Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Assassination Odd Fellows School Max Good

We now know that filmmaker Max Good was aware of the opinion of two key JFK assassination figures on the matter of Ruth Paine but chose to ignore their input. The late conspiracy author David Lifton told Good in an interview that Mrs. Paine and her husband Michael were "essentially innocent." Lifton also said that the assistance that Ruth provided to Lee Harvey Oswald's wife Marina was not suspicious because "she really is the kind of person that will go out of her way to help another person."

While Lifton expoused some far out theories, he knew the Paines and was well placed to judged their character.

We also have learned that Judge Burt Griffin, who worked on the Warren Commission staff, told Good in the strongest terms that Ruth Paine was not involved in any sort of conspiracy. Griffin gave Fred Litwin permission to publish a letter he sent to Good after the latter tried to film him for his documentary.

Griffin told Good:

As you may be aware, I have studied closely the conduct of Mrs. Paine and Lee Oswald. I have no doubt that Mrs. Paine has not knowingly made any false statements about Lee Oswald to the Warren Commission and that she did not knowingly assist any effort to assassinate President Kennedy.

So, Good, who claims to have been interested in making a "balanced" film, completely ignored two men who have studied the assassination as much as anybody. Thanks to researcher Greg Doudna whose efforts made this information come to light.

Monday, December 19, 2022

More Morley Misinformation

Former Washington Post reporter and editor turned conspiracy theorist Jefferson Morley has been all over traditional and social media in recent days talking about the December 15th National Archives' release of records from the JFK Assassination Records Collection. Morley is effectively accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of running a disinformation campaign to coverup their complicity in the murder of the 35th President.

Here is one example out of many. At his blog, Morley alleged that the agency is engaged in "deception" and is running a "shell game" designed to "fleece those rubes [US citizens]" who are seeking full disclosure of the material. As an agency charged with keeping the nation's secrets, there is no doubt that the CIA has sought to withhold certain records that theorists believe are relevant to the assassination. The CIA says that this is to protect sources and methods rather than conceal secrets about JFK's death.

But Morley doesn't believe the CIA and has been engaged for years (28 by his own count) in an effort to paint the agency in the worst possible light by insinuating that they were somehow responsible for JFK's death. And he has used rhetoric that ranges from misleading to provably false to do it.

This article will highlight a few of Morley's recent misrepresentations. It was prepared with help from researchers Paul Hoch, Robert Reynolds and Fred Litwin who have recently been fact checking Morley's various claims.

Handbill Hoax

Hoch noticed that during Morley's multimedia presentation during the dramatic December 6th press conference he displayed the same fake 544 Camp Street handbill that was used in the Oliver Stone film Destiny Betrayed. As Fred Litwin explains, Lee Harvey Oswald never used the 544 Camp address on handbills he gave out. He only used his real address or Post Office box.

A Medal for Stonewalling?

One of the more ridiculous claims made by Morley is that CIA officer George Joannides, who Morley believes covered up for higher-ups who perpetrated the JFK murder, received the CIA's Career Intelligence Medal "in part" for "stonewalling" HSCA investigators. And Morley has doubled down on these claims as recently as the December 6th presser.

But Morley knows that Joannides received the medal "in recognition of his exceptional achievement with the Central Intelligence Agency for more than 28 years." In fact, the medal citation comes from his own website. Judge Richard Leon noted in a 2011 decision resulting from Morley's 16-year battle with the CIA that he "overstates the medal's importance to his case" since the award was for all Joannides' service from 1950 to 1978 and not specifically for the years 1963 and 1978 as Morley implies.

Mysterious Redactions That Weren't

Again at his blog, Morley wrote about his examination of 33 previously redacted documents that he believes are "potentially interesting." Morley complained that only 13 of these records had been released in full. But author and researcher Fred Litwin notes that one of the documents that Morley alleged were "as secret as ever" regarding Cuban Herminio Diaz is available with almost no redactions and looks much different that the heavily redacted version displayed by Morley. Either Morley has not done his research or he is engaged in the same disinformation that he accuses the CIA of.

Similarly, Morley is concerned about the "testimony of a senior CIA officer" on why Oswald was not debriefed on his return from the Soviet Union. Morley specifically links to page 20 of that testimony which contains redacted information. But again, there is a version of the document available that contains the unredacted paragraph that Morley is worried about. The innocuous section discusses Robert Webster who was also a US serviceman who defected to the Soviet Union around the same time as Oswald.

