Thursday, July 9, 2020

Oswald's Intelligence Training


Lee Harvey Oswald 1955 Civil Air Patrol Photograph

Oswald in his Civil Air Patrol Cadet Uniform 

Some of those who interacted with Oswald claimed they believed he had been given special training – intelligence training. Not just one or two buy many, and none of them are silly conspiracy theorists.

In looking at his short but active life, the first indication of his interest in intelligence activities comes from his family saying that as a young boy he took a keen interest in the book and TV show “I Led Three Lives,” - the story of Herbert Philbrick, a real person who after being trained by the FBI, infiltrated Communists groups in the United States as an undercover agent and informant.

Oswald’s next learning experience was to memorize his older brother Robert’s United States Marine Corps (USMC) manual, that he later gave to anti-Castro Cuban Carlos Bringuier in New Orleans, in an attempt to infiltrate Bringuier’s Cuban Student Directorate (DRE) group, a manual that Bringuier tried to sell over the internet a few years ago.

Then Oswald enlisted as a cadet in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an  organization co-founded by early aviation pioneers Cord Meyer, Sr. , the father of Cord Meyer, Jr., and D. H. Byrd, the owner of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) at the time fo the assassination.  Oswald’s New Orleans detachment included Captain David Ferrie, who Lone Nutters notoriously refused to acknowledge any connection with Oswald until a photo surfaced of Oswald and Ferrie together at a CAP picnic outing.

Aeolus 13 Umbra: The Assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald

Oswald again was reunited with Ferrie and his associates in New Orleans in the summer of ’63 when Oswald tried to infiltrate Bringuier’s DRE group and got into a scuffle with them while distributing Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) leaflets outside the International Trade Mart. In New Orleans Oswald arrested with Bringuier and then participated in a radio debate with him and another CIA trained psychological warriors.

A significant but little known aspect of CAP activities was their program to indictrinate CAPA cadets like Oswald as full fledged spies.

Civil Air Patrol - Plan for Loyalty Police Spies

In 1948, Pennsylvania’s Civil Air Patrol issued a press release describing an ambitious plan to meet the “possibilities of an attack on the peace of United States through fifth column subversive activities,” which would involve selecting members for intensive training in clandestine warfare, counter-insurgency, Communist methods and ideology, and the Russian language: training would be coordinated through an Army counter-intelligence school at Holabird Signal Depot in Baltimore.

As the CAP was a part-time organization, this plan would require the support of the state’s private corporations and businesses, each of which was asked to enlist at least one member of their firm in the CAP to take the counter-subversion course, while private industry was asked to subsidize the scheme. Businesses would “report via this enlistee all persons in their organization known to have Communistic or subversive tendencies.” The military link with industry was sensitive in a state that had less than twenty years ago rid itself of its loathed Coal and Iron Police, an employers’ militia which appeared to be coming back under a different guise. The….York Gazette and Daily saw the proposal as “the frank bid of CAP to constitute itself as a form of loyalty police,” while the Communist paper, The Worker, headlined “Industry Backs Labor Spy Ring in Pennsylvania Factories.”13 

[13.HCLA, Josiah W. Gitt papers, Box 2, “Correspondence” Harry E Sharkey to Governor Duff, Jan. 29, 1948; Harry E Sharkey to Senator Francis Myers, Jan. 29, 1948; News release, from state Civil Air Patrol, no date, c.Jan. 1948; Walter Lowenfels, “Industry Backs Labor Spy Ring in Pennsylvania Factories,” The Worker, March 21, 1948.]

Oswald received most of his training in the Marine Corps. Besides basic training, Oswald took and passed a high school test, and received advanced special training in radar, communications and the Russian language.

In a transcript of a Warren Commission meeting an lawyer reviews a document and asks the question as to what Oswald was learning at the Monteray Language Institute – now the Defense Language Institute in Monteray, California where soldiers are sent to learn a foreign language before being deployed overseas. Whatever document the lawyer was reading it has since disappeared, and there is no official record of Oswald attending that school, but the Marines did give him a test in the Russian language before he defected to the USSR.

