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White Russians

Chris Cox

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Who has done research in this area and where might I find it? Any theories rolling around out there on why there is this element? Been re-reading Kwitney's "Crimes of Patriots" was reminded of the White Russian background of Mitch WerBell. Made a mental list: DeMorenschildt, Zapruder, Dr. Alexei Davison at USEmb Moscow. Any others I've forgotten?

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Who has done research in this area and where might I find it? Any theories rolling around out there on why there is this element?  Been re-reading Kwitney's "Crimes of Patriots" was reminded of the White Russian background of Mitch WerBell.  Made a mental list: DeMorenschildt, Zapruder, Dr. Alexei Davison at USEmb Moscow.  Any others I've forgotten?

I haven't done research on white russians in the Kennedy context.

In this context though I can suggest a possible avenue for research (I'm wandering down this one and will let you know anything I come across) The nazi's spent quite a lot of effort in trying to set up units made up of members from the allied pow's. They had some success with the British Freicorps. The members of it were often ones who expressed an insistence on fighting the russians and were accepted on their expressed anti communist stance. Perhaps ties to white russians can be found here?

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Who has done research in this area and where might I find it? Any theories rolling around out there on why there is this element?  Been re-reading Kwitney's "Crimes of Patriots" was reminded of the White Russian background of Mitch WerBell.  Made a mental list: DeMorenschildt, Zapruder, Dr. Alexei Davison at USEmb Moscow.  Any others I've forgotten?


here's a few odds & ends to chew over.

1. Nelson Delgado told the WC in regard to a newspaper Oswald was receiving that when he asked Oswald was it a "Commie paper", Oswald responded "no - it's not Communist. It's a White Russian [paper]" This was supported by the description Delgado gave of the masthead, which he said looked like a Mexican Eagle. Eagles are not Communist symbols. They are/were however, a Russian Imperial symbol.

2. Ruby's parents were from anarae of Poland which was part of White Russia.

3. Ruth Paine, when asked before the WC, was unable to recall the name of the person she dealt with in the State Dept regarding the Russian Student Exchange program she was working on for the AFSC (among others). However, the person in State who had charge of it was Director of the East-West Contacts Division, Frederick T Merrill. Merrill also ran the CIA funded Free Europe Committee. White Russians were funded by this committee -- including "underground groups" dedicated to "liberating" the region bounded by the Baltic, Black, Aegean and Adriatic Seas.

4. Ruth Paine's father and George DeM both (though not at the same time) worked for the International Cooperative Administration - another CIA funded project.

5. Paul Raigorodsky did work for the Marshall Plan in Europe. My research shows he probably worked in very colse proximity in Paris to E Howard Hunt, who was there as Press Aid for Averell Hariman (Marshall Plan European Director) during the same period.

Edited by Greg Parker
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George A. Bouhe was from St. Petersburg, where Marina Oswald was raised. He helped out the Oswalds in Dallas. Bouhe lived on Homer Street, and for a time Jack Ruby lived in an apartment building across the street. Bouhe said he had never heard of Ruby before Oswald's murder.

After Oswald got a job at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall he called Bouhe every day for about 5 days to tell him he was doing fine on the job.

At the time of his death Oswald had a slip of paper on him with 5 phone numbers. One started with CH-7 and the rest of the number was crossed out. Bouhe lived in the same area of Dallas as that telephone exchange. There is thus the possibility that Bouhe was the recipient of Oswald's 30-minute phone call from jail (though more likely IMO the recipient was Ruth Paine).

Bouhe made an odd statement in his WC testimony. He said, "I have seen 11 FBI agents and 3 from the Secret Service, of which 2 were speaking Russian, or were natives of Russia."

There were Russians in the Secret Service?

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Deep and convoluted. I've more questions than answers, but I guess this monster's built like that (wink).

Delgado's rich testimony(the eagle was it double headed or the art deco one like Freicorps?)Just kidding, but interesting history on Freicorps I'd not seen. You mentioned Paine's charity and the BY photos offered up. From webinfo Raigorodsky sets up churches among other things. Bouhe goes limp on the Ruby question, also interesting post. CD Jackson swoops in for his capture of the Zapruder work. FBI all over the place and "nobody knows nothin" yet everyone has something to say. LIFE has the film. Delgado seemed mighty perturbed at the harrassment while he was yacking up a storm. Is he telling what he believes or what he was carefully led to believe? WC, tortuously ignorant under pressure. Peter Wronski website link to AJW's mentions Thompson all confused to commission when he knows The Doctor. Aww shoot, they know he knows. In-country Davison (military intel/CIA) handles the Oswalds, and the unfortunate Penkovsky. The Dr. gets persona non grata while LHO gets ride and stipend and new friends. Toss in a U-2 incident and a few defectors, Red Cross mission in Russia, the red hunt and the oil guys/Wall St. backers from way back when...head-spinning leads, fellows.

