Lee Harvey Oswald---a U.S. Intelligence Agent: The Evidence
Presentation by Hal Verb at COPA - Coalition On Political Assassinations Conference
"Let me begin by first making a couple of quotations," Hal Verb began, adding that collecting quotations was something of a hobby for him. "There are two: 'We see what we see because we miss all the finer details,'...and 'There is only one thing that moves government on any level, and that is utter, stark fear.'" The first quotation was attributed to someone who was unintelligible on my tape recording, unfortunately --- although Mr. Verb added that the man was the founder of general semantics. The second is by the late William Kunstler.
"I'm talking about the fear when they see the people mobilized, who have truth on their side, and then do something about it," Verb continued. "That's why I'm here [at COPA], and I hope that's why you're here."
Verb said, before getting to the body of his talk, that he did not know Lee Harvey Oswald, but Oswald knew of him, at least indirectly. Verb said in the early sixties, he---Verb---participated in distributing a Fair Play for Cuba Committee pamphlet, "Cuban Counter-revolutionaries in the United States," that Oswald ordered through the mail. Verb added that he used to write for The Militant and was a member and organizer of the New Jersey chapter of the FPCC.
"Many of the theories that are bandied about say that [Oswald] was an agent of the FBI or the CIA...but I say he was an agent of the ONI...Office of Naval Intelligence...Since the Marine Corps is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy, and since his Marine Corps discharge was handled by the Navy, there's no way that you can have this discharge, and his conduct---before, during and after---unless the ONI started it."
This association of Oswald, however, with ONI, does not by any means prove or disprove that if there were a conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy it follows that ONI is directly involved in that conspiracy. It can be argued, however, that a failure to completely uncover and thoroughly understand this Oswald-ONI relationship would, without doubt, prevent us from reaching any final conclusions as to the nature of the conspiracy: no other avenue of pursuit is possible unless this fact is recognized.
Why is ONI singled out rather than the traditional and usual "spy" agencies (such as the CIA or FBI) when Oswald's intelligence links are cited?...The argument can be offered that drawing attention to such agencies as the CIA and FBI provides an exercise in futility where these agencies become mere "whipping boys" frustrating serious attempts to unravel the truth of Oswald's ONI association, in a real sense, then, a cover-up of a cover-up.
There are three distinct and substantive reasons to conclude that Oswald was an ONI agent. Of these three the first is logical and quite apparent and the other two relate to my own personal and direct experiences in tracking down, examining and analyzing the data in Oswald's short-lived career as an intelligence agent.
The first of these reasons is, in my view, an obvious one. I would cite here what the American philosopher Alfred Whitehead's observation that "it takes an unusual mind to see the obvious." What is "obvious" here applies to the necessary fact that while Oswald was in the Marine Corps if there were any questions arising during his tour of duty about his "conduct" during (and after) his Marine Corps service it would come automatically to the attention of the ONI. That is because [as noted] the Marine Corps is under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department. Oswald's "discharge" status, thus, involved ONI vis-a-vis the Marine Corps and US Navy branches.
The other two reasons involving my own experiences occurred in 1965 and 1966. The latter date I will cite here as it relates more directly to the first reason discussed above: Oswald's ONI links principally those immediately before his release from the Marine Corps.
In December 1966 I appeared on a radio interview program in Oakland, California together with Harold Weisberg, the noted author of many books on the JFK case. At the very end of the show a caller, who would not identify himself, phoned in and wanted to speak with Weisberg. By happenstance I was able to hear what the caller had to say. Some of what the caller discussed is mentioned in Weisberg's Oswald in New Orleans (p. 87) [p. 85 in the Canyon Books edition---Ed.] but not all...
"He [the caller] engaged in a recreational activity which I'm not going to mention, because it gives a clue as to who he is," Verb told his rapt COPA audience. "At least who I think he --- who I've tracked down --- think he is. In fact I tracked him down. I refused to give his name to any individual, and I finally gave his name to Harold Weisberg yesterday [October 21, 1995, presumably---Ed.] in a handwritten note. I did not want to put this in the form of a letter, or even mention his name. When Harold saw it, he said, 'That name seems familiar.' Now, I don't know what he's going to do with it. But, I have tracked this person down."
