Saturday, January 15, 2022

Morley v. Reynolds

Conspiracy theorist and gadfly Jefferson Morley is at it again.

This time, Morley has taken umbrage with an article by Robert Reynolds that is critical of him and his incessant (and mostly inaccurate) assertions. The purpose of Morley’s rejoinder (originally posted on a private email group) is ostensibly to correct the “facts” that Reynolds was “wrong” about. But in “correcting” Reynolds, Morley is guilty of his own errors and unsupported statements. Some of these he is aware of yet he continues to unabashedly promote these bits of misinformation. Let’s take a look. Morley’s assertions are in blockquotes.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist

Morley seems to take great offense at being called a conspiracy theorist. He suggests that he is a truth seeker who merely wants the JFK files released. Key researchers on the lone assassination side of the argument, such as the late John McAdams, took Morley at his word for years. McAdams signed petitions that Morley and like-minded individuals created that called for a full document release. According to a post on his Usenet group, McAdams made sure that Morley’s book, Our Man in Mexico, found a place in the library of his own Marquette University.

But by around 2010, it became evident that Morley had gone over to the conspiracy side and possibly had been a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” all along.

What is a conspiracy theorist? According to Professor Joseph Uscinski of the University of Miami, an expert on the subject, a conspiracy theory is “an explanation of past, present, or future events or circumstances that cites, as the primary cause, a conspiracy” (Uscinski, Joseph E. Conspiracy Theories, p. 23). Obviously, a conspiracy theorist is an individual who promotes these “explanations.”

According to Ucinski, a conspiracy theory may become fact when the proper epistemological authority (those trained to assess knowledge claims in a relevant area and draw conclusions) deems it to be so. That is exactly what has happened in the JFK case. Two such epistemological authorities, the Warren Commission and the HSCA, said that Oswald fired the shots that killed JFK. But it really goes well beyond that since the Dallas Police, the FBI, the Church Committee, the Rockefeller Commission, the Clark Panel and several distinguished authors and the news media have supported the lone gunman viewpoint.

So, anyone promoting an alternate view of the JFK assassination is promoting a conspiracy theory. Their theories could become fact if they prove them to the satisfaction of most epistemological authorities.

Has Morley promoted conspiracy views? It seems that he has.

In his eBook (p. 58), Morley v. CIA, he says that JFK’s enemies “made Oswald a patsy for their crime.” Obviously, if Morley thinks that Oswald was a “patsy” he believes he was innocent and the Warren Commission explanation is incorrect. Some unknown gunman killed JFK and a conspiracy created the case against Oswald. In fact, one must look no further than Morley’s rejoinder to Reynolds for further evidence of his conspiracy views.

Who was it [the CIA person who Morley thinks had a keen interest in Oswald before the assassination]? All I can say with confidence is that it was someone higher in the food chain than Joannides. Joannides was not a co-conspirator. He looks more like an accessory after the fact.

Again, if Morley thinks Joannides covered up some misdeed for an unnamed CIA official, he believes, by definition, that there was a conspiracy afoot.

So, Morley is a conspiracy theorist. Which is what author Vincent Bugliosi probably suspected circa 2005 when he had a snail mail debate with him. Bugliosi noted:

“… Morley, who tells his readers that “the Joannides’ story doesn’t prove the existence of an assassination conspiracy,” is obviously proceeding under the assumption that the CIA may be hiding something, and the thing it is hiding, just as obviously, is Joannides’s knowledge of the DRE having Kennedy killed, or being complicit with the agency in the assassination. After all, if that’s not what Morley suspects, then why is he taking up space in magazines and newspapers …”

We have such reports from July through November 1962, written by Ross Crozier, a contract agent who worked for senior Cuba operations officer David Phillips who had recruited the Directorate’s leaders off the University of Havana campus.

Morley has gone to great lengths to tie David Phillips to the DRE (and to the assassination through some unnamed scheme) because he is one of Morley’s key suspects along with Joannides and Angleton (and perhaps soon Richard Nixon as Morley has a new book in the works that throws Watergate into the mix). But Phillips’ ties to the anti-Castro student group are very thin. I will have more to say about this in my forthcoming book. But for now, I will say that the only real tie to Phillips is the statements by former DRE members (to Morley) that one or two of them met with Phillips while he was still in Cuba.

But the time Phillips would have had to devote to the students would have been minimal. They were brought to his attention by their demonstration in Havana against USSR cabinet member Anastas Mikoyan in February 1960. But by no later than March 14, Phillips had left the island nation for good. Additionally, Ross Crozier did not work directly for Phillips. Crozier was the first DRE case officer and worked under JMWAVE for William Kent and Ted Shackley. In 1962, Phillips was in Mexico City working for Win Scott and there is no evidence that he attended key meetings on the DRE although he was probably briefed on their progress.

It should be mentioned here that Morley has in the past promoted the canard that Phillips was the first DRE case officer. The "evidence" for this is a statement in a book by Bayard Stockton. But Stockton provides no citation. To his credit, Morley has of late dropped this assertion from his repertoire.

[photo caption] Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after misleading House investigators about what he knew about Lee Oswald.

