Recently I’ve been involved with a number of online discussions relating to Lee Oswald, including a scenario which would involve his volunteer participation in what would be considered an a “false flag” attack on President Kennedy – intended to point the blame for the incident on Cuba and Fidel Castro. A “false flag” hijacked by conspirators and turned real. Some people see Oswald accepting a role in that type of action, even a role that involved making intentionally missed shots from the sixth floor and framing himself.
Personally, I have lots of issues with such a scenario – although as I’ve said in the past, I would consider the concept as a type of “cover” to recruit certain very low-level participants, such as Jack Ruby, into minor roles. Roles which about twelve thirty on November 22, 1963 unexpectedly turned them into accessories to murder.
This post is not about the idea of such a “false flag”, instead it is about my view of Lee Oswald after some 30 years of looking at him from the “outside in” – I have no training or experience in profiling, however I’ve spent so much time on his activities, social interactions, his writing, his notebook entries, and even photographs of him from childhood on (the photographs demonstrate he was never a “lone nut” but that he very much did like girls) that I’ve developed my own impression of his personality and motivations.
Based on that I offer the following as my overall view of Oswald:
As a youth Oswald was not a loner, he did have teenage friends, and he was also considered a bit of a clown (that is shown in photos of him cutting up in the classroom). He was not someone inclined to follow the rules in class or for that matter elsewhere. It seems fair to say that he also had a problem with “authority figures’, probably based on his rather chaotic home life. Still, he could follow the rules – when he wanted to and was necessary to his personal agenda and interests.
Oswald always displayed an adventurous nature and a wide range of interests, ranging from amateur astronomy to aircraft and flying – as seen in his joining a Civil Air Patrol youth squadron. Later it was most likely a bit of a technical bent that landed him in training and a job assignment in radar once he was in the Marines. His earlier interests (even his science fiction reading) may have helped him score relatively high in the standard recruit placement tests.
Beyond that Oswald was a “populist” in his political beliefs, anti-establishment in a sense, but more anti-authority in attitude. That shows up in his disciplinary problems in the service, and is certainly confirmed in personal descriptions from individuals he served with in the Marines. In terms of broad political views, he did lean towards socialism (as he admitted in a radio interview) but certainly not Lenin’s views of communism.
Oswald’s library reading records, and more importantly his activities inside Russia, show no particular interest in communism; even in Russia he associated with none of the available political groups nor explored political ideology. What he did do was make friends, go hunting on occasion and in particular chat up as many potential girlfriends as possible.
(note: the following bolding and font size is courtesy of WordPress and I’ve had no luck changing it so please just read on)
Most likely the best general view of Lee Oswald was summed up in remarks from his friend George de Mohrenschildt. George was as close as Lee as anyone was, especially following Oswald’s return from Russia in 1962. He described Oswald (whom he appeared to actually like in some ways) as being limited in his political knowledge, more inclined to parrot slogans than anything else. Overall, George descried him as a proto-hippie, socialist in attitude, very contrarian, anti-authority, and generally argumentative – given to being annoying if the conversation drifted into political topics.
Beyond that what can be said positively about Oswald is that he was always an “adventurer”, curious and interested in new experiences, a risk taker, emotional if irked, not afraid of physical conflicts (demonstrated by fights in school and even a fight on a bus about racist seating practices) and even an incident with a Sergeant in the Marines.
It can also be said that Oswald had an interest in foreign affairs, but most specifically in events where populist/anti-colonial action was in play. While in the Marines he appears to have focused in on the revolution against Batista in Cuba (per his friend Nelson Delgado) and the possibility of similar revolutions against Yankee imperialism across Central America – he even tried to get his buddy Delgado to quite the Marines with him and go join those movements.
Oswald’s interest in Cuba continued while in the Marines (including his contacts with the Cuban embassy in Los Angeles when stationed in California) and resurfaced once he was back from Dallas – and very disillusioned by what he had seen in Russia (as evident in the manuscript he prepared about this time there).
There is certainly reason to think that he was pro-Castro revolution, pro-Castro regime, and anti-imperialist. His manuscript definitively shows him opposed to Soviet Union nationalism which he felt was simply using the political facade of communism.
Oswald’s engagement with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and his attempts to infiltrate an anti-Castro activist group in New Orleans are both quite consistent with that view, as was his reporting on the anti-Castro exiles to the FBI. As a Castro regime supporter, he was inherently hostile to anti-Castro Cubans and their efforts.
The one major inconsistency we do find are his late summer letters to the Communist Party USA, especially his remark about going underground. Certainly, that is in conflict with his manuscript remarks about CPUSA being essentially a tool and dupe of the Soviet nationalist agenda. The most interesting point of the letters is that they position Oswald as more politically radical than any of his known public remarks or activities (such as leafleting and protesting) up to that point in time.
However, the letters were also sent at a point in time in which he had been acting as a source for the FBI in New Orleans, and the letters themselves were collected by an asset the FBI had placed in the FPCC’s own headquarters. Discussion of Oswald’s “use” by the intelligence community is something far beyond this post, and may have begun as early as certain of his activities in Japan. I’ve written about this at some length and previously used the term “dangle” to describe him. While that may have been true on a couple of occasions, I’ve become more inclined to see him as “tagged”, visible to multiple groups and agencies and simply monitored – for multiple purposes but certainly to identify individuals who might respond to his public “image”.
In short, my view of Oswald circa 1963, is that while he had become discouraged over the Soviet model of socialism/populism, there is no sign that he felt the same about the Cuban experience and in fact championed it as being something that he could endorse, and actively promote. While he would have been encouraged by JFK’s public commitment not to invade Cuba following the missile crisis (his remarks about JFK appear generally positive) he was also increasingly frustrated by not being able to join in the Cuban experience personally.
His own experiences with the American system were taking him nowhere in particular, and Cuba still appealed to him – in fact that summer his wife had agreed to go along with him to Cuba, if he could come up with a way to get there. She told him if he could get there alone, and then send for her, she would do that as well.