A former Washington Post Reporter who is suing the CIA to release data relating to the assassination of President Kennedy has taken court action to recover legal fees.
Lawyers for Jefferson Morley told the the appeals court in Washington that his bills have climbed to more than $500,000.
Morley is trying to force the government to pay his legal fees and to get the CIA to reveal files relating deceased CIA agent George Joannides. He has accused the agency of dragging its feet over the release.
Jefferson Morley (left) has fought a long running campaign to get the CIA to reveal details relating to deceased CIA agent George Joannides (right)
President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in November 1963
Lee Harvey Oswald was a former Marine and Marxist who according to four federal investigations and one municipal investigation was responsible for assassinating the President
Morley believes Joannides may have had contact with suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the shooting and later when he served as the CIA’s liaison officer for a JFK assassination investigation in the 1970s.
President Trump in October ordered the remaining files on the assassination to released. Some 2,800 files were released at the time but the President announced 300 were being held back at the request of the FBI and CIA so they could be redacted further.
Mr Trump initially suggested the process would take six months but after talks with Chief of Staff John Kelly and the security services it was agreed the release should be sped up.
President Trump last October ordered the release of thousands of files relating to JFK’s murder
However Morley argues that hardly any information relating to Joannides has been released – and that that until it is the full truth relating to the assassination will never be known.
In 1963, the year Kennedy was murdered, Joannides was the CIA case officer over students from Cuba eager to oust dictator Fidel Castro, who had seized power in 1959. In 1978, Joannides was named by the CIA as its contact with the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
The committee wanted to know more about the student group, which was called the DRE and code-named AMSPEL, usatoday.com reported.
It was part of the CIA efforts to undermine Castro. A separate CIA operation aimed to assassinate Castro, using the Mafia and assets within Cuba.
George Joannides, middle, being presented with an award in 1981 for 28 years of service, flanked by his wife and U.S. Navy Adm. B.R. Inman, director of the CIA
‘Oswald had a bizarre interaction with a DRE member in New Orleans the summer leading up to Kennedy’s Nov. 22 murder, in Dallas — to which Oswald moved from New Orleans. And just after the assassination, the DRE publicized that encounter with Oswald, and Oswald’s avowed support of Castro,’ usatoday reported.
‘Committee staffers wanted to know more about Oswald and the DRE, but they were stymied by Joannides and the CIA, who did not tell the committee that the agent handled the DRE in 1963 was … Joannides himself.
Morley’s attorney, James Lesar said the CIA was trying ‘to chill further efforts to open more records by making the plaintiffs pay for the litigation even when there’s a public benefit’.
But so far U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has disagreed with his argument, ruling there is no public benefit in records relating to Joannides, who died in 1990. Other appeals court proceedings have sent the issue back to Leon to address finer legal points.
Monday’s appeals court appearance is the fifth time Morley’s case has been presented, Lesar said.
A ruling from the panel of three circuit judges could come anywhere from a month to one and a half years, Lesar said.
Most of the fees come from the years-long fight over who should pay, Lesar said.
Morley’s lawsuit began nearly 15 years ago, after the CIA refused to produce any records it had on Joannides that the National Archives didn’t already have.
Five years after that 2003 filing, Morley won a small vicotry. The CIA produced records showing among other things that Joannides had a residence available to him in New Orleans possibly around the time Oswald had a very public altercation there with a member of the student group.
Morley has emphasized that he believes that documents which remain unreleased will not reveal any big conspiracy, but it may prove that the CIA did know of Oswald before the shooting.
That would contradict the first investigation’s findings that Kennedy’s assassination was carried out by a lone-ranger, a completely random act that couldn’t have been prevented.
Morley believes that Oswald may have been in contact with Joannides due to his noted involvement in the pro-Castro organization.