Morley continues to either imply or state outright that Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal as a reward for “misleading” HSCA investigators. This is simply not true and Morley should stop repeating this canard. Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal which, as the name implies, is for a lifetime of service. The medal citation reads, “in recognition of his exceptional achievement with the Central Intelligence Agency for more than twenty-eight years.”

You [Reynolds] say, in conclusion, “Morley essentially argues that proof of the CIA’s complicity in the assassination resides in the mere fact that some CIA records gathered under the JFK Act are still redacted.” I think you’ve distorted my argument, or maybe I haven’t made myself clear enough.

No, Reynolds has not distorted Morley’s argument at all. Consider these Morley quotes from Twitter that I previously reported on:

The CIA has annulled a law passed unanimously by Congress. It is a proverbial 'smoking gun’ … The CIA's actions are brazen, arrogant, cunning, and desperate … The Agency seeks eternal impunity for the malfeasance of certain CIA personnel in the death of the 35th president … The intentional nullification of the [JFK Records Act] is the Smoking Gun No.1.

And this:

The CIA is still with us, an incipient American Gestapo, still hiding the truth about JFK. The smoking gun is Biden's subservient letter [withholding files] & the taboo JFK files it suppresses.

According to Morley, the mere suppression of the information is a “smoking gun.” That is virtually synonymous with what Reynolds said—"Morley essentially argues that proof of the CIA’s complicity in the assassination resides in the mere fact that some CIA records gathered under the JFK Act are still redacted.”

These facts also defeat Morley’s point to Reynolds that he has “never said, written or believed that I have “proof” of CIA’s complicity.” What else is a “smoking gun” but proof?

Morley’s “evidence” of CIA complicity consists of the following:

–that a small group in the Counterintelligence Staff monitored Oswald’s movements constantly from 1959 to November 1963

That the CIA would monitor the activities of a defector to the Soviet Union during the Cold War is not surprising. There is no evidence that anyone was especially interested in Oswald. Jane Roman (whose interview was used by Morley to promote his theories) of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff said that Morley created a “monstrous mountain out of a mole hill.”

Roman also stated that she had signed off on certain cables as “a matter of routine coordination and review.” Roman noted that the original Post article by Morley was “sensationally misleading” adding “the information in the cable from Mexico Station was disseminated to State, the FBI, INS and Navy.” Roman denied being aware of any agency relationship with Oswald and concluded, “My statements [to Morley and John Newman] have been seriously contorted, taken out of context, or at best, misinterpreted.”

–that Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the doctors who tried to save JFK’s life, said the president’s head wound was caused by a shot from the front

Dr. McClelland made all sorts of statements over the years. But he was involved in a life-saving capacity with the President and was not able to determine where the shots came from. The autopsy did that and it was determined beyond doubt that all shots came from the rear of the President.

–that Dick Helms lied to the Warren Commission in 1964 when he said the CIA had only “minimal” information about Oswald

It depends on what your definition of “minimal” is. But other than the fact that Oswald visited Mexico City, the CIA’s knowledge of the future assassin consisted of only public domain information.

–that Helms’s man in Miami, Joannides, was called out of retirement in 1978 to obstruct the HSCA investigation

The CIA wanted to help the HSCA. They did not (and could not) want to give away all the agency’s secrets—especially about operations that had nothing to do with the JFK killing. Joannides, as an experienced man, was called on to deal with the HSCA investigators.

–that the Agency issued a misleading statements about Joannides to the ARRB in 1998

One possibility that Morley has evidently never considered is that the CIA people who responded to requests for information from both the ARRB and Morley’s attorneys misinterpreted, overlooked or improperly researched the relevant materials. In Morley’s world, the only answer is that they lied or purposely withheld materials.

–that the CIA continues to withhold key JFK documents, including those about Joannides’ sources, methods, and cover, in 2022.

There may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the CIA to do so. Sources and methods are classified.

Next, Morley speaks of “Three Key CIA Documents.”

–A Special Intelligence security clearance that Joannides received in the summer of 1963 while he was handling the AMSPELL program. Special Intelligence means wiretap material, the most sensitive sort of CIA operation. If Joannides was cleared for work in Mexico City or on the FPCC, for example, that would be significant.

Mexico City? I thought Morley’s theory was that Joannides went to New Orleans in the summer of 1963 to do nefarious work with the DRE and Oswald? If Joannides did run an operation designed to embarrass Oswald by having Bringuier debate him it wouldn’t be that surprising. But there is no evidence of that. Bringuier has said that he was an unpaid delegate working out of New Orleans and away from the base of the DRE in Miami. He said he never met Joannides and took the very logical action involving Oswald on his own. For his theories to truly hold traction, Morley will have to prove that Oswald was a secret agent that Joannides somehow turned against JFK. Good luck with that.

–A performance evaluation of Joannides from September 1978 when he was stonewalling the HSCA. What did the CIA say about Joannides’ handling of the JFK investigators?

Morley must be an eternal optimist if he really believes that Joannides’ report will say he did a great job “stonewalling” the HSCA.

— A five-page memo on a medal that Joannides received in 1981 after stonewalling the HSCA. Was Joannides rewarded for deceiving Congress about JFK matters?

As already noted, we know what he received the medal for.

Morley finishes his rejoinder to Reynolds with:

I’ll shut up now.

If that were only true. But his track record indicates otherwise.


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