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FTR #1035 Interview #5 with Jim DiEugenio about “Destiny Betrayed”

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: The fifth of a planned long series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio about his triumphal analysis of President Kennedy’s assassination and New Orleans Jim Garrison’s heroic investigation of the killing, this program begins analysis of the development of the legend (intelligence cover) of Lee Harvey Oswald.

(Listeners can order Destiny Betrayed and Jim’s other books, as well as supplementing those volumes with articles about this country’s political assassinations at his website Kennedys and KingJim is also a regular guest and expert commentator on Black Op Radio.)

This week’s discussion begins with a synopsis of the career of James Jesus Angleton, the long-time CIA chief of counterintelligence. Long pre-occupied with the matter of defectors from the Soviet Union, Angleton undertook a program of running false defectors to the U.S.S.R. in order to gain better intelligence about that nation.

The number of “defectors” to the Soviet Union expanded exponentially, leading State Department officer Otto Otepka to query the CIA as to which of them were genuine defectors, and which were actually left-cover spooks. One of the defectors about which he inquired was Lee Harvey Oswald, and a CIA reply about Oswald was marked “SECRET.”

Otepka’s career nosedived after this.

Lee Harvey Oswald: Ersatz Communist

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 164-165.

. . . . He was first taken off of sensitive cases. Stories began to appear in the press that his job could be eliminated. He was asked to take another position in State but he declined. He was then called before a Senate Committee to explain his methods for issuing security clearances. This happened four times in less than three years. He still would not resign or suspend his defector investigation. Spies, phone taps, and listening devices were then planted in his office. His office started to be searched after hours and his trash was scoured for any of his notes. Even his house was being surveilled. Otepka could not understand what was happening to him. He could only conclude that the sensitive study of American defectors hidden in his safe was behind it all. That safe was later drilled into after he was thrown out of his original office and reassigned. Whoever drilled it then used a tiny mirror to determine the combination. The safecracker then removed its contents. On November 5, 1963 Otepka was formally removed from his job at State. Later on, author Jim Hougan asked him if he had been able to figure out if Oswald was a real or false defector. Otepka replied, “We had not made up our minds when my safe was drilled and we were thrown out of the office.” Just two and a half weeks after his forcible departure from State, Oswald, the man he had studied for months on end, was accused of killing President Kennedy. . . .

David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald in Civil Air Patrol unit, which included Barry Seal.

Against the background of the false defector program, we begin analysis of Oswald, the Marxist Marine.

As we have discussed in other programs and posts, in his teens, Oswald was part of a Civil Air Patrol unit commanded by David Ferrie, the long-time intelligence officer and the first focal point of Jim Garrison’s investigation. (As chronicled by Daniel Hopsicker, that same unit also contained Barry Seal, the longtime CIA pilot and a key player in the Iran-Contra related drug trafficking.)

Interestingly and significantly, as Oswald and his fellow CAP cadets were gaining operational access to military bases–suggesting some significant connections to military and CIA by leader Ferrie–Oswald began to express and pursue alleged Communist/Marxist/Soviet inclinations to some high school peers. At the same time, he was also giving voice to a desire to join the military.

Eventually, Oswald joined the Marines. During his tenure in the Marine Corps, his pro-Marxist/pro-Soviet leanings and his security status both escalated:

  1. Training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Oswald got a Security Clearance.
  2. He eventually was stationed at Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan, from which the CIA-connected U-2 spy plane flew. Bear in mind that Oswald’s Marxist/Communist professions continued apace during this time.
  3. Oswald was actually in charge of physical security for the U-2 at one point in his tour of duty at Atsugi–remarkable for a self-professed Marxist.
  4. While in Japan, he came in contact with Richard Case Nagell, a deep-cover intelligence officer assigned to play a double agent. Eventually, Nagell was assigned by his [ostensible] Soviet handlers to kill Oswald, whom they felt was going to be a fall guy for a plot to kill JFK, and use that as pretext for a war either against the U.S.S.R. and/or Cuba. Nagell is the focal point of the remarkable book The Man Who Knew Too Much by Dick Russell, who was interviewed in FTR #54.
  5. CIA officer, anti-Castro lynchpin and future Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt also turned up in Japan at the same time as Oswald, operating in close proximity to the U-2 operations.
  6. During his Marine Corps tenure, Oswald stated to associate David Bucknell that he would go to the Soviet Union on an undercover intelligence operation and return a hero. Bucknell stated that Oswald was no Communist.
  7. Another Marine associate of Oswald’s–Jim Botelho–also said Oswald was no Communist and that, if he had been, Botelho would have taken violent action against him.
  8. Oswald had access to sensitive radar information pertaining to the U-2 project and also knew the radio codes for his base. After his “defection” to the U.S.S.R., he was the talk of the base. Nonetheless, the radio codes were not changed.
  9. The lone associate of Oswald who corroborated his dubious Marxist credentials–Kerry Thornley–turned up later in New Orleans, networking with Oswald and the other players in Oswald’s apparent pro-Castro activities. We will cover this in future broadcasts.
  10. While in the Marines, Oswald developed a proficient command of the Russian language–a difficult tongue to master. He appears to have attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
  11. Oswald was a lousy shot in a branch of the service–the Marines–that placed a premium on marksmanship. Labeled a “shitbird” by his fellow Marines for his lack of proficiency with a rifle, Oswald lacked the extraordinary marksmanship required to do what he allegedly did in Dallas.

The circumstances of Oswald’s “defection” to the Soviet Union are suspicious as well:

  1. Oswald was given a hardship discharge with just a few months remaining on his enlistment tour. He got this in an inordinately short amount of time. He was supposed to take care of his mother, and yet his brother Robert was there to care for her, making Lee’s presence there unnecessary.
  2. Oswald booked his steamship passage from the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, headed up by Clay Shaw, who was the focal point of Jim Garrison’s trial.
  3. Oswald ostensibly was going to Europe to attend Albert Schweitzer College, an obscure Swiss institution that the Swiss police required two months to locate.
  4. He defected to the Soviet Union from Helsinki, Finland. His stay there raises several questions, including the fact that he stayed at the Torni Hotel, a five-star, luxury hotel.
  5. After leaving the Torni Hotel, he stayed at the Hotel Klaus Kurki, another high-end institution. How Oswald was able to pay for his stay at these institutions is a mystery–he did not have enough money in his Marine Corps pay checks to do this.
  6. His selection of Helsinki is significant, also, because the Soviet Embassy there was the only one that could issue a travel visa to the Soviet Union in a little more than a week. It was the only Embassy that could do this. How did Oswald come to know this?

Discussion

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