Tag Archive for Richard Leon

Why I’m taking JFK to the Supreme Court

According to an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court filed this week in Washington, the language of the Freedom of Information Act is clear:

The court may assess against the United States reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any case under this section in which the complainant has substantially prevailed.

The Obama Justice Department doesn’t want to admit it but, in Morley v. CIA, yours truly substantially prevailed. Will the Supreme Court be interested?

It’s a long shot, but I try to think like Steph Curry; sometimes a long shot is worth taking.

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The implications of latest Morley v. CIA ruling

The latest Morley decision greatly simplifies the test for determining whether a FOIA plaintiff is entitled to receive attorney fees.


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.

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In praise of Judge Richard Leon

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon,

Judge Richard Leon

A reader responds to my post on the latest developments in Morley v. CIA with these observations::

“Jeff, for what it’s worth, I have appeared before Judge Leon several times. I have found him to be fair, honest and willing to step outside the box in needed. I would not prefer any other judge on that court, except perhaps Ricky Roberts.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals hear oral arguments on Leon’s latest ruling in Morley v. CIA on November 6.
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CIA admits undercover officer lived in New Orleans

George Joannides, chief of CIA covert operations in Miami in 1963, also had a residence in New Orleans, according to the CIA.

In a court motion filed last week, the CIA acknowledged for the first time that deceased CIA officer George Joannides lived in New Orleans while handling contacts with an anti-Castro student organization whose members had a series of encounters with accused presidential assassin Lee Oswald in August 1963.

The unexpected admission came in arguments before a federal court judge about whether the CIA is obliged to pay $295,000 in legal fees incurred during my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning certain 50-year-old JFK assassination records.

In a previous court filing, my attorney Jim Lesar argued that two documents released over CIA objections in 2008 were significant because they showed that Joannides’s espionage assignment took him to New Orleans where Oswald lived.

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What Judge Leon didn’t see

In his July 23 decision that the CIA did not have to pay legal fees in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the records of a deceased CIA officer, Judge Richard Leon stated, correctly that I had argued that “the news media has shown interest in covering the disclosed records but he fails to tie any of the coverage to any of the newly released documents rather than those that were already available to the public.” Read more

Fifty one years later, federal judge upholds the CIA’s right to keep JFK secrets

Ten years ago I filed a lawsuit seeking the records of a deceased CIA officer involved in the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy and its confusing investigatory aftermath. Read more

Support the JFK Facts lawsuit against the CIA

I filed suit for the records of George Joannides ten years ago, and the case is still not over. The legal bills of my attorney Jim Lesar now run to more that $125,000, and the CIA refuses to pay, even though the Court of Appeals ruled in our favor.

No one is doing this kind of work except for JFK Facts. We need your help to continue.

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Glomared again: How the NSA stonewalls on FOIA requests

Emails show that that the NSA is refusing to entertain requests from private citizens about whether the agency stored their metadata, the excellent Jason Leopold reports in The Guardian.

“The emails provide a rare look inside the development of a ‘neither confirm nor deny policy,’ known as a ‘Glomar response,’ and the back-and-forth discussions that took place at the highest levels of the agency,” Leopold writes.

JFK and the ‘Glomar response’

The CIA used the “Glomar response” to fend off my lawsuit for records related to the secret operations run by deceased CIA officer George Joannides in Miami and New Orleans in 1963-64. In court filings, agency officers would neither confirm nor deny that Joannides participated in any particular operation, acknowledging only that he worked undercover in the Miami station in 1962-64.

This form of artful dodgery can make it hard for the U.S. government to keep track of its story.

U.S Attorney Ron Machen neither confirms nor denies.

Last November 11, Ron Machen, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, submitted a sworn statement in federal court asserting that Joannides maintained a residence in New Orleans during his 1963-64 assignment to the Miami station. Referring to a document that the lawsuit forced the CIA to disclose, Machen wrote:  “New Orleans is clearly listed as Joannides’ place of residence when on home leave.”

(You can read Machen’s sworn statement here; see page 14.)

What Machen didn’t know — and what I immediately pointed out in a post for JFK Facts — is that Joannides’s family lived in Miami at the time, raising questions the CIA really, really, really does not want to answer:

Why did Joannides maintain a residence in New Orleans in 1963-64?

Was he running an operation involving pro-Castro activist Lee Harvey Oswald and members of the Cuban Student Directorate, an anti-Castro organization that Joannides funded with CIA money?

Never mind. Three weeks later, in another sworn declaration to Judge Richard Leon, Machen tried to retract his admission that Joannides had lived in New Orleans.

“Morley’s claims of … purported new information that Joannides ‘traveled to’ or ‘lived’ in New Orleans during which time he ‘monitored’ Oswald are false and inaccurate,” he stated in a Dec. 3 court filing (see page 2).

So, if both of Machen’s sworn statements are true, Joannides had a place of residence in New Orleans — yet never traveled or lived there.

How Joannides managed that feat of espionage remains unknown.

Confused? You’ve been Glomared!

By the way, the term “Glomar” refers to the Glomar Explorer, a secret unmanned submarine that the CIA used to try to recover a Soviet submarine that sank in the Pacific Ocean in the 1970s. Not wanting to let the Soviets know about the unique underwater craft, the agency chose to neither confirm nor deny its existence, thus giving birth to the “Glomar response.”

More on Morley v. CIA:

CIA admits undercover officer lived in New Orleans (November 11, 2013)

5 Decades Later, Some JFK Probe FIles Still Sealed (AP, August 18. 2013)

Justice Dept. denies CIA officer was honored for cover-up (JFK Facts, December 17, 2012)

Court upholds public benefit of disclosure about CIA officer in JFK story (JFK Facts, June 19, 2013)

CIA Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery (New York Times, October 17, 2009)

Morley v. CIA: Why I sued the CIA for JFK assassination records (JFK Facts, Feb. 23, 2013)







Judge who curbed the NSA will decide on my JFK records lawsuit

Judge Richard Leon, who yesterday challenged the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, has been hearing my FOIA lawsuit, Morley v. CIA, for the last ten years.

The Times says Judge Leon has a record of wrestling with the government — but not so much when it comes to secrecy claims for ancient JFK assassination records held by the CIA.

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Help wanted: crowdsourcing JFK


I have to prepare a declaration this week for Morley v. CIA — my tedious but necessary lawsuit seeking disclosure of certain CIA records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I’ve written most of the statement but I need to add more facts. Perhaps JFK Facts readers can help. Read more

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