The Harrelson Memo

One of Morley's biggest complaints about the CIA goes all the way back to a January 20, 1998, memo by the agency's Barry Harrelson which responded to an Assassination Records Review Board request for information. Morley says that the ARRB wanted the CIA to do "two things." The first was to "identify the case officer who handled the DRE in 1963 and was identified in this September 23, 1963, memo as 'Howard' …."

But a look at the original ARRB request (located by Hoch and Reynolds) shows Morley's statement is not entirely accurate. The ARRB memo states "... we request that the CIA work to discover the identity of 'Howard,' the CIA officer mentioned in the DRE files." It does not specifically ask for the identity of the DRE case officer.

Who was "Howard?" Morley believes that he was DRE case officer George Joannides and his claim certainly makes sense. Morley has the statements of former DRE members who saw photos of Joannides and say he was "Howard." But the DRE men saw the photos of Joannides at least 30 years after their experiences with "Howard." So we only have those old memories to go on.

Because as Morley knows, the CIA reviewed their files and found no record of "Howard" as the "true name of any case officer associated with the DRE." Harrelson also noted that "Howard" was not a "pseudonym" or a "registered alias" of any CIA employee. And as ARRB researcher Michelle Combs reported, "personnel files typically would not reveal [aliases] one way or another." So, there is no reason to believe that what Harrelson told the ARRB was untrue.

Admittedly, at the time of Harrelson's statement there was information in the CIA files that indicated that Joannides was the DRE case officer. But it is unclear if Harrelson knew that at the time he replied to the ARRB. In any case, the fact that Joannides was the DRE case officer became known less than two months after the Harrelson reply through Combs' memo. The bottom line is Morley's statement that Harrelson "replied in writing that he had no record of the DRE's case officer" is untrue.

Morley says the second thing the ARRB wanted the CIA to do was provide the monthly progress reports for the DRE. Morley is right in this instance. But the CIA searched and found no such reports. Harrelson suggested that the reports were not "missing" at all but had never been filed in the first place and offered an explanation that Morley simply scoffs at. First, Harrelson cited "major policy differences between the CIA and their DRE charges. These differences, as Morley knows, led to the military section of the DRE being defunded in November of 1963 and the entire DRE operation being mothballed by 1966.

Harrelson also noted that the DRE got a new case officer (Joannides) in late 1962 which was exactly when the monthly reporting stopped. "It seems probable these events are linked" Harrelson sensibly noted. In other words, the new case officer —Joannides— simply did not file monthly reports for whatever reason. And Morley admitted years ago that Joannides "received praise in a July 1963 performance evaluation for his 'adherence to valid reporting techniques.'" So, it is certain that Joannides was doing what the CIA wanted when it came to reports.

The "Smoking Gun"

Finally, the most serious piece of disinformation being promoted by Morley is his recent claim that there is "smoking gun" proof of "an undisclosed Oswald operation" that the CIA was running in 1963. The evidence for this operation is found, according to Morley, in the unreleased Joannides files. Morley says only "full disclosure" will reveal if the "undisclosed Oswald operation" is evidence of the CIA's "complicity in JFK's assassination" or "incompetence." Morley has promised on his blog that "evidence" including the statements of "witnesses" will be presented to bolster his theory.

The identity of one of Morley's witnesses is now almost certain. He is likely former DRE member Jose Antonio Lanuza (sometimes spelled as "Lanusa" in official documents) who is now 83 years old. According to a Miami Herald story, Lanuza has a theory that he and other DRE members were "used" by Joannides to "create and later spread the fake narrative that Oswald was a pro-Castro sympathizer, providing a handy motive for the assassination."

But the problem with this theory is that Oswald's wife Marina would have to be in on the plot since she talked at length about her husband's affinity for Castro. Also in on such a scheme would be Oswald's Marine buddy Nelson Delgado who stated that Oswald had expressed pro-Castro views as far back as 1958. So, the beliefs of Lanuza and other DRE members would not constitute "smoking gun" proof of anything.

