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Dead Spy's JFK Files Pose a Test for Obama's FOIA Order

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And so it goes. Officials from the National Archives have repeatedly requested access to the Joannides files to review them for assassination-related material. The CIA declined, citing my lawsuit seeking release of the records as justification for concealing them. 

The Joannides files should have been made public a decade ago, according to Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassination Records Review Board, a civilian panel which declassified million of pages of JFK records in the 1990s. Tunheim says the CIA did not share the Joannides files with the review board. "If we had known about these records, I'm sure we would have declassified virtually all of them," he says.

I still believe, perhaps naively, that Obama's FOIA order will be obeyed. My lawsuit continues. The CIA could change its position in a court filing due this summer. But I've learned a lesson about what President Obama is up against. Just because the CIA's position in a FOIA case is factually absurd, legally obtuse and directly contradictory to the president's wishes doesn't mean it is vulnerable to change. When it comes to the government's most sensitive JFK assassination records, the CIA culture of secrecy still has the force of law and the Obama's beautiful words have the force of air.

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Jefferson Morley, editor of, is author of Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA, now available as an ebook with a new preface by the author, from University Press of (more...)

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