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The Raleigh phone call revisited

Greg Doudna

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Ron, I'm working on understanding the timing of this myself - we need to consider all Oswald's calls and how they were handled as Greg outlined earlier.  Almost all were carried out according to legal DPD protocol,  although I'm not sure they were not all listened to and reported on - somebody needs to look at the calls to Abt, to Ruth etc to make a call on that to see if monitoring was SOP, should have been reports to that effect internally if so, copied to FBI.

We assume this one session was a major exception, which started out according to protocol, was even recorded but somehow was internally blocked, with information collected from Oswald via the Operator but never reported internally as part of the investigation or to FBI as would have been expected.

The two officers - or the two FBI agents - had to have some real authority to do that - either from within DPD if they were police violating procedure or with a head nod from a senior DPD officer if they were outsiders, say FBI.  And we also need to be cautious about taking it further than necessary.  I say that because we know that almost immediately the FBI SAIC had given an order to flush a note from Oswald, he would later authorize removing and replacing a page in his notebook suggesting an FBI contact.  We also know that upon his arrest in New Orleans Oswald in custody had requested to meet with the FBI and we now know that was with a particular FBI agent on the subversive desk.

If Oswald was acting as a source very possibly only the Dallas SAIC would have had that information, and if so his first fear might be a phone call from Oswald himself.....under duress and wanting to report.  In that event pure panic might have driven a request from SAIC (even without Hoover) to DPD to let his people take charge the next time Oswald asked to make a call.  If that was the case of course no report would be made.

I only offer this because I don't think we appreciate how much panic Oswald's arrest may have caused within the FBI, in the Dallas and New Orleans offices in particular.  Destroying evidence and apparently files in New Orleans certainly suggests the kind of behavior we see in blocking this Oswald call.



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Ah Tosh Plumlee appears again to totally muddy the waters with his creation of the Illusionary Warfare Center - its just sad that Tosh has sucked so many people into his own illusions over the years.  I've been through all that here and in other venues since my first exchanges with him on Compuserve, our emails over those years and my contacts with his daughter.  No need to revisit it here, I'll just offer my assessment/opinion that his information is yet one more diversion from the truth and leave it at that - I do have his own document trail of check kiting, FBI outreach and other entertaining things to fall back on as being the true part of his history.

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Posted (edited)

Larry (or anyone), do you know anything about this claim?

"Scott Malone reported that when OSWALD was questioned about his address book he pointed to a number and said it belonged to a CIA agent who debriefed him." (http://whokilledjfk.net/false_defectors.htm [at p. 136 of 208 on my printout])

Scott Malone was a PBS reporter. However all my searching cannot find anything on any such story whether from Scott Malone or otherwise, concerning Oswald speaking of contact with or referring to a CIA agent during his arrest interrogations.

Any idea where this claim came from?

Update Jan 5, 2022: W. Scott Malone was co-editor with Gus Russo of a Nov 16, 1993 Frontline (PBS) special, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" 

There is reference elsewhere in the same Weber document to "Interview with W. S. Malone 5.12.93". (Interview by Weber?) 

If the report is accurate, Scott Malone may have obtained that as part of background investigation in preparation for the 1993 Frontline special, although that detail does not appear in the Frontline special transcript.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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That's a new one on me Greg, actually I do not even recall when Oswald was interrogated on his date book?

I do believe he was briefly interviewed in NYC after his return, by CIA agents probably using coves.  Given how brilliantly CIA Domestic Ops approached him though DeMohrenschieldt in Dallas, its hard for me to see a direct contact where he would have even an alias, certainly not a true name.

Perhaps someone else will chime in on the Malone thing, no luck with me.


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Posted (edited)

Oswald's first, not last, move under interrogation: attempt to alert Fritz to an agency relationship (alibi for the rifle)?

I have been thinking of the scenario of Oswald stonewalling and sticking to a cover story (which would explain him giving untruthful answers concerning the rifle), while waiting desperately for intervention from an agency to get him free, which never happened.

