On Saturday, June 27, 1964, the Dallas Morning News ran a front-page article written by/accredited to Hugh Aynesworth under the heading caption, “Secret Diary – Oswald’s Thoughts Bared.” This was supplemented with a full page copyrighted article captioned, “The Lee Harvey Oswald Diary – October 16, 1959: I Want Russian Citizenship.” The article thereafter received (understandably) wide dissemination, not to mention notoriety, including synopsised versions in the various Washington, D. C. newspapers on the following day, Sunday, June 28th. The FBI’s original memorandum constructed in conjunction with the publication of the article, a memo written on June 28, 1964, by Walter Sullivan and addressed to Alan Belmont, stated that “the original diary was delivered by the Dallas Police to the Bureau and a photographic reproduction of it appeared as Exhibit 36 in the Bureau’s initial report on the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.” The Sullivan memorandum went on to further state that “Aynesworth’s article carefully follows the diary and quotes voluminously from it. It is obvious he has a copy of the diary and that this is the basis for his article.” On this same date, June 28, ASIC of the Dallas FO was telephonically contacted by Bureau HQ at which time he advised Washington that he and the DFO “did not know the source of the information for Aynesworth.” However, it was further reported that “Aynesworth is a police reporter for the Dallas Morning News and has been anti-Bureau throughout the whole investigation.”(FBI: Record No: 124-10369-10009; Record Series HQ: Agency File No. 62-117290-Admin. Folder – V8; specifically: Record No. 124-10030-10464: Record Series HQ: FBI Case File No.: 105-82555-4377)
In this same memorandum Kyle Clark revealed to Bureau HQ that on repeated occasions Dallas Assistant DA, William Alexander, had “contacted the Dallas office and wanted photographic copies of all the property obtained by the police department and turned over to the FBI.” Alexander’s rationale for these requests was in order to aide DA Henry Wade in his testimony before the Commission. The requests were rebuffed by the Dallas FO and Alexander had been referred to the Dallas Police Department “as they had been given photographs of all of the property.” Because of the information Aynesworth had included in his article, and other items mentioned by Aynesworth, “ASAC Clark and SAC Shanklin are of the opinion that Alexander is probably the source of the (Aynesworth) leak.” At the time of the article, only the Warren Commission, the Dallas Police Department, and the FBI had copies of the Oswald diary. The Bureau “know we did not furnish the material to Aynesworth,” ruled out the Commission as the source of the leak, and concluded by “suspecting that Alexander or someone in the Dallas Police Department” as the source of the Aynesworth leak. The original memorandum constructed concluded further action “without making any direct inquiry,” instead alerting the Dallas office to “try and learn the source of the leak and advise the Bureau.”
The following day, June 29, 1964, Kyle Clark had a meeting with Capt. Will Fritz of the DPD at which time Fritz indicated that he had been unable, “to date,” to determine if the diary had been furnished to the Dallas Morning News “by anyone on the Dallas Police Force.” In response to this reply, Clark asked for, and obtained permission, to indicate to Fritz that the DFO felt that “it was William Alexander, the County Attorney, who sought the material in question” in the first place and thus was potentially under suspicion. Fritz’s reaction to this news was not recorded by Clark in his covering memorandum of the interview. On the same date, June 29, 1964, James Malley, FBI liaison with the Commission, discussed the article with J. Lee Rankin, advising Rankin “that reporter Aynesworth of the Dallas Morning News was not friendly and that while the Bureau would handle the Commission’s request if desired, it appeared a better approach would be for the Commission to directly contact the newspaper and request information from the newspaper as to the source of the article.” Rankin indicated to Malley that the matter would be discussed at an afternoon session with members of the Commission and the Bureau would be informed of future action.
On July 1, 1964, the Bureau received a letter “from J. Lee Rankin of the President’s Commission dated June 30, 1964, requesting a thorough investigation concerning the publication of the Lee Harvey Oswald diary by the Dallas Morning News. The letter contained the actual resolution passed by the President’s Commission,” and based upon this resolution, “ASAC Kyle Clark of the Dallas Office…was instructed to conduct immediate investigation in order that the results could be furnished to the President’s Commission at the earliest possible time.” Hoover made sure that this became “news” and an article captioned “FBI Requested to Investigate Leak of Portions of Oswald’s Diary” was published in both the Washington Post and the Washington Times Herald on June 30, 1964.
