Given the recent discussion of domestic contacts with Lee Oswald, combined with both FBI and CIA records which appear to have been gone missing, I was asked a very good question as to when and how I feel Oswald was “tagged” to link the JFK assassination to Cuba and Castro. For context I should point out that the “missing” files related to Oswald would logically relate to CIA and FBI associations with him prior to the assassination, associations pertaining to their use of him as a source of intelligence and possibly his value as a propaganda asset (in programs that never jelled due to the assassination).

Any possible use of Oswald by conspirators planning to attack JFK occurring within the CIA (at any level including field officers) would never have been put into a document; it is anathema to create written records relating to any sort of assassination within the CIA (or at least it was after about 1955; up to that point we do find numerous reference to the practice).

Given that, my best answer as to where and when Oswald was tagged begins in New Orleans. By the time he arrived there he was a known figure to both the FBI and CIA and was a cooperative source for the FBI.  He was also under consideration for CIA use in anti-Russian propaganda (reference his remarks in his unpublished manuscript of his time there). By the summer of 1963 he was also quite possibly a candidate for joint FBI/CIA use in the AMSANTA FPCC project.   Both of those associations would explain why there are missing records in both agencies.

One of the risks both agencies always face is having their sources  turned against them (whether knowingly doubled or patsied).  Both have suffered from that repeatedly and we know they do damage control by destroying records…its just SOP.

But as far as being tagged for an action against JFK, I believe it was Oswald’s high profile media visibility as a Castro supporter in New Orleans that got him picked as someone who would point to Castro. We have good evidence that he was being used by conspirators in some fashion in regard to a planned incident in the DC area – his own letters – verify that and associate him not only with Castro but with CPUSA. His reference to going “underground” was especially damming in regards to a communist connection (something the Warren Commission studiously ignored).

It was in August/September that he was first “tagged” to point to Castro….but unfortunately we have no clear clue by who….Nagell tells us it was anti-Castro Cubans posing as Castro agents and there is some evidence to support that. Certainly there is evidence that the FBI was encouraging him to make those sorts of contacts. But for whatever reason the DC incident aborted and he ended up in Dallas.

We have some pretty good leads that in Dallas he was doing some strange things on his own, it certainly appears that that he was voluntarily being a dangle to a variety of groups, most likely for the FBI.  That would make a lot of sense given the Cuban exile weapons buying efforts going on in the Dallas – which the FBI was all over and which led back to the House on Harlandale. That scenario is also corroborated by Hosty’s remarks about Oswald being under surveillance and meeting with subversives.

In Dallas – where his movements were being monitored – his use of aliases, post office boxes, fake names and fake ID’s suggest he was either playing at being a source on his own accord – or encouraged to do so. And that role was known to the people he was associating with – it was at that point he emerged as a definitive patsy, especially once he went to work at the TSBD.

Beyond that, the argument can be made against his being a knowing part the attack on the president because he continued search for other work, including applying for jobs outside downtown Dallas (that application is on record).

I believe Oswald’s tagging was the culmination of his activities over several months.  I also suspect if we could see the Joannides records we would have some support for that…which is why multiple judges have denied access to them. And if the FBI files in New Orleans had not been destroyed there would be more – ditto for all the FBI subversive division files in Dallas. And ditto for the Domestic Contact files.

Up to the day of the assassination it appears the FBI was watching Oswald and viewed him as a window into the subversive activities they were tasked to deal with, the CIA was monitoring his movements and very possibly had plans for him, most likely related to the FPCC.

And then someone who had seemed useful to both agencies turned into a terrible threat to each of them.

10 responses »

  1. D Conway says:

    Larry,

    In your first sentence you have “mission” instead of “missing” ?

    Debra

  2. larryjoe2 says:

    Thanks Deb, I corrected it…

  3. Anthony M says:

    Hello
    Yes, I think you are right to highlight the period in New Orleans as the most likely time for his recruitment or selection into the plot (probably unwitting in terms of the full extent of what was happening). It is possible that it could have happened earlier, but on balance I agree with you that the summer of 63 is the most likely time period for the reasons you suggest (which does not preclude a somewhat earlier start of the overall plot, of course, in fact it probably requires it to have been ‘in the works’ for a while before that time point).

