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The Raleigh phone call revisited


Greg Doudna
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Not sure I can add much more on this,  I only know of one real world instance where someone who had been assisting the CIA was given an emergency number (number only, no name), used it and got no response at all in the call.   Later he did receive assistance but in a very round about way.    Given the fact that any such contact number would be extremely deniable I can't see it being given out with any true name associated with any individual provably in the CIA and even someone associated with the intelligence community would be a stretch.

Beyond that, CIA officers outside those in senior, public positions could not be denied simply did not use their true names in operations.  They routinely used aliases, some officially assigned, some not.  This was especially true when inside the U.S.  Phillips was arrested and convicted of check kiting in a strange situation inside the U.S. because he was carrying only alias level identification (pocket litter).  To see an experienced officer give out a true, agency related name to a low level asset of any sort is strange, to give it out for "emergency" use even stranger since that exposes both the individual and the agency itself - and even if an emergency is not the factor, it gives the asset leverage over the officer by exposing his identity and affiliation.  

That is simply for what its worth,  the trick would be to factor in a relatively high staff officer who was in the original Cuba project circa 1960 into a contact with Oswald where Oswald has both his true name and a telephone number he belives will get to him directly in an emergency. 

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3 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

Not sure I can add much more on this,  I only know of one real world instance where someone who had been assisting the CIA was given an emergency number (number only, no name), used it and got no response at all in the call.   Later he did receive assistance but in a very round about way.    Given the fact that any such contact number would be extremely deniable I can't see it being given out with any true name associated with any individual provably in the CIA and even someone associated with the intelligence community would be a stretch.

Beyond that, CIA officers outside those in senior, public positions could not be denied simply did not use their true names in operations.  They routinely used aliases, some officially assigned, some not.  This was especially true when inside the U.S.  Phillips was arrested and convicted of check kiting in a strange situation inside the U.S. because he was carrying only alias level identification (pocket litter).  To see an experienced officer give out a true, agency related name to a low level asset of any sort is strange, to give it out for "emergency" use even stranger since that exposes both the individual and the agency itself - and even if an emergency is not the factor, it gives the asset leverage over the officer by exposing his identity and affiliation.  

That is simply for what its worth,  the trick would be to factor in a relatively high staff officer who was in the original Cuba project circa 1960 into a contact with Oswald where Oswald has both his true name and a telephone number he belives will get to him directly in an emergency. 

Thanks Larry. What you say makes sense. However there is an argument against the Raleigh phone call being a call to a blind cutout phone number: there were two, not one, phone numbers on Mrs. Treon's call slip notes, but only one name. This says to me Oswald had a name and was trying to reach that name, but did not have a phone number or either one of those phone numbers, for the person he wanted to reach.

And if Oswald was asking an operator to assist him in reaching a name out of the directory listings in a certain city, that would be to either a true name or what Oswald believed was a true name. 

I have been assuming that what Oswald was doing in this Saturday night phone attempt was not an approved spycraft contingency, but a case in which Oswald on his own knew a true name and was attempting to call a true name.

I think what you bring out does weigh against, probably rules out, John Hart of CIA. Even if there had been direct operational dealing of Oswald with John Hart of CIA, as you note that would not have been by true name, so could not have been the source for Oswald's "John Hurt". And if there were no operational dealing of Oswald with John Hart of CIA Oswald also would have had no knowledge of John Hart's true name, let alone ask to find him in the phone book in Raleigh, North Carolina, since whatever John Hart was doing in 1963 was so secret that not even anyone today, after all the decades and declassification, knows that from any publicly accessible information. So there is no good reconstruction in which Oswald would either know the name of or try to reach John Hart of CIA at a home address in Raleigh, North Carolina.

On the other hand, none of what you bring out rules out or weakens the argument for the other possibility, John B. Hurt of NSA, but arguably may clarify or strengthen it, as I see it. Following the logic of assumption that Oswald was attempting on his own to reach a real person of true name but unknown phone number connected to "Raleigh", what you describe in your comments actually removes what has been in my mind a "negative" against the John Hurt NSA possibility, namely that John Hurt NSA, cryptologist and Japanese language expert for NSA, was not running agents, not doing work that would involve Oswald in any known way. John Hurt NSA was basically a code-breaker and linguist working in an office cracking coded intercepts.

But what John B. Hurt of NSA was doing in his job, and his employment with NSA itself, may become even irrelevant if (a) Oswald somehow either knew John Hurt NSA personally, or (b) knew his wife, Ana Drittel, personally. A lot would fall into place on that assumption. For although John B. Hurt's NSA code-breaking work was highly secret and classified and would not be known to Oswald, John B. Hurt's name, if Oswald had met him or if Ana Drittel had introduced him to her husband or spoken to him of her husband, was not secret at all.

Therefore your comments cause me to reformulate further. The attempted phone call to John Hurt of NSA--if that is who Oswald was attempting to reach--would not be about John Hurt's NSA's spy agency work (of which Oswald would know nothing), but about attempting to reach Ana Drittel, his wife, the Russian emigre and fluent Russian speaker, whom Oswald may have met (per hypothesis). It is true no such meeting or contact between Ana Dittrel is known or confirmed, but this would be the assumption. The encounter or relationship between Ana Drittel and Oswald would be sufficiently significant to Oswald that he used her name--not as an alias for himself--but in creating a fictitious name of someone vouching for his character. While taken in isolation there would be the legitimate objection that "Drittel" and "Drittal" going to a fluent Russian-speaker of no known connection to Oswald would be presumed coincidence (taken in isolation that is what I would assume), that it also goes to a John Hurt seems to move this startlingly out of clear conclusion of coincidence into close consideration that this may be signal, not static. This of course is a judgment and to some extent subjective--distinguishing signal from static issues.

