Jump to content
The Education Forum

John Abt and Lee Harvey Oswald


Recommended Posts

During his interrogation by the Dallas Police in November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald requested the services of John Abt. He is recorded as saying: "I want that attorney in New York, Mr. Abt. I don't know him personally but I know about a case that he handled some years ago, where he represented the people who had violated the Smith Act... I don't know him personally, but that is the attorney I want... If I can't get him, then I may get the American Civil Liberties Union to send me an attorney." However, Abt was on holiday in Connecticut and later told reporters that he had received no request either from Oswald or from anyone on his behalf to represent him, before he was shot dead by Jack Ruby.

John Abt was at the time the best known legal representative of the American Communist Party. This request from Oswald has been used to argue that he was part of some left-wing conspiracy to kill JFK. Of course, if this was the case, Apt would have been the last person he would have chosen.

On his 80th birthday Abt admitted that he joined the American Communist Party in the 1930s: "I am sure that this announcement will surprise no one here tonight. But it seems to me a rather sad commentary on the state of the freedom of political association in this country that I had to wait for half a century after the event before I felt free, publicly and proudly, to confirm a fact which anyone who knows anything at all about me has assumed to be true for these many years."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAabtJ.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • Replies 78
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I have just been watching "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald". On DVP's youtube channel.

Just wondering if Mr Abt was approached to be Mr Oswald's council for this mock trial, or anyone from ACLU. Also I was wondering how Mr Spence was chosen to be council?

While I enjoy Mr Spence's arguments, I think it would have been good to have had someone that Mr Oswald had asked for as his representation.

I find Mr Bugliousi almost rude in his fast talking, lack of eye contact and rushing through questions and examinations. It almost seems like he doesn't want to be there and really can't be bothered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always wondered why LHO did not ask for Abt while he was complaining to the press about not having legal representation, that was the perfect opportuninty to get word to Abt.

Instead, he asked for "ANYBODY." "Anybody" I would assume would mean "anybody." Any old unemployed no-win no-fee first year law graduate off the streets, would be "anybody."

It appears from the moment he was lifted to the moment he was shot, he continued to demand a lawyer, ANY lawyer.

But all "reasonable" people know, it was imperative he was kept away from ANY lawyer.

________________________________________________

In 1983 I spend a few days trying to locate Abt. But from John's post he may well have been dead by then. I tried the ACLU in several places, beginning with New York. Has anyone ever tracked him down? Of course they could not let LHO have an attorney because that was quite dangerous for the conspirators.

Dawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From looking at his Wiki page I think Mr Abt may have passed in 1991.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Abt

Also from the same page

He did not learn of Oswald's request until the following day. He told reporters that he had received no request either from Oswald or from anyone on his behalf to represent him, and so was in no position to give a definite answer. He said later that "if I were requested to represent him, I felt that it would probably be difficult, if not impossible, for me to do so because of my commitments to other clients."[1] - Abt.

I think if Mr Oswald asked for him or anyone as representation, they would have made a decent effort to contact them?

Was anyone apart from Dean Andrews contacted to represent Mr Oswald?

Dave, I agree, he did not ask for Abt by name during any of his televised interviews, which is strange as he was smart enough to know that would be the best way to get word out.

I enjoyed Mr Frazier's testimony during the 'Trial'. At least he has the decency to look ashamed when he says he was friends with Mr Oswald and that he thought Oswald was a nice man. I am only up to part 6.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In relation to the topic of the thread: what is the critical consensus concerning Oswald's attempts to contact John Abt? Personally I don't think Oswald requested his services at all.

Lee, I don't know about any consenus. This is another of those issues where I may as well have beat my head against a brick wall instead of putting forward the argument that Oswald never asked for the ACLU OR Abt. Less painful.

Most don't doubt he did in part because H Lewis Nichols said he did. After all, this guy was head of the Dallas Bar Association.

But here's a little background on him: He was a WWII vet, and still in the Army Reserves at the time of the assassination. He previously worked as a City Attorney, and like Ruby was extremely familar with both the building, and its occupants. The Army Reserves were a recruiting ground for Army Intel. Nichols had no problem seeing Oswald; immediately afterwards giving an "impromptu" press conference, confirming that Oswald's legal rights were being looked after, and that Oswald had declined his assistance, wanting either Abt or someone from the ACLU. In 1969, Nichols wrote a piece for Reader's Digest in which he stated that after Nixon's nomination, he was summoned to a strategy meeting at the Mayflower Hotel. Nixon had a "special assignment" for him. It was to head up Operation Integrity which involved heading up a volunteer army of 100,000 to ensure a fair count in the election. It seems Nichols and Nixon went waaaay back...