    The continuing secrecy around Joannides is, I agree, highly suggestive.

    The only thing I would seriously query (or perhaps I have misunderstood) is that you seem to suggest the final selection of LHO as the patsy followed his arrival in Dallas and getting a job at the TSBD. I do find that all too much of a coincidence to be credible.
    If he was already involved by August (the letters about moving to the Washington area etc.) then I would argue that his move back to Dallas and getting a job at the TSBD would be planned as part of this. His attempts to get other jobs supports the idea that he was basically unwitting in terms of the real purpose behind this but I struggle with the idea that he just happened to find himself in the TSBD by chance – there won’t be too many locations along the route suitable for an ambush in terms of accessibility, cover, exit routes, sight lines etc for several shooters. When developing the tactical plan such practical considerations would have to have been high on the list of considerations.

    (For some reason the famous quote from Casablanca ”of all the gin joints in all the world..” springs to mind, ‘of all the building in all the towns…’)

    That does open up various questions about the people involved in arranging LHOs job at the TSBD. An important factor to me is that the plotters were able to control his movements to the extent of getting him to Dallas and the TSBD at the same time as he seems to have been active in ‘normal’ activities for various agencies, most clearly the FBI but also possibly others such as the CIA, ATF etc, as you point out. That ability to manage his operational deployment to Mexico and then Dallas is quite suggestive, I would argue, as it would require a certain level of rank, as well the practical question of getting him into the TSBD once in the Dallas area. That’s probably a discussion for another time though.

    Thanks for yet another very interesting post.

    Anthony

  4. larryjoe2 says:

    Let me parse out a couple of issues to set some context for my view on this.

    First, while Oswald had been selected for an incident (we don’t know if it was planned to be an assassination attempt) in September, we really don’t know that the individuals involved in that were the same set of people that ultimately planned and organized the Dallas attack. If it did abort simply over concerns about Nagell, then it would not seem to have been a major, complex effort with high level people behind it.

    Second, given how quickly Oswald left for Mexico rather than going to Dallas with his pregnant wife about to have a second child (and he clearly adored the children) its really hard to say when and if he would end up back in Dallas for JFK’s trip. My view is that the attack in Dallas only jelled at the end of Sept, other options may well have been in play including an incident (not necessarily an attack) in Chicago.

    I would say that upon his arrival he probably became the prime patsy but we do have several reports of Oswald or someone looking very much like him applying for jobs up and down the obvious route of the parade. Was that Oswald or was an imposter setting up alternative possibilities to frame him? At that time we really don’t even know if the final site of the attack had been set. I have to emphasize again that we think of the plan as being what finally happened and it may have been far more fluid than that – tactical plans normally don’t get extremely fixed until relatively late in the day.

    I’ve come to believe Oswald’s time in Mexico may have had nothing particularity to do with the attack in Dallas – other than being useful in more firmly establishing him as having Castro links. After New Orleans that truly was not necessary. Whether Mexico was related to Dallas or simply useful because the ultimate plotters were inside the CIA and had information on his movements is an open question.

    I would also submit that having Oswald working in the TSBD, while convenient, was not absolutely required for a successful attack nor in framing him – or in establishing a link to Castro and Cuba. There were actually problems associated the TSBD (one being that no shooting from the building may have been possible or without great risk); there were also exposures with his co workers, with other witnesses and challenges in planting appropriate evidence…as we all know by now since follow on research has identified so many issues with all of that. The fact that the official scenario of Oswald shooting from the TSBD so “perfect” and was “sold” to the public is more an artifact of the successful official damage control and cover up than any well oiled and comprehensive plan.