This formulation of the case for John B. Hurt of NSA as the identity of Oswald's John Hurt suffers from no objection of the nature you raise (whereas the points you raise do weigh against John Hart of CIA). The two John Hurts of Raleigh, North Carolina out of the phone book understandably would be and have been scrutinized as to whether either of them were Oswald's intended "John Hurt" in Raleigh, N.C. But apart from that WW2-era military service with Army Intelligence in Europe in the personal biography of one of them, there is just nothing obvious of interest or seemingly even plausible connecting either of them to Oswald (also not the WW2 military intelligence work), no good scenario for why either of them would be connected--apart from the "cut-out" call idea which does not explain why if that were so Oswald did not have the phone number for his cutout but only knew to ask operators to try to find a phone number for a name in Raleigh--and emphatic denials on the part of both of those John Hurts that they were cutouts or ever had the slightest thing to do with Oswald. It looks like both of those John Hurts were "wrong numbers" in terms of who Oswald was attempting to contact, even though they matched the name.

I am going to leave the previous post of mine up for historical interest even though your comments cause further development in my thinking. John B. Hurt of NSA (but not because he was of NSA) now becomes the leading candidate for Oswald's John Hurt. All that needs to be supposed is: not that Oswald was involved in a spy operation with John B. Hurt of NSA, or with a spy operation with NSA at all, but that he had met Ana Drittel and/or John B. Hurt in some manner that was of more than casual significance, and tried to reach one of them in that phone call attempt for the purpose of seeking unspecified assistance. The prior personal contact which is a necessary though unverified presumption, in this reconstruction, may or may not have been spycraft related. That is not formally a necessary presumption. But it could very well have been spycraft related if, e.g., fluent Russian speaker and Russian emigre Ana Drittel was involved in debriefing Oswald for an agency or something of that nature, but that is not known.  

Therefore your comments cause me to rewrite the points:

Foundation:

(1) Lee Harvey Oswald tried to call someone on Saturday night, Nov 23, 1963, which has never been satisfactorily explained.

(2) Oswald had a name and a location but not a phone number of the person he wanted to reach. Oswald received operator assistance while in the Dallas city jail in obtaining two phone numbers listed to two names in Raleigh, N.C., matches to the name Oswald was seeking.

(3) John David Hurt, one of the two names out of the Raleigh phone book written on Mrs. Treon's call notes that evening, appears not to be who Oswald was trying to reach. Both of the John Hurts out of the Raleigh phone book in 1963 appear to be wrong numbers, in terms of who Oswald wanted to reach.  

(4) Who Oswald was trying to reach is of interest to be identified if possible.

(5) The individual named John Hurt whom Oswald sought to contact may or may not have been involved in spycraft or a spy agency (unknown). That is not known nor necessary as a component in this reconstruction, but is not excluded either.

Specific candidate for solution:

(6) John B. Hurt of NSA (but not necessarily because he was of NSA) is a significant candidate for the identity of the "John Hurt" Oswald was trying to reach, based on: the match of the last name of his wife to a fictitious name used by Oswald; the fluent Russian speaking of his wife who was an emigre from Russia; the identical match of his own name to the name Oswald sought to reach; and a Raleigh County, West Virginia, provenance of family roots and relatives of John B. Hurt.

To be clear, I consider John Hart of CIA no longer viable for reasons you give, a "false positive". Thank you Larry!

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You would think that the Dallas PD and every other agency would "want" to know everything about anyone Oswald was trying to contact while in their custody.

Having Louise Swinney sabotage Oswald's attempt to contact anyone via the phone by disconnecting the call and then lying to Oswald that no one answered that number makes no sense in this way.

Wouldn't have Oswald's desperate for incriminating evidence interrogators logically have wanted to let Oswald make contact with someone and then grilled him regards who this person he was trying to contact was and why he was trying to do so?

Just another curious aside thought:

Oswald's mother Marguerite said in published video interviews that "my son works for the CIA."

Of all the crazy things one would expect from a mother of the top one or two criminal suspects in American history to throw out there in public interviews trying to defend her son against the incredible murder charges he was being accused of, this one stops you as about the most desperate and crazy.

And if her shocking claim was not true, it could only hurt Lee Oswald and not help him at all in the following way.

Look, the lone nut's own mother is looney tunes herself. Anyone raised by this nut case must be disturbed as well ?

I don't know how much effort was put into asking Marguerite to provide any more answers as to why she believed her son was working for our own government but we do know that she had corresponded with her son more than anyone else while Lee was in Russia.

Was there anything Lee may have written back to her while he was in Russia that gave her the impression he had a secret agenda as she claims? Or, was there anything shared between Lee and Marguerite during the few days he spent with her before catching a transport ship ride to Europe?

Did Marguerite's attorney Mark Lane pursue this claim of her son's Intel involvement? 

This phone call story, Marguerite's claim of her son's intel connection, Lee's own public statement "I am just a patsy" seen and heard by half the nation, etc. etc. ... laughably suspicious in their entirety, if even half true.

 

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I'm still perplexed by things about the call itself.   First if it was the standard "you get one call, better make it family or your lawyer" , that authorization would come from the DPD as it appears to, and they appear to have tapped it.  So where is the DPD report on the call,  that is a real problem and its hard to see it as an oversight.   Second, its also hard to see the FBI not being interested and being advised and participating in the tap.  For that matter anybody in their right minds would have had a tape recorder on the line being tapped, not just listening in on the call. Even if the call were negative I would expect a tape of the conversation with the operator, a DPD report on the call itself even if fruitless and a copy of the report to the FBI....who would immediately follow up and do their own investigation of any names and numbers or even locations - given the obsessiveness of their Oswald investigation I'd expect reports on that out of the local field office for Raleigh, interviews with anybody in town with that name etc. 