So, what's the best analysis? That there were Russians (Old Guard and White) entrusted, counted on and called upon to engage LHO over there and back here because he's rogue "defector" or his cover was tattered? Surely he was working on his cover at base with Delgado. Any ruskies in NO? LHO knew where he was going and who to see-so free agent never alone until Ruby steps up to the plate?

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meant to add a couple of things...

Larrie Schmidt probably has/had White Russian connections


And the White Russian Church had it's world HQ in Munich at the time Schmist was stationed there.

The White Russian Church and the Old Catholic Church have common roots and were unified by 1956:

According to Keizer, during and after the Second World War, Mar Georgius I, Patriarch of Glastonbury and Catholicos of the West began unifying the various strands of Old Catholics and independent Catholics. By 1956, through sub conditione consecrations, he had accumulated all sixteen lines of Apostolic succession know to exist: Syrian-Antiochene, Syrian-Malabar, Syrian-Gallican, Syro-Chaldean, Chaldean-Uniat, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian-Uniat, Order of Corporate Reunion, Old Catholic, Mariavite, Nonjuring, Anglican, Russian Orthodox, Russo-Syrian Orthodox, Greek-Melkite, and Liberal Catholic.


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at these sites are some interesting info on various collaboration units from many countries including the US and to white russians (in this cased listed under soviet union link.

I don't know idf any of the individuals named are relevant but it's interesting to note that of those listed one came from louisiana and another from st louis. also the french free korps has detailed info on it, unfortunately in french(Vichy Legion des Volontaires Francais against bolshevism). Given french influence in the soputh this may also prove a fruitful area. Again I've noticed how these foreign legions were primarily involved in the anti communist operations of germany. In the british freicorps for example, the fact that one volunteer was a jew seemed to be OK for the SS.

this group may have info as it concerns foreign involvement in construction of rail etc as noted to be Bush connected interests:

Organisation Todt (OT) was a Nazi construction and engineering group during the years of the Third Reich, which enslaved over 1.5 million men and boys from countries occupied by Nazi Germany. Organized by Fritz Todt, the Reichsminister für Rüstung- und Kriegsproduktion, it was attached to the military and was active during WWII.

The main role of the group was to build communications links and defensive structures. Almost all large scale WWII German military structures were built by the group, including armaments factories and concentration camps.

"US volunteers in the Waffen-SS

There were some US citizens who were members of the Waffen-SS, but no unit made up of American volunteers were ever raised (despite some claims about an "American Free Corps" or "George Washington Brigade"). According to figures from the SS five US citizens served in the Waffen-SS in May 1940, but after that date no numbers are available.

Second Lieutenant Martin James Monti (born 1910 in St Louis of an Italian-Swiss father and German mother) went awol Oct 1944, travelled from Karachi to Naples (through Cairo and Tripoli) where to stole a F-4 or F-5 photographic reconnaissance aircraft (photo recon version of the P-38) and flew to Milan. There he surrendered, or rather defected, to the Germans and worked as a propaganda broadcaster (as Martin Wiethaupt) before entering the Waffen-SS as a SS-Untersturmführer in SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers. At the end of the war he went south to Italy where surrendered to US forces (still wearing his SS uniform) claiming that he had been given the uniform by partisans. He was charged with desertion and sentenced to 15 years hard labour. This sentence was soon commuted and Monti rejoined the US Air Corps, but in 1948 he was discharged and picked up by the FBI. He was now charged with treason and sentenced to 25 years the following year. He was paroled in 1960.

Peter Delaney (aka Pierre de la Ney du Vair), a Louisiana born SS-Haupsturmführer in SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers who is believed to have served in Légion des Volontaires Français (LVF). He met Monti and probably arranged for him to enter the Waffen-SS. Delaney was killed in 1945.

At least eight American volunteers are known to have been killed during their service.

No real attempt by the US authorities to investigate the matter and trace the volunteers was made after the war, as opposed to for example the efforts by the British."



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i dont quite know where to put this so I'll tag in on here for now, If it diverges too much from intended topic, sorry


"Allen Dulles was then trying to arrange a negotiated peace with the Axis, behind FDR's back, according to John Loftus and Mark Aarons. (The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People NY: St. Martin's, 1994. 150-173.) He used couriers to do so. The Japanese planes could have maneuvered in such a way to ensure the courier in question on that date, had an opportunity to take off.