The eventual “investigation” lasted for almost eight weeks with the FBI questioning individuals from the Dallas Morning News, CBS News, Time-LIFE, the DPD and the DA’s office, though the main content of the matter was resolved, to the satisfaction of the Bureau and the Commission, by the first week of August, 1964. There were numerous investigative speed bumps along the way, with perhaps the largest one being an incident that arose on July 8, 1964. On that date Detective H. M Hart, Criminal Intelligence Section, DPD, relayed a letter to Captain W. P. Gannaway, Special Service Bureau, DPD, the “SUBJECT” matter of which is listed as: “Diary of Lee H. Oswald.” According to Hart, “confidential informant T-1” stated to Hart “that Representative Ford (fnu), a member of the Warren Commission, sold SUBJECT (i.e. Oswald diary) to the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Ford had a copy of the diary and took it to executives of LIFE magazine and also Newsweek magazine. Source states that these executives paid Marina Oswald, widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, $16,000.00 for the world copyright of the diary. Source further states that proof of this is in the hand of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.” In an “Evaluation” statement added to the bottom of his letter, Detective Hart further indicated: “Informant considered reliable; possibly true.”(A copy of this correspondence can be found at two different locations within the Dallas City Archives holdings of the Dallas Police Department: Box 13, Folder 4, File # 51; and Box 18, Folder 4, File # 12)
Two days after the Hart letter, July 10, 1964, LIFE magazine published an article that included, once again, information from Oswald’s diary. On this same date, J. Lee Rankin sent Hoover a second letter in which “the President’s Commission requested the Bureau to conduct appropriate investigation concerning circumstances surrounding the obtaining and publication of Oswald’s diary in the July 10, 1964 issue of “Life” magazine.” J. Lee Rankin had been informed of the alleged Gerald Ford leak/sale of the diary, precise date unspecified, though surviving documentation would appear to indicate that this revelation took place no later than July 10, 1964. The confidential Hart “source”, informant T-1, was revealed in a Rosen to Belmont memorandum dated July 13, 1964, to wit: “Assistant District Attorney William Alexander, Dallas County, has intimated that Representative Ford was the source of the leak of Oswald’s diary to the news media.”(FBI: Record Number: 124-10054-10322: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 105-82555-4401)
The day after the Rankin-to-Hoover letter, Supervisor Ludwig Oberndorf of the Washington Field Office “advised that the interview with Representative Gerald R. Ford, a member of the President’s Commission, had been approved…Representative Ford has requested that he be interviewed in order that he could go on record concerning this matter.” This particular communiqué had been “submitted for record purposes” only, by Rosen, though there appears little doubt that Rankin was informed of the identity of informant T-1. By the following day, July 14, 1964, the Bureau were identifying the
”two matters” of the Dallas Morning News article of June 28 and the LIFE magazine article of July 10 as being “directly related” and over the next three weeks numerous individuals were interviewed by members of the FBI though everyone interviewed “either denied or have refused to identify the source of the diary.” The investigation eventually involved members of the Washington, New York, Houston and Dallas Field Offices with a “breakthrough” occurring on July 22, 1964. On that date the Dallas FO furnished the Bureau Lab “one roll of 35 mm positive film containing photographs of the diary, as well as one roll of 35 mm negative film of this positive and Xerox prints of the pertinent pages of the Oswald diary. These 35 mm films and prints were obtained from the District Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas. In addition, the New York Office has furnished the original Xerox prints of the 12 pages of the Oswald diary that “Life” magazine obtained and published in their July 10, 1964 issue.”(FBI: Record Number: 124-10048-10258: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 105-82555-4509) As a result of comparative analysis of this material, “Laboratory examination of these items has established that the 35 mm rolls of film obtained from the Dallas District Attorney’s Office contain imperfections in their original state that are reproduced in the Xerox copies used by “Life” magazine. This shows that the “Life” magazine copies originated from the 35 mm rolls of film from the Dallas District Attorney’s Office.” Further legwork established that the Dallas DA’s office acquired their copies of the Oswald diary material, and other evidence, from the Dallas Police Department, their film “taken to the Recordak Corporation in Dallas where a 35 mm positive, 35 mm negative and 3 sets of hard copies were made for the District Attorney’s office. The “Life” magazine prints are these same ‘hard copies’ or are ‘hard copies’ subsequently made from the District Attorney’s 35 mm film.” Though the correspondence on this issue is theoretically from W. D. Griffith and addressed to Bureau Lab Chief, Ivan W. Conrad, the stenographic notations present on the documentation clearly indicate that the comparative analysis and resulting conclusions were the work of “LLS,” Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt. On