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John Armstrong blasts the mail order rifle “evidence”

Jim Hargrove

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Just this morning I did a 50-state search relating to postal money orders and their status as negotiable instruments and/or their regulation by the UCC. I found precisely nothing to substantiate the point you [Jon Tidd] seem to be making. First, we will review, in reverse chronological order, what the courts have said. You will note that, while the Internet is replete with casual references to postal money orders as “negotiable instruments,” they are in fact not negotiable instruments – and some of the critical distinctions are those at issue here:

State v. Entringer, 246 Wis.2d 839, 631 N.W.2d 651 (Wis. App. 2001):

First, a postal money order is different than a Travelers Express personal money order. Unlike the personal money order in LaRue, payment cannot be stopped on a postal money order. See O'Malley, Legal Aspects of Postal Money Orders, 84 Banking L.J. 471 (1967). In fact, a postal money order is not even a negotiable instrument. 11 AM. JUR. 2D Bills and Notes § 32 (1997); Computer Works, Inc. v. CNA Ins. Cos., 757 P.2d 167, 168 (Colo. Ct. App. 1988). Thus, we conclude a postal money order is much more akin to a bank cashier's check and represents a direct obligation to pay a holder. As such, the signature of the payer has no effect on the genuineness of the money order.

Hong Kong Importers, Inc. v. American Exp. Co., 301 So.2d 707 (La. App. 1974):

The issuance of postal money orders is a governmental function rather than a commercial function, therefore, postal money orders are not negotiable instruments subject to the defenses permitted to bona fide holders for value by the law merchant. 39 U.S.C. § 5104 provides, * * * more than one endorsement renders an (a postal money) order invalid. * * * Thus a postal money order is unlike the ordinary negotiable instrument covered by modern codes and statutes. See United States v. First National Bank of Boston, 263 F.Supp. 298 (D.C.1967).

United States v. First National Bank of Boston, 263 F.Supp. 298 (D. Mass. 1967):

To be a negotiable instrument within the Uniform Commercial Code and within the laws of the 47 states which have adopted substantially all its provisions, a writing must "be payable to order or to bearer." § 3-104(1) (d). "An instrument is payable to order when by its terms it is payable to the order or assigns of any person therein specified * * *." § 3-110(1). We may assume, without deciding, that a money order though it does not use the word "order" uses equivalent language because the order, going beyond giving a direction to "PAY TO" a specified purchaser, states that "ownership of this order may be transferred to another person or firm if the person will write the name of such person or firm on the line marked `pay to' before writing his own name on the second line." Compare Comment 5 to § 3-110. However, the money order adds, on the basis of 39 U.S.C. § 5104, already quoted, that "More than one endorsement is prohibited by law." Such a restriction is contrary to § 3-301 of the Uniform Commercial Code which provides that "The holder of an instrument whether or not he is the owner may transfer and negotiate it", and is out of harmony with § 3-206(1) which provides that "No restrictive indorsement prevents further transfer or negotiation of the instrument." Thus it cannot be said that in all respects a postal domestic money order is like the ordinary negotiable instrument covered by modern codes and statutes. See United States v. Cambridge Trust Company, 1st Cir., 300 F.2d 76, 77.

Stewart v. U.S., 300 F. Supp. 1047 (E.D. Mich. 1969):

Postal money orders are not negotiable instruments and hence are not governed by laws applicable to commercial paper, but are governed by postal laws. This court is aware of the fact that postal money orders have limited characteristics which make them like negotiable instruments, but these characteristics are minimal and deprive them of being classified or considered as ordinary negotiable instruments. United States v. First National Bank of Boston (D.C.Mass., 1967), 263 F.Supp. 298. The operation of the postal money order system is a "sovereign function" and not a "commercial operation", notwithstanding it may have some aspects of commercial banking. United States v. Northwestern Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. (D.C.Minn., 1940), 35 F.Supp. 484, at 486.

United States v. Northwestern Nat. Bank & Trust Co., 35 F. Supp. 484 (D. Minn., 1940):

That a postal money order is nonnegotiable cannot be seriously controverted. It lacks the essential characteristics of a negotiable instrument. There are numerous restrictions and limitations to be found in the Postal Laws and Regulations which are entirely inconsistent with negotiability. For instance, only one endorsement is permitted; two endorsements invalidate the order. Section 1432, Postal Laws and Regulations of 1932. Payments are withheld under certain enumerated circumstances. Section 1434. Section 1435 provides that if a person is conducting a lottery or distributing money or property by chance, the Postmaster General may forbid the payment of money orders drawn to the order of such persons.

