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The Secret Service never told Marina that Ruth Paine was CIA--never happened


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In the film by Max Good, "The Assassination & Mrs. Paine", in a dramatic final scene Good puts in front of Ruth Paine testimony of Marina Oswald to the New Orleans Grand Jury in which Marina says that the Secret Service told her Ruth was associated with the CIA. The camera closes in on the 87-year old Ruth Paine for her reaction. 

The charge--almost the finale in the Max Good film, the coup de grace, so to speak--that the Secret Service told Marina that Ruth Paine was CIA continues to be repeated as common currency to the present day among conspiracy-theorist circles, and probably many on this very forum have believed and continue to believe unquestioningly that it is true. But it isn't true. It never happened. But first, from the Max Good film: 

Good (hands paper to Ruth who looks at it): In 1968 Marina testified that the Secret Service told her you were associated with the CIA.

Ruth (reads it): Yeah well so what am I supposed to do with this?

Good: Whats your reaction? Why would they tell her that?

(on-screen: closeup of pages of Marina testimony in New Orleans saying Secret Service told her Ruth Paine was associated with the CIA)

Ruth: I had the impression it was her brother-in-law, rather than the Secret Service for somebody that told her to stay clear of me.

Good: Their thing is that you and Michael were involved in surveillance activities of the radical left. 

Ruth: What?

Good: That you and Michael were involved in surveillance activities of the radical left. Uh, and that—

Ruth: Who would be the radical left?

Good: Cuban sympathizers.

Ruth: Oh.

Good: Communists.

Ruth: Absolute news to me. I was not aware of surveilling anybody. Or watching Oswald.

Good: Maybe watching Oswald was a job you had to keep an eye on—

Ruth: Flake.

Good: --this young communist defector, who had returned—

Ruth: Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

Good: Have you ever done any work for the FBI or CIA?

Ruth: No, I haven’t. No. I was not an Oswald sitter for the CIA or whatever kind of story they’re trying to tell.

The Secret Service never told Marina any such thing concerning an association of Ruth Paine with the CIA. Marina did say that, in her testimony before the New Orleans Grand Jury. But what Secret Service told Marina was to steer clear of Ruth Paine because Ruth Paine was associated with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The Secret Service wanted to keep Marina isolated and talking and not have Ruth and especially the ACLU of which Ruth was a member and had talked about to Marguerite Oswald, interfere with their questioning of Marina. That is why they told Marina to not talk to Ruth Paine because of her association with the ACLU.

Here is one gem, direct quote, from the New Orleans testimony of Marina, not a native English speaker: 

Marina: "What is CIA?"

Here is another (unfortunately the transcript has missed some wording but what does come through gives a pretty good idea that Marina does not know which is which):

Marina: "I had the impression ... American Civil Liberties Union, I don't know"

And then this:

Marina: "Could she [Ruth Paine] be member?"

The New Orleans Grand Jury questioning was carried out by the office of District Attorney Jim Garrison. Members of Garrison's staff realized right away the Secret Service never told Marina Ruth Paine was CIA.

Marina made one remark that pleased Garrison. She said the Secret Service had told her to beware of Ruth Paine ‘because she was a member of the CIA.’  However, [Assistant District Attorney Jim] Alcock told me later that by the way she answered – ‘that organization you join...’ it was evident she meant something other than the CIA, namely the ACLU.”—Tom Bethel, Garrison staff, diary

It can be known--not as a matter of conjecture but knowledge--that the reason the Secret Service wanted Marina not to communicate with Ruth Paine was because of Secret Service's fear of interference from the ACLU in their questioning of Marina.

Some of the material I present here has not been put together in this way before, so I urge careful attention to what follows.

The ACLU was a live issue at exactly the time the Secret Service told Marina what she remembered them having told her. The Secret Service had the Oswald women--mother, wife, toddler and baby daughters of Lee Oswald--sequestered in protective custody and was questioning both Marina and Marguerite during a period of several days following the assassination before the FBI took over. In the Secret Service's interview with Marguerite, Marguerite told the Secret Service of Ruth Paine's membership in the ACLU and how Ruth had told Marguerite that ACLU would assist in getting legal counsel. Marguerite had not remembered the name of the organization and the Secret Service went to some effort to identify the organization of Ruth Paine of which Marguerite spoke.