Getting back to Morley's theories, he says that the DRE created a "legend" that Oswald was a Castro supporter. But the DRE delegate who had the most contact with Oswald and who would certainly have to have been acting at the behest of the CIA disagrees. Carlos Bringuier told researcher Dale Myers:

In regard to my relationship with the headquarters of the DRE in Miami, I was the Delegate in New Orleans. I never received any money from the CIA or the DRE. On the contrary my Delegation was sending money (little, never high amounts) to Miami. I was an anti-Communist Cuban not an employee of the DRE. If they [Miami DRE] were receiving money from the USA government, which it is possible, I was never informed of that. I was working very hard as a salesman to provide for my family.

Bringuier also stated "Maybe I visited that [DRE] office one or two times while I had been vacationing in Miami. I never met George Joannides nor any other non-Cuban person during those couple of visits to the Miami office.” So, the man who would have been manipulating Oswald for the agency denies that he ever received a nickel from them or that he knew Joannides at all.

The overwhelming evidence shows that the DRE was not directed by the CIA to do the things they did regarding Oswald. As anti-Castro activists, they did not have to be. In fact, they often disobeyed CIA orders and ultimately were defunded because of that fact.

The final nail in the coffin of Morley's "smoking gun" theory is the fact that ARRB researcher Michelle Combs saw the relevant Joannides files and reported:

During the period December 1962 to April 1964, Mr. Joannides was assigned as a covert action officer at JMWAVE, serving as deputy and then chief of the station's covert action branch. During this time period, Mr. Joannides was the case officer for the Cuban exile group Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE). The descriptions of his duties and accomplishments in the personnel file are very general and contain no specific reference to his relationship with the DRE. There is no mention of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the file and no information relevant to the assassination in the file (emphasis added). There is also no indication that Mr. Joannides may have used or been known by the name "Howard" during his contacts with the DRE, although personnel files typically would not reveal this information one way or another.

Note also that according to the Herald article the CIA released a statement that said "CIA believes all substantive information known to be directly related to Oswald has been released. The few remaining redactions protect CIA employee names, sources, locations, and CIA tradecraft." The agency also stated that Morley's claim that it has not disclosed a set of documents about Oswald that were part of Joannides’ files in the JFK Collection at the National Archives “is false."

Simple logic tells us two things. First, it is unlikely in the extreme that both an ARRB researcher in the nineties and the CIA today are misrepresenting what is in the Joannides files. After all, Biden or a subsequent President could order the files to be released or reviewed so what would be the point of such a canard? Finally, logic also dictates that Morley could not possibly have knowledge of a "smoking gun" in files that he has never seen.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Morley Meets Glen Beck

A conversation on December 9th, 2022, between far-left blogger and conspiracy gadfly Jefferson Morley and conservative firebrand Glen Beck brought together two political odd fellows and displayed a somewhat schizophrenic Morley. But the former journalist turned conspiracy theorist evidently is so intent on public exposure for his new claim that he has “smoking gun” proof of an “Oswald Operation” that he lowered himself to appear on the Beck podcast.

“I agreed to go on his show” Morley stated on his Substack site, “because good journalists make a point of talking to people with whom they disagree and because Beck’s show could help me reach people who might otherwise not know of my JFK reporting.”

In response to Beck’s clich├ęd question “What are they hiding?” Morley stated, “What they are hiding is the “interest of CIA officers in Lee Harvey Oswald … before President Kennedy was killed.”

This response sounded more like the old careful Morley and much less like the Morley who was on display at the December 6th press conference at the National Press Club. Interestingly, Beck did not ask Morley about his “smoking gun” or the witnesses that he claims to now have which could point either to Beck’s lack of knowledge of Morley’s recent claims or a pre-show agreement.

In some cases, Morley was his usual self, spreading the same disinformation that his critics have grown accustomed to. For example, he insisted that “COINTELPRO was a joint CIA-FBI program which was in effect from the late fifties until the early seventies.” But the Church Committee said COINTELPRO was an FBI program that “began in 1956” and “ended in 1971 with the threat of public exposure.” If Morley were to claim that the CIA ran operations like the FBI’s COINTELPRO that would be one thing. But he insists on falsely calling it a joint CIA-FBI venture in order to sling as much mud as he can on the agency.

