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Harold Feldman


John Simkin
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Harold Feldman was Vincent J. Salandria's brother-in-law. Both men were on the left and became suspicious when the media reported that Lee Harvey Oswald had previously defected to the Soviet Union, had formed a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans and was a member of the ACLU. Salandria later recalled: "I began to examine the post-assassination events as they unfolded. I took note of the reports coming in about the alleged assassin. I wondered whether his alleged left-wing credentials were bona fide. Very early in my work in the peace movement, I learned that some ostensible peace activists were infiltrating government agent provocateurs who were not what they at first blush appeared to be." Salandria later commented: "It was apparent to me that no legitimate leftist straddles so many diverse political fences in a factionalized American left." Feldman and Salandria came to the conclusion that Oswald was a U.S. intelligence agent.

Feldman discussed the case with Salandria on Saturday 23rd November, 1963. Nearly 20 years previously Feldman had published an article on the psychology of assassins entitled The Hero as Assassin. "He has denied his guilt consistently, which no other lone assassin in history had ever done. They usually brag about it." Feldman added: "Look, Oswald will probably be killed. And they'll get a Jew to do it, because they always involve a Jew in these things." Salandria replied: "If Oswald is killed this weekend by a Jew, then we must look for a WASP conspiracy."

John Kelin has pointed out in his book, Praise from a Future Generation (2007): "Feldman and Salandria agreed that a Jewish killer would frighten the Left, and dampen the interests of normally left-leaning Jews in thinking critically about the assassination. Moreover, they both felt that the assassination could not be honestly probed by the government." After the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby, Feldman and Salandria "clipped and collated the multitude of articles on the assassination that were appearing in the nation's press". This included an article by Joseph C. Gouldon, a former counter-intelligence agent, reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on 8th December, 1963, that alleged that "the Federal Bureau of Investigation tried to recruit Oswald as an undercover informant in Castro groups" two months before the assassination.

On 1st January, 1964, Alonzo (Lonnie) Hudkins in The Houston Post, also speculated that Oswald was closely connected to the FBI. As Feldman later pointed out: "Hudkins found that Oswald did know agent Hosty. He had Hosty’s home phone, office phone and car license number - this on the authority of William Alexander, assistant to Henry Wade, Dallas District Attorney. Alexander had attended the grilling of Oswald on November 22 and 23. Hudkins notes that if the FBI had Oswald under surveillance, the watch could not have been too close or they would have known about the rifle and other matters."

On 6th January 1964 Carey McWilliams, the editor of The Nation, rejected Feldman's article on the assassination, Oswald and the FBI. McWilliams told Feldman: "I have decided - most reluctantly, I must confess - not to use your piece. It is certainly a well-done job, and I was sorely tempted, but it seems to me that on balance and for a variety of reasons we should not use it at this time." However, he changed his mind and it appeared later that month. McWilliams commented: "We have made some cuts, but I think they are all to the good."

Feldman started the article with the following words: "The Warren Commission should, if possible, tell us how President Kennedy was killed, who killed him, and why. But beyond that, it must tell us if the FBI or any other government intelligence agency was in any way connected with the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. At this moment, the possibility of such associations in the young man’s life is intolerably a subject for speculation." Feldman then went on to discuss the information reported by Michael Paine, Joseph C. Gouldon and Alonzo (Lonnie) Hudkins.

Feldman went on to argue: "Was the alleged assassin of President Kennedy employed by the FBI? We have seen a news report that the agency tried to recruit him and that it has refused to say whether he accepted the offer. At present, all we know is that his history, as we have been able to piece it together, is not inconsistent with such employment. Indeed, his financial record seems entirely unexplainable unless we make some such hypothesis."

