Spy Saga: Lee Harvey Oswald and D.S. Intelligence – by Philip H. Melanson The Full Transcript

Spy Saga:

Lee Harvey Oswald and D.S. Intelligence

 

by

Philip H. Melanson

 

January 1990

 

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Spy Saga: Lee Harvey Oswald and O.S. Intelligence

 

In 1978 former CIA Director Richard Helms exited from his
executive-session testimony before the House Select Committee on
Assassinations. He paused to talk with the press. Washington
post reporter George Lardner, Jr. described the encounter in his
paper’s August 10 edition:

Helms told reporters during a break that no one would
ever know who or what Lee Harvey Oswald, named by the
Warren Commission as Kennedy’s assassin, represented.

Asked whether the CIA knew of any ties Oswald had with
either the KGB or the CIA, Helms paused and with a laugh
said, “I don’t remember.” Pressed on the point, he told a
reporter, “Your questions are almost as dumb as the
Committee s.

 

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To Dorothy Edwards Hart

 

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CONTENTS

 

Photographs 5

Acknowledgements 6

Introduction 10

1. Agent Oswald 19

2. The Pinko Marine 29

3. Oswald in New Orleans: Marxist or Mole 65

4. The Mohair Marauder 80

5. Smearing the Left Kremlin Red 104

6. Dallas: The Long Arm of Langley 137

7. Mexican Mystery Tour 167

8. Legend I: Incidents 189

9. Legend II: Evidence and Artifacts 206

10. Cover-Ups 224

11. Beyond Disinformation 240

Appendix A: Chronology of Lee Harvey Oswald 252

Appendix B: Excerpts, Testimony of Former CIA Director

Richard Helms before the House Select Committee on

Assassinations 254

Notes 269

Selected Bibliography 316

Index 323

 

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Photographs

 

1. Lee Harvey Oswald, U.S.S.R., Circa 1960 /63

2. Lee Harvey Oswald Under Arrest in Dallas, Nov. 23, 1963 lG*1

3. David Ferrie I C S’

l G*

4. Guy Banister

I

5. George de Mohrenschildt

6. Snapshot of “Oswald” with Rifle, 1963 / 4 4

 

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Acknowledgements

 

The author gratefully acknowledges the support and
assistance provided during this lengthy project by persons too
numerous to mention here. Over the past decade, students at
Southeastern Massachusetts University in my course on Political
Assassinations in America and in my research seminars have
offered questions and insights that served as a stimulus to my
research — especially Brian Bennett. My colleagues in the
political science department have given professional and
intellectual support, particularly John Carroll who served as
both reader and gadfly, pressing me to bring this project to
fruition. Two research grants from my university helped fund the
extensive time required at Washington, D.C. research facilities.

Our department secretary Liz Tucker was helpful, as always,

typing much of the extensive correspondence. Ron Quintin and Jenni-fef

Tavares helped as my research assistants.

Ms. Helen Neer and her staff at the FBI reading room in
Washington, D.C. were efficient and accommodating during my
numerous visits. The CIA employees who baby sat me in the tiny
reading room in Roslyn, Virginia were always courteous and their
curiosity about my work was a welcome break from the routine.

The staff of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. — and the
now-retired curator of the Warren Commission papers and exhibits,
Marion Johnson — processed all my requests for reading and copying
with speed and accuracy. The U.S. Secret Service was — in the

 

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author’s extensive experience with Freedom of Information Act
requests to federal agencies — a model of responsive public
disclosure in locating the last of their unreleased case files,
as was the National Archives which processed the documents for
release.

Without implying anyone’s endorsement or agreement with this
analysis, I wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions made
by competent and energetic researchers over the past twenty-seven
years. The best of this work constitutes a cumulative historical
record that is more accurate and enlightening than the body of
official, governmental reports. Without the leaps of
understanding and ground-breaking research generated by previous
efforts, this project would not have been possible. The late
Sylvia Meagher set a standard for meticulous, probing analysis
that serves as a beacon for all responsible students of this
case. Her landmark book Accessories After the Fact remains the
most perceptive general work on the case despite its early origin
(1967). Among those who have studied intelligence-related
aspects of the case, I have benefited most from the detailed,
enlightening analyses of Professor Peter Dale Scott, Univ.
California, Berkeley, and the pioneering investigative work of
British journalist Anthony Summers, who also generously shared
with me some of his private papers. I wish to thank Paul Hoch,
generally regarded as one of the sharpest, most careful
researchers, for his unselfish sharing of data and his thoughts
and criticisms concerning the manuscript.

Special thanks are due my friend and colleague Lauriston R.

 

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King, of Texas A & M University. He served as reader and
clinician and provided steadfast encouragement regarding the
importance and viability of the project. My friend and former
departmental colleague Jack Fyock gave me a critical analysis of
the manuscript, intellectual encouragement, and (as my office
mate) was willing to digress from his own work to discuss my
research at length. Thanks to Peggy Adler Robohm for her
critical reading of portions of the manuscript and for her
insights and sharing of data.

Larry Schlossman has been a major influence on my research.
His ideas, sources and contacts were extremely valuable, as was
his support. His 1983 nationally syndicated radio documentary on
the case served as a primary catalyst for this project. He
interviewed dozens of researchers and spent many dozens of hours
on the telephone, sharing what could be shared while keeping
everyone’s confidences. He collated a great deal of data and
stimulated further research. All of this has been enormously
enriching to my work.

Much thanks to Mary Glenn, my editor at Praeger, for her
guidance and support and her attentiveness to the project.

My extended family (especially my Mom) and friends too
numerous to mention generously listened to my monologues and gave
moral support throughout the project. My sons Brett and Jess
have been willing to listen to progress reports and were
understanding of the pressures on my time created by the
workload .

As always, I owe my greatest debt to my wife Judith. She
typed and edited the various drafts, was a source of sound advice

 

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and unwavering support and encouragement throughout all phases of
this sometimes difficult enterprise.

For all this, I am extremely grateful.

 

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Introduction

 

“Everybody will know who I am.”

— Lee Harvey Oswald, Nov. 22, 1963*

 

The above comment was generally interpreted as a smug self-
certification of Oswald’s own infamy, his assured place in
history as the President’s assassin. As years passed, skepticism
concerning the Warren Commission’s findings about Oswald’s
background and his role in the assassination reached majoritarian
levels. Researchers hypothesized a different meaning: namely,

that Oswald was a complex young man playing roles and affecting
political postures, and that these were about to be stripped away
by the legal process as he sought to defend himself against
charges of murder. Oswald was silenced by Jack Ruby before he
could participate in the process, before he could tell us who he
really was. That task has been left to others, who must follow
the rich and mysterious trail of events and artifacts he left
behind .

As we approach the third decade since Oswald’s death,
nothing approximating historical clarity has been achieved. The
question “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald?” remains unanswered. He has
been portrayed by official investigators, journalists or
researchers as each of the following: a disgruntled loner and

muddled leftist, a Russian spy, an agent of Castro’s intelligence

 

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service, a low-level Mafia pawn, a U.S. intelligence agent.

These images have been dismissed by some as the product of
conspiracy mentalities or of the psychological need to portray
the President’s assassin as complex and larger than life. This
need, it is argued, results from an unwillingness to believe that
a lone nut with a cheap rifle can so profoundly alter our
political history. He must be someone special, the embodiment of
dark, powerful forces. The mystique of Camelot and lure of
conspiracy-think have undeniably combined to distort various
facets of this case. But the fact is that Oswald actually lends
himself to all of these divergent portraits, although to some
much better than others. He is by far the most fascinating and
complex assassin (alleged or actual) in American history.

i

Despite three official investigations and hundreds of file
drawers full of documents, despite the work of hundreds of
journalists and researchers, there is no agreement about who this
man was .

This analysis seeks to provide the answer to this question
by presenting the best evidence in systematic, detailed form.

That Lee Harvey Oswald was some sort of U.S. intelligence agent
has always been one of the options. The author will place the
available data about Oswald’s activities and associations — some
of the data old, some new — within the context of the
perspectives, programs and people that were operative in the U.S.
intelligence community (primarily the CIA) in Oswald’s era. In
so doing, this book hopes to elevate what was formerly one option
to the status of the correct answer: Lee Harvey Oswald spent

nearly all of his adult life working for U.S. intelligence — most

 

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likely for the CIA — as an agent-provocateur. He did so in both
the domestic and international arenas, right up to his
involvement in the assassination.

As Warren Commission member Alan Dulles told his commission
colleagues, it is difficult to prove a negative: proving that

Oswald was not a CIA operative would be nearly impossible, Dulles
warned. Similarly, the other options for Oswald (Mafia soldier,
communist spy, crazed loner) cannot be disproved here. However,
presenting the evidence that he was a U.S. intelligence agent
goes a long way toward establishing what he was not, through
mutual exclusivity.

What follows is a dossier on Oswald-the-spy . The reader is
invited to review it as would an FBI counterintelligence officer-
-is he a spy? for whom? how consistent and cross-corroborative is
the data? Too often Oswald is misperceived as an infamous
assassin whose name and face are so familiar that we know
everything about him.

This is not primarily a psychological profile, except
implicitly as we describe his patterns of behavior and reactions
to crucial situations. This study eschews many of the
controversies which the author credits as valid and important:
did Oswald kill the President? what was his precise role? The
failure to understand who he really was has severely inhibited
all official attempts to resolve the issues attending this crime.
We will take a micro look at Oswald through the lens of
tradecraft, of espionage. Hopefully, the clarity provided by
this view will help bring into focus the unresolved questions and

 

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controversies that still plague the assassination of our thirty-
fifth President after nearly thirty years.

Oswald is the most complicated individual ever to be charged
in a major political assassination case in the United States.
Valid questions have been raised about Sirhan sirhan’s motive and
his mental state, about James Earl Ray’s officially ascribed
modus operandi. But their lives are relatively simple and
explicable, even uneventful compared to Oswald’s. We basically
know who they are in terms of the major dimensions of their
lives, while this m no way precludes unanswered questions,
mysteries or even conspiracies, it presents a more solid baseline
from which to seek valid conclusions.

Oswald is enigmatic partly because he spent so much of his

life in the shadowy, compartmentalized world of U.S. intelligence

tAe

wnere deception is more the norm than^exception , where valid data
is difficult to unearth. As we shall see, he maintained a facade
of: leftism created by his politically-charged letters and solo
public performances. In contrast, his associations and contacts
were decidedly right-wing and anti-communist. Moreover, as we
shall see, false Information was purposely created about Oswald,
blurring even further the truth about his political identity an4
activities .

In spite of all this confusion there is still a dominant
image of Oswald. It is tne one put forth by the Warren
Commission in 1963 and shared Dy tne House of Representatives
Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978, the one so pervasive
among mainstream historians and journalists. Lee Harvey Oswald:
hot headed, violence prone, a confused leftist who could not find

 

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his political niche, a “loner”, a man who couldn’t hold a job,
frustrated and “unstable. * As the Warren Commission described
him, a man who,

was perpetually discontent with the world around him. Long

before the assassination he expressed a hatred for American

society and acted in protest against it. Oswald searched

for wnat he conceived to be the perfect society and was

doomed from the start. He sought for himself place In

history — a role as the “great man” who wouid be recognized

as having been in advance of his times. His commitment to

Marxism and communism appears to have been another

• • 2

important factor in his motivation.

This public perception was shaped more by the media than the
Commission’s report, but the image was consistent. The FeDruary
21, 1964 issue of Life magazine had Oswald on the cover, the
infamous photo of him dressed in blacK, holding a rifle and
leftist literature, wearing a pistol strapped to his waist. An
editorial proudly touts the massive investigative effort that
produced vV ouf study of Lee Harvey Oswald. The hu$e spread
(twelve pages of pictures and text) traces his life from early
childhood to the assassination. It is titled “The Evolution of
an Assassin, A Clinical Study of Lee Harvey Oswald.” There are
quotes from teachers, family members, Marine Corps associates,
neighbors. There is not one hint of intrigue or mystery. There
is no mention of the shadowy characters who will soon be
portrayed here (David Ferrie, George de Mohrenscnildt ) ,
characters central to tne Oswald enigma. But for Life and its

 

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readers tnere was no enigma, only the depressing banality of a
psychological misfit, an awkward, struggling “loner” who could
never find himself:

— “He never came to squadron parties,” said a Marine.

— A truant officer claimed that Oswald told him that “most
of ail he lixed to be by himself and do things by himself.”

— A neighbor said he shouted at his wife, “I am the
commander ! ”

— “He looked like he was just lost” said a teacher.

Life’s Oswald was summed up vividly by a psychiatrist who
had once examined him when he was thirteen. Said Dr. Renatus
Hartogs :

Psychologically, he had ail tne qualifications of Deing a
potential assassin. Such a criminal is usually a person
with paranoid ideas of grandiosity who can get satisfactory
self-vindication only by shocking the entire world, he had
to show the world he was not unknown, that he was someone
with whom the world had to reckon.^

You are about to meet a very different young man: a poised,

rather resourceful political manipulator wno surely lived one of
the most eventful, intrigue-filled lives imaginable — albeit very
short. His life was spent within the shadow of, if not the
networks of, U.S. intelligence. Whatever ethical judgement one
might render about his activities, he was, it would seem, good at
what he did–successfully posing as a defector and spying in the
Soviet Union, functioning as a low-to-middle-level agent-

 

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provocateur in the U.S.

From the time he was an eighteen-year-old Marine until his
murder at age twenty-four, he lived a secret life. We will

follow it from the Marines to Moscow to New Orleans to Mexico

City to the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. He might
have become an infamous character apart from President Kennedy s
assassination. He could easily have been portrayed as the
traitor wno gave the Soviets the information needed to shoot down
our U-2 spy plane, an incident that created a diplomatic crisis
and caused a loss of military-intelligence secrets which was
unparalleled in the previous decade. Oswald had access to the U-
2 while in the Marines, had defected to the Soviet Union offering
to reveal military secrets and was still in the U.S.S.R. when the

spy plane was shot down cm May 1960. As we snail see, tne fact

that he was not cast as a notorious traitor is one of the key
factors to unravelling the Oswald pu— frc •

Ironically, though none of the agencies involved would admit
it, young Oswald probably had one of the longest government paper
trails of any person his age in the entire nation (in terms of
the number and volume of files). The destruction or suppression
of some of this material, especially CIA and military
intelligence files, contributes substantially to the historical
confusion. This data would be dwarfed by the mountain of post-
assassination paper. Still, not many twenty-four-year-old
Americans could claim to have been a subject of interest to the
U.S. State Department, the CIA, the FBI, military intelligence,
the passport office, the KGB, the MVD (tne Soviet equivalent of
our FBI) and unofficial dossiers kept by a variety of anti-Castro

 

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groups and interests in the U.S.

This analysis will reach a conclusion about a conspiracy in
John F. Kennedy’s assassination, although it does not seek to
establish Oswald’s innocence or the existence of a second gun.
Instead, it will demonstrate that Oswald’s movements were still
being choreographed by nis handlers in U.S. intelligence however
on the fringe or renegade they may have been at the time of tne
assassination. Wnatever his role in the crime, persons who knew
his background were fabricating not only his image as a hot-
headed communist but also evidence of his guilt in the
assassination. Sucn activity — if clearly and purposefully
connected to the impending crime, as some of it definitely was-
constitutes conspiracy. The legal definition is: knowingly

attempting to further the success of a crime at any phrase of its
commission .