Most readers are familiar with the ACLU's long history and reputation for effectiveness as the premiere civil liberties' advocacy organization in America, often at odds with prosecutors and police investigators. 

The Secret Service would have had no knowledge of any CIA relationship with Ruth Paine, nor has any Ruth Paine CIA allegation ever been confirmed or repeated any Secret Service agent. The reason is because, notwithstanding Marina's words, it never happened that the Secret Service said that--it never was any other than the ACLU that was the subject of interest and what the Secret Service told to Marina. 

Below is the relevant portion of the transcript of Marina's testimony to the New Orleans Grand Jury (https://archive.org/details/OrleansParishGrandJuryTestimonyOfMarinaOswaldPorter8Feb1968/page/n71/mode/2up ). 

Juror:

Q. Do you still see Ruth Paine?

A. No, I like her and appreciate what she did. I was advised by Secret Service not to be connected with her, seems like she was … not connected … she was sympathizing with the CIA. She wrote letters over there and they told me for my own reputation, to stay away.

Q. The Secret Service told you this?

A. Yes.

Mr. Alcock:

Q. What did they say?

A. They didn’t say anything personal about her, but they said its better for me to stay away from her for a while, it seemed like she was sympathizing with CIA.

Mr. Garrison:

Q. Couldn’t they say she was connected with the Central Intelligence Agency, because that’s our conclusion about Ruth Paine.

A. I don’t know if she was connected with CIA, but they told me to stay away.

Mr. Sciambra:

Q. Did they say sympathize or associated with?

A. I don’t remember right now exactly, but the way I understood…

Q. Did they explain to you why it would be bad for you to associate with her if she was associated with the CIA?

A. I had the impression … the Civil Liberties Union, I don’t know 

Juror:

Q. Marina, did the Secret Service say to you, Marina, it is better for you not to see Ruth Paine anymore because it’s not good for you, she might be saying things to the CIA that might be detrimental to you, Marina?

A. No, because she … what is CIA?

Q. Central Intelligence Agency.

A. Could she be member?

Mr. Garrison: She probably is employee.

Mr. Sciambra:

Q. In other words, they gave you the impression…

A. Seems like she had friends over there and it would be bad for me if people find out connection between me and Ruth and CIA.

Q. In other words, you were left with the distinct impression that she was in some way connected with the CIA?

A. Yes.

Mr. Garrison:

Q. Were you surprised to learn that the FBI and the Secret Service were not clear as to just who was with the CIA? Did that occur to you as rather odd?

A. I was not questioning them so much.

Q. In Russia generally, if somebody is with the Intelligence Agency doesn’t the rest of the government know about it?

A. I guess so.

The below is from the Secret Service interview of Marguerite Oswald, either Nov 25 or 26, 1963, in which Ruth Paine's association with the ACLU was a live issue to the Secret Service (the transcription is mine from the recording). (https://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/27394-november-2526-1963-ss-interview-of-marguerite-oswald-excerpt-2/#comment-447585

Marguerite Oswald. The other night, after I had rushed to my son’s aid here in Dallas, I had no place to go and Mrs. Paine said if I’d be willing to sleep on the sofa I could come out to her home.

Secret Service. This was after Lee was in jail, is that right?

Marguerite. That is correct.

SecS. I see.

Marguerite. So I had not seen my daughter-in-law. In fact I had not known even there was a new baby. So I went to where my daughter-in-law was living, which was at Mrs. Paine’s house. So I said we need to get an attorney for Lee. We have no money but he must have some rights. Do you have an attorney? And I said I didn’t like Marina making a statement without being represented. Mrs. Paine was her interpreter when Marina made the statement and signed the statement. I said I didn’t like that and that she should have been represented by an attorney before making any statement. Mrs. Paine says, Don’t worry about anything like that. I am a member of, now, uh uh, uh--I have tried to think of the name of the organization that Mrs. Paine told me she was a member of. And I have not been able to remember entirely. I was upset, and I was surprised that she was a member of an organization. Because to me, all of these organizations mean nothing. Birch Society, now I, I read about ‘em and I pass them off as nothing. So I didn’t pay too much attention to that.