Lest we think Dulles wouldn't cover up such an activity, we learn from Charles Higham in American Swastika(New York: Doubleday, 1985. 78), that one Martin James Monti was allowed to go over to the other side in a US military aircraft in Italy in 1943, broadcast fascist propaganda, then not only avoid prosecution for treason after the war, but was also promoted in the military--through the intervention of OSS bigwig and later CIA head Allen Dulles--who was Prescott Bush's attorney and business partner at Standard Oil (which company was found guilty of treason during the War in a 1947 trial)--and also business partner there with James Forrestal, then-Secretary of the Navy and later Secretary of Defense.

In July 1944, about a month later, US Marine Tom Devine, who was then stationed on Saipan, an island not far from Guam, saw Forrestal on Saipan. He had personally flow in an aircraft from a nearby island (possibly Guam--an island large enough, according to a report by the Japanese military on Guam operations published in 1960, to hide a military aircraft, especially one with folding wings such as the Avenger had).

Devine says he then saw Forrestal destroy or burn the aircraft and records that a US submarine that month recorded burning, sinking wreckage off Saipan that month, at a time when no shipping had been sunk. (Devine, Thomas. Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident. Frederick, CO: Renaissance. 1980. 37-57; 87 Note to page 80; page 188 Note 27: "Nancy Bressler, Curator of Public Affair at Princeton University's Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton, NJ...[said]: 'I am not able to locate any documents which either support or contradict Mr. Forresetal's presence on Saipan in the summer of 1944.'") What plane was Forrestal destroying?

Could it have been George Bush's Avenger, which had landed on Guam during a "window" that was known to exist between the first US air raids on Guam at 8 a.m, on June 19 and the late afternoon raids by US planes on that island--raids that were called off temporarily at around 8:30 and didn't resume until after 4 p.m.? During that time, US planes were largely tied up fighting off Japanese planes attacking the US fleet . (Hoyt, Edwin P. To the Marianas: War in the Central Pacific, 1944. NY: Avon, 1980. 149-51.)

During that same time when the Japanese planes performed their odd "orbit" (which forever after earned that battle--the Battle of the Philippines Sea--the nickname "Marianas Turkey shoot" by American military personnel who participated), George Bush's Avenger took off. It was precisely during that "window" that both the Japanese orbit and the opening to Guam occurred.

US Navy fliers, including Bush and his crew, had learned that the Japanese didn't fire on lone US aircraft, for fear of drawing down US naval gunfire. (Crowl

Additionally, to act as Axis couriers for the Vatican, which we now know was working with Dulles in his couriers-to-the-Axis project, were some suspicious Roman Catholic priests which the Japanese had placed on Guam after November 1942, when they'd removed the original priests. According to George Tweed, a US Navy seaman who remained on Guam as a guerilla fighter after it fell to the Japanese in December 1941, these priests engaged in a number of pro-Axis activities; and one's brother was a big-name banker on the island who readily collaborated with Japan during the War. (Tweed, George Ray. Robinson Crusoe, USN: The Adventures of George R. Tweed, RM1 on Japanese-held Guam Guam: 1994 Pacific Research Institute. 275.)

Perhaps these priests served to supplement the Vatican courier network we now know Dulles had created in Japanese-occupied Manchuria during 1944 and '45. He used a Roman Catholic priest, Bishop Cikota, to operate that courier network, which included Vatican intelligence personnel. One group of Vatican intelligence personnel is the Knights of Malta. (Loftus and Aarons, 150-173.)

The vice-president of the Standard Oil company during World War II was Richard J. Larkin. He was a Knight of Malta (so knighted by the Pope in 1928). (Higham, Charles. Trading With the Enemy: The Nazi-American Money Plot, 1937-1949. NY: Delacorte, 1983. 21.) Larkin engaged heavily in illegal banking activities with the Axis in Vichy France bank branches. (Higham, Trading, "The Chase Nazi Account", 20-31.)

In addition, Standard sold tons of aviation fuel to the Axis during the War. Nelson Rockefeller was recorded doing so by Jewish intelligence over the telephone in April 1943, and blackmailed. Loftus, John and Mark Aarons. The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People. New York: St. Martin's, 1994. 160-173.)

Similarly, the 1942 Truman Committee in Congress found 1941 cables from Standard promising to continue trade with Japan whether or not American came into the war. Documents were also located after the war pledging Standard to continue selling oil to Axis agents in German occupied Romania and Hungary throughout the war. (Higham, Trading, "The Secrets of Standard Oil", 32-62.)

In May, 1944, while George Bush flew his first mission in the Pacific, his father, on the Boards of Directors of several Standard Oil affiliates, went along with the sale of oil to Fascist Spain, after Standard oil and other oil companies pressured FDR to allow them to do so. This, even though FDR had learned that the oil to Spain went to Germany. (Higham, Trading60-1.

In October and November, 1942, Prescott Bush, George Bush's father, was indicted for being a "front man" for Nazi loans in the US. (Tarpley and Chaitkin, Unauthorized Biography, "Born in A Bank".)

