By Bill Simpich [Originally published 12/31/2014]
THE PAINES’ FAMILY AND FRIENDS WERE PROMINENT INTELLIGENCE FIGURES
Michael’s mother was with the Forbes family
Last time, we looked at the backgrounds of Michael and Ruth Paine. Who were the guiding forces in their lives?
Michael’s mother Ruth Forbes was part of the prominent Forbes family. Ruth Forbes was active with the Universal World Federalists during the period right after World War II that legend maker #2 Cord Meyer was the group’s leader.
Although he remained an avowed liberal, Meyer hewed towards a hardcore anti-Communist approach after surviving a bruising security investigation conducted by the FBI in the mid-fifties. During the late fifties and the sixties, Meyer served in the CIA as its covert action chief. In 1963, Meyer and Des FitzGerald were Richard Helms’ two right-hand men in planning covert actions in Cuba.
Michael’s birth father George Lyman Paine had belonged for many years to a Trotskyist socialist splinter group known as the Johnson-Forest Faction. Although Lyman was on the FBI’s Security Index, it didn’t prevent Michael from getting a security clearance at Bell Helicopter.
Ruth Forbes and Lyman Paine were good friends and drinking buddies with Mary Bancroft, a well-connected spy and the paramour of CIA chief Allen Dulles. If Cord Meyer had not known about Ruth and Michael Paine, it wouldn’t have taken Dulles thirty seconds to fill him in.
Dulles was handed a long memo from a “source” about the Paines shortly after the assassination. The reference to knowing Michael personally “until he was seven years old” fits perfectly with when Ruth and Lyman separated. Other items in the report indicate that the source could have been Dulles’ former paramour Mary Bancroft.
After the assassination, Fred and Nancy Osborn went to the FBI to vouch for the Paines’ good character. Fred’s father, Fred Osborn, Sr., had helped create Radio Free Europe, and later worked with Allen Dulles and Time/Life/Fortune officer C. D. Jackson to form the Crusade for Freedom (CFF), an early CIA project that was modeled after Radio Free Europe. CFF merged with Radio Free Europe in 1962.
Ruth’s sister Sylvia, and brother-in-law John
In a heavily redacted document, the FBI was informed that Ruth’s sister Sylvia Hyde Hoke was Naval Intelligence and was trying t o obtain a top secret clearance. As we will see, her family’s relationship with an attorney allegedly involved with Soviet espionage killed that opportunity in 1958.
Hoke had clearances from AID for many years, and a CIA memorandum indicated that she was a CIA employee in 1961. Hoke had also worked with the Air Force as a personnel research technician in 1956-57 and had a final secret clearance.
Sylvia’s husband John Hoke also worked with AID as a “communications resources specialist” . His obituary states that he was fired in 1962 for building a solar-powered boat and attacked by a congressman not yet ready for the notion. Besides working with AID, Hoke provided services to the CIA on a yearly basis with a top secret clearance until at least mid-1963.
Ruth’s father William Avery Hyde was AID’s Regional Insurance Adviser for all of South America. His job was to provide technical assistance to insurance cooperatives being set up by the State Department. For many years, Bill Hyde was employed by the NationwideInsurance Company, which was part of the Farm Bureau co-operative in Columbus, Ohio.
As mentioned in Chapter 7, it helps to take a look at two separate but closely linked entities. Bill Hyde’s Nationwide Insurance Company was part of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), founded in 1922 and which still exists today. This is easily confused with the International Cooperation Administration (ICA), formed in 1954 and where legend maker #9 George de Mohrenschildt conducted petroleum intelligence in the fifties.
The International Cooperation Administration then merged with the Development Loan Fund and was re-named as the Agency for International Development (AID) as part of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The thing to remember is that these two organizations calling themselves “ICA” were very closely allied. The similarity of their names is not coincidental.
The Agency for International Development has been cited by Ohio governor and AID director John Gilligan as being filled with CIA agents “from top to bottom”. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”
The most famous example of a CIA man that used AID as cover was Dan Mitrione, who tortured the Tupamaros of Uraguay until he was kidnapped in a famous standoff that inspired Costa-Gavras’ movie State of S iege.
Hyde was no Dan Mitrione. The CIA admitted on 12/3/63 that the International Organizations division of the CIA was considering using William Hyde for covert use in 1957; however, it claims that he didn’t “receive a security clearance”. This was the terrain of Cord Meyer, who was the IO chief for years and oversaw the division’s name change to “Covert Action”.
Based on information from the CIA’s molehunting unit CI/SIG, the FBI wrote a telling report on William Hyde: “On December 4, 1963, CIA made available information to the Bureau Liaison that in 1957 CIA considered using this individual to operate a cooperative educational center in Vietnam but he was not used by the CIA. Investigation by CIA at that time concerning William Avery Hyde was favorable.”
Ruth Paine commented: “The information about the CIA considering my father for Vietnam was a surprise. I doubt if he would have accepted such an invitation, if it was offered. He certainly didn’t go. He went to Peru. He was working with the Agency for International Development. He helped to develop rural credit unions for the compasinos so that they could save enough money to make loans to themselves, instead of always paying the huge bank rates. He loved it. I know that USAID asked my father to appraise a situation in Georgetown, Guiana. He recommended against starting a project there, as he thought the local officials corrupt.”
Bill Hyde was also a strong anti-communist. Dr. Richard Jenkins of the Psychiatric Evaluation Board in Washington DC went to Stanford with the Hydes, and said that “Bill Hyde had been active in the cooperative movement and therefore was aware of the attempts of the Communists to infililtrate the cooperative movement.”
Like Hyde, the Hoke family was also involved in looking for communists. There is a 1955 memo to the CIA’s Office of Security, discussing how William Avery Hyde was back in his hometown of Palo Alto visiting the Hokes. Brought into the circle was Dr. Jenkins and also Taylor Bielefeldt,
Bielefeldt was the CIA chief of the USSR Division of the Foreign Documents Division, who had spent a lot of time with Ruth’s parents William and Carol Hyde in the 1920s and 1930s. Bielefeldt’s division worked with the Joint Publications Research Service, a CIA unit that monitored public documents to study scientific and technical developments in the Soviet bloc.