In response to Beck’s query, Morley said, “What seems to have been going on was a CIA operation against an organization called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee a leftist group to which Oswald belonged. That’s where he was being used for intelligence purposes … is this operation evidence of a conspiracy? You know, we don’t know it might be just incompetence … maybe they ran an operation and this guy Oswald up and shot the President. That part we can’t tell without getting all of the records … what they’re hiding is their pre-assassination interest in Oswald.”

Morley’s admission that Oswald could have shot the President was again like the old Morley and shows that he still harbors doubts about his recently expressed belief that JFK’s enemies “made Oswald a patsy for their crime.”

Then the inevitable happened. Beck intoned “Does it strike you as ... um ... we are living the same kind of history right now?”

“Tell me more about, you know, the comparison” Morley responded.

“We have the CIA and FBI involved in all kinds of things,” Beck declared, “like at Twitter to silence people, to go after groups, the FBI is being used as a weapon, the intelligence departments are also being used as uh as weapons …”

Morley was more than happy to use this line of reasoning to discuss the January 6th insurrection but Beck wasn’t interested. Beck wanted to talk about Twitter and the Hunter Biden laptop but Morley wasn’t having any of that.

“I mean, I don’t know how the Hunter Biden laptop story is relevant to the JFK story,” Morley said. “I do know what I’m talking about here and you know I don’t want the JFK story to get wrapped up in contemporary politics.”

Morley continued “It’s a little bit of a sideshow and I’d rather talk about something we agree about rather than something we disagree about.”

Beck relented and the conversation continued.

“Do you have any doubt that Oswald did it and did it for his own personal desires?” Beck wondered.

“Uh, yes. I don’t think that Lee Harvey Oswald was the intellectual author of Kennedy’s death," Morley responded. "I don’t think that. He might have fired a gun, um I think he knew what was going on but he was not … this was bigger than Oswald. And I think that the records that we’re seeking will shed light on this. Did Oswald slip past all these CIA guys who were paying close attention to him in the summer and fall of 1963, or was there something else going on where people were actually manipulating Oswald to make him be what he said he was, a patsy?”

Morley didn’t explain why Oswald’s simple act of smuggling a rifle into the Texas School Book Depository and waiting for the motorcade to come into view required an “intellectual author.” He also didn’t explain how a CIA plot could lower itself to allow the unstable Oswald to “know what was going on” or exactly how he was “manipulated” into being a “patsy.”

Beck wondered what the motivation of the CIA was and Morley responded with the standard line that they were “afraid” of JFK’s policies on Vietnam and Cuba and “regarded them as a threat to national security. A danger that had to be dealt with by extreme means.”

After briefly talking about Morley’s Watergate book, Scorpion’s Dance, Beck turned the conversation back to the file release scheduled for December 15th. Beck claimed, “Trump tried to get it released, Biden says it needs to be released …”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Morley interrupted. “Actually that’s wrong. Trump said it should be released, said it was released. “Unfortunately, he lied and he caved to the CIA in December ’17 …”

“Wow” Beck interjected.

“… he kicked the can down the road four years um to Biden,” Morley explained. “ So, Biden got the question … what do we do with these JFK documents, and the CIA and the federal agencies said ‘the COVID dog ate my homework you know we couldn’t do it because of the pandemic ... So, Biden said ok we have another year …”

Morley promised to return to the show with any new developments after the file release. With that, undoubtedly to the relief of both men, the unlikely confab ended.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

A Tribute to David Lifton

Noted JFK author and researcher David S. Lifton died Monday December 5th, 2022, at the age of 83 in Las Vegas. Lifton was well-known for his 1981 best-selling book Best Evidence which theorized that the body of President Kennedy had been altered to conceal a conspiracy. The book served as an introduction to the JFK case for a multitude of researchers. Lifton had been working for many years on a follow up book titled Final Charade. According to a Go-Fund-Me page for the book, Lifton considered it the culmination of a “lifetime of research” that included nearly “one hundred filmed interviews.” Lifton’s friend Steven Kossor says that the book will be published.

Author and researcher Anthony Summers commented "I am sorry to hear about David Lifton’s death. I talked with him a good deal over the years, and we had cordial exchanges. He was one of the Old Guard on the JFK case, and in my experience a decent man. It is a pity his grand opus never made it to publication."

