Harvey Oswald was not a real Communist, despite leaving a bright
red trail wherever he went. Oswald, upon close examination, leaves
the objective individual with only one reasonable conclusion: Oswald's
devotion to Marxism was not authentic.
the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Oswald's politics serve as
an answer for a crime that suffers from lingering questions about
motive. Oswald emerges as a social malcontent and a Communist sympathizer,
motive enough, in the minds of many.
his recent LewRockwell.com article, "On
a Bright Sunny Day in Dallas," Gary North cites evidence
of Oswald's alleged Communism and treats the case as a matter of
a leftist traitor shooting the President. The problem with this
scenario is that Oswald's Marxism can be shown to be utterly implausible.
know the official story of Oswald by now. A troubled youth dabbling
in Communism, joining the Marines, defecting to Russia, shooting
the President. Oswald's background was front-page news and his ideological
beliefs were closely scrutinized.
the surface, Oswald's politics appeared to be an open-and-shut case.
He made numerous public pronouncements on the superiority of Communism.
In the Marines he was nicknamed "Oswaldskovich," making
no secret of his leftist sympathies. He renounced his citizenship
and lived in Russia for two years, offering to give military secrets
to the Soviets. After coming back to America, Oswald continued his
pro-Communist work in New Orleans and Dallas.
however, troubling questions arose. Why would a devoted Communist
join the Marines? How was Oswald able to defect, then un-defect,
without drawing more attention from the U.S. government? What would
be gained for his causes by assassinating Kennedy?
answers to many of the questions surrounding Oswald start to clear
up when we abandon the assumption that Oswald was a genuine Communist.
Given what we know about Oswald's behavior and what we know about
the U.S. intelligence operations in the 1950s and 60s, it is more
likely that Oswald was engaged in clandestine work for an American
intelligence agency and his Communism was a cover for his activities.
claimed that he began to move toward Communism while living in New
York City in his early teens. There is no evidence for this, beyond
Oswald's own claim, and those closest to him have refuted it. The
first public displays by Oswald regarding Communism appear when
he was 16 and living in New Orleans. The sudden conversion to Marxism
occurred only after Oswald joined the New Orleans Civilian Air Patrol,
headed by noted anti-Communist David Ferrie.
1956, having just turned 17, Oswald enthusiastically joined the
Marine Corps. Amazingly, Oswald continued his periodic Communist
posturing, and perhaps more astounding, received no censure from
his superiors. It stretches the imagination to consider that the
Marine Corps would have blithely suffered a Commie Marine, unless
it was artificial. Some of Oswald's fellow Marines have since pointed
this out, going on record to state the obvious – that Oswald was
not a genuine leftist.
are several clues about Oswald's time in the Marines that are consistent
with building a cover story and training for intelligence work.
One of the most important being the evidence that he studied at
the Monterey School of the Army (today called The Defense Language
Institute) in Monterey, California. It is unlikely that Oswald,
with only a 10th-grade education, could have mastered
a difficult language in such a short period of time without the
kind of intensive language training offered by the government at
Monterey. It is also highly unlikely that Oswald would have received
training there unless his Communism was a fabrication.
indication of Oswald's true identity comes in the ease with which
he obtained a discharge from the Marines in 1959. Oswald also had
little trouble traveling to the Soviet Union, despite serving at
a sensitive air base in Atsugi, Japan, home of the U-2 spy plane.
Oswald would seem to be unable to even afford a voyage to Europe
at the time, given his meager bank account, yet little more than
a month after leaving the Marines, Oswald arrived in Moscow.
his arrival, Oswald was immediately ordered out of the U.S.S.R.
by Soviet officials. Despite allegedly having no training in espionage,
Oswald proceeded to display great acumen in manipulating the bureaucracy
and entering the Soviet Union. A suspicious-looking suicide attempt
bought Oswald some time, which he used to vigorously campaign on
behalf of his loyalty to Russia.
these pronouncements were not made to Soviet officials, but to American
ones at the U.S. Embassy. It is illogical for a legitimate defector
to advertise his willingness to give radar secrets and other military
information in this manner. One would expect the Americans to move
swiftly to prevent such action, yet U.S. officials reacted serenely.
Perhaps the real audience was the Soviets, listening through their
bugging devices, who eventually allowed Oswald to stay.
of the clearest pieces of evidence that U.S. officials knew Oswald
was not an authentic defector came with the downing of the U-2 spy
plane in 1961. Presumably, Oswald was one of the few people in the
Soviet Union at the time of its downing that had first-hand technical
knowledge of the craft's operation. U-2 pilot Gary Powers admitted
that Oswald, who openly advertised his desire to share secrets with
the Soviets, could have made possible the downing of the plane.
it would seem, should have been painted as one of the most damaging
traitors of the Cold War, yet there was nary a ripple. After more
than two years in the USSR, Oswald returned to the U.S. without
incident. The U.S. State Department expedited his case and even
loaned him money to return home. Government intelligence agencies
claimed no interest in Oswald. On the whole, skepticism over Oswald's
defection to Russia is warranted. His trip seems less about ideology
and more about earning credentials for domestic spying in the United
the period between Oswald's return to America in the summer of 1962
and the assassination, Oswald divided his time between Dallas and
New Orleans. He attempted associations with left-wing groups such
as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Congress for Racial
Equality (CORE), and most notably, the pro-Castro Fair Play for
Cuba Committee (FPCC). He garnered a small amount of publicity for
himself and the FPCC while in New Orleans, all of it bad. With each
association, it seemed as though Oswald's actions were designed
to leave a paper trail connecting him and his politics to each group.
was the only member of the New Orleans chapter of the FPCC, and
his communiqués with the organization are suspicious. For
example, Oswald wrote to the group's headquarters about a street
scuffle while handing out leaflets before the incident took actually
place. Oswald's interest in the ACLU also seems phony. He wrote
to the organization asking them for information on meetings and
members while living with two members of the ACLU and having already
spoken at one of their meetings.
ostensibly pro-Communist activities in the United States are also
implausible because of who he associated with. When Oswald flirted
with a CORE voter registration drive in Louisiana he was accompanied
by the aforementioned right-winger David Ferrie. While in New Orleans
he was hired to work at a coffee company owned by a known Castro
opponent and seen conversing with government intelligence operatives.
His friend and patron in Dallas was the noted anti-Communist George
one-man FPCC show was based at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans, which
was also the office of rabid anti-Communist and former FBI agent
Guy Bannister. It defies credulity to believe that Bannister, who
was heavily involved in anti-Castro activity, would co-exist with
Oswald. With many credible reports of Oswald associating with known
right-wingers, one can understand how Oswald's leftist credentials
have come to be doubted.
with better knowledge of the government's Cold War domestic spying
agenda, Oswald's activities in 1962 and throughout his brief life
make more sense. Subsequent research has continually unearthed more
testimony and more links to Oswald and the political forces opposite
from his professed Marxism. Some of his associates, such as DeMohrenschildt
and Bannister, have themselves been connected with U.S. intelligence
the final analysis, Oswald's actions and the reactions of those
around him betray his image as a confused Marxist. His history is
not consistent with that picture. Rather, it is consistent with
that of an agent-provocateur, trained by the military and accorded
all the necessary credentials to infiltrate and involve himself
in the activities of subversive groups within the United States.
him mail] is a professor of history and government at Ellsworth
Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.