Several people close to Oswald were also active in the Joint Publications Research Service. These people include legend maker #3 Priscilla Johnson, the NANA reporter in Moscow who befriended the Oswald family; legend maker #4 Richard Snyder, the American consul in Moscow; and the allegedly unwitting Spas Raikin, who greeted the Oswald family when they arrived in New York City from the USSR in 1962.
The 1955 memo mentions that Hoke, Bielefeldt and the aforementioned Dr. Richard Jenkins were all Stanford graduates. Hoke has been described as “a very brilliant person who is not very stable but who is very creative.”
The focus of the 1955 meeting was about Paul and Violet Orr. Both were Communist Party members in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul had just been harshly interrogated by HUAC earlier that year. Violet had worked in the 1930s in the CP-friendly American League Against War and Fascism, just as Harvey’s informant Elizabeth Bentley had done. In more recent years, Violet had been part of the visible Communist Party leadership.
Two days after the memo, a wiretap revealed that former CP member Dorothy Wilson allegedly claimed that Ruth Paine’s mother Carol Hyde – the aforementioned Unitarian minister – admitted to being a communist. Another neighbor later reported hearing this rumor.
Ruth’s sister Sylvia admitted a year later that Dorothy Wilson worked at the publishing company run by her mother-in-law Helen Hoke Watts, and that Wilson had edited a book jointly written by her husband John Hoke and Mrs. Watts. Sylvia denied that her mother Carol Hyde was a communist, saying that her mother was suffering from a mental disorder.
At the time, Sylvia was supposedly working as a personnel research technician for the Air Force. However, a February 1957 memo revealed that Sylvia had been working in a semi-secret position for Naval Intelligence, and had lost her shot at a top secret position because of the Dorothy Wilson-Helen Hoke Watts relationship.
Ruth Paine made a point of telling FBI agent Jim Hosty in the weeks before the assassination that Oswald was a “Trotskyite communist“. Although Oswald subscribed to both the Trotskyist newspaper and the Communist Party newspaper, he maintained that he was not a follower of either ideological persuasion.
It is reasonable to judge Ruth Paine by her family ties. Like legend maker #3 Priscilla Johnson and legend maker #9 George de Mohrenschildt, Ruth’s family may have triggered too many security disapprovals for her to be put directly on the CIA payroll as an informant. Nonetheless, she had substantial ties to men such as Frederick Merrill and Fred Osborn at the State Department, and friends in common with Allen Dulles and Cord Meyer at the CIA.
There was nothing illegal about the Paines acting as an intelligence source about Soviet-related activities during the Cold War; or, at a minimum, being used as a witting or unwitting asset. That’s why Hoover and the CIA treated Ruth and Michael with kid gloves, despite the Hyde family’s deep left-wing background and the high-profile history of Lyman Paine in the Trotskyist movement.
The CIA made it its business to get to know people on the Left. Many of them provided the Agency with little gems about their Cold War enemies.
How Ruth’s machinations got Oswald the job at the Texas School Book Depository
Let’s return to the story of what Oswald was doing in the weeks immediately leading up to 11/22/63.
When Lee needed a job in Dallas during October, 1963, the Warren Commission says that it was Ruth who set him up working the boxes on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository, thanks to a tip from neighbor Buell Wesley Frazier’s sister Linnie Mae Randle. The Book Depository was an ideal spot along the motorcade route for a sniper to take a shot at the President.
Ruth said she bitterly regretted her role in finding Oswald the Book Depository job. I believe that is true, but the Commission ignored Randle’s statement that she did not know of any jobs available at the depository during that time.
Furthermore, the Warren Commission suppressed the information that Paine hid from Oswald that Robert Adams from the Texas Employment Commission had left a message at her home in an effort to tell Oswald that a job was available with Trans Texas Airways which would have paid much more money than the Depository job. Paine would not admit receiving that message.
Adams remembered the details of this story in August 1964, after he had for some strange reasons denied telephoning for Oswald when originally quizzed by the Warren Commission in April.
There is a phone number in Oswald’s phone book that should be Robert Adams’ number, but it reads as “Robert Odum“. This is beyond Oswald’s normal misspellings. Did Odum have some kind of relationship with Oswald? Was this some kind of Freudian slip?
Odum was all over this case before and after 11/22. I will discuss more of Odum’s post-11/22 actions in the epilogue.
By the end, even the general counsel of the Warren Commission realized something was deeply wrong with the Oswald story
What is particularly interesting to me is how even J. Lee Rankin, the general counsel of the Warren Commission, was forced to conclude in the last month of the investigation that something in the Oswald story was deeply wrong.
Deadlines had come and gone. LBJ had made it clear that the report had to be done by the end of September, well before the 1964 presidential election.
At the beginning of September, counsel Rankin wrote a four-page memo to Hoover, telling him that the Commission needed to review the evidence around several individuals: The grocer Leonard Hutchison, the barber Cliff Shasteen, the auto salesman Albert Bogard, and the gun owner Garland Slack. The backstory involving all four of these men led right back to the Paines. It would have been hard for Rankin to ignore it.
Special Agent Richard Rogge observed that these events are based on stories that “generally do not adhere to facts developed by us“, and claimed that the re-investigation of these witnesses only further supported the FBI’s version of the facts. Rogge testified that the reason that the FBI had jurisdiction in the JFK case was because of “presidential directive” from LBJ himself.
Rankin’s concern was well-founded. The evidence involving these four men didn’t add up.
Leonard Hutchison, the Irving grocer
The Irving grocer, Leonard Hutchison, remembered refusing “Harvey Oswald’s” request trying to cash a $189 two-party check. It was not a payroll check. Oswald got paid $1.25 an hour at the book depository. That kind of money was beyond his means.