By 1944, both Forrestal and Dulles were under surveillance by FDR because he'd learned of their schemes to negotiate with the Axis and "aid and abet" them via selling them oil. (Loftus and Aarons, 151-173).

Against this backdrop, these suspicious-looking records as to George Bush's activities must be re-examined. As people have asked about other dates, such as October 19, 1980 (the "October surprise"), November 22, 1963 (an FBI memo from J. Edgar Hoover to "CIA agent George Bush" of November 23, 1963), (Tarpley and Chaitkin, Unauthorized Biography "Rubbers Goes To Washington") and the summer of 1968 (when the Saigon regime began to balk on LBJ's proposed peace agreement at the Paris peace talks), (Boller, Paul. Presidential Campaigns. NY: Oxford UP, 1985. "Mrs. Chennault," 331-2) so perhaps we should also ask about these World War II events:

Where was George? "

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Gratz ain't gonna like you, John...how dare any of us question the patriotism of anyone named Bush? Those references were probably written by Commies, and we all know that you can't believe the Commies..."godless Commies," I believe, was the Cold War term.

Interesting stuff...wonder if any of it lends itself to verification?

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I have spent alot of time looking at and researching a socialist vs communist element in the activities of Oswald. The famous backyard photo (two magazines two opposing organizations), Oswalds contact with the Socialist Party just before he entered the Marines, the socialist movement in Japan while Oswald was at Astugi, his constant portrayal of himself as a Trotskyite Socialist, his request for the Smith Act Attorney Jonathan Abt (Smith Act had first been used against the Socialist later the Communists) upon his arrest, Fair Play for Cuba (Socialist not communist), etc.

Is it to far fetched to believe that Oswald had been used as a Socialist (thinking he was being used by the Socialist Party) in covert activities designed to disrupt the Communist leadership in the Soviet Union? Could Oswald have figured out that he had been used by US Intelligence instead of who he had believed he was assisiting? Does this fall in line with James Jesus Angelton's "Orchid Man" scenario? Did the Communists think he was working for them? Was Yuri Nosenko dispatched to dispel the potential damage an intelligence connection to Oswald could create for the Soviet Union (a sort of "Red Orchid Man")?

Questions that I continue to ponder.

Jim Root

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Jim thanks for re-centering this thread. Fascinated by the background history of the elements-- I read all these links, but it takes me far afield from the original question-- interesting and significant as the digressions might be. Who are the Russians around LHO? The "good" Russians, at the time, not the "bad" ones. The man who shoots the president is Russian symp, the man who shoots the movie of the murder is, the babysitters are, the wife of the man, the Dr. who helps the Oswalds return to America is half-Russian. What can we make of this? Is it significant or happenstance?

I am not well-schooled in assassination lore details, but the two opposing magazines and the handling of the BY photos and LHO's response to them is very important. It would have been a fact in a trial. Is that him or ain't it? The subject says "no." Did LHO know the difference between the two magazines? Is LHO's denials an act of cover (protect the mission) or an act of protection for what he realized coming down on him-a frame-up after he conjectured he "blew it?" I think LHO knew he was being used in his final hours and who it was that was using him-he said "patsy" because that was the quickest way to tell his story and cast doubt for the record.

Did the Abt request come before or after this declaration? From my research on these "men without a country" an operative knows one thing--loneliness if what they are doing turns sour. Deniability is what they sign up for-the "honor" in the thing separates men from boys. A military man has the guts to sign up for this.

You said: "far fetched" certainly not. I assume we all agree LHO was a spy for someone. His US military history makes all the associations he made, a US intel operation IMO.

I think he came to the work as a soldier. If you look to the root of an operative you will find the military MO. Instance, William Morgan who served as an example to Lee and similarly "left behind." Morgan, it is rumored served Atsugi. Morgan, just before he died led his wife and kids to a foreign embassy and dropped them off. Morgan wasn't clairvoyant, he knew the universe of his choices.

LHO was a Marine first, tattered personality and all IMHO. His primary foundation. Like his brother he signed up and he read spy novels as a youth. You can twist a profile like that into many shapes. He was not lost in the Soviet Union, he was helped by US not them. "They" smelled a rat and we protected the agent. Lee never smelled Angleton's orchids is my guess, but he knew his way around the greenhouse.

Nosenko paid up in full and he resides here today with a new persona. Since I love to tell the anectdotal tale--go to the Spy Museum in DC if you can. Kalugin (sp?) serves on the board and you enter a theatre where his mug pops in to narrarate. He also has SpyTours, which takes visitors around DC for an inside look at the spybiz.

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  • 2 weeks later...


"Did the Abt request come before or after this (patsy) declaration?"

