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Why was the FPCC Being Targetted in the Summer of '63?


Greg Parker
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From The Party: The Socialist Worker's Party 1960-1988, VOL 1: The Sixties: by Barry Sheppard

At the convention [the July, 1963 SWP national convention - my insert], a meeting of pro-Cuba activists discussed the situation in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Cubans living in the United States who supported the July 26 Movement had helped us build the FPCC. Now most of them had returned to Cuba. In most areas, the FPCC had dwindled down to supporters of the SWP and YSA. Since we did not want the FPCC to become a sectarian front group, the meeting decided to stop trying to build it. The FPCC then existed for a while as a paper organization, until the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Historians such as Van Gosse have pinpointed the BoP, the travel ban, and attacks from government committees as bringing on the decline. The FBI and CIA surely knew by the Summer of '63 that this organisation was already on its death bed. Why then did they go ahead with complex operations most researchers believe were aimed at bringing it down?

It would have of course, been useful to link Oswald to it, and by extrapolation, to Castro, but it seems to me, killing it off altogether was not in the vested interests of those whose raison dete was in finding "enemies" as an excuse to keep the Cold War game going.

The assassination just hastened the inevitable death of the FPCC - more a case of unintended euthanasia of a dying patient than it was murder.

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I suppose most peoples opinions on things aren't shaped by knowing such things but rather by what is presented in the media. If the SWP and YSA had withdrawn from it it becomes a group that the FBI and CIA can easily coopt. They then control the internal documentation etc. To then kill it off is just another markup in a successful war against subversion.

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O.H. Lee and V. T. Lee

When Lee Harvey Oswald checked into the Hotel Commercio in Mexico City in late September, 1963, the clerk wrote down his name: “O.H. Lee,” which was explained away as a mistake on the part of the hotel clerk who didn’t speak English.

Less than a week later, back in Dallas, Oswald checked into the YMCA, where he had stayed on previous occasions, where Jack Ruby kept a locker and worked out in the gym, and where Jack Lawrence was also registered as a guest.

Oswald reportedly registered there under the name “O.H. Lee,” the same name he used when he rented the room at 1026 N. Beckley in Oak Cliff.

The use of the same alias three times within a few weeks time to me is no mistake.

Oswald’s use of this alias appears similar to Vincent Tappin’s use of the name V.T. Lee as director of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Tampa, Florida and New York.

From Dick Russell, (The Man Who Knew Too Much p. 348):

“V.T. Lee had traveled to Los Angeles as part of a speaking tour on April 4-5, 1963, shortly before Nagel’s arrival in the city. There Lee called a press conference and gave speeches at UCLA’s Young Socialist Alliance and the First Unitarian Church. The FPCC’s national spokesman told the press: ‘Cubans today have freedom from hunger, freedom from racial prejudice, freedom to educate themselves….That’s much more than they had when the United States dominated Cuba.”

“Soon after this, Oswald began writing regularly to V.T. Lee. Also soon after this, according to FBI files declassified in the mid-1970s, the FBI intensified its probe of Lee and the FPCC. The parallels are intriguing.”

Dick Russell then lists a series of interactions between the April 16 letter LHO wrote to FPCC in New York, where V.T. Lee was director, May 27, when Lee wrote Oswald instructing him to contact the Tampa, Florida FPCC office, where he was previously director, and June 3, when LHO opened P.O. Box 30061 under his name, FPCC, Marina and A.J. Hidell.

As elaborated on by George Michael Evica (in A Certain Arrogance, 2006, p. 22)

“In the summer of 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, arrested in a New Orleans street for disruptive political activity; was interviewed by New Orleans police intelligence officer Francis L. Martello. Volunteering information about his one-person New Orleans branch of the FPCC (hastily established and then hastily abandoned by him), Oswald was asked by Martello how he got connected to the FPCC; Oswald replied that ‘he became interested in that committee in Los Angeles….in 1958 while in the U.S. Marine Corps.”

“The recorded 1958 date was, of course, eighteen months too early for the origin of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee; the national FPCC was established on April 6th, 1960. But Oswald indicated he was visiting Los Angeles in 1958 when the same (apparently) pro-Castro people who organized the FPCC’s Los Angeles branch were in attendance at the progressive and radical Unitarian meetings in Los Angeles in 1958, including those held at Stephen Fritchman’s First Unitarian Church.”

“The reticulate complexity of the Oswald story is apparent with Lee Harvey Oswald’s uncalled for offer of FPCC information to New Orleans police officer Martello. Oswald had begun his correspondence with the N.Y. FPCC office sometime between August 4 and October 8, 1962.”