Hutchison also said that Oswald always bought a gallon of milk and cinnamon rolls, and only on weekdays in the early morning. Not only did no one remember seeing Oswald bring home those items, but Oswald was only in Irving on the weekends.
Hutchison identified Oswald as weighing 155-160 pounds, and indicated that he had plenty of hair. He was intrigued by how Oswald never said a word to him — not even hello or goodbye – except for the time he tried to cash that big check.
Given all the anomalies, including those that don’t match Oswald’s appearance as a 130-pound balding man, one has to wonder just who Hutchison saw. No matter who it was, “Harvey Oswald” wanted to be a memorable figure in Hutchison’s eyes. Whether or not it was an impersonation, it was clearly a provocation.
Cliff Shasteen, the Irving barber
The barber Cliff Shasteen was also an important witness. Like many barbers, he knew many of the people in the neighborhood and was a good observer. Shasteen went on to be a member of the Irving city council. Both Bob Odum and Oswald got haircuts from Shasteen, although there’s no proof they ever crossed paths.
Shasteen reported that Oswald drove Ruth Paine’s car to the barber shop. He correctly identified Ruth Paine’s car to the Warren Commission. “I’m sure it’s a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon“either blue and white or green and white.”
At first, I thought it was impossible that Shasteen had seen an Oswald impersonator. After all, Shasteen had seen Oswald close up. Shasteen said his brother-in-law lived right across the street from Ruth Paine.
But problems quickly pop up. Ruth Paine knew nothing about Oswald getting any haircuts, and denied ever lending Oswald her car. Whether or not Oswald had obtained a driver’s license –and there is dispute on that subject — it was not a good idea for Ruth to her car to a rookie driver.
One time, Oswald showed up for a haircut wearing distinctive yellow shoes. He also regularly showed up at the barbershop wearing khaki-colored coveralls. To my knowledge, no one else ever reported Oswald wearing or owning these clothes.
Shasteen was very certain that he and his fellow barbers saw Oswald for at least five haircuts, every two weeks, and thought that the visits might go back into the summer. That would be an impossible fit, given the undisputed facts. Oswald had been in New Orleans all summer, didn’t return to New Orleans until the first week of October, and his last supposed haircut was on about November 8.
The barbers’ memories did not corroborate Shasteen very well. Barber Bert Glover described Oswald as “ruddy”, about 35 years old, and that he had seen him three times. You have to wonder whether Glover had seen the real Oswald. Another barber, Buddy Law, didn’t remember Oswald at all.
Shasteen also said when he slipped out the night of November 8 to go to a football game, “Oswald really was inquisitive as to where I went. He wanted to know where I was going and what I was going to do”he asked this guy cutting his hair.” Not only is this uncharacteristic of Oswald, but it was the polar opposite of the silent Oswald encountered by Hutchison. Again, it looks like an impersonation — if it was merely a provocation, Oswald may have upped the ante by stealing Ruth’s car! More shady activity going on during the weekend of November 8.
Albert Bogard at the auto dealership
The next striking event, on November 9, brings to mind Ruth Paine’s driving lessons with Lee.
Albert Bogard, an auto salesman at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership two blocks from the Texas Book Depository Building, reported that a man named “Lee Oswald” took a wild test drive of a new Lincoln Continental for thir teen miles, going between 60-85 mph. Oswald told Bogard that he was about to come into some big money.
When asked how tall Oswald was, Bogard said that since he was 5 foot 9, Oswald had to be at least three inches shorter. Bogard believed the man was Oswald. Both Bogard and employee Oran Brown wrote down the name “Lee Oswald”.
Bogard’s testimony was corroborated by two other employees, Oran Brown and Frank Pizzo. Pizzo said the man looked like Oswald but had a different hairline. Ruth Paine said it was not possible, as she was with Oswald in Irving, Texas all day long that Saturday.
Yet another employee at the dealership, Jack Allan Carroll Lawrence, left work at about 11:30 am on November 22, and returned at 1 pm, with an immediate spell of violent vomiting in the rest room. Lawrence was very upset, and claimed that he told the FBI the next day that the dealership was withholding information about Oswald from the Bureau.
There is no record of any such report to the FBI by Lawrence. Lawrence was passionately anti-Castro. He left town soon after the assassination, and claimed to have a meticulous memory thirty years later in responding to researchers accusing him of playing a prominent role in the assassination. His story, however, was a rat’s nest of anomalies.
Applying Occam’s razor, there’s little evidence that Lawrence was involved in killing the President — but did he know a little more than he let on?
Garland Slack at the Sports Drome rifle range
Johnny King, the editor of the Dallas Morning News, reported that Paine drove Oswald to a rifle range a few days before the assassination. When asked about the story, the editor refused to reveal his source, describing him as “an investigator”.
Bob Odum asked Paine if it was true. Paine denied it. The story never went any further.
Lee’s brother Robert Oswald said shortly after the assassination that “I still do not know why or how, but Mr. and Mrs. Paine are somehow involved in this affair.” When asked to explain, Robert told the Warren Commission that he had read in the paper about a man passing a rifle to Oswald over a fence where he was standing inside the rifle range. “As I read this description in the newspaper, I reached the conclusion from that description that it was Mr. Paine.” Robert recalled Paine as about 6 feet tall and weighing 160-165 pounds.
After Lee’s arrest, Robert says that he told his brother at the jail house that “I don’t think they’re any friends of yours.” According to Robert, Lee told him, “Yes, they are.”
The incident under discussion appears to be at the Sports Drome in Grand Prairie, Texas, where Oswald supposedly engaged in target practice on November 9, 10 and 17, with someone handing Oswald his rifle over the fence on at least one occasion. Grand Prairie is the town where Michael Paine moved to after his break-up with Ruth.
What I find so intriguing about the reports by Johnny King and Robert Oswald is that a gun owner named Garland Slack reported that on November 17, 1963, a man who looked like Oswald was firing at his target at the Sports Drome. Slack reported that accompanying Oswald was a man identified as “Frazier, from Irving, Texas“.