I also refer you, as I have previously, to the scholarly article: O’Malley, John D., “Legal Aspects of Postal Money Orders,” 52 Cornell Law Review 357 (1967): “A review of the meager authority on postal money orders will produce but one definite conclusion – a negative one. A postal money order is not a negotiable instrument.”


The cases you cite here do indeed confirm the fact that PMO's are not negotiable instruments. A fact that we already know.

I just want casual observers to understand this.

Edited by Sandy Larsen
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The cases you cite here do indeed confirm the fact that PMO's are not negotiable instruments. A fact that we already know.

I just want casual observers to understand this.

By "casual observer," you presumably mean folks like Jon?

Jim is distressed that I have not moved on. If folks will stop directing posts directly to me, I will cheerfully move on. How some of you folks have the time for your level of involvement on a forum such as this is a puzzle to me. I, at least, do not have this sort of time (or interest).

If I had a client who came to me with a piece of evidence as compelling as the File Locator Number, together with a report like the Secret Service report of 11-26-63 detailing how the money order was located at the Federal Records Center, we would all be drinking champagne. Sandy complains that I repeat the File Locator Number and the subsequent retrieval of the money order at the Federal Records Center like a litany. Well, yes, I do, because it is a deal-killer. The File Locator Number is devastating to Armstrong's fake money order theory. It trumps "missing bank stamps" by a factor of at least 1000. It forces proponents of the theory to ratchet up the already implausible theory to an entirely new level - past the breaking point to anyone who isn't committed to the theory like a religion. We now have a supposed conspiracy - over a mail order rifle, mind you - involving so many agencies, so many people at so many levels, so much lying and fabrication, over such a period of time, that it is positively Rube Goldbergian. The same geniuses who faked the File Locator Number and deposit stamp and planted the money order at the Federal Records Center stupidly overlooked the need for bank stamps that everyone in the banking industry supposedly knew should be there and couldn't even get their dates and times straight in their fabricated reports - and this all sat unnoticed for some 35 or 40 years until Bulldog Armstrong took on the case? I find this more implausible, or at least as implausible, as the theory that JFK was whacked because he knew too much about aliens. But then again, I'm not peddling books or trying to make a career out of the JFK assassination.

If forced to bet my own money, I would say there is a 20% chance the Lone Nutters are right - sometimes even people we love and think we know do things that seem inexplicable in light of their past actions and what we think we know about them. I would say there is a 10% chance LHO had no role whatsoever in the assassination. I would say there is a 70% chance LHO was involved, but was a patsy who thought he was involved in something entirely different from a Presidential assassination. I would say there is a 100% chance Harvey and Lee is 95% wrong - so obviously so that I could almost believe it was part of a disinformation campaign to derail serious research, create chaos within the research community, and embarrass the entire field (such things do happen, alas). I believe Armstrong has produced some interesting nuggets that contribute to my 70% assessment stated above, but overall I do not believe his work or his theory will withstand close scrutiny.

But there will always be true believers. It is an interesting but well-documented phenomenon that even when a hoax is admitted by the hoaxer himself, a fair percentage of true believers will refuse to admit the hoax and maintain that the hoaxer is now lying. In other words, true believers do become committed to their views past the point that most of us would regard as rational. If the shoe fits, as the saying goes.

With that, I move on. Please, hold your applause.

Edited by Guest
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A PMO today (2016) states on its face that it's negotiable in the U.S.

That was not true in the early 1960s.

You'll note I did not write that PMOs were subject to the UCC, so the cases you cite are inapposite.

If you wish to study PMOs, how they were processed in the early 1960s, the one-endorsement rule, and the function of bank stamps, I recommend you check out the 1967 Cornell Law Review Article, "Legal Aspects of Postal Money Orders," by John D. O'Malley.

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If the post office was open at 7:30 or 7:00 that morning, then why would it take 15 years to find the evidence for it?

15 years? You mean 50+ years, don't you?

Anyway, the answer to your above question is: Probably because nobody bothered to look for that information. I sure never did. Did you? Did Armstrong? Did anybody?

Also, when this topic re-surfaced in 2011, Gary Mack did do some research on it, but he couldn't at that time (in 2011) verify that the Main Post Office in Dallas opened earlier than 8:00. But he said he thought it likely DID open at 7:00. Here's what he said:

"It would not surprise me to learn that the Main Post Office opened at 7am, but I don't know that to be the case.