Essentially, the caller, who was stationed at El Toro Marine Corps base when Oswald was there, knew Oswald and was a barracks roommate of his. Oswald, he asserted, had a "crypto clearance" and during Oswald's remaining two weeks before receiving his "hardship" discharge was constantly in the base's "C.I.D." (Criminal Investigation Division) HQ being "briefed" for a "mission." As we all know, Oswald went to Russia [right after his discharge]. The caller maintained that Oswald was "set up with a specific discharge" and that the "crypto" work involved "black box" stuff.
According to the caller, Oswald worked in decoding "IFF" (Identification of Friend of Foe) aircraft. The caller said there were about 180 individuals assigned to the unit and five were classified. Thus, Oswald had to be one of these five.
"Now, the obvious implication is that Oswald was on a mission," Verb stated, "as an agent of the ONI. Now, like I say, I tracked down that person---and that's one of the reasons---that's my personal experience with showing that he is an agent."
In testimony before the ARRB (the presidential Assassination Records and Review Board) in Dallas, November 1994, I cited this particular 1966 call and urged the Board to review this matter and interview not only those in the CID but also the ONI as well. I pointed out that if Oswald were briefed by the CID it could not escape the notice and attention of the ONI. To date (July 1995) there is no indication or prospect that the ARRB has or will look into this but, at least, now it is a matter of historical record. [Note: The ARRB is not an investigative body---Ed.]
The second (personal) reason noted above deals with an event in 1965. A friend, knowing of my deep interest in the JFK case, gave me a record he found at a record store. This record, which I still own, is extremely rare (I've seen only one other copy) and was made around 1964. It is called The President's Assassin Speaks, and has Oswald's actual voice during a radio debate he had with Ed Butler (and others) in New Orleans, August 21, 1963. Produced by "Key Records" in Los Angeles, it is an anti-communist propaganda production of Dr. Billy James Hargis, founder and director of "The Christian Crusade." Naming Oswald as the assassin, the record strives mightily to link Owald with an (implied) communist conspiracy. If you listen to this record, the back of the record assures us, "you will be able to decide for yourself who gave the orders to Oswald to take the life of President Kennedy."
My interest in this record, however, was not the propaganda content but rather in a discovery I made of a "slip" Oswald made on that tape while defending his stay in Russia as a "defector." Oswald "slipped" and stated he "was under the protection of the American government," quickly recovering from his "slip" and then saying he was "not under" that protection.
"When I heard that record, I went ballistic. Of course, in those days you didn't use the term 'ballistic.' But I did go ballistic. I said, my God! The guy has slipped and made an admission---to me---which represents that he is representing the U.S. Government!...
"So I immediately went to the [Warren Commission] volumes...and they left out the part where he says 'I was under the protection of---' and they leave in the 'I was not under the protection of.'
"I just spoke recently to John Newman and I said, 'You know, John, why did you publish in your book, Oswald and the CIA --- I'm a stickler for details. I mean, I probably find errors in virtually all the books, it's just something I do because I want to get the record straight --- I said, 'Why did you publish that?' And he said, 'Hal, I just didn't know about that.' Of course, he's learned about it. So, all he did was reprint what's in the volumes. But the volumes didn't get it straight. You start questioning, why didn't the volumes publish it? That's another story."
Forgetting for the moment [that] the Warren Commission "transcript" did not print Oswald's "slip," for myself, it again offered a clear and strong indication that Oswald was, indeed, a U.S. intelligence agent whose assignment was his stay in Russia. In summary for the three main reasons cited above the evidence is sufficient, compelling and substantive: Lee Harvey Oswald was a U.S. intelligence agent engaged in various activities at home (the U.S.) and abroad beginning with his Marine Corps discharge and ending with his death at the hands of Jack Ruby.