Buell Frazier was a co-worker of Oswald’s at the depository. Frazier testified that he drove Oswald to the Paine residence virtually every weekend, right up until the day before the assassination where the pattern was shifted by Oswald coming out on the evening of Thursday, November 21. Frazier said that he saw Oswald carry a large brown bag to work the day of the assassination, although he denied that it was big enough to carry a rifle.
As a result of this observation, Frazier was taken into custody during the evening of November 22 and accused by homicide captain Will Fritz of being an accomplice of Oswald. There had been reports of two men at the sixth floor window, and the authorities spent much of the first day trying to determine if there was an Oswald accomplice.
These alleged sightings of Oswald with Frazier and Oswald with Paine provide one of the most telling events in the days preceding the assassination. Was someone impersonating Oswald? Was someone impersonating Frazier as Oswald’s sidekick? Was someone impersonating Michael Paine as the man who handed the rifle over the fence at the rifle range?
A theory has been floated that Jack Lawrence, the missing man at the auto dealership, was the “Second Frazier“. Lawrence is hardly a match for Buell Frazier, but a comparison of the ages and faces of the two men illustrates that Lawrence might be able to pass on paper as a double for Frazier.
Did the anti-Castro Lawrence agree to engage in some low-level espionage against the pro-Castro Oswald — and was then sickened when he realized that he had been used as a fall guy?
Whether or not editor Johnny King had his story right, Michael Paine is somehow caught up in this web of deception.
The aforementioned anomalies of the Oswald story were ignored by the Warren Commission. Instead, the month of September 1964 was used to ensure that these stories and others like it were smoothed over prior to publication. The man who had ordered this review of these stories, J. Lee Rankin, had a shot at being a hero. Rankin didn’t take it.
In the years before his death, Rankin encouraged researchers in the JFK case to keep digging. Rankin asked one researcher, “Are you looking into the plots on the basis of whether they were covered up by the CIA because some of the very people involved in them could have been involved in the President’s assassination?” When told that was an area of investigation, Rankin replied, “Good. Good. You have to look at it that way.”
Ruth Paine’s relationship with Lee Oswald’s letter that tied him to the USSR and Cuba
The most remarkable story about Ruth Paine is how she defused the explosive letter written by Oswald to the Soviet Embassy in DC — this is where she switched from being Marina’s legend maker to being Oswald’s worst nightmare.
Paine admitted to copying this letter by hand with the intention of turning it over to FBI agent Jim Hosty. Hosty had met with Paine a few days earlier to find out where Oswald lived and where he worked. Paine assumed that Hosty would soon come back again.
The letter that Paine had found is dated 11/9/63. Go back to the incident at Hutchinson’s grocery. Did Oswald write this letter the day after he got paid $189 on the 8th, or was it supposed to look that way?
The letter focused on Oswald’s contacts with the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City. This letter enabled the higher-ups in the FBI to learn days before the assassination that Oswald visited the Cuban compound in Mexico City – at the time, this information was concealed by the CIA’s Mexico City station from its own headquarters, at least in official documents. (For more, see State Secret, Chapter 5)
The letter arrived at the Soviet embassy on the 18th, and intercepted and on Hoover’s desk by the 19th.
Here’s the text of the letter, which shows that events were moving into an endgame:
This is to inform you of recent events since by meetings with comrade Kostin in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, Mexico City, Mexico.
I was unable to remain in Mexico indefinly because of my Mexican visa restrictions which was for 15 days only. I could not take a chance on requesting a new visa unless I used my real name, so I returned to the United States.
I had not planned to contact the Soviet embassy in Mexico so they were unprepared, had I been able to reach the Soviet Embassy in Havana as planned, there would have been time to complete our business.
Of corse the Soviet embassy was not at fault, they were, as I say unprepared, the Cuban consulate was guilty of a gross breach of regulations, I an glad he has since been replaced.
The Federau Bureau of Investigation is not now interested in my activities in the progressive organization Fair Play for Cuba Committee, of which I was secretary in New Orleans (state Louisiana) since I no longer reside in that state. However, the FBI has visited us here in Dallas, Texas, on November 1. Agent James P. Hasty warned me that if I engaged in FPCC activities in Texas the FBI will again take and ‘interest’ in me.
This agent also ‘suggested’ to Marina Nichilayova that she could remain in the United States under FBI ‘protection’, that is, she could defect from the Soviet Uion, of course, I and my wife strongly protested these tactics by the notorious FBI.
Please inform us of the arrival of our Soviet entrance visa’s as soon as they come.
Also, this is to inform you of the birth, on October 20, 1963, of a DAUGHTER, AUDREY MARINA OSWALD, in DALLAS, TEXAS, to my wife.
Professor Jerry Rose, a long-time researcher in the JFK case, points out that the Oswald’s handwritten draft copy has virtually none of Oswald’s characteristic errors, while the typed version is filled with them.
Professor Rose also shows that not only did Paine’s supposed handwritten copy never surface, but that Paine was given by the Warren Commission the original of Oswald’s handwritten draft which should have rightly been given to Oswald’s wife Marina.
Rose opines that the handwritten draft was created to convince the reader that Oswald had written the letter by himself. The two versions can be viewed together at the website page provided in the endnotes.
The reader can see that the handwritten draft is superior to the typed final.
This letter was designed to cement Oswald’s ties to the USSR and Cuba prior to the assassination of JFK. The FBI found the letter was written on Ruth Paine’s typewriter.
I’m unsure if the letter was a forgery, but the letter is highly significant in any case on several levels.
Notice its date – November 9. Oswald expresses pleasure at Consul Eusebio Azcue’s replacement as consul at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. The Mexico City tapes indicated that Azcue had evicted a man calling himself “Lee Oswald” from the consulate two months earlier.
The replacement of Azcue had been planned since early September, before Oswald’s arrival into Mexico City. The reference to Azcue’s replacement in the letter indicates that the writer had deep knowledge into Cuban affairs.