This was not a little incident and should have driven multiple reports and inquiries even if Oswald talked to nobody.  Once again we are left with the DPD either being immensely inept or its just one more report like the one with the list of theater people, the list of cars and license plate numbers from the TSBD parking lot and even the CSI bullet strike report on the other side of Elm that all appear to have vanished.  In each case we know something happened from other reports - how terrifically sloppy is it that the reports themselves go missing.

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1 hour ago, Joe Bauer said:

Oswald's mother Marguerite said in published video interviews that "my son works for the CIA."

Joe, she certainly believed that her son was an agent of some sort, but never gave any coherent reason for her belief.

 

2 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

Did Marguerite's attorney Mark Lane pursue this claim of her son's Intel involvement? 

I reckon Mark Lane was savvy enough to know any proof of that assertion would never be  proven.

 

2 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

Look, the lone nut's own mother is looney tunes herself.

That's an understatement!  In Jean Stafford's series of interviews with Marguerite that resulted in the book 'A Mother in History' (1965) there are repeated statements that Lee was an agent for the American government, but no solid reason to back up the premise.  She also states that Marina is French! & JFK's death was a mercy killing because he was dying anyway due to Addisons.

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  • Kathy Beckett changed the title to The Raleigh phone call revisited
8 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

I'm still perplexed by things about the call itself.   First if it was the standard "you get one call, better make it family or your lawyer" , that authorization would come from the DPD as it appears to, and they appear to have tapped it.  So where is the DPD report on the call,  that is a real problem and its hard to see it as an oversight.   Second, its also hard to see the FBI not being interested and being advised and participating in the tap.  For that matter anybody in their right minds would have had a tape recorder on the line being tapped, not just listening in on the call. Even if the call were negative I would expect a tape of the conversation with the operator, a DPD report on the call itself even if fruitless and a copy of the report to the FBI....who would immediately follow up and do their own investigation of any names and numbers or even locations - given the obsessiveness of their Oswald investigation I'd expect reports on that out of the local field office for Raleigh, interviews with anybody in town with that name etc. 

This was not a little incident and should have driven multiple reports and inquiries even if Oswald talked to nobody.  Once again we are left with the DPD either being immensely inept or its just one more report like the one with the list of theater people, the list of cars and license plate numbers from the TSBD parking lot and even the CSI bullet strike report on the other side of Elm that all appear to have vanished.  In each case we know something happened from other reports - how terrifically sloppy is it that the reports themselves go missing.

Larry, interesting.

Dallas Police Department records of Oswald's phone calls

On taping of calls, just as no taping was done of Oswald's interrogations (if true), there appears to be no reference to taping of prisoner phone calls in the Dallas jail either. On lack of thoroughness of investigation of Oswald's phone calls, there are already signs of missing information concerning Oswald's calls in existing DPD records. The following is from this set of documents sent by Dallas Police Chief Curry to Rankin of the Warren Commission responsive to WC inquiry concerning times and dates of Oswald's phone calls: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=11839#relPageId=2

A set of jail inmate log sheets of dates 11/21/63, 11/22/63, and 11/23/63, identified by Chief Curry as "all of the telephone sheets kept on prisoner's phone calls for the dates of November 22, 23 and 24, 1963", is provided. These log sheets--about fifteen prisoner phone calls per log sheet--give date, inmate name and jail cell number, whether the party called was reached, and officer's initials, but not times of the calls. Oddly there is record on these sheets of only one phone call made by Oswald that entire weekend and that is Fri Nov 22. For Sat. Nov 23 I count 59 prisoner phone calls made that day according to the log sheets. None are Oswald. That is, those records show one phone call for Oswald on Friday (checked "yes" party contacted) and none on Saturday and none on Sunday. 

And yet from affidavits and Oswald's jail card, originally made out at the time of booking and containing notations of times of prisoner phone calls, Oswald did make phone calls on Sat Nov 23. According to the DPD jail card, Oswald used the phone three times on Sat Nov 23: at 1:40 pm, 4:22 pm, and 8 pm. However, there is no information in these records supplied by Chief Curry that tell the phone numbers called, the names of parties called or lengths of the phone calls.

In the affidavits:

  • Arthur Eaves, Assistant Jailer on Nov 23: he and another officer assisted Oswald in placing a long-distance collect phone call to an unidentified party in New York City between 1:30 and 2 pm, which corresponds to a notation on the jail card of 1:40 pm with his verified signature.
  • Buel Beddingfield, Assistant Jailer: with Eaves assisted Oswald in making a long-distance collect phone call at about 1:30 pm. "Officer Eaves advised the City Hall Operator that a prisoner wished to make a long distance call collect. While he was notifying the operator, I wrote Lee Harvey Oswald's name on the telephone log sheet where all prisoners' names are kept when they are permitted to use the telephone. [missing on the log sheets supplied by Curry to WC] I heard Oswald place a call to New York. After this call, he made a local call. Upon taking Oswald out of the telephone booth, I signed my last name on the telephone log sheet as to removing the prisoner from the booth, and Officer Eaves and I placed him back in his cell. The telephone log sheet on which I entered Oswald's name and which I signed myself has been turned over to Assistant Chief Batchelor."

OK, that is Oswald's use of the telephone at 1:30 pm. The long-distance one was probably an attempt to reach lawyer Abt in New York. The second, local call mentioned by Beddngfield may have been to Ruth Paine, asking if she would try to reach lawyer Abt in New York. Emphatically Beddingfield states he filled out Oswald's call on the log sheet which he says went to Asst. Chief Batchelor. But by the time Curry sends those records to Rankin of the WC it is not there. Not known why. But the most interesting affidavit is that of J. L. Popplewell:

"My name is J. L. Popplewell. I entered the Dallas Police Department January 11, 1957. I have been in the Service Division seven and one-half years. I have worked the fifth floor jail most of this time. I was on duty the 22nd and 23rd day of November, 1963, working 2:30 p.m. till 10:30 p.m. The 23rd day of November, 1963, at 3:00 p.m., I was assigned to guard the area in front of Lee Harvey Oswald's cell, watching all of his movements to see that he didn't hurt himself. About 4:00 p.m. Lt. Lord called on the jail phone and instructed me to put Oswald on the phone. Oswald asked the operator for two telephone numbers -- then asked me for a pencil and paper while in the telephone booth. I tore a small piece of plain paper, about two by three inches from the telephone record sheet that hung outside the telephone booth; then handed this piece of paper and my pencil to him. Oswald wrote a number on this paper and returned my pencil. Then he asked if he could call later. Oswald did not get his call through at this time."

