Who were Mr. and Mrs. Oswald?

Competing influences surround the Oswalds, and official groups, the media, and members of the public vied to influence public perceptions and these earliest statements evolve in time. Official suppression and contending evidence regarding Lee Harvey Oswald is worthy of note. However, some public authorities and critics of conspiracy often state no proof exists of official interest in using Oswald for operational purposes. Some frequently regard Lee Harvey Oswald insufficient for intelligence operations but official evidence affirming that lay in the Agency files. Officials withheld the names of those revealing a Central Intelligence Agency interest in using Oswald but the statements are clear.

"It makes little difference now, but ...had at one time an...interest in Oswald. As soon as I heard Oswald's name, I recalled that as...I had discussed- sometime in Summer 1960 - with/...the laying on of interview(s) through...or other suitable channels. At the moment I don't recall if this was discussed while Oswald and his family were en route to our country of (sic) it was after their arrival." "I remember that Oswald's unusual behavior in the USSR had struck me from the moment I had read the first STATE (Department) {dispatch on him, and I told my subordinates something amounting to 'Don't push too hard to get the information we need, because this individual looks odd.' We were particularly interested in the info Oswald might provide on the Minsk factory in which he had been employed, on certain sections of the city itself, and of course we sought the usual/...that might help develop foreign personality dossiers..."i  

Some in the Central Intelligence Agency were also suspicious of the leisurely travel and motivations of Marina Oswald. A pattern had seemingly emerged of Soviet women using American men to relocate in the United States and the potential of these women to be infiltration agents after divorce was a concern.ii Not just Oswald was possibly the pawn of a government agency but he also could have the pawn of multiple governments. Various sources dispute Lee and Marina's credibility and each has made contending statements, yet officials largely note only Mr. Oswald. Marguerite Oswald during testimony is upset by Marina's alleged deceptions and President's (Warren) Commission Assistant Counsel Dean Norman Redlich gave a negative assessment of Marina's credibility.iii iv Points of reliable agreement between opposing interests bear notice. 

Among the many disagreements between the supporters and critics of the Commission, two sources implicitly agree that Marina's statements are in doubt. We must consider the agencies surrounding the couple, the public sentiment toward Oswald and Marina, and possible unknown motivations. Public outrage based upon contending facts destroyed Lee's reputation in days and public sympathy provided Marina substantial resources and fame over the years. Several newspapers fought to interview her and various authors wished to compensate her for personal statements.

Author Isaac Levine stated "there is more to her (Marina) than meets the eye" and she participates in several extensive official visits with various representatives of the US government.v  Secret Service Agents Leon Gopadze and Max Phillips approached Marina for an interview accompanied by two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She initially refuses and they attempts to question her but subsequently Marina states, "the Government knows all the facts and she has no further facts except what is known to the Government."vi Yet some of her following statements assert the contrary.

Marina's immigration status is discussed and Marina is seemingly aloof, Agents suggest her cooperation feasibly would aid her finding employment and residency in the United States. Marina offers she never had any conversations about assassinating President Kennedy with Oswald, nor that her ever spoke out against Kennedy. She affirms not seeing Oswald with a gun, and he never goes hunting. Yet subsequently during the Commission, she admits taking pictures of him with multiple firearms. Initially she stated, "I feel he did not do it" and she later claims, "I swear before God that Lee Oswald did not intend to kill President Kennedy."vii

Marina Oswald in Different Moods during a Photo Session

Marina Oswald in Different Moods during a Photo Session

Some of Marina statements support official allegations, while others affirm the contending evidence but multiple comments assert neither and do not enjoy substantial support. Marina claimed "The government has all the facts in her mind, due to what has been told her, she hoped she would not be bothered again...she is satisfied that Lee Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy"viii If this report is accurate, Marina took less than a week to confirm the accusation of her husband's guilt without direct knowledge of the events. She appears unconcerned with disputing any official presumption and when officials seized Marina's notebook for use as evidence she aided them by identifying the notebook. She verified the personal information of those inside and most biographical information she remembered.ix Marina was a seemingly perfect witness if one neglects the repeatedly evolving claims.

In a separate interview officials describe Mrs. Oswald as "friendly and cooperative" but she feared some agents and the Bureau may not "like her". Marina states Oswald's prior claim of a friend that could get him work in another city was a lie, she did not "think Oswald had a friend anywhere".x Thus, he is the quintessential loner according to her ideas but he was in his family home most of the time and in New Orleans he usually only spent a few hours in town daily. She fails to note practice with any weapon originally, not even dry firing.xi

Marina states Oswald had no driver's license but his cousin and Ruth Paine gave him prior instruction. Marina originally believed he could pass a driver's test and Marina states she did not know if Oswald had used false names.xii Then she recalls Oswald had once done so to rent a room and during the subsequent Commission Report, Marina asserts being "compelled" by Oswald to sign the alias Alek Hidell.xiii  xiv She appropriately offered the false signature to complete the non-existent Fair Play for Cuba chapter documentation.