Maybe that should be turned around. Suppose Oswald, not a shooter or assassin, realizes that what he thought was going to be a false-flag fake attempt on the life of Kennedy is shocked to see an actual assassination occurred, and he knows he is deeply implicated via the rifle--that it turned out to be a real assassination was the surprise and now nightmare. In this scenario, Oswald's first, not last, action--given the extreme gravity of the situation in which he found himself--might be or would be expected to be to tell Captain Fritz something to this effect:

"Call xyz [agent/agency]. He will tell you who I am. He will explain."

And in running out this scenario, we might imagine Fritz (who is not part of a conspiracy to klll JFK) does so. Contacts agent/agency xyz who happens to be local in Dallas. At Fritz's request agent xyz comes to the Dallas Police station. But then throws Oswald under the bus, does not clear him or explain anything, leaving Oswald hanging high and dry.

Oswald's attempt to tell Fritz an agency referral not being an action Oswald waits to use, but one of the first things Oswald does with Captain Fritz. 

Then when Oswald's only hope for an immediate alibi that way fails, he is cooked. The only thing left for Oswald to do is stonewall and deny everything related to the rifle, deny, deny, deny, until he can get a lawyer who will make his case and get things sorted out, with the explanation eventually coming out that Oswald was involved with the rifle but it was undercover at the behest of the government for reasons abc, etc.

Perhaps there has been a clue right before our eyes all this time that this is not simply imaginary but may have happened. I refer to ATF agent Frank Ellsworth (Internal Revenue Service, division of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax, to become Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or ATF), who was involved in investigation of firearms and gunrunning by violent right-wing groups, the logical agency to have been working with the Dodd subcommittee on investigation of mail-order firearm purchases which may be in the background of some of the oddities in Oswald's mail-order firearms purchases (i.e. purposeful testing of rules; look-the-other-way of the Post Office surveilling Oswald).

In all of the Warren Commission testimony and exhibits, nor in any report of Fritz or any other official report, I do not think there is any mention that ATF agent Ellsworth (who earlier than day met with Hosty of FBI) as having been present or played a role in an Oswald interrogation. For example the exhaustive 331 pages of Bart Kamp's study of the Oswald arrest interrogations on the PrayerMan site contains not a single mention of the name "Ellsworth" [according to my search engine] (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KzY253NuS9Mnjql6d6dA7QKeDPEa5Uqh/view). Ellsworth's presence at Oswald's interrogations is not documented in any of Fritz's written reports. 

And yet Ellsworth was there, no one today disputes that--early on, and at the request of Fritz. We know this happened because in the mid-1970s Ellsworth spoke of it. 

"Early in 1976, on a trip through Dallas, I arranged an interview with ATF agent Ellsworth. As we sat in his downtown office, he unfolded a remarkable tale that I first broke in The Village Voice that April. Ellsworth told of having been called to the police interrogation room to question Oswald about the rifle found on the sixth floor of the book depository. When he walked in, Ellsworth was certain that he had made one of history's most tragic mistakes.

"'Oswald was sitting in a chair about ten feet from the doorway,' Ellsworth remembered. 'And all I could see was headlines that I'd just turned loose the man who'd killed the president.' He hadn't. However, only a few days before, Ellsworth had given a routine okay to release on bond a young man who was allied with the local Minuteman group and had been charged with a violation of the National Firearms Act. He was, said Ellsworth, 'an absolute dead ringer for Oswald--identical build, weight, coloring, facial features, hair. They were like identical twins; they could've passed for each other.'" (Dick Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much [1992 edn], 542-43)

There is no record of what Ellsworth told Fritz concerning the purpose for which Fritz had called him there: to answer some question concerning the rifle, the Carcano. Author Dick Russell, and the readers, are so caught up in the story of Thomas Masen that that original detail--why Ellsworth was in Fritz's office to question Oswald in the first place and what happened with that--is never returned to or completed, and no one notices. And what Ellsworth says concerning Masen also is ambiguous and a little odd-sounding:

"'Quite a number of officials--state, federal, and local--were aware of this situation [apparently referring to Masen and Minutemen guns], because we talked about it,' Ellsworth continued. 'We laid it to rest [apparently referring to physical similarity in appearance of Oswald and Masen], and satisfied ourselves it was merely coincidence. I have a vague recollection that this man [Masen] was questioned about the assassination, but not by me. Possibly nobody paid much attention because we had Oswald in custody. We weren't looking for a fugitive.'" (p. 543)

Forget the fascinating Masen sideshow for the moment. Why is Ellsworth's presence in the Oswald interrogation not in any known written record or report?  