In any assassination investigation, authorities check on the
background and associations of the accused. They attempt to
discover if he or she was part of any group or interest that
might be behind the crime, either directly iby providing
assistance) or more indirectly (by encouraging or manipulating
the alleged assassin). If so, authorities have found a
conspiracy. For example, the FBI investigated Sirhan Sirhan to
see if he was part of, or backed by, any Middle Eastern
organization or terrorist group, since he was Palestinian in
origin and Rooert F. Kennedy strongly supported Israel. No such
conneccion was found. In Oswald s case, concluding that he was a
U.S. intelligence agent is not a footnote to the crime of the

 

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century but, rather, a window onto the conspiracy behind
President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

 

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Chapter 1

 

Agent Oswald: setting The Framework

…suspicions that Oswald served as an intelligence
operative — and, in any such case, there is great
disagreement over whom he might have been working for
arise from examinations of his activities by observers
dedicated to the study ydt^the world of spies.

— Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt

 

To the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald was simply a
disgruntled Marxist. The political highlights of his life that
were used by the Commission to sketch a ta6leau of leftism
included.’ ^is detection to the Soviet Union, his founding o£ a
New Orleans chapter of the pro-Castro Fair Play For Cuba
Committee (FPCC) and t? n<«in his public demonstrations on its
behalf, his attempt to return to Russia (via Cuba) the month
betore the assassination. Still, these major events were
surrounded by intrigues, mysteries, and anomalies sufficient to
force the Commission to worry about “the dirty rumor” that Oswald
was connected to U.S. intelligence. In the final analysis the
Commission officially concluded that Oswald was not anyone s
agent. In 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations

 

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( HSCA ) * concluded that he was not a CIA agent:

The results of this investigation confirmed the Warren
Commission testimony of [CIA Directors] McCone and Helms.
There was no indication in Oswald’s CIA file that he had
ever had contact with the Agency. Finally, taken in their
entirety, the items of circumstantial evidence that the
Committee nad selected for investigation as possibly
indicative of an intelligence association did not support
the allegation that Oswald had an intelligence agency
relationship. 2

Setting aside the quaint notion that if Oswald was liniced to
the Agency, proof would reside in tne CIA files revealed to tne
Committee, there is extensive circumstantial evidence that Oswald
was in fact an agent. The Committee examined only some of it,
sometimes superficially. Before presenting this evidence, it is
useful to examine some general propositions for interpreting
Oswald’s case history.

To conclude, as the Commission and the House Committee did,
tnat Oswald was not an intelligence agent of any Kino is to
believe that his life was structured 6y endless coincidences and
heavy doses of good and bad luck, that the pattern of mysteries
and anomalies that dominated his adult existence were random and
innocent. It is to believe that the incongruity between his
actions and his alleged beliefs, and between his public and
private behavior, had no significance beyond manifesting his
alleged mental instability. It forces the conclusion that his

* Also commonly referred to as the House Assassinations Committee.

 

 

frequent and unusual interactions with government agencies lacked
any overarching significance. In sum, the circumstantial
evidence is so rich that to explain it away as coincidence or
happenstance strains credulity. There are simply too many
snadows of the unseen hand cast on Oswald s shore but eventful
life.

our 6

Whose agent was Oswald–or theirs? To hold that he was
recruited as a Russian spy, one must posit tnat virtually all of
the agencies of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement were so
completely ineffective when it came to Oswald that they must be
imagined to be not just incompetent but comatose. Any
government, any agency can be fooled. Spies do penetrate the
other side, sometimes at the highest levels. But the
opportunities of the U.S. government to discover Oswald-the-
Soviet-spy were so numerous, and his interaction with U.S.
agencies so extensive, that it requires too elastic a notion of
American bad luck (and Russian good luck} to imagine that the
Soviets slipped him past U.S. intelligence. As will be
demonstrated, the notion that Oswald was a Russian spy requires
the suspension of belief concerning a great deal of very good
evidence.

A CIA memo written one month after the assassination makes a
key point: “Longstanding KGB practice generally forbids agents

serving outside the U.S.S.R. to have any contact with domestic
communist parties or with Soviet embassies or consulates
(“deletion]. Yet Oswald blazed a trail to the Soviets which was a
mile wide.

 

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Another theory/ offered by British author Michael Eddowes,
is that the Soviets pulled a switch while Oswald was in Russia/
substituting a KGB agent who proceeded to assassinate the
President on Moscow’s orders. It is not the Bondian flavor to
Eddowes’ scenario that one balks at, for this is one arena in
which truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Eddowes’ contention
rests primarily on alleged discrepancies in Oswald s height and
appearance. 4 For example, official records describe tne Oswald
who returned from Russia as shorter than the Oswald who enlisted
in the Marines years before defecting to Russia. One difficulty
with the scenario is that it assumes Oswald s mother and brother
were fooled by an impostor, which seems extremely dubious. In
1981, under a court order obtained by Eddowes and Oswald s widow
Marina, the badly decomposed body was exhumed and positively
identified as the real Oswald.

The other foreign-agent theory ties Oswald to Cuban
intelligence. Beyond some rather flimsy assertions that he had
contact with Castro’s spies (assertions emanating from the CIA
itself or from anti-Castro sympathizers), there is no convincing
circumstantial evidence, as tnis analysis will show, one flaw m
this scenario is the assumption that Oswald’s pro-Castro
involvements were real rather than a charade. It would be
feckless for Cuban intelligence to employ an assassin so publicly
identified with Castro’s cause. Moreover, as will later be
described, someone was controlling Oswald s movements in a manner
that made him appear increasingly pro-Castro and pro-communist in
tne months preceding the assassination. Someone was aiso
fabricating embellishments on a leftist image for Oswald–hardiy

 

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a smart move for Castro’s agents. The notion that Oswald was
linked to Cuban intelligence but did the assassination on his own
still requires that he be a genuine pro-Castroite (when, in fact,
he was just the opposite).

The assertion that Oswald was ours afld not theirs only
partially answers the question “whose a$ent wafc he}” FftI? CJA?
National Security Agency? Defense Intelligence Agency? Army or
Navy intelligence? Robert Sam Anson is correct when he cautions
that, “Oswald’s having been an agent does not necessarily mean he
was a CIA man. Part of the common misunderstanding of the nature
of intelligence derives from the assumption that all spies work
for the CIA.””* Not only do other U.S. intelligence organizations
have their own spies, but the CIA by no means had exclusive
rights of turf to the various intelligence contexts in which
Oswald appeared. Military intelligence had been involved in the
arena of Soviet espionage; the FBI and military intelligence were
very active in Cuoan-exile politics and espionage within the U.S.

What can be said is that Oswald’s iinKages to CIA-related
persons, projects and contexts appears far stronger than to any
other U.S. intelligence agency, although the FBI and military
intelligence run a distant second and third. Oswald s two
spookiest known associates, George de Mohrenschildt and David
Ferrie, seemed more firmly linxed to tne CIA than to any other
intelligence organization.

Another frequently encountered misconception is tnat U.S.
intelligence agencies are monolithic, either as an entire
community or as individual organizations. In fact, secrecy and

 

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turf rivalry significantly compartmentalize them from each other
ana wi-thirt themselves. It is thus possible that one CIA office
in Langley, Virginia was earnestly studying Oswald to see if he
was a Russian spy (as in the previously mentioned CIA memo),
while someone in another section was running him as a U.S. agent.

As former CIA Director Alan Dulles indicated to his
colleagues on the Warren Commission, proving or disproving that
Oswald worked for the Agency would be very difficult given the
nature o-f the organization. 6

ALLEN DULLES: There is a terribly hard thing to disprove, you

know. How do you disprove a fellow was not your agent: How do

you disprove it?

CONG. HALE BOGGS (Dem. La): You could disprove it, couldn t you?

DULLES: No . . .

BOGGS: …Did you have agents about whom you had no record

whatsoever?

DULLES: The record might not be on paper. But on paper would

have hieroglyphics that only two people knew what they meant, and
nobody outside of the agency would know and you could say this
meant the agent and somebody else could say this meant another
agent . . .

BOGGS,’ …Let’s say [U-2 pilot Francis Gary] Powers did not have
a signed contract, but he was recruited by someone in CIA. The
man who recfuited him would know, wouldn t he?

DULLES’, Yes, but he wouldn’t tell.

CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN: Wouldn’t tell it under oath?

DULLESJ I wouldn*t tnink he would tell it under oath, no..

 

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WARREN*. Why?

DULLES*. He ought not tell it under oath. Maybe not tell it to
his own government, but wouldn’t tell it any other way.

COMMISSIONER JOHN McCOY: Wouldn’t he tell it to his own chief?

A*

DULLES. He might or might not. If he was a bad one, then he
wouldn ‘t .

Direct proof that Oswald worked for the CIA is probably
impossible to come by without Agency cooperation. The evidence
will be circumstantial. But this does not mean that a valid
conclusion cannot be reached. In counterintelligence work, U.S.
agencies must constantly reach decisions about which employees
might be spying for a foreign government, which defectors are
real and which are planted spies. Since the KGB and other
adversary organizations will not provide accurate data,
conclusions must be reached by assessing the weight, consistency,
and validity of accumulated circumstantial evidence. Was the
case in question treated unusually or suspiciously by a foreign
government? Who were the suspect’s associates? Did the suspect
do or know something that tends to indicate that their story is a
fabrication? Is there a discernible pattern to their actions and
linkages, a pattern whose individual components may seem benign
but whose cumulative image is clearly one of espionage. The same
paradigm through which the CIA seeks out moles in its
Headquarters , double agent£ in its field offices And foreign
spies who have pretended to defect is what we will apply to
Oswald to determine if he worked for U.S. intelligence (and, more
specifically, the CIA).

 

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It should also be noted that not all CIA agents operate at
tne level of, or in the sophisticated style of,James Bond. As
former deep-cover agent Philip Agee reminds us:^

There are many different types of agents in CIA
parlance. Many operations are structured under tne
leadership o£ a single agent to whom other agents respond
either as a group working together or in separate,
compartmented activities. The single agent who runs the
operation under station direction is known as the principal .
agent and the others as secondary or sub-agents . . . An
action agent is a person wno actually provides secret
information, e.g. a spy in a communist party, whereas a
support agent performs tasks related to an operation but is
not the source of intelligence….

There are agents who work for an organization on a full time
basis throughout their entire careers. There are contract agents
who are hired to perform assigned tasks for variable duration,
from weeks to decades — fly secret missions, produce phony
documents, perform assassinations.

Nor are such men all cut from the same mold. Some could
pass as mild-mannered accountants or college professors while
others manifest the bravado of clandestine cowboys or an
ideological zealousnesS bordering on derangement. Former V/arren
Commission Counsel David Belin said of Oswald, “There is nothing
in CIA files to give even the slightest hint that he was a CIA
agent. Moreover, it is relatively obvious that a man of Oswald’s
background and emotions is not the kind of person the CIA would

 

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entrust with anything.”

Beiin negiects the fact chat the U.S. intelligence community
has oeen populated by soma of the most emotionatly volatile
characters imaginable, persons who at times are so unstable that
even their handlers are at a loss to control them. In a
subsequent chapter we will meet Oswald s associate David Ferrie,
who was unstable by almost any conventional measure. Still, he
found work as a pilot and as a soldier in the CIA’s war against
Castro. Released CIA documents indicate chat two CIa contract
killers hired in the early 1960s were flamboyant types who got
involved in narcotics, freelance assassination, and serious
trouble with the law while in Agency employ. One of the hired
guns was described in a Senate hearing as an “unguided missile.”
It is only in the world of fiction that intelligence-employed
assassins are ice-cool, unflappable professionals like FredericK
Forsythe’s the Jackal.

In a Warren Commission executive session, Commissioners
briefly discussed this very point, behind closed doors.

McCLOY: Well, I can’t say that I have run into a fellow

comparable to Oswald, but I have run into some very limited
mentalities in the CIA and FBI.

WARREN: Under agents, the regular agents, I thinK that would be

all rignt, but chey and all the other agencies do employ
undercover men who are of terrible character.

DULLES: Terribly bad characters.

SEN. RICHARD B. RUSSELL (Dem. Ga.): Limited intelligence, even

the city police departments do it.

 

27

 

 

WARREN: It almost takes that kind of man to do a lot of this

intelligence work.

Oswald’s odyssey in the grip of U.S. intelligence would take
him to Russia and back, then to New Orleans, Dallas and
historical infamy. But it began while he was a nineteen-year-old
Marine .

 

28

 

 

Chapter 2

 

The Pinko Marine

It was almost as if he [Oswald] was crying to bait the
consul into taking adverse action against him. He
mentioned that he knew certain classified things in
connection with having been, I think, a radar operator in
the Marine Corps and that he was going to turn this
information over to the Soviet authorities. And, of
course, we didn’t know how much he knew or anything like
that . . .

— U.S. Embassy official John McVickar 1

 

In October of 1956, seventeen-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald
joined the Marine Corps. By 1957 he had been trained in radar
techniques anti air traffic control. He finished seventh in
his class and was certified as an aviation electronics operator.
According to the official Marine Corps records, he was given a
confidential clearance. 2 That same year he was assigned to the
MACS- I Marine Air Control Squadron at Atsugi Air Force Base,

Atsugi was no ordinary base. In clandestine parlance, black
means secret. Atsugi was one of the blackest bases anywhere in
the world. Among other things, it was the home of what the

 

 

29

 

 

3

Soviets called “the black lady of espionage” — the U-2 spy plane.
The aircraft’s primary mission was to gather photograph
intelligence over the Soviet Union and China. The plane s high-
flying cameras ferreted out missile sites, airfields, aircraft,
missile-testing and training activities, special weapons storage,
submarine t-ten , even atomic production.^ The U-2 accounted

for no less than ninety percent of America’s hard data on Soviet
military and defense activities. It is «aey to understand why
the black lady was the KGB’s highest-pr iority target. The
problem for the Soviets was that it flew so high (80,000 to
90,000 feet) that nothing could find it much less shoot it down,
or so it was assumed by the United States.

Inside the radar “bubble” at Atsugi (the control room wnere
friendly and unfriendly aircraft wefe monitored as they flew
tnrough a vast chunk of pacific air space) the U-2 was easily
identified. The world altitude record was then 65,889 feet; the
U-2 pilots would ask the bubble such things as, “Request winds
aloft at 90,000 angels” (90,000 feet). According to some of the
Marines who worked in the bubble, one of their colleagues showed
an extraordinary interest in the flight paths of the
conspicuously high-flying blip. 6 His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.
He worked inside the bubble directing air traffic and scouting
for incoming aircraft. 6

Even the lowliest Marine stationed at Atsugi knew that the
Utility Plane (U-2) was something special. The hangar that
housed it was ringed with machine-gun-toting guards. Oswald’s
squadron kept its gear in this hangar. ^ All data on the plane,
including its altitude, was ultrasecret. According to official

 

30

 

 

Marine records, Oswald’s clearance was only “confidential.”
According to one of the Marines who worked in the bubble and who
testified before the Warren Commission, minimum clearance for the
men in the bubble was “secret.” 8

Outside the bubble, Oswald saw the U-2’s being taxied out of
their hangars for take-off. So interested was he that he
discussed the plane witn the officer in charge of his unit. He

was also seen strolling around the base taking pictures. 18
Whether Oswald violated regulations and photographed the U-2 is
not known, but he did take pictures of other aircraft and
military bases while in the service. 11

Top secrecy concerning the aircraft was essential because
any technical information could potentially help the frustrated
Soviets in their frenzied attempts to eaten the black lady. Any
data on altitude and flight patterns, which the men in tne bubbJe
had witnessed firsthand, would certainly have been of help to the
Soviets, who presumably could not even track the U-2. Whatever
Oswald’s security clearance, his presence in the bubble assured
that he would possess information useful to the Soviets.

