Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald

A bit late, I know. Not because he’s dead, but because it was a few days ago.

Oswald had an interesting life and it’s a real shame that all we remember him for is the assassination which he alleged commited in Dallas. So I don’t want to talk about that, even though it’s his main claim to fame, there’s another thread going on about that. I want to talk about the man himself, the time before he was famous, and I want to suggest that he was a long-time intelligence asset. I will provide some circumstantial evidence for this, which is really all that ought to be available for a covert operative. There has been a few leaks over the years claiming to prove he was in the CIA and so forth, but none that can be verified, and there have been a few definitely revealing documents about his secret U2 knowledge and so on which don’t confirm a career intelligence role, so we’ll ignore those.

Going back to his youth, he was in the Civil Air Patrol, which was run in Texas and Louisiana by the owner of the Texas School Book Depository. In the neighbouring branch of the TSBD were Barry Seal and David Ferrie, who were both interesting. Ferrie, of course, went on to be played by Joe Pesci in JFK and is famous for having alopecia, being a hypnotist and gun runner, conducting amateur research into cancerous rodenture and being a Wandering Bishop and pederast. Seal, on the other hand, went on to be a high-flying airline pilot for TWA, during which period he was arrested for running guns and explosives to Mexico. He went on to be gunned down by Cali cartel gunmen after working with the elder Bush’s vice-presidential drugs task force as an informant who tried to set up the Sandinistas as drug runners, and one of his former planes was shot down containing Eugene Hasenfus, igniting the Iran/Contra scandal. Seal and Ferrie ran guns to Castro for the CIA, back when Castro wasn’t a Communist yet. Ferrie, Seal and Oswald were all at the same CAP summer camp, but that doesn’t prove anything.

Then he was in the Marines. That’s the sort of patriotic young man Lee Harvey Oswald was. During that time he learned Russian, taught by the Marine Corps, and he was alleged to have spent time with native Communists who he then reported to his superiors. He was also involved with the U2 spy planes. He allegedly hung around a bar called the Bluebird, which was also the original name for the CIA’s Mind Control programme, but that’s presumably a coincidence. I’m no synchromystic.

Then he made his excuses, in the form of a hardship discharge into the reserves, and left the army to defect to the Soviet Union. Not even twenty years of age, and there’s our intrepid hero, heading out into the world, bravely forging his own path, throwing aside allegiance to his own land and throwing himself on the mercy of the Soviets with nothing to offer but his small savings, his loyalty and his secret knowledge of the U2 spy plane, just months before the massive scandal caused by the shooting down of a U2 over the Soviet Union, which wrecked Eisenhower’s peaceful overtures to the Soviets, and broke his direct orders to halt flights over Soviet airspace. And so he defected. Well, tried, they didn’t want him. There had been a nasty spate of false defections, a Naval Intelligence programme to feed false information to the Soviets, a programme run from a site in North Carolina which Oswald phoned as soon as he became famous. Anyway, he managed to talk his way into the Soviet’s good books and renounced his US citizenship, giving up his passport (which, I can’t help it, reminds me of Aleister Crowley’s mischievous First World War activities, where he tore up his British passport and threw it into the water under the Statue of Liberty and became a paid German propagandist, which he always insisted he did for MI6 and for which he faced no punishment). Then, he changed his mind, asked nicely for his passport back and went back to America with no charges filed against him, no recriminations, not even so much as a friendly visit from the FBI to see if he’d let slip any of his confidential information. Almost like he’d been a fake defector working for the Office of Naval Intelligence right from the off.

So, our hero is back in the land of opportunity, which withholds opportunities from no-one, not even well-known traitors. The USG even generously gave him a payment to help him resettle. In Texas. He fell in with an intelligence agent called George de Mohrenschildt, allegedly later murdered to stop him testifying. This White Russian got him a job at a firm which did classified photographic work for the government. Because know traitors and secret work always go together, or perhaps because a life-long agent can be trusted with the work when he isn’t doing anything more important. He was alleged to be using company equipment to make fake identification. During this period his landlady is Ruth Paine, a CIA operative. . Another Ruth Paine was an associate of Andrija Puharich in the CIA’s crazy psychic shenanigans. She married occultist, inventor and pivotal figure in the development of the Bell helicopter Arthur Young. Her son married a girl called Ruth, who became the landlady Ruth Paine. This landlady later provided the police with the infamous photo of a rifle-brandishing Oswald, his fake Alex Hiddell ID, and other “evidence” against him.