Who knew that Azcue was about to be replaced? The people with access to the telephone taps and hidden microphones in the Cuban consulate — Bill Harvey at Staff D, and David Phillips and other CIA officials at the Mexico City station.
The FBI went so far as to say that Oswald’s source had to be a Cuban consulate informant, a KGB member, or the CIA itself.
Notice also that Paine admitted reading and copying Oswald’s private correspondence before the assassination. As author Jim DiEugenio points out:
“(Paine’s) copy of the letter differs in some interesting ways from the typewritten one. As the author notes, it de-emphasizes Oswald’s contacts with the communist embassies. Instead, it emphasizes his differences with the FBI...
“…Amazingly, it was this Ruth Paine version of the letter — not the one Oswald allegedly typed and mailed — that the Warren Commission used in its analysis of what the correspondence meant. The Commission then returned Oswald’s rough draft, the one Ruth copied, not to Marina, but to Ruth.” (Note: The FBI’s version of the rough draft eliminates most of the misspellings. Ruth’s version of the rough draft allegedly no longer exists.)
On another front, according to the letter, since Oswald wasn’t able to get a Cuban visa, he was forced to take up “our business” with “Comrade Kostin” in Mexico City. This is clearly a reference to Valeriy Kostikov, who FBI chief Clarence Kelley claimed was “the officer-in-charge for Western Hemisphere terrorist activities — including and especially assassination.” However, the CIA and FBI in mid-1963 concluded that there was no evidence that Kostikov had anything to do with any assassination unit. The imaginary spectre of Kostikov leading a KGB-driven plot is raised once again.
Yet another observation is that the letter points out that Oswald did not use his “real name” when he went to Mexico City. Oswald used the name Harvey Oswald Lee. The authorities initially insisted that it was just an error involving a comma, as his visa states “Lee, Harvey Oswald”, but by late December 1963 even CIA officer John Whitten thought that it was deliberately caused by Oswald. Either Oswald is admitting that he had it written up that way on purpose, or those who put this letter together have deep knowledge of Oswald’s activities.
Finally, the letter states: “I had not planned to contact the Soviet embassy in Mexico so they were unprepared, had I been able to reach the Soviet embassy in Havana as planned, the embassy there would have had time to complete our business.”
Another aspect of this letter is that Ruth Paine was clear that she was going to provide this letter to the FBI. Hosty had been out to the house twice in early November, and had not yet made contact with Lee. Ruth was confident that Hosty was going to come back. Ruth was wondering whether the letter was “the talk of an agent reporting in“.
Even though Ruth claims that Oswald made furtive gestures to hide the contents of the letter from her, the fact remains that Oswald left the letter right there by the typewriter for Ruth to find.
Oswald also knew that letter was going to be seized by the FBI before it got to the Soviet embassy — as indeed it was. As James Douglass suggests in a pithy analysis in his book JFK and the Unspeakable:
A melodramatic, CIA-monitored Oswald in Mexico City had tried to obtain an immediate Cuban visa. His letter arriving at the Soviet embassy in Washington on November 18 now attempts to document the presumed assassin’s frustrated objective in Mexico City in September — to travel to the much safer environment of Communist-controlled Havana in order “to complete our business” with the Soviets”. As was true of all mail sent to the Soviet Embassy, the Oswald letter was intercepted, opened, and copied by the FBI before its eventual delivery to the embassy.
On November 26, the Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin sent a message to Moscow saying that “this letter was clearly a provocation”, and that he believed that this typed letter was a forgery because Oswald’s previous letters were handwritten.
(Actually, Oswald typed a letter to the CIA-friendly International Rescue Committee in 1962 — and the Committee commented that Oswald’s letter matched the typeface of a related letter from the State Department!)
Dobrynin concluded that “one gets the definite impression that the letter was concocted by those who, judging from everything, are involved in the President’s assassination. It is possible that Oswald himself wrote the letter as it was dictated to him, in exchange for some promises, and then, as we know, he was simply bumped off after his usefulness had ended. The competent U.S. authorities are undoubtedly aware of this letter, since the embassy’s correspondence is under constant surveillance.” (Italics added.)
I conclude Oswald was wittingly or unwittingly manipulated to write this letter, hoping that he would finally get his visas to Cuba and the USSR. Ruth Paine said that Oswald was as “gay as I have ever seen him” on November 9, the date he wrote the letter. He was really happy after they went to the driver’s license bureau and found out it was closed.
Like Oswald, Michael and Ruth Paine were manipulated to do the bidding of certain intelligence operatives.
This series will come to a close by bringing together all twelve of Oswald’s legend makers in the Epilogue. How did these intelligence assets respond to the fateful events of 11/22/63?
– Bill Simpich
Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A second big shout-out to Linda Minor, who just published an incredible multi-part series on the Paines this autumn. Also to Carol Hewett, Barbara Lamonica, Nancy Wertz, Steve Jones, Bill Kelly, the late George Michael Evica, Jim DiEugenio, Jim Douglass, and all the other “operations analysts” who have put in time to sort out the role of this enigmatic couple.
Fred Osborn, Sr., worked with Allen Dulles to form the Crusade for Freedom (CFF), an early CIA project that was modeled after Radio Free Europe: CFF merged with Radio Free Europe in 1962:
Steve Jones, “New Evidence Regarding Ruth and Michael Paine”, Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Winter 1998, pp. 18-20. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=4265&relPageId=18
Also see George Michael Evica, A Certain Arrogance (Xlibris, 2006), p. 255-256.
Michael’s mother Ruth Forbes Paine comes from the Forbes family and was active with the Universal World Federalists: George Michael Evica, A Certain Arrogance (Xlibris, 2006), p. 234.
Michael’s birth father George Lyman Paine had belonged for many years to a Trotskyist socialist splinter group known as the Johnson Faction: Supplemental Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Warren Commission Document 107, p. 32.