Ellsworth was not called to testify by the Warren Commission. He testified to HSCA but only on narrow topics which did not include his visit to the Dallas Police station at the request of Captain Fritz concerning unspecified questions related to Oswald's rifle.

Did Ellsworth speak to Oswald? What did Oswald say in response? What did Ellsworth tell Fritz? All of this is just unknown. 

A possible scenario: Oswald's rifle and revolver order, and Oswald's involvement with the Edwin Walker people, were done with the knowledge and approval of ATF, arising out of the Dodd Subcommittee investigations. That would explain a lot concerning why Oswald mail-ordered in the way he did (collection of documentary evidence of mail-order sales across interstate lines including testing of procedures, on targets of investigation). Oswald as an informant/infiltrator.

"In 1963, as head of the Senate's Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut was experimenting with ordering arms from mail order houses in an attempt to gather information allowing Congress to stem unregulated traffic. Senator Dodd instituted the program on behalf of Colt and other small firearms produces in Connecticut who complained of foreign imports. Oswald might have participated in this program (...) [Dodd] was also investigating FBCC in which Oswald may have been an infiltrator. According to a standard textbook by criminologist Charles O'Hara, we can see how Oswald, working in a legitimate undercover capacity for Dodd, could have easily been manipulated into simultaneous conspiracies involving a Mannlicher-Carcano: 'In the investigation of subversive activities and systematic thefts undercover operations are almost indispensable. Undercover work is most successfully used when there is knowledge that certain persons are engaged in criminal activity, but proof which may be used as evidence is lacking... The effective undercover agent is, perhaps, the only means of obtaining detailed information concerning a subversive group or organization.'

"Two of the gun mail-order houses Dodd's subcommittee was investigating were the ones from which Oswald allegedly ordered his Smith and Wesson .38 revolver (Seaport Traders of Los Angeles) and his Mannlicher-Carcano carbine (Klein's of Chicago). (. . .) [W]e still await author George Michael Evica's proof that, 'Beyond speculation... I have learned that according to two unimpeachable sources, Senator Thomas Dodd indeed caused at least one Mannlicher-Carcano to be ordered in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald (or in the name of 'Alek Hidell') sometime in 1963'." (http://www.famoustexans.com/leeharveyoswald.htm) 

The suggestion would be that when Oswald was arrested and accused of the assassination of JFK, the first thing Oswald did as soon as he learned the rifle was the issue, was tell Fritz to call an agency/informant contact, ATF, who would explain. But it did no good. Whatever Ellsworth told Fritz, and whatever Oswald and Ellsworth may have said to each other, no one knows, and Ellsworth's very presence at the Dallas police station at an early stage of the Oswald's interrogations did not appear in any known written reports.

Finally, this 2-1/2 minute excerpt from an on-stage play, "Oswald: The Actual Interrogation" directed by Peter Fokes at a theatre in Ellyn, Illinois, is kind of interesting:


And for anyone who likes that clip, I found this other clip of a different scene from that same theatre production, a couple of minutes more:


Edited by Greg Doudna
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7 hours ago, Ian Lloyd said:

Did Ellsworth take part in the initial search of the TSBD as well?

From what I can find, a Sims and Boyd report from DPD say Ellsworth was present on the sixth floor when the rifle was found,  https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1138#relPageId=536. Carl Booth, supervisor of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax, says seven ATF agents were present at TSBD from 12:40 pm though does not confirm participation of all of them in a top-to-bottom building search until about 1:30 pm, https://www.jfk-online.com/FBI-180-10089-10200-A&TT agents-ATF.pdf. Ellsworth himself says he went up into the TSBD with Fritz and claims he (Ellsworth) was first to find the sniper's nest on the sixth floor:

"Ellsworth had been in his office not far from Dealey Plaza [912 Commerce St.] when news of the shooting came over the radio. He recalled at our interview in 1976: 'I immediately took off running, and got there the same time [Dallas police captain] Will Fritz did. He motioned me to follow him into the book depository. To my knowledge, I was the only federal officer in the building.'

