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The incredible allegation that Ruth Paine did surveillance on Castro sympathizers


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The incredible allegation that Ruth Paine did surveillance on Castro sympathizers

The Max Good film, "The Assassination & Mrs. Paine", airs the following allegation against Ruth Paine by Jim DiEugenio.

DiEugenio: When the Dallas police went to the Paine household, one of the detectives wrote a report about taking out several filing cabinets of notations and cards and maps etcetera of Castro sympathizers. This makes a very good case, I believe, that Michael and Ruth were involved in surveillance activities of the American left. These cabinets existed until the Warren Commission. Because there are several exhibit numbers in the Warren Commission that refer to them. But the big difference is when the Warren Commission went through them, they only found something like one letter from Ruth to one of her relatives. So in other words, if the original report is accurate, somebody fiddled with the contents of those cabinets.

This is an astonishingly irresponsible allegation which is known to be untrue. It is irresponsible in that the film does not disclose to the viewer that the deputy sheriff who wrote that report in Nov 1963, in his testimony under oath to the Warren Commission said it was mistaken, denied that he himself ever had personal knowledge that that item of that report was accurate—a report uncorroborated by any other officer or witness, and that he, the sole source of the claim, repudiated it.

There is no evidence Ruth Paine attended a meeting of Castro sympathizers, or belonged to an organization of the American left, except for the American Civil Liberties Union if that is considered such. There is no evidence Ruth sought the company of leftists, or knew any leftists other than Lee the husband of Marina. There is no evidence whatsoever that Ruth Paine was an informant on "the American left".

And the alleged filing cabinets of Castro sympathizers--nobody (including the deputy sheriff who wrote the 1963 report cited) claimed firsthand to have seen files in the Ruth Paine garage other than what turned out to be Ruth Paine's folk dance group records. It was clearly a mistaken report, in which Ruth Paine's folk dance records which had names and addresses were carelessly mislabeled by a deputy sheriff reporting some unknown other officer's hearsay, calling names and addresses of a folk dance group, "Castro sympathizers". The deputy sheriff who wrote that report repudiated the claim, and nobody other than that deputy sheriff (who repudiated it) ever voiced the claim in the first place. 

How is it that someone can be accused of something like this, without any substance, and then a filmmaker can believe someone on screen who just says that "makes a very good case" that Ruth Paine was such and such?

There was no evidence or truth to it, and DiEugenio knew full well the deputy sheriff who wrote that hearsay claim of anti-Castro files repudiated the claim of anti-Castro files, said there was no basis for it being true, in his Warren Commission testimony in 1964. Yet Max Good's film does not disclose that.

The deputy sheriff was E.R. "Buddy" Walthers. Even in Walthers’ original report of Nov 22, 1963 in which the statement was made that DiEugenio quotes (“also found was a set of metal filing cabinets containing records that appeared to be names and activities of Cuban sympathizers” [19 H 520; https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1136#relPageId=538]), the wording strictly construed does not claim Walthers himself saw or witnessed such, as Walthers told the Warren Commission explicitly he had not. No other officer reported any such thing, and Walthers, the sole foundation for the story, made it clear to the Warren Commission that the story is baseless. Here is Walthers’ testimony to the Warren Commission in 1964: 

Mr. Liebeler. What was in these file cabinets? 

Mr. Walthers. We didn't go through them at the scene. I do remember a letterhead--I can't describe it--I know we opened one of them and we seen what it was, that it was a lot of personal letters and stuff and a letterhead that this Paine fellow had told us about, and he said, "That's from the people he writes to in Russia"; he was talking about this letterhead we had pulled out and so I just pushed it all back down and shut it and took the whole works.

Mr. Liebeler. I have been advised that some story has developed that at some point that when you went out there you found seven file cabinets full of cards that had the names on them of pro-Castro sympathizers or something of that kind, but you don't remember seeing any of them?

Mr. Walthers. Well, that could have been one, but I didn't see it.

Mr. Liebeler. There certainly weren't any seven file cabinets with the stuff you got out there or anything like that?

Mr. Walthers. I picked up all of these file cabinets and what all of them contained, I don't know myself to this day.

Mr. Liebeler. As I was sitting here listening to your story, I could see where that story might have come from--you mentioned the "Fair Play for Cuba" leaflets that were in a barrel.

Mr. Walthers. That's right--we got a stack of them out of that barrel, but things get all twisted around.

