FLASH CANCELLED response: FBI