Top JFK academic criticizes release of more than 13,000 new files that revealed few new details – and claims CIA is still trying to hide their interest in Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination
- Jefferson Morley said the CIA was putting its reputation ahead of transparency
- On Thursday, the National Archives released more than 13,000 JFK files
- Morley said it left out records that might reveal the CIA’s dealings with Oswald
- ‘They’re not ready to talk about their operational interest in Oswald,’ he said
- The CIA said it had released the relevant information with only minor redactions
A leading JFK researcher accused the C.I.A. of not acting in ‘good faith’ and trying to protect its reputation by keeping hundreds of documents secret despite the release of thousands of unredacted files on Thursday.
Jefferson Morley, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation which sued the Biden administration to release all the files, said it left key questions unanswered about the C.I.A.’s dealings with Lee Harvey Oswald before he assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
‘I feel like it’s damage control,’ he said.
‘You know, it’s throwing a few bones and making the appearance of compliance. But it’s not really compliance with the letter and spirit of the law.
‘This charade of continuing non-disclosure in the face of a very clear law, the C.I.A. doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt anymore.’
Critics of the latest release of previously classified JFK documents say they leave out key information about the CIA’s interactions with Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination
Jefferson Morley, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, said the latest release did not include all the information about CIA officer George Joannides and his interactions with Oswald in the months before the assassination – leaving key questions unanswered
He spoke to journalists after the National Archives released 13,173 unredacted documents related to the assassination.
Many had already been released in redacted form, leaving researchers and conspiracy theorists to compare before and after documents to identify the new passages.
‘This significant disclosure reflects my administration’s commitment to transparency and will provide the American public with greater insight and understanding of the government’s investigation into this tragic event in American history,’ said President Joe Biden in an executive order authorizing the release, while keep thousands more documents under wraps.
Among the documents that have not been fully released are dozens relating to a C.I.A. agent George Joannides, who ran a covert operation related to communist Cuba.
Morley believes Joannides and his group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles were in touch with Oswald months before the assassination.
‘What the C.I.A. has hidden since the day of the assassination is its operational interest in Oswald, its sources and methods. And that’s what they’re still hiding today,’ he said.
‘That’s what withholding the Joannides material, tells you: They’re not ready to talk about their operational interest in Oswald at the time of the assassination.’
President John F. Kennedy and the first lady smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated
Oswald, a former Marine, was arrested for the assassination. He was then killed two days later while being transported by police. He was shot by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby
Morley, a former Washington Post reporter, said it left questions hanging about the C.I.A.’s involvement with Oswald.
He asked: ‘Was that an effort to manipulate Oswald as part of a conspiracy to kill the president?
‘Was that a manipulation of Oswald of people who were unaware of the threat that Oswald posed to the president?
‘You know, we don’t have the records so we can’t say for sure.’
He also said there was no reason why a memo from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to Kennedy titled ‘Memo to President C.I.A. Reorganization’ should remain redacted.
It offered piercing criticism of the C.I.A. in the wake of the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba, and was written two years before Kennedy was killed.
Morley said it was released on Thursday with most of the same redactions as before, simply to spare the C.I.A.’s blushes
‘I mean, that’s C.Y.A. and there’s no national security information in there,’ he said, using an acronym for ‘cover your ass’.
‘It is information that is embarrassing to the C.I.A. There’s no other conclusion that you can reach.’
On Thursday, the National Archives released 13,173 previously classified documents in an unredacted form on its website. Hundreds more remain too sensitive to release
Tourists walk around the Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas – the scene of Kennedy’s assassination
Flowers lie on a plaque with a quote from former President John F. Kennedy on the Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, November 23, 2021
The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 ordered that files should be released within 25 years – by 2017. But it also allows for presidents to use their discretion to keep records sealed.
A CIA spokesperson said with Thursday’s release some 95 percent of the files had been published.
‘What little information remains redacted in CIA records in the collection consists of intelligence sources and methods — some from as late as the 1990s, provided initially to give the JFK Review Board overall context on the CIA — the release of which would currently do identifiable harm to intelligence operations,’ they said.
And they said it was false to say that a set of documents related to Joannides had been kept secret.
‘We believe all CIA records substantively related to Joannides were previously released, with only minor redactions, such as CIA employees’ names and locations,’ they said.
But there remain concerns it is still too little too late.
‘We’re 59 years after President John Kennedy was killed and there’s just no justification for this,’ Judge John H. Tunheim, who from 1994-98 chaired the Assassination Records Review Board, told NBC News.
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