Notwithstanding this, in an article published on the Kennedys and King site, “Oswald’s Intelligence Connections”, July 29, 2017, DiEugenio claimed of the original sentence in the Nov 22, 1963 report, fifty-four years after its author and sole proponent, Walthers, repudiated the error on July 23, 1964:

This cinches the case that the Paines were domestic surveillance agents” (https://www.kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/oswald-s-intelligence-connections-how-richard-schweiker-clashes-with-fake-history(emphasis added)

One is left speechless at this, as if any unverified claim put into print even one time by a police officer, no matter how much contradicted by other evidence and later published corrections including by that officer himself, retains its currency fifty-four years later and is considered to “cinch” a case against someone, in this case Ruth Paine. It is worthy of a scene out of Kafka's The Trial.

The contents of Ruth Paine's papers were her personal property and should not have been taken by Dallas police or sheriff's deputies to begin with. They were taken without her permission and without a search warrant. Neither police nor the FBI nor the Warren Commission had any right to Ruth’s personal papers without her permission or a search warrant. But never mind that—the important point is that the contents of those file boxes, and all of Ruth Paine's papers taken, were fully examined, reviewed, and known to the Dallas Police who went through those papers, and later the FBI, and there was no surveillance of leftists, or addresses of Castro sympathizers, in Ruth Paine's papers or anything else of the sort, nor anything incriminating of Ruth of anything. It is not as if there is some mystery over what was in that property of Ruth Paine. What DiEugenio calls Warren Commission/FBI "fiddl[ing]" with the contents of Ruth Paine's file boxes reflects the return of Ruth’s property, a citizen's property, to her. 

Nor is there any evidence or indication that Ruth or Michael were involved in surveillance of leftists independently of what was not found in those file boxes.

Apart from attendance at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) meetings, a mainstream civil liberties advocacy organization of which Michael and Ruth Paine were members, there is no known attendance of either Ruth or Michael at any left-wing meeting in Dallas. No document indicating Ruth or Michael were involved in “surveillance of the American left”. Neither Ruth nor Michael are known to have attended any meeting concerning Cuba or Castro sympathizers. There is a separate accusation that Michael Paine liked to talk politics to students standing next to him in line he just met at a Luby's Cafeteria. But in the only instance of students interviewed to whom Michael Paine had talked politics in that Luby's Cafeteria, those students were not left-wingers, in fact the opposite. There is no basis for interpreting a Michael Paine conversation with non-leftist students standing next to him in line in a cafeteria, as "surveillance of the American left".  

There is also an issue of plausibility and logistics. Ruth was functioning as a single mom of two toddlers demanding pretty much full-time attention. It is not easy to imagine in practical terms how she would surveil leftists, not knowing any leftists (other than Lee), not going to leftist meetings, not involved in Cuba organizations or issues. There is no evidence of such and DiEugenio's representations of Ruth Paine in this way in this film without the producer doing elementary fact-checking before airing this is a shameful smear of Ruth Paine pure and simple.

From the film:

Ruth Paine (a film clip speaking to an audience): I learned a lot about what is written isn’t always true, in newspapers and magazines. One magazine said the police took out seven file boxes of Cuban sympathizers’ names. Well, there were my three boxes of folk dance records (audience laughter), my three little file boxes of my college papers, and a projector for a 16 mm camera. Those were the seven boxes of Cuban names.

Max Good (displaying a metal file holder to Atesi): This is one of the so-called filing cabinets that contains—there’s a report that they contained names and info on Cuban sympathizers.

Joe Atesi (friend of Ruth Paine, JFK assassination researcher and collector of memorabilia) (shaking head): Yeah I think that’s nonsense. (. . .)

Narrator: When the issue of the contents of the file cabinets came up Ruth’s testimony was taken off the record, and the exhibit numbers were omitted without explanation. (Camera closeup of Warren Commission testimony showing going off the record.)

There are lots of “off the record”’s in the Warren Commission witness testimony transcripts. In the absence of knowledge of what was discussed, this is no basis for assuming something untoward was discussed and yet this is presented in the film as if that is being insinuated.

The physical metal file boxes were returned to Ruth because they were her property. The Warren Commission had no right to the personal papers of a citizen who was not under investigation and without a search warrant. That the Warren Commission left intact exhibit numbers which originally may have been occupied by Ruth’s metal file holders, without explanation in the Warren Report, is none of Ruth’s concern nor does it have anything to do with anything. 