FWIW, there may be a link between Ruth Paine and John Abt. When Harold Ware was killed in an auto accident near Baltimore about l935, Abt succeeded him as leader of the underground in Washington. Abt not only succeeded him in the job, he married Ware's widow, Jessica Smith. Smith was a member of the AFSC, and had been to Russia in the '20's on a relief mission.

She (Smith) was also a Socialist. Abt is most often associated with the CPUSA, but there was a time that the Communists (under Browder's leadership) actally supported Norman Thomas' (Socialist Party) presidential campaigns. Thomas, like RP, was a native of Ohio, and her entire family supported him.

As far as I am aware, RP had been very active in the AFSC at least up to moving to DFW.

Smith's trip to Russia had actually been with first husband, Ware, and involved "Agricultural collectivization projects", as well as relief work. Back in the US of A, Ware and Smith conducted a nine month survey of life in rural America, with the results being published in the "American Farmer". Naturally, Ware concluded that the Soviet system was far superior.

A snip from RP's testimony:

Mr. Jenner.

Have your parents had any interests in political matters?

Mrs. Paine.

Yes. Most of that interest I absorbed from hearing it told about, rather than

being around when it was going on. Most of the activity was in New York and,

as I have said, I moved 2 weeks after I was born from New York. But they have

always been interested in what is called the cooperative movement.

Mr. Jenner.

Tell me what you understand----

Mrs. Paine.

My understanding is that the consumer owns the business. In other words, holds

the shares, the stock that control, and determine the management of the

business, and share in the profits.

Mr. Jenner.

Is that something like what I would call a farmers cooperative?

Mrs. Paine.

I don't know what farmers cooperative is.

Mr. Jenner.

Would you describe what you understand the cooperative movement is?

Mrs. Paine.

I think consumers cooperative is somewhat different. I am not certain what

farmers cooperative is. I know that they were interested in and voted for

Norman Thomas when they were in New York.

Mr. Jenner.

Have you ever had any interests of that nature, that is an active political

interest in a political party? For example, the Socialist Party which Mr.

Thomas was the head, or leader?

Mrs. Paine.

No.

Mr. Jenner.

I take it from this thumbnail sketch of your life up to the present moment,

your interests were largely in the Friends and recreation for children, people

who needed help. Your interests were in the social area, but not a political

party interest.

Mrs. Paine.

That is a correct statement.

********************

The AFSC was started up by a group of socialist Quakers in order to help draft resisters. RP is a political animal - despite her denial. All her "charity" work and work with exchange programs had one aim: helping undermine communism and the Soviet Union.

What got me looking at this was reading somewhere that Abt's home phone number was unlisted. Don't know about the US - but here, if a phone number is unlisted, the phone company won't give out the number - it's the whole reason why people have it unlisted to start with. If it was unlisted - then Lee could NOT have got Abt's home number from the operator as claimed by the DPD.

Edited by Greg Parker
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From looking at his Wiki page I think Mr Abt may have passed in 1991.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Abt

Also from the same page

He did not learn of Oswald's request until the following day. He told reporters that he had received no request either from Oswald or from anyone on his behalf to represent him, and so was in no position to give a definite answer. He said later that "if I were requested to represent him, I felt that it would probably be difficult, if not impossible, for me to do so because of my commitments to other clients."[1] - Abt.

I think if Mr Oswald asked for him or anyone as representation, they would have made a decent effort to contact them?

Was anyone apart from Dean Andrews contacted to represent Mr Oswald?

Dave, I agree, he did not ask for Abt by name during any of his televised interviews, which is strange as he was smart enough to know that would be the best way to get word out.

I enjoyed Mr Frazier's testimony during the 'Trial'. At least he has the decency to look ashamed when he says he was friends with Mr Oswald and that he thought Oswald was a nice man. I am only up to part 6.