Comment: is this where Oswald obtained two telephone numbers for "John Hurt"? As Mrs. Treon described the John Hurt phone call attempt after 10 pm, Oswald already had the name and two phone numbers. Oswald must therefore have asked an operator for the numbers before that, and received back two phone numbers for one name in one city. Continuing the Popplewell affidavit:

"I called Lt. Lord and informed him Oswald didn't get his party and wanted to call again later.

"About 8:00 p.m. Lt. Lord came up to the jail and told me to let Oswald use the phone. I was instructed to step back away from the phone booth so the phone call could be private. From this location I watched the prisoner talking to someone. He used the phone about thirty minutes. I asked Oswald if he got his call through and he answered, yes.

Comment: The timing may correspond to a second call of Oswald to Ruth Paine on Saturday, this one trying unsuccessfully to reach Marina. The length of "about thirty minutes" could include the time in which Oswald made more than one phone call (Popplewell is away from the phone booth and would not necessarily know how many phone calls were made in that time, only that when Oswald was finished it had been "about thirty minutes"). Continuing Popplewell: 

"About four months ago [before 8/20/64] on a Monday, I received a call from an F.B.I. agent who wanted to know about a slip of paper with a phone number on it. This was supposed to be in Oswald's pocket when he died. The agent asked if we allowed prisoners to keep phone numbers on their person. I said that if a call wasn't completed the first time, we could let them write the number down and keep it for a later call. The agent asked me the size of the paper I might have given Oswald to write on. I told him it probably was one torn off of a telephone record sheet hanging outside the telephone booth; that the paper was plain, unmarked, about two by three inches. The telephone sheet is usually used for writing names of prisoners who use the phone, but due to the large volume of prisoners that weekend, it was possible I missed writing Oswald's name down on the record sheet. I have been unable to locate a sheet with his name on it."

Comment: While that explanation is possible, it sounds more like trying to explain why the sheet is missing when he tries later to find it, that he was "sure" he would have written at the time. Given that all phone calls made by Oswald that Saturday are missing in from the log sheets for that day not simply this one, forgetfulness on the part of the officers may not be the explanation. Since four log sheets with 59 other prisoner phone calls are in existence for Sat Nov 23 it is not a case that all records have gone missing either. Not clear what is going on there--why Oswald's name is not on the Saturday log sheets, despite his having made multiple phone calls that day. 

As for the Raleigh phone call attempt, Popplewell says his shift ended 10:30 pm. Mrs. Treon said Oswald's attempted phone call via Mrs. Sweeney happened shortly after her (Mrs. Treon's) shift began at 10 pm. Since Popplewell does not mention another phone call attempt of Oswald during his shift, the Raleigh phone call attempt would occur ca. 10:30 pm, just after Popplewell was relieved by a new shift (unless there is some confusion in Mrs. Treon's time memory, and the Raleigh phone call attempt also was in that 8 pm thirty minutes of Oswald's making phone calls).

It already is the case that all phone calls for Oswald that day are missing from the log sheets for no known reason. It already is the case that there are no known Dallas Police Department records of phone call numbers or names called. The jail card does have three times Oswald used the phone but not a ca. 10:30 pm, fourth phone call. 

If the John Hurt Oswald was trying to reach did go to something of a "classified" nature, the Dallas Police Department would not necessarily know that. But by either 8 pm or 10:30 pm, if Mrs. Treon's account is correct something unusual was happening: a phone call of Oswald was intentionally blocked, and this would be by request initiated from or on behalf of some agency other than the Dallas Police Department. 

By Saturday night the narrative had rapidly closed in from above the level of the Dallas Police department: sola Oswald, Oswald alone. Oswald's attempt to reach his "John Hurt", if it was preemptively prevented, would make sense if an agency knew exactly who Oswald's intended John Hurt was (no mystery about it), and decided that it was not helpful to have Oswald succeed in reaching that party. A municipal police department such as the Dallas Police Department would not be that agency but, via mechanism of a quiet background request to say an assistant of Chief Curry, could accommodate a request from another agency. Accommodation to such a request could trivially include not handwriting in an additional time notation on Oswald's jail card of that fourth time that day Oswald used the phone, the attempt to reach "John Hurt"--and then there would be no written record of that call at all in Dallas Police Department records.

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What continues to stand out in all this is the apparent lack of involvement by the FBI and for that matter the lack of DPD reporting to the FBI.  Just about anything anyone could imagine about Oswald was being investigated by the Bureau, as would be expected. The DPD itself appears to have continued to investigate the shooting per se for at least 24 hours or so but the FBI was totally focused on Oswald as of Saturday morning - and if the DPD did not have a tape recorder handy, well the FBI did.  How in the world was the FBI not following up on, monitoring and investigating any of Oswald's calls ? 

For that matter why was the DPD not doing the same or at least proactively reporting them to the FBI.

And as you note, apparently neither was if the FBI had an agent had to go back and make an inquiry as late as August 64.

A third party intervening and "blocking" a call from Oswald certainly would be possible...blocking it at the receiving end seems most likely.  Blocking it outgoing in Dallas is another story entirely, with a lot of questions that would have to be answered to intervene at the level of the jail. 