At the end of the film Max Good channels DiEugenio's utterly baseless accusation--Good asks Ruth Paine about something which no document, no witness, no credible hearsay, ever charged in the first place--focusing on this as one of the centerpiece allegations against Ruth Paine of the film:

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

Ruth (look of disbelief): 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.

Is Ruth Paine due an apology from Max Good for airing an allegation central to the film that Ruth Paine was "involved in surveillance activities of the radical left" based on DiEugenio's claim that "Ruth Paine had files of names of Cuban sympathizers in her garage" that make "a very good case" that "Michael and Ruth were involved in surveillance activities of the American left", without doing the most basic fact-checking of that claim before airing it?

Does this community consider this kind of smearing by DiEugenio acceptable?

Once baseless smearing stories are started, it seems nothing on earth can stop them if there is malicious continued spreading of them. Baseless stories just live on and on, believed by persons who hear the stories and spread them further.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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1 hour ago, Greg Doudna said:

Does this community consider this kind of smearing by DiEugenio acceptable?

Not acceptable, it's a deliberate smear by Mr. DiEugenio. This has been debunked decades ago. 

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Every time the subject of 7 small filing cabinet boxes comes up I find myself amazed that no one ever asks the more interesting question. Were these boxes, the contents of which we apparently have no documentation for other that Ruth saying they were hers and did not contain a list of Castro sympathizers, really hers? Maybe they were Oswalds. If there is no independent verification of what was in them because they disappeared before they were examined in detail, how do we know they were Ruth’s? It’s one thing to say that Ruth was innocent of being involved in the crime of the century, and quite another to suggest she may have been enlisted in the coverup that everyone else from DPD to WC was engaged in. That happens to be my personal take. The only thing that might move the needle for me would be to see that DP examined and detailed the contents. So am I mistaken that there is nothing like that in evidence? 

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Is it in Shakespeare that a person is observed - “he doth protest too much”? This run of Ruth Paine threads brings that to mind.

Michael Paine conceded to the Warren Commission that on multiple occasions he engaged students in political conversations, and attended diverse political meetings to gauge “the pulse” of local political activity.

Walther’s WC testimony as cited here is not/was not the final word on the contents of the filing cabinets, as he maintained something else in the book published 1967. Inconsistent testimony over the years and ambiguous statements are a feature of this case. So the accusations of “malicious smears” appear limited and partisan.

Ruth Paine’s habit of taking “notes” while engaging with American Sandinista supporters in Nicaragua in the 1980s seems indicative of some sort of clandestine activity which also may - or may not - relate to some kind of informant status. It is certainly enough to create a deductive surmise, which is appropriate because similar personages appear constantly in the orbits of Lee and Marina after their move to Texas.

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Jeff, I gave a whole thread on the Nicaragua allegations in which Ruth Paine's note-taking was suspected of being evidence she was an intelligence agent (https://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/27720-ruth-paine-in-nicaragua-counterpoint-to-the-assassination-mrs-paine/). It is one of those things where anyone who takes notes in any meeting--well they could be taking notes because they are going to mail in those notes to an agency. That could be said about anyone. There never was any proof of that. For a lot of people, unless one knows better taking notes is normal. The reason Ruth was suspected in Nicaragua was because someone there read some JFK assassination allegations against Ruth which preceded Ruth's arrival to Nicaragua. Then, that suspicion alone--no evidence that her note-taking went anywhere other than to her and her Board and the Friends Meeting back in St. Petersburg to whom she was reporting--that suspicion is cited as if it is proof for itself. 

I am not as forgiving as you for a practice of making a serious allegation against someone stated in language of "cinches the case" and certainty based on an interpretation of some fact claimed in 1963, and failing to disclose that the only source of the claimed fact repudiated the claim in 1964 in sworn testimony under oath. Even if DiEugenio or Max Good want to insist that the original claim was true (even though there never has been any evidence of that) and that Walthers was lying his head off in repudiating his own claim in 1964 under oath, it still should have been disclosed. It is deceptive and misleading not to do so. That is just ethical journalism 101.

I am not familiar with a book by Walthers in 1967, do you have the reference? If such a book exists and if there is no link online could you say what Walthers said in 1967? 

