Monday, December 8, 2008

NSA Calls for FOIA Reform; CIA Blocks Crucial JFK Docs

Jefferson Morley has an article up at the Washington Monthly asking readers to support the National Security Archive's call for President-elect Barack Obama to "issue a new executive order on FOIA creating a presumption of disclosure and a policy of releasing information without litigation." Sixty organizations have already signed NSA's request, including People for the American Way, Federation of American Scientists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Association of American Publishers.

Morley, a 15-year editor and staff writer at The Washington Post, and now National Editorial Director at the Center for Independent Media, has his own reasons for wanting access to records. He has been at the forefront of an effort to get the CIA to release records related to the assassination of John Kennedy. In particular, he and others want to see the "17 monthly reports that [George] Joannides was supposed to file about his secret operations in 1962-64," when he was "chief of the agency’s so-called 'psychological warfare' operations [which] aimed to bring about Castro’s overthrow."

The campaign to get the CIA to release the records, which according to the JFK Records Act should have been declassified, has been supported by both pro-conspiracy and pro-Warren Commission experts on the assassination, including Anthony Summers; Gerald Posner; Don DeLillo; the late Norman Mailer; Federal judge John Tunheim, who formerly chaired the Assassination Records Review Board; and former chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, G. Robert Blakey.

According to an article by Morley at Salon.com a few years back:
According to declassified CIA records corroborated by interviews, Joannides secretly financed exiled Cuban agents who collected intelligence on Lee Harvey Oswald three months before Kennedy was killed. Fifteen years later, Joannides was called out of retirement by the CIA to serve as the agency's liaison to the House committee looking into Kennedy's assassination. While working with the committee, the spy withheld information about his own actions in 1963 from the congressional investigators he was supposed to be assisting. It wasn't until 2001, 38 years after Kennedy's death, that Joannides' support for the Cuban exiles, who clashed with Oswald and monitored him, came to light.

"[Joannides'] behavior was criminal," said Blakey, the former House committee counsel who was deceived by the CIA agent. "He obstructed our investigation."

"The agency is stonewalling," said Posner, whose bestselling book supported the Warren Commission's finding that Oswald, alone and unaided, killed Kennedy. "It's a perfect example of why the public has so little trust in the CIA's willingness to be truthful."
Joannides died in 1990, nine years after receiving the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal for "exceptional achievement." His story is little known, and neither is the suit against the CIA for the records. Meanwhile, it's been a year since an appellate court demanded the CIA explain why it has not produced the records requested. The CIA has responded with arrogant silence. Another ruling on the case is at least a year away.

For many years, any informed speculation or research into the causes and facts behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been relegated to the dustbin of tomfoolery and tinfoil, considered the hobby-horse of conspiracy addicts and general paranoid nut-cases. This unfortunate situation has been furthered by both the population of narcissists and publicity-seekers who irresponsibly spread rumors and legend on the JFK assassination, and by the secrecy that still surrounds important elements of the case. The secrecy serves to undermine serious attempts to get to the truth. This is why Morley's suit against the CIA has been supported by all sides in the assassination "industry."

Anyone who has been knee-jerk resistant to any serious discussion of the JFK assassination has not been following the serious research being done on the case in the last fifteen years or so. One example is the work of a long-time Army intellgence officer and former executive assistant to the director of the National Security Agency (NSA -- yeah, that other NSA), John M. Newman, who wrote Oswald and the CIA, documenting Lee Harvey Oswald's ties to the intelligence community.

Most recently, Morley's book, Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA, received favorable coverage at the well-known conspiracy rag, Harper's. From the Amazon product description:
Morley reveals the previously unknown scope of the agency's interest in Oswald in late 1963, identifying for the first time the code names of Scott's surveillance programs that monitored Oswald's movements. He shows that CIA headquarters cut Scott out of the loop of the agency's latest reporting on Oswald before Kennedy was killed. He documents why Scott came to reject a key finding of the Warren Report on the assassination and how his disillusionment with the agency came to worry his longtime friend James Jesus Angleton, legendary chief of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton not only covered up the agency's interest in Oswald but also, after Scott died, absconded with the only copies of his unpublished memoir.
The JFK assassination may never be "solved" -- indeed, Morley isn't seeking to solve it, he says -- but the truth about the involvement of the CIA, which was covered up at the time, and still to this day, speaks volumes about the real influence of the CIA in our country's affairs, and the price we pay when any governmental agency is able to run a rogue operation, unaccountable to any governmental agency.

In 1976, the New York Times wrote the following on its front page (no link -- I had to purchase the article -- emphasis is added):
Washington, Jan. 25 -- The House Select Committee on Intelligence has concluded following a year-long investigation that the Federal intelligence agencies, as they are currently constituted, operate in such secret ways that they are "beyond the scrutiny" of Congress, according to the panel's final report....

The expenditures of [intelligence] funds, the report said, were largely unchecked by Congress and even by the Office of Management and Budget.
The year was 1976. The House report was written by what is known today as the Pike Committee. It was contemporaneous with the famous Church Report from the Senate. The CIA protested making the Pike report public, and as a result, it was never officially published, or made available by the government. (Maybe someone could get Obama or Pelosi to finally release it!)

Please support the National Security Archive's call for President-elect Obama to make transparency and openness in government a top priority. From their action page:
The Obama administration can act quickly after taking office in January to reverse the secrecy trend of the last eight years and restore openness in the executive branch, according to a set of new proposals posted online... by the National Security Archive. More than 60 organizations joined the recommendations, which call on President-elect Obama to restore efficiency and openness to the Freedom of Information Act process, reform the classification system to reduce overclassification and facilitate greater declassification, and ensure that presidential records are handled in accordance with the law and Congress’ intent.
Also posted at Progressive Historians

1 comment:

Tim Fleming said...

There are reputable sources and stunning photographs which place Joannides in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, on June 5, 1968, the night RFK was murdered there.

Tim Fleming
author,"Murder of an American Nazi"
www.eloquentbooks.com
http://leftlooking.blogspot.com

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