SecS. Do you have any idea what it might be?

Marguerite. Well she said that don’t worry too--that Lee would be represented by counsel because she was a member, and they would see that Lee got a lawyer.

SecS. You don’t know what type of organization it was?

Marguerite. No I don’t, but I truly believe that if I heard the name, I may, I may know.

SecS.  <…>?

Marguerite. No, Cuba was not mentioned, that I’m sure. Uh, uh, uh, American Civil Rights, is there such a thing?--Rights. It was an organization that protects people’s rights. In other words she assured me that he would have a lawyer because she was a member of this organization. I didn’t like Mrs. Paine immediately upon entering her home. And then when she told me she was a member of this organization, then I don’t know—

SecS. Mrs. Oswald, of course we don’t want to put words in your mouth but there are several of these organizations. Uh, if we do name it and it sounds like the one that you heard it might help us. Uh, could this be the Committee for Peaceful Alternations? 

Marguerite. No.

SecS. Its not.

Marguerite. No.

SecS. In other words, it sounds to me like its some type of a welfare organization for people that are, that are in trouble.

Marguerite. Exactly.

This interview of Marguerite Oswald is exactly at the time and context in those several days in which the Secret Service, after figuring out Ruth Paine's organization was the ACLU and what ACLU was about, did not want the ACLU interfering. That is why the Secret Service persuaded Marina not to have further contact with Ruth Paine!--because of fear of the ACLU!

Marina refers to the Secret Service saying Ruth Paine and company "wrote letters over there". That refers to a letter the ACLU wrote Marina offering legal assistance and expressing concerns that she was being pressured by the Secret Service. Not the kind of letter the Secret Service appreciated. A letter which the Secret Service could very reasonably have blamed Ruth Paine for based on what Marguerite had told them. The Secret Service developed a favorable rapport with Marina, got her to talk to them and tell them a lot, and the Secret Service were averse to ACLU interfering, and averse to Ruth Paine because Ruth Paine was a member of the ACLU and had talked about the ACLU to Marguerite. That was the issue--not the CIA! Marina got ACLU and CIA confused, it always was about the ACLU between the Secret Service and Marina but Marina did not know which acronym was which.

The ACLU had issues with being red-baited. The ACLU was accused of being leftist and was in the news and public eye. The Secret Service wanting to have Marina be isolated, would tell Marina that it was in her best interests not to associate with Ruth Paine due to the ACLU affiliation, better for Marina's reputation, etc. and etc. (although the real reason was to not have disruption to Marina talking to the Secret Service without interference). This is from Marina's Warren Commission testimony:

Mr. Rankin. Now, Mr. Thorne is your attorney. I understand that he told the Civil Liberties Union people of Dallas it was all right for the Secret Service people to be there with you and that you liked that arrangement and did not want to be interfered with. Was that satisfactory to you?

Mrs. Oswald. Yes, that is correct.

Mr. Rankin. Was he speaking for you when he said that?

Mrs. Oswald. Yes, because I received a letter from Mr. Olds, a leader of that union [head of the Dallas Civil Liberties Union, the Dallas ACLU]. In that letter he said that he sympathizes with my situation, that he supposed that the Secret Service treated me very badly and stopped me from doing something. I answered him in a letter written in Russian which was later translated into English that all of this was not the truth.

When Marina told the New Orleans Grand Jury that the Secret Service advised Marina to shun Ruth Paine because "she wrote letters over there", this is what that meant--this very kind of letter from the head of the local ACLU threatening to protect Marina's rights before the law from being questioned by the Secret Service and FBI without counsel. They did not want that! 

It was the ACLU which the Secret Service was afraid of, in the motive to cut Marina off from Ruth Paine. (Not the CIA.)

Ruth Paine was a member of the ACLU. (Not the CIA.)

It was the ACLU which was the live issue. (Not the CIA.)

It was the ACLU which the Secret Service associated with Ruth Paine. (Not the CIA.)

It was the ACLU which wrote objectionable "letters", including one critical of the Secret Service sent to Marina by the Dallas ACLU. (Not the CIA.)