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5 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Every time the subject of 7 small filing cabinet boxes comes up I find myself amazed that no one ever asks the more interesting question. Were these boxes, the contents of which we apparently have no documentation for other that Ruth saying they were hers and did not contain a list of Castro sympathizers, really hers? Maybe they were Oswalds. If there is no independent verification of what was in them because they disappeared before they were examined in detail, how do we know they were Ruth’s? It’s one thing to say that Ruth was innocent of being involved in the crime of the century, and quite another to suggest she may have been enlisted in the coverup that everyone else from DPD to WC was engaged in. That happens to be my personal take. The only thing that might move the needle for me would be to see that DP examined and detailed the contents. So am I mistaken that there is nothing like that in evidence? 

Well that is a good point Paul. I think it is 100% certain that all papers and property taken from the Ruth Paine house on Fri Nov 22 were examined by Dallas Police. But you are raising the question, suppose there was something held back by conspiracy within the Dallas Police Department, never entered into the written reporting--how would people like DiEugenio know it belonged to Ruth Paine, and not Oswald? (Since so much of their belongings were mixed together in what was taken.) After all, Oswald was the one involved in FPCC, pro- and anti-Castro Cubans, not Ruth. Maybe if there were secret files of Castro sympathizers hidden by conspiracy of the DPD, just maybe they might be connected to Oswald, instead of Ruth Paine who never had anything to do with Cuba issues or Cubans. Why assume they would be Ruth Paine's (if they existed, for which there is no evidence)?

Good question! My theory is DiEugenio has it in for Ruth Paine and doesn't bother with a question like that.   

Edited by Greg Doudna
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53 minutes ago, Greg Doudna said:

Jeff, I gave a whole thread on the Nicaragua allegations in which Ruth Paine's note-taking was suspected of being evidence she was an intelligence agent (https://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/27720-ruth-paine-in-nicaragua-counterpoint-to-the-assassination-mrs-paine/). It is one of those things where anyone who takes notes in any meeting--well they could be taking notes because they are going to mail in those notes to an agency. That could be said about anyone. There never was any proof of that. For a lot of people, unless one knows better taking notes is normal. The reason Ruth was suspected in Nicaragua was because someone there read some JFK assassination allegations against Ruth which preceded Ruth's arrival to Nicaragua. Then, that suspicion alone--no evidence that her note-taking went anywhere other than to her and her Board and the Friends Meeting back in St. Petersburg to whom she was reporting--that suspicion is cited as if it is proof for itself. 

I am not as forgiving as you for a practice of making a serious allegation against someone stated in language of "cinches the case" and certainty based on an interpretation of some fact claimed in 1963, and failing to disclose that the only source of the claimed fact repudiated the claim in 1964 in sworn testimony under oath. Even if DiEugenio or Max Good want to insist that the original claim was true (even though there never has been any evidence of that) and that Walthers was lying his head off in repudiating his own claim in 1964 under oath, it still should have been disclosed. It is deceptive and misleading not to do so. That is just ethical journalism 101.

I am not familiar with a book by Walthers in 1967, do you have the reference? If such a book exists and if there is no link online could you say what Walthers said in 1967? 

In proper context, Nicaragua was a geopolitical flashpoint in the 1980s much as Cuba had been a quarter century earlier. The Reagan administration placed high priority on both destabilizing the Sandinista government and orchestrating an information and narrative management campaign around its Latin America policies. So anyone involved with identifying and taking notes on Americans sympathetic to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua would come under suspicion of serving a purpose related to such priorities. This observation gains further traction when it fits a familial pattern established twenty years earlier in the Cuban context. So the insistence that there is “nothing to see here”, or that suspicion merely reflects a defective logic, doesn’t hold up.

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Michael was actually reported to the FBI about doing this, trying to snuff out Castro sympathizers.  If those file containers had been Oswald's they would have been noticed on the way from New Orleans to Dallas. Can anyone point to any testimony that says such was the case? Because I have never seen anything like that anywhere in the record. 

GD conveniently left out the later confession by Ruth about the Sandinista matter.

Which even Max Good did not use in its complete form. 

Why does anyone even talk to this guy?

The evidence does not matter to him.  He met Ruth and she was..... nice. 😪

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

GD conveniently left out the later confession by Ruth about the matter.

Which even Max Good did not use in its complete form. 

Why does anyone even talk to this guy?

