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AEOCEAN-3 and Oswald


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The topic is this Nov 25, 1963 CIA memo from "Thomas B. Casasin", CIA pseudonym for Jacques Richardson: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=7478&relPageId=3. As it stands, it reads as a former CIA officer, in the aftermath of news of the assassination, writing a memo to a former agency contact in France telling of memories of his past curiosity concerning Oswald while in Japan working in the Soviet Russia Division. The memo was then circulated internally within CIA. One interpretation could be this memo was like a CYA memo, putting a spin on certain things and intended to shape the narrative.

HSCA interviewed Casasin (Richardson) on Aug 17, 1978 (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=31476#relPageId=2). According to the HSCA report:

"[Casasin] stated that in September, 1960 he was assigned [___] as Branch 6 Chief. He worked for two years in Section 6. (. . .)

"Casasin explained that the function of Section 6 was operations in support of the Soviet Russia Division of the CIA. He said the work consisted of amassing information in support of the SR Division; he characterized that work as classical espionage work against the USSR. (. . .) Casasin worked in Japan from February 1955 to June 1960. He served as Chief of the Soviet Base of the North Asia Command. He said his unit was attached to the Far Eastern Command of the Armed Forces.

Comment: he was senior CIA--Branch 6 Chief--involved in operations not simply intelligence, attached to military units in Japan at the time Oswald was in the Marines in Japan. Casasin says his base did only "extremely limited" work with the military operationally (meaning there was some)."

"Casasin said, however, that the Navy did provide some operational support for his base. It consisted of providing [____] for persons running operations against the Soviets. (. . .)

"Casasin said that he does not know who had the oversight responsibility or authority for the U-2 program. He cited that as an example of how well compartmentalized their work was. He said he never learned who was in charge of the U-2 program out of Japan ...

"Casasin said he does not recall any discussions concerning the possible use of American defectors to penetrate the Soviets. He said one reason for no interest in such use was probably that the First Chief Directorate of the KGB would suspect any such American from the beginning as being CIA connected ... Casasin explained further that American intelligence interests were much more short range than the type of slow, long-range project of working an American defector into some sensitive or intelligence-productive position within the Soviet Union. He said that was simply not the American way of conducting intelligence and that that thinking precluded such programs."

Comment: sounds like a pretty definitive denial of running someone like Oswald into the Soviet Union. But how then can there be this (below) in an internal CIA memo dated June 29, 1978, stating that Casasin himself personally ran one such agent of the exact kind matching Oswald, contrary to the impression he gave according to the HSCA report that that never was happening, and that he could not even recall ever discussing such a thing? (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=49667#relPageId=6). This is from that June 29, 1978 internal CIA memo:

"I said that Casasin was another problem. The man had worked for us abroad under non-official cover. He had left the Agency and now works in a UN organization. He had run an agent into the USSR, that man having met a Russian girl and eventually marrying her. Our assumption is that the interest in the man is that the agent was successful in getting his Russian wife out of the country, as Oswald was in getting Marina out. We have no problem in arranging an interview with Casasin, but the name of the agent we do not wish to reveal, for reasons outlined at the meeting. I noted that Casasin (which is a pseudonym) was also a chief of one of the SR Sections during the time period of interest to them and this might make him additionally interesting to them, as they had requested the people for that period. Goldsmith said they are not interested in the identify or any aspects of Casasin's agent or his Russian wife, which I said resolved that aspect of the matter ..."

Comment: Note the introductory understatement of Casasin's job description. Casasin "had worked for us abroad" and "also" was a chief of "one of" the SR Sections--when he was the chief of the operations ("classical espionage") section of the entire Soviet Russia Division of the CIA at the time Oswald went into the USSR. Now back to the HSCA interview of Casasin. HSCA asks Casasin about his Nov 25, 1963 memo.

"Casasin says he does remember the memo. I asked him to explain the cover memo dated 12 December 1963 by Robert G. Lamprell to Chiefs of SR and WH re: GPFLOOR-Lee Harvey Oswald. Casasin explained that Lamprell (whose real name was [_____] he died of cancer a few years ago) was one of Casasin's contacts in Paris ... Casasin said that Walter Haltigan (whose real name was [_____]) was his normal contact in Paris. He surmised that his memo was sent out by Lamprell because Haltigan might not have been avaialble. He does not know the reason for the delay between the date of his memo, 25 November, and the transmission by Lamprell, 12 December.

"Casasin said he recalls that he wrote the memo spontaneously when he heard a news cast about Oswald after the assassination. He recognized Oswald when he heard the news information that Oswald had lived in Minsk in the Soviet Union and had married a foreigner. He remembered those details from State Department information he had seen. Casasin explained the cryptonym REDWOOD as clandestine operations; the Chief of the SR Division was responsible for that project."

Comment: Chief of the Soviet Russia Division was the superior or boss of the chief of Section 6 which did all of SR Division's operations. Casasin was that chief of Section 6. In other words, Casasin ran REDWOOD.