Atsugi had another claim to black fame: it was one of the

largest CIA bases in the world. 12 Two dozen buildings,
euphemistically called the Joint Technical Advisory Group,
comprised the nerve center of the CIA’s pervasive covert
operations in Asia. 18 It was from Atsugi that the CIA flew
Chinese Nationalist agents to be parachuted into Communist
China . 14

It was only fitting that the black lady lived here, since

 

31

 

 

she belonged not to the Air Force but to the CIA. The plane was
developed hy Richard M. Bissell, Allen Dulles deputy. Bissell
worked in concert with experts from the Air Force and Lockheed
Aircraft/ which built the planes. 19 He was an urbane, six-foot-
four former professor of economics, but he was no ivory-tower
type. He was a key member of the Agency’s clandestine elite and
directed some of its most secret operations. 18 Bissell s
clandestine career, like Oswald’s, was to span both of the CIA s
then most important arenas–the U-2/Soviet sphere and Cuba.
Bissell was in charge of planning the ill-fated Bay of Pigs
Invasion in which the Agency attempted to use an army of Cuban
exiles to overthrow Castro. ^

The U-2 was the Agency’s most prized toy. From the time it
became operational in 1956 until the time it was shot down in
1960, it was considered to be the most spectacular technical
achievement in the history of O.S. intelligence. Its
capabilities and its success were without peer. 18 Twenty-two of
the planes were built. They represented dramatic advances in
aircraft technology and design as well as in photographic
technology. 19 When the Soviets finally shot down pilot Frances
Gary Powers’ U-2, they did more than stop surveillance: they

came into possession o 4 wreckage that provided clues to
spectacular U.S. advances in several realms of technology.

Powers was shot down in May 1960, while Oswald was in
Russia. His plane was equipped with self-destructive charges
which supposedly would be activated after the pilot had ejected
during trouble. It is possible that Powers, knowing the
mentality of his employers, suspected that the explosive charges

 

32

 

 

might be designed to terminate the pilot as well as the plane, in
case he were to become squeamish about following the order to

poison himself before being captured . 20 Whatever the cause, both

f\

Powers and his aircraft fell into soviet hands.

Oswald’s ASiaA activities, like Atsugi itself, are shrouded

in mystery. In September 1958 his Marine unit was transferred

from Atsugi to Taiwan. The Department of Defense told the House

Assassinations Committee that its data indicates that Oswald

stayed behind at Atsugi when his unit moved out. Yet one of

R

Oswald’s officers, Lieutenant Charles Rhodes, remembered that

Oswald was in Taiwan but was abruptly flown back to Atsugi by

military aircraft. Rhodes was told that Oswald was going back

for “medical treatment.” Marine Corps files indicate that Oswald

had a very mild venereal disease. 22 The question arises as to

why a mild disease which is not known to preclude a regular work

routine would cause Oswald to be flown across the China Sea back

to Japan. One possibility is that the disease was a cover to

allow Oswald to leave his military duties to pursue some other

assignment for a while. In actuality, the sickness ploy is a

frequently used intelligence cover for getting military personnel

• • 23

out of circulation to receive special training.

When Oswald’s tour of duty in Asia was finished, he returned
stateside. In late 1958 he was assigned to El Toro Air Station
in California. Again official records indicate that he had only
“confidential* clearance. 24 The commander of Oswald’s El Toro
unit told the Warren Commission that he “must have had secret
clearance to work in the radar center, because that was the

 

33

 

 

minimum requirement for all of us .” 26 A Marine who served with

Oswald testified that, “we all had access to classified

in-formation,” wnich the Marine believed to be classified as

“secret .” 26 Marine Kerry Thornley said of Oswald’s El Toro

rating, “I believe that he at one time worked at the security

files. . .probably a ‘secret’ clearance would be required.” The

Marine Corps’s then Director of Personnel wrote to the Warren

Commission that Oswald may have had a secret clearance while

28

performing certain duties. °

His access to sensitive-most likely, secret — information
while at El Toro is important oecausfe of fiis strange behavior
there. His duties were never changed nor was his access
restricted even though toe became a conspicuous leftist — a
Russophile . 29 The young Marine studied the Russian language, an
endeavor he had begun while in Asia. He played Russian records
so loudly tnat they could be heard throughout his barracks; he
read Russian books, hour after hour; he subscribed to a Russian-
language periodical. He openly discussed Soviet politics.

Oswald blathered Russian at his fellow Marines, who could not
begin to understand him.

It was all extremely conspicuous. His Marine peers
humorously dubbed him “Oswaldskovich . ” In return, he addressed
them as “comrade .” 30 It was not all language and literature:
there was a decidedly pro-Soviet flavor to Oswald’s Russian
interests. He touted Soviet communism as “the best system in the
world . ” 31

This was 1958 . Coid-war tensions were hign. The House
Un-American Activities Committee was active; blacklisting was

 

34

 

 

declining but still in evidence. It had been only four years
since Senator Josepn McCarthy’s witch hunts for alleged
communists in the government exploited the national paranoia
about subversion. It was an era of extreme tension and distrust
between the United states and the Soviet Union. This young
Marine, who had access to a wealth of radar information relevant
to U.S. forces in the pacific and who had served at one of his
nation’s most sensitive foreign bases, could have been in deep
trouble. The Marine Corps is not renowned as a bastion of’
liberal tolerance and free thinking, but it reacted in Oswald s
case as if it were. There was no reaction at all to Oswald s
pinko inclinations— at least, ndt in any records or in the
recollections of military personnel involved.

If Oswald was a foreign spy at this point in his life, he
certainly had a novel approach to building a cover — flaunting his
communist tendencies in the midst of America’s most conservative
military subculture. If so, the tactic worked: the Marines

ignored him. Mail-room personnel dutifully reported the leftist
nature of Oswald’s mail . 32 Nothing came of it. One officer who
attempted to discuss Oswald’s Russophile behavior with him
remembers the young man replied that he was “trying to
indoctrinate himself in Russian theory in conformance with Marine
Corps policy .” 33 Evidently this putative policy superseded any
worries the corps might have had concerning some of its other
policies, such as loyalty and the protection of secrets (unless
someone m authority knew that there was nothing to fear from
Oswaidskovich ) .

 

35

 

 

Oswald made a crash effort to master Russian language as
well as theory. In February 1959 he failed a Marine Corps
proficiency test in Russian. Six months later he had made
remarkable progress. It seems likely that Oswald received
special training from tne government, as part of the preparation
for his forthcoming espionage mission to the U.S.S.R. One of his
Marine friends arranged for him to meet an aunt who was also
studying Russian. The aunt, Rosaleen Quinn, talked Russian with
Oswald for over two hours during supper. She was preparing to
take a State Department exam and had worked with a tutor for more
than a year. According to Quinn, Oswald spoke Russian better and

more confidently than she did.

When Oswald failed His Russian test in Feoruary, he had

scored a “-5” in understanding spoken Russian. By the time of

noY o

his summertime encounter with Quinn, he^understood it but spoke

it with considerable fluency. Neither Quinn nor, supposedly,

anyone else tutored him. His explanation for this progress was

that it resulted from listening to £adio Moscow. Not only would

#

that be a tough way to learn a language, since Radio Moscow is
not noted for talking slowly, but Russian is a difficult language
for an American to master.

I consulted Dr. James Weeks, a professor of modern languages

at Southeastern Massachusetts University who teaches Russian and

34

who himself underwent language training while in the military.

He cited statistics wnich indicate that attaining Russian fluency
requires more than twice as many hours as did Spanish Or French-
eleven hundred hours or more, including instruction. Weeks
opined that the kind of progress described in Oswald s case would

 

36

 

 

be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to attain in such a
short time by using only the radio and self-study props. Such
progress would require people, Weeks asserted instructors or, at
a minimum, persons proficient in the language who would be
willing to converse extensively with the student. Oswald
supposedly had access fo neither formal nor informal tutors.

In 1974 a transcript of an executive session of the Warren
Commission was released after a prolonged legal battle by a
private researcher . 3 ^ Classified as Top Secret until its
release, it contains a reference by Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin
to the Commission’s efforts, “to find out what he [Oswald]
studied at the Monterey School of the Army in the way of
languages.^ 36 There is no known official record of Oswald having
studied thefe. Ihe foonterey School (the Defense Language
Institute), located in California, was operational in 1959. It
was, and still is, the linguistic West Point for U.S. military
and intelligence personnel who need to learn a language
thoroughly and quickly. studied there, it would

explain his phenomenal progress.

Tne Monterey Scnooi is not a self-improvement institution

t _ .

offering courses to anyone who is interested, in 1^59 it was a
school for serious training relating to government work, not to
the academic whims of military or intelligence personnel. Only
those with a certain level of aptitude were admitted, and
training was in a language selected for the student by the
government, according to needs or assignments. If Oswald went
there, ic would also explain why he was not seen as a threat to

 

37

 

 

Marine Corps security: ne was indeed being trained in things

Russian in conformance with someone’s policy — most likely, U.S.
intelligence.

In September 1959 Oswald left the Marine Corps-three months
ahead of his scheduled discharge. In the first of what was to
be a long series of quick and favorable treatments by various
government agencies, he was given a dependency discharge because
of an injury to his mother. ^ The speed of his release surprised
his Marine peers. 4 ® But the Marine Corps was duped, or so it
appears. The discharge was obtained on false grounds. Oswald s
mother’s injury consisted of a jar falling on her toe while at
work. She stayed home for a week, but when she returned she did
not mention the injury at all much less describe it as a
continuing problem. All of this took place the year before
Oswald’s dependency discharge. 41

Perhaps Oswald was in a hurry to get out of the Marines
because he had other things to do. In October 1959 — one month
after his three-months-early discharge–he was on his way to
Moscow to defect. As with most aspects of his defection and his
return, his journey to Russia is enigmatic.

Firstly, there is financing. The trip cost at least $1500.
The Warren Commission decided that Oswald, being frugal, saved
the money out of his Marine Corps pay. 4 ^ Before his departure
for Moscow his bank account reflected only $203. He could have
squirreled away $1300 in cash and carried it around with him to
pay for his trip (awkward, but by no means impossible); or his
trip could have been subsidized by someone. Friends and
relatives claim not to have given him any money during this

 

38

 

 

period, but perhaps someone else did.

Secondly, there is Oswald’s itinerary. He arrived in
England on October 9 and left October 10. So says his passpott,
stamped at the London airport. 45 His next destination was
Helsinki, en route to Moscow. He arrived there on the 11th. But
there was no available commercial flight that would have gotten
him there that soon. 44 Either his nest egg of cash was bigger
than anyone imagined — enough to hire private air transport — or he
was flown to Helsinki by noncommercial aircraft, private or
military .

After arriving in Moscow in October of 1959, he told Soviet
officials of his desire for Soviet citizenship. The officials
were unimpressed and probably more than a bit suspicious. They
rejected his request for citizenship and ordered him to leave
Moscow within two hours. 45 A*il<*g«aiy , Oswald’s response to this
rejection was to slit his left wrist. He was rushed to a
hospital by a Soviet Intourist guide who found him bleeding in
his hotel room. He was then confined to a psychiatric hospital
while the Soviets decided his fate. Cwtainly they must have
debated whether Oswald was for real or a spy. This was an era in
which the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were playing extensive spy games
with ostensible defectors. 46

After waiting several days for the Soviets to make up their
mind, Oswald decided to take action. He went to the American
Embassy in Moscow where he denounced the U.S., praised the
U.S.S.R., and stated that he wanted to renounce his U.S.
citizenship. 4 ^ He also made another, very dramatic announcement:
he stated that he had offered to give the Soviets radar secret s

 

39

 

 

that he had learned in the Marines. He added ominously that he,
“might know something of special interest* (an obvious reference
to the U-2 ) . 48

This action seems counterproductive on Oswald s part. To
make such threats to the Americans might cause them to panic, to
employ extraordinary means to stop the young Marine from spilling
secrets. If the U.S. Embassy did not previously know of Oswald’s
access to secret materials, it did now. If Oswald s real goal
was to become a Soviet citizen, taunting U.S. officials with not-
so-thinly-veiled threats about the ultrasecret U-2 might have
caused them to think up some cold-war caper to silence Oswald
and thus eliminate risk to the U-2. Ia addition to U-2 data,
Oswald had access to a wealth of secrets concerning .radio-
communications codes, radar installations and aircraft deployment
in the western United States.

Still, nothing happened. U.S. officials listened to
Oswald’s threats with conspicuous tranquility. Perhaps he knew
that they would not try to stop him; perhaps he wasn t even
talking to them, but to the Soviets. In the late 1950s, the U.S.
Embassy was one of the best places in Moscow to get the ear of
Kremlin intelligence officers. The bugging of our embassy there
was common Soviet practice, as was our bugging of their embassy
in Washington. Oswald’s statement may well have been
advertisements to the wavering Soviets, not threats to the U.S.
officials .

The Soviets remained unconvinced. Oswald languished for
weeks in a Moscow hotel, writing pro-communist letters to his
family back in America and explaining at length the reasons for

 

40

 

 

his defection. Since it would have been a safe assumption that

the Soviets would open and read his mail, these too may have

. • • . . 49

constituted self-advertisements for Soviet citizenship.

Finally Oswald’s frantic efforts to be accepted payed off.

The Russians took him and, presumably, his store of radar secrets

along with him. Although the Soviets would claim that they had

50

no interest in Oswald and never debriefed him.

It is interesting to note that the CIA expressed extreme
skepticism concerning the Soviets’ professed disinterest in
Oswald. It did not seem logical, given Oswald’s radar knowledge,
that the Kremlin would not even talk with him. Yet the CIA
wanted everyone to believe that its claims of disinterest in
Oswald upon his return from Russia were perfectly logical, that
there was no reason why they would want to discuss with Oswald
how much of what he told the Soviets.

The Warren Commission’s vision of Oswald is one of a hot-
headed ideologue whose political passions compelled him to do
everything from slashing his wrist to shooting the president.

The Vice-Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has an interesting
recollection about Oswald’s defection speech. John A. McVickar
told the Warren Commission that the young defector seemed to be
following some “pattern of behavior in which he had been tutored
by person or persons unknown, that he had been in contact with
others before or during his Marine Corps tour who had guided him
and encouraged him in his actions.

McVickar was not alone in his perception that Oswald was a
cool and purposeful young man. A New Orleans radio host who
interviewed him about his pro-Castro activities said, “He seemed

 

41

 

 

to be very conscious about all of his words, all of his
movements, sort of very deliberate … and he struck me as being
rather articulate. He was the type of person you would say
inspired confidence. ” 5 ^ Fifteen years after the assassination
Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry and Assistant District Attorney
William Alexander were still haunted by the eerie demeanor of
their most-famous prisoner. Curry said he thought Oswald “had
been trained in interrogation techniques and resisting-
interrogation techniques . ” 55 Said Alexander, “I was amazed that
a person so young would have had the self-control he had. It was
almost as if he had been rehearsed, or programmed, to meet the
situation that he found himself in.” 54

A New Orleans policeman who interviewed Oswald following his

arrest for a street fight that ensued from his pro-Castro

leafletting described him as “answering questions in a mechanical

5 5

manner, much like a machine that could be turned on and off.”

The other embassy official wno dealc with Oswald, Desides
John A. McVickar, tried to talK Oswald out of defecting. After
conversing with him for about an hour, the official told the
young Marine to return in two days to formally renounce his U.S.
citizenship. 5 ® This official was Richard Snyder, a man alleged
by some Warren Commission critics to have been working for the
CIA under diplomatic cover. ‘

In 1977 the House Assassinations Committee was attempting to
sort out the CIA’s possible interaction with Oswald. The CIA and
Snyder denied that he worked for the Agency while in Moscow,
althouth admitting that he had worked for it briefly at an
earlier time. The Committee discovered that his CIA file had

 

42

 

 

been “red flagged” and specially segregated. In attempting to
find out why, the Committee found the CIA’s innocent explanation
unsatisfactory. HSCA termed the matter of Snyder’s file
“extremely troubling. However, based on Snyder’s testimony, a
review of his file, and statements from his former State
Department personnel officer, the Committee concluded that “a
finding that he was in contact with Oswald on behalf of the CIA
was not warranted.”

