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Priscilla McMillan, Aline Mosby, and the Oct. 1959 Defection of Oswald


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Lee Oswald arrived in the Soviet Union on Friday, October 16, 1959. Within hours, he wrote a letter to the Supreme Soviet saying he wanted to renounce his U.S. citizenship and become a Soviet citizen. In that letter--which was unavailable to the Warren Commission and first made available after Russian President Boris Yeltsin turned it over to US President Bill Clinton in August, 1999--Oswald said: "I want citizenship because I am a communist and a worker; I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves."

Oswald's request was turned down, and on Wednesday, October 21--the last day of his six-day tourist visa--he prevented his (forced) expulsion when he attempted suicide (or staged a suicide attempt, depending on one's interpretation). This dramatic act of Oswald changed the entire dynamic, and the Oswald case then went to the top of the Soviet Government. Both the top level KGB then became involved, and, more important, the case was considered by Gromyko, and Mikoyan and Madame Furtseyva, the Minister of Culture, and reportedly Khruschev's girlfriend). The entire matter wasn't resolved until late November, when the USSR granted Oswald permission to remain in Russia (but not in Moscow; rather, he would be sent to Minsk).

In the interim, Oswald took a number of actions to further his chances of being granted permission to stay. In particular, on Saturday, October 31, 1959, he went to the American Embassy, met with Consul Snyder, threw down his passport, and said he was through with the U.S. and capitalism, and wanted to remain in Russia for the rest of his life. In other words, on October 31, 1959, Oswald said to Snyder--verbally, and in person--what he had already stated in writing, to the Soviet Presidium, on the day he arrived in Moscow.

Then came two "newspaper events". On Saturday, November 14, he called UPI's Aline Mosby, and invited her to his hotel for an interview. Her story ran on the UPI wire on Sunday, November 15, and was published --for example--in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. It ran under the headline "Fort Worth Defector Confirms Red Beliefs" (and is Commission Exhibit 2716).

Two days later, on Monday, November 16, Priscilla Johnson (later Priscilla McMillan) knocked on Oswald's hotel door, and arranged to interview him that evening. She made notes, and filed a nearly identical story with North American News Alliance (NANA). But NANA was not a wire service, and so McMillan submitted her story by mail, and it was published in a number of newspapers over the the following month.

Mosby's story begins: Lee Oswald, still sporting the chop-top haircut he wore in the U.S. Marines, said Saturday that when he left America to seek citizenship in Russia, "It was like getting out of prison." But his dream of achieving Soviet citizenship in exchange for U.S. citizenship he renounced went aglimmering. The 20-year-old Texan from Fort Worth said Soviet authorities would not grant him citizenship although they said he could live in Russia freely as a resident alien."

McMillan's story begins:"For two years now I have been waiting to do this one thing. To dissolve my American citizenship and become a citizen of the Soviet Union." Today, twenty year-old Lee Harvey Oswald of Fort Worth, Texas, is in Moscow. he hopes he's close to his goal."

The two stories are very similar, because Oswald said the same thing to both reporters--i.e., he said the same thing to Aline Mosby, on Saturday November 14, as he said to McMillan on Monday, November 16--the difference being that Mosby's story ran nationwide on the UPI wire and had much more of a public relations effect than did McMillan's account.

Some JFK researchers have spent a lot of time and effort attempting to argue that Priscilla McMillan's story reads the way it does because she was "doing a job" for the agency. I don't see it that way, at all.

On the question of Priscilla McMillan being a CIA operative, and writing the story she did because she was a "CIA operative" or a "wanna be" CIA person, etc., here's where I stand:

The issue is not whether Priscilla Johnson McMillan may have been a CIA operative in 1959. Rather, the point is that Lee Oswald definitely was a CIA operative in October, 1959, and his entire defection was a fake.

So: Oswald was not “framed” by false accounts created by either of these two nefarious female “CIA agents” in 1959—McMillan and/or Mosby. Rather: Oswald -- himself a CIA operative -- consciously and deliberately spewed the words that McMillan and Mosby both dutifully wrote down in 1959, and then distributed through their news outlets: Mosby, via UPI; and McMillan via NANA.

Oswald himself indeed said what Oswald is alleged to have said in 1959 -- and he had very specific reasons for saying it: i.e., to further his fake defection to the USSR.

So that is the issue, not whether Macmillan and/or Mosby were agency-affiliated in 1959.

Those JFK researchers who –-for whatever reason—insist on focusing on McMillan are looking at the issue through the wrong end of the telescope. Priscilla McMillan was not the central character back in 1959; Oswald was—and, historically, still is.

Viewed that way, the “media” was not “controlling” the portrait of Oswald; rather, Oswald was utilizing the media (available to him in Moscow) to paint the picture of himself that he wanted projected—i.e., to “paint” his own “self-portrait” to further his own defection.

DSL
6/16/13; 2:15 AM PDT
Los Angeles, California

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The issue is not whether Priscilla Johnson McMillan may have been a CIA operative in 1959. Rather, the point is that Lee Oswald definitely was a CIA operative in October, 1959, and his entire defection was a fake.

