The CIA is fighting to prevent the release of hundreds of documents involving its funding of an anti-Castro group in New Orleans that engaged in well-publicized clashes with Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer of 1963.
The New York Times reported on Friday that the files “involve the curious career of George E. Joannides, the case officer who oversaw the dissident Cubans in 1963. In 1978, the agency made Mr. Joannides the liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations — but never told the committee of his earlier role.”
Joannides was the deputy director for psychological warfare at the CIA’s Miami station, JM/WAVE, which was the center of anti-Castro activities in the early 60’s and served as a spawning ground for figures who would later be involved in covert operations in Vietnam and in Iran-Contra. In 1963, Joannides worked closely with leaders of the the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil and exercised a significant degree of control over the group’s leaders.
Former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley has been engaged since 2001 in a battle to learn move about the dual role placed by Joannides, which has raised suspicions that he was part of a coverup. “I know there’s a story here,” Morley told the Times. “The confirmation is that the C.I.A. treats these documents as extremely sensitive.”
In December 2007, a Court of Appeals panel ordered the CIA to reveal its files on Joannides, and some documents were released last year confirming Joannides’ role in New Orleans. However, the CIA is still withholding or even refusing to confirm the existence of hundreds more.
This past July, Morley wrote, “Last week, I did my part to hold the CIA accountable. I filed my sixth (!) declaration in connection with Morley v. CIA, my ongoing lawsuit against the agency seeking records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. … The Joannides file, say a diverse group of JFK authors, are part of the assassination story and should be made public. For six years, the CIA has refused, alleging their release would harm ‘national security.'”
Morley’s quest has gained prominent supporters, including even anti-conspiracy assassination scholar Gerald Posner, who believes that the CIA’s secretiveness is feeding into conspiracy theories.
G. Robert Blakey, who served as staff director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, told the Times, “If I’d known his role in 1963, I would have put Joannides under oath — he would have been a witness, not a facilitator. … How do we know what he didn’t give us?”