“V.T. Lee, actually Army veteran Vincent Tappin, had been an early Castro supporter, a frequent visitor to Cuba, and the chief of the FPCC’s Tampa branch until he fled to New York after he had been ‘hounded’ (according to Lee) by the FBI. V.T. Lee became the FPCC’s chairperson in New York, apparently arriving in time to receive Lee Harvey Oswald’s letter.”

“After the autumn of 1962, no official postal record exists of a link between Lee Harvey Oswald and V.T. Lee until April 16, 1963. But just two weeks earlier, a remarkable reticulation occurred: on April 4th and 5th, on a major speaking tour, V.T. Lee visited Los Angeles.”

“….Oswald had a propensity for association (at a very low degree of separation) with anti-nuclear activists in the 1950s, including U.S. intelligence targets Stephen Fritchman and Linus Pauling.”

According to Russell (TMWKTM, p. 685-686), “Al Lewis, executive director of the Los Angeles FPCC in 1963 and now a retired psychiatrist, remembered: ‘The FBI called me after Kennedy was assassinated, and apparently wanted to involve me in it some way. They tried to pin a relationship with Oswald on me, because apparently I’d been in Mexico at the same time he was, on my way to Cuba. Well, that was the first I heard about it. And I never heard of Oswald and the New Orleans Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the movement. That whole thing to me was a setup of some kind by the intelligence services.”

“If the FBI, the CIA, and others were looking to destroy the FPCC, the president’s assassination did just that. The first nail in the coffin, of course came when Oswald’s affiliation was touted in the headlines. Then, in what seems an oddly synchronous event, on December 20, 1963, the Secret Service filed charges of ‘threatening to kill President Johnson’ against twenty-nine-year old Robert Beaty Fennell, ‘who claims membership in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.”

“According to a Los Angeles Times account, police in Berkeley, California, had picked up Fennell on a vagrancy charge and found a note in his pocket reading: ‘ My immediate goal: the assassination of President Johnson.’ In Sioux City, Iowa, in October, Fennell had picketed the Municipal Auditorium, urging permission to travel to Cuba and supporting interracial marriages, telling newsmen at the time that he belonged to the FPCC. His father said his son had been working on a Texas ranch several hundred miles from Dallas on November 22, 1963. Fennell, the article noted, had received an honorable discharge from the Air Force five years before. Curious parallels, indeed, to the short life of Lee Harvey Oswald.”

”That was the coup de grace for the FPCC. By the end of December 1963, V.T. Lee had resigned his chairmanship and the organized vanished from the political map.”

xxxyyyzz

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O.H. Lee and V. T. Lee

When Lee Harvey Oswald checked into the Hotel Commercio in Mexico City in late September, 1963, the clerk wrote down his name: “O.H. Lee,” which was explained away as a mistake on the part of the hotel clerk who didn’t speak English.

Less than a week later, back in Dallas, Oswald checked into the YMCA, where he had stayed on previous occasions, where Jack Ruby kept a locker and worked out in the gym, and where Jack Lawrence was also registered as a guest.

Oswald reportedly registered there under the name “O.H. Lee,” the same name he used when he rented the room at 1026 N. Beckley in Oak Cliff.

The use of the same alias three times within a few weeks time to me is no mistake.

Oswald’s use of this alias appears similar to Vincent Tappin’s use of the name V.T. Lee as director of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Tampa, Florida and New York.

From Dick Russell, (The Man Who Knew Too Much p. 348):

“V.T. Lee had traveled to Los Angeles as part of a speaking tour on April 4-5, 1963, shortly before Nagel’s arrival in the city. There Lee called a press conference and gave speeches at UCLA’s Young Socialist Alliance and the First Unitarian Church. The FPCC’s national spokesman told the press: ‘Cubans today have freedom from hunger, freedom from racial prejudice, freedom to educate themselves….That’s much more than they had when the United States dominated Cuba.”

“Soon after this, Oswald began writing regularly to V.T. Lee. Also soon after this, according to FBI files declassified in the mid-1970s, the FBI intensified its probe of Lee and the FPCC. The parallels are intriguing.”

Dick Russell then lists a series of interactions between the April 16 letter LHO wrote to FPCC in New York, where V.T. Lee was director, May 27, when Lee wrote Oswald instructing him to contact the Tampa, Florida FPCC office, where he was previously director, and June 3, when LHO opened P.O. Box 30061 under his name, FPCC, Marina and A.J. Hidell.

