A Justice Department official denied in a federal court filing last month that undercover officer George Joannides received a CIA medal for deceptive actions related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 49 years ago but the claim cannot be verified.
“The CIA has consistently challenged the notion that a career award could be seen as explicit or tacit approval of any one assignment in Joannides’s 30-year career,” asserted Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, in a brief filed on Nov. 21 in the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Machen’s brief is the government’s latest legal salvo in my decade-old (today) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit over JFK assassination records. At issue are ancient but still-sensitive U.S. government documents related to the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
In recent years, the CIA has grudgingly acknowledged that Joannides served as the Miami-based handler of a Cuban exile group whose members who had a series of encounters with accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald three months before JFK was killed.
The agency also acknowledges that Joannides served as the CIA’s principal coordinator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978 but did not disclose his role in the events of 1963 to investigators.
“That concealment has fueled suspicion that Mr. Joannides’s real assignment was to limit what the House committee could learn about C.I.A. activities,” wrote reporter Scott Shane of the New York Times in 2009. …
The scandal started quietly last week when Sen. Mark Udall wrote a letter to President Obama, alleging that the CIA had taken “unprecedented action” against investigators who wrote the Senate Intelligence Committee’s still-classified report on the U.S. torture program.
A faithful reader writes:
“A select congressional committee launched a vast investigation into issues of historic importance and constitutional scope. The committee necessarily relied on the CIA for crucial information. The committee published a massively documented report. The report is, in part, was critical of the performance of the agency. Subsequently, the committee learned that it had become the target of an intelligence operation by the agency during its investigation.”
“So the burgeoning scandal of the CIA’s operation against the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI )i is beginning to unfold.