One of Oswald’s contemporaries circa 1963, a man who talked with him extensively and whom Oswald certainly considered a friend described him as  a “proto-hippie”, interested in a great variety of topics, of a populist mentality, socially liberal and unceasingly opinionated and argumentative.  He sounds a good deal like a couple of my college dorm mates and not doubt my parents would have described me the same way, much to their chagrin.  On the other hand he was also extremely adventurous and apparently more of a “doer” than a deep thinker.   And if you look closely you will find he was very much an advocate of the personal rights and guarantees of the American political system – much more so than the system that he had seen for himself in the Soviet Union.

All of which means that when we read Oswald’s manuscript, developed after his return, we see the real Oswald – an Oswald that had little use for the Soviet system, no use at all of the Communist Party of the United States and, as his address to a Jesuit seminary in Mobile in July, 1963 would reveal, a true concern for protecting the American system.  In those remarks he elaborated at length on what a terrible failure the Soviet System had turned out to be when viewed first hand.

There can be little doubt that there is a major disconnect between the person reflected in Oswald’s manuscript and the stream of communications which he shortly began with both the CPUSA and the Socialist Workers Party, including not only magazine subscriptions by letters.  At the beginning of 1963 Oswald even sent a New Years greeting card to the staff of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, wishing them health and success in the New Year.  Such disconnects would become typical of Oswald’s activities that year.  I address that subject to some extent in SWHT but readers who really want to pursue it should turn to Bill Simpich’s  new work “State Secret” for the definitive picture of what was truly going in with and around Lee Oswald after his return to the United States.

In respect to my focus here, it is important to point out that Oswald was most definitely under a number of types of intelligence observation upon his return, primarily by the FBI, and that from his very first interview Oswald agreed to provide information to them in regard to potential “subversive” contacts, contacts with individuals whose motives might be suspect or inimical. And there is every indication that he did so.  To what extent he may have been “nudged” or directed into certain areas of contact remains an open question.

What is clear is that one of Oswald’s earliest political interests, during his time in the Marines, had been the Castro revolution in Cuba.  And in the spring of 1963, much disaffected with the Soviet revolutionary experiment, he turned his focus again to things Cuban.  Before leaving Texas for New Orleans he wrote to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, he demonstrated briefly for “Hands off Cuba” in Dallas and apparently passed out leaflets.  He took the trouble to write the FPCC about his first effort.  And he would continue a stream of written communications with them all though the summer of 1963.  Oswald’s intense interest in the FPCC was mirrored by the entire American intelligence community – including the FBI, the CIA and Army Military Intelligence.  Much of that interest focused on the extent to which the FPCC was helping Americans travel (illegally per the American ban) into and back from Cuba.  We now know that the FBI had an informant inside the FPCC headquarters office and that list of its members and copies of its communications were routinely provided to the FBI – copies of Oswald’s letters would eventually emerge from that collection.

In fact the intelligence opportunities (not threats, since the FPCC was so thoroughly penetrated and monitored) became a major point of mutual interest between the FBI and the CIA in 1963. The FPCC was seen as a major propaganda foil, clearly a terrible influence on American  youth and very likely a recruiting tool for Cuban intelligence.   And beyond its propaganda value, the two agencies had collaborated in organizing a project designated as AMSANTA.   Among its goals, the joint project was to use American FPCC members as collection agents during trips to Cuba – trips made through Mexico City where the Cuban diplomatic personnel were arranging for transit visas into Cuba for individuals vetted and recommended by either the FPCC or via CPUSA referral.

The first AMSANTA recruit was amazingly successful, he entered Cuba, visited key locations and met with senior officials – they even let him take souvenir photos, which he brought back to share with the CIA and FBI.   The problem with the program was that there simply were not a number of such candidates, legitimate FPCC members willing to turn into intelligence assets targeted on Cuba.  The program had initially far exceeded expectations – yet strangely enough it seems to essentially vanish by the fall of 1963, with no documents recording why it would have been dropped.

All of which will take us to our next “dot”,  Lee Oswald in New Orleans.   Well not just Lee Oswald, some other very interesting parties who were traveling there during the summer of 1963 with their own very anti-Castro agenda, individuals who would be in and around New Orleans when Oswald became a short lived media figure supporting the Castro revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

2 responses »

  1. DConway says:

    Larry,

    Great article! A little typo at the beginning: And if you closely you find he was left out look.

    Deb

    • Thanks Deb, correction made….ah if there were only an editor wizard…grin.

      This series will be going on for a bit, I expect to add a new post in this thread every couple of days and that will take us on into November.

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