In 2003 journalist Jefferson Morley sued the Central Intelligence Agency. He sought public release of the files of a deceased undercover officer who was involved in the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In Morley v. CIA: My Unfinished JFK Investigation, Morley tells the story of the epic 16-year long legal saga that followed.
With mordant humor and keen insight, Morley recounts how he and attorney Jim Lesar, a veteran litigator specializing in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), did battle with teams of high-powered Justice Department lawyers in federal court — and scored repeated victories. Yet success led them to a final fatal showdown with D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Morley’s unprecedented lawsuit sought the files of George Joannides, a decorated career CIA officer, who ran psychological warfare operations out of Miami and New Orleans in 1963. Morley’s on-the-record interviews revealed the CIA man had funded an anti-Castro Cuban student group that publicized the pro-Cuba politics of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who would be accused of killing JFK on November 22, 1963.
Morley v. CIA not only confirmed the agency’s financial support for Oswald’s Cuban antagonists in 1963. It also revealed a deeper and more disturbing story — how Joannides and the CIA shaped first-day coverage of Kennedy’s assassination via a psychological warfare project known by the code name of AMSPELL. In short, Joannides had used his student agents to link Oswald to Castro’s Cuba, while concealing the hidden hand of the Agency. As Morley uncovered in his lawsuit, the CIA later honored Joannides with its Career Intelligence Medal.
The story reached a climax in a March 2018 hearing in the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. After four victories in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Morley and Lesar came face to face with Judge (now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Kavanaugh and two other federal appellate judges to argue that the CIA should be held accountable for withholding JFK documents under the FOIA. The resulting decision exposed how the federal courts sanction JFK secrecy more than a half-century after the tragedy of Dallas.
While the progress of Morley’s investigation was ultimately thwarted, Morley discovered where the rest of the story can be found: in the archives of CIA operations in Miami. In short, Morley v. CIA: My Unfinished JFK Investigation offers realistic hope for people who want the whole truth about the JFK story.
- Author: Jefferson Morley
- Publisher: The Future of Freedom Foundation
- Release Date: 2020