Withheld in Full: Episode 1 - Morley V. CIA
“Who was Howard?”
17 months of missing progress reports, a mysterious name on cables and correspondence about and between the DRE, a Cuban exile group - who in 1963 had various interactions with Lee Harvey Oswald - sent former Washington Post reporter and editor Jefferson Morley on a decade-long investigative journey to find the answer to that very question...
“Who was Howard?”
First dismissed by the CIA as possibly a mere “routing indicator,” and after the Agency denied any affiliation with the DRE in 1963, “Howard” was revealed to be George Joannides, an experienced career CIA officer known at the time only as a liaison between the CIA and the House Select Committee on Assassinations during their late 1970s investigation into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
Joannides kept his 1963 activities secret from the HSCA, in strict violation of the CIA’s agreement with the HSCA that no operational officer from the time of Kennedy’s murder would work with the HSCA.
Morley’s discovery provided proof that the CIA knowingly and willingly compromised the Committee’s investigation into the murders. This, prompted the HSCA’s Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey in 2003 to denounce his own committee’s findings about any CIA relation to Oswald, and remark that "I now no longer believe anything the Agency told the committee any further than I can obtain substantial corroboration for it from outside the Agency for its veracity."
In 2003, after unsuccessfully attempting to seek interest in his Washington Post colleagues in the Joannides story, Morley and renowned FOIA attorney Jim Lesar sued the CIA for release of the Joannides records. In response, the Agency released approximately 100 pages of documents, including the revelation that, in April and May of 1964, Joannides traveled to New Orleans - coincidentally the same day (April 1) that the Warren Commission notified DRE leader Carlos Bringuier that the Commission wanted his testimony.
The purpose of Joannides’ trip to New Orleans remains a mystery.
In November, 2005, the CIA released a Vaughn Index of all secret Joannides documents in his administrative file, including 33 records that the CIA claims cannot be released in any form. In the index, it was revealed that Joannides received a Career Intelligence Medal in March, 1981 - with the reason for that award being “Denied in Full.”
The next month, in December of 2005, the Agency submitted the declaration of Marilyn Dorn, who justified the CIA’s refusal to search its records on Joannides’ secret activities in 1963, during the time of the DRE’s contact with Oswald. While her declaration reveals the existence of secret operational files on Joannides, it also says that the CIA retains 1,100 JFK assassination records that they plan to keep secret until at least 2017.
Morley responded the same month with a 10-page affidavit challenging the adequacy of the Agency’s search, which was met in September, 2006 with Judge Richard Leon’s decision that upheld the CIA’s position, and dismissed Morley’s case.
In July, 2007, Morley and Lesar appealed Judge Leon’s decision, and in December, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Morley’s favor, overturning Judge Leon’s decision, and ordering the CIA to search its operational files for Joannides records, and explain the absence of monthly reports on the DRE from Joannides’ time with them. On February 27, 2008, CIA lawyers promised the Appeals court a response to their decision by April 30.
For more information, please follow the resource links below, containing Morley's writings on the case, Mary Ferrell Foundation Unredacted interviews, and documents from the Morley V. CIA lawsuit.
Writings of Jefferson Morley
The BBC's Flawed RFK Story, with David Talbot.
Unredacted - Episode 2 - Interview with Jeff Morley & Jim Lesar
Unredacted - Episode 8 - Interview with David Talbot & Jeff Morley
Voices Call for the Release of Joannides Documents
Celebrated Authors Demand CIA Come Clean on Kennedy Assassination on salon.com, 17 Dec 2003.
JFK Scholars call for release of Joannides documents in the New York Review of Books, 18 Dec 2003.
More JFK Scholars call for release of Joannides documents in the New York Review of Books, 11 August 2005.
Five Fitness Reports on George Joannides, 1963, 1964, and 1979.
Jefferson Morley & Jim Lesar's December 2003 complaint against the CIA.
Robert Blakey's June 2005 affidavit to the court describing how Joannides compromised his investigation.
Vaughn Index released by the CIA in November 2005 of all secret Joannides documents in his administrative file, including 33 records that the CIA claim cannot be released in any form.
The CIA's Declaration of Marilyn Dorn, submitted in December 2005, justifying the CIA's refusal to search its records on Joannides' secret activities in 1963.
Morley's December 2005 affidavit challenging the adequacy of the Agency's search.
Judge Richard Leon's September 2006 decision upholding the CIA's position and dismissing Morley's case.
July 2007 appeal prepared by Jim Lesar
Jefferson Morley vs. CIA: Cross-motion for summary judgment - This PDF document on the AARC website is a recent court filing in the lawsuit demanding CIA records on George Joannides. (note: this is a large PDF file, please be patient)