Mythical Specters

Reviewing some improbable myths surrounding Alleged gunman Lee Harvey Oswald

Reviewing some improbable myths surrounding Alleged gunman Lee Harvey Oswald

Perhaps no other alleged criminal rests mired amid such controversy as Lee Harvey Oswald and many facts despite their proven basis in evidence remain contended decades later. Allegations swirl often concealing the verifiable details regarding Oswald and some dismiss all primary evidence in favor of popular speculation. Yet unproven allegations from either side of the case are not compelling and deeper inspection may offer greater clarity.  

The first considered myth asserts Oswald was a trained Communist agent because during Oswald's Soviet Union defection he resided in Minsk. Supporters of Oswald's guilt stated in press reviews that Minsk was the location of a "Soviet intelligence and/or sabotage training school". The Central Intelligence Agency reviewed these claims in relation to an informal inquiry by President's (Warren) Commission member Allen Dulles. "A careful review of CIA files has produced no hard information regarding Soviet intelligence or sabotage training in Minsk since 1947." The Agency memorandum offered reveals no sources corroborated this Oswald claim.i 
Seeking to prove Communist plot CIA employees secretly mistreated and tortured Russian defector Yuriy Nosenko and they did this during the President's (Warren) Commission investigation. Yet despite the manipulations of some Agency officers to blame the Soviet Union, Nosenko supported no Communist plot occurred based on his prior access to Soviet files regarding Oswald. He affirmed Oswald is not a Communist, the KGB had no interest in him, and he never participated in any Communist activities in Russia.ii iii The President's Commission confirmed this lack of active Communism as well. 

Significant portions of Nosenko's information were available to the Commission, yet some officials chose to suppress this evidence. They feared it might "possibly prejudice the entire Warren Commission report."iv Former Agency leader Allen Dulles reported the activities and concerns of the Commission to the CIA.v  This provided the Agency with access to the Commission's private ideas and prior mentions of the asserted Soviet connections were not No substantial evidence supports a large Soviet plot. 
A different feasible myth often professed by some advocates of a large official plot was that Lee Harvey Oswald was an FBI informant. Yet a mass of twisted rumor and forced innuendo is the likely source of this idea. "J. Lee Rankin, General Counsel of the Warren Commission explained that Waggoner Carr, Attorney General of Texas, had called him in the morning and told him about the rumor. Carr identified the source of the rumor as Dallas District Attorney, Henry Wade."vii Wade is also a former member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

"...Chief Justice Warren and Rankin met with Carr, Wade, Assistant District Attorney William Alexander and Leon Jaworski and Robert Storey. The Texas group reported that the rumor may have originated with Alonso Hudkins, reporter for the Houston Post." "Hudkins advised Secret Service that Allan Sweatt, Chief Criminal Division, Sheriff's Office, Dallas mentioned that Oswald was being paid 200 a month since September 1962 by the FBI 'as an informant in connection with their subversive investigation'. Hudkins also reported that a number assigned to Oswald was S-172..." Rankin's memo further notes the Secret Service advised on January twenty-fourth that Chief Sweatt stated he heard the informant rumor from Assistant DA Alexander.

"The routes that the FBI-Oswald rumor followed are peculiar. The Warren Commission was informed by Carr, who heard the rumor from Wade. Wade's assistant attributed the rumor to Alexander, who said he received it from Hudkins. However, Hudkins maintains he heard the allegation from Sweatt, who maintained he heard it from Alexander. (N.B. Neither Hudkins or Alexander testified before the Warren Commission.) Hudkins involvement in publicizing the allegation since 1963 is more confounding. In 1973 Hudkins told a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer that he invented the numbers S-172 and S-179 (also connected with an alleged Oswald informant status) and leaked the information during a phone conversation in order to determine if the FBI tapped his telephone."