HSCA was told by a former State Department official who was
“familiar with State Department procedures regarding CIA
employees” that “at no time from i959 to i963 dia the CIa use the
State Department’s overseas consular positions as cover Cor CIA
intelligence otficers.” But m his 1980 boox Wilderness of
Mirrors , David C. Martin alleges that in NovemDer 1962 Hugh
Montgomery was “a CIA officer under diplomatic cover in the
embassy [U.S. Embassy in Moscow],” as was Richard Jacobs,

“another CIA officer serving under diplomatic cover.” Martin’s
book is based in part on interviews with retired CIA officers.

Snyder, who was the embassy’s second-secretary, listened to
Oswald’s threats to reveal secrets but apparently took no action
to try to stop him (beyond trying to talk him out of it). While
the author has no knowledge of what standard procedure would be
in such cases, this reaction appears rather casual, given that no
one at the embassy could have known the magnitude of secrets
Oswald might spill.

Snyder was in charge of Oswald’s handling by the embassy.

In a confidential State Department memorandum he stated, “I was

 

43

 

 

..60

 

In addition to

 

the sole officer handling t^C Oswald case,
this chore, Snyder described himself in a Yale alumni book as
having been “in charge of the Gary Powers-U2 trial matters” (when
Powers’ U-2 was shot down by the Soviets).

The defection of this radar operator who dealt with secret
codes and files in California and who worked in the bubble that
monitored U-2 flights, brought a mixed reaction from the U.S.
military. At El Toro Air Base in California (Oswald’s last
assignment before leaving the Marines), there was a flurry of
activity when local commanders learned of his defection.

According to Oswald’s former commanding officer there, the
defection precipitated wholesale changes in codes, frequencies
for radio transmission and for radar, and in aircraft call
numbers — changes designed to repair any leaked secrets. 61 Marine
Lt. John Donovan told the Warren Commission that Oswald had a
wealth of knowledge about West Coast air bases, including: “all

radio frequencies for all squadrons, all tactical call signs, the
relative strengths of all squadrons, number and type of aircraft
in a squadron … the authentication code for entering and exiting
[the air defense zone]… the range of surrounding units’ radio
and radar.” 62 At the higher levels of military bureaucracy in
Washington, however, there was scarcely a ripple.

According to Colonel Thomas Fox, former head of
counterintelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency, it was
standard operating procedure to conduct a “net damage assessment”
for defectors. 61 The assessment was an analysis of the secret
information which a defector might have had access to, in order
to discern what operations might be compromised. In the cases of

 

44

 

 

the only two U.S. enlisted men who defected to communist
countries before Oswald, damage assessments were conducted; in
the cases of at least two of those who defected after Oswald,
assessments were conducted. ^ There was none for Oswald.

It is not that he had no secrets or could cause no damage.

It would seem that with El Toro, Atsugi, and the U-2 there was
plenty of potential damage to assess. It is not that there were
so many defectors flocking to Russia that our bureaucracy
couldn’t keep up with them, so that Oswald slipped through the
cracks. It is not that American officials had no warning that
Oswald was going to divulge secrets. Is it that the “damage” had
already been precisely calculated when designing Oswald’s cover
as a defector?

If he was a genuine defector instead of a spy, U.S.
intelligence could well have taken the view that his was one of
the most damaging defections in history. The sequence of events
surrounding his threats to divulge secrets could have been viewed
as rendering Oswald the traitor of the decade. As Sherlock
Holmes told Dr. Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles , the key
to the mystery lies in why the dog did not bark.

On May 1, 1960, six months after Oswald defected, boasting
that he “might know something of special interest,” the CIA’s
black lady came crashing to Russian soil outside the city of
Sverdlovsk. The diplomatic fallout was immense. At first,
Washington claimed that the downed craft was a weather plane
which had innocently drifted into Russian air space from Turkey,
because the pilot became oxygen deprived and lost his sense of

 

45

 

 

direction. 66 Moscow waited forty-eight hours, allowing plenty of
time for the U.S. cover story to circulate, before blowing it out
of the water. Then the Soviets revealed that they had both the
plane and pilot. President Eisenhower was probably advised by
the CIA that the U-2 had been blown up per standard procedure.
Eisenhower paid dearly for the Agency’s unfounded optimism — with
his own credibility. The State Department admitted the craft was
a spy plane but said the flight was not authorized in Washington.
Two days later this fallback position crumbled: Eisenhower

finally assumed responsibility for the U-2. In addition to
Administration credibility, the other casualty of the affair was
the upcoming four-power summit conference, which collapsed in
wake of the spy flight.

How did the U.S.S.R catch the black lady? One qualified
expert. Colonel Fletcher Prouty, who was liaison officer between
the Air Force and the CIA for the U-2 project, believes that the
plane must have been flying at an abnormally low altitude when it
was shot down. 66 Another qualified source, U-2 pilot Francis
Gary Powers, opined that technical data supplied to the Russians
by Lee Harvey Oswald may have been U-2’s downfall. Powers
voiced the suspicion that Oswald’s knowledge of the plane s
operational altitude and of the radar techniques used during its
flight provided what the Soviets needed in order to target their
missiles more accurately and at a much higher altitude than was
previously possible. 67 commenting on Oswa-ld, Powers said that,
“he had access to all our equipment. He knew the altitudes we
flew at, how long we stayed out on any mission, and in which

O

direction we went.” 0

 

46

 

 

Whether Prouty or Powers is correct, or neither is correct,
it would seem that the CIA would logically have an intense
interest in discovering just what role Oswald may have had in
the fate of U-2 — especially since spy planes continued to fly
after the Soviets brought Powers down. The Agency claims it had
no interest in Oswald and nev«r debriefed him upon his return
from Russia. Was the CIA so simple minded that it saw no
possible connection between Oswald and the U-2? Did it see one
but forget to follow up on it by debriefing him? Or did it
already know precisely what Oswald had told the Soviets?

Powers was eventually returned to the U.S. in February 1962
in exchange for Soviet spy master Rudolf Abel. This occurred
while Oswald was still in the U.S.S.R. If Powers told his CIA
employers the same story he would later tell, the Agency s
interest in Oswald should have been peaked, to say the least.
According to Powers, his Soviet interrogators were surprisingly
knowledgeable about certain matters. 69 The Agency should have
entertained the notion that Oswald had provided the information,
unless the CIA knew better.

Powers lied to his captors about the spy plane’s altitude,
insisting that he flew at 68,000 feet (much lower than the U-2’s
actual capability). He believed that since the aircraft could
fly higher than the Soviets could monitor, they would be ignorant
of the actual altitude. Not only did they correctly state his
altitude but showed him his actual flight path. This is

data that Oswald had access to.

Powers also claimed that he was questioned extensively about

 

47

 

 

Atsugi air base. He denied ever being there (even though that is
where the U-2 flights originated and Oswald’s Atsugi squadron
commander recalled that Powers was at the base). But he asserted
that the questions put to him by the Soviets reflected
considerable knowledge about U-2 flights from Atsugi.

After Powers’ return to the U.S., Oswald should have been
high on the mail-surveillance list of U.S. intelligence. He
wrote to his brother Robert in February 1962 (after Powers’

it

return) and commented that Powers seemed to be a nice bright

** 70

American type fellow when I saw him in Moscow. Lee never
explained when or how. He had moved from Moscow to Minsk by the
time the U-2 was downed. His “diary,” allegedly chronicling his
Soviet sojourn, states that he was attending a party in Minsk on
May 1, 1960 when Powers was captured. Back in the U.S., however,
Oswald would tell a co-worker that he had been in Moscow for the
big May Day celebration honoring the Communist Revolution. Of
the three May Days Oswald spent in Russia, he was accounted for
as being out of Moscow on the other two. We have only his di^ry-
-a suspicious artifact in its own right, as will be discussed
later — to preclude his being in Moscow when Powers was shot down.
This should have alerted the CIA to the possibility that Oswald
played some U-2 role after the plane was downed as well as
possibly having a hand in its demise. He was, after all,
presumably the only person in the U.S.S.R. who had first-hand
knowledge of the spy plane and its frase, besides the prisoner who
was being interrogated.

In February 1961, after nearly two and a half years in
Russia, Oswald had a wife (the former Marina Prusakova), a baby

 

48

 

 

daughter, and a yen to return to the U.S. Our embassy in Moscow
responded to the latter request with expeditiousness and
generosity. Oswald wrote the embassy and asked for guarantees
against prosecution upon his return to the U.S. At the request
of Richard Snyder, the State Department officer who had handled
Oswald’s defection, Lee and Marina traveled to Moscow and
appeared at the embassy. 7 ^ There Oswald recanted, saying that he
had learned his lesson the hard way, that he had been,

“completely relieved of his illusions about the Soviet Union.
Snyder returned Oswald’s passport to him and recommended to
Washington that it agree to Marina’s application for a visa. 7 -*

While at the embassy, Marina was given a physical exam by
the embassy doctor, Ai* force Captain Alexis Davison . 74 Davison
was evidently so moved by Oswald’s recantation that he went out
of his way to befriend the ex-Marine. He suggested that Oswald
might contact Davison’s mother (if Oswald ever got to Atlanta).
There is no evidence that Oswald ever saw Mrs. Davison, but he
did go out of his way to go to Atlanta. The plane that he took
from New York to Dallas after returning from the Soviet Union
stopped briefly in Atlanta to exchange passengers. There were
direct flights to Dallas, but Oswald chose one that stopped in
Atlanta . 76 Inexplicably, the Oswalds started for Texas with five
suitcases and arrived in Dallas with only two; the three missing
suitcases are unaccounted for . 76 Could Oswald have been
performing some sort of courier function for materials
originating in the U.S.S.R.?

When arrested in Dallas following the assassination, he had

 

49

 

 

77

the name of Captain Davison’s mother listed in his notebook.

Oswald’s Dallas patron George de Mohrenschildt made a cryptic but

unexplained comment in an unpublished manuscript concerning*

w 7 8

“Lee’s activities in Atlanta, new Orleans, and Mexico City.”

There are no known Oswald activities in Atlanta or even visits to
Atlanta, except the brief stopover.

Captain Alexis Davison was declared persona non grata by the
Soviet Union in May 1963 in connection with his alleged
involvement in the sensational Penkovsky spy case. Colonel Oleg
Penkovsky was a Russian spying for the West. He revealed secrets
that turned out to be of crucial importance to the U.S. during
the subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis. 79 The Soviets claimed that
Captain Davison’s phone number was found on Penkovsky when he was
arrested for spying, penkovsky was executed after a swift trial.

The Soviets named eight foreigners as his spy contacts. Davison
ft 0

was one. u

After the assassination Davison told the Secret Service that
he did not remember the Oswalds; but he subsequently recalled the
embassy meeting quite clearly when talking with the FBI. He also
admitted that he had not provided his mother’s address to anyone

O 1

else going to the U.S. besides Oswald. x

Davison told the House Assassinations Committee that his
only involvement with intelligence work was the one for which he
was kicked out of the U.S.S.R. The CIA asserted that his
involvement in the Penkovsky affair was a “one shot” deal.

Davison flatly denied any intelligence-related linkage to
Oswald. 82

It seems that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (or some of its

 

50

 

 

officials, at least) could not get Oswald back home quick enough.
Richard Snyder returned the former defector s passport to him
several months ahead of his scheduled departure, although the
embassy had been specifically instructed, in writing, not to do
so. The Passport Office in Washington had ordered that Oswald s
passport be returned to him only after his travel plans were
finalized, to prevent the document from being used in the interim
by the Soviets as part of some espionage scheme. 83 Snyder and
the embassy were either: 1. very careless 2. very trusting of

the Soviets or 3. very trusting of Oswald. The best explanation
for his favorable treatment is that he was finishing one mission
for U.S. intelligence and was about to be debriefed before
undertaking other assignments.

On the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Marina
was exempted from the usual immigration quotas and was allowed to
come to the U.S. with her husband. 84 The Immigration Service
objected, but the state Department made a “strong case” on

o 5

Marina’s behalf: the Service acquiesced .

The State Department loaned Oswald $435 to help him
home. Upon receiving that loan, his State Department file should
have been flagged with a “look-out card” posted by the passport
Office until the loan was repaid. No look-out card was ever
placed in his file. The State Department told the Warren
Commission that this resulted from human error. Oswald s
interactions with the State Department and the Passport Office
produced not one but a series of alleged errors or coincidences.

According to standard procedure, a look-out card should also

 

51

 

 

* . • 87

have been posted at the time of Oswald s defection to Russia.

The purpose of this procedure was to alert all U.S. embassies and
passport offices not to issue the defector a new passport. No
such card was posted for Oswald. There was another chance,
according to standard operating procedure, to post a look-out
card. By March 1960 the Embassy in Moscow had lost track of
Oswald’s whereabouts. The State Department in Washington typed
up a refusal sheet, as it was bound by law to do in such cases.
This sheet was the first bureaucratic step toward the posting of
a look-out card. Once again, because of alleged human error, the
look-out card never appeared. Three missed chances — defection,
whereabouts unknown, loan outstanding — to flag the file of the U-
2 defector.

Human error/coincidence continued to shape Oswald s

interactions with the passport office even after his return to

the U.S. In New Orleans in 1963, when he applied for a new

passport with which to go back to the Soviet Union, he got it

without a hitch within twenty-four hours. 88 He wrote on his

application that his destination was the Soviet Union, and he

practically red-flagged his status as a former defector by

89

referring to a previous “cancellation” of his passport.

His fast, favorable treatment is all the more conspicuous
given the organizational subculture of the Passport Office during
that era. It was headed by Miss Francis Knight, whose strident
anti-communism was legendary with the Washington bureaucracy.

One of her assistants, Otto Otepka, was a zealous red-hunter .
Knight and Otepka were known to challenge the loyalty of ordinary
citizens, but they managed to allow the Soviet defector to slip

 

52

 

 

91

through their bureaucratic net three times.

With regard to Marina, the state Department was so anxious
to have her admitted to the U.S. that it disregarded or failed to
notice aspects of her case which normally would have caused great
concern. She had spent the previous few years of her life living
with her uncle who was an MVD colonel (Soviet secret police). In
her youth, she had been a member of the Komsomol, the youth
apparatus of the Communist party. The U.S. government was so
concerned about being infiltrated by Russian communists that the
visa application form specifically asked entering Russians if
they were or had been a member of the Komsomol. Marina Oswald
solved that problem by simply answering no . 92 In keeping with
the general pattern of good will/incompetence that marked the
response of government agencies to her defector husband, Marina
was let in without any problem concerning the information on her
visa application.

As we would by this time expect, the Oswalds’ return trip
manifested its own mysteries. According to the Warren
Commission, Lee and Marina crossed the Soviet border at
Jelmstedt, one of the most sensitive and security-conscious
checkpoints along the iron-curtain border between East and West
Berlin . 93 Marina’s passport stamp reflects that crossing; her
husband’s does not. 9 ^ How did Oswald pass from East to West?

Was it that his very presence somehow caused any government
bureaucracy he came in contact with to suddenly become non compos
mentis , so that his passport was not stamped? Or did he cross
somewhere else?

 

53

 

 

The Oswalds made an unexplained stop in Amsterdam. As
Warren Commission Chief Counsel Rankin noted in an executive
session, “When they came back, they went to Amsterdam and were
there for, I think it was two days, before they went to Rotterdam
to take a boat, and it is unexplained why they happened to go
there and stay, are# got a place to live, some little apartment,
and what they were doing in the interim. ” 9 ^

The mysterious stopover, in a private apartment rather than
a public hotel, i?» viewed by some researchers as the opportunity
for Oswald to have been debriefed by U.S. intelligence, perhaps
in a CIA “safe house.”

