A recent post by “grassyknollgirl63” triggered me to think about and elaborate on the question of whether Oswald might have been “shared” by different agencies. One of the things that I’ve learned from researching Shadow Warfare is that many of the CIA’s practices are really quite repetitive. To some extent I can understand their concern about revealing sources and “methods” because once you start getting the larger picture some real patterns emerge, which means predictability – which I’m guessing is really not good in the intelligence trade.
One basic Agency practice has long been simply to take over other agencie’s informants and assets. In both Vietnam and Latin America Ted Shackley became notorious for that sort of thing. In writing about Phoenix in Vietnam I note that he consistently cherry picked informants that other groups had worked hard to develop. The same thing was true in Latin America but there he consistently stole assets from DIA. Apparently the practice is always to protect your informants and never share their names but to get lists from other agencies and immediately coop them. And once the CIA begins protecting them they can shield them from any other investigation, in particular from the Justice Department. Actually that’s only one level of shielding but I’ll leave the others for the book….lots of CIA agreements with Justice over the years.
With that in mind, what seems like at least a probable scenario reveals several points at which the CIA could have taken over Oswald….some even without his knowledge. The first would have been in Japan. As you can imagine the CIA had a close watch on the Russian embassy there, so if Nagell was correct and Oswald did show up in the area of the embassy, much less go in, you can imagine that ONI got a call. The second would be his college enrollment, again it appears the Agency maintained a very close watch on his overseas college of choice – George Michael Evica went into great detail on that in one of his books. I think that would have been a very likely point at which they may have cooped him and moved him over into a Soviet targeted mission.
Its also important to understand the Agency is very mission oriented, once an asset finishes a task they are happy to let him just hang out on his own until they want him again…if ever. Which means that after his return Oswald may simply have pursued his own interests but when he began to write letters to CPUSA and SWP you can bet the FBI picked up on him. My suspicion is that after a couple of months of that the CIA joined in with their joint FBI/CIA AMSANTA program. And if they did so they could cheerfully have gone further, without advising the FBI, especially if it was counter intelligence who decided to piggyback on his trip to Mexico City. Which of course would explain all the spy games and all the obvious intentional decisions not to share current information with different agencies and even with some groups inside the CIA itself in October and November, 1963. Which is CI standard practice. And of course that in turn would explain Hoovers little internal memo note never to trust the CIA because of what they had done in Mexico City.