North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA) correspondent in Moscow Priscilla Johnson learned about the young ex-Marine defector from John McVicker, a US embassy assistant to Richard Snyder. McVicker concluded that Oswald “…was following a pattern of behavior in which he had been tutored by [a] person or persons unknown…, it seemed to me that there was a possibility that he had been in contact with others before or during his Marine Corps tour who had guided him and encouraged him in his actions.” (24)

[24) With Oswald in USSR State Department Memorandum from John A. McVickar to Thomas Ehrlich, dated November 27, 1963, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 18, p. 155, CE 941]

In her notes Johnson wrote that she believed Oswald had help in defecting – and “He seemed to hint at this.”
Another reporter, Aline Mosby, UPI – “It sounded to me as if he had rehearsed these sentences.”

The book The Mole, about CIA-KGB double-agent Popov – details how agents are trained in counter-surveillance techniques, the same techniques used by Oswald after he left the Texas School Book Depository in the hour after the assassination. After walking ten blocks east on Elm, Oswald got on a bus returning to the scene of the assassination. Getting off the bus stuck in traffic, he got a cab that he took five blocks past his rooming house and then walkded back. That’s trained counter-intelligence craft.

The late professor of political science Phil Melanson wrote a book “Spy Saga” that laid out Oswald’s intelligence connections. Melanson said that years after the assassination Dallas Police chief Jesse Curry was still “haunted” that “Oswald was trained” in interrogation techniques and resisting interrogation techniques.”
Asst. Dallas DA William Alexander said Oswald had great self-control and that it seemed that “…he had been rehearsed or programmed to meet the situation he found himself in.”

Capt. Fritz stated that Oswald was so good a answering and refusing to answer questions that Fritz asked him if he had any training in interrogation techniques. Fritz said that “I suspected that he had some training in sabotage from the way he talked and acted. He acted like a person who was prepared for what he was doing.”

Dallas D.A. Henry Wade himself said Oswald “had his inspiration from someone else.”

Former CIA agent Bob Baer followed Oswald’s trail to Mexico City and said on his TV Show – that Oswald was following trained intelligence crafts and techniques – though Baer would hav you believe he was trained by the Russians or Cubans.

Since all intelligence agencies practice the same basic intelligence techniques, the fact that Oswald was trained in such crafts, as Allen Dulles called them, does not betray who exactly trained him or which agency he was working for. In 1963 one would assume it was the CIA, but we now know there are dozens of federal intelligence agencies, and as far as the JFK assassination narrative goes, it is more likely Oswald was trained and working for either the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) or the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intellilgence (ACSI) – Army Intelligence, whose officers were all over Dallas and Dealey Plaza. 


Brandon said...

great write up Bill. How fluid were the dozen or so intelligence agencies with each other? In reading, or attempting to read up on men like Ed Lansdale and John Adrian O'hare it seems they flip from one branch to the next as their mission dictates. Is this the case? Is the CIA dangled out, like the mob as some rogue boogie man that the JFK hit could be pinned to... avoiding more corrupting allegations if the acting players actually came from a well oiled Pentagon machine?

Yes, a CIA ambush plan (Carl Jenkins), and yea, a CIA team of Cuban Exiles (Rip Robertson), and maybe even a CIA mastermind (Jake Esterline, David Morales, William Harvey), but ultimately an operation ran by Military Intelligence Reserve units.

russtarby said...

astute observations, as usual, Bill.

For more on Oswald's earliest intelligence roles, there's a great book by Australian Greg R. Parker called "Lee Harvey Oswald's Cold War: Why the Kennedy Assassination should be Reinvestigated - Volumes One & Two."
His meticulous research strongly suggests that Oswald was groomed for covert intelligence service probably from childhood, and certainly since his early-teens when he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol in New Orleans.

I have yet to read Gary Hill's new book, "The Other Oswald: A Wilderness of Mirrors," but judging from early reviews it promises to broaden our understanding of the life of the enigmatic Lee Harvey Oswald.