One of the Youngs’ closest friends, Mary Bancroft, was an OSS spy that slept with Allen Dulles: Mary Bancroft, Autobiography of a Spy (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1983); also see George Evica, A Certain Arrogance, p. 248.
The FBI was informed by a “reliable” source that Ruth’s sister Sylvia Hyde Hoke was Naval Intelligence and was trying to obtain a top secret clearance: Commission Document 508 – FBI Mansfield Report of 06 Feb 1957 re: Hoke,
Hoke had clearances from AID for many years, and a CIA memorandum indicated that she was a CIA employee in 1961: Security File on Sylvia Hoke Hyde, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 43/NARA Record Number: 1993.07.24.08:39:37:560310.
Hoke had also worked with the Air Force as a personnel research technician in 1956: Report of SA John Joseph Mulhern, 9/19/56, p. 2, Warren Commission Document 502.
Sylvia’s husband John Hoke also has a history of working with AID: Ruth Paine’s testimony to the Orleans Grand Jury, 4/18/68, p. 57. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=1199&relPageId=59
Washington Post obituary for John Hoke, 3/19/11. click here
Request for Approval of Liaison, 8/13/64, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 43/NARA Record Number: 104-10120-10303 http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?mode=searchResult&absPageId=568155
Request for Approval of Liaison, 8/21/62, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 43/NARA Record Number: 104-10120-10305.
Ruth’s father William Avery Hyde was AID’s Regional Insurance Adviser for all of South America”:
Bill Hyde’s Nationwide Insurance Company was part of the International Cooperative Alliance, founded in 1922 and which still exists today: http://www.ica.coop/al-ica/. The ICA has had an insurance sector for the last hundred years. http://www.icmif.org/who-we-are
Ruth referred to it as the “International Cooperative Alliance”, which her father worked with when he wasn’t active with the insurance company “Nationwide” — she claimed that she wasn’t sure if ICA was a governmental operation or not. Ruth Paine testimony, Orleans Grand Jury, 4/14/68, p. 59.
There is also the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) formed in 1954, which then merged with the Development Loan Fund and was re-named as the Agency for International Development (AID) as part of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: http://books.google.com/books?id=el0L85-BejoC&pg=PT72&lpg=PT72&dq=”international+cooperative+administration”&source=bl&ots=XByuJWzyjv&sig=2FuI1ZxfL2sw9V3WfewrAmmIOUY&hl=en&ei=WUI9TcHFG5KosAOErZX-Ag&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDsQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=”international cooperative administration”&f=false
“where George de Mohrenschildt conducted petroleum intelligence in the fifties“Memo by SA James F. Morrissey, 2/28/64, p. 58, Reel 5, Folder N — George de Mohrenschildt, NARA Record Number: 1994.04.25.14:02:25:940005.
The USAID website describes the predecessor organization as the “International Cooperation Association”. http://www.usaid.gov/about_usaid/usaidhist.html
“International Cooperative Administration” is often mistakenly used to refer to the pre-AID organization. One example:
For a second example, see Craig L. LaMay, Exporting Press Freedom (Transaction Publishers, 2007), p. 48, http://books.google.com/books?id=el0L85-BejoC&pg=PT72&lpg=PT72&dq=”international+cooperative+administration”&source=bl&ots=XByuJWzyjv&sig=2FuI1ZxfL2sw9V3WfewrAmmIOUY&hl=en&ei=WUI9TcHFG5KosAOErZX-Ag&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDsQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=”international cooperative administration”&f=false
To add to the confusion, AID frequently uses the sobriquet “International Cooperative Administrative Support Services”, or ICASS: http://www.usaid.gov/pubs/cp99/budreq.htm
The thing to remember is that these two organizations were very closely allied. The similarity of their names is not coincidental: A useful discussion explaining the relationships between these two organizations is in Barbara Lamonica’s “William Avery Hyde”, Fourth Decade, November 1997, p. 8.
The Agency for International Development has been cited by Ohio governor and AID director John Gilligan as being filled with CIA agents “from top to bottom”the idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”: George Cotter, “Spies, Strings, and Missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p. 321, cited in William Blum, Killing Hope, (2003), p. 235.
When Hyde made his end-of-tour report from Lima, Peru in 1967, his report went to the State Department and the CIA: James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 170; William A. Hyde, “End of Tour Report”, 8/8/67, located by researcher Steve Jones in the AID Library, Washington, DC.
The CIA admitted on 12/3/63 that IO (Meyer’s division) was considering using William Hyde for covert use in 1957; however, it claims that he didn’t “receive a security clearance”: 4/8/64 memo by Elizabeth Mendoza, Re: LHO Address Book (FBI Report 12/31/63) Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10300-10025. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=54660&relPageId=5
Hyde’s security file number was OSC-157435: http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?mode=searchResult&absPageId=1208690
A good background article on Hyde was written by Barbara LaMonica, “William Avery Hyde”, Fourth Decade, Volume 5, Issue 1, November 1997, p. 8.
The Agency had wanted to use Hyde in Vietnam, according to information provided earlier by CI/SIG: 12/5/63 memo by Chief, Research Branch/OS/SRS to Files, re William Avery Hyde, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 48/NARA Record Number: 104-10133-10435.
The FBI reported: “On December 4, 1963, CIA made available information to the Bureau Liaison that in 1957 CIA considered using this individual to operate a cooperative educational center in Vietnam but he was not used by the CIA. Investigation by CIA at that time concerning William Avery Hyde was favorable.”: William Avery Hyde was a Stanford friend of Taylor Bielefeldt. The Hyde family and Bielefeldt were the subject of a security investigation in the 1920s and 1930s. In the days immediately after the assassination, Bielefeldt is referenced in handwritten notes as someone who is putting the Soviet accounts of the assassination together. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=96532&relPageId=276
On January 9, 1964, FDD (Foreign Documents Division) USSR division chief Taylor Bielefeldt was tasked to study Soviet press accounts re Oswald and any of his possible contacts.
