Emerging from blogger Wayne Madsen, the pages of supermarket tabloid the "National Enquirer", and pushed by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, is an unlikely story related to Senator Ted Cruz. These sources claim a person appearing with Lee Harvey Oswald in a photograph was Rafael Cruz, the father of Senator Ted Cruz, and this assertion combined with prior accusations of infidelity focused on Ted Cruz by the Enquirer and subsequently repeated by Trump are seemingly a political stunt. The claims appeared during a series of contentious state primaries were underway and the story's timing bears due notice as does the substantial lack of evidence associated with the it. How it evolved and expanded reveals a flawed and baseless serious of dubious claims embraced by some as fact.
The Enquirer carried the Cruz assertion under the headline "Ted Cruz Father: Caught With JFK Assassin", yet the tabloid offered not a single piece of definitive evidence to prove the claim. The story purports "Top D.C. insiders" have affirmed the story, but they are unnamed and thus unverifiable and the publication itself states "The investigation into the mystery man who might very well be Rafael Cruz..." provides itself with plausible deniability, and reinforces the actually indeterminate nature of the claim. Perhaps most troublesome is the photographic expert the Enquirer utilized dismissing Trump's claims after they misrepresented his assessment. Trump's comments on the Cruz and Oswald assertion was based on a single Enquirer photo expert who stated Cruz has more similarity than dissimilarity with the man in the photograph. Yet the same expert told the Washington Post "he never claimed the man in the picture with Oswald was definitely Rafael Cruz, only that comparing the man in the photo with a photo of Cruz as a young man revealed 'more similarities than dissimilarities' (were present)" He referred to Trump's claim of certainty as "stupid". To clarify, Cruz is similar to the man in the photo only suggests they both have dark hair, dark eyes, they both are feasibly Latino males, not identification of the person in the photograph. Possessing similar general traits does not imply they are the same person.
Unmentioned are dissimilarities by those who support the assertion. For instance, Raphael Cruz was listed a six feet tall according to his selective service card featured in a Huffington Post article reference. Oswald is 5'9 and the person asserted to be Cruz in the pictures circulating is feasibly Oswald's height. This would indicate he is too short and dissimilar from Raphael Cruz. The man near Oswald and to the right of unknown figure is taller than both of them are. This would indicate a possible similarity with Raphael Cruz, however this is not who some assert is Cruz currently. It also does not indicate this other man is Cruz, but that some base definite judgment upon general similarities and imperfect photography.
The same photograph was submitted by the media for expert verification to the Kairos Corporation in Miami. Kairos is a facial recognition software company and its Chief Technology Officer Cole Calistra was skeptical about claims of a positive identification. After examination Calistra informed the press, the photographs are too grainy "to perform a proper match one way or the other." James Wayman, a former director of the United States Biometric Test Center offered that proper analysis requires two full- frontal facial images. Wayman stated, "Without such images, no professional face examiner will be willing to render an opinion". Freelance programmer Lucien Gendrot tested the existing photographs with the Kairos facial recognition program. "The software could not verify a match between photos of the unidentified man next to Oswald and young Rafael Cruz, even at a low threshold of a 25 percent match." Author and Cornell University historian Maria Cristina Garcia stated "Top leaders of anti-Castro organization claim not to have met Cruz, and I have never came across his name in declassified records."
Yet we can prove the identity of three others in the photograph and prior claims regarding the unidentified man that some assert now is Rafael Cruz. The man behind Oswald and to his left is Mr. J. Ehara of Kasuga and Company, Limited. The man behind Oswald and to his right is John Alice of John Alice Export Company, who states he threw Oswald's FPCC handbill back into his face. A media video offered by New Orleans Times Picayune identifies another of the flyer distributors as Charles Steele, Jr., who Oswald hired at the Louisiana Employment Commission.
The nineteen sixty-seven Garrison investigation of President Kennedy's assassination suggested the Cuban man in the photo was Manuel Garcia Gonzalez, a purported assassin. However, attorney Dean Andrews prior claimed he made up the name Manuel Garcia Gonzales in order to test Jim Garrison but the prosecutor subsequently located a Cuban man from Miami with that exact name. Amid the FBI's eventual investigation and media speculation, attention shifts from the man next to Oswald into the man behind and to Oswald's right and some believe this clearly non-Cuban male is the man Garrison suggests. Nevertheless, the Cuban male next to Oswald is feasibly not Rafael Cruz or Manuel Garcia Gonzales due to their height because a related FBI file includes a photograph of Gonzales and lists him as 5 feet 2 inches tall. Unless new verifiable evidence is presented to support the Cruz or Gonzales stories they remain highly improbable and without primary evidence.
The entire affair is a warning to those who rely on grainy or blurred photography to demonstrate a definitive claim without overwhelming evidence. Indeed as photographic analyst Zachary D. Jendro prior warned, in some cases even members of a subject's family have misidentified them in photographs with a clear primary version and multiple examples of such unproven ideas litter the Kennedy case. There are some who make unproven photographic claims the basis of their ideas and these claims are not compelling based on reasonable standards of evidence. We can observe the stark difference between verifiable facts and the many unlikely propositions offered publicly.
Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim linking Ted Cruz's father and JFK assassination, May 3, 2016, Politifact, politifact.com
Glenn Kessler, "Trump's false claim that the National Enquirer story on Cruz's father was not denied", May 4, 2016, washingtonpost.com
Megan Smolenyak, "Ted Cruz and the Question of 'Natural Born' Citizenship", January 8, 2016, huffingtonpost.com
The 50-year-old mystery behind photo of Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans, The New Orleans Times Picayune, May 4, 2016, www.nola.com
Federal Bureau of Investigation, 62-109060, JFK HQ File, Section 115, March 1, 1967
FBI, 105-82555 Oswald Headquarters file, Section 232, March 3, 1967
FBI, 62-109060 JFK HQ file, Section 167, Summary of Clay Shaw Trial, February 7, 1969
Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume XXI, Pizzo Exhibits Number 453-A, 453-B
President's Commission Document 87, Secret Service Report of 08 Jan 1964; Re: Oswald, (n.d.)
Edited: July 2019