As to the final question of the nature of the conspiracy: Unravelling Oswald's intelligence connections provides the key. The answer or answers lie staring us in the face if only we would truly look! As the noted philiosopher Wittgenstein so well counseled us, "Look---and then think!"
1994 TESTIMONY BEFORE THE ARRB
Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994 Hearing
MR. MARWELL: Mr. Hal Verb.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Mr. Verb, we didn't have you on the list ahead of time. Could you spell your name for the record?
MR. VERB: Yes, my name is Hal, H-a-l, and the last name is Verb, that is like pronoun, subject, V-e-r-b.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Go ahead, sir. Thank you.
MR. VERB: I am from San Francisco. I am a private researcher. I have been conducting research for about 30 years, in fact, almost from the very first day of the assassination because it was a tremendous event in American history, still unresolved in my mind, and still unresolved in the minds of most of the American public. That is why I am here, and that is why you are here.
I am here as a private citizen who is deeply concerned to know the full truth about the assassination of President Kennedy. Today I wish to call attention to a serious question that has long lingered about the event, and that is precisely the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and his alleged association, connection or involvement with the U.S. Government as a possible agent for an agency or agencies that represented the U.S. Government.
Regardless of whether one believes or asserts that there was no conspiracy or there was a conspiracy, the unresolved question of Oswald's ties to the U.S. Government looms large and, indeed, hangs over us like the proverbial Damocles sword, and that is over all of us, including the U.S. Government, whether the U.S. Government is in any way connected or not.
Now I realize fully well that virtually no government reveals its agents or its methods of operations, but in the matter of the President Kennedy's death this question can no longer be ignored, and the longer it is avoided the greater the harm that will befall us all.
To focus the attention of the Review Board more closely in this regard, I specifically call your attention to a radio program that I appeared on in December 1966 which was several hours long and concerned the Kennedy murder. I was in the radio station studio, this was in Oakland, California, and the other half of the program was a telephone hook-up to a Maryland writer and researcher Harold Weisberg who had written and began a series of books called Whitewash, the Whitewash series.
At the end of the program, the program moderator received a call from an individual who did not wish to be heard on the radio, and who stated he wished to speak only to Mr. Weisberg confidentially. Now I was able to hear the contents of this discussion, the entire discussion between Mr. Weisberg and the caller, and the phone call from the individual who insisted that he not be identified and who wanted to remain anonymous. In fact, Weisberg asked the individual if you desire to come forward, you always know how to reach me, but this individual never did step forward.
I am going to go into what the nature of this call was. The gist of the phone call was this. The caller had been a barracks roommate of Lee Harvey Oswald who was stationed at El Toro Marine Corps Base in California. The caller stated that about two weeks before Oswald received his so-called alleged hardship discharge, which is all over the record, can be established, he was constantly in the CID Headquarters being briefed for a mission overseas. The caller provided the information that Oswald also had a crypto secret clearance.
Now I raise this matter because if, indeed, the CID was involved in such an event -- I am not here to state flatly that they did engage in this, I don't know, I want the evidence to be presented -- it would necessarily follow that the ONI, which is the Office of Naval Intelligence, must certainly have been aware of this. It just boggles my mind.
I at one time served in an intelligence section during the Korean War, and it is impossible for me to believe that the CID could not have had in some way connection or approval by the ONI.
Now I mention ONI because there is a lot of speculation in the literature, some of which you may have read, you may not have, and none of this speculation has proven to be final, and this speculation is pointing to Oswald being connected in some capacity with the ONI. Other writers will suggest FBI, CIA, my concern here is with the ONI.
Recently Professor John Newman, who has appeared I believe at the last hearing, he has been looking into this matter, and has stated that as significant portion of the ONI files relative to JFK have been destroyed. There are still remaining, however, at least two boxes of ONI files that still have to be gone through. I have not, myself, seen these so I do not know what the nature of those files consist of. I believe it is incumbent upon this Board to reach a fairly definitive determination as why, when and how these ONI files were destroyed and whose responsibility it was for the destruction.