In the same issue of the magazine, Carey McWilliams suggested he did not consider Feldman's theory believable. He also argued the appointment of J. Lee Rankin and Norman Redlich indicated that the Warren Commission would get to the truth: "These are excellent lawyers, men of the highest integrity." When the report was published McWilliams commented: "In our view, then, the commission did its work well; the report is an admirable document, and the Chief Justice, his associates and the staff merit the praise they have received. The report should terminate the wilder speculations and more irresponsible rumor-mongering, but it will not do so. We have had occasion to experience, with more sadness than surprise, the depth and pervasiveness of the will to believe (notably among Left-of-Center groups) that the President’s assassination was the result of a sinister conspiracy - the names of the conspirators to be filled in as need, fancy and bias dictate."

In March 1965 Feldman published Fifty-One Witnesses: The Grassy Knoll in the Minority of One journal. He argued: "The human ear does not provide the best evidence in a murder case. But its perceptions are evidence not to be despised or dismissed, especially when the case is the murder of a President and more than half of all recorded witnesses agree. What follows is the result of a survey of the 121 witnesses to the assassination of President Kennedy whose statements are registered in the twenty-six volumes appended to the Warren Report. On the question of where the shots that killed the President came from, 38 could give no clear opinion and 32 thought they came from the Texas School Book Depository Building (TSBDB). Fifty-one held the shots sounded as if the came from west of the Depository, the area of the grassy knoll on Elm Street, the area directly on the right of the President's car when the bullets struck."

Feldman eventually dropped his interest in the assassination of JFK. His brother-in-law, Vincent J. Salandria, later commented: "Harold was crucial in helping me think about the assassination of President Kennedy and to use this understanding as a prism through which I would better examine and gain insights into the nature of the society."

Harold Feldman died of liver cancer in August, 1986.

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

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There is something strange about Harold Feldman's article on the assassination, Oswald and the FBI. Feldman submitted the article to The Nation in December 1963 (he acknowledged the article in a letter dated 23rd December). On 6th January 1964, Carey McWilliams, the editor of the magazine, wrote to Feldman rejecting the article. This is not surprising as McWilliams had already told his leading investigative journalist, Fred J. Cook, who was convinced there was a conspiracy, that he was unwilling to send him to Dallas, to report on the assassination.

McWilliams had already rejected an article by Mark Lane on the case. Lane later recalled: “The obvious choice, I thought, was the Nation. Its editor, Carey McWilliams, was an acquaintance. He had often asked me to write a piece for him… McWilliams seemed pleased to hear from me and delighted when I told him I had written something I wished to give to the Nation. When he learned of the subject matter, however, his manner approached panic.” McWilliams told Lane: “We cannot take it. We don’t want it. I am sorry but we have decided not to touch that subject.”

McWilliams later recalled (2nd November, 1964) that he had argued in The Nation on 28th December, 1963: "The Nation would stoutly resist the temptation to enter the ranks of the rapidly expanding army of amateur 'private eyes' and miscellaneous free-lance James Bonds who were even then busy as beavers mass-producing conspiracies among unnamed 'oil millionaires' and offering each day a new theory of President Kennedy’s assassination…. We said then that we would not add to the confusion and uncertainty... until an official version of the facts was available."

On 6th January 1964 McWilliams told Feldman: "I have decided - most reluctantly, I must confess - not to use your piece. It is certainly a well-done job, and I was sorely tempted, but it seems to me that on balance and for a variety of reasons we should not use it at this time." However, a few days later, McWilliams changed his mind: "We have made some cuts, but I think they are all to the good." The article was published on 27th January.

One of the fascinating aspects of this is that the Feldman article includes the following: "On January 1, Lonnie Hudkins of the Houston Post, published a story under the headline: “Oswald Rumored as Informant for U.S.” Hudkins found that Oswald did know agent Hosty. He had Hosty’s home phone, office phone and car license number - this on the authority of William Alexander, assistant to Henry Wade, Dallas District Attorney."

This means that Feldman has included details of Hudkins article that appeared after he had submitted Oswald and the FBI. Does this mean that McWilliams added information as well as making cuts? It also raises the issue of why did McWilliams reject articles by Lane, Cook and Feldman and then all of a sudden, change his mind about the article Oswald and the FBI.

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