Henry Wade was the District Attorney for the City of Dallas

Henry Wade was the District Attorney for the City of Dallas

"Yet in a prior article published in the March 19, 1975, Hudkins wrote that the S-172 number was 'made up' by himself, Assistant DA, Bill Alexander and Hugh Aynesworth (who was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News). Hudkins arranged a conference call, the three talked about Oswald's informant status, and 'within 30 minutes' an FBI agent visited Hudkin's office to ask him questions about the Oswald story. From this exercise, Hudkins determined the FBI had tapped one of the three's respective phones." The primary evidence supports the informant claim feasibly was manufactured and promoted by Alonso Hudkins, he is the possible original source of the rumor.

Hudkins feasibly begins the chain of events in his first claim, he "advised" the Secret Service that Oswald was an informant, and provides no evidence. Hudkins purports that Chief Sweatt of the Dallas Police Criminal Division made the numeric and informant claims he later admits to inventing. He asserts inventing them without assistance, and then years later asserts with the help of another reporter and one assistant district attorney. His rumor plants the speculation within official documents and Hudkins reworks new details into greater allegations without verifiable proof. Hudkins promotes the story with public vigor and the informant tale is just one of Hudkins offered myths. 

Hudkins additionally prior stated to the Secret Service "he was of the opinion that Jack Rubenstein's roommate, George Senator, could possibly have some connection with the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. He did not appear to have any particular reason for making this suggestion other than when reinterviewed on December 17 he stated that Ruby had a brother and a nephew who worked for Jimmy Hoffa in Detroit, Michigan and he states it was a 'wild guess' that the Hoffa organization could be behind the assassination."viii
"A Secret Service report by S.A. Bertram (12/14/63) states than on December 12, 1963 Hudkins advised that he received information from Felton West, Houston Post Washington Bureau representative, that Oswald heard of an American plot to assassinate Castro while he was in Mexico City, September 27-October 2, 1963. Allegedly, Oswald was also informed that President Kennedy and Vice President-Johnson knew of the plot...Secret Service Director Thomas Kelley talked to Felton West in Washington. West denied having informed Hudkins about any allegation involving Oswald's knowledge of an assassination plot against Castro. Director Kelley concluded Hudkins was a usually unreliable source of information."ix 

None of these various contradictory official or independent accusations enjoys the support of substantial evidence. Not just the official suppression but public speculations cloud the evidence and reliable case information. Those who seek to make the evidence conform to a selected presupposition or belief seize these ideas. and they bring us no closer to new insights but prevent them in favor of unnecessary arguments. If the unreliable information from everyone is set aside, we may focus on the evidence that still eludes us.      
C.A.A. Savastano
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i. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Segregated Central Intelligence Agency files, Microfilm Reel 44, Lee Harvey Oswald Soft File., Memo from the Deputy Director for Plans to the President's Commission General Council, p. 1, National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 1994.04.13.14:58:27:500005
ii. Central Intelligence Agency, Russ Holmes Work File, Lee Harvey Oswald-Internal Security-R-Cuba, February 23, 1964, p. 1, NARA ID: 104-10418-10224

iii. HSCA, Seg. CIA files, Microfilm Reel 44, Lee Harvey Oswald Soft File., The Oswald Case, January 1962-January 1964, p. 303
iv. HSCA, Seg. CIA files, Staff Notes, Allan Dulles (sic) Role vis-à-vis the CIA-Warren Commission Relationship, NARA ID: 180-10142-10059, (n.d.), p. 1
v. Ibid
vi. HSCA, Seg. CIA files, Microfilm Reel 44, Lee Harvey Oswald Soft File, Anonymous Telephone calls to United States Embassy in Canberra, Australia, relative to planned assassination of President Kennedy, pp. 1-2
vii. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities, Boxed files, Oswald in New Orleans, Re: Scheduled interview of Alonso Hudkins on November 20, November 19, 1975, pp 1-2, NARA ID: 157-10014-10120
viii. President's Commission Document 320 - Secret Service Rowley Memorandum of 24 Jan 1964, p. 1

ix. Senate Select Comm., Boxed files, Oswald in New Orleans, November 19, 1975, p. 2

Edited: December 2017

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