Certainly the name and numbers in the call are interesting but the apparent lack of involvement by the FBI with his calls is equally so to me.  Especially given their level of obsessiveness in investigating everything and anything about Oswald.   

 

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9 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

Larry, interesting.

Dallas Police Department records of Oswald's phone calls

On taping of calls, just as no taping was done of Oswald's interrogations (if true), there appears to be no reference to taping of prisoner phone calls in the Dallas jail either. On lack of thoroughness of investigation of Oswald's phone calls, there are already signs of missing information concerning Oswald's calls in existing DPD records. The following is from this set of documents sent by Dallas Police Chief Curry to Rankin of the Warren Commission responsive to WC inquiry concerning times and dates of Oswald's phone calls: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=11839#relPageId=2

A set of jail inmate log sheets of dates 11/21/63, 11/22/63, and 11/23/63, identified by Chief Curry as "all of the telephone sheets kept on prisoner's phone calls for the dates of November 22, 23 and 24, 1963", is provided. These log sheets--about fifteen prisoner phone calls per log sheet--give date, inmate name and jail cell number, whether the party called was reached, and officer's initials, but not times of the calls. Oddly there is record on these sheets of only one phone call made by Oswald that entire weekend and that is Fri Nov 22. For Sat. Nov 23 I count 59 prisoner phone calls made that day according to the log sheets. None are Oswald. That is, those records show one phone call for Oswald on Friday (checked "yes" party contacted) and none on Saturday and none on Sunday. 

And yet from affidavits and Oswald's jail card, originally made out at the time of booking and containing notations of times of prisoner phone calls, Oswald did make phone calls on Sat Nov 23. According to the DPD jail card, Oswald used the phone three times on Sat Nov 23: at 1:40 pm, 4:22 pm, and 8 pm. However, there is no information in these records supplied by Chief Curry that tell the phone numbers called, the names of parties called or lengths of the phone calls.

In the affidavits:

  • Arthur Eaves, Assistant Jailer on Nov 23: he and another officer assisted Oswald in placing a long-distance collect phone call to an unidentified party in New York City between 1:30 and 2 pm, which corresponds to a notation on the jail card of 1:40 pm with his verified signature.
  • Buel Beddingfield, Assistant Jailer: with Eaves assisted Oswald in making a long-distance collect phone call at about 1:30 pm. "Officer Eaves advised the City Hall Operator that a prisoner wished to make a long distance call collect. While he was notifying the operator, I wrote Lee Harvey Oswald's name on the telephone log sheet where all prisoners' names are kept when they are permitted to use the telephone. [missing on the log sheets supplied by Curry to WC] I heard Oswald place a call to New York. After this call, he made a local call. Upon taking Oswald out of the telephone booth, I signed my last name on the telephone log sheet as to removing the prisoner from the booth, and Officer Eaves and I placed him back in his cell. The telephone log sheet on which I entered Oswald's name and which I signed myself has been turned over to Assistant Chief Batchelor."

OK, that is Oswald's use of the telephone at 1:30 pm. The long-distance one was probably an attempt to reach lawyer Abt in New York. The second, local call mentioned by Beddngfield may have been to Ruth Paine, asking if she would try to reach lawyer Abt in New York. Emphatically Beddingfield states he filled out Oswald's call on the log sheet which he says went to Asst. Chief Batchelor. But by the time Curry sends those records to Rankin of the WC it is not there. Not known why. But the most interesting affidavit is that of J. L. Popplewell:

"My name is J. L. Popplewell. I entered the Dallas Police Department January 11, 1957. I have been in the Service Division seven and one-half years. I have worked the fifth floor jail most of this time. I was on duty the 22nd and 23rd day of November, 1963, working 2:30 p.m. till 10:30 p.m. The 23rd day of November, 1963, at 3:00 p.m., I was assigned to guard the area in front of Lee Harvey Oswald's cell, watching all of his movements to see that he didn't hurt himself. About 4:00 p.m. Lt. Lord called on the jail phone and instructed me to put Oswald on the phone. Oswald asked the operator for two telephone numbers -- then asked me for a pencil and paper while in the telephone booth. I tore a small piece of plain paper, about two by three inches from the telephone record sheet that hung outside the telephone booth; then handed this piece of paper and my pencil to him. Oswald wrote a number on this paper and returned my pencil. Then he asked if he could call later. Oswald did not get his call through at this time."

Comment: is this where Oswald obtained two telephone numbers for "John Hurt"? As Mrs. Treon described the John Hurt phone call attempt after 10 pm, Oswald already had the name and two phone numbers. Oswald must therefore have asked an operator for the numbers before that, and received back two phone numbers for one name in one city. Continuing the Popplewell affidavit:

"I called Lt. Lord and informed him Oswald didn't get his party and wanted to call again later.

"About 8:00 p.m. Lt. Lord came up to the jail and told me to let Oswald use the phone. I was instructed to step back away from the phone booth so the phone call could be private. From this location I watched the prisoner talking to someone. He used the phone about thirty minutes. I asked Oswald if he got his call through and he answered, yes.

Comment: The timing may correspond to a second call of Oswald to Ruth Paine on Saturday, this one trying unsuccessfully to reach Marina. The length of "about thirty minutes" could include the time in which Oswald made more than one phone call (Popplewell is away from the phone booth and would not necessarily know how many phone calls were made in that time, only that when Oswald was finished it had been "about thirty minutes"). Continuing Popplewell: 

"About four months ago [before 8/20/64] on a Monday, I received a call from an F.B.I. agent who wanted to know about a slip of paper with a phone number on it. This was supposed to be in Oswald's pocket when he died. The agent asked if we allowed prisoners to keep phone numbers on their person. I said that if a call wasn't completed the first time, we could let them write the number down and keep it for a later call. The agent asked me the size of the paper I might have given Oswald to write on. I told him it probably was one torn off of a telephone record sheet hanging outside the telephone booth; that the paper was plain, unmarked, about two by three inches. The telephone sheet is usually used for writing names of prisoners who use the phone, but due to the large volume of prisoners that weekend, it was possible I missed writing Oswald's name down on the record sheet. I have been unable to locate a sheet with his name on it."