The request to have the "Smith Act attorney" Jonathan Abt act as his (Oswald's) attorney was made repeatedly by Oswald while he was in custody. The first request was made at about 4:45 while Oswald was interviewed by Will Fritz. Other attempts to name Abt as his attorney or to contact Abt were made numerous times while Oswald was in custody. This information was recorded in the sworn testimony of numerous whitnesses including Dallas Police officers and detectives, a member of the Dallas Bar Association, Ruth Paine and Oswald's brother.

I did a post on this last December that I have reprinted it below:

Within the Warren Commission Report are many conclusions that, upon reexamination, may have been at best misleading and quite possibly part of a cover up.

A year or so ago I wrote the following paper. For myself it was an opportunity to gather information on a small part of the Warren Report. What I found was misinformation and some posible reasons why the misinformation may have been produced. You decide.


Can anything be logical about the actions of the man who was charged with shooting the President of the United States? The Warren Commission suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald was a “lone nut” assassin, not a rational person. If Oswald had a motive its content was lost to history at the exact moment that Jack Ruby recklessly ended Oswald’s life on the morning of November 25th 1963. But like so many anomalies in this case, Oswald, the irrational nut, knew whom he wanted as his attorney, Jonathan Abt. And, while Lee Harvey Oswald let everyone know why he wanted Jonathan Abt, the Warren Commission was hesitant to share that information in their conclusion!

The name John Abt was mentioned repeatedly by Oswald while he was in the custody of the Dallas Police. There exists about forty pages of written documentation, filed by the men who interrogated Oswald, that appear in Appendix XI of the Warren Report that attests to this interesting, yet under investigated, subplot within the assassination drama.

Each person present tells a similar story.

Captain Will Fritz:

“Oswald asked if he was allowed an attorney and I told him he could have any attorney he liked, and that the telephone would be available to him up in the jail and he could call anyone he wished. I believe it was during this interview that he first expressed a desire to talk to Mr. Abt, an attorney in New York.”

Lee Harvey Oswald turned 24 years old in October of 1963, just a month before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. For myself I found it surprising to see that Oswald knew the name of the attorney that he wanted to represent him in the earliest of interviews with detectives. He also knew where attorney Jonathan Abt lived. My mind began to contemplate, “How many 24 year olds, living in Texas, would know the name of an attorney in New York?” It is true that Oswald had lived in New York at one time but how did he know about this particular attorney, Jonathan Abt?

During a subsequent interrogation, Captain Will Fritz would reveal that Oswald knew even more about Jonathan Abt than just his name:

“He (Oswald) reminded me that he did not have to answer any questions at all until he talked to his attorney, and I told him again that he could have an attorney any time he wished. He said he didn’t have money to pay for a phone call to Mr. Abt. I told him to call ‘collect.’ If he liked, to use the jail phone or that he could have another attorney if he wished. He said he didn’t want another attorney, he wanted to talk to this attorney first. I believe he made this call later as he thanked me later during one of our interviews for allowing him the use of the telephone. I explained to him that all prisoners were allowed to use the telephone. I asked him why he wanted Mr. Abt, instead of some available attorney. He told me he didn’t know Mr. Abt personally but that he was familiar with a case where Mr. Abt defended some people for a violation of the Smith Act….”

The Smith Act, actually the Alien Registration Act, was adopted by congress at 54 Statutes at Large 670-671 (1940) on June 29, 1940. Authored by Representative Howard W. Smith of Virginia, it was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt. Smith, a fifth term congressman at the time, would continue to serve in congress untill1967.

The intent of the Alien Registration Act was to make it illegal for any person to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government of the United States. The law also required all foreign residents of the United States that were over the age of 14 to register as aliens.

Within five months of passage (November of 1940) over 4,741,971 persons had complied with the obligations of the Act. Each registered alien was required to make a statement that included their occupational status and information about their political beliefs. It was the first statute since the Alien and Sedition act of 1798 to make the mere advocacy of ideas a federal crime. (Michael Steven Smith, About the Smith Act Trials) The government’s ability to register and process so many individuals in such a short span of time was a reflection of the crisis that was, at that time, destroying the world order. John J. McCloy, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary of War at this time, advocated the collection of information on potential saboteurs within the United States. The Smith Act provided the vehicle to accomplish his goal.

John J. McCloy had made his reputation as the attorney that broke the Black Tom case (dealing with German sabotage during World War I at the Black Tom pier in New York). His decades spent unraveling the covert operations of German espionage during World War I made him an ideal candidate to help Secretary of War Stimson upgrade the military intelligence apparatus.

In 1941 the Smith Act was used to prosecute leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. At the time the United States was being driven toward an alliance with the Soviet Union against Germany which had invaded Russia. The Communist Party in America fully supported its use by the government of the United States against their “Trotskyist” political opponents. The later use of the Smith Act would involve Jonathan Abt.