Lifton grew up in Rockaway Beach New York where he displayed a fascination for Erle Stanley Gardner mysteries. He graduated from Cornell University’s School of Engineering Physics in 1962 and then enrolled at UCLA with a view toward a degree in Engineering. Lifton became interested in the JFK assassination after hearing a lecture by Mark Lane in 1964. By 1966, he quit his job at North American Avation to research the assassination full-time making ends meet through odd jobs and free-lance writing.

Lifton’s friend, writer and editor Patricia Lambert, encouraged him to develop his research into a manuscript. He ultimately did that but the result proved to be unmarketable. Lifton was advised to rewrite the manuscript in the first person. He did so, but eventually had to rework the book again to reduce the 1200 pages to a manageable 747.

Although Lifton believed in a conspiracy, he sometimes shared beliefs with lone assassin supporters. He vehemently disagreed with Jim Garrison’s prosecution of Clay Shaw telling filmmaker Oliver Stone that the New Orleans District Attorney was a “fraud.” “It wasn’t that Garrison fought the good fight and lost,” Lifton wrote. “When the dust settled, it was clear he had nothing to begin with.” Lifton concluded his correspondence by advising Stone “I’m writing this letter to suggest that when you shout ‘lights, camera, action,’ you keep in mind that twenty years ago the man you are portraying on film, while mouthing eloquent theories about justice and truth, persecuted people who were innocent.”

Another instance that found Lifton agreeing with the lone assassin side was the Palmer McBride matter pushed by double-Oswald theorist John Armstrong. Lifton’s skillful interview with McBride essentially demolished Armstrong’s notion that McBride’s remembrances proved his unusual theory. McBride had stated that he had worked and socialized with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in 1957-58 when Oswald was known to be in the Marine Corps.

Lifton was universally regarded as a remarkable writer and researcher. Even author Vincent Bugliosi, who devoted an entire chapter in his book Reclaiming History to Lifton, was forced to admit that he was “thorough and meticulous.” In 1996, Lifton wrote a memo to Jeremy Gunn of the Assassinations Records Review Board regarding his experiences with Robert Groden and the latter’s questionable history with the JFK autopsy materials. The memo, which Lifton made available to researchers through an Internet forum, is a notable first-person account of his research experiences from 1972-1993.

Kossor said that in addition to the posthumous publication of his book, Lifton’s voluminous files may be “assembled for publication” at a future date. According to Kossor, Lifton will be interred in the family plot on Long Island.

Morley Disinfo Leads to Misleading Media Reports

Jefferson Morley's press conference for the Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) on December 6th 2022 during which he falsely claimed to have "smoking gun" proof of a "CIA operation involving Lee Harvey Oswald" has resulted in media reports that are misleading at best. This article will set the record straight.

Newsweek reported on the press conference with the headline "New Documents Shed Light on CIA's Connection to Lee Harvey Oswald." The article says that Morley and his colleagues at Mary Ferrell "have unearthed proof [JFK's] alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was involved in an operation by the CIA". The article also suggested that there was a single document that was key in this matter and that it was "obtained this month as the result of an October lawsuit..."

Here are the facts. Morley has no "smoking gun" or other proof of an "Oswald Operation." He merely has suspicions. The document featured most prominently by Morley has been in his possession since 2004 according to his eBook Morley v. CIA. This document, which was obtained by Morley through FOIA requests, is highly redacted and only proves that his favorite CIA villain George Joannides was cleared for "special intelligence." Morley believes, but has not proven, that this CIA term always refers to intelligence obtained through wiretaps. And he has his theories about Joannides and wiretaps that include the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and Mexico City.

Not only is Morley's key document not new, but it is a fact that there are no "new" documents of any kind despite Newsweek claiming there were "several" that had been "obtained this month." Lawrence Schnapf, who moderated the press conference and was co-counsel on the litigation mentioned by Newsweek, told me via email that "No records have been released as a result of the MFF complaint filed in October."

Morley suspects that 44 unreleased documents from the Joannides file will support his theory. But he does not know that. How could he when he has never seen those documents? Morley says that he has witnesses who will support his theory. But he neither presented nor named the alleged witnesses at the press conference. And as anyone who has studied the assassination knows, there are all sorts of individuals who say all sorts of things for any number of reasons. But they are not all telling the truth. So, any claims by a witness would not constitute "smoking gun" proof of an "Oswald Operation."