"Casasin explained the relationship of the Counterintelligence staff to other divisions. He said Counterintelligence had primary responsibility for staff review, but supposedly no command voice. However, they did have their own closely held operations. Counterintelligence gave approval on every operation. (. . .)

"Casasin said the research unit of Branch 6 would get information from defectors about Soviet realities and details about Soviet life which could be used to assist persons working inside the Soviet Union. He said such defectors were normally pumped about personal life in the USSR. However, Casasin said he does not personally know of any defectors being used as a source in his brief time in the SR Division. He said the agency also benefitted from FBI debriefings of such defectors. In part this was due to the CIA's limited charter domestically in the United States. But the Contacts Division (OO) did have a domestic mandate within the U.S. (. . .)

Comment: Was Oswald technically considered internal to CIA a "defector"? Does a defector mean rununciation of citizenship (which did not happen with Oswald)? Or was Oswald technically considered an American citizen on an extended visit to USSR, not a defector strictly defined? Oswald was called informally a defector in news reports all the time, but the question is whether Casasin's denial formally excludes Oswald. 

"Casasin said he believes it is inconceivable that Oswald would have been any type of operative of the CIA."

Comment: That is a clear denial. The question is whether it is truthful. Continuing...

"I asked Casasin what the reference to the 'Harvey Story' in the last line of his memo referred to. He said at first that it must have been some kind of cryptonym he was using at the time. He pondered a while. Then he said he would need some prompting of his memory. He said he doubts that it would have been someone's true name. Casasin said he has never been contacted by anybody, including the Warren Commission, about the memo. He said that his interest in Oswald as expressed in the memo was just a lead. He said the fact of no follow-up on that lead was not unusual. He said Oswald's going to the Soviet Union was unusual, but that left him open to the possibility of KGB contact. He therefore ultimately was of only marginal interest to the agency.

"Casasin said it was normal to not make a check for a 201 file on a person like Oswald, meaning that it was not unusual that he did not check for Oswald's 201. He said this was especially not unusual since they had made the decision not to use Oswald. (. . .)

"Casasin said that the purpose of a 201 is to indicate that a request had been made for provisional operational approval. (. . .)

Comment: as bought out by John Newman, Oswald had a 201 file in CIA's Counterintelligence., q.e.d. Oswald was considered for operational use, contrary to Casasin's "it is inconceivable" that Oswald would have been "any type of operative of the CIA". 

Casasin, chief of the section doing all of CIA's operations inside the USSR carried out by the Soviet Russia Division, has all along been giving the impression that someone like Oswald inside the USSR would be of no interest to the agency. That is questionable, but now Casasin goes over the top in making a claim that just blatantly does not pass the smell test:

"Casasin mentioned that agency people were assigned to the military base at Atsugi. Casasin referred again to the 'Harvey Story' reference in his memo. He stated that 'Whatever I meant by Harvey had nothing to do with him (Oswald).'"

Comment: Say what? "Whatever" he meant--he wrote the memo, he does not know?--he just has no idea what he meant by that, just no idea. But, he assures the U.S. Congress (the HSCA investigators), one thing it had nothing to do with was that sentence's topic of discussion, Lee Harvey Oswald. To show how blatant this is, here is the paragraph of the Nov 25, 1963 memo of Casasin:

"p.s. As an afterthought, I recall also that at the time I was becoming increasingly interested in watching develop a pattern that we had discovered in the course of our bio and research work in 6: the number of Soviet women marrying foreigners, being permitted to leave the USSR, then eventually divorcing their spouses and settling down abroad without returning 'home'. The AEOCEAN 3 case was among the first of these, and we eventually turned up something like two dozen similar cases. We established links between some of these women and the KGB. KUDESK became interested in the developing trend we had come across. It was partly out of curiosity to learn if Oswald's wife would actually accompany him to our country, partly out of interest in Oswald's own experiences in the USSR, that we showed operational intelligence interest in the Harvey story."

Comment: It was "partly out of curiosity" over whether Lee Harvey Oswald would be allowed by the USSR to bring Marina back, offered as rationale for a "operational intelligence interest" in "the Harvey story", which Casasin assures HSCA had nothing to do with a reference to Oswald. It is not that Casasin can explain what else it might mean. He says he just has no clue in his memory at all to what he meant by "the Harvey story" other than he does not think his used "Harvey" as a proper name (!) and he is certain it means something other than Lee Harvey Oswald. The expression is not written all-caps like AEOCEAN 3 in the way used to name a formal agency operation or operative. One wonders if Casasin's desire to say "Harvey" does not mean Oswald is due to that descriptor, "operational intelligence interest", attached to "the Harvey story".