The evidence does not matter to him.  He met Ruth and she was..... nice. 😪

Note non-responsive to the substance of the topic, which was the allegation that Ruth was surveilling leftists, the lack of evidence for that allegation, and an unethical failure to disclose Walther's repudiation under oath in 1964 of what is still outlandishly and ridiculously being claimed in the name of Walther in the year 2022. 

The response is this. This is formulaic, happens every single time.

  • urge others do not speak to the one who raises such questions, like a cult leader directing the faithful to shun
  • "whatabout" (the alleged later confession)--look over here or over there. You didn't talk about that over there.
  • no straight answer, no addressing to the point.
  • no acknowledgement of legitimacy of any point raised.
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“Walthers and the officers also found six or seven metal filing cabinets full of letters, maps, records, and index cards with names of pro-Castro sympathizers. All the evidence found was put into the trunk of Walthers car and taken back to the Sheriff’s Office.”

Eric Tagg - Brush With History (1998)

My mistake - I somehow thought Tagg’s book was published in the 1960s, based on interviews with Walthers.

Regardless, the information (or rumour) about the index cards with names of Cuban sympathizers was a) a specific detail  and b) did exist to the extent that it had to be dealt with in Walther’s WC appearance. And Walther’s questioner - Liebeler - was the same WC lawyer who made the 1PM 11/22/63 Paine phone call disappear by attributing an incorrect date.

The pertinent point, as Paul B suggests, is where did this information/rumour come from? If these index cards did exist, then most would understand them as tied to Michael Paine, who was in fact engaging seemingly random persons in Dallas area in political dialogue which seemed in part eliciting ideological sympathies. That’s quite a coincidence even if a rumour.

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Let me make another logical point.

I do not think Oswald was that kind of an agent that would file detailed, copious reports.

But if he was, and I doubt it, then by far the most activity he had was in New Orleans. Not Dallas, not even close. Certainly not 7 file boxes full.

Why would he take those New Orleans files to Fort Worth? 

Should he not have left them with his control agent Guy Banister? Who did have copious files on everyone, including Oswald. What good would those Crescent city files be to him in Fort Worth?

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Paul:

That is exactly what I mean.

With that visit he filed 7 file boxes full of reports?  And those people sure were not pro Castro. (See Jeff's notice from Tagg, above)

Edited by James DiEugenio
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"the faithful to shun" eh?  I've never tried to kiss up to Jim, but I respect his work, intellect and dedication over the years greatly.  Destiny Betrayed the book is way better than anything I've seen you post, much less the Documentary film.  He has given you detailed answers in some of the other multiple Ruth's a Saint threads you've started.  I can't blame him for ignoring you at this point.

However, someone should contest your long diatribes here for the benefit of the general public.  So, I'll give it a try and waste a little bit of a Saturday evening as it will be soon buried I'm sure.

First, I've never seen Jim or anyone else accuse Ruth of surveilling leftists in 1963 or previously.  It's more likely Michael was doing this, though it's possible she did too prior to adopting Marina.

Second, I tend to lean towards the 11/22-23/63 Sheriff's Department Supplementary Investigation Reports of E.R. Buddy Walthers, J.L Oxford and Harry Weatherford.  The three Sheriff's Deputies at the Paine house on 11/22/63.  As opposed to Walthers only six month later questioning by the Warren Omission.  After he was  likely visited by superiors at the sheriff's office, FBI, Secret Service (see Perry-Moore), maybe even the CIA.  And coached by the WO itself, as others were.

Walthers, "also found was a set of metal filing cabinets containing records that appeared to be names and activities of Cuban sympathizers."  Read his first day statement here, section three.

Buddy Walthers (jfk-assassination.net)

J. L. Oxford. "We also found 7 metal boxes which contained pamphlets and literature from abroad."

Report of J. L. Oxford (jfk-assassination.net)

Harry Weatherford.  "They found some literature on Cuban Freedom affairs and some small files...".

Harry Weatherford report (jfk-assassination.net)

They all say files were found.  What happened to them?   Walthers says "names and activities of Cuban sympathizers".

Last, Ozzie(s) didn't transport these files as they grew from Fort Worth to Dallas to New Orleans to Dallas as you seem to assume.  Absurd.

They belonged to Michael and Ruth.       

 

 

Edited by Ron Bulman
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How would these DP guys know if the files were of Castro sympathizers? Might they have been anti-Castro exiles? I don’t profess to know, but it is this possibility that made me wonder if they were Oswald’s. 

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