Lee 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.
In 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.
In 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.
We 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.
On 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.
Swiftly, 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?
The 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.
Oswald 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.
In 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.
There 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.
Further 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.
Upon 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.
Incredibly, 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.
One 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.
Oswald, 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 States.
In 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.
Oswald 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.
Oswald's 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 DeMohrenschildt.
Oswald's 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.
Today, 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 agencies.
In 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.
January 7, 2004