Bielefeldt’s finding was negative. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=7975&relPageId=2
Although unsigned, this article is what Bielefeldt was asked to write:
On the background of the Foreign Documents Division: http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?mode=searchResult&absPageId=148472
The translator Boris Tarasoff had a history of working with FDD: http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?mode=searchResult&absPageId=443036
“Bill Hyde had been active in the cooperative movement and therefore was aware of the attempts of the Communists to infililtrate the cooperative movement”: Memo of SA Delbert L. Lee, 9/20/56, p. 7. Commission Document 503 – FBI Lee Report of 20 Sep 1956 re: Hoke
There is a 1955 memo where William Avery Hyde was in town visiting the Hokes: Memo of SA Carl Graham, 12/16/63, FBI – Ruth and Michael Paine Files/NARA Record Number: 124-10130-10258 http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=145594&relPageId=4
Although Dr. Jenkins’ name is redacted in the FBI memo, the notes of an HSCA staffer reveal his name: Notes of Surell Brady, CIA File Review, 6/30/78, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (staff notes)/NARA Record Number: 180-10143-10196. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=38211&relPageId=15
Hoke has been described as “a very brilliant person who is not very stable but who is very creative.”: Commission Document 505 – FBI McAvoy Report of 24 Sep 1956 re: Hoke, p. 6.
The focus of the meeting was about Paul and Violet Orr, Communist party members in the San Francisco Bay Area: Memo from Taylor Bielefeldt to Bruce Solie, 12/21/55, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 43/NARA Record Number: 104-10120-10459.
Paul had just been harshly interrogated by HUAC earlier that year: Testimony of Paul Orr to HUAC, 6/27/55. click here
Also see Mike Thoele, 2/19/91, Eugene Register-Guard, “This Gentle Rebel Defies Stereotypes”. click here
In previous years, Violet had been part of the visible Party leadership: Memo from Wilbert H. Kehe to Director, FBI, 12/13/46, FBI – HSCA Subject Files, O – P/FBI – HSCA Subject File: John Pittman/NARA Record Number: 124-10284-10121. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=133844&relPageId=11
A wiretap revealed that former CP member Dorothy Wilson allegedly claimed that Ruth Paine’s mother Carol Hyde admitted to being a communist: Commission Document 505 – FBI McAvoy Report of 24 Sep 1956 re: Hoke, p. 8.
Ruth’s sister Sylvia admitted a year later that Dorothy Wilson worked at the publishing company run by her mother-in-law Helen Hoke Watts: Memo from William Branigan to William C. Sullivan, 12/12/63, pp. 4-5, FBI – Ruth and Michael Paine Files/NARA Record Number: 124-10137-10099. click here http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=145770&relPageId=6
Dorothy Wilson married Lou Seligson, and was thereafter known as Dorothy Seligson.
At the time, Sylvia was supposedly working as a personnel research technician for the Air Force: Report of SA Paul W. Nolan, 9/18/56, Commission Document 501 – FBI Nolan Report of 18 Sep 1956 re: Hoke
A February 1957 memo revealed that Sylvia had been working in a semi-secret position for Naval Intelligence, and had lost her shot at a top secret position because of the Dorothy Wilson-Helen Hoke Watts relationship: Commission Document 508 – FBI Mansfield Report of 06 Feb 1957 re: Hoke, p. 1. For an unredacted version of this document, see http://media.nara.gov/dc-metro/rg-272/605417-key-persons/paines_the_feb_64-1-1-1-associates_and_relatives/paines_the_feb_64-1-1-1-associates_and_relatives.pdf (page 98 of 98). The redaction refers to Isadore Gibby Needleman, an attorney and self-described Marxist-Leninist who worked in Soviet trade for the Amtorg Corporation in New York City. Needleman was alleged to be involved in Soviet espionage in March 1958 by NY T-3.
Bill Harvey’s agent Elizabeth Bentley reported that Needleman’s colleague Frank Coe was a member of the “Communist Espionage group in the United States Government, and which was headed by Nathan Gregory Silvermaster.” Coe, whose positions included secretary of the IMF as well as the monetary research director of the US Treasury Department, was also active in the Perlo Group involved in Soviet espionage during the 30s-40s which included John Abt and Alger Hiss. (See Part 11).
When Lee needed a job in October, 1963, even the Warren Commission admits that it was Ruth who set him up working the boxes on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository, thanks to a tip from neighbor Buell Wesley Frazier’s sister Linnie Mae Randle: Testimony of Ruth Hyde Paine, Vol. 3, p. 34.
The Book Depository was an ideal spot along the motorcade route for a sniper to take a shot at the President. Ruth bitterly regretted her role in finding Oswald the Book Depository job: Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 17, p. 179, Exhibit 460, article by Ruth Paine on Lee Harvey Oswald, received by George Harris of Look Magazine.
Furthermore, the Warren Commission suppressed the information that Paine hid from Oswald that Robert Adams from the Texas Employment Commission had left a message at her home in an effort to tell Oswald that a job was available with Trans Texas Airways which would have paid much more money than the Depository job: Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 11, Affidavit of Robert Adams, pp. 480-481. click here
Ruth would not admit getting the message: James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, (Orbis Books, 2008), pp. 171-173, quoting Affidavit of Robert L,. Adams, 8/4/63, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 11, p. 481; http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=45&relPageId=491
Testimony of Ruth Paine, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 9, pp. 389-390. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=43&relPageId=397
Adams remembered the details of this story in August 1964, after he had for some strange reasons denied ever telephoning for Oswald when originally quizzed by the Warren Commission in April: Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 10, p. 139 (April)
Warren Commission Hearings, Volume 11, Affidavit of Robert Adams, pp. 480-481. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=45&relPageId=490 http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=45&relPageId=491
Robert Adams is listed in Oswald’s phone book: See the Adams notation in Oswald’s phone book, reproduced in R. F. Gallagher, “The Ubiquitous Bard”, Fourth Decade, Vol. 5, Issue 5, July 1998, p. 22, with more information on SA Bardwell Odum. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=48706&relPageId=22
Odum was all over this case before and after 11/22: R. F. Gallagher, “The Ubiquitous Bard”, Fourth Decade, Volume 5, Issue 5, November 1998. www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=48706&relPageId=19 Also see Hosty’s Assignment Oswald, p. 63.