Since ONI files necessarily involve the Navy Department, it appears evident that those individuals from the Secretary of the Navy on downward, and those immediately below charged with their necessary responsibilities be asked precisely about the issues and points raised in my statement today.
If this is not done, history will not be served, and the American people will once again, as in prior investigations, be the ultimate losers. Respectfully, that is my -- I will be willing to send you this entire statement in a letter which I will forward to the Board, and I will answer any questions that you have about this.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Verb.
DR. GRAFF: What do you mean, Mr. Verb, by crypto security clearance?
MR. VERB: Well, a crypto secret clearance has to do, as the caller explained -- I didn't get into it further. Actually crypto secret clearance is mentioned in the Warren Commission documents, in its actual Warren Commission volumes. I found that out after having looked into it. You can find them.
Crypto secret clearance is a very specialized high security clearance that very, very few people would obtain in any capacity, and it is interesting to note that at this time while Oswald was in the Marine Corps he was receiving "Communist literature," so you have a pro-Communist, Marxist having crypto secret clearance.
I talked to a General who was an aide to President Kennedy, who accompanied President Kennedy, I asked him about crypto secret clearance. He knew about it. He said, I have not confirmed this, that the only way that you could obtain crypto secret clearance is that you had first top secret clearance. Crypto secret clearance had to do with black box stuff, which is the information provided on atomic warhead missiles in case of atomic attack. I understand the Strategic Air Command has the capacity for this kind of information. I don't know precisely the nature of it, I haven't looked into it further.
But I have spoken to people who have had crypto secret clearance, many people, in fact, that I have spoken to who have pretty much asserted that what I have learned through this broadcast and other means turns out to be fairly accurate, and I only go by what I can document. I am not interested in speculation. I do not go by hearsay to the extent that I simply believe every single theory. I want documentation to prove what can be clearly set in the record and determined to be the truth.
DR. HALL: Have you made requests of the United States Government?
MR. VERB: No, I have not. I have not. In fact, I have never issued a single FOIA request in the years that I have been doing this, although I have relied on other FOIA requests from other -- not necessarily connected with this particular issue, but I have interviewed people who would have been in a position to know precisely what this kind of clearance was, and the nature of ONI and related matters.
DR. HALL: Well, the issue that you raise, of course, is one that goes to the availability or the destruction of materials held by the United States Government.
MR. VERB: Exactly.
DR. HALL: May I ask why you decided or have foregone the opportunity to use the Freedom of Information Act?
MR. VERB: To be quite honest, I am primarily involved in so many other areas. My area that I have been looking into is the photographic evidence, and that takes an enormous amount of time. I write letters and receive letters.
In fact, I should mention one important thing that may go to the heart of the matter. I recently received a call from a person who took Oswald's place in the Marine Corps in his very position after he left and went to Soviet Russia. I hope to be in communication with this person to find out precisely what the nature, if he knows anything at all, about crypto secret clearance.
So my answer would be, I simply have not had the time to do this. If you have been involved in this case, it is very time consuming. I have a full-time job during the day. I am not a member of any particular group or organization, nobody is sponsoring me. All the money I have put into this basically simply because I desire the truth, and I think justice will be served if the truth is known.
DR. HALL: I do think it is the case that part of what the Board is interested in is the efficacy and efficiency of the Freedom of Information Act as it relates to this matter, so my questions are directed to that issue and not directed necessarily to your personal capacity.
MR. VERB: I understand that. Right.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Other questions?
MR. VERB: Thank you for the opportunity.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Verb. We appreciate your being here today.
Testimony of Roy Schaeffer
Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994 Hearing
MR. SCHAEFFER: My name is Roy Schaeffer and I am a private citizen, and I never met Hal Verb, but I am –
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Could you spell your name for the record?
MR. SCHAEFFER: Okay, it is S-c-h-a-e-f-f-e-r.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you.
MR. SCHAEFFER: I am the person Hal Verb mentioned, I am the person who replaced Oswald after he left El Toro in 1960. He left in 1959, and I joined his unit. So I did have a crypt clearance. I don't want to get into that.