The Oswalds departed the U.S.S.R. June 2, 1962 and finally

arrived in the United States on June 13. Lee Harvey Oswald was

met not by the CIA or the FBI or Military Intelligence or a

Marine Corps representative, any or all of whom might be expected

to have an interest in him. Instead he was met by a man the

Warren Commission described as, “a representative of a travelers’

aid society which had been contacted by the Department of

State.” 96 It may have been a welcome-home gesture on the part of

a very hospitable State Department, but the greeter had odd

credentials for the role. Spas Raikin was a former secretary of

the American Friends of Anti-Bolshevik nations, an anti-communist

Q 7

lobby with extensive ties to U.S. intelligence agencies.

By far the most conspicuous and significant element Of
Oswald’s return is that the Central Intelligence Agency claims
never to have debriefed him. He should logically have been of
prime interest to the Agency. During this same period, the CIA
saw fit to debrief American tourists who had been anywhere behind

 

54

 

 

the iron curtain. Eastern European emigres were extensively
debriefed as prime sources of information concerning communist-
block countries. 98 Yet, CIA Director William Colby would insist
in 1975 that, “We had no contact with Mr. Oswald…. No contact
with him before he went to the soviet Union, no contact with him
after he returned from the Soviet Union, no contact with him
while he was in the Soviet Union.” 99

Why not? One of the first answers floated unofficially by
defenders of the Warren Commission’s conclusions was that the
Agency did not want to further embarrass the U.S. by focusing
attention on someone who had defected to the Soviets. Needless
to say, that did not quell suspicions about the handling of
Oswald’s case. In 1975 CBS-TV correspondent Dan Rather put the
question of debriefing directly to Colby. Rather reported that,
“Mr. Colby indicated that CIA might have passed up Oswald because
the FBI interviewed him.” 188 While it is true that the FBI did
interview him upon his return, Colby’s wishy-washy claim of CIA
lethargy still rings hollow.

Firstly, the FBI did not interview Oswald until he had been
in the United States for three weeks. 181 The CIA’s U-2’s
continued to soar through unfriendly skies while the U-2 defector
sat in Texas without being debriefed. Secondly, the Bureau’s
interest in Oswald was to check him out as a possible subversive
threat (i.e. did the Russians send him back here to spy or commit
acts of sabotage?) The Bureau had no technical competence by
which to discern what, if anything, Oswald may have told the
Russians about U-2. The FBI agents who interviewed him did not

 

55

 

 

get into detailed, technical interrogation. 102 They found him to
be “cold, arrogant, and difficult to interview.” 103 But he did
deny that he gave radar secrets to the Soviets. 10 ^ perhaps this
blanket assurance was all the CIA needed to hear, second-hand, in
order not to worry about the fate of its spy planes around the
world.

Three years after Colby’s comment about “passing up” Oswald
because of the FBI, the House Select Committee on Assassinations
came up with the explanation that the CIA did not debrief
returning defectors: “It appeared to the Committee that, in

fact, the CIA did not contact returning defectors as a matter of
standard operating procedure. For this reason, the absence of
contact with Oswald on his return from the Soviet Union could not
be considered unusual.” 105 In fact the CIA is known to have
debriefed at least three defectors — an Air Force man, a soldier
who deserted in Germany, and a Rand Development Corporation
employee. 106 It is difficult to imagine that these three men
were of more significance to the Agency than the man who might
have spilled numerous Atsugi-related secrets.

Even putting aside the U-2 and radar secrets, there was
another very important intelligence dimension in which the Agency
should have had a burning interest: Oswald was a walking data

bank regarding Soviet techniques of debriefing and of handling
defectors. After all, the Agency claimed that it did not believe
for a moment the KGB’s assertion that it was not interested

in Oswald. After the assassination the Agency claimed to harbor
suspicions that Oswald was a Russian spy. It is beyond credulity
that in 1962, with all the double-agent machinations involving

 

56

 

 

“defectors,” the CIA would not be suspicious of his ideological
change of heart until after he had assassinated a president of
the United States. CIA counterintelligence has not been noted
for either its sanguine attitude toward the Soviets or its
willingness to simply sit back and let the FBI handle important
cases. The Agency was known to view the Bureau’s competence in
such matters as less than adequate. 10 ^

In 1948, only a year after the CIA’s creation, it negotiated
a “delimitation agreement” with the FBI. The pact sought to
codify the domestic responsibilities of the two organizations,
and it gave the Agency specific rights to deal with defectors. 108
Moreover, the CIA has never been shy about pursuing intelligence
wherever and with whomever it deems necessary, even in the
absence of specific authorization, and sometimes in the presence
of laws and policies to the contrary (as in its illegal domestic
surveillance activities during the 1970s).

Regarding Oswald’s case, a senior State Department official
wrote in March 1961 that the “risk” involved in his returning
would be more than compensated for by “the opportunity provided
the United States to obtain information from Mr. Oswald
concerning his activities in the Soviet Union.” 109 Still, the
Agency continues to steadfastly assert that it had no interest in
him as a source, a risk, or anything else. As recently as 1976,
the illogical and tortured explanations concerning the CIA’s
alleged disinterest were still being embellished. In preparation
for a television appearance, former CIA Director Colby was
provided with an Agency briefing paper which sought to help him

 

57

 

 

answer some difficult questions. Of Oswald’s non-debriefing, the

paper stated that if he had come to the attention of the Agency’s OC D

A

[Domestic Contacts Division] he would easily have been bypassed:

“he did not have the kind of information that this division was
seeking . ” 11( ^

The paper went on to claim that there was so much tourist
traffic to and from communist countries in 1962 that the Agency
simply could not talk to all of them. 111 One is led to wonder
what kind of information did catch the fancy of the CIA’s DCD
during this period, if a man who spent nearly two and a half
years in the Soviet Union was presumed not to have relevant
information. The Agency would have us believe that its efforts
were so casual and ineffective that a defector was viewed as no
more important than a tourist and was simply lost in the crowd of
travelers to communist countries.

In the three decades before the 1960s there were only two
U.S. defectors to the Soviet Union. 112 The year before Oswald
showed up there was a bumper crop — four in all. Two more
followed close behind Oswald. 113 Eventually six of the seven had
a change of ideological priorities and returned home. 114 Most of
this group followed the same route of entry into the Soviet Union
as did Oswald. 115

One of these was Robert Webster, a plastics expert who
worked for the Rand Development Corporation. Rand Development’s
offices were located in New York City just across the street from
the supposedly separate, more-famous Rand Corporation (a think
tank that had the CIA as a client). 116 Rand Development
Corporation itself held several contracts with the Agency. 11 ^

 

58

 

 

Its president, Henry Rand, had been a senior officer in the

Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s predecessor

lift

organization of which so many CIA officers were alumni. °

Another of Rand Development’s top executives was also a former
OSS man; the corporation’s onetime Washington representative had
been a CIA agent.

While Robert Webster was in Moscow representing Rand
Development at a plastics exhibition, he went to the U.S. Embassy
and announced his intention to defect. Like Oswald, he did so in
the presence of Richard Snyder, the CIA-linked State Department
official who handled Oswald’s Soviet entrance and exit. 12 ® When
Oswald was arranging to return to the U.S. he was heard to
inquire about the fate of another young man who had come to the
U.S.S.R. shortly before he did — Robert Webster. 121

Colonel Fletcher Prouty, who served as “focal point officer”
(liaison) between the Pentagon and the CIA during the period of
Oswald’s Marine Corps service and his defection, revealed in 1979
his first-hand knowledge of CIA agents using military cover. 122
Prouty asserted that an agent would be given a regular Marine
file created by fabricating duty assignments and by inserting
the usual personnel reviews and promotions. Prouty said his
office would tend to th^f^records in concert with CIA.

An internal CIA memo released in 1976 reveals that there was
evidently another Marine enlisted man (a technician like Oswald)
who was in Russia in 1958 and 1959. The man’s identity is
blanked out. Whoever he was the memo reveals that he lived in
the city of Minsk (as did Oswald), departed the Soviet Union

 

59

 

 

before Oswald, and was debriefed by the Agency in Copenhagen on
his way home (calling to mind Oswald’s unexplained stop in
Amsterdam) .

A former chief Security Officer for the State Department,
Otto Otepka, claims that in 1963 his office undertook a study of
U.S. defectors to determine which were real and which were spies.
The study was necessitated by the fact that neither the CIA nor
military intelligence would tell State which defectors were
genuine. One of the cases under study was Oswald’s. According
to the Security Officer, only months before the assassination the
State Department was still pondering whether his defection was
real or only a cover . ^^4

It has been suggested that Oswald was simply too young and

volatile to be recruited as a U.S. spy, or perhaps not smart

enough. Yet we have heard officials from Moscow to Dallas take

note of what a cool customer Oswald was. For what it’s worth,

his records from school and the Marines indicate that he was

far from intellectually deficient. At age thirteen he had

registered an IQ of 118 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for
SCorg.

children (described as being “in the upper range of bright,
normal intelligence”). He was three years ahead of his class in
several subjects. His general intelligence had been taken note
of by his Marine Corps superiors. All of this is less relevant
than the composure he seemed to manifest in difficult situations
from Moscow to New Orleans to Dallas.

In October 1962 Oswald took a series of tests offered by the
Texas State Employment Commission. Helen P. Cunningham, a
counselor with the Employment commission’s Dallas office,

 

60 J^pllfU/ecL bij IfiQ (\

 

 

described the nature and results of the tests to the Warren

 

Commission. These were not IQ or personality tests but ones
seeking to discover an “occupational aptitude pattern.” By
noting which of twenty-three areas applicants tested well in,
counselors offered career advice. Oswald met the minimum

 

«- 60 A

 

 

125

standard in twenty areas, failing to qualify in only three.

His “G” score (“general ability”) was 127: fifty percent of

those taking this test scored less than 100. He also scored
“quite high” on verbal and clerical tests. According to
Cunningham, “there are some things in it [his test results] that
would tend to say that he could do college work…. If I recall
correctly, 100 is thought to be sufficient to do junior college
or possibly in some [people] a four-year course, that 125 is
required on the G score for professional schools and 110 is quite
good for finishing a fourryear college.”

The counselor concluded, “In general I would say that his
tests indicate potential for quite a broad number and range of
semi-skilled or skilled occupations.” He demonstrated
“outstanding verbal and clerical potential,” according to a 1962
notation in his file. Oswald also “scored high” on an aptitude
test designed for the position of insurance claims adjuster. In
addition, it is relevant to his scholastic potential to note that
he became very fluent in Russian in a short period of time while
in the Marine Corps (as previously described).

We have it from former CIA Director Allen Dulles that agents
are not required to have formidable intellects but only to be
smart enough to navigate within the operational context of their
assignments. As for Oswald’s youth, one presumes that youthful
ideological zeal may have been an important element in his cover.
The Soviets, who were being bombarded with “defectors” at the
time, almost decided to reject Oswald. Had he been a thirty-
year-old Marine or a Marine officer, they might have been even

 

61

 

 

more suspicious and probed his cover more intensely.

Oswald was no slouch when it came to observing the things
around him. Back in Dallas a fellow worker remembers him
commenting that the Soviet dispersement of military units was
different that the American pattern: the Soviets did not

intermingle their armor and infantry divisions, and they would
have all of their aircraft in one location and all of their
infantry in another. 126 These are curious interests for a
befuddled young ideologue. With an eye for detail like that it
is indeed a shame that the CIA missed talking to him.

But perhaps such data was communicated to U.S. intelligence
by Oswald. Among his effects found in Dallas after the
assassination was a Russian novel that he had apparently brought
back from the Soviet Union. On page 152 of the book, seven
letters had been cut out from different locations. The National
Security Agency analyzed the book but reached no conclusion about
the status of the missing letters. The excising of letters from^jjjp”
printed pages is one of the classic techniques used in espionage
coding. The excisions refer to broader, more complex codes,
perhaps involving the page number or line or work in which the
excision occurs. Thus, one excision could cue a number of

additional references to a prearranged code. The missing letters

12 7

were never found.

Once back in the States Oswald settled in Dallas under the
wing of George de Mohrenschildt , the right-wing Russian with €IA
ties. The Marine Corps, which could have court-martialed Oswald
by calling him back to duty to face charges of disclosing
secrets, did not do so. 128 The Marines gave him an undesirable

 

62

 

 

discharge, not dishonorable. Oswald wrote then Texas Governor
John connally to protest that his discharge was a “gross mistake
or injustice. “129 perhaps it was: U.S. Health, Education and

Welfare Department records in Dallas casually asserted that
Oswald went to Russia “with State Department approval” to work as
a radar technician. 130 For a year after his defection, military
records failed to reflect his status as a traitor. Was the
bureaucracy just slow, or was there an impression somewhere in
its data systems that Oswald was still in government service.

Even the FBI seems to have entertained this possibility. A

post-assassination memo explaining why the Bureau did not order

Oswald’s passport to be segregated by the State Department after

his defection asserts, “We did not know definitely whether or not

131

he had any intelligence assignments at that time.”

It is extremely difficult to analyze accurately a distant
espionage situation, which is what makes counterintelligence work
so challenging. Still, some logical speculation is possible
based on the conclusion that Oswald was not a genuine defector
but a spy, which would explain vdl* he was not punished as a
traitor for revealing secrets to the Soviets. Certainly he would
be extensively debriefed upon his return but not through normal,
overt channels: a cover of feigned disinterest would be

appropriate. But it is likely that the mysterious stopover in
Amsterdam allowed for debriefing at a CIA safe house. Oswald had
a lot to tell. Hds observations about the deployment patterns of
the Soviet military would, by themselves, justify such a stop.

The CIA would not have sacrificed its prized U-2 just to

 

63

 

 

provide a cover for a fake defector. Either Oswald told the
Soviets other, more expendable radar secrets or managed to give
the soviets whatever they already had on the plane or gave them
disinformation. If he had turned around on his U.S. handlers and
given the Soviets the data to catch the U-2, he would not have
been treated so favorably nor would he have continued in a
domestic-spying role for the CIA on his return to the U.S. (as
will be described later), nor would he continue to have CIA
contacts. Th« only way Oswald could be accepted as not being
the traitor who downed the spy plane is if the Agency had precise
control over the substance and number of the “secrets” he
delivered to the KGB. Back in the U.S. Oswald launched

himself into another leftist political context as an ardent
supporter of Castro’s Cuba–or so it appeared.

 

64

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Oswald in New Orleans: Marxist or Mole*

“Was his [Oswald] public identification with the left a cover for
a connection with the anti-Castro right?”

— Senator Gary Hart, Senate Intelligence Committee, 1976 1

 

To the Warren Commission, Oswald’s pro-Castro activities in
New Orleans were further evidence of his leftist mentality. They
helped to form what appeared to be a consistent pattern of anti-
American, pro-Communist political beliefs. Behind the facade of
Oswald’s pro-Castro involvements was another very consistent
pattern–extensive links with CIA-related activities,
organizations, and people, including ant i — Castro activities in
which the Agency had a proprietary interest.

The main elements of Oswald’s pro-Castroism in New Orleans
took place from April to August of 1963. 2 He founded a chapter
of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee (FPCC), a pro-Castro
organization headquartered in New York. He printed up some pro-
Castro leaflets and handed them out to sailors from the USS Wasp
before police ordered him off of the dock. He again handed out

* In intelligence jargon, a mole is an agent who penetrates an
organization or context while under cover, in order to spy and/or
perform covert missions.

 

65

 

 

his leaflets, this time on a downtown street. There he got into

a scuffle with some anti-Castro activists and was hauled off to

jail. The third time he passed out leaflets, near the New

Orleans Trade Mart, Cfte local TV news cameras were there. He
engaged in a radio debate in which he upheld the pro-Castro

position against two anti-communists. As with most of Oswald s

life, none of these events were what they appeared to be.