    On a related note, I would also point out something from the book I’m working on now and that is simply that no good plan assumes every element will work, just the opposite, it assumes there will be failures and establishes contingencies. If it all works great – but good plans work with parts of them fail….and apparently that is most likely what occurred in Dallas. We simply don’t know what the full plan was although we do have Martino’s observation that as a whole it went off track based on Oswald’s own behavior and his capture.

  5. Anthony M says:

    Hi
    I understand where are coming from with this and I’m going to pause for a day or two to refine my thinking a bit before commenting much further.

    The direction of my thinking is that we aren’t dealing with a laboratory experiment here so formal proof around the timings of decisions is unlikely to be ever possible. Instead we are dealing with pieces of information which give an indistinct picture of a reality that will have a coherence to it underneath the noise.
    There are facts on the ground of what definitely happened as part of the plan (e.g. The TSBD was selected as a location) and from those facts some conclusions can be made with high probability (e.g. the shooters would have had a reasonable level of confidence that they could access the location, adopt suitable positions and get out). Convenient ‘coincidences’ such as the availability of a screen of boxes to shield the view and the presence of LHO in a building which just happened to be suitable in terms of location and access etc. then look a lot less like chance events and lot more like part of the plan. For example, if LHO’s job in Dallas was an unconnected event, the probability of him ending up in a suitable building on the motorcade route is not particularly high. I can’t formally prove that, I accept that, but it is a scenario that (at least in principle) can compete against other scenarios in terms of consistency with the full warp and weft of the evidence.

    As I say – I need to refine that thinking up which may well take some time, so I’ll pause at that point. Thanks for yet another very interesting discussion.

    • larryjoe2 says:

      I’ll won’t disturb your thinking much further than the following..grin. But while you are at it factor this in…

      Assuming the attack on JFK was a well structured, tactical effort with multiple shooters – conducted by experienced paramilitary personnel – its interesting to think how the TSBD fits into that scenario. I have talked to a few such people and I can say that the thought of inserting themselves into a business building with numerous officers and traffic and virtually constant traffic on all floors would not put the TSBD on their potential list of shooting sites. On the other hand the Plaza would have been, as would have a couple of other sites on the route. The key in selection is a shooting area with relatively open access – buildings are not all that great unless their is something special about them (without going into it, the DalTex would qualify because of the nature of its internal organization and a back exit, something not often discussed).

      What the TSBD offered was simply that Oswald was associated with it. Which means it would have been of interest only in terms of access to plant materials to frame him; having him actually present that day and was a bonus. The same could have been true for other locations if for some reason he had not gotten a job there or actually taken another job in the interim.

      Again, simply a scenario but if you focus on the attack itself you find Oswald and the TSBD peripheral, the key would always be where you could conduct the shooting and get your people in and out. I should also insert the point that we have no idea of there were alternative or backup locations or even a back up device such a a car bomb on the Stemmins access ramp.

      Both Oswald and the TSBD have obsessed all of us for decades….largely because they were both investigated. The attack itself, involving multiple shooters, never was (actually DPD did do some preliminary work, which largely vanished) given the quick conversion of Oswald into a lone nut and suppression of any evidence pointing elsewhere.

      — just points to ponder, Larry

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Larry

        Fully developing this would take a long essay which you’ll be relieved to learn I’m not going to attempt here (might do in time separately), but I’ll attempt to outline the main parts of my hypothesis.

        I’ll start off with a comment you mention above ‘…the key would always be where you could conduct the shooting and get your people in and out…’

        Absolutely 100% agree. The implications of that observation are quite profound and not widely discussed.

        The fact is that the TSBD and the grassy knoll were selected as locations to shoot from (as a minimum). From that I do think it is reasonable to conclude that the shooters had a reasonable expectation of being able to:
        a) access the building without discovery
        b) take up suitable positions with a reasonable chance of remaining undiscovered.
        c) exit the building and the wider area
        I would argue that it is therefore a 99% probability that the TSBD was selected because it represented a practical position and not just because LHO worked there (I think you are correct to point out that he could have been framed in other ways, just through the paperwork on the rifle for example).