David:

I am extremely skeptical about this theory, but I gather it will be the subject of your new book,

which I look forward to reading.

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David: Do you have rock-solid, new evidence for the assertion that Oswald was "definitely" CIA operative in October 1959. I have gone back and forth over this for 20 years. The problem I always come to is Oswald's age and education. I can't imagine they would send a deep cover operative into the USSR who is 19 w/o a college education. I teach some very bright high school seniors, and I wouldn't have faith they could pull it off for two years. I am much more inclined to believe they became aware of Oswald's desire to defect (for whatever reason) and monitored him to guage Soviet interest. I do think he was something akin to an operative in Mexico City 4 years later, but I, too, am skeptical of 1959.

Edited by Stuart Wexler
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David: Do you have rock-solid, new evidence for the assertion that Oswald was "definitely" CIA operative in October 1959. I have gone back and forth over this for 20 years. The problem I always come to is Oswald's age and education. I can't imagine they would send a deep cover operative into the USSR who is 19 w/o a college education. I teach some very bright high school seniors, and I wouldn't have faith they could pull it off for two years. I am much more inclined to believe they became aware of Oswald's desire to defect (for whatever reason) and monitored him to guage Soviet interest. I do think he was something akin to an operative in Mexico City 4 years later, but I, too, am skeptical of 1959.

Yes, Stuart. I believe I have the evidence which establishes that Lee Oswald was trained for--and had--an intelligence assignment at the time of his October, 1959 defection.

I am somewhat surprised that you would cite Oswald's lack of a "college education." (Shades of elitism there, no?) IMHO: that is really quite beside the point. Oswald was an auto-didact--surely you are aware of that. In New Orleans, library records show he was reading at the rate of 2 books/week. Just look at today's headlines: Snowden is described as a "high-school drop out"--and yet look at the systems to which he had access, systems for which he had higher-than-top-secret clearance. FWIW: I interviewed enough people who knew Oswald--and knew him well--to understand how bright and talented and (yes) gifted he was. (I suppose you are aware that he was linguistically gifted?) In any event, ultimately, the issue is not Oswald's IQ score, but events as they actually happened.

Yes, I stand by my position that Oswald had an intelligence assignment at the time of his October, 1959 defection to the U.S.S.R., and I will present the evidence which establishes that.

FWIW--and this is purely anecdotal: I have in my possession a picture of me and about 30 of my classmates dated October 25, 1959, taken at my fraternity (Tau Delta Phi) at Cornell University in the fall of 1959. Its labeled "Fall Weekend - October 25, 1959." Many of us in that photo were about Oswald's age at that time.

Included in that picture are a number of people who went on to very good careers in medicine, real estate, and banking, and one who became one of the top officials at IBM Laboratories.

Let me assure you that none of those people had the smarts (or, yes, the intellect) to do what Oswald did in October, 1959. The notion that we were all in our sophomore, junior and senior years at Cornell, at the time Lee Oswald was staging this defection is intriguing, and rather sobering--if not remarkable.

I understand the model you are positing: "[that] they became aware of Oswald's desire to defect. . and monitored him to guage (sic) Soviet interest" etc - - IMHO, that is an incorrect model and does not explain the preponderance of the evidence.

Flashing forward to 1963: the issue of Oswald having an intelligence assignment during the 17 months after his June, 1962 return to the U.S. thoroughly ante-dates his September, 1963, trip to Mexico City. If you carefully examine Oswald's behavior, there are indications of that going back nine months (or more) prior to that trip. But that's another issue.

FLAWED LOGIC: My Key Objective in posting what I did

In any event: we'll have to postpone debate on that matter until I set forth my entire analysis. Basically, I was motivated to post what I did because of the flawed logic of those who seem to believe that because McMillan wrote the story she did (November, 1959) ergo, she must have been "doing a job" for the agency. The same flawed logic appears concerning the way Oswald presented himself--as a genuine Marxist (or even a "communist")--in the Spring of 1959 (when stationed at El Toro Marine Base in Southern California--in the Marines. (Ergo: "Kerry Thornley, who testified about that, must be lying." That, as you may be aware, was the dynamic behind Garrison's indicting Thornley for perjury). Among other things, that simplistic reasoning avoids the fact that other Marines --not everyone, but others--also said that Oswald presented himself as a Marxist.)

And then the same kind of flawed logic crops up again when Oswald, living at Ruth Paine's home in the fall of 1963 (again) presents himself as a Marxist: Ergo, "Ruth Paine" (or Michael Paine) must be part of the plot".

There seems no end to this kind of "reasoning."

Have those who make such statements forgotten that, when on the radio in August, 1963, Oswald said "I am a Marxist"? And that he also said it on TV? Or that, when in the custody of the Dallas Police after Kennedy's murder, Oswald said, "I am a Marxist"?

Does any JFK researcher believe that when Oswald said, over the New Orleans media, "I am a Marxist," that the media fabricated that message? (Of course not).

Does any JFK researcher believe that when Oswald, in custody of the Dallas Police, said "I am a Marxist" that Captain Fritz (or the FBI agents) who reported these statements were making them up?

Of course not.