Among the other discussions Lee and Marina had was talk of the upcoming wedding in the Murret family.xv Lee Harvey Oswald was born and resided in Exchange Alley an underworld haven controlled by Carlos Marcello.xvi Oswald kept in "close touch" with his uncle Charles "Dutz" Murret and he stayed at the Murret's New Orleans home "during other periods of his childhood and adolescence." Oswald visited his relatives weekly during some of his teenage years and when Oswald had military leave, he would visit the Murrets.xvii 

Oswald wrote to the Murret family from Russia, the House Select Committee on Assassinations believed that Charles Murret was the nearest thing to a male role model Oswald had. Subsequently, Oswald stayed in New Orleans with the Murrets while looking for a job. During nineteen sixty-three, the Oswalds would dine with the Murrets and Charles Murret loaned Oswald money during this period as well.xviii However, the President's (Warren) Commission was unaware that Charles Murret was involved for an extended duration in underworld gambling circles and that Murret was "associated with organized crime figures there, having worked for years in an underworld gambling syndicate affiliated with the Carlos Marcello crime family."

MarILyn and Lillian Murret with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans

MarILyn and Lillian Murret with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans

Oswald's half brother John Pic and Marguerite Oswald referenced Charles Murret's feasibly criminal activities and subsequently the House Select Committee determined Murret was involved in long-term illicit gambling activities.xix Mrs. Murret prior testified vaguely about her husband's criminal connection in Warren Commission Testimony and during Select Committee proceedings, she offered he "was in the gambling business". "Charles Murret's son, Gene, a State official in Louisiana... testified that his father's principal occupation had been the gambling trade, describing him as a 'self-employed bookie' ". Murret had business and personal connections with Sam Saia a local underworld leader.xx  Saia was the largest bookmaker in New Orleans and official reports and witnesses suggest he was associated with Carlos Marcello.xxi

In the nineteen fifties, Murret organized boxing matches and one of the fighters he represented subsequently became a mafia lieutenant to Sam Saia. Saia depended on Marcello's domination of the wire service to operate most gambling operations in New Orleans.xxii A prior Bureau report alleged that Charles Murret was involved with organized crime in New Orleans and the Commission was never offered this report. The Select Committee corroborates witnesses and reports that affirm Murret is associated with Marcello lieutenants and Oswald was aware of Murret's feasible criminal associations in nineteen sixty-three, yet to what extent is not clear. Marina told the Select Committee she knew little of such associations and Marguerite Oswald refuses to discuss the possible connections with the Select Committee because she objected to any official associations with Marcello and her son.xxiii These possible connections to Marcello are not limited to Oswald's family.

David Ferrie was associated with Oswald prior in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol and Ferrie collaborates with anti-Castro Cuban exiles and served Marcello as a private investigator on November 22, 1963. Oswald's associations to Murret and Ferrie were not subject to diligent Commission inquiry and the CIA prior considered using Oswald for at least information; they also had suspicions about Marina. The Agency also funded and supported exile Cuban groups and Underworld leaders to assassinate Castro. Some in the Agency and Bureau feared connections to their ongoing illegal operations and suppressed repeated important documents.

Contending evidence is the basis for important official claims and procedures barred in the normal course of law were undertaken. Lee Harvey Oswald was a defector and Marina was his foreign bride, yet each was feasibly more than the Commission observed. The Oswalds were a young couple that made several contending statements and were subject to official and public influences. Officials ignored the substantial contending evidence and molded them into the required image but there is more to Mr. and Mrs. Oswald than some are willing to acknowledge.
C.A.A. Savastano
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i. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated CIA files, Box 8, File 407, Report on interest in Oswald's unusual Behavior in USSR, November 25, 1963, National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 1993.07.08.20:00:10:150310
ii. Ibid
iii. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Volume I, Testimony of Marguerite Oswald, p. 244
iv. Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Appendix XI, Dean Norman Redlich, p. 126
v. HSCA, Segregated CIA file, Box 60, Re Conversation from a dinner party that include Issac Don Levine on Marina Oswald, NARA ID: 104-10147-10401

vi. Oswald's 201 File, Eleven FBI Interviews with Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, Volume 53b, File 109, October 10, 1959 (sic), Report 1, p. 2-3, NARA ID: 1993.06418.15:34:18:930000
vii. Ibid
viii. Ibid
ix. Oswald's 201 file, Marina Oswald's Notebook, Compilation of traces, Volume 54b, May 8, 1964, NARA ID: 1993.06.19.10:41:30:680000
x. Oswald's 201 File, Eleven FBI Interviews with Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, Vol. 53b, File 109, Report 2, p. 4
xi. Ibid, Report 1, p. 2
xii. Ibid, Report 2, p. 5

xiii. Ibid, Report 2 p. 5-6
xiv. Report of the President's Commission, Chapter IV, The Assassin, p. 122
xv. Oswald's 201 File, Eleven FBI Interviews with Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, Vol. 53b, File 109, Report 3, p. 2
xvi. Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Appendix IX, Part IV, Oswald's Early Life: New Orleans and Organized Crime, pp.93
xvii. Ibid, p.95
xviii. Ibid
xix. Ibid
xx. Ibid, p. 96
xxi. Ibid, p. 96-97
xxii. Ibid, p. 98

xxiii. Ibid, p. 99

Edited: December 2017

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