As elaborated on by George Michael Evica (in A Certain Arrogance, 2006, p. 22)

“In the summer of 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, arrested in a New Orleans street for disruptive political activity; was interviewed by New Orleans police intelligence officer Francis L. Martello. Volunteering information about his one-person New Orleans branch of the FPCC (hastily established and then hastily abandoned by him), Oswald was asked by Martello how he got connected to the FPCC; Oswald replied that ‘he became interested in that committee in Los Angeles….in 1958 while in the U.S. Marine Corps.”

“The recorded 1958 date was, of course, eighteen months too early for the origin of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee; the national FPCC was established on April 6th, 1960. But Oswald indicated he was visiting Los Angeles in 1958 when the same (apparently) pro-Castro people who organized the FPCC’s Los Angeles branch were in attendance at the progressive and radical Unitarian meetings in Los Angeles in 1958, including those held at Stephen Fritchman’s First Unitarian Church.”

“The reticulate complexity of the Oswald story is apparent with Lee Harvey Oswald’s uncalled for offer of FPCC information to New Orleans police officer Martello. Oswald had begun his correspondence with the N.Y. FPCC office sometime between August 4 and October 8, 1962.”

“V.T. Lee, actually Army veteran Vincent Tappin, had been an early Castro supporter, a frequent visitor to Cuba, and the chief of the FPCC’s Tampa branch until he fled to New York after he had been ‘hounded’ (according to Lee) by the FBI. V.T. Lee became the FPCC’s chairperson in New York, apparently arriving in time to receive Lee Harvey Oswald’s letter.”

“After the autumn of 1962, no official postal record exists of a link between Lee Harvey Oswald and V.T. Lee until April 16, 1963. But just two weeks earlier, a remarkable reticulation occurred: on April 4th and 5th, on a major speaking tour, V.T. Lee visited Los Angeles.”

“….Oswald had a propensity for association (at a very low degree of separation) with anti-nuclear activists in the 1950s, including U.S. intelligence targets Stephen Fritchman and Linus Pauling.”

According to Russell (TMWKTM, p. 685-686), “Al Lewis, executive director of the Los Angeles FPCC in 1963 and now a retired psychiatrist, remembered: ‘The FBI called me after Kennedy was assassinated, and apparently wanted to involve me in it some way. They tried to pin a relationship with Oswald on me, because apparently I’d been in Mexico at the same time he was, on my way to Cuba. Well, that was the first I heard about it. And I never heard of Oswald and the New Orleans Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the movement. That whole thing to me was a setup of some kind by the intelligence services.”

“If the FBI, the CIA, and others were looking to destroy the FPCC, the president’s assassination did just that. The first nail in the coffin, of course came when Oswald’s affiliation was touted in the headlines. Then, in what seems an oddly synchronous event, on December 20, 1963, the Secret Service filed charges of ‘threatening to kill President Johnson’ against twenty-nine-year old Robert Beaty Fennell, ‘who claims membership in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.”

“According to a Los Angeles Times account, police in Berkeley, California, had picked up Fennell on a vagrancy charge and found a note in his pocket reading: ‘ My immediate goal: the assassination of President Johnson.’ In Sioux City, Iowa, in October, Fennell had picketed the Municipal Auditorium, urging permission to travel to Cuba and supporting interracial marriages, telling newsmen at the time that he belonged to the FPCC. His father said his son had been working on a Texas ranch several hundred miles from Dallas on November 22, 1963. Fennell, the article noted, had received an honorable discharge from the Air Force five years before. Curious parallels, indeed, to the short life of Lee Harvey Oswald.”

”That was the coup de grace for the FPCC. By the end of December 1963, V.T. Lee had resigned his chairmanship and the organized vanished from the political map.”

xxxyyyzz

This is pretty fascinating, I would like to know more about Oswald's association with Stephen Fritchman and Linus Pauling. In the 1950's?

There are some parallel's between V.T. Lee and O.H. Lee., Vaughn Marlowe was involved with the FPCC as well [see The Man Who Knew Too Much]

When John Dolva wrote

If the SWP and YSA had withdrawn from it it becomes a group that the FBI and CIA can easily coopt. They then control the internal documentation etc. To then kill it off is just another markup in a successful war against subversion.

I was thinking...the assassination of Kennedy sure didn't do anything to make the FPCC any less of a 'hot potato,' maybe it became neccesary to see that the FPCC died after that happened, although it doesent seem like the FPCC was destined for a long life to begin with.

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