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Oswald applied for CPUSA membership


Stephen Roy
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I'm not sure why Stephen did not get more response to this post. I find it fascinating and want to know a lot more about where the letter was found and how it surfaced.

I also think its very relevant to assessing Oswald's relationship with the FBI.

So, I've added a post on it in my blog, part of the Connecting the Dots series....this one is "A Communist Conspiracy?"

-- Larry

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I found it interesting also when it was posted but the first thing that came to mind was whether this late surfacing document is an actual letter from Oswald or whether someone has created a hoax either to make money off its auction or to falsely ink Oswald directly to the Communist Party USA for a reason not known. The fact that it bears no date is a telling omission.

Its provenience is crucial.

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Good question Douglas, but not totally inconsistent with Oswald's correspondence I don't think and the PO address is certainly spot on. As I mention in the blog post there certainly verified letters of his to the CPUSA, retrieved by the FBI including a strong one asking him about going underground. That itself should have made major headlines whether this is a hoax or not. The pattern and paper trail of his correspondence with the CPUSA, SWP and FPCC is quite clear and was very much minimized.

In any event, this letter and its provenience certainly deserves some research by our community and I hope it can be resolved one way or the other. It seems of considerable importance and I was surprised to see it just fall off with no comment.

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As I think some of Oswald's correspondence with leftist groups was picked up by mail covers, I wonder why this wasn't. Certainly Gus Hall was under a mail cover, yes? Wouldn't a letter from a redefector to the GenSec of the CPUSA be of interest to the mail cover folks?

Thanks for keeping it alive, Larry.

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Stephen, Oswald was on the HT/LINGUAL intercept program but apart from that the FBI was monitoring mail to the CPUSA and FPCC, several of the letters we have from Oswald were picked up from those sources...both mail openings and assets inside the organizations (which the FBI always often portrayed as mail intercepts or black bag jobs to cover having folks inside). I strongly suspect they were monitoring Oswald's PO boxes as well, in fact I discuss a document in SWHT which indicates they were also covering mail to his relatives and noted when they moved.

This letter is extremely important, is there any chance you could follow up on the offer to verify provenience with those selling it? If this is real and the FBI held it back for some reason it would be pretty significant.

And even if its real and they missed it, it is as well since it conflicts so dramatically with Oswald's remarks about CPUSA in his manuscript.

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OK, I took this question to my buddy Bill Simpich who remembers everything I ever knew and have now forgotten. He jogged my memory about a story from several years ago that Gus Hall had received a letter from Oswald, decided not to respond to it because it was most likely from an agent trying to penetrate the group and just put it in a file. After the assassination the name Oswald got his attention, he found it and it scared him to death and he never told anybody about it. And certainly did not respond.

Which is exactly the story you will find at the following link on the letter:

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/lee-harvey-oswald-letter-to-communist-gus-hall-to-be-sold-1.6286346

So it seems likely the letter is the real deal, which raises the question of exactly what Oswald had in mind in writing it. But it also raises some questions about where exactly the other letters that Oswald wrote to the CPUSA ended up including the ones the FBI held, what Hall thought about them etc. Why were they not in the same file, etc.

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Cadigan Exhibit 13 shows that Oswald had Dallas p.o. Box 2915 from 10-9-62 till 5-14-63. This means the letter was written before Oswald went to Mexico, or even New Orleans. Was the letter written to help establish Oswald's "legend"? Did he (or his handlers) assume word of this letter would reach the Russian embassy in Mexico?

Edited by Pat Speer
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Forgive me for playing the Devil's Advocate, but shouldn't we also consider if it was a sincere overture on Oswald's part? I acknowledge that some of the phraseology seems a bit cliche, shallow, maybe even provocative, but are we in a position to positively regard it as part of a cover story? Oswald's writing could be clumsy at times.

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Forgive me for playing the Devil's Advocate, but shouldn't we also consider if it was a sincere overture on Oswald's part? I acknowledge that some of the phraseology seems a bit cliche, shallow, maybe even provocative, but are we in a position to positively regard it as part of a cover story? Oswald's writing could be clumsy at times.