Comment: While that explanation is possible, it sounds more like trying to explain why the sheet is missing when he tries later to find it, that he was "sure" he would have written at the time. Given that all phone calls made by Oswald that Saturday are missing in from the log sheets for that day not simply this one, forgetfulness on the part of the officers may not be the explanation. Since four log sheets with 59 other prisoner phone calls are in existence for Sat Nov 23 it is not a case that all records have gone missing either. Not clear what is going on there--why Oswald's name is not on the Saturday log sheets, despite his having made multiple phone calls that day. 

As for the Raleigh phone call attempt, Popplewell says his shift ended 10:30 pm. Mrs. Treon said Oswald's attempted phone call via Mrs. Sweeney happened shortly after her (Mrs. Treon's) shift began at 10 pm. Since Popplewell does not mention another phone call attempt of Oswald during his shift, the Raleigh phone call attempt would occur ca. 10:30 pm, just after Popplewell was relieved by a new shift (unless there is some confusion in Mrs. Treon's time memory, and the Raleigh phone call attempt also was in that 8 pm thirty minutes of Oswald's making phone calls).

It already is the case that all phone calls for Oswald that day are missing from the log sheets for no known reason. It already is the case that there are no known Dallas Police Department records of phone call numbers or names called. The jail card does have three times Oswald used the phone but not a ca. 10:30 pm, fourth phone call. 

If the John Hurt Oswald was trying to reach did go to something of a "classified" nature, the Dallas Police Department would not necessarily know that. But by either 8 pm or 10:30 pm, if Mrs. Treon's account is correct something unusual was happening: a phone call of Oswald was intentionally blocked, and this would be by request initiated from or on behalf of some agency other than the Dallas Police Department. 

By Saturday night the narrative had rapidly closed in from above the level of the Dallas Police department: sola Oswald, Oswald alone. Oswald's attempt to reach his "John Hurt", if it was preemptively prevented, would make sense if an agency knew exactly who Oswald's intended John Hurt was (no mystery about it), and decided that it was not helpful to have Oswald succeed in reaching that party. A municipal police department such as the Dallas Police Department would not be that agency but, via mechanism of a quiet background request to say an assistant of Chief Curry, could accommodate a request from another agency. Accommodation to such a request could trivially include not handwriting in an additional time notation on Oswald's jail card of that fourth time that day Oswald used the phone, the attempt to reach "John Hurt"--and then there would be no written record of that call at all in Dallas Police Department records.

Great research GD and extremely interesting and thought/question provoking.

As are LH's follow up questions and comments regards the FBI.

Hundreds of times with investigatory and missing or altered documentation dead- ends in important areas of JFK/Oswald/Ruby related testimonies and stories one is so often left with only the simplest and last base line option of either believing the story and testimony tellers or not.

Mrs. Treon, Albert Bogard, Sylvia and Annie Odio, Julia Ann Mercer, Arnold Rowland and Carolyn Walther, police department dispatcher Billie Grammer, May Newman and on and on.

Then it's just a personal gut feeling judgment call.

Do you believe Mrs. Treon and/or her daughter in this call story matter or not?

Personally, I believe almost all these witnesses and that their testimonies are not hugely mistaken or made up for personal gain reasons.

 

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On 12/29/2021 at 4:15 PM, Jon Pickering said:

Got it - we should disregard Oswald's thwarted attempt to contact military intelligence on the night of the assassination. 

Anything else we should remain blind to? 

Correct phone numbers in NC linked to John Hurt.  Did the lady just make those up?

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8 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

What continues to stand out in all this is the apparent lack of involvement by the FBI and for that matter the lack of DPD reporting to the FBI.  Just about anything anyone could imagine about Oswald was being investigated by the Bureau, as would be expected. The DPD itself appears to have continued to investigate the shooting per se for at least 24 hours or so but the FBI was totally focused on Oswald as of Saturday morning - and if the DPD did not have a tape recorder handy, well the FBI did.  How in the world was the FBI not following up on, monitoring and investigating any of Oswald's calls ? 

For that matter why was the DPD not doing the same or at least proactively reporting them to the FBI.

And as you note, apparently neither was if the FBI had an agent had to go back and make an inquiry as late as August 64.

A third party intervening and "blocking" a call from Oswald certainly would be possible...blocking it at the receiving end seems most likely.  Blocking it outgoing in Dallas is another story entirely, with a lot of questions that would have to be answered to intervene at the level of the jail. 

Certainly the name and numbers in the call are interesting but the apparent lack of involvement by the FBI with his calls is equally so to me.  Especially given their level of obsessiveness in investigating everything and anything about Oswald.   

 

Larry, good question on why the FBI would not actively investigate and run down those leads, names, and phone numbers right then. What if "John Hurt" (the one Oswald was trying to reach) was one of FBI's own and if brought to light would cast FBI in a bad light (evidence of FBI failure to warn, or whatever), analogous to the reasoning for the destruction of the LHO Hosty note. Would that account for the lack of record of FBI interest that you note? I am not necessarily arguing that, its just a question, trying to think this through. (The later inquiry to Popplewell appears to refer to a slip of paper with four phone numbers on Oswald's person Sunday morning related to attempts to reach Abt in New York.)