Basically, what I would like to mention is, I am a private probably an assassination buff more or less. In 1986, I contacted Jim Garrison, and before he died he had sent -- well, when he got the Zapruder film down at the trial on '66, he ran off 100 copies. Sometime in 1989, you know, I received a copy from him, and then I have been researching using a copy of the 100 that was made.
Now what I had found then at first, you know, I am interested in this flawed editing of the Zapruder film, and I wondered, Zapruder said that he had set his camera on a film speed of 24, and so over the years it got me thinking. In 1963, I worked for the Dayton Daily News, and Hess & Eisenhart was the company that rebuilt the Presidential Limousine, so I had gone down there with a fellow reporter because I had like a scientific background.
Okay, so anyway what was unique about that time was the emergency lights on the Presidential car. Now the lights were interesting in one aspect, they blinked, they would blink on one side and then on the other. So one problem I had in -- so I know there was a constant blink rate. Now, I have taken a lot of eight millimeter film. In other words, if something has a constant blink rate and you are photographing it through, like Zapruder, that Bell & Howell camera, then it would show a constant rate.
In other words, if it found that the blink rate was .41 seconds, so it would show a rate of nine blinks in the film. Now what I had submitted, I believe you have that record I gave to Mr. Gunn, I plotted from 133 to 238, and the pattern does not show up that way. So I am suggesting, you know, to yourselves that that proves that alterations was done to the Zapruder film.
Also on the night of the assassination, what I believe, the film -- in other words, Zapruder took the film to the Kodak lab in Dallas. Now I have some film expertise. I served a six-year government sponsored apprenticeship in film, and that had what they call a 14K process. This 14K process is how they developed Kodachrome. It is quite complicated. At that time, the only place that had that process was here in Dallas next to Love Field, and that was at the Dallas Eastman-Kodak lab.
From my information on the Max B. Phillips minimal, I think Paul Halp talked about that on Commission Exhibit 450, that it shows that the Zapruder film, and I believe three copies were flown to Washington the night of the assassination, I believe they were taken into -- they had five hours from my timetable. I worked with a Dr. James Fetzer on this, and also Mike Pinser, he is an attorney. So any way, I interjected on that, but anyway I lost my place when I said that. Could you help me? I lost my place.
DR. HALL: You were saying only the Dallas Eastman-Kodak lab.
MR. SCHAEFFER: Okay. So anyway, it is a very complicated process, and it takes about 45 seconds, so it is called the K-14 but the 14K process because it is what they call a subtractive process. It is a reversal film that like comes into a color transparency after it is developed. So, in other words, I believe that they took the original film to the National Interpretation Lab and at that point they altered it down to approximately 18 frames per second. Like I say, in 1960 -- so what I am saying is that I believe Frame Z-133 to 238 is where they altered that.
Now the way I found that out was, I personally had the film and I went through and I plotted each blinking light per frame, and that is how I derived that the film was altered. Unless you have the actual film, you can't -- there is no way you can determine that.
So that is pretty much what I had to say. I thank you for your time.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Any questions for Mr. Schaeffer?
DR. NELSON: I have one. You say you replaced Oswald, that is to say you took over all of his functions, his job?
MR. SCHAEFFER: That's correct.
DR. NELSON: Which were? What was the job assignment?
MR. SCHAEFFER: We worked at TACC, Tactical Air Control Center, basically, and it was basically tracking IFF boxes. In other words Strategic Air Command, and then they had like IFF boxes. And then they would set those in the morning, and then your crypt orders would come down from Washington, and they were like Zulu Time Rated, 24-hour time, and then there was what you call authentifications. So that is what a person that has crypt does.
So our job was, when the planes left the United States through the EDACs area was to clear them and plot them, and so that was basically what our job function was there at El Toro, and I am sure Oswald did the same thing.
MR. MARWELL: Mr. Chairman, in fact, Mr. Smith had signed up earlier.
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Schaeffer, we appreciate your help.
MR. SCHAEFFER: Thank you.