I'd have to check the 1963 directories, but I sort of remember doing that years ago. ... [Later...] ... None of the

directories at the [sixth Floor] Museum show the hours at the main post office in Dallas in 1963. However, the

USPS online search service shows the main distribution center today opens at 7am. But that building wasn’t

there in 1963. The main post office, and presumably the distribution center, was at 400 N. Ervay in 1963 and

it would likely have had the early business hours. The Ervay PO is the one that was just a few blocks from

J-C-S [Jaggars] which was located at 522 Browder. According to Google maps, the two are only 8 blocks,

or ½ mile, apart. Oswald could have walked or run, or probably ridden the bus, since Ervay was a main

north-south street. For that matter, he could have bummed a ride from a co-worker." -- Gary Mack; March 2011

Edited by David Von Pein
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In the 1950s, prior to the Cuban revolution, Robert McKeown supplied arms to Fidel Castro and became one of Castro's best friends. After the revolution Castro flew to Houston and met personally with McKeown at the airport. Castro tried to convince McKeown to return to Cuba with him and offered McKeown business concessions or a high position in the Cuban government. McKeown politely refused and Castro returned to Cuba, but the two men remained close friends. Several months later friends of McKeown's brother were arrested by the Cuban militia when fishing within Cuban waters and thrown in jail. When McKeown was told that his brothers' friends were in jail in Cuba, he telephoned Castro and the men were released immediately. The multi-year close relationship between Fidel Castro and Robert McKeown did not go unnoticed.


After the Cuban revolution, Jack Rubenstein contacted McKeown and said he knew that McKeown had influence with Castro. He wanted McKeown's help in getting three individuals out of Cuba. Rubenstein offered McKeown $5,000 for each person who was released, but never came up with the money. Three weeks later a man approached McKeown and introduced himself as Jack Ruby. He told McKeown that he had an option to purchase a large number of jeeps and wanted to sell them to Castro. Ruby wanted a letter of introduction from McKeown, offered to pay $25,000, but never came up with the money.

On Saturday morning, between 9:00 am and 10:00 am on Labor Day weekend, a car arrived at McKeown's home in Baycliff, TX. McKeown, his wife, and friend Sam Neil were in the house when the car arrived and two men walked to the house and knocked on the door. When McKeown opened the door one of the men said, “You are McKeown, are you not? I understand that you can supply any amount of arms.” McKeown asked for the man's name and he introduced himself as "Lee Oswald." Oswald said he wanted to purchase four .300 Savage rifles with scopes and offered to pay Mckeown $10,000. McKeown was on probation for running guns to Castro, and was skeptical of these visitors. He wondered why Oswald would offer him $2500 for a rifle that he could buy at Sears and Roebuck for $75. McKeown then told Oswald that he was on probation and didn't want to get involved selling any more guns. Oswald got in his car and started to drive away, but stopped and once again walked to McKeowns house. He pleaded with McKeown to sell him rifles, but McKeown refused and went back into his house. Following the assassination Sam Neil telephoned McKeown and said, "Mac, are you watching TV? ….That's the bastard who was at your house that got killed, that Ruby killed.” McKeown was not interviewed by the WC, but was interviewed for hours by the HSCA. They asked why Oswald would offer him so much money for the rifles. McKeown replied, “That is what puzzled me, why would he come to me to buy rifles.”

McKeown may have been puzzled, but it made perfect sense to those who were setting up HARVEY Oswald as the “patsy” and attempting to blame Castro for the assassination.

If McKeown had accepted Lee Oswald's offer of $2500 per rifle, then one of those rifles would have been found on the 6th floor of the TSBD by Dallas Police. And that rifle would have been traced back to Castro's close friend, Robert McKeown. The attempt to link (HARVEY) Oswald to Castro through FPCC brochures, Mexico City, Robert McKeown, and radio interviews in New Orleans with CIA asset Edward Scannell Butler is undeniable.

Lee Oswald's attempt to purchase a rifle from Castro's close friend, Robert McKeown, in early September, 1963 strongly suggests that the choice of a rifle to be placed on the 6th floor of the TSBD had not yet been made. This is reason to believe that the Mannlicher Carcano rifle found on the 6th floor was not chosen as the “murder weapon” until after Labor Day weekend, 1963. Despite what is indicated in the Warren Report, neither Oswald nor anyone else ordered a Mannlicher Carcano rifle from Klein's Sporting Goods in March, 1963. Oswald's purchase of a mail order rifle was a complete hoax, with documentation fabricated by the FBI and witness testimony carefully guided by WC attorneys.

Edited by Jim Hargrove
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By about 1962, there was a long-established procedure for the processing of bank items. This procedure was reflected in Articles 3 and 4 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Article 3 dealt with "commercial paper", which were and are negotiable instruments. Article 4 dealt with bank deposits. The same articles exist today, hardly unchanged from 1962.

