TO: Steve Tilley
NO. PAGES 5
COMMENTS: Steve, attached for your info is a 3-pg request from Morley and our response via our office of public affairs
To: Tom Crispell,
From: Jefferson Morley
Cc: Tavid Talbot, Salon.com
Re: George Joannides
I am working on an article for upcoming publication in the online magazine Salon.com about the late George Joannides, the former
employee about whom I have inquired before.
Given the growing public interest in Mr. Joannides, I have four questions:
1) In the
November 24, 2003
issue of Newsweek author Gerald Posner wrote that Agency is “stonewalling” by
not accounting for the actions of Mr. Joannides in 1963 and 1978. My dictionary
defines stonewalling as being “uncooperative, obstructive, or evasive.” Is the
Agency stonewalling by not commenting on Joannide’s role in the Kennedy
2) On the PBS “Frontline” Web site, former House Select Committee on Assassinations general counsel Robert Blakey states that Joannides was a “material witness” to the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. He says that Joannides’s engaged in “willful obstruction of justice” as
liaison to the HSCA in 1978. Do Mr. Blakey’s comments misstate any facts about
Joannides’s service to the Agency?
My story will also quote HSCA chairman Louis Stokes who says Jonnides’s actions in 1978 were “despicable.” Comment?
3) In the
December 18, 2003
issue of the New York Review of Books, Mr. Blakey and bestselling JFK authors
Norman Mailer, Anthony Summers, Don DeLillo and Gerald Posner, as well as eight
other writers, called on the Agency to make public its records on Joannides.
What is the response of the Agency director George Tenent to the New York
Review of Books appeal?
4) In an interview, Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the JFK Assassination Records Review Board, told me that still-secret Agency records on Joannides meet the legal definition of “assassination-related” documents that must be “immediately” released. What is the
CIA General Counsel’s
interpretation of the current applicability of the JFK Records Act to Agency
records on George Joannides in 1963 and 1978?
Thank you for your assistance, Tom. With public interest in the life and death of President Kennedy still running high, I trust that representatives of the Agency will respond forthrightly to such reasonable inquiries.
My deadline is Friday, December 12 at .
Please Pass To Herb Briick
From Tom Crispell
Office of Public Affairs
The following pages are from a fax I just received from Jeff Morley of the Washington Post. He is once again asking about the Joannides case, this time narrowing his questions to the recent claims he, along with Gerald Posner, Bob Blakey, and a couple of others have made.
Any thoughts on how we should respond this time around? The whole Joannides conspiracy theory just doesn’t seem to want to go away and appears to be growing. Morley specifically asks for the
response to the 18 December NY Review of Books letter to the editor (included)
to make all Joannides records available.
Given Morley’s mention of Salon.com, it looks like his Post “Outlook” section piece may have fallen by the side of the road – he certainly didn’t get it into the paper prior to anniversary. Salon.com is well read website and if he publishes there, it will still get a pretty good read by other media outlets which could lead to additional inquiries on this subject. I don’t rule out that his story could still make it into the Post.
Maybe your recent meeting on the subject might provide the basis for some guidance.
Look forward to hearing from you,
Tom, we recommend that you make the following points to Morley:
- Concerning the 1st and 3rd questions, the Agency fully compiled with the requirements of the President John F. Kennedy Records Act of 1992 (JFK Act) and worked closely with the Assassinations Records Review Board to satisfy its request for access to Agency documents and Agency officers. The fruits of those efforts resulted in over 67,000 documents and 200,000 pages being released in full to the National Archives. Those documents are open to the public so that anyone can review them and draw their own conclusions about who killed President Kennedy and the validity of the lack thereof of the multitude of conspiracy theories that have been put out since the assassination. The Board’s report of our collaborative efforts is documented in the “Final Report of the Assassinations Records Review Board.” With specific reference to the
DRE, we refer
you to the Final Report, Chapter 6, paragraph 6. E. 5. That paragraph describes
the Agency’s response to the Board’s quest for additional records on various
anti-Castro Cuban groups, including the DRE.
The Agency provided the Board all records in its files on Mr. Joannides during
the period surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy.
- With respect to the 2nd question regarding Mr. Joannides’ service during the HSCA investigation in 1978, we refer you to the 3 March 1998 ARRB memorandum from Michlle Combs, Special Assistant for Research and Review to the ARRB, in response to the ARRB’s informal request for additional information on Mr. Joannides. The memorandum notes that the Board examined Mr. Joannides’ activities relating to the HSCA in the May 1978-June 1979 period.
- With regard to the 4th question, the Agency made available to the Board all known records in its files on Mr. Joannides. The Agency knows of no additional records which describe the actions of Mr. Joannides during 1963 and 1978. The Board was satisfied and that request was marked as complete.
- The Agency is aware of its continuing responsibilities under the JFK Act. It will fully comply with those requirements both as to documents presently deferred for later release dates and, should any new documents relevant to the assassination turn up that are not to have been within the materials previously released they will be reviewed and released to the National Archives
We trust that the above is responsive to your inquiry.