Tag: Morley v. CIA

Thanks and a note on the Morley v. CIA road ahead

Thanks all the positivity on the court’s decision.  I think Bill S. has quoted the essence of the decision, which is good news for FOIA requesters everywhere.  What’s gratifying is the court’s rather commensensical affirmation that people who want to know more about the CIA and the events of November 1963 are acting reasonably.

In addition, this court has previously determined that Morley’s request sought information “central” to an intelligence committee’s inquiry into the performance of the CIA and other federal agencies in investigating the assassination. Morley v. CIA, 508 F.3d 1108, 1118 (D.C. Cir. 2007). Under these circumstances, there was at least a modest probability that Morley’s request would generate information relevant to the assassination or later investigations.”

Unfortunately,, the archaic appellate process has delivered us back into the tender mercies of the oft-reversed Judge Leon. We are exploring possible remedies. If you have expertise in federal appellate court procedures, maybe you have some ideas.

I will keep you posted, if you keep posting the story of the court’s decision on your social media.

Morley v. CIA decision

Here is the decision of Judge Stephen Williams in the Morley v CIA lawsuit concerning certain long-suppressed CIA records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

 

Morley 3, CIA 0

A federal appellate court has again rejected the arguments of the Central Intelligence Agency in a long-running lawsuit over ancient but still-sensitive CIA files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Jim Lesar
James Lesar, veteran FOIA litigator, prevailed over the CIA attorneys for a third time.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel in Washington D.C. unanimously denied the CIA’s claim that there is no “public benefit” to the disclosure of long-suppressed records of a deceased CIA officer involved in the events that led to the death of the liberal president on November 22, 1963.

“Where that subject is the Kennedy assassination, an event with few rivals in national trauma and in the array of passionately held conflicting explanationsshowing potential public value is relatively easy,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams.

The records were forced into public view by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that I brought against the CIA in 2003. The records revealed for the first time that the officer received a Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after stonewalling congressional investigators about what he knew of contacts in 1963 between accused assassin Lee Oswald and CIA-funded anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans.

Federal judges to hear arguments about CIA JFK files on November 6

Barrett Prettyman Courthouse
Washington DC courthouse where federal judges will hear oral arguments about the CIA’s JFK records.

Oral arguments in my long-running lawsuit for certain CIA records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be heard in federal court in Washington on Friday, November 6.

At issue: whether the records forced into the public record by Morley v. CIA over CIA objections have had “public benefit.”

The latest legal brief in Morley v. CIA

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)

Here’s the latest legal brief that I have filed in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking long secret CIA records relevant to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The brief, written by my attorney Jim Lesar, challenges the CIA’s contention that the disclosures forced by Morley v. CIA have no “public benefit.” Understandably worried about the agency’s credibility on the JFK story, the CIA’s lawyers are essentially arguing that the lawsuit is frivolous.

The CIA’s problem is that more than 30 news organizations worldwide disagree. New sites ranging  from New York Times to the Dallas Morning News to the Huffington Post to the UK’s Daily Mail covered the lawsuit and the resulting disclosures.

Morley v. CIA: highlights from the decision

Highlights from the opinion of Judge Stephen Williams concerning the FOIA lawsuit for JFK assassination, Morley v. CIA. 

The decision was affirmed by Judges Douglas Ginsburg and Sri Srinvasan.

I’m the plaintiff and I have added my comments:

The Court:

Morley contends that some of the documents turned over—a couple of travel records and a photograph and citation relating to a career medal once received by Joannides—shed some light on President Kennedy’s assassination, but the value of these documents is at best unclear.

Morley:  If the CIA wants to clear up the story of George Joannides’ secret operations in 1963, it is free to do so at any time. I hope they will do so before October 25, 2017 when the JFK Records Act mandates the release of the agency’s still-secret JFK assassination-related records.

The Court:

Morley’s request had potential public value. He has proffered—and the CIA has not disputed—that Joannides served as the CIA case officer for a Cuban group, the DRE, with whose officers Oswald was in contact prior to the assassination.

Morley: No one is much surprised that the CIA sees no “public benefit” in talking publicly about certain covert operations in late 1963. That’s politically understandable in Langley. It is not legally acceptable in the context of JFK, says the court.

Where that subject is the Kennedy assassinationan event with few rivals in national trauma and in the array of passionately held conflicting explanationsshowing potential public value is relatively easy.

Morley: This is not a controversial proposition. Full JFK disclosure has public value. The CIA disagrees but the law and Judge Williams and common sense say otherwise.

 

 

Judge Tunheim on CIA’s ‘inaccurate representations’

There is a body of documents that the CIA is still protecting, which should be released. Relying on inaccurate representations made by the CIA in the mid-1990s, the Review Board decided that records related to a deceased CIA agent named George Joannides were not relevant to the assassination. Subsequent work by researchers, using other records that were released by the board, demonstrates that these records should be made public.

Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Asssasination Records Review Board (ARRB) and Thomas Samoluk, former deputy director of the ARRB.

What’s the status of the lawsuit against the CIA for JFK records?

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon,
Judge Richard Leon

Judge Richard Leon, now famous for ruling that the NSA’s mass surveillance program is probably unconstitutional, is now considering the final issue in the Morley v. CIA: whether the government has to pay my court costs for 10 years of litigation.

A three-judge panel on the DC Court of Appeals ruled last June that Leon had erred in his September 2012 decision that the government did not have to pay court costs. The appellate court remanded the case to Leon and instructed him to apply a four-part test of the “public benefit” of the material released.

Obama’s transparency policy too weak to force disclosure of 1944 document

Eyes wide shut: Obama’s transparency vision

From the NYTimes:

“When President Obama took office in 2009, he promised an ‘unprecedented level of openness in government.’ In a memo issued the day after his inauguration, he wrote, ‘The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.'”

When I first read those words in 2009, I took hope that the new president’s thinking would exercise a positive benefit on my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for the JFK assassination records of deceased CIA officer George Joannides.

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