It's not sincere, IMO. When Oswald returned from Russia, he told everyone who'd listen that he no longer believed in Russia-style communism. Well, to my understanding, CPUSA was the American proponent of Russia-style communism. What? He suddenly got nostalgic? Maybe...but I doubt it.

Oswald's favorite show had been "I Led Three Lives," about a patriotic American who pretended to be a communist. It makes far more sense, IMO, that he was trying to infiltrate CPUSA, to fulfill his dream of being Herbert Philbrick. It would be interesting, moreover, to find out the date of this letter in relation to his first claiming to represent the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. It could very well be that his actual purpose in writing Hall was to taint FPCC down the road via a well-timed revelation he was a card-carrying communist.

Fun and games.

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My take is similar to Pats and its necessary to remember that this letter is only one, although possibly the first, of a string of letters which started in the period in which he had aborted his manuscript effort. I'm tracing that series of events in my blog posts and the letters involve not only CPUSA but SWP, and FPCC. Most also occur after his initial FBI interviews in Dallas in which he is relatively cooperative. And they continue through the series of Washington move letters at the end of summer....following his self initiated contact with the FBI in New Orleans and shortly before his remark about finding his pot of gold.

I don't think it was sincere at all, and Oswald had never shown any true interest in networking via letter or socially with other "revolutionaries" on a personal basis and even inside Russia never joined even any of the lower level political groups.

It appears much more to me that Oswald was "shopping" himself per I Led Three Lives, and at the end of August in New Orleans, he got a bite...

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I'm in the difficult position of having to disagree with two of the stars of the research community, whom I respect: Larry and Pat. From his mid-teens until his death, Oswald always held himself out to be a leftist, making the point explicitly on several occasions. While it is possible to mirror-read this and theorize that he might have been a counterspy, either for others or on his own, the evidence is by no means as direct.

I'm not arguing that he was either a genuine leftist, or a rightist posing as a leftist; What I am saying is that the evidence is not nearly as one-sided as some in the research community seem to think. When new evidence emerges, it is worth considering under BOTH possible interpretations.

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Stephen, certainly both should be considered - but to do so you have to factor in a good number of disconnects between Oswald's early interests, his letter writing and other things he was doing.

But as part of establishing a benchmark, what is your impression of his draft manuscript, written early after his return from Russia and containing extremely negative remarks about both

Soviet Communism and even more so about the CPUSA......including his remarks about having learned the truth about both through his personal experience - as compared to what he

felt or thought of them before his time in the Soviet Union?

Either the manuscript views are bogus are the letter writing campaign is....at least that's the way it seems to me.

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[...]

It appears much more to me that Oswald was "shopping" himself per I Led Three Lives, and at the end of August in New Orleans, he got a bite...

Larry,

I agree with you on this and I'm even starting to think that Oswald may have gone to Russia on his own I-Wanna-Be-a-Spy initiative, with the help and encouragement of certain "friends" (Ferrie? , Hemming? , faceless CIA / ONI rogue agents or officers, or even James Jesus Angleton (vest pocket)).

---Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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I've read it although not recently. I don't think it is all that either/or, black/white. First, people change. Second, they do contradictory things. He had a lot to say in that manuscript about CPUSA and yet, he was shortly sending out his printing samples celebrating Hall and Davis. Was that manuscript how he felt, or was it meant for a particular audience?

Look, I know exactly what you mean about the contradictions and the seeming disconnect. I've felt that at many times in researching this. But Oswald TOLD us who and what he was. What is strong enought to simply cast that aside? Why disbelieve him? I DO think that there are parts of his leftist ass-kissing that sound to me like they MIGHT be an infiltrator doing his best to imitate what he thinks a leftist would say. It just not strong enough to disregard what he actually claimed, in public and in private, over a 9-year period.

And having done a lot of research on New Orleans, I'm not so sure about the general characterization of his associations there.

I respect your POV and understand it is representative of probably most in the research community. My philosophy is to go only so far as the evidence allows: "This far and no farther," and I don't think the evidence is so clear, compelling and unambiguous as to disregard what Oswald told us, and to favor what we SUSPECT he meant.

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