The other possibility (for why there is no record of FBI investigating a Raleigh phone call attempt) of course would be because there never was a Raleigh phone call attempt and therefore no reason to show interest. But the case for the existence of that incident seems stronger than the arguments calling it into question, to which I have one more detail to add. In reviewing the Proctor/HSCA summary of the Oswald Raleigh phone call attempt story, the timing of the call was set by Mrs. Treon at about 10:45 pm, just before the start of her (Mrs. Treon's) shift at 11 pm; just before Mrs. Swinney's shift ended (11 pm); after Mrs. Treon had arrived to the switchboard before her shift started (after 10:15 pm); and after Mrs. Treon's daughter, Sharon Kovac, began her shift in a nearby office at 10:30 pm that evening. 

So the timing is pretty closely and narrowly established: between 10:30 and 11 pm, estimated by Mrs. Treon ca. 10:45. There is Mrs. Treon's own account, who comes across as credible (judgment). Her story comes to light not later than Jan 1967, three years after the event, not as good as immediately but a lot better than first coming to light twenty or thirty or forty years later. And Sharon Kovac, the daughter, also says she personally saw her mother and the two officers tapping in on that phone call at that time, and there is the written artifact with the name Lee Harvey Oswald, two valid Raleigh, N.C. phone numbers for two John Hurts, and initials "da" and "ca" circled, standing for "cancelled" and "didn't answer".

The added detail I want to bring out has to do with that timing, of about 10:45 pm. Mrs. Treon said when she arrived at ca. 10:15 before the start of her shift (which started 11 pm), that Mrs. Sweeney told her a call would be coming in from Oswald, and that officers were going to listen in. So Mrs. Sweeney had been asked for her cooperation in some way and had been instructed. That phone call happened just after the end of J. L. Popplewell's eight-hour shift of 2:30 to 10:30 pm. Whether it was planned that way or just happened then is not known, but in either case that timing of the phone call--immediately after the end of Popplewell's shift, has a correspondence to something in Chief Curry's written response to Rankin of the Warren Commission. Curry, speaking for the Dallas Police Department, is supposedly providing all Oswald phone call information.

  • Curry's dossier to WC Rankin includes three affidavits of officers covering two shifts for Nov 23, ending at the end of Popplewell's shift at 10:30 pm. There is no affidavit (or record of questioning from any agency?) of any officer who guarded Oswald after 10:30 pm that night. An officer guarding Oswald's cell--located outside Oswald's cell observing--would have been able to answer a question yes or no whether they had escorted Oswald out of his cell on the fifth floor to the phone to make a phone call. But that was never asked or answered.
  • Since there are grounds that that Oswald Raleigh phone call attempt occurred in the 10:30-11 pm time frame for reasons given, what would have happened on the fifth floor is that the officer or officers assigned to guard Oswald would have escorted Oswald to the phone booth, waited until Oswald was done, and written down that Oswald called on the call log sheet next to the phone booth. The call log sheets included with Chief Curry's cover letter to WC Rankin were represented in Curry's cover letter as all the DPD call log sheets for that weekend. 
  • But as noted earlier, although Curry's package to WC Rankin contained call log sheets from all three days of that weekend (Nov 22-24), none of the log sheets for Nov 23 show any phone call made by Oswald. As earlier noted, 59 other jail prisoner phone calls on 5 log sheets are documented for Nov 23, but none of the Oswald phone calls that day that are known. The only conclusion is entire pages of call log sheets are missing: any call log sheet which had an Oswald phone call on that page is missing, for that day. That this is the case is simply a fact of the existing evidence; what is puzzling is the distinct issue of understanding why that is so. It can be added that each of those call log sheets have about 15 prisoner phone calls per page, and there are no times of phone calls nor are the pages numbered, so there is no obvious means of knowing that all sheets are there. Since Oswald used the phone at least three times Sat Nov 23, and the Raleigh phone call attempt would be a fourth, that would mean perhaps 3-4 pages of Nov 23 call log sheets are inexplicably missing from Curry's submission to Rankin--every page in which anywhere on that sheet was a call of Oswald. But why? Oswald's phone calls to Abt, to Ruth Paine, etc. are no secret. Why selectively cull out every call log sheet on Nov 23 which had a phone call from Oswald somewhere on that page? (see the next bullet point for proposed answer to this question)
  • I can see that as only making sense one way: it was not for the purpose of concealing any of the known phone calls (to Abt, to Ruth Paine), but an unknown phone call. If all of the call log sheets for that day had been included in Curry's submission to WC Rankin, four times (not three times) Oswald used the phone on Nov 23 would appear on those log sheets. That discrepancy would have triggered investigative attention to resolve the discrepancy. One solution would be to "disappear" only one of the call log sheets with only one Oswald phone call. While that would bring the 3 = 3 number of Oswald phone uses that day into agreement (not counting the 10:45 pm Raleigh attempt), that may not have been an ideal solution for this reason: while the call log sheets are not numbered and no times of phone calls are given, the prisoner names are given and the call log sheets have those calls written on each page in the order they happened. It would not be so difficult, if there was investigative motivation to do so, to track down some of those prisoners that day, ask them when they remembered making their phone calls, and in that way get some timeline established for sequencing the phone calls on the call log sheets, as well as sequence of the call log sheets. Therefore, if the single "disappeared" log sheet was one of the earlier phone calls of Oswald, a call attempt around 10:45 pm would come to light. If the single "disappeared" log sheet was the Oswald 10:45 pm, that approximate time would also emerge into interest because calls in that particular time frame but no other time frame was missing. Some intervention to "disappear" call log sheets on Nov 23 did happen (in any case) and some intervention was necessary to happen if there was a Raleigh phone call attempt and intent to keep that concealed. The reconstruction here is that intent to conceal the 10:45 p.m. Oswald phone call attempt caused the disappearance of all call log sheet pages on which phone calls of Oswald were present for Nov 23. If the systematically missing Oswald phone calls on Nov 23 call log sheets were scrutinized, some alternative mechanism or explanation or generalized question concerning the whole day (but no overt indicator of more than three phone uses) might be easier to address than for simply one sheet missing (and which would be an overt focus of interest on time frame approximately 10:45 pm). Why 3-4 call log sheets of that day would be disappeared instead of just 1 is conjectured, but that 3-4 pages were disappeared is a fact, whether or not there was a Raleigh call attempt, and the Raleigh call attempt offers an explanation for what otherwise is inexplicable: why are call log sheets with Oswald phone calls on them on Nov 23 missing, when other call log sheets that day do not appear to be missing.
  • (Parenthetically I would not necessarily assume Chief Curry himself was involved hands-on in this even though it was sent to WC Rankin under his name and cover letter. I assume Chief Curry sent what was provided him by staff.)  
  • The point or conclusion: since missing pages of call log sheets for Nov 23 have no other known satisfactory explanation, this appears to be an additional argument in favor of the existence of the Oswald Raleigh phone call attempt, and that there was an attempt to prevent its existence from coming to light.
  • This conclusion could be removed if a different satisfactory explanation can make comprehensible why all call log sheets with Oswald phone calls on Nov 23 are missing, for a day in which that day's call log sheets themselves are not missing.
  • Otherwise, this supports that that Raleigh phone call attempt happened, and that there was concealment.
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I'm certainly inclined to think the call happened, that it was not anticipated and things were written down that later had to be eliminated.   If you would though, please set me clear on this -  did Oswald give numbers to the operator and get a name or did he give a name and get numbers from the operator?  I tend to get lost easily.