Additionally, the ARRB reviewed the documents in question back in the nineties and determined that they were "general" in nature and contained "no information relevant to the assassination." While the analyst, Michelle Combs, may not be as steeped in assassination lore as Morley is, she would undoubtedly be able to recognize an operation that targeted the FPCC in New Orleans even if Oswald was not mentioned by name.

One of the many claims by Morley from the press conference that are speculative or false involves a "legend" he says was created by the CIA and their DRE charges that painted Oswald as a Castro supporter. But Oswald's wife Marina as well as his uncle and a friend in the Marine Corps, Nelson Delgado, all knew of Oswald's pro-Castro leanings. In Delgado's case Oswald's pro-Castro pronouncements could be traced back as far as December of 1958 before the bearded leader had even assumed power.

Another claim concerns a medal that Joannides received from the CIA after "stonewalling" investigators. But Morley knows that the medal was for career service and the proof is at his own site. The first sentence of the citation reads "In recognition of his exceptional achievement with the Central Intelligence Agency for more than twenty-eight years."

Finally, it should be mentioned that Morley is calling for the release of the 44 documents on December 15th which is the deadline set by President Biden to either release records or continue to postpone. But the documents Morley is talking about are not part of the JFK Records Collection and it is unclear through what mechanism they could be released.

To sum up, Morley claims there is smoking gun proof of an "Oswald Operation" in documents that he has not seen. And he is calling for the release of those documents even though he knows that is highly unlikely since they are not a part of the JFK collection and the CIA fought their release (through a Morley lawsuit) for years.

UPDATE: The latest is this. Morley is claiming on Twitter that the ARRB did not see the entire Joannides file. In support of this idea, he posts a link to a letter from Tunheim to Biden:

There is a grain of truth in what Morley says. The ARRB may not have had the complete file. For example, Joannides worked in Vietnam in the seventies and that was not relevant to the assassination so they may not have looked at it. But they had everything that Morley was interested in with the possible exception of documents from the period 1980-81. Morley likely wants to see that portion of the file due to his continuing obcession with Joannides' Career Intelligence Medal.

On the other hand, Tunheim says "we had the [relevant] file on George Joannides..." He also says that the board "would have released the file in full" had they known who Joannides was. This implies they had all of the Joannides documents that were relevant to the assassination (1961-64 and 1978-79). But, admittedly, there is some ambiguity.

Morley also says there is a mechinism in place for the release of the 44 Joannides files even though they are not a part of the JFK Collection. This is a "Memorandum of Understand" that allows for files to be placed in the JFK Collection after the ARRB ceased to exist. But as far as I can see, this would have to be done by Biden who would have to hear the pleas of Morley and Tunheim and specifically act to place those records in the collection and release them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Morley's Bombshell a Dud

JFK researcher Joseph Backes said yesterday (December 5th 2022) that he hoped Morley wasn't "over selling" his latest assertion regarding the JFK assassination and a "smoking gun" that he thinks is in some unreleased files related to CIA officer George Joannides. But over selling wasn't a strong enough term for what Morley did during a press conference for the Mary Ferrell Foundation. In fact, he seriously misrepresented what this gathering would show. Morley, who hinted at a "smoking gun" and a "major break" in blog posts, presented exactly no new information to back up his claims of an alleged "Oswald Operation" managed by the CIA. And Morley did not name or even mention the "living witnesses" who will supposedly lend credence to the existence of the operation. Admittedly, Morley did not specifically say that the witnesses would be discussed, but he did say the evidence would be coming "in the near future" and it was logical to assume it would be at this presser.

What follows is a quick summary of the press conference. I may do another blog post if documents on Joannides are released on December 15th. If not, I may let the matter rest since Morley provided no new proof for his theories which have been discussed at length.

Morley, a gadfly and far-left blogger who says he has been studying the assassination for 28 years by his own count, originally presented himself as an agnostic on the JFK matter who was merely interested in the truth—whatever that might be. But in recent years, it has become apparent that he is indeed a full-fledged conspiracy theorist who believes (among other things) that JFK’s enemies “made Oswald a patsy for their crime” as he wrote in an eBook. Why care what Morley thinks? Because as a former editor/reporter for the Washington Post, he still commands attention and has been published by the likes of Newsweek and Politico. I have written extensively about Morley and I am not alone. You may see a listing of the pieces critical of Morley HERE.