And yet: going back several years to the Spring of 1959, when Oswald told Thornley he was a Marxist or a Communist..why is there such a reluctance to believe what Oswald said?

And going to November 14, 1959, when he spoke to Aline Mosby (or November 16, 1959, when he spoke to Priscilla Johnson McMillan), why is there reluctance to believe what either of those ladies then reported--Mosby, via UPI (on 11/15/59) and McMillan, via NANA, in the month that followed?

In setting forth the above statements, I am not citing them evidence of Oswald's genuine beliefs. I am simply stating that this is what he said. This is the way Oswald presented himself.

CONFUSING THE MESSAGE WITH THE MESSENGER

For reasons I will never quite understand, there are those who read the above statements, and then reverse the "arrow of causality" (if I may be permitted to coin a phrase here) and decide to pick and choose: they arrogate to themselves the power to decide in which cases Oswald actually said something, and in which case the person who is reporting what he said must be lying (!).

I find that illogical and bizarre.

And just look where this kind of "reasoning" leads. . . :

Ergo: Kerry Thornley gets indicted for perjury by Garrison; or certain researchers push the notion that, because Priscilla Johnson McMillan was a "wanna be" CIA researcher (or yes, even an "agent"), that therefore that nullifies the evidence of what Oswald actually said he was when he spoke with her on the evening of November 16, 1959.

As to your objection--that is, your objection to anyone sending Oswald "into the USSR . .[at age 19] w/o a college education"--I thoroughly disagree. In fact, during the nearly 3 years Oswald spent in the U.S. Marines, he acquired experience, and training, that went well beyond "a college education," in terms of the training he received for what he then did, upon arriving in the USSR.

DSL

6/16/13; 2:20 PM PDT

Los Angeles, California

Edited by David Lifton
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Sometimes I think we all take these sorts of questions too literally. Plus none of us, as far as I know, claims to have any real world operational experience as a CIA case officer in

the Soviet Affiars division. If we had such a volunteer to step up and give us some real world context for the various Redskin and related operations for putting assets into the

Soviet Union at the end of the 1950's we might have a much better insight, as it is all we can do is look at some known operations and speculate.

What we do know is that one practice was simply to recruit individuals who were going into a target environment and get them to volunteer to provide information

while they were there or after their return. Much of it fairly routine stuff such as how they were handled by Russian security, what they were allowed to do and what

they were not - all the basic stuff you could probably classify as "reconissance" for serious spy work. Nobody expected them to steal state or military secrets. From

a counter intelligence standpoint it was equally important to find out when, how andwho might try to recruit them from the KGB side while they were there.

Lee Oswald went off to Europe to go to a liberal college that was very much of interest to the Agency, George Michael Evica wrote a very detailed book about that which

nobody seems to read much - if they do they don't talk about it. Oswald was interested in doing that and he would have been an ideal recruiting candidate - no huge commitment,

maybe he's contaced in advance or maybe you just read his letters home. Given his probable volunteer role in providing information to ONI about efforts to get information

from young servicemen by communist sponsored bar girls, I'd bet he was contacted. Given his "manuscript" written after his return from Russia, which contains considerable

low level intelligence information from his factory work and travels, I'd say he was "debriefed" in a very creative fashion. How and why he was redirected from the college path

to defection is another story and one probably one in response to some other Americans who were in Russian about that time. ...and whom the CIA was desparately trying

to locate at that point in time.

Thanks to Greg Parker and Bill Simpich and some others we have learned a lot more about the quite sophisticated techniques used to manage low level intelligence

sources "at a distance". On the subject of this thread, we have also learned a great deal more about how the CIA managed its news "feeds", often simply by

arranging to have information or "access" provided to media folks who they had already profiled and were relatively certain how they would approach a story.

Bottom line for me is that we often understimate the skill and practices of the Agency on its intelligence collection and counter intelligence activities. And while we would all

love to know exactly what the relationship between Oswald and elements of the intelligence community was at various points in time - I'm not sure we can. What we can do

is find intelligence "fingerprints" all over his activities, in particular whenever he drastically changes direction - from college student to defector, from the anti-Russian, anti

CPUSA remarks in his manuscript to his letters to SWP and CPUSA in which he volunteers his services and even brings up goving underground. Its just that, much as with

the exact number of shots and shooter locations, we really want a level of absolute understanding we are unlikely to get.

-- Larry

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David:

It is not a matter of intelligence-- it is a matter of maturity. To the extent that the lack of college education reinforces that-- to the would-be employers (often themselves Ivy League elites)-- I think it is a factor. If I had a bunch of examples of 19 year old deep cover agents, I would sign on. I am more inclined to what Larry is describing, a situation where Oswald is "managed" by people from afar, possibly monitored and approached by outside agents. I anxiously await what you have in terms of solid evidence. Is it coming soon?

-Stu

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I think Oswald and Johnson were non relatable agents, trained, and instructed by men, which were working and operating within the many IC agencies in the US like fish in the water. Maybe both, Oswald and Johnson were playing a game, without knowing, that the other person was playing a game too...the story of Lee Oswald is more the story of an actor, than of a believer... (in communism etc. )

KK

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