Beware of the CIApedi..I mean Wikipedia's any mentioning of the circumstances surrounding the JFK Murder. You may have to dig deeper just to be sure of the contents posted on Wiki's site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In relation to the topic of the thread: what is the critical consensus concerning Oswald's attempts to contact John Abt? Personally I don't think Oswald requested his services at all.

Lee, I don't know about any consenus. This is another of those issues where I may as well have beat my head against a brick wall instead of putting forward the argument that Oswald never asked for the ACLU OR Abt. Less painful.

Most don't doubt he did in part because H Lewis Nichols said he did. After all, this guy was head of the Dallas Bar Association. ...

I don't doubt that the request was made, in part for the same reason you cite. It is, nevertheless, hearsay inasmuch as Lewis himself did not talk with Oswald directly, but allowed the police to act as go-between, certainly a venal if not mortal sin for any sort of "defense" attorney, eh?

I'm actually quite surprised that any criminal attorney would not insist upon hearing that from the accused, especially when they are not necessarily soliciting their own services to him, but coming to him as a "disinterested party" assuring that his rights were being considered. I spoke with Greg Olds, then-president of the Dallas ACLU who did likewise, about this a few years ago, and he said that he "regrets" not having pursued the question more diligently, especially in light of subsequent events.

But to play Devil's advocate here for a moment, it does appear that Abt was fairly well known at the time as a "Communist lawyer," or "lawyer to Communists." Even if Oswald had not requested his counsel, it would not be inconceivable that anyone wishing to portray Oswald as a Communist might well manufacture that bit of data to "prove" his leanings.

Wasn't Ruth Paine also part of this scenario, where he'd asked her to contact Abt for him (and maybe she decided otherwise)?

What got me looking at this was reading somewhere that Abt's home phone number was unlisted. Don't know about the US - but here, if a phone number is unlisted, the phone company won't give out the number - it's the whole reason why people have it unlisted to start with. If it was unlisted - then Lee could NOT have got Abt's home number from the operator as claimed by the DPD.

As far as I know, it's still true that there phone numbers that are "unlisted" - that is, unavailable - and those that are "unpublished" - available, but not through printed telephone books; directory assistance would have it. Often, people would say "unlisted" when they really meant "unpublished," making the two colloquially - but not technically - equivalent.

While it's quite possible or even probable that an attorney's home phone is unlisted, it seems unlikely that his office number would be either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In relation to the topic of the thread: what is the critical consensus concerning Oswald's attempts to contact John Abt? Personally I don't think Oswald requested his services at all.

Lee, I don't know about any consenus. This is another of those issues where I may as well have beat my head against a brick wall instead of putting forward the argument that Oswald never asked for the ACLU OR Abt. Less painful.

Most don't doubt he did in part because H Lewis Nichols said he did. After all, this guy was head of the Dallas Bar Association. ...

I don't doubt that the request was made, in part for the same reason you cite. It is, nevertheless, hearsay inasmuch as Lewis himself did not talk with Oswald directly, but allowed the police to act as go-between, certainly a venal if not mortal sin for any sort of "defense" attorney, eh?

If that's the case, Duke, then the b*stard lied through his teeth to the WC.

Also... Nichols was not a criminal lawyer. There was a separate Criminal Bar Association - yet all those concerned lawyers and professors allegedly phoned the NON criminal Dallas Bar Association - which just happened to have as members several lawyers who represented Dallas Oil and other Big Business. Apparently the Criminal Bar Association didn't give a toss about Oswald but good ol' H Lewis did? Yeah, right.

I'm actually quite surprised that any criminal attorney would not insist upon hearing that from the accused, especially when they are not necessarily soliciting their own services to him, but coming to him as a "disinterested party" assuring that his rights were being considered. I spoke with Greg Olds, then-president of the Dallas ACLU who did likewise, about this a few years ago, and he said that he "regrets" not having pursued the question more diligently, especially in light of subsequent events.

You obviously tossed him some soft balls. After joining a previous incarnation of my website and promising to answer any questions, he quickly disappeared when I asked about the Raggios and one or two other things.

But to play Devil's advocate here for a moment, it does appear that Abt was fairly well known at the time as a "Communist lawyer," or "lawyer to Communists." Even if Oswald had not requested his counsel, it would not be inconceivable that anyone wishing to portray Oswald as a Communist might well manufacture that bit of data to "prove" his leanings.