To begin with, Oswald was the only member of the New Orleans
Fair Play For Cuba Committee . 5 He founded the chapter in spite
of the cautions given by the FPCC national director in New York,
who wrote Oswald that New Orleans’ right-wing political culture
was not hospitable ground on which to start a chapter. The
director warned him not to create “unnecessary incidents which
frighten any prospective supporters .” 4

Oswald disregarded the advice. He was so outrageously
provocative that he created precisely these kinds of incidents.

He walked into the lair of the enemy, visiting Carlos Bringuier,
a militant anti-Castro activist . 5 According to Bringuier and his
associates, Oswald showed up unannounced at Bringuier ‘s store and
started talking. He portrayed himself as a compatriot of these
anti-Castro exiles and boasted that he could train men to fight
against Castro. He returned the next day and left behind an old
Marine Corps manual as proof of his ability to help in the fight
against Castro.

What was Oswald up to? Was he that determined to taunt the
anti-Castro Cubans? Was he really trying to infiltrate them in
order to advance his pro-Castro cause, or was he simply a
political schizophrenic?

 

66

 

 

Only three days after he had made his overtures to the anti-
Castro group, he was in downtown New Orleans handing out pro-
Castro leaflets. Most intr iguingly , Bringuier was tipped off by
a “friend” that Oswald was doing this . 6 Infuriated by Oswald’s
apparent double-dealing, Bringuier searched him out and found
him. Bringuier then began to yell to passersby that Oswald-the-
communist had tried to join in the fight against Castro. A crowd
gathered. Bringuier continued his harangue and proceeded to lose
his temper. A scuffle ensued. Oswald, Bringuier, and a couple
of Bringuier’s associates were arrested.^

it would be interesting to know the ultimate source of the
“tip” that brought Bringuier into a confrontation with Oswald.
Where did Bringuier’s ^ariend,” alleged by Bringuier to have been
Celso Hernandez, get the information? ^Mringuier and his
associates were extensively involved with the CIA. He was the
New Orleans head of the Directorio Revolucionar io Estudiantil , an
outgrowth of a militant anti-Castro student group that was
heavily involved with the Agency during the Bay of Pigs invasion

O

and which received CIA funding long after the invasion. At the
time of the incident with Oswald, Bringui-er was the publisher of
a right-wing New Orleans newsletter. It was funded by the
Crusade to Free Cuba Committee, yet another CIA-funded, anti-
Castro organization . ^

Were Oswald’s appearances at Bringuier’s store, followed by
the “tip,” calculated to set up an incident that would provide
Oswald with a crisp pro-Castro image? One of the New Orleans
policemen who broke up the scuffle had the distinct impression

 

67

 

 

that Oswald had things intentionally “set up to create an
incident . ” 1( ^

Upon his arrest, Oswald did another very strange thing: he

requested that an FBI agent come to visit him in jail. A local
agent came to his cell, whereupon Oswald spun out a wildly
fictitious story (he had apparently told the New Orleans police
that he had been born in Cuba, according to the FBI report). He
described himself to the FBI agent as having a long history in
the pro-Castro movement. 11 Why would Oswald go out of his way to
lie to the FBI? Oiw* explanation is that he was salting the
Bureau’s files as part of establishing his pro-Castro cover, a
cover he needed in order to pursue certain intelligence
activities (which will be described in the next chapter). He
made sure that the FBI man left with samples of the FPCC
leaflets . 12

Oswald pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace, paid a ten
dollar fine, and was back on the street. One week after he left
jail, he put together another pro-Castro incident. Not demanding
that his recruits possess ideological fervor, FPCC-chapter
president Oswald went to the waiting room of the Louisiana State
Unemployment Office laoking for demonstrators. This was
necessitated by the fact that he was president of an
organization that had no members. He offered money to anyone who
would help him pass out leaflets for a few minutes. His two-
dollar offer had only one taker. As advertised, the job lasted
but a few minutes: he and his lone helper passed out leaflets

just long enough to be photographed by a mobile unit from a local
TV station. 12

 

68

 

 

Oswald’s foray into Cuban politics was short lived. It
ended in August of 1963 after beginning in the spring of that
year. Once he left New Orleans in late August, he would never
again engage in public activities on behalf of Castro’s Cuba.

As the data presented here will seek to demonstrate, the
events in New Orleans were designed to establish Oswald’s pro-
Castro credentials, the immediate purpose of which seems to have
been to allow him to spy on and/or discredit the Fair Play For
Cuba Committee. The FPCC national director’s warning to Oswald
about not creating embarrassing incidents was well founded: the
FPCC was having more troubles than even its unpopular stance
could generate, courtesy of the U.S. intelligence agencies that
had targeted it for surveillance and disruption.

In 1976 the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigations
revealed that in the early 1960s the CIA’s domestic spying in
general and its domestic spying on Cubans in particular underwent
a dramatic escalation . *^ Though much still remains secret, we
now know that the CIA had extensive networks of spies in place in
the Cuban-exile community, especially in Miami but elsewhere as
well. At the time of President Kennedy’s assassination, the
Agency’s efforts in Miami may have outstripped those of the
FBI:* 5 by 1963 the CIA actually had more domestic agents there
than did the Bureau.* 6

This key fact was unknown to the Warren Commission. It
asked the FBI to investigate Cuban political groups (including
the FPCC) as part of the general check on Oswald’s background,
but it neglected to ask the CIA for any information concerning

 

69

 

 

1 7

these groups. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover implicitly
acknowledged the CIA role when he wrote the Commission that the
Agency may have “pertinent information concerning these
organizations.”^ – ® Another FBI document, not given to the Warren
Commission but discovered by the Senate Intelligence Committee in
1976, notes that Army Intelligence and CIA had “operational
interests” in Cuban political groups, including the FPCC.^ The
Senate Committee defined these operational interests as using
groups or individuals for “intelligence collection or covert
operations. ” 20

The CIA had specifically targeted the FPCC for covert
activity. Moreover, the timing of Oswald’s pro-Castro activities
precisely coincided with their targeting.

Behind Oswald’s pro-Castro facade lay numerous linkages to
the Byzantine world of the anti-Castro movement. The war against
Castro was a massive one, though primarily covert. It involved a
bizarre coalition of interests united by an opposition to Cuban
communism that seemed at times to border on fanaticism. Elements
of the FBI, Army Intelligence, organized crime, Cuban exiles, and
right-wing businessmen were, to varying degrees, involved in the
efforts to overthrow Castro. By far, however, the broadest, most
intense involvement was that of the CIA–the prime mover in anti-
Castro politics.

The literature that Oswald distributed in New Orleans
included a pamphlet entitled The Crime Against Cuba . This rather
moderate exposition against U.S. policy was hardly noteworthy,
except for the address stamped inside the back cover: x FPCC,

544 Camp St., New Orleans, La. Additional copies of the

 

70

 

 

pamphlet, bearing the same address, were found among Oswald’s
possessions in Dallas after the assassination. In his
correspondence to the national director of the FPCC, Oswald
proposed setting up an office for the local chapter, then wrote
implying that he had done so.* J

544 Camp Street was an odd address for a pro-Castro
organization. On the ground floor of this shabby, elongated,
three-story wooden structure located in a blighted section of New
Orleans were the offices of Guy Banister. ^ He was an ex-FBI
agent whose stellar career had included a role in the capture of
John Dillinger, the notorious public enemy number one. He served
with Naval Intelligence during WWII. Banister rose to become the
head of the Bureau’s Chicago office. He left the FBI and went to
New Orleans in early 1950s: the mayor had asked him to serve as
deputy police chief. His sudden retirement from the force at age
fifty-eight came shortly after he allegedly threatened a waiter
with a pistol during a dispute in a New Orleans restaurant.

Banister’s superpatriotism led him to take up a personal
campaign against communism upon his relatively early retirement
from law-enforcement work. He was a leading figure in the local
John Birch Society. He joined the Minutemen, a paramilitary
anti-communist organization, and founded the Anti-Communist
League of the Caribbean. Banister was a virulent racist, an
alcoholic and was prone to violence (he reportedly pistol-whipped
the head of a man who drew his ire).^ This volatile combination
did not prevent him from being a pivotal figure in the shadowy
world of New Orleans anti-Castroism.

 

71

 

 

He set up his own “detective agency,” Guy Banister

Associates — located on the ground floor of 544 Camp Street.

Banister was a very active anti-Castro organizer. He helped to

2 6

establish the CIA-backed Cuban Revolutionary Democratic Front.

He was also one of the founders of an organization called the

Friends of a Democratic Cuba, yet another CIA-backed group. It

was this group that in 1961 obtained a bid from a New Orleans

Ford dealer for the purchase of ten trucks, just before the Bay

of Pigs invasion. After the assassination two employees of the

Bolton Ford Co. told the FBI that one of the Cuban Revolutionary

Democratic Front representatives called himself “Lee Oswald.”

The form for the bid bore the printed name “Oswald.” The real

Oswald was in Russia at the time.^ Perhaps Banister knew

Oswald, or knew of him, even before he arrived back in the U.S.

and came to New Orleans. After Banister’s death, some of

2 8

Oswald’s FPCC leaflets were found among his effects.

One of Banister’s roles seems to have been that of arms

supplier. Members of his detective-agency staff recall that

during the time Oswald was in New Orleans the Camp Street offices

2 9

were strewn with guns of all kinds.

No wonder that a group called the Cuban Revolutionary
Council ( CRC ) had its headquarters in the same building as
Banister’s “detective agency.” The CRC was a CIA-supported anti-
Castro group, and a very key one at that. The Agency urged its
creation then gave it millions of dollars. Its original purpose
was to recruit young Cuban exiles in Florida and along the Gulf
Coast and train them as soldiers in the war on Castro, under the
direction of such CIA agents as E. Howard Hunt of Watergate

 

72

 

 

fame; CRC served as the Agency’s main front organization for the
Bay of Pigs invasion . 30

New Orleans was the CRC’s second most-important base (Miami
was the first). The organization rented 544 Camp Street — the
same address as on Oswald s pamphlets — as its New Orleans
headquarters. The group rented the office before Oswald came to
New Orleans. 31 Though the CRC had theoretically vacated by the
time Oswald arrived in New Orleans–the group was no longer
paying rent — CRC members continued co use the office throughout
che entire summer of Oswald’s stay in New Orleans, throughout alj
o^ his FPCC activities. 32

Was Oswald again manifesting a penchant to confront the
enemy, as with his visit to Carlos Bringuier’s store; or was the
real Lee Harvey Oswald right at home in the anti-Castro enclave
that was 544 Camp Street? If pro-Castroite Oswald was looking
for unfriendly turf, he could not have done better than Camp
Street. The area was a veritable Disneyland of anti-Castroism.
Tne New Orleans offices of the FBI and the CIA were nearby. In
addition to the CRC and Banister’s offices, there was the Reily
Coffee Company located around the corner. William Reily, the
company’s owner, was a patron of the anti-Castro Free Cuba
Committee. J The latter was a fund-raising group for the Cuban
Revolutionary Council (CRC) located at 544 Camp Street. 34

The Reily Coffee Company is notaole for another reason: it

employed Lee Harvey Oswald shortly after he arrived in New
Orleans. 3? He greased the coffee machines. Oswald’s first,
public pro-Castro activity, passing out literature near the

 

•73

 

 

U.S.S. wasp , occurred in mid June while he was still employed at
Reily .

Guy Banister died, reportedly from a heart attack, seven
months after the assassination. He was never officially questioned
about Oswald or the assassination. His former secretary,

Delphine Roberts, said that her boss had access to a large amount
of money in 1963: she believed that he received money from the
CIA. 36 She remembers that a variety of anti-Castro types
visited Banister’s office. 3 ^ One was Sergio Arcacha Smith, a
prominent figure in the CRC. Smith told a friend that Camp

n p

Street was a “Grand central station” for exiles. He also
claimed privately that he was controlled by the CIA. 3 ^ Another
CRC member, Frank Bartes, was an associate of Carlos Bringuier
and had witnessed Oswald’s appearance in court after the street
scuffle . 40

The Camp Street locale was not only a hotbed of anti-
Castroism bur also, consequently, of hatred toward president
Kennedy. Cuban exiles and many or their CIA sponsors felt
betrayed by the President. After approving the April 15, 1961
invasion of Cuba by tne Agency’s exile army, Kennedy had
cancelled an air strike by U.S. planes, fearing the diplomatic
and military consequences of overt U.S. involvement. The strike
had been designed to knock out Castro s planes and tanks before
the invaders hit the beaches. Pinned down in salt marshes
without effective air cover, the exiles were defeated, incurring
heavy casualties. Several hundred were taken prisoner. The
reaction against Kennedy was exceedingly bitter and long lasting.

 

74

 

 

— Mario Kohly, whose fatner claimed to be Cuba’s President
m exile said that Kennedy was “a traitor” and “a communist.”*

— In Octooer 1963 at a Dallas meeting, a surviving Bay of
Pigs veteran lashed out at Kennedy. “Get him out I … I
wouldn’t even call him President. He stinks!

“We are waiting for Kennedy the 22nd [November], buddy. We
are going to see him, in one way or the other. We’re going to
give him the works when he gets in Dallas.” 42

— In April 1963 a flyer circulated within the exile
community in Miami said, “Only through one development will you
Cuban patriots ever live again in your homeland as free men….
[Only] if an inspired Act or God should place in the White House
within weeks a Texan known to be a friend of all Latin
Americans. ” 43

A list of index cards obtained from Banister’s office files
by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison provides some
insight into the nature of Banister’s operations . 44 Garrison did
not obtain the files themselves, only the titles and

 

classification numbers:

American Central Intelligence Agency 20-10

Ammunition and Arms 32-1

Anti-Soviet Underground 25-1

B-70 Manned Bomber Force 15-16

Civil Rights Program of JFK 8-41

Dismantling of Ballistic Missile System 15-16

Dismantling of Defenses, U.S. 15-16

 

75

 

 

Fair Play For Cuba Committee 23-7

International Trade Mart 23-14

Italy, U.S. Bases Dismantled in General

Assembly of the United Nations ±5-16

Latin America 23-1

Missile Bases Dismantled — Turkey and Italy 15-16

 

Banister’s secretary also claims to have seen Oswald visit
Banister at Camp Street 4 ^ Her daughter, who used a room above
Banister’s office as a photo studio, claims that she too saw
Oswald visiting Banister. 4 ®

A notebook found on Oswald by the Dallas police the day of
the assassination contained some mysterious addresses. Listed on
the same page as Carlos Bringuier (the anti-Castro Cuban who was
involved in the street scuffle with Oswald) were three addresses
with no names attached: 117 Camp, 107 Decatur, 1032 Canal. 4 ^ At
first glance the listings seem to be nonsensical: 117 Camp was

the address of a dress shop, 107 Decatur did not exist. But by
juggling the numbers, assassinologist Harold Weisberg and others
found that two of the listings were significant. 4 ®

107 Camp was the address of one Ronnie Caire, a prominent
anti-Castro and a leader of the Free Cuba Committee (the group

A M Q

patronized by Oswald’s employer, William Reily). 7 117 Decatur

was the address of Orest Pena, a prominent Cuban exile and anti-
Castroite.^® The significance of the Canal-Street listing remains
unknown .