the same date as the lengthy “Shaneyfelt” memorandum on this matter, July 22, 1964, the information and results of the FBI Lab analysis were supplied to the President’s Commission by way of a letter sent to J. Lee Rankin. A memorandum attached to the letter that was to be sent to the Commission (Rankin) indicated the following, by way of updated “background” information: “Extensive investigation has been conducted by our Dallas, New York, and Houston Offices in this matter. Regarding the publication of Oswald’s diary in “Life” magazine, we have now determined arrangements for the publication were handled through Paula Aynesworth, who is the wife of Hugh Aynesworth, reporter for the Dallas Morning News and who published Oswald’s diary on June 27 and 28, 1964. Paula Aynesworth received $2500 for this information from “Life” magazine.”(Ibid prior footnote in this section, as well as: FBI: Record Number: 124-10034-10316: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 62-109060-1st numbered document after serial 3524)
The FBI identification of Paula Aynesworth as a paid source of information on the Oswald diary is accurate and confirmation of this is found within the surviving papers of Holland McCombs, Corbitt Special Collections, University Archives, University of Tennessee at Martin. On June 27, 1964, Holland McCombs sent Natalie Kosek, Life Picture Bureau, Head Office, New York, a “Rush” memorandum and package. Addressed to Will Lang, Life Magazine, Time and Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, McComb’s indicated the impending arrival of a copy of “Oswald Russian Diary,” a package air expressed via American Airlines, Flight # 92, due to arrive at Kennedy Airport at 9:43 pm on the evening of June 27, 1964, Waybill # 886657. In the package were “photostatic” copies of 12 pages from the diary, but there were attached McCombs constructed stipulations to be followed prior to publication in LIFE magazine: “In page 6 should cross out three or four lines that describe Zeger. Page 7…where ‘Zeger advises me to go back to the U.S.A., etc…page 9. ‘I confided in Zeger, ‘etc… Our thoughts are that Mr. Zeger would be seriously hurt by the Communists if this were run verbatim. In the writings of Hugh Aynesworth he has changed the name to Andrei Tovli when it was something risky and left Zeger in it as a place where Oswald partied occasionally…even mentioned the part about the daughters etc.” (Holland McCombs Collection, Corbitt Special Collections, University Archives, University of Tennessee at Martin. Box 153, Folder F-9)
In addition to the Oswald diary package, McCombs included a copy of a signed agreement between LIFE magazine and Paula Eby Aynesworth, a document dated June 27, 1964. The terms of this agreement stipulated that Paula Aynesworth was to receive the sum of $2500.00 “in cash or via Western Union money order addressed to 729 North Buckner Blvd., Dallas 18, Texas, by Tuesday, the thirtieth of June, 1964.” There were other clauses in this document, including the “understanding” that Paula Aynesworth would not be held responsible in the event that “copies of above document are released by other parties than Paula Eby Aynesworth.” In his letter of accompaniment McCombs boasts of him and LIFE having a “fast leg up” on the Oswald diary material with the added comment that “here’s hoping it will be worth the $2,500.” McCombs even went so far as to suggest that Time-Life send him a “rush check…first thing Monday morning…” so that he could cash same “and hand over the cash to Mrs. Aynesworth…” McCombs also enclosed a verbatim copy of “Aynesworth’s story of diary in Dallas Morning News.”
On July 27, 1964, five days after he received original communication on the Lab examination of the 35 mm film and hard copies, J. Lee Rankin received a second letter from Hoover, a document that once again was ghost-written by Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt. In the concluding paragraph, the following was indicated: “The Xerox copies of the diary obtained from the District Attorney’s Office and the Xerox copies obtained from “Life” magazine were all examined for latent fingerprints. Seventeen latent fingerprints and three latent palm prints were developed on the copies from “Life” magazine. Five latent fingerprints and four latent palm prints were developed on the copies from the District Attorney’s Office. One of the latent fingerprints on the copies from the District Attorney’s Office is identical with the left thumb print of a William Franklin Alexander, who may be identical with William F. Alexander, Assistant District Attorney, Dallas, Texas. The other fingerprints and palm prints have not been identified.”(FBI: Record Number: 124-10044-10266: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 62-109060-3567.) This Hoover-to-Rankin letter was two pages in length, but there was a third page “Note For Dallas” attached to the letter, a note not sent to Rankin: “The Dallas Office should obtain, if possible, the fingerprints and palm prints of William F. Alexander and W. H. Davis, Jr., of the District Attorney’s Office. They should also obtain, if possible, fingerprints and palm prints of Hugh Aynesworth and Paula Aynesworth for comparison with the unidentified latent fingerprints and palm prints…”