The Secret Service cited Ruth Paine's association with the ACLU as bad for Marina's reputation.

Marina called ACLU "CIA" and many conspiracy theorists for the next fifty-five years (!) taking Marina's "CIA" instead of ACLU as gospel truth, refusing to acknowledge that the Secret Service talked about Ruth's association with ACLU to Marina, not CIA. 

I hope that this setting forth of these facts will end this particular canard which has for so long functioned to smear Ruth Paine, and which has been so formative in shaping opinions of people about Ruth Paine. The finale of the Max Good film.

Just nothing there. The Secret Service did not tell Marina that Ruth Paine was CIA. 

The sad thing is that studies have shown that the retraction or correction of an error, even when the correction is fully acknowledged, still removes only part, not all, of the effects on thinking of the original damaging statement. (The same studies show the influence of an acknowledged corrected longstanding error is only fully removed when the preceding finding is also explained in addition to the error-correction itself, which is why I mentioned it just now.) 

This is an appeal to cease the abuse of Ruth Paine from this particular accusation. If truth matters.

And one day, perhaps even Jim DiEugenio will apologize to Ruth Paine for the damage the spreading of this particular false accusation has done to Ruth. 

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7 hours ago, Greg Doudna said:

 

This is an appeal to cease the abuse of Ruth Paine from this particular accusation. If truth matters.

And one day, perhaps even Jim DiEugenio will apologize to Ruth Paine for the damage the spreading of this particular false accusation has done to Ruth. 

Greg, I may not agree with you on certain topics, but you are 100% correct on all these false allegations about Ruth Paine. Long time researchers have known about the CIA-ACLU confusion for many years. As you laid out in your post, it was the ACLU not CIA. You did an excellent job laying it out in detail. 

I saw the Max Good film and was disturbed how he waited to the end to pose these nutty accusations to an 87-year-old Ruth Paine. He would have been better served in researching the facts first and not rely on virulent conspiracy advocates who have an axe to grind with Mrs. Paine. 

In fairness, perhaps Mr. Good would like to comment or explain his position to see his side of the story.  

The truth does matter. I seriously doubt Mr. DiEugenio will make any apology of any kind in regard to Ruth Paine. He's too busy playing parlor games with phony "ignore" claims on you and Tracy Parnell, just trying to be popular among his handful of supporters. 

These reckless and false claims about Ruth Paine on this forum are of course without merit and belong in the trash. 

Related to the topic, even Harold Weisberg never bought into the Oswald Minox Camera fantasy. http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/S Disk/Stewart James L/Item 01.pdf

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1 hour ago, Steve Roe said:

These reckless and false claims about Ruth Paine on this forum are of course without merit and belong in the trash. 

Related to the topic, even Harold Weisberg never bought into the Oswald Minox Camera fantasy. http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/S Disk/Stewart James L/Item 01.pdf

Steve, well said. And thank you to Greg for laying out this issue in such detail. It’s a stark contrast to what increasingly passes for original research on this forum, a la multiple Lee Oswalds running around the world framing one another, multiple Marguerites morphing from “attractive” to “dumpy,” a Marina Oswald who knowingly had two “different” husbands, Oswald “face masks” being grafted onto people in the Altgens 6 photo, and so on.

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This is from Marina's New Orleans Grand Jury testimony.

Q: Do you still see Ruth Paine?

A: No, I like her and appreciate what she did.  I was advised by Secret Service not to be connected with her, seems like she was...not connected...she was sympathizing with the CIA.  She wrote letters over there and they told me for my own reputation to stay away.

Then to cap off this dialogue here you go:

Q: In other words, you were left with the distinct impression that she was in some way connected with the CIA

A: Yes.

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Jonathan:

DId you ask Roe about his business? That is steve roe consulting?

I would be interested who he consulted for prior to JFK Revisited debuting.

Since I cannot find any trace of that entity anywhere without relating to Stone's film.  Can you?

Sort of like Litwin's support for leftwing causes while working for Intel Pentium, on Wall Street and Bay Street.

Go ahead try and find that also.

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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If Roe had no prior consulting jobs, you can figure out why from that letter from Harold.

Harold admits he has not revisited the subject in twenty years. Nice one in not mentioning that Steve. Too many other consulting jobs?