Historians who disagree with the conclusions of the Warren Commission Report have criticized the officers that questioned Oswald. An argument is made that since the various Dallas Police detectives and the FBI and Secrete Service agents present did not tape record or keep their detailed notes of all the Oswald interrogations, the written reports must be incomplete. The truth is that at the time of Oswald’s arrest, the Dallas Police Department did not own a tape recorder. For better or worse the majority of information that survives, survives within the numerous volumes of the Warren Commission Report. It is these written reports, made by the people who witnessed the interrogations and heard the words of Lee Harvey Oswald while he was in custody, that I find so interesting. Rather than speculating on what might have been lost, I am intrigued by what is contained in the supporting records of the Warren Commission that were not included in the final summary report.

The accumulated reports were transcribed from notes kept by the interrogators as well as their own personal recollections, all within hours of the interviews with Oswald. I have chosen to look more closely at what is in the written reports and interviews but did not survive into the final draft of the Warren Commission Report than to speculate on what might or might not be missing. Their statements demonstrate that Lee Harvey Oswald repeatedly referred to Abt as a Smith Act Attorney and that his desire to have Abt for this reason was made abundantly clear to all present. What reasons can be ascribed to this coincidence?

The record shows that between 4:45 and 6:30 P.M. on the day of the assassination, Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police conducted his second interview with Lee Oswald. The interview took place in Captain Fritz’s office:


“…I want that attorney in New York, Mr. Abt. I don’t know him personally but I know about a case that he handled some years ago, where he represented the people who had violated the Smith Act…I don’t know him personally, but that is the attorney I want….If I can’t get him, then I may get the American Civil Liberties Union to send me an attorney.”

During the same interview Oswald repeated his request with these words:

“…I want to talk with Mr. Abt, a New York attorney…”

During the 1948 presidential election race, Harry Truman’s Republican rivals were accusing the Democrats of being “soft” on Communism. (Michael Steven Smith, About the Smith Act Trials) At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the delegates added a plank to their platform that stated;

“We pledge a vigorous enforcement of existing laws against Communists and enactment of such new legislation as may be necessary to expose the treasonable activities of Communists and defeat their objective of establishing here a godless dictatorship controlled from abroad.“

To counter this threat Truman turned to J. Edgar Hoover and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

J. Edgar Hoover had first developed his reputation as a tough investigator and prosecutor by deporting radicals and immigrants during the 1919 Palmer Raids. For Hoover the harassment of the radical fringe would become a professional trait. It was J. Edgar Hoover that suggested to Truman that the Smith Act could be used against members of the Communist Party. On July 20th, 1948 eleven members of the American Communist party were arrested and charged under the Alien Registration Act.

The Smith Act defendants were not charged with the actual commission of a crime. As strange as it may seem today the charges were designed to prove that “they conspired to organize as the Communist Party and willfully to advocate and teach principles of Marxism-Leninism.” It was then construed to show that by the mere fact that they had organized as a Communist Party that they therefore advocated, “overthrowing and destroying the government of the United States by force and violence” sometime in the future.

For Truman, behind in the polls, the Presidency itself was at stake. Truman needed these prosecutions to deflect the criticism of his Republican rivals. The federal government successfully prosecuted the defendants and Harry Truman defeated his challenger Thomas Dewey and his running mate, Vice Presidential candidate Earl Warren (later chairman of the Warren Commission) in one of the closest elections in United States History.

Chief Justice Earl Warren would later overturn these same Smith Act convictions.

Between 10:30 A.M. and 1:10 P.M. on November 23rd Oswald was again interrogated in Captain Fritz’s office when he stated:

“I said I wanted to contact Attorney Abt, New York. He defended the Smith Act cases in 1949, 1950, but I don’t know his address, except that it is in New York….”

On Saturday afternoon, November 23, 1963, around 3:30 PM Oswald made a telephone call to Ruth Paine

Ruth Paine:

I said, “Well, hi.” And he said he wanted to ask me to call Mr. John Abt in New York for him after 6:00 PM. He gave me a telephone number of an office in New York and a residence in New York…He said he was an (the) attorney he wanted to have…

Oswald’s mother confirmed Ruth Paine’s story when the Warren Commission questioned her. Marguerite Oswald recalled the call she received from Ruth Paine.

Marguerite Oswald:

…the telephone rang, and it was Mrs. Paine. She said, “Mrs Oswald, Lee called and he was very upset because Marina was not with me, and he asked me to get a lawyer for him, a Mr. Abt.”