The scrambled addresses could have been the product of
careless writing or a defective memory (the latter of which

 

76

 

 

Oswald was not known for); or they could have been a crude form
of coding. In any case, they are consistent with Oswald’s entire
New Orleans experience: behind a facade of behavior that seems

to be the product of pro-Castro sentiments lies a pattern of
linkages with anti-Castro groups and individuals directly or
indirectly involved with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Again, the CIA s failure to monitor Oswald — or, at minimum,
to generate file data on him–is nearly impossible to imagine
from tne perspective that he was a Russian defector engaging in
pro-Castro activism. But it is easily explained by his working
for the Agency. The CIA’s extensive network of spies within the
Cuban political sphere had as one of its prime targets the FPCC,
yet the Agency claims never to have noticed Oswald. So catholic
was CIA spying that Cuban exiles spied on their neighbors and
reported to the Agency. As one Cuban described it: “As far as I

know they haven’t discovered a single Castro spy here, but they
made many detailed reports, including gossip, about personal
lives of prominent Cubans, if anything usurping the functions of
the FBI . ” ^ yet, when a potential left-wing spy walked right
into the nerve center of anti-Castroism in New Orleans and tried
to palm himself off as an anti-Castro activist, the network
supposedly missed him completely. It is not as if Oswald didn’t
give the Agency a fair chance: he was extremely public in his

pro-Castro activities and went out of his way to be noticed by
the media. One can almost imagine former CIA Director William
Colby saying, “We thought Army Intelligence or the FBI would take
care of it . ”

««

Prior to the assassination, Carlos Bringuier put out a press

 

77

 

 

rel/ef”

and an “open letter” to the exile community. These items
could well have been sent to intelligence agencies or officers as
well. The missives sought to call attention to Oswald and his
activities . 52 This markedly increased the likelihood of his
coming to CIA attention as a red menace or potential mole. Yet,
he allegedly remained a domestic-political-unknown to the Agency.

The CIA never seemed to be able to gather data on Lee Harvey
Oswald when he passed through their nets, whether in New Orleans
or, as we will see, in Mexico. Yet Agency-linked persons and
organizations were always around him–from Moscow to New Orleans
to Dallas.

It is not as if the CIA had no apparatus in New Orleans, ft
im now known that the Agency’s operational presence there in 1963
was an extensive one. In order to administer to its array of
Cuban-exile groups and activities, as well as to monitor
international shipping in the port of New Orleans, the CIA
established a very large domestic station — one of the key
stations in the country. 52 A distinguished New Orleans attorney
is believed to have served as a station chief in the early 1960s.
His name has never been publicly revealed nor (to the author’s
knowledge) has he ever been questioned by any official
investigation. 5 ^ A 1967 CIA memo obtained by the author under
the Freedom of Information Act states that in that year the
Agency had twenty-six employees in New Orleans. 55 In 1976 the
Senate Intelligence Committee discovered that as far back as 1957
the Agency’s New Orleans station was running its own mail-
intercept program. Project SETTER, apparently with no approval

 

78

 

 

from any executive or legislative oversight bodies.

•Tires, Oswald’s ostensible pro-Castro involvements were firmly
enmeshed in the city’s anti-Castro subculture. Moreover, as will
soon be described, the nature and substance of his activities fit
nicely, if not perfectly, with the role of agent-provocateur.

 

79

 

 

Chapter 4

 

The Case of the Mohair Marauder

“He oughta be shotl” — David Ferrie referring to president John

F. Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion

 

It is only fitting that Lee Harvey Oswald’s clandestine
tableau has in it at least one character colorful enough to have
sprung from a John LeCarre spy novel. His name is David Ferrie,
and his strange career rivals anything in fiction.-* Rejected by
two seminaries because of behavioral problems, Ferrie founded his
own church, the Orthodox Old Catholic Church of North America,
and appointed himself Bishop. A master hypnotist who studied
psychology and philosophy as well as religion, the library of his
apartment was stuffed with 3,000 volumes. 2 He became a senior
pilot with Eastern Airlines, but his o**~the-job homosexual
activities caused him to be fired. Ferrie lost not only his
airline pilot’s job and his two chances to become a Catholic
priest, but all of his hair as well. He was hairless from head
to toe.

Ferrie dabbled in cancer research, an interest which led him
to keep hundreds of mice in his apartment. He reportedly built
two miniature submarines in hopes of attacking Havana Harbor. He
developed ties to organized crime and, at the time of the

 

80

 

 

assassination, was employed by an attorney who worked for New
Orleans crime boss Carlos Marcello. The day President Kennedy
was killed, Ferrie was in a federal courtroom in New Orleans
watching as Marcello was being cleared of charges that had
resulted in his temporary deportation . 3 Ferrie’s precise

relationship with Marcello is not known, but he may have piloted

4

him on occasion.

Physically, Ferrie was an unforgettable figure. He rejected
a commercial hairpiece in favor of a homemade device: a reddish

wig cut out of mohair, glued to his scalp with plastic cement.
This was accompanied by outsized “eyebrows” which were drawn on
with greasepaint These adornments looked eminently unnatural.
Coupled with his slim, intense visage and small, beady eyes, they
created an image that most people found difficult to forget— a
cross between a sad clown and a heavy from a grade-C horror
flick .

Ferrie did have friends. He worked sporadically as an
investigator for Guy Banister, whose Camp Street “detective
agency” was occasionally employed by crime boss Marcello.®
Organized crime patronized a variety of anti-Castro endeavors and
certain of its bosses were in league with the CIA in plots to
assassinate Castro.

Banister and Ferrie were close associates. In 1961, when
the forty-three-year-old Ferrie was in the process of being fired
by Eastern Airlines, Banister flew to Miami to appear on Ferrie s
behalf at his dismissal hearing . 7 Banister’s secretary, Delphine
Roberts, asserts that Ferrie was one of Banister s “agents.” He
worked out of a private office located behind Banister s. She

 

81

 

 

o

was told that Ferrie did “private work .” 0

The two men were very compatible politically: Ferrie, like

Banister, was a right-wing zealot. He was as intense about his
superpatriotism as he was about his appearance, with results only
slightly less grotesque. Ferrie once wrote to the United States
Air Force: “There is nothing I would enjoy better than blowing

the hell out of every damn Russian, communist. Red, or what-have-
you…. Between my friends and I we can cook up a crew that can
really blow them to hell…. I want to train killers, however
bad that sounds. It is what we need .” 9

Ordinarily such self-advertisements might lead to offers of
psychoanalysis rather than job offers. But Guy Banister’s was
not the only agency to hire the weird-looking chap with the
virulently anti-communist views. The organization^did not shrink
from hiring men “of the worst moral character,” as Allen Dulles
admitted, found a place for Ferrie’s high-flying militaristic
fantasies .

Ferrie’s work for the CIA involved, among other things, his
considerable skills as a pilot. There are reports that in 1961,
before the Bay of Pigs invasion, he flew missions to Cuba,
sometimes conducting bombing raids, sometimes executing bravado
landings in which he rescued anti-Castro commandoes.^ – ® In the
summer of 1963, according to a number of witnesses, Ferrie also
served as an instructor at the Cuban-exile training camp outside
New Orleans where recruits were taught guerrilla warfare
techniques to be used against Castro. ^ This camp was raided by
federal agents seeking to enforce President Kennedy’s order

 

82

 

 

• 1 2

forbidding anti-Castro military activities on U.S. soil.

Banister’s secretary told journalist Anthony Summers that

she believed Ferrie’s work to be CIA connected rather than FBI

connected . 13 Besides Banister, Ferrie’s anti-Castro, CIA-linked

associates included Sergio Arcacha Smith, the leader of the Cuban

Revolutionary Council (CRC) who had an office at 544 Camp Street

at the same time Oswald used this address on his pamphlets.

Ferrie approached Arcacha Smith and offered to train exiles for

the invasion of Cuba. 1 ^ Smith helped Ferrie get out of jail

1 5

after being arrested for homosexual assault. J

Former CIA man Victor Marchetti, who served as executive

assistant to the deputy director, claims to have observed that

then CIA Director Richard Helms and other senior Agency officers

became disturbed when Ferrie’s name was linked to the President s

assassination by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in

1967. Marchetti asked a CIA colleague about Ferrie and was told

that he had worked for the Agency as a contract agent in the

early 1960s and was involved in some of the Cuban operations. 1 ^

Marchetti now believes that Ferrie was “involved in some rather

1 7

nefarious activities” as a contract agent.’

In 1967 the Justice Department posed a series of questions
to the CIA regarding allegations stemming from Garrison’s
investigation. A Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the
Justice Department’s Criminal Division asked the Agency in
writing: “What was the exact relationship between CIA and David

Ferrie? What was the extent of CIA’s file on him before the
assassination?” The Agency’s terse reply was, “There was no

1 8

relationship, and there was no file before the assassination.”

 

83

 

 

In 1963 Ferrie seems to have been a suspect in the

President’s murder/ because of his links to Oswald and his anti-

Kennedyism (to be described shortly). He was taken in for

questioning by the FBI but was released. ^ Even his telephone

records provided a possibly coincidental but intriguing tidbit.

Two months before the assassination he made a call to a Chicago

apartment building. It has not been established whom he talked

to, but the building was the residence of one Jean West. The

night before the assassination West was staying at the Cabana

Motel in Dallas with Lawrence Meyers, a friend of Jack Ruby.

Ruby visited Meyers at the Cabana around midnight: twelve hours

before the President’s assassination. 2 ®

Ferric

An FBI document indicates that he admitted to being publicly

and privately critical of President Kennedy’s withholding of U.S.

air support during the Bay of Pigs invasion. In one instance,

/ p

Pcimc gave a speech to a men’s civics club in New Orleans after

the Bay of Pigs debacle. He had to be removed from the podium by

his hosts when he launched into an offensive verbal attack on

President Kennedy. 2 ^- Ferrie further admitted to using

expressions such as, “He ought^t^ be shot,” in reference to the

President. 22 The FBI decided that Ferrie did not mean thM

/)

literally. 23

Although he was in federal court in New Orleans at the time
of the assassination, his strange and unexplained movements
immediately afterward have aroused suspicion among many analysts.
The night of Nov. 22, 1963 Ferrie and two companions left New
Orleans in the midst of a torrential rainstorm. They drove all

 

84

 

 

night (a four hundred mile drive) and arrived in Houston around
5:00 a.m. Ferrie gave the FBI an interesting assortment of
reasons concerning why he went to Texas. It was to “merely
relax. ” 2 ^ He and his friends wanted to do some “goose hunting,”
he said. 28 Downtown Houston, where Ferrie and friends checked
into a hotel, is not renowned as a mecca for goose hunters.
Perhaps that’s why Ferrie was smart enough not to bring along any
guns. ^ The trip did not appear to be particularly relaxing
either: a gas station attendant who waited on the trio on

November 24 said that they seemed to be “in somewhat of a
hurry.” 27 They did stop long enough to watch television at the
gas station: the news was of Oswald’s murder at the hands of

Jack Ruby. 28

The day after the assassination Ferrie et al drove to a
skating rink near Galveston. Naturally, they didn t skate.

Ferrie told the FBI that he had been “considering for some time
the feasibility and possibility of opening up an ice skating rink
in New Orleans,” and that this accounted for his visit to the
rink . 29 Chuck Rolland, the proprietor of the Winterland Skating
Rink, remembers differently. He told the Bureau that a man
introducing himself as “Ferris” or “Ferry” asked for the skating
schedule and indicated that he had come from out of town to do
some skating . 88 Rolland said Ferrie mentioned nothing about
equipping or opening a rink.

Skating and goose hunting aside, one of the main activities
of the trip seems to have been telephoning. There were four
calls placed from Ferrie’s Houston hotel room to New Orleans, as
well as one local call. 2 ^ At another stop a call was made to

 

85

 

 

Alexandria, Louisiana (number unknown). 33 At the skating rink,

Ferrie spent the entire two hours hanging around the pay

telephone. When it rang, he answered; after talking, he departed

33

the rink with his two companions.

By far the most significant of Ferrie s activities and

associations are those involving Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1955

Ferrie was already a pilot of some renown. He led the New

Orleans unit of the civil Air patrol (CAP). The local CAP unit

became a forum for his homosexual activities. There were

reports of homosexual orgies involving the young cadets, of nude

34

gambling at Ferrie’s residence, of free-flowing liquor.

Eventually he lost his CAP command . 38

In 1955, while Ferrie led New Orleans CAP, Lee Harvey Oswald

1 6

joined. Oswald was living in the city with his mother. House
Assassinations Committee investigators found six witnesses whose
statements confirmed that Oswald was in Ferrie s CAP unit. One
witness believed Oswald had attended at least one of Ferrie s
parties . 38

The House committee noted that homosexuality and liquor
aside, Ferrie seemed to exert “tremendous influence” on the air
cadets who were his pupils . 39 The Committee discovered that
Ferrie “urged several boys to join the armed forces.” At age
sixteen, immediately following his experience in Ferrie’s CAP
unit, Oswald tried to enlist in the Marines .^ 8 He was so anxious
to join that he lied about his age. When he was rejected by the
Corps for being under age, he began studying his older brother s
Marine Corps manual until he “knew it by heart. He succeeded

 

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in joining the Marines shortly after his seventeenth birthday.

One might think this would be the end of any relationship
between Ferrie and Oswald, since Ferrie went on to become an even
more extreme right-wing militarist and Oswald ostensibly became a
Russophile, a Marxist, a traitor to his country, and a supporter
of Castro. But Oswald was again in Ferrie ‘s company after
returning from Russia, and immediately after he appeared to
become a pro-Castro activist. Despite Ferrie s announced desire
to “blow the hell out of every damn Russian, Communist, or Red,”
which might well have included Oswald and his wife Marina, the
two men must have found a common ground. They were seen together
by a variety of witnesses.

Guy Banister’s secretary claims that Ferrie not only met
Oswald at 544 Camp Street but, on at least one occasion, took him
to the anti-Castro, guerrilla-warfare training camp on the
outskirts of New Orleans where Ferrie was alleged to have been an
instructor. 42 One friend of Ferrie’s, Dante Marachini, worked at
Reily Coffee while Oswald worked there. Marachini was hired on
the same day as Oswald. 43

Solid evidence of a post-defection association between
Oswald and Ferrie stems from an incident that took place in
Clinton, Louisiana. It occurred in late August or early
September of 1963 — at the end of Oswald s FPCC summer in New
Orleans and only three months before the President’s murder. The
incident was not known to the Warren Commission. It was
discovered by the Garrison investigation in 1967 and confirmed by
the House Assassinations Committee in 1978.

The Clinton event unfolded as follows. 44 The summer of 1963

 

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was dominated by political activism and racial tension. Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had proclaimed it “civil rights summer.”
Political mobilization and voter-registration drives were
underway all across the deep South, president Kennedy had
invited black civil rights leaders to the White House and had
committed his administration to the passage of a civil rights
bill.

Clinton, Louisiana, then a small town of about fifteen
hundred people located a hundred miles north of New Orleans, was
caught up in the political swirl. There had been several arrests
of blacks who were engaged in civil rights activities. The
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was conducting a voter-
registration drive among local blacks. On the day of the
incident there was a long line of blacks waiting to register to
vote. Police watched anxiously for anything that might spark
violence in racially tense Clinton. According to the composite
accounts of the Clinton witnesses — chief among them being two
CORE organizers, the mayor, the town marshal, and the registrar
of voters — the incident began when a black Cadillac (conspicuous
by its appearance in poor, rural Clinton) arrived in town during
the morning. It parked near the registrar of votiers office.
There were three men in the vehicle. One of them, a slim, young
white man, got out of the car and stepped into the long, slow-
moving line of blacks waiting to register. The young man,
conspicuous by his color, stood in line for several hours. After
the assassination the Clinton witnesses were positive that it was
Lee Harvey Oswald.

 

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Registrar of voters Henry Palmer dealt with Oswald
personally. After spending hours in line, Oswald finally entered
the registrar’s office. Palmer asked the stranger for
identification. The man produced a Navy ID card bearing the name
Lee H. Oswald. According to Palmer, Oswald claimed that he was
seeking work at a nearby state hospital in order to enhance his
eligibility to become a registered voter in Clinton. Palmer
thought it was odd that a white stranger was trying to register
in the midst of a voter-registration drive centering on indigent
blacks. He told Oswald that he was not eligible because he had
not lived in town long enough. Oswald thanked Palmer and left.