Another possibility--this is conjecture--goes to Casasin's first suggestion before he retracted it, that it does refer to an operation or Oswald as operative, but the small-case letters instead of all-caps is insider jargon or reference to Oswald when speaking of him in a certain operative function perhaps off the books. "Harvey" would come from Oswald's middle name as the least obvious name to use, standing for "Oswald as operative". In that case, far from being of no interest to CIA, Oswald's own middle name was used to name an informal operation involving him and, if that is correct, would testify to his operational interest to CIA

It is a bit much that Casasin could claim that "the Harvey story" in that sentence does not refer to Oswald, at the same time claiming total amnesia as to any other meaning of that expression. For having no memory of what it meant when he wrote it, he seems unusually certain concerning what he wants HSCA to know it does not mean. The question is whether these bizarre answers and explanations of Casasin concerning "operational intelligence interest in the Harvey story" as not meaning Oswald are because if that was admitted to HSCA (even though the document was then classified) it risked opening up the whole area that there was operational interest in and/or use of Oswald on the part of CIA, so much so that some in CIA even had a nickname for the Oswald operation, i.e. "Harvey". Familiarity with someone to the point of having a nickname for them is a little different from barely know the guy, never paid much attention to him, who was he again?...

In pondering this I then began to consider a reading of the Nov 25, 1963 memo as a possible narrative construction and framing, a rewriting of some elements of personal history retroactive to the assassination, in explanation of the author's former associations with the subject of Oswald. In such a reading the objective is not to tell the straight truth but to tell a defensible acceptable truth (sort of like Allen Dulles passing out a book on lone-nut assassins in history to fellow members of the Warren Commission on day one, suggesting an appropriate framework for exploration of the case).

Then I went still further and began to wonder whether, despite the impression given in the Nov 25, 1963 memo that AEOCEAN 3 is a distinct individual from Oswald, AEOCEAN 3 might be Oswald.

According to a cryptonym identification on the Mary Ferrell site (https://www.maryferrell.org/php/cryptdb.php?id=AEOCEAN-3), the agent called AEOCEAN-3 run by Casasin (Richardson) inside the USSR is identified as Philip R. Neilson, an American who traveled to the USSR and married a Russian national. The case of US citizen Neilson and his marriage to a Russian woman is discussed in other documents and is not in question here. Those are true names and the case is real. However, I have not seen any document that identifies AEOCEAN-3 as Philip Neilson. What is the basis for that identification given on the Mary Ferrell site? 

The credits for that cryptonym listing are given as Carmine Savastano and Malcolm Blunt. Both of those are formidable researchers and yet, is there a document that establishes that identification? Not that I know of. Or does that identification derive from a form of logical inference, not direct document statement, based on the wording in the Nov 25, 1963 memo? That is what I think happened. The question is, first, how sound is that identification, and if it is not secure, second, can it be excluded that AEOCEAN-3 was not Philip Neilson but Lee Harvey Oswald?

Here is Carmine Savastano's analysis of the case which does not identify AEOCEAN-3 with Philip Neilson but leaves AEOCEAN-3 unidentified: https://www.tpaak.com/tpaak-blog/2017/9/14/the-cia-man-who-considered-using-oswald. From Savastano:

"[D]espite his protestations Richardson ["Casasin"] did conduct a very similar operation to the one alleged by Commission detractors regarding Oswald. Additionally, Richardson previously noted roughly a dozen similar cases of Russian women marrying foreigners, immigrating with them, and then after the relationship ceased they remained in their adopted nations. Richardson states the CIA was able to connect some of these women to the KGB, thus if the pattern is to be regarded, Marina would be the possible sleeper agent and not her "odd" husband but this does not support the official claims of a Communist plot using Oswald and thus is set aside.

"Similar actions and circumstances are noteworthy; officials claim that despite the verifiable similarities between the unnamed agent and Lee Harvey Oswald's actions, they are unrelated. Agency personnel claiming there was no interest in Oswald clearly ignore the evidence verifying there was interest for some time and could another officer or agent have been using Oswald? Despite the misgivings expressed by the Agency's employees, Oswald is present while the very same proposed operations and programs that could have manipulated him were active and Jacques Richardson desired to approach Oswald for intelligence purposes while prior directing his own unnamed agent. This agent like Oswald improbably married a Russian woman during the Cold War and was able to immigrate with her abroad. Reasonable doubts and questions certainly remain, not least of which is the name of Richardson's agent. While this agent's true name is elusive his cryptonym according to multiple documents is AEOCEAN-3. AEOCEAN is the operational code name for the Legal Travelers Program of which AEOCEAN-3 was a part. Who is the man that was able to prior undertake such improbable actions and fade into history?"

For the wrapup here, there is John Newman's longstanding attention to an accidental apparent documentary discovery that CIA debriefed Oswald contrary to CIA reports of no record of such. Newman found on a CIA released document, an accident bleed through from another page not intended to have been found, a handwritten reference to an Oswald file or interview by CIA's domestic contacts division (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=219300#relPageId=6). That appears to be documentary corroboration for a separate and credible claim of former CIA employee in Domestic Contacts, Donald Deneselya, to have seen a written record of a CIA debrief of Oswald which record does not exist today (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=90661#relPageId=49). As Newman says, that CIA would debrief Oswald is not the issue and would be unremarkable: what Newman would like to see explained is why CIA would cover that up.

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