release of these materials. It is the public’s right to know and they must be given a chance to judge for themselves what is important to know about.

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