        Factors that appear to contribute to the suitability of the TSBD include:
        i. Members of the public routinely entered the building given the nature of the businesses present
        ii. It had a rear entrance.
        ii. The floor work on the 6th floor would reduce the number of people present on that floor and created a screen of boxes that provided a degree of cover for one position on that floor.

        How they actually got in and out and what happened to the second weapon remains a matter of uncertainty, although there is some eyewitness evidence which might be relevant.

        There are other locations on the route that would also no doubt have been suitable in theory. The reality is they chose the TSBD – for some set of reasons that came out top of the list. Given the very real issues you highlight about using business premises for that sort of thing, there had to be a set of factors they knew about that mitigated those problems.

        So…if it is reasonable to conclude the TSBD was selected because it was a tactically suitable location, LHO’s presence in the building would be a remarkable coincidence unless it was also planned.

        LHO’s move to Dallas:
        The timings of all that in relation to the evolving planning of JFK’s Texas trip might be a useful prism to view things through. If I’ve got this right the origins of the idea of a Texas trip go back to June 1963, but initially not including Dallas. The formal decision to include Dallas was made on the 24th September, with a more detailed meeting with Governor Connally on the 4th October. The final details of the route were not locked down until 18th November, but a motorcade through Dallas was assumed by all to be part of the plan from (at the latest) the 4th October meeting, and these motorcades had usually followed a fairly standard route (with minor variations).

        Marina moved back to Texas on the 23rd Sept (it was already clear the JFK would be visiting Texas and some discussion around Dallas must have been happening prior to the 24th Sept decision to include it in the schedule).
        LHO doesn’t turn up in Dallas until early October and initially tries to find employment himself at a variety of locations unconnected with the motorcade route.
        15th October Ruth Paine facilitates LHO getting a job at the TSBD via contacting Roy Truly who engages LHO the day after making eight members of staff redundant.
        LHO is now positioned on the motorcade route in the building selected as tactically suitable. Quite a coincidence. The timing is 11 days after the 4th October meeting and in the middle of the time period when planning of the trip was taking place (apparently a lot was done at the Texas end of things).

        We could also discuss the way his Mexico trip played into facilitating the subsequent cover up, but that probably enough for now.

        Basically it just seems too much of a set of coincidences, particularly if you start with the premise that the TSBD was selected as a suitable position tactically and then other elements put into place around that.

        Regards

        Anthony

  6. larryjoe2 says:

    To some extent I may have led this dialog off in the wrong direction given that I was really addressing Oswald as peripheral to the conspiracy against JFK, not the TSBD per se. To give a larger context to all this my judgement is that by August, 1963 JFK was at risk from attacks by a number of radicalized Cuban exiles – how they became agitated by CIA officers to attack him in a long story, covered in NEXUS. He was at risk in DC, in Chicago, in Miami, and possibly other locations – and both the FBI and Secret Service were aware of an outstanding threat.

    Specifically, in regard to Dallas, I suspect that the planning for an attack there began in late September and fully jelled at the end of October – you can actually relate that to various trips by people like Martino and Vidal as well as some of the DRE suspects we call out in the Wheaton studies. And there would be no secret about the motorcade route in Dallas, political motorcades had always gone down Main and out though the Plaza. And certainly the plaza, as an open access area, would have been seen as a likely point of assault from the beginning – I say the plaza and not the TSBD. At this point in time I’m not convinced any shots were fired from the TSBD, certainly not by the assault team. I’m also not sure why any experienced paramilitary personnel would commit themselves to shooting from a building when lots of less exposed firing positions were available.

    At that point I see the overall planning process as iterative, there were multiple locations on the route but the plaza was indeed probably the best. If a patsy, either in person or with planed material, could be placed in the TSBD that would be desirable. Interestingly that was only possible due to a separate decision to begin reworking the flooring in the building, a decision made much earlier than November. That decision created an opening for a new, temporary hire…although honestly its not impossible that materials could have been planted in the building to frame Oswald even without him working there. I go into it elsewhere but there is evidence that a substantial set of materials was prepared linking Oswald to a Castro conspiracy, but it was not brought into play as planned because of the way the plan aborted with his capture.