Postal money orders (PMOs) were considered by the courts in the early 1960s not to be negotiable instruments. Today they are considered negotiable instruments. The change is one of form, not substance. In the early 1960s, PMOs were not negotiated as they were transferred from one bank to another; but the fact they weren't negotiated was based on the one-endorser rule. In fact, in substance, PMOs were handled by all banks as negotiable instruments because of the fact a bank stamp wasn't considered an endorsement, even though it functioned like one. The bank stamp was critical; it's what allowed a transferor bank to be paid by a transferee bank.

The A. Hidell PMO was not stamped by First National Bank of Chicago (First). First therefore did not get paid by the Chicago Fed for the A. Hidell PMO...unless you or someone else produces bank statements to the contrary.

Lance, I respect that you are a member of the Arizona Bar. I extend every professional courtesy to you. But I think you stray from your training and experience when you post on this blog.


As I've stated many times, postal money orders have ALWAYS required bank stamps when presented for collection. (By "always" I mean at least from 1900 to 2000. I haven't checked outside that range of dates.)

Below is an excerpt from a letter published in the Wichita Eagle newspaper on January 21, 1898, that includes comments on how bank stamps on PMOs were viewed. The letter was written by First Assistant Postmaster General Perry S. Heath and was addressed to local post offices. (I don't know why it was publish in a newspaper.)

This letter corroborates what you told Lance about bank stamps on PMOs (highlighted in red above). That which he, in reply, said was "gibberish – literally, gibberish."

Here's the excerpt:

"Every money order passed through the Clearing House should be receipted on its face by the payee or endorsee, and must be stamped upon the back by the bank presenting it [to a post office] so that no dispute may arise as to the number or identity of [money] orders listed [on a list of PMOs presented], or if at any time in the future it shall be necessary to request that such an order be redeemed by the bank.

The stamp impressions which banks ordinarily place upon money orders deposited or sent to them for collection, it is held, are not to be regarded as endorsements transferring ownership of the order, but simply as guarantees of the genuineness of signatures of payees or indorsees, and as transfers for collection purposes; hence, if an order bears a bank stamp impression in addition to endorsement in regular form, or even if it bears several such impressions, it Is not on that account to be regarded as within the purview of the statute which provides that more than one endorsement shall render a money order invalid and not payable.

If, as is sometimes the case, the rules of the Clearing House shall be so constructed as to prevent an arrangement of the kind outlined, you are at liberty to affect an agreement with such bank as you shall select to act as your representative, which may receive in practically similar manner all [money] orders presented to it at the Clearing House meetings by other banks, and in turn receive payment therefor in one sum from you. It will be understood that if you shall select a bank to represent the post office, as indicated in paragraph J, the [money] orders shall be stamped in the manner and for the purpose of satisfactory identification, as described in paragraph 7. Settlements and reclamations will be made directly between the representative bank and the individual banks which deposit with it [money] orders for collection, or they may be otherwise effected, as shall be mutually agreed.

It is desired that, so far as may be possible, money orders shall be deposited in banks for collection. It is requested that publicity be given, through the press, of this arrangement, and that business houses be advised to so deposit their [money] orders, if agreed to, in lieu of presenting them at the post office. If it is now the practice of any individual to present orders in considerable numbers, suggest to him that he may more conveniently receive payment by depositing them in a bank for collection."

So, we see that even before Federal Reserve Banks began accepting PMOs for collection, Post Office Department regulations stated that a PMO "must be stamped upon the back by the bank presenting it." This confirms your contention that "the bank stamp was critical."

We also see that the bank stamp was to be regarded as a "transfer for collection purposes." This confirms your contention that the bank stamp is what ""allowed a transferor bank to be paid by a transferee bank."

There should be no doubt that this regulation remained in force when FRBs began accepting PMO's for collection. You and I believe that, and even Lance believes it. The difference between us and Lance is that he considers FRB member banks to be extensions of FRBs for collection purposes, and therefore aren't required to stamp PMOs. (Or at least that is what he once claimed.) Of course, FRB circulars prove that we are right and Lance is wrong... a fact that he just cannot accept.

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Isn't it amazing that Mckeown was not interviewed by the FBI?

I mean, Ruby, Castro, Oswald.

Even more amazing may be the fact that the HSCA interviewed McKeown--in secret of course. His testimony was suppressed for decades, with just a throwaway line in the report that he said some unbelievable stuff.

Show me who sent "Lee Oswald" to see Robert McKeown and offer all that money for those Savage rifles with scopes, and I'll show you someone taking direct orders from the plotters of the assassination, though probably through cut-outs and all the usual intel procedures. It's almost as if someone at the HSCA was secretly looking for the truth, while publicly peddling all that fiction!

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