On July 29, 1964, an interesting “Airtel” was sent to SAC, Dallas, from the Director. This three page document contained a number of suggestions for clarification for the individual responsible for generating reports on the Oswald diary information “leak,” SA Robert P. Gemberling of the Dallas FO. The very first “clarification” was a note that Gemberling’s report of his “interview with Holland McCombs, Dallas Correspondent for “Life” magazine, should not be included in the next Oswald report.” The airtel contained numerous follow-up suggestions for Gemberling, as well as omissions to be clarified, and concluded with this statement: “Investigation indicates W. F. Alexander, Assistant District Attorney, Dallas County, Texas, is a strong suspect and our laboratory has determined that copies of Oswald’s dairy in possession of “Life” magazine originated from the film that was in possession of the Dallas District Attorney’s office furnished by District Attorney Henry Wade.” Five days later, August 3, 1964, aspects of the investigation were halted in Dallas. In an Airtel sent to SAC Dallas, Shanklin was “advised against” fingerprinting the individuals described in the prior Airtel of July 27, 1964 because “newspaper officials were touchy about this matter and instructed their employees to clear any interviews concerning the diary with managing editor. We have proven ‘Life’ magazine’s copies of diary came from Dallas DA’s office and any effort to obtain prints from principals involved could result in unwarranted publicity or possible embarrassment. It is recommended no prints be sought from these people unless Commission specifically requests.”(FBI: Record Number: 124-10044-10266: Record Series: HQ: 105-82555-4559) As far as I have been able to ascertain, the Warren Commission pressed this issue no further. In a two page letter that accompanied the Hoover-to-Dallas Airtel of August 3, 1964, time was taken to once again lash out at the DA’s office, this script though assigned to Hoover actually the prose of “RDR” – Richard D. Rogge: “Since the initiation of this investigation District Attorney Wade has been a thorn in the side of the Bureau by his impulsive manner of making inaccurate press releases resulting in confusion. Wade’s Office has been negligent in the handling of evidence and he has shown a lackadaisical attitude in this regard. Further, in his testimony before the President’s Commission Wade raised several points which apparently were construed by the Commission to substantiate uninformed charges that Oswald could have been an informant of this Bureau. This necessitated an unusual amount of work on our part to refute.”
The investigation dwindled onward, Marina Oswald denying on August 8, 1964, that though she had been contacted repeatedly by Hugh Aynesworth and had been interviewed by him “she told Aynesworth she did not care to discuss the diary.” Gerald Ford was interviewed by Cartha “Deke” DeLoach on August 17, 1964, at which time “he desired to unequivocally state, and to furnish a signed statement if necessary, that he did not leak the information in question.” This information was presented to the Commission, by way of a wrap-up letter dated August 26, 1964, from Hoover to Rankin, a communiqué that ended: “No further action is being taken by this Bureau concerning the leak of Oswald’s diary to the Dallas Morning News and Life magazine in the absence of a specific request from you.” None, it would appear, ever came thereafter from Rankin.
In the end it would appear that the “leak” of the Oswald diary to the media came about as a result of acquisition of materials from the District Attorney’s Office by the Aynesworth’s. Thereafter Mrs. Aynesworth at least got something out of it - $2500.00 – while the Bureau and the Commission investigated, to a dull conclusion, the entire affair. On July 13, 1964, William Alexander was interviewed by the FBI, vehemently denying any knowledge of the entire matter. It was further reported that Alexander stated, “President Johnson, John Edgar Hoover, the FBI and the Warren Commission ‘could kiss my a—‘…” On the same date, “Mr. William A McKenzie, attorney for Marina Oswald, on 7-6-64 said he sold publication rights of the diary to Life Magazine on 7-1-64. A Mr. Schad of Life Magazine obtained the diary from Hugh Aynesworth of the Dallas Morning News. It is noted Aynesworth appears to be deeply involved in this matter and when interviewed, has refused to reveal the source of his information and was uncooperative.”(FBI: Record Number: 124-10172-10043: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 105-82555-4522)
In addition to the document references indicated in this posting, one can also find relevant materials in: FBI: Record Number: 124-10369-10009: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 62-117290-Administration Folder-V8; and: FBI: Record Number: 124-10371-10183: Record Series: HQ: Agency File Number: 62-117290-Administration Folder – E11:
"Aynesworth was anti FBI"?- My eye.- Hugh Aynesworth was a point man for the FBI [and though retired, still is really] But no-one has ever revealed where that Oswald diary came from...not ever. Another fact about Hugh Aynesworth----- Was supposedly present in Dealey Plaza when the shots were fired then supposedly went on site for the Tippit slayer search...then hoofed it all the way to the Texas Theater in time for the police grab there...interviewed the rooming house lady that afternoon...and was in the police basement when Ruby blasted Oswald but for some benign reason was never called as a witness in any subsequent investigation ..Warren..HSCA or otherwise. Some baby-sitter that had watched Lee when he was 3 years old was called before the Commission. Henry Wade [who witnessed nothing] was called before the Commission but Mr Everywhere And Saw Everything That Weekend Hugh wasn't.