At 6:30 P.M. on November 22nd Oswald was a part of a police lineup for three witnesses to the Jefferson Davis Tippit murder. The three witnesses were Cecil J. McWatters, Sam Guiyard, and Ted Callaway. Once again Oswald is quoted as saying:

“I want to get in touch with a lawyer, Mr. Abt, in New York City…”

Early the next morning, at 1:35 A.M., November 24, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was arraigned for the Murder with Malice of John F. Kennedy when he said:

“Well, sir, I guess this is the trial…I want to contact my lawyer, Mr. Abt, in New York City. I would like to have this gentleman. He is with the American Civil Liberties Union.”

Mr. Abt was never a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was general counsel for the Senate Sub-Committee on Civil Liberties from 1935-1937, and was later a legal advisor for the Progressive Party from 1948-1951. He worked with and knew Alger Hiss and has been, many times, labeled as a communist.

But Lee Harvey Oswald was absolutely correct on his other statement; a study of John Abt’s biography demonstrates that he had indeed represented people accused of violating the Smith Act. Oswald, it seems, was familiar enough with the Smith Act cases that had begun fifteen years earlier, when Oswald was eight years old. He had knowledge of Mr. Abt that he knew where Jonathon Abt could be located (New York). Oswald knew that these particular cases had actually occurred more than a decade earlier.

On November 23, 1963, H. Louis Nichols, President of the Dallas Bar Association, contacted Oswald for a brief discussion at 5:30 P.M.:


“….Do you know a lawyer in New York named John Abt? I believe in New York City. I would like to have him represent me. That is the man I would like.”

Assistant counsel for the President’s Commission, Mr. Samuel A. Stern, interviewed James W. Bookhout on April 8, 1964. Bookhout was a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation stationed in Dallas at the time of the assassination. He was present at several of the interrogations of Oswald at the invitation of Captain Will Fritz. On the morning of November 24, 1963, James Bookhout participated in an interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald conducted by Captain Fritz and was later questioned about his knowledge of this event. Also present at the Oswald interrogation were T.J Kelly and David B. Grant, of the U.S. Secret Service, Robert I. Nash, a U.S. Marshall and Detectives Billy L. Senkel and Fay M. Turner of the Homicide and Robbery Bureau of the Dallas Police Department.

Mr. Bookhout:

Yes. It was in this interview that he (Oswald) mentioned he wanted to contact Attorney Abt (spelling) A-b-t, New York City. I recall Captain Fritz asked him if he knew Abt personally and he said he did not, but he explained that he knew that Abt had defended the Smith Act cases in 1949, or 1950, and Captain Fritz asked him if he knew how to get ahold of Mr. Abt, and he stated that he did not know what his address was, but he was in New York.

On April 17, 1964, just nine days after James Bookhout was interviewed by Warren Commission attorneys, J. Lee Rankin, general counsel for the Warren Commission, and Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the Presidents’ Commission interviewed John Abt. (Warren Commision Report) Wesley J. Liebeler was also the Warren Commission Attorney that interviewed General Walker.

Unfortunately for history, the interview was amazingly short. J. Lee Rankin neglected to probe into Abt’s involvement in the Smith Act cases, even when the opportunity afforded itself. The total transcript of Jonathan Abt’s interview contains less than two pages of questions and responses. The longest statement made by Abt dwelt with how, because he and his wife were at their mountain retreat, he had missed the calls that Lee Harvey Oswald had made to him from the Dallas Police Department jail. Were the Warren Commissioners and the American public denied an opportunity to understand that a possible Oswald defense was to center around Jonathan Abt’s knowledge of the Smith Act?

Reading the transcript of Abt’s testimony, I was surprised, not by what was there but once again, by what was missing. Lee Harvey Oswald repeatedly stated that he desired Jonathan Abt as his attorney because Abt had represented clients in Smith Act cases. But the questioning by the General Council for the Warren Commission went in a different direction:

Mr. Rankin.

“Mr. Abt, did you learn that Lee Harvey Oswald was interested in having you represent him apparently because of some prior connection of yours with the American Civil Liberties Union?”

Mr. Abt.

“No. My assumption was, and it is pure assumption, that he read about some of my representation in the press, and, therefore, it occurred to him that I might be a god man to represent him, but that is pure assumption on my part. I have no direct knowledge of the whole matter.”

(Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. X, p. 116)

Mr. Rankin then asked:

“You have told us all that you know about it?

Mr. Abt.

“Yes. I may say that I had no prior contact with Oswald, knew nothing about him, did not know the name, and this request came as something entirely new and surprising to me when it came.”

Mr. Rankin.

“None of your clients had ever communicated to you about him prior to that time you heard about it over the radio?”

Mr. Abt.

“No; I had no recollection of even having heard the name, his name, before that time.”

Mr. Rankin.

“Thank you.”