After the Oswald family explained to Odum on the 23rd that they wouldn’t speak to him without legal counsel, Odum came back a few hours later and asked Marguerite if she recognized “the Mystery Man” as an Oswald associate: Declaration of Bardwell Odum, p. 2, 7/10/64, Oswald 201 File, Vol 51B/ NARA Record Number: 1993.08.02.14:02:42:150006. click here
Testimony of Marguerite Oswald, Warren Commission Hearings pp. 147-148,151-152. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=37&relPageId=160
Odum and Oswald even went to the same barber on a regular basis in the months before the assassination: The barber, Cliff Shasteen, also served on the Irving City Council.
Shasteen correctly identified Ruth Paine’s car to the Warren Commission. “I’m sure it’s a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon“either blue and white or green and white.”: Michael R Paine owned a 1956 Oldsmobile and a Citroen and his wife owned a station wagon (2H 413). A 3/2/64 memo by Bob Odum states that Ruth Paine drove a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon, two-tone green, with 1963 Texas license NK 4041. Another Odum memo shows that she had the same vehicle back in September 1963.
After Lee’s arrest, Robert says that he told his brother at the jail house that “I don’t think they’re any friends of yours.” According to Robert, Lee told him, “Yes, they are.”: Robert L. Oswald, with Myrick and Barbara Land, “He Was My Brother”, Look magazine, circa 1967, p. 2. click here
Slack also reported that accompanying Oswald was a man identified as “Frazier, from Irving, Texas”. Frazier is the man who drove Oswald to the Paine residence every week, right up to the day of the assassination: Interview of Lucille Slack by SA Alfred Neely, 9/8/64. click here
Albert Bogard…an auto salesman, reported that a man named Lee Oswald took a wild test ride…on November 9: Interview of Albert Bogard by SAs C. Ray Hall and Maurice White, click here
This letter is dated 11/9/63; arrived at the embassy on the 18th, and intercepted and on Hoover’s desk by the 19th: National Archives, SSCIA 157-10004-10039, Airtel from SAC, WFO to Director, FBI 11/19/63.
Here is the 11/19/63 memo confirming the interception, from SAC-WFO to Director, FBI, FBI – HSCA Administrative Folders/NARA Record Number: 124-10369-10068. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=117797&relPageId=53
Professor Jerry Rose points out that the Oswald’s draft copy has virtually none of Oswald’s characteristic errors, while the typed version is filled with them: Jerry D. Rose, “Gifts from Russia: Yeltsin and Mitrokhin”, Fourth Decade, November 1999, p. 5. http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=48714&relPageId=5
Rose opines that the handwritten draft was created to create proof that Oswald had written the letter by generating a “draft” in his handwriting”: HSCA Volume VIII, pp. 351-352, 358. Handwritten version:
Typed version: click here
The FBI found that the Soviet letter was written on Ruth Paine’s typewriter: 2/13/64 insert by SA Robert P. Gemberling , re the FBI test, Warren Commission Document 735, p. 102.
This letter was written on November 9, and expressed satisfaction at Consul Eusebio Azcue’s replacement as consul at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. This replacement did not occur until November 18: WCH Vol. 26, p. 790, Exhibit 3126.
Also see Mann’s letter to Alexis Johnson at State, 11/30/63.
The people with access to Azcue’s pending replacement were those people with access to the telephone taps and hidden microphones in the Cuban consulate — David Phillips and other CIA officials at the Mexico City station: Id. Notice how CIA Director Richard Helms is forced to argue that someone in the Cuban consulate must have told Oswald. Although highly unlikely that Oswald would have learned the November 18 date two months in advance from anybody, that’s the only other possible theory.
The FBI went so far as to say that Oswald’s source had to be a Cuban consulate informant, a KGB member, or the CIA itself: Robert S. Allen and Paul Scott, “Oswald Letter Still A Puzzle”, 9/21/67, HSCA Segregated CIA Collection, Box 47/NARA Record Number: 1993.08.20.14:42:46:250028.
Paine admits reading and copying Oswald’s private correspondence before the assassination: Jim DiEugenio, book review of James Douglass’ JFK and the Unspeakable. http://www.ctka.net/2008/jfk_unspeakable.html
On another front, according to the letter, since Oswald wasn’t able to get a Cuban visa, he was forced to take up “our business” with “Comrade Kostin” in Mexico City: Clarence M. Kelley and James Kirkpatrick Davis, Kelley: The Story of an FBI Director (Kansas City, Andrews, M cMeel & Parker, 1987), p. 268.
The letter points out that Oswald did not use his “real name” when he went to Mexico City. Oswald used the name Harvey Oswald Lee. The authorities initially insisted that it was just an error involving a comma, as his visa states “Lee, Harvey Oswald”, but by late December 1963 even CIA officer John Whitten thought that it was deliberately caused by Oswald: John Whitten, “Subject: Lee Oswald’s Visit to Mexico City”, 12/20/63, p. 10, Oswald 201 File (201-289248)/NARA Record Number: 104-10004-10211. (33 page version)
A melodramatic, CIA-monitored Oswald in Mexico City had tried to obtain an immediate Cuban visa”: James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, pp. 228-229.
“It is possible that Oswald himself wrote the letter as it was dictated to him, in exchange for some promises, and then, as we know, he was simply bumped off after his usefulness had ended. The competent U.S. authorities are undoubtedly aware of this letter, since the embassy’s correspondence is under constant surveillance: Id., at p. 230, citing A. Dobrynin, Cipher Telegram, special no. 2005, November 26, 1963. Russian original and English translation (by Office of Language Services, Department of State) in the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.