Morley was joined at the National Press Club in Washington DC by a cast of characters who disagree on just about all aspects of the JFK case. Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who appeared by video, believes that "Oswald was recruited into a rogue CIA plot." Morley admits that he doesn't "entirely agree" with that. Similarly, Lawrence Schnapf, an attorney who served as moderator for the confab, thinks that the Mafia killed Kennedy. Schnapf likely doesn't believe in Morley's theory any more than I do. Judge John R. Tunheim, who was Chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board tasked with overseeing the records, almost certainly doesn't believe in a conspiracy at all and simply wants the remaining JFK records released. Fernand Amandi, a political analyst for MSNBC who presented the results of a meaningless poll, thinks among other things that proven hoaxster Antonio Veciana was “one of history’s most important individuals” and therefore can be dismissed outright.

Schnapf opened the event with the well-worn mantra "what are they hiding?" Schnapf handed off to Mary Ferrell's Rex Bradford who it should be said is a talented individual who created the database that the Mary Ferrell Foundation uses. Unfortunately, Bradford repeated two well-worn myths during his brief remarks. One is the remark made by Earl Warren regarding "not in your lifetime" explained HERE. The second unfortunate remark made by Bradford was that at the time of JFK's death, he was committed to fully withdraw from Vietnam. This statement is false and is discussed HERE.

Judge John Tunheim followed Bradford and his remarks primarily consisted of what the Assassination Records Review Board did and his belief that the records should be released. Tunheim did note that he had seen the records and there were "no bombshells." Tunheim also mentioned that the Walter Sheridan files held by NBC should be released.

Schnapf returned to the podium and noted that even if all of the records are released by Biden that would not be the end of the lawsuit filed by him and Bill Simpich since there are other records that should be in the JFK collection that are not. Schnapf then introduced Morley and the main event proceeded.

Rather than naming his "living witnesses" and demonstrating their relevance to his hypothesis, Morley proceeded to regurgitate the same tired theories he has been promoting for years under the umbrella of what he is now calling the Oswald Operation. Morley made use of an audio-visual presentation to dramatize his thesis which is summarized by these bullet points:

  • There was a covert operation involving Oswald in the summer 1963.
  • The Warren Commission was duped by CIA who was monitoring Oswald via Angleton.
  • Deception operations were used in 1963 including COINTELPRO, Northwoods and the targeting of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
  • Oswald's FPCC chapter was targeted for disruption.
  • Oswald was represented as “Pro-Castro gunman” by the news media.
  • The hidden hand of the CIA shaped the media's narrative and thus public understanding regarding Oswald.
  • The CIA funded the DRE and George Joannides was their case officer.
  • The "Oswald Operation" was cleared to begin in June of 1963 and documents indicating this fact are being withheld.
  • Joannides was cleared for "special intelligence" which Morley says means wiretapping.
  • This is significant according to Morley because the CIA was wiretapping FPCC leaders at the time. Within two months, the DRE would generate propaganda about Oswald in New Orleans and in Mexico City, Oswald was monitored by a wiretap.
  • The Oswald Operation was implemented in August of 1963 with Joannides playing a supporting role. The well-known interactions between Oswald and the DRE occurred during this time.
  • "What a difference 30 days makes" Morley intoned during this part of the presentation. Before Joannides took over the DRE on August 1st, Oswald had no public record as a Castro supporter. But 30 days later, a legend had been created according to Morley. But Morley doesn't explain the statements of Oswald's wife Marina who said he idolized Castro or the remembrances of fellow Marine Nelson Delgado (and others) who recalled Oswald speaking glowingly of Castro back in late 1958.
  • Morley says that COINTELPRO used techniques like he believes were used against Oswald including the planting of deceptive information, leaking negative information and the use of law enforcement to harass or arrest individuals.
  • CIA headquarters didn't mention Oswald's arrest in New Orleans when asked about him by Mexico City Station because of the ongoing operation.
  • The secret campaign against FPCC succeeded culminating with the disbanding of the group in the US.
  • Documents concerning Joannides cover and methods during 1964 are still withheld.
  • The HSCA didn't know that Joannides was the DRE case officer when he served as CIA liaison to that body.
  • Why did Joannides receive a CIA medal after stonewalling investigators. This is a moot point since Morley knows that it was for career service.
  • The CIA is hiding 44 documents regarding Oswald that include a secret CIA operation that has never been disclosed.
  • The term "smoking gun" is disliked by Morley and he admits not used by investigative reporters but he uses it anyway. But Morley admits that what he is talking about is not "smoking gun" proof of a conspiracy to kill the President. Rather, it is "smoking gun" proof of a CIA operation involving Oswald that the agency is still concealing in 2022. "Is the undisclosed Oswald operation evidence of CIA complicity in JFK's assassination?" Morley muses. "Is it evidence of incompetence in understanding the threat Oswald posed to the President?" Only full disclosure of the records can resolve these questions Morley insists.