At this point the interview was ended. The Warren Commission gathered no further information about Johathan Abt nor was there any speculation about why Lee Harvey Oswald would be so insistent upon having an attorney that was familiar with the Smith Act. An act designed to prosecute for advocating the over-through of the Government of the United States.

What can we speculate about any possible Oswald defense?

The mother of Lee Harvey Oswald Marguerite Oswald, and his wife, Marina Oswald visited Lee at 1:10 P.M. November 24, 1963 for about 20 minutes. At this meeting Oswald again reiterated his desire to have Abt as his attorney.

“Everything is fine. I know my rights, and I will have an attorney. I already requested to get in touch with Attorney Abt,…”

In 1993 we learned more about the thoughts of Marina Oswald when her friend and biographer, Priscilla McMillan appeared on the television show Frontline.

Historian Priscilla Johnson McMillan was a reporter in Moscow in the 1950’s and interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald shortly after his defection to the Soviet Union. Later, after the Kennedy assassination, McMillan befriended Oswald’s widow, Marina, and the two spent considerable time together. In 1977, McMillan wrote “Marina and Lee,” an intimate portrait of the Oswalds’ life together. In an interview conducted in conjunction with the first broadcast of Frontline’s “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” in 1993, Priscilla Johnson McMillan made this statement:

“Lee, in jail, told Marina that she had friends, that they would help her. He told her that there was someone in New York who would help him. He was counting on John Abt, lawyer for the American Communist party, to be his lawyer. He telephoned Ruth Paine and asked her to call Abt. Marina thought, when she saw Lee in jail, she could see that he was frightened. But then she thought that he would use the trial to proclaim his ideas, and to say that what he had done was justified by History.”

Frontline also interviewed Robert Oswald, Lee’s older brother, about Abt:

“I asked him about this lawyer in New York…and I told him I would get him one down here, meaning in Texas. He said no, he wanted that one up there. I didn’t press it any further. He was seeming to be pretty adamant about it. …”

Was the assassination of John F. Kennedy an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States? If so, it failed. It did succeed in showing the world that our Constitutional government was not only resilient but that it could, again, survive another cataclysmic event just as it had done numerous times before.

I believe Lee Harvey Oswald knew his history well enough to know that a single event would not change our government. But we can question why Oswald would be so intent on having Abt act as his attorney. Since the record shows that he repeatedly stated the reason he wanted Abt was his connection to the Smith Act Trials, I began to wonder, was Oswald going to use his trial to accuse someone, or group, of violating the Smith Act? I remembered that Oswald had left information behind that would have been found if he had been apprehended for assassinating Edwin Walker. Did he have a motive? Did he believe he need a trial?

Did Oswald have a reason to believe that someone or some group was attempting to over-through the government?


“She (Marina) testified that Oswald said that General Walker ‘was a very bad man, that he was a fascist, that he was the leader of a fascist organization, and when I said that even though all of that might be true, just the same he had no right to take his life, he said if someone had killed Hitler in time it would have saved many lives.”

If a trial had taken place would anybody believe that Kennedy had violated the Smith Act in some way that could justify taking the life of the President?

The strange thing is, Major General Edwin Anderson Walker would seem to be the more obvious choice if Oswald’s intent was going to be to accuse someone of attempting to overthrow the government. But it would also seem to be irrational to believe that Oswald would be siding with Walker and his “right wing” accusations that were being leveled against the Kennedy Administration. Is there any connection? The question began to haunt me.

In 1951 twenty-three Communists were indicted using the Smith Act. By 1957 the number had grown to over 140. It would take a number of Supreme Court decisions in 1957 to finally halt the parade of prosecutions. The two most important were Yates v. United States and Watkins v. United States. In Watkins the Court ruled that a defendant who had opted not to use the Fifth Amendment could still use the First Amendment against “abuses of the legislative process.” The vote was six to one, with Chief Justice Earl Warren writing the majority opinion.

Is it a coincidence that Earl Warren was associated with the use of the Smith Act to prosecute communists, first as a candidate for the vice-presidency in 1948 and then as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1957? In 1963 many conservatives in the United States considered Warren, the former Republican Governor of California for eight years, a left wing radical. Did Justice Earl Warren influence the commission to eliminate any mention of the Smith Act cases from the final report of his commission?

When Jack Ruby fired his fatal shots the American public lost the opportunity to witness the trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. The jury of public opinion lost our opportunity to hear more about the possible defense strategy that would be used to defend Lee Harvey Oswald when the telephone calls to Jonathan Abt went unanswered.

On Sunday morning November 25th 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was himself assassinated while being transferred to a more permanent jail site to await prosecution. At the time of his death, Lee Harvey Oswald had very few items in his possession. One item of significance was a sheet of paper with two phone numbers written on it. Those phone numbers belonged to Jonathan Abt.

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