    In any event, I certainly won’t argue that Oswald could not have been maneuvered into a job at the TSBD, but my concern is that we have obsessed over Oswald and the TSBD per se to the point that it diverts us from the more critical parts of the evolution of the conspiracy, the participants and the tactical details of the assault, which tell us a great deal about the skill level of the team. My view is that the cover up focused us on Oswald, as it was intended to, to the exclusion of the rest of the conspiracy and all the issues of evidence (which suggest to me that plotters certainly wanted a conspiracy to be clear) which the cover up was forced to deal with – and which have been documented over the years – have led us astray.

    Astray into a huge, carefully integrated and tightly orchestrated conspiracy when in reality it was an iterative thing which actually failed in certain of its elements and left all sorts of clues to what it really was behind – clues which the official investigation repeatedly fell over itself in ignoring or covering up. But of course that’s just my assessment.

  7. Anthony M says:

    Hi
    Yes, I agree with the Sept-Nov timeline for the planning of the actual Dallas operation and that this would very likely be iterative and with contingencies. Also agree that the subsequent cover up obscures many aspects of the original plan.
    I would need a lot of persuading to think that no shots came from the TSBD. We have a very persuasive set of evidence including eyewitness evidence, the physical presence of a rifle with bullet fragments matched back to that weapon, strong acoustic correlations for four shots with that location (which doesn’t preclude other locations nearby in itself), the absence of the shockwave on the second shot at around Z204 and the good alignment from the SE corner window with the injuries caused by the Z224 shot.
    I’m not totally certain that all four acoustically correlated shots actually came from the TSBD but Z204 and Z224 shots are highly likely to have done so (from different weapons). The three cartridge cases at the SE corner makes the simplest hypothesis being three shots from that window, one (Z204) from elsewhere in the TSBD and one (z312-3) from the grassy knoll. Despite that I confess to being a little uneasy about how quick the third shot followed the first…possible but still quick for a bolt action weapon, at least in terms of an aimed shot on, but it is possible.
    Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.

  8. larryjoe2 says:

    I should clarify a bit more in regard to my remarks on the selection and importance of the TSBD. The point I was trying to make is that from a sheer paramilitary/ambush type view, while the plaza was a very good location for infiltration, attack and exfiltration, the TSBD itself was not – far too easy for bad luck to catch you going in or especially out, especially with crowds around the building. Of course if the patsy happens to be in the building for whatever reason, that may sway you to engage with the building to some extent, including planting evidence and doing something to indicate to observers shooting was coming from there – whether or not it actually does.

    On that point, we do have witnesses to men in windows, to something long and pointed object seen outside the window (could be a rifle, could be a broomstick) an observation while one of the best is totally inconsistent with the official shooting scenario and would be incredibly stupid for any real shooting firing out of the window. If any thing it sounds more like an effort to draw attention to where fake evidence had been planted. Which raises questions about a couple of TSBD employees who may have been manipulated for that purpose.

    Beyond that there are series issues with the audio testing, the hulls themselves (which if we believe Alyea clearly were not ejected from a weapon but rather planted), the paper sack, the rifle in evidence, the prints on the rifle …on and on. The bottom line is that the evidence from the building was good enough to support an initial association with Oswald but not at all good in terms of his actually shooting the president.

    But that is taking me away from my point, which was that the TSBD may have been pulled into the plot by Oswald’s presence – whether or not it was actually mandatory to take the risk of putting one or more actual shooters there is a serious question. But my view, unlike that of many others, is that the TSBD was not part of some long term, structured plot beginning many months (or even years before the attack). Some have traced it back to the actual re-location of the TSBD storage from the DalTex building across the street. That is a view still supported in the “grand” conspiracy circles but not something I can support.

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