There are several problems with Morley's analysis. First, he has no proof that there was an Oswald operation at all. He merely has suspicions. If he has any witnesses, they did not appear and were not mentioned. Next, Morley believes that Oswald was "made a patsy." So, why does he leave open the possibility that the CIA was merely incompetent? Is he now willing to be proven completely wrong if the records indeed show the CIA had nothing to do with Oswald and only minimal knowledge of him? Finally, the overwhelming evidence shows that the DRE was not directed by the CIA to do the things they did regarding Oswald. As anti-Castro activists, they did not have to be. In fact, they often disobeyed CIA orders and finally were defunded because of that fact.

But the main problem for Morley is that Michelle Combs of the ARRB saw the complete Joannides file and found no evidence of any Oswald project. I am sure Morley and his followers would say that Ms. Combs did not have the proper background to determine what she saw. But presumably if there was a project that empowered the DRE to run an operation against Oswald at the CIA's behest, it would be pretty obvious even to those not steeped in JFK assassination lore. And evidently, Ms. Combs did not find such a project. She reported:

During the period December 1962 to April 1964, Mr. Joannides was assigned as a covert action officer at JMWAVE, serving as deputy and then chief of the station's covert action branch. During this time period, Mr. Joannides was the case officer for the Cuban exile group Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE). The descriptions of his duties and accomplishments in the personnel file are very general and contain no specific reference to his relationship with the DRE. There is no mention of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the file and no information relevant to the assassination in the file (emphasis added). There is also no indication that Mr. Joannides may have used or been known by the name "Howard" during his contacts with the DRE, although personnel files typically would not reveal this information one way or another.

So, the bombshell was a dud and a ploy to gain media attention to the cause of opening the files. If Morley produces his "evidence" of the alleged "Oswald Operation," this blog will report on it.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Morley Says Major Break in the JFK Case Coming

Conspiracy theorist and gadfly Jefferson Morley is promising a "major break" in the JFK assassination "story." But those who have been following him for some time knew he would eventually do this. He had to.

The "major break" will be announced at a press conference at the National Press Club in DC. The "break" evidently consists of witness statements (a staple in the relm of conspiracy "evidence") that there was "a covert operation that used Lee Harvey Oswald for intelligence purposes" which was approved by "senior agency officials." I say that the witness statements must be the proof of Morley's operation since the documents that he insists "tell" the "explosive" story remain unseen and Morley doesn't have any idea what they say.

Morley has been running around in recent years saying the CIA was complicit in the JFK murder after originally presenting himself as an agnostic who just wanted the truth. But when you make all of the noise that he has over the years, you must put up or shut up at some point. He certainly isn't the type to say, "Gee, I was wrong." Morley evidently believes that if he claims there is a smoking gun that Biden or a later President will be forced to act and release the records which relate to Morley's preferred villian CIA officer George Joannides.

But skeptics have appeared on the conspiracy side of the debate even before the alleged bombshell announcement. Joseph Backes, a prominent conspiracy researcher, is worried that Morley is "over selling" the records and building expectations "too much." Backes alludes to the diversion of opinion in recent years bewteen Morley and John Newman who believes that the primary conspirators were military people. Backes also sensibly says that he doesn't believe the theories of Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA employee who will speak at the press conference.

Time will tell if Morley has solved the case or if his gambit will go down with Roscoe White as a bad hoax. But Morley has a backup plan. If the records are released and don't show what he says they do, he can simply say that the CIA destroyed the proof and his witnesses confirm that "fact."

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