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May 19, 2005

The George Joannides Coverup
by Jefferson Morley

LHO in New Orleans
People interested in the JFK story will be interested to know that the
CIA is due to file papers in court tomorrorow, May 20, to block release
of certain JFK assassination-related documents.

The records in question concern a deceased CIA officer named George
Joannides. At the time of Kennedy's death, Joannides was the Chief of
Psychological Warfare branch of the Agency's JM/WAVE station in Miami.

Among his primary responsibilities were guiding, monitoring and
financing the Revolutionary Cuban Student Directorate or DRE, one of
the largest and most effective anti-Castro groups in the United States.
CIA records show, and the group's former leaders confirm, that
Joannides provided them with up $18-25,000 per month while insisting
they submit to CIA discipline. Joannides, in his job evaluation of 31
July 1963, was credited with having established control over the group.

Five day later, Lee Harvey Oswald wandered into the DRE's New Orleans
delegation, setting off a string of encounters between the pro-Castro
ex-Marine and the anti-Castro exiles. Members of the DRE confronted
Oswald on a street corner. They stared him down in a courtroom. They
sent a DRE member to Oswald's house posing a Castro supporter. They
challenged him to a debate on the radio. They made a tape of the debate
which was later sent to Joannides. And they issued a press release
calling for a congressional investigation of the thoroughly obscure
Oswald.

This, at a time, when the DRE had been warned to clear its
public statements with the Agency.

What, if anything, Joannides made of the encounters between his assets
in the DRE and the future accused assassin is unknown. Former leaders
of the DRE are divided on the question.

Within an hour of Oswald's arrest on Nov. 22, 1963, the DRE leaders in
Miami went public with their documentation of Oswald's pro-Castro ways,
thus shaping early press coverage of the accused assasssin. Joannides told the
group to take their information to the FBI.

Joannides connection to Oswald's antagonists was not disclosed to the
Warren Commission.

In 1978, Joannides was called out of retirement to serve as CIA liaison
to the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Joanndides did not
disclose his role in the events of 1963 to investigators. HSCA general
counsel Bob Blakey says that Joannides's actions constituted
obstruction of Congress, a felony. Joannides's support for the DRE was
uncovered by the Assassination Records Review Board in 1998. Joannides died in 1991.

I filed suit against the CIA in December 2003 seeking records of Joannides's
activities in 1963 and 1978. In December 2004, the CIA gave
me about 150 pages of heavily redacted and obviously incomplete records
from Joannides's personnel file. The Agency informed me that it retains an
unspecified number of records about Joannides actions that it will not release
IN ANY FORM.

Thus JFK assassination records are kept secret in 2005 in the name of
"national security."

The records that CIA gave me are not reassuring. They show that
Joannides travelled to New Orleans in connection with his CIA duties in
1963-64. They also show that he was cleared for two highly sensitive
operations in December 1962 and June 1963. The nature of these
operations is unknown.

It would be premature and foolish to speculate on what George
Joannnides was doing in New Orleans in 1963. What is certain is that he
had a professional obligation to report on the activities of the DRE in
August and November 1963, especially as they related to Oswald. The CIA
is legally obliged to make such records public.

Instead, they are stonewalling in court. This is a disappointing, if
not disturbing.

I am interested in hearing from JFK researchers willing to publicly
support a call to Congress to enforce the JFK Records Act. I know that
the Joannides records are not the only assassination-related material
that is being illicitly withheld so I am also interested in hearing
from researchers about specific groups of records, known to exist, that
have not been released.

Whatever one's interpretation of November 22, 1963, I think we can all
agree that these records should be made public immediately.

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