I wish  Harold had revisited it.  Then It would have been interesting to see how he would explain the testimony of Hill, Gus Rose,  the evidence inventory, Hoover's communication with Shanklin, and the recommendation of using Ruth Paine to solve the problem the FBI had in eliminating it from the inventory.  Which Ruth did so adroitly. 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

This is from Marina's New Orleans Grand Jury testimony.

This was mentioned by Greg D. in his piece-no one is trying to hide it. If Jim had read what Greg wrote he might understand the point that Greg is making. Marina confused the CIA and the ACLU.

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3 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

This is from Marina's New Orleans Grand Jury testimony.

Q: Do you still see Ruth Paine?

A: No, I like her and appreciate what she did.  I was advised by Secret Service not to be connected with her, seems like she was...not connected...she was sympathizing with the CIA.  She wrote letters over there and they told me for my own reputation to stay away.

Then to cap off this dialogue here you go:

Q: In other words, you were left with the distinct impression that she was in some way connected with the CIA

A: Yes.

Far too many people don't allow a witness to say what they said and take it for what they said.  They have to put their interpretation into the witness' mouth.

Marina says CIA.  She was a big girl and intelligent.  She, in my opinion was a Russian agent, could speak English well enough to say basically what she needed to say.  She said CIA and not ACLU.

 

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3 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Jonathan:

DId you ask Roe about his business? That is steve roe consulting?

I would be interested who he consulted for prior to JFK Revisited debuting.

Since I cannot find any trace of that entity anywhere without relating to Stone's film.  Can you?

Sort of like Litwin's support for leftwing causes while working for Intel Pentium, on Wall Street and Bay Street.

Go ahead try and find that also.

This ad hominem against a commenter on this thread is not relevant to the topic and has the potential to make a commenter unwelcome. I ask you to stick to the topic.

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I’m not sure the ACLU angle is as cut-and-dried as portrayed here.

Michael Paine took Oswald to a Dallas ACLU meeting Oct 25/63. According to Paine, Oswald “didn’t know about” the organization and Paine had to explain “its purpose” on both sides of the 35 minute drive to and from the meeting (WCHII, p407). In the days following, Oswald begins what appears as an “op” directed at the ACLU, similar to what he did with the FPCC: Oswald writes to The Worker, describing his introduction to the ACLU local chapter and requesting advice on future interaction; he opens a new Dallas post office box listing both FPCC and ACLU on the postal form; he mails a membership form to the ACLU and requests notification on how to “contact ACLU groups in my area” even as he is now aware of monthly meetings through Michael Paine.

On Saturday Nov 24, while in custody, Oswald told Dallas Bar Association president H. Louis Nichols that he was an ACLU member and requested an ACLU lawyer if Abt was not available. On Nov 27 a reporter from the Dallas Times Herald broke the story that Oswald had listed ACLU on the postal form, which revelation caused the ACLU in general to assume damage control (see CD 205,p704-708). Wonder what they thought about the fact that provocateur Oswald was at times staying at the home of long-time local ACLU Treasurer Ruth Paine. The ACLU was never going to involve itself with this case, and there was no reason for the Secret Service to even be concerned about it.

Despite what may have been said to Marguerite Oswald, neither of the Paines stepped forward to assist with Oswald’s civil liberties in the aftermath of his arrest, and in fact appeared on local television shortly after his death to advance not just his guilt for the assassination but to also assert what would later form the official profile - that he was a little man trying to be something bigger than he was.

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2 minutes ago, Jeff Carter said:

Despite what may have been said to Marguerite Oswald, neither of the Paines stepped forward to assist with Oswald’s civil liberties in the aftermath of his arrest.

Your complaint is that the Paine family didn't do MORE for the Oswalds than they already had?

4 minutes ago, Jeff Carter said:

And in fact appeared on local television shortly after his death to advance not just his guilt for the assassination but to also assert what would later form the official profile - that he was a little man trying to be something bigger than he was.

So what? They believed that's exactly what he was, and had ample first-hand observations to back it up. Are you implying they should have just automatically declared he was innocent in spite of their legitimate reasons for believing the contrary?

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