On Monday January 7, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald reported to his job at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, a graphic arts company in Dallas, where he had started working in October 1962. He would work there through April 1963.
At the time Oswald was quarreling with his wife and corresponding with several leftist organizations. Various agencies of the U.S. government were also keeping track of him. When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev wondered “What really happened?” in Dallas and doubted that U.S. security forces were so “inept,” he had a point: When it came to watching Lee Harvey Oswald, the U.S. government was not inept.
The State Department knew Oswald’s whereabouts in January 1963. He had just sent two money orders totaling $190 to partially repay a $435 loan extended by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow when he left the Soviet Union in May 1962. After JFK’s assassination, the Warren Commission was told about this loan.
The FBI knew Oswald was in Dallas–and more. The Bureau had opened a file on Oswald upon his return from the Soviet Union the previous summer but closed the file in October 1962. FBI director Clarence Kelly later said that Oswald’s case was “merely routine, unworthy of any further consideration.” But just because Oswald’s case had been officially closed didn’t mean that the FBI wasn’t collecting information on him. Oswald and his wife Marina wrote to the Soviet Embassy in Washington five times in late 1962. The FBI read their correspondence because it was opening all mail to and from the Embassy, according to John Newman’s 1995 book, Oswald and the CIA. The Warren Commission was told about the closing of the FBI’s Oswald file but not the opening of his mail.
Most importantly, the CIA was also collecting information on Oswald. As a matter of course, the agency received the FBI’s reports on Oswald. Under a secret mail intercept program known as HT/LINGUAL the agency also intercepted his family correspondence, according to Newman. In 1961, for example, when Oswald was living in Russia, the Agency intercepted a letter from his mother, Marguerite Oswald.
The Warren Commission was told the intercepted letter contained “no information of real significance.” But that is not what CIA officials said among themselves. According to a document found by Newman, the deputy chief of the mail opening program wrote in a memo that the Marguerite Oswald letter “will be of interest to Mrs. Egerter, CI/SIG.” The acronym referred to an office called the Special Investigations Group, or SIG, which was part of the CIA’s Counterintelligence (CI) staff.
The Warren Commission report did not tell the American people that the CI/SIG office had paid close attention to all aspects of Oswald’s life between 1959 and 1963. For example, when CIA wiretaps and photo surveillance cameras observed Oswald visiting the Russian and Cuban diplomatic offices in Mexico City later in 1963, the Mexico CIty station sent a query about Oswald to CIA headquarters. The query was routed to Ann Egerter in CI/SIG for reply.
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