Pelosi vs. the CIA — who can we trust?
by Earl Hiatt
Jun 18, 2009 | 1863 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Earl Hiatt
Earl Hiatt
In recent weeks, there has been a standoff between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and the CIA as to who is telling the truth about a 2002 briefing on interrogation techniques used by the United States on terror suspects.

As Pelosi is a polished politician, we know she is adept at lying — although some might consider her a lone voice of reason in a sea of liars and thieves. (There is a joke about Pinocchio entering a lying contest but not winning. With tears in his eyes, he says, “Who the hell is Nancy Pelosi?”)

And Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, says they never lie to Congress, but the following gives me doubts.

The rest of this column is about the CIA, one of their now-deceased undercover officers, George Joannides, and his involvement in the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

As chief of the psychological warfare operations in Miami in 1963, Joannides failed to report on a series of heated public encounters between accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and members of a CIA-sponsored Cuban exile group that Joannides guided and funded to the tune of $51,000 a month. The CIA did not disclose Joannides’ financial relationship with Oswald’s antagonists to the Warren Commission.

In 1978, Joannides was called out of retirement to serve as the CIA’s liaison to the congressional JFK investigators. He said nothing about his undercover mission in 1963, even when asked for records about Oswald’s contacts with his intelligence-gathering network. Joannides died in 1990 having never been questioned by JFK investigators.

The story of Joannides’ deception only came into the public record in 2001, when it was uncovered by Jefferson Morley through a Freedom of Information Act request. In 2003, a diverse group of leading JFK scholars had called for the release of the Joannides files, which the CIA denied.

In court, CIA lawyers were overruled. A three-judge appellate court demanded the release of the Joannides file, but the CIA is ignoring the court order.

There is evidence that Joannides’ superiors approved of his assassination cover-up. In 2005, the CIA admitted that Joannides had received the Distinguished Intelligence Award for “exceptional achievement” in July 1981, three years after he misled Congress. Last December, Delores Nelson, the agency’s top information officer, acknowledged for the first time that Joannides served in an “undercover” capacity while working with the congressional JFK investigators in 1978.

The CIA now acknowledges that it possesses 295 documents on Joannides’ actions in 1963 and 1978 but insists it cannot release the records in any form for reasons of national security. (As an aside, another Freedom of Information Act request for information as to whether we broke secret Japanese codes before Pearl Harbor was bombed has been denied for the same reason.)

This information is between 40 and 70 years old, yet it still is involved in national security?

The Joannides file should have been made public a decade ago, according to Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassinations Records Review Board, a civilian panel which declassified millions of pages of JFK records in the 1990s. Tunheim says the CIA did not share the Joannides files with the review board.

Isn’t that interesting? The CIA is not sharing information with the government that funds it.

Will the person telling the truth please stand up?

• Patterson resident Earl Hiatt is a semi-retired agribusinessman whose major interests are nutrition, economics and religion. His columns appear occasionally on the Irrigator Voice page. His e-mail is
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