The ACLU does not do criminal matters. Nor did Abt (though Abt did later represent Black Panther, Angela Davis, on kidnap and murder charges, clearly those matters were subsidiary to the politics of the case). Whether you believe he did ask for the ACLU and Abt, or believe, as I do, that those words were put in his mouth, the ramifications of asking for both or either, have to be considered.

Wasn't Ruth Paine also part of this scenario, where he'd asked her to contact Abt for him (and maybe she decided otherwise)?

Yes.

What got me looking at this was reading somewhere that Abt's home phone number was unlisted. Don't know about the US - but here, if a phone number is unlisted, the phone company won't give out the number - it's the whole reason why people have it unlisted to start with. If it was unlisted - then Lee could NOT have got Abt's home number from the operator as claimed by the DPD.

As far as I know, it's still true that there phone numbers that are "unlisted" - that is, unavailable - and those that are "unpublished" - available, but not through printed telephone books; directory assistance would have it. Often, people would say "unlisted" when they really meant "unpublished," making the two colloquially - but not technically - equivalent.

While it's quite possible or even probable that an attorney's home phone is unlisted, it seems unlikely that his office number would be either.

I agree - but wasn't the call well outside office hours?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't doubt that the request was made, in part for the same reason you cite. It is, nevertheless, hearsay inasmuch as Lewis himself did not talk with Oswald directly, but allowed the police to act as go-between, certainly a venal if not mortal sin for any sort of "defense" attorney, eh?
If that's the case, Duke, then the b*stard lied through his teeth to the WC.

Also... Nichols was not a criminal lawyer. There was a separate Criminal Bar Association - yet all those concerned lawyers and professors allegedly phoned the NON criminal Dallas Bar Association - which just happened to have as members several lawyers who represented Dallas Oil and other Big Business. Apparently the Criminal Bar Association didn't give a toss about Oswald but good ol' H Lewis did? Yeah, right.

Mea culpa: I haven't memorized all 15 volumes of testimony yet, nor even the gist of all the witnesses. I stand corrected on these for shooting from the hip.

Note, however, that the Criminal Bar Association is not separate from the Bar Association, but is effectively an independent committee of it, similar to the Womens Council of Realtors, all of whose members are members of the "regular" board of realtors and realtor associations. The Bar Association has criminal defense attorneys on it as well as commercial and other specialists, while it's unlikely that any non-criminal defense attorney pays dues to a specialist subcommittee when he'll get no benefit from it.

I'm actually quite surprised that any criminal attorney would not insist upon hearing that from the accused, especially when they are not necessarily soliciting their own services to him, but coming to him as a "disinterested party" assuring that his rights were being considered. I spoke with Greg Olds, then-president of the Dallas ACLU who did likewise, about this a few years ago, and he said that he "regrets" not having pursued the question more diligently, especially in light of subsequent events.
You obviously tossed him some soft balls. After joining a previous incarnation of my website and promising to answer any questions, he quickly disappeared when I asked about the Raggios and one or two other things.

Well, it's certain that I didn't get in his face about anything; whether he thought you did is well beyond my ken. I had called him only about Oswald's attendance(s) at local ACLU meeting(s), and sort of digressed from there. This came up in passing, with no prep and no recriminations. On the other hand, he invited me to email him with any other questions I came up with, which I did (all softball, if I remember correctly) but he never responded. Oh well.

But to play Devil's advocate here for a moment, it does appear that Abt was fairly well known at the time as a "Communist lawyer," or "lawyer to Communists." Even if Oswald had not requested his counsel, it would not be inconceivable that anyone wishing to portray Oswald as a Communist might well manufacture that bit of data to "prove" his leanings.
The ACLU does not do criminal matters. Nor did Abt (though Abt did later represent Black Panther, Angela Davis, on kidnap and murder charges, clearly those matters were subsidiary to the politics of the case). Whether you believe he did ask for the ACLU and Abt, or believe, as I do, that those words were put in his mouth, the ramifications of asking for both or either, have to be considered.
No argument. We seem to be saying the same thing in different ways.
What got me looking at this was reading somewhere that Abt's home phone number was unlisted. Don't know about the US - but here, if a phone number is unlisted, the phone company won't give out the number - it's the whole reason why people have it unlisted to start with. If it was unlisted - then Lee could NOT have got Abt's home number from the operator as claimed by the DPD.
As far as I know, it's still true that there phone numbers that are "unlisted" - that is, unavailable - and those that are "unpublished" - available, but not through printed telephone books; directory assistance would have it. Often, people would say "unlisted" when they really meant "unpublished," making the two colloquially - but not technically - equivalent.