Now to wild speculation -  so Oswald did have an number that he had been given to use if he were ever arrested by the police and needed help getting out of custody.  We tend to think of that as the sort of thing you get from the CIA but the same thing could happen with an FBI source who has provided information and is considered useful.  Its possible Oswald was given such a number when in New Orleans and if so it would have been a local field office decision since they ran their own sources.  Oswald might just have kept the number. 

The same could be true and he was given the name by a CIA case officer at some point.   A number from either agency would not necessarily relate to a conspiracy but would confirm that he was a source for that agency and affiliated with them in some fashion - something they would both want to suppress.

My thought is that in the chaos of events nobody knew Oswald had an emergency number nor anticipated that he would use it - the DPD did what it routinely did and since no connection was made felt they had nothing to report.  However when the call became known somebody went back to DPD and clumsily made it go away well after the fact.  That could have been doen through channels or frankly even by having an agency contact within the Department.

Which of course goes back to the question of why certain reports did rather clumsily go missing after the fact - making DPD look stupid and inept. 

In the interim I'd say it looks like Oswald had either a real name and real location or perhaps just a real number and he used it,  perhaps nobody even knew that immediately but after the fact they had to make it go away.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

I'm certainly inclined to think the call happened, that it was not anticipated and things were written down that later had to be eliminated.   If you would though, please set me clear on this -  did Oswald give numbers to the operator and get a name or did he give a name and get numbers from the operator?  I tend to get lost easily.

Now to wild speculation -  so Oswald did have an number that he had been given to use if he were ever arrested by the police and needed help getting out of custody.  We tend to think of that as the sort of thing you get from the CIA but the same thing could happen with an FBI source who has provided information and is considered useful.  Its possible Oswald was given such a number when in New Orleans and if so it would have been a local field office decision since they ran their own sources.  Oswald might just have kept the number. 

The same could be true and he was given the name by a CIA case officer at some point.   A number from either agency would not necessarily relate to a conspiracy but would confirm that he was a source for that agency and affiliated with them in some fashion - something they would both want to suppress.

My thought is that in the chaos of events nobody knew Oswald had an emergency number nor anticipated that he would use it - the DPD did what it routinely did and since no connection was made felt they had nothing to report.  However when the call became known somebody went back to DPD and clumsily made it go away well after the fact.  That could have been doen through channels or frankly even by having an agency contact within the Department.

Which of course goes back to the question of why certain reports did rather clumsily go missing after the fact - making DPD look stupid and inept. 

In the interim I'd say it looks like Oswald had either a real name and real location or perhaps just a real number and he used it,  perhaps nobody even knew that immediately but after the fact they had to make it go away.

On your opening question, it seems the answer is Oswald must have had a name and a location but not numbers. He got two numbers from an operator.

The fact that he did not have a phone number (because there are two going to two John Hurts), and the questionable accuracy of the location he asked for (since neither John Hurt of Raleigh, N.C. seems to be other than a wrong number), suggests this was not a case of a name and number given him in advance by an agency, but someone he was (ineffectively) trying to reach on this own. The hypothesis is he knew Ana Drittelle and her husband John Hurt, knew something of recently retired John Hurt having "Raleigh" location family connections, which was actually Raleigh County, West Virginia, mistook that for Raleigh, N.C., and got two wrong numbers for two John Hurts in Raleigh, N.C., neither of whom were the John Hurt he was trying to reach. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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 So Oswald had somewhere not only heard of Ana Drittel,  the Russian emigre and fluent Russian speaker, but knew her husband by a different name and was trying to contact her through him - truly a desperation call unless there was something more significant about her.  Could you elaborate a bit on any scenario as to how he might known her or have heard of her.  I read your previous mention of her but wasn't sure I was following it well enough to comprehend.

In that event it was a hail Mary call - and the FBI either dropped the ball or didn't know about the call...and then expunged it to wipe out even more evidence that they had been either inept or were intentionally trying to avoid connecting Oswald to people?

Or is there any sign at all that Drittel might have been either an FBI asset or a CIA asset or source herself....especially given her husband's background?

That is wild speculation but if true it would surely explain why the history of that call would need to be made to vanish.

 

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In a case of this magnitude, LHO was making unrecorded phone calls to unknown parties? At a time in the case when almost nothing was known about LHO's motives, operations and possible confederates? 

Another JFKA fact-set that challenges the imagination....

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