The George Joannides Coverup
by Jefferson Morley
People interested in the JFK story will be interested to know
CIA is due to file papers in court tomorrorow, May 20, to block
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
Psychological Warfare branch of the Agency's JM/WAVE station in Miami.
Among his primary responsibilities were guiding,
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
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
ex-Marine and the anti-Castro exiles. Members of the
Oswald on a street corner. They stared him down in
a courtroom. They
sent a DRE member to Oswald's house posing a Castro
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
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
Miami went public with their documentation of Oswald's pro-Castro ways,
thus shaping early press coverage of the accused assasssin. Joannides
group to take their information to the FBI.
Joannides connection to Oswald's antagonists was not disclosed to the
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
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
unspecified number of records about Joannides actions that it will
IN ANY FORM.
Thus JFK assassination records are kept secret in 2005 in the name
The records that CIA gave me are not reassuring. They show that
Joannides travelled to New Orleans in connection with his CIA duties
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
had a professional obligation to report on the activities of the DRE
August and November 1963, especially as they related to Oswald. The
is legally obliged to make such records public.
Instead, they are stonewalling in court. This is a disappointing, if
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,
have not been released.
Whatever one's interpretation of November 22, 1963, I think we can
agree that these records should be made public immediately.