It was indeed odd.

While Oswald was waiting in line to see the registrar, the
black Cadillac stayed parked on the street. The CORE activists
worried that the mysterious vehicle might harbor men who had come
to disrupt the registration drive. A CORE worker asked the town
marshal, John Manchester, to check out the car. He had already
been eyeing the Cadillac, and he complied with the request. The
marshal approached the vehicle and questioned the man behind the
wheel long enough to conclude that the strangers presented no
threat to local peace. The Cadillac stayed well into the
afternoon as its occupants continued to observe civil rights
act ivit ies .

The marshal and other witnesses described the driver as a
big man with grey hair and a ruddy complexion. Several Clinton
witnesses identified the man as Clay Shaw, the New Orleans
businessman who was unsuccessfully prosecuted for conspiracy to
assassinate the President by District Attorney Jim Garrison in

 

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1969 . The witnesses made this identification at the 1969 trial
and to the House Assassinations Committee a decade later. Still,
the possibility that it was Guy Banister cannot be ruled out. In
their photographs. Banister and Shaw are not strikingly
dissimilar in general appearance. Neither Garrison nor the
Committee has indicated that the witnesses were shown photos of
Banister. His presence in Clinton would certainly be in keeping
with the Camp-Street interconnections among Oswald, Ferrie and
himself and also with one of the interests reflected in
Banister’s files. The reader will recall that among an array of
file categories dealing mostly with missiles, bombers, and
national security was the title “Civil Rights Program of JFK.”

The third man, the passenger in the Cadillac, was more
easily identifiable than the driver. In fact, he was downright
unforgettable. According to the CORE chairman, his most salient
features were his hair and eyebrows. “They didn’t seem real .” 45
The CORE chairman had no trouble identifying the bizarre stranger
as David Ferrie.

It is a provocative incident: the mohair marauder and the

pinko Marine together in rural Louisiana only months before the
assassination. The House Assassinations Committee (HSCA) found
the Clinton witnesses very credible and believed that the
incident did occur as they described. Moreover, Oswald is
remembered by other witnesses beyond the scene of the
registration drive.

The town barber in Jackson, Louisiana, another small town
near Clinton, remembered Oswald. The appearance of strangers was

 

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a rare event in these thinly populated, rural environs. The
barber recalled that Oswald asked for advice about how to get a
job as an electrician at the local hospital (Oswald had told the
registrar in Clinton that he was seeking work at the hospital).
The friendly barber sent Oswald to see a local politician who
might help in obtaining a job at the hospital. Louisiana State
Representative Morgan Reeves confirmed that Oswald did visit him.
Two people at the hospital also remembered Oswald: he appeared

there and actually applied for work. All of this occurred before
he tried to register to vote.

Like much in Oswald’s life, these activities seem
inexplicably strange, perhaps even nonsensical. If we dispense
with the explanation that he had a sudden and compelling urge to
be a hospital electrician in rural Louisiana and that his old CAP
buddy David Ferrie, and some other guy, drove upstate to help Lee
settle in, then what was he doing? The House Assassinations
Committee treated the Clinton incident as significant only in
that it linked Oswald to Ferrie. But the Committee could not
make any sense of the event itself. Implicitly, the HSCA leaves
us hanging with the notion that Clinton was yet another
serendipitous meander by a confused left-wing ideologue who had a
curiosity about civil-rights politics.

Professor James W. Clarke offers another explanation of
Oswald’s association with Ferrie, an explanation grounded on the
flawed assumption that Oswald was genuinely pro-Castro. “Thus,”
says Clarke, “Oswald was probably in contact with Ferrie in an
attempt to obtain information on anti-Castro activities that he
hoped to relay to the Castro government .” 46

 

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Some researchers who suspect that Clinton may have had a
domestic-intelligence dimension to it point to the FBI s infamous
COINTELPRO program. 47 COINTELPRO was a massive
counterintelligence effort conducted by the Bureau against
radical and left-wing groups in America. Although the FBI was
the organization with the broadest official mandate for domestic
spying and while COINTELPRO is perhaps the most pervasive and
well known project of that era, there are problems in leaping to
the conclusion that Oswald might have been working for the
Bureau. Guy Banister — if it was he in Clinton — once was an FBI
agent. But his Camp Street operation was firmly enmeshed in
anti-Castro activities that were CIA-related, not Bureau. There
has never been any suggestion that Ferrie worked for the FBI,
only the CIA. Moreover, investigators have failed to notice that
the Clinton incident related very logically to a lesser known
involvement in domestic spying in the early 1960s — that of the
CIA.

The Agency’s 1947 charter forbade domestic spying; but, from
its very inception, the CIA did spy inside the U.S. 4 ® Sometimes
it negotiated agreements with the FBI for strictly limited
domestic activities; sometimes, as in the case of its Cuban-exile
networks, the Agency simply muscled into the Bureau’s turf and
expanded domestic spying without any specific authorization from
Congress and in spite of its charter. The justification for a
limited domestic role for the Agency was based on the argument
that the CIA could not end its pursuit of foreign agents and of
matters relating to foreign intelligence simply because the trail

 

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led back to the United States (except, of course, in Oswald’s

case). With this as an entree the CIA developed an appetite for

domestic spying that was voracious if not insatiable, expanding

into surveillance and covert action activities that had little or

no connection with international spying. This is precisely why

the CIA and FBI were such bitter rivals. It is why the most

ardent watchdog of the CIA’s domestic role was not Congressional

oversight committees or the White House but J. Edgar Hoover,

49

whose bulldog countenance was perfect for the role.

The CIA’s domestic activities of the early 60s included
organizing consumer boycotts against U.S. firms that traded with
Castro and organizing demonstrations in Washington outside the
foreign embassies of governments who supported cuba.^ gut what
of Clinton and CORE? No Cuban connection there.

The CIA steadily increased its domestic spying throughout
the early 1960s. This peaked with operation CHAOS, which was
formally constituted in 1967 and ended in 1975.^ It was a
massive effort to monitor and penetrate left-wing or radical
organizations such as the students for a Democratic Society
(SDS). CHAOS also included a mail-opening program in which the
Agency diverted and cir^nah eji twenty-eight million pieces of mail
belonging to U.S. citizens and organizations. c The Watch List
of targets for mail opening included organizations as tame as the
American Friends Service Committee and individuals such as
writers Edward Albee and John Steinbeck. The Agency opened CHAOS
files on over seven thousand Americans. ^3

Long before CHAOS was formalized as a project in 1967, the
CIA was gradually increasing its domestic spying toward the

 

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massive levels reached in late 1960s and early 1970s. Networks
of spies are built fairly slowly, whether in the domestic or
foreign arena. Getting them in place (“building assets” as it is
called in clandestine parlance) takes time, especially for an
operation of the magnitude of CHAOS

In 1967 the CIA formalized project MERRIMAC. 54 Its stated
purpose was to provide advance warning of demonstrations by left-
wing or anti-war groups–speci f ically , only those demonstrations
that might “threaten” CIA personnel and facilities in Washington,

i

D.C. While there were protests which at times threatened to
block traffic or shut down certain government agencies, the CIA
had not been subjected to them (perhaps one of the advantages of
being located on a 125 acre tract out in the Langley, Virginia
woods). MERRlMAC’s narrow mandate to gather intelligence about
forthcoming disruptions to CIA headquarters was used as an excuse
to infiltrate the left-wing/liberal political arena.

In all probability MERRIMAC was created as a formally
approved project not to begin legitimate domestic, surveillance
activities but, rather, to serve as a cover for illegitimate
activities some of which pre-dated the project itself. The
Agency used MERRIMAC as an excuse for spying having nothing to do
with possible demonstrations at Langley. One of the project s
directors admitted, with considerable understatement, “I think it
started out legitimately concerned with the physical security in
installations … it just kind of grew into areas and perhaps it
shouldn’t have.” 55

Under the guise of MERRIMAC the CIA justified its

 

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infiltration of no less than ten political organizations, most of
which never even considered trying to demonstrate against the CIA
or harass its employees. Agency operatives shadowed the leaders
of target groups, photographed the faces and license numbers of
demonstrators, reported on the “attitudes” of group members and
on their relationships with the group — even on their sources of
income . 56

The ten groups targeted for surveillance and infiltration
were not, by and large, coteries of bomb-chucking radicals. Four
were targeted right away (in February 1967) as soon as MERRIMAC
opened up shop. 5 ^ The Agency claimed that these four were
“bellwethers.” 58 Bellwethers of what was not clear:
ostensibly, of efforts to disrupt the Agency. The four were, the
Women’s Strike for Peace, the Washington Peace Center, the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC) , and CORE, whose
civil rights activities never did include demonstrating against
the CIA.

MERRIMAC ‘s formal targeting of CORE occurred three and a
half years after the Clinton incident. But it establishes the
CIA’s special interest in CORE. From the rest of what we know
about the Agency’s domestic operations, this interest surely did
not start with MERRIMAC. In sum, MERRIMAC can be logically
viewed as a device by which the Agency could justify and further
expand its ongoing domestic spying under the cache of self-
protection.

Former CIA administrator Victor Marchetti has described the
many tactics “used by the CIA to cover its tracks” in domestic
spying — deceptions designed to conceal its “numerous activities

 

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inside the Unties States.” 59 Marchetti points to CIA training of
local police (in the late 1950s and early 1960s) as a typical
example of Agency duplicity in domestic operations. The Agency
first tried to cover up its training of police, then chose to
mislead the public, the press, and Congress about the scope and
nature of its involvements. The Agency tried to use a provision
of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 as
legitimizing its domestic-police-training program. But this
provision, which encouraged federal law-enforcement agencies to
assist local police, was clearly inapplicable to the CIA because
it was superseded by the Agency’s charter which forbade any
“police” or “internal security” functions. Moreover, the CIA had
been conducting police training long before the anti-crime bill
was passed in June of 1968. In part, the Agency was forced to
cover up this linkage in order to keep the FBI at bay: the

Bureau maintained special facilities for police training and had
a legal authorization for such activity.

From this perspective, the Clinton incident need not be
viewed as FBI-related, as it has been by many analysts who have
not understood the breadth of the CIA’s domestic activities. A
description of the Agency’s modus operandi in MERRIMAC is
provided by the Rockefeller commission’s investigation into CIA
domestic spying.

They were instructed to mingle with others at
demonstrations and meetings open to the public, to listen
for information and pick up literature. . .to attend meetings
of the organization, to show interest in their purpose, and

 

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They were

 

to make modest financial contributions….
directed to report on how many persons attended the
meetings or demonstrations, what they said and what
activities were conducted or planned.^

The mind reels at the vision of the U.S.’s premier foreign-
espionage Agency dispatching its operatives to monitor poor
blacks and a few white organizers involved in voter registration
in rural Louisiana. It would sound like the paranoid
speculations of those who see CIA agents behind every bush if it
were not for the fact that CORE was targeted as a potential
threat to the Agency.

The Agency itself seemed almost paranoid about the direction
of black politics in the early 1960s. In 1978 the Center for
National security Studies in Washington, D.C. obtained, through
the Freedom of Information Act, internal CIA memoranda revealing
the extent of the Agency s domestic spying on blacks. The
documents show that the CIA infiltrated black political groups in
the D.C. area, took photographs of a Malcolm X Day rally,
infiltrated the Resurrection City encampment in 1968, and had
informants inside the D.C. school system to spy on black
youths. One informer, who was identified only as “a teacher
and a department head,” warned the Agency in 1969 that black
students were becoming increasingly militant and that some
carried weapons. The CIA also maintained a minute-by-minute log
of the riots that took place following the April 1968
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One Agency memo
admits that at the time of these surveillance activities, black

 

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6 3

militant groups posed no threat to CIA property or personnel.

A CIA memo obtained by the Washington Post in 1978 clearly

, 6 4

manifests the Agency s fears concerning black power groups.

The CIA allegedly found that some of these groups had hostile
attitudes toward it. It worried that this posed “a new threat”
to its operations abroad–although how remains unclear — and a
threat to its “image in the United States.” Recognizing that
threats to image did not exactly fall under project MERRIMAC’s
legal mandate of threats to property or personnel, the Agency
memo cynically notes that it is the latter threats “which must be
our official concern.”

The Clinton incident is often dismissed as a harmless
manifestation of Oswald’s catholic curiosity about leftist causes,
as further indication of the flightiness of his political
involvements. The Clinton activities all occurred within forty-
eight hours and seemed to be disconnected from Oswald’s other
involvements. Moreover, he was not an electrician; he did not
move to Clinton, etc. From the perspective of domestic spying a
la MERRIMAC, some of what Oswald and his associates did does make
sense as a one-shot intelligence-gathering foray — observing
core’s activities, actually testing out the registration process.
As for the other activities — the job hunting, the intimations of
staying around Clinton–they could have been part of the forty-
eight hour probe of CORE or they could have been something more.
It has always been assumed that Oswald never intended to do
anything further in Clinton or anything more vis-a-vis CORE.
Perhaps not. But the mistaken assumption is that the proof of
this lies in the fact that he never followed up on anything.

 

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There is another possibility. When the Clinton incident
occurred (in late August to early September of 1963) Oswald s
last public FPCC ritual had been performed: his role as a pro-

Castro activist was over. He may have been in the process of
getting into another role, to be played out in Clinton and
elsewhere — another domestic spying assignment. But his plans
changed. Instead of going back to Clinton, or getting closer to
CORE somewhere else, or continuing in his old role as FPCC
activist, he departed for Mexico within weeks after Clinton. His
assignment had apparently been changed.

Oswald went to Mexico City in late September. There, as
will later be described, some of the most important espionage
activity relating to his relationship to the president’s
assassination took place. Wftat may have prevented further
surveillance activities relating to Clinton or CORE was that
Oswald was suddenly being moved back to Dallas via Mexico, along
the trail that would lead to the Texas school Book Depository on
November 22nd.

Ferrie’s exact association with Oswald remains shadowy. Of
course, he denied any association. When FBI agents showed him
pictures of Oswald four days after the assassination, he said
that the profile view of Oswald had “a very vague familiarity,”
but the full-face and full-length photos were not familiar. 65 In
a personally-typed statement submitted to the FBI two and a half
weeks after the assassination, Ferrie tiptoed around his links to
Oswald as if he were an apprentice lawyer who had not quite
mastered the syntax of legal newspeak .

 

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In 1955, or thereabouts, I assisted, for a time, the
Moisant Squadron of Civil Air Patrol, at Moisant Airport,
New Orleans, Louisiana, though I cannot establish through
personal records or recollection the exact dates of this
connection. I have no records, or recollection, to my
knowledge, to show that LEE HARVEY OSWALD was, or was not,
a member of this particular unit of the Civil Air Patrol.

To my best knowledge and belief I do not know LEE HARVEY
OSWALD, and have no personal recollection of ever having
met him. If I did ever meet him it was very casual and to
my best recollection have definitely not seen him in recent
years. 66

Two witnesses asserted that Ferrie seemed to be in a state
of panic immediately following the assassination, about — of all
things — a library card. One of Oswald’s former neighbors in New
Orleans told the House Assassinations Committee that Ferrie
visited her after the President’s murder and inquired about
Oswald’s library card.®^ A second panicked inquiry about the
card was reported by Oswald’s former landlady in New Orleans, who
stated that Ferrie visited her within hours of the assassination
(just before he set off to Texas to hunt and ice skate).®®

Why the concern? According to official records, no library
card of any kind was found on Oswald when he was arrested in
Dallas. But one of Ferrie’s associates claimed that while Ferrie
was on his Texas sojourn, Ferrie’s lawyer, G. Wray Gill, showed
up at his client’s home and reportedly remarked, “when Lee Harvey
Oswald was arrested by the Dallas police, Oswald was carrying a

 

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