Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee

A note from Professor David Kaiser, diplomatic historian and author of a fine JFK book, The Road to Dallas.

Kaiser’s account of Lee Oswald’s activism on behalf of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans is key to understanding the JFK story.

Oswald in New Orleans

Oswald in New Orleans, August 16, 1963

KAISER: “I wrote in The Road to Dallas that Oswald’s whole FPCC operation was evidently part of the COINTELPRO operation the FBI was running against that organization.  I also said, though, that that did not mean he was working directly for the FBI, which frequently subcontracted COINTELPRO to right wing groups.

“Oswald’s operation, it seems to me, had two goals: 1) to identify pro-Castro activists in New Orleans (this was a failure, he never smoked out anyone), and 2) to discredit the FPCC as a Communist front (which is what the radio debate did.)

“I do think that the New Orleans’ FBI reaction to Oswald’s arrest, etc., showed that they knew the whole FPCC chapter was fake.  They made no real attempt to run it down–whereas that very same summer, when a chapter of SANE, I believe, a ban-the-bomb group, was formed in New Orleans, they were all over it.  What is even more interesting, to me, is that none of the reports that the FBI did file on Oswald and the FPCC actually said, there wasn’t any chapter. He was acting on his own, period.”

Tomorrow: A reader asks “Does this not make LHO a CIA asset?”

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6 comments

  1. Kennedy63 says:

    The recently released JFK files, together with Jefferson Morley’s intrepid reporting on Angleton’s “operational interest and tracking” of Oswald, produces a fuller picture of what Oswald’s motivations were that Summer in ’63. The FBI and the CIA, working in concert, sought to discredit the FPCC. Targeting Oswald was a perfect opportunity to piggyback the JFK assassination, thus discrediting the FPCC and any other left-wing/communist organizations Oswald had ties to – unscathed at the time were the FBI, CIA, ONI, Customs, State Dept., and the Military. We now know these agencies shared information on Oswald, yet the FBI and CIA seem to be the two agencies that most thwarted inquiries into the JFK murder. The CIA memo regarding Executive Action informs us (moronically) that discussions about Executive Action projects should not be put in writing. Perhaps this is the smokiest gun of all regarding the JFK murder – a totally off the record operation without a paper trail, only hints and circumstantial activities of involved principals.

  2. Bill Banks says:

    I would suggest an alternate explanation: with the national FPCC thoroughly covered, Oswald would be known to federal authorities as an overly ambitious lone wolf. Recall FPCC national emphasized difficulties of organizing in NO and suggested going slow.

    Worth noting is that bizarre interview from NO jail to Bureau which OSWALD had requested. Apparently, impression on local FBI was so absurd that nothing was done to check his lies–or, perhaps, such obvious lies that nothing further was deemed warranted. Also worth noting is there appears to be nothing in the record of NOPD Red Squad ever having been contacted by FBI, WC, or HSCA. Me, I doubt there was a “there” there, but absence altogether…

    • Andy says:

      In a talk last fall (October 2017), the researcher Bill Davy added some color to the Oswald arrest after the Bringuier scuffle.

      In the talk at the VMI, Davy reviews a document produced by the Church Committee. I believe the document is entitled ‘Oswald in New Orleans.’

      A researcher for the Church Committee named Paul Wallach wrote a report included in this document about a phone conversation in 1975 he had with a man named Wendell Roache (Roche?) who worked for the INS in New Orleans in 1963. In this conversation, according to Wallach, Roache claimed that he knew of David Ferrie from his work keeping tabs on Cuban exiles in NO. And Roache further claimed he had seen Oswald in the company of Ferrie.

      Roache claimed to Wallach that Oswald was speaking Russian in the police station after the Bringuier scuffle arrest, to the point that the NOPD called the INS in to help identify Oswald. The INS ( in the person of David Smith?) was able to easily affirm that Oswald was an American because he was known to the NO INS thanks to the aforementioned Cuban surveillance.

      I don’t see Roache’s name in the index of the Kaiser book. I know that Rex Bradford mentions this incident in an essay at the Mary Ferrell site. I guess the history is that the Church Committee declined to follow up on the claims made in the Roache-Wallach phone conversation. Davy has produced good clear photographs of the pages he references. And yes I do know that a report of a phone conversation is different level of evidence from sworn testimony before a Congressional committee 🙂

      Davy talk:

  3. Jeff says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I found some interesting files regarding USSR telegrams about Oswald and claims of “Fake News” by the Soviets.

    See the link below.
    http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119369

    Happy New Year,
    Jeff

  4. veritas.nunquam.perit says:

    well considering this nice docid-32373245

    it seems only half the story has been told

    richard gibson providing some nice infos on this documents in french language, he knew ‘alek'(alex on teh translation) and he was nuts

    documents were destroyed , tabor (in fact richard taber) and lee( in fact vincent lee) were going to be in troubles…

    maybe it gonna be time to ask really ms porter, mr & ms payne and richard gibson about this 😉 ..

  5. Peter says:

    I believe a key part of the Oswald and FPCC story in New Orleans is being ignored here and that is the Tulane University professors. Before Oswald arrived in NO a bundle of FPCC pamphlets had been found on Pine Street where a number of professors believed to be communists lived. The NO Police Intelligence Unit was aware of this and I’m positive this would have come to the FBI’s attention as well.

    It seems a little more than coincidence that Oswald would set up a chapter of FPCC not long after his arrival and that Ruth Paine would organise the wife of a Tulane professor who lived on Pine Street to look in on the Oswalds. Especially when we find out at around the same time her husband Michael is hanging around a coffee shop across from Southern Methodist University in Dallas talking to students about Cuba and praising Castro.

    It should also be noted that Oswald told Charles Hall Steele Jr who was helping hand out pamphlets on August 16 1963 that someone from Tulane University had given him the literature although this certainly appears to be a lie.There are definitley indications in the documents that the FBI didn’t want anyone looking too closely at the Tulane aspect of the investigation into Oswald including telling the Secret Service not to interview Professor Leonard Reissman.

    There is certainly much more to the story of Oswald in New Orleans but as I said this part shouldn’t be ignored.

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