While it's quite possible or even probable that an attorney's home phone is unlisted, it seems unlikely that his office number would be either.

I agree - but wasn't the call well outside office hours?
Hence, perhaps, the request to Ruth Paine? It appears conceivable that after Lewis' visit, and his effective "offer" to assist (which Oswald decline for the moment, but suggesting that Lewis could "come back next week") in getting counsel, he may have thought either or both that the Bar would help contact Abt, or that his answering service - presuming they had them at the time (sorry, not quite old enough to know!) - would have a way to reach him in an emergency, just like doctors presumably did, it seems a reasonable effort even if ultimately futile.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mea culpa: I haven't memorized all 15 volumes of testimony yet, nor even the gist of all the witnesses. I stand corrected on these for shooting from the hip.

Note, however, that the Criminal Bar Association is not separate from the Bar Association, but is effectively an independent committee of it, similar to the Womens Council of Realtors, all of whose members are members of the "regular" board of realtors and realtor associations. The Bar Association has criminal defense attorneys on it as well as commercial and other specialists, while it's unlikely that any non-criminal defense attorney pays dues to a specialist subcommittee when he'll get no benefit from it.

Mr. NICHOLS. Well, the criminal--there are two bar associations in Dallas. One is the criminal bar association, the other is the Dallas Bar Association, and you may belong to both, or neither, or either one.

Sounds like a different association and not a subcommittee to me...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

During his interrogation by the Dallas Police in November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald requested the services of John Abt...

John Abt was at the time the best known legal representative of the American Communist Party. This request from Oswald has been used to argue that he was part of some left-wing conspiracy to kill JFK. Of course, if this was the case, Apt would have been the last person he would have chosen.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAabtJ.htm

Quite so.

"THey've taken me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union," Oz told reporters on the day of his arrest.

I'm sure some members here have already figured out that Lee Oswald knew nothing about the assassination until after the fact. Sadly, a great many researchers have not.

It was perfectly logical for Lee Oswald, given his belief about the reasons for his arrest, to request John Abt, who was well known for defending Smith Act cases. THe Smith Act is one of America's great embarrassments, since it was unconstitutional. The Smith Act was aimed at members of the Communist party & punished people for what they BELIEVED. One of JFK/RFK's first acts once they got in power was to put an end to enforcement of the SMith Act, which is just one reason why Lee Oswald approved of JFK as President.

So John is right. If Lee Oswald was involved in the assassination, John Abt is the LAST person he would have called.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No offense to anyone's perception of Oswald - but is it possible that some persons attached to the assassination teams were instructed to call John Abt if arrested?

Likewise, in Oswald's previous impersonations of a Lefty, was he instructed to call John Abt in case of dire emergency?

Was calling Abt pre-planned to make Oswald or anyone arrested look Commie/Castroite?

Was it part of a longstanding plan to smear John Abt?

Was it Oswald's play to make it understood that he was cooperating with his cover story as an agent, or with the assassination protocol?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No offense to anyone's perception of Oswald - but is it possible that some persons attached to the assassination teams were instructed to call John Abt if arrested?

David you are trying to complicate something that is very simple.

I just received this email from Gary Mack

Louis Nichols, head of the Dallas Bar Association, told the press – on TV, and the Museum has both original tapes – at 6pm Saturday that Oswald had just said he wanted Abt to represent him. That info was reported on the wires immediately and reporters quickly found Abt and talked to him Saturday night. You’ll find those accounts in many of the Sunday morning newspapers. Abt said he had far too many clients already and could not represent Oswald; he also said he had not been contacted by Oswald or anyone on his behalf.

My response:

Nichols did nothing to help Oz make contact

with the ACLU. Query Nichols' bona fides.

A lawyer who offers help -- and then fails to give any -- is only pretending.

Nichols didn't even phone the ACLU.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sure, Oswald was scared and wanted a lawyer. But my gut tells me that calling for Abt was an announcement or signal, a kind of broadcast.

I suspect that the simple motive for calling on Abt in particular comes from either training or planning, and Oswald's act may be contaminated by the ulterior motive of someone higher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...