"Ellsworth then aided in the authorities' search of the depository. 'I didn't know what we were looking for, we picked up and tagged as evidence all sorts of stuff. I went up in the false ceilings figuring whoever did the shooting might still be hiding in the building. We found a lot of whisky bottles up there. Because of my assigned location I happened to be the individual who found where Oswald had done the shooting. There were a number of boxes over by the sixth-floor window, which appeared to have been the sniper's nest. (. . .) Ellsworth was never called to testify before the Warren Commission. 'Which suited me fine,' he added, 'because I was just a spear-carrier; there were other people who were the lead players in the investigation.'" (Russel, The Man Who Knew Too Much [1992], 568-69) 

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The most extensive discussion of Frank Ellsworth (though nothing about Ellsworth present with Fritz and Oswald in the Dallas police station) seems to be Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2011 ed.), 171-75.

Incidentally, does anyone know of/have a reference for a statement from the Treasury Department that Oswald had no informant relationship with any of their sub-agencies, specifically the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax division of IRS (Ellsworth's)? Is such a denial formally on the record?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone know who this woman was? Gary Mack reporting, May 1984:

"Also unresolved is the fate of Fritz' notes of his Oswald interrogations. He told the Warren Commission he kept no notes, but was not asked why. The wife of one of Fritz's best friends recently told researchers that Fritz had secretly recorded his Oswald interrogations. Only one other DPD employee even knew about the recording equipment, which was in a small room or closet adjoining Fritz' office. The tapes are supposedly safe. She added that Fritz was afraid for the safety of his family and relatives, and that Oswald admitted being a member of the Intelligence community. There is no known reason to doubt the credibility of the woman or her husband."

(http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/M Disk/Mack Gary Cover-up/Item 19.pdf)

Another unrelated detail from the same link, this quote from Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Alexander, published April 20, 1984 in the Dallas Times Herald: "[Will Fritz] was one of the few intellectually honest police officers I ever met". Not clear if that was an accurate quote but it sounds like an assistant U.S. attorney considered an honest cop in Texas in the '60s to be exceptional, a "few good apples" interpretation of police departments.

Back to the Fritz tapes story. There have been rumors of Fritz Oswald interrogation tapes but such tapes have never come to light. One explanation might be because those tapes have something of Oswald on it such that unknown external reasons ensured those tapes would not come to light. However another possibility could be: some cases of claims of having secret tapes, etc. in safety deposit boxes, and getting the word leaked out to that effect, can be behavior of someone fearing for the safety of himself or family, just letting the right people know that he "has something", a claim of having "insurance". It is not necessary for the claim to be effective that the insurance exists, only that the desired party believes that it could exist. Of course if that is what was going on with Fritz that would suggest Fritz was not certain Oswald was a lone nut and considered there could be living conspirators still at large. How does one distinguish bluffing from reality in cases such as this genre of claim (stories of secret tapes that no one has ever seen)?

The biggest cause for skepticism that such Fritz tapes exist: if they existed it would seem they would have come to light by now, or someone would have talked. Of course Gary Mack did report a claim in 1984 that someone was talking, but who was she? 

Larry do you know anything about this woman claiming to know of Fritz Oswald tapes?

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Greg, I know nothing other than what I would consider the gossip mentioned in the report - including the fact that nobody who worked with Fritz, including a couple of folks I have interviewed plus a host of DPD officers interview by Ian Griggs and others, ever mentioned anything about secret recording equipment.  And in 1963 tape recorders were not exactly pocket affairs and also would have required one or more special wired mikes to pick up anything useful a room away. 

Certainly Gary Mack has sources, including other Dallas researchers, in the position to pursue the gossip and he's never said anything further on what would seem pretty explosive as far as I know?  I don't doubt that Fritz may have known more than he ever commented on officially - we do have a HSCA note with a DPD officer who was close to him implying that (but its only a hand written note in the marginalia) and introducing Martino's name. 

And for that matter who would have operated the recorder during the interview and why would not Fritz immediately have protected himself by handing the tape over to the FBI or Secret Service - holding something like that to himself is the most dangerous thing he could have done.

I've have to see something solid more on this to take it seriously...

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