Then he allegedly tried to kill George Wallace, and headed off to New Orleans and into Jim Garrison’s later jurisdiction. Then he went and got a job at a company run by a prominent Castro-baiter. From then on he spent all his time flitting back and forth between anti- and pro-Castro groups, apart from the occasional mysterious meeting with FBI agents. He founded a branch of the Fair Play for Cuba committee and got himself on the TV for handing out it’s leaflets, despite the national Fair Play having told him not to. As the adress he stamped on the leaflets was the office of former FBI and CIA agent and co-ordinator of anti-Castro activities Guy Bannister. Finally got on TV by handing out leaflet’s outside Clay Shaw’s place. Banister was an associate of the aforementioned Ferrie, by now working on the CIA’s anti-*Castro efforts. Banister’s secretary claimed to have seen Oswald at his offices on quite a regular basis, one of many accounts putting him in the anti-Castro millieu at the same time he was allegedly advocating Fair Play for Cuba. There was even a video tape of training at Lake Pontchartrain for another Bay of Pigs, or for Operation Mongoose attacks, before the camp was broken up by the FBI on the orders of the President, which had Oswald there with the gun toting commie-killers. Unfortunately that video, after being shown to the House Select Committee on Assassinations was stolen from the House.

Oswald then, allegedly, went to Mexico although the main evidence for this is a photograph provided by the CIA of a man who bears absolutely no resemblance to LHO. If he ever left Texas he was soon back, working for General Byrd, his former highest superior in the Civil Air Patrol, in the Texas School Book Depository. During this time he allegedly threatened to blow up the local FBI office, athough an Agent Hosty claimed he only threatened to inform their superiors that the Feebies were harrassing his wife. We’ll never know, Hosty’s superiors ordered him to burn the note after the assassination.

Which is how Oswald got to the day on which he shot to fame, if you’ll pardon the pun. Now, all of the above could just be happenstance. Coincidence. Something other than a conspiracy. His entire adult life was lived in a swirling nexus of intelligence contacts, but that might not mean anything. He was in the CAP, but so were lots of people. People who didn’t go on to be life-long covert operatives of one kind or another. Although there were also David Ferrie and Barry Seal. When he was in the Marines, maybe he really did just teach himself a bit of Russian and do some boring U2 air traffic control then leave for a Soviet adventure. Maybe the Soviets just took pity on him or wanted the publicity, not U2 information. Maybe the U2 just flew in contravention of direct orders and got shot down for the first time shortly thereafter by coincidence. Maybe he was a genuine communist defector who repented. Maybe the USG took pity on him and let him back in, didn’t bother him too much because he wasn’t important. Then, with his Russian language skills and Russian wife, he fell in with White Russians, who had a massively disproportionate percentage of intelligence operatives. Then, about Cuba, maybe he was still a communist and was trying to infiltrate the anti-Castro Cubans, as Bringuier alleges, or maybe he was anti-Castro and was trying to make the Fair Play group look bad by himself. Then he got a job at a place owned by the military-industrialist Byrd purely through coincidence and smuggled a gun into work to shoot the president for whatever reason. Maybe all of those things. A coincidence theory, if you will. Interesting, in this light, that he called himself a “patsy”. Not just “they’re got the wrong man”, but “they’ve set me up”.

Or, maybe not. Maybe he was recruited in an informal capacity in the CAP, as were others who became gun-runners for the CIA, some of whom later branched out into drugs and other smuggling. Maybe his military training was a logical next step, and through his former CAP connections he was put into an intelligence capacity, set to work on the U2 as a trusted minor agent, then taught Russian and sent to infiltrate local Communists as part of a ONI programme to send fake defectors to the Soviet Union. His fake defection went well, he passed on U2 information which helped the CIA undermine Eisenhower’s peace initiative, then, his work done, he defected back home and went back to work. Confidential photo work, de Mohrenschildt his handler, Ruth Paine his landlady. Next assignment was the anti-Castro movement. Helped with planning and training, worked for higher ups like a good little agent while keeping his cover going. Was told to set up a FPFC office, maybe didn’t know why. Got him a job at the TSBD. The rest, history.

Maybe neither, who knows. All I can say for certain is that he seems to have been constantly surrounded by intelligence operatives of all stripes. In the CAP he was surrounded by CIA smugglers, in the Marines he spent his time watching spy planes on RADAR, the the USSR he married the daughter of a KGB officer, back in America he almost immediately became a tenant of a CIA operative and close associate of another, and worked for a firm doing confidential government work, an anti-Castro Cuban and the close associated of LBJ, Byrd.

None of that is conclusive, of course, only indicative. Nor will it ever be otherwise. One secret document on Oswald held by the CIA was burned while being thermofaxed, which is rather unique. Some have claimed that he was working gun-running cases for the FBI, which may be possible given his association with a metric shitload of gun-runners in the anti-Castro movement and the CAP.

And we all know the rest. Shots fired, Kennedy dead. Oswald goes home, one police officer alleged with Jack Ruby, allegedly gets a gun and shoots Tippitt, who seems to be the only Dallas police officer who didn’t rush straight to the scene of the crime of the century, and then goes to cool of at the pictures, making sure to draw attention to himself by refusing to pay for a ticket, after a description of Oswald has gone out on the police radios from a source no-one had been able to track down. He’s dragged from the theatre to the least secure police station in the world where he is repeatedly paraded before the press to complain about not being allowed a lawyer or a shower and about being hit by policemen. Claims to be a patsy, tells the police “don’t you try to bring Mrs Paine into this”. Gets shot dead in the car park by Jack Ruby, a Kennedy hating gangster driven by a need to avenge the death of the man he hated, or so the story goes.

And dead men tell no tales.

What’s the debate?

I wonder if his friends called him as Lee or Harvey.

Welcome to Conspiracy speech. There’s not supposed to be one.

Whether he was a witting agent, occasional dupe or normal man of adventurous mien.

Fourth option: he was a capricious nut who drifted from cause to cause, abetted by people who were never quite sure what to make of him, and who became violent near the end of his life in taking a shot at Edwin Walker and, eventually, John Kennedy and J.D. Tippet.

How can something be “rather unique”? That’s what I want to know!

That’s what all the evidence indicates. If he told anyone else about his plans, they would have thought he was nuts, or they would have been a little loco themselves to believe it. His is the story of an erratic malcontent spiraling towards his eventual fate as he failed in life time and again.

The defection to Russia part is rather interesting. Granted, I have not followed many defectors, but was it routine for Russians to allow such defectors to return to their respective countries and to bring their Russian wives with? AFAIR from living in the Soviet Union (granted, at that time I was not born yet, but from reading/talking to people), in the 60s that would be a fairly extraordinary turn of circumstances.

The Soviets took him in for propaganda purposes, and maybe believed he had some useful intelligence. They found out he was a pain in the ass, and were glad to send him back. His wife was of no importance, and they didn’t care if she left. We took him back because he was still a US citizen, and we might have thought he had some intelligence to bring back, and at that time, marriage was enough to bring his wife with him. Anyway, that’s what the available credible evidence shows. If there’s something else significant nobody has found it, or spilled it.

I’m betting he used the last description in his personals ad.

See, you’re looking at it from a Westerner’s perspective. You don’t understand the thinking of the Soviets at the time.

Of course they took him in for propaganda purposes - but what’s this “pain in the ass” you’re talking about? You know what happened to “pain in the ass” kinds of people in the Soviet Union in early 1960? The reward for “pain in the ass” behavior was harsh and sometimes terminal, not sending you abroad. Same with “his wife was of no importance and they didn’t care if she left”. Of course they did. I have heard hundreds of stories of Russian women of no importance whatsoever marrying (or attempting to marry) foreigners and the enormous difficulties they had both getting married and, especially, leaving Soviet Union. Any attempt to leave the country was considered treasonous behavior, you could languish for decades in a limbo while your request to leave was considered (and often denied in the end) - the limbo where no one would hire you, you could find no housing, and you would be banished from major cities.

That’s why this ease of exit of LHO and especially his wife from the USSR in early 60s is so weird.

The Soviet Union also had a massive and massively inefficient bureaucracy. He might have just slipped out through the cracks.

Actually, the best evidence is that he bugged them until they stuck him in a menial post. Then he got whiny because his life still sucked. He was one fo those people who never quite realized he was the real problem in his life. He drifted from cause to cause trying to find someone to blame.

Oswald wasn’t patriotic or even much of a nutball. He simply had a size 10 ego in size 2 boots. Nobody’d hire this guy to spy on the student council meetings, much less on Soviet Russia. Aside from which, there’s no evidence, none, that he was ever once involved in any intelligence. Frankly, even the Russians didn’t want to touch him; he just sucked that much.

Not that I expect blindboyard to admit this. The plain and cruel fact si that most assassins of American Presidents have not been great many of drama and exciting lives, but rather tedious and miserable souls with little to lose and a lust for glory. Even John Wilkes Booth was only a middling actor overshadowed by his more famous brother.

You did not get sent to the Gulag for being a pain in the ass. He wasn’t a political problem for them, he was just a lousy worker, and useless for propoganda purposes. He was married to his wife in the Soviet Union, this was not a case of a Soviet citizen attempting to leave through marriage. She was no more important to them when they left than he was. They were probably concerned from the beginning that he was a plant, and didn’t want to fall into a planned provocation. So letting him go was no problem. The people who could not get out of there were those seen as being a political danger once they left. Oswald was someone they wanted to get rid of.

Assassins in general, really (at least, non-professional ones). Those of similar views but more exciting or driven lives tend to be revolutionaries rather than assassins.

Oswald did it, all by himself.

Yeah, well that’s what they want you to think!

He also slit his wrists when he thought they weren’t going to let him stay. The guy was crazy enough to kill a President, no question.

I actually think a movie, of the quality of JFK, of the biography of Oswald’s life, would be interesting (there’s a bio of about 250 pages within Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History).

Call it: Oswald.

Um, I lived my first 17 years in that country, I know how it works. In the 60s, you definitely COULD get sent to the Gulag for being a pain in the ass and a lousy worker - you just had to piss off the right people and you would become a “wrecker” and a “saboteur”. As for “people who could not get out of there were those seen as being a political danger once they left” - you couldn’t be more wrong. NO ONE could get out. Getting out was not an option. It was an ENORMOUS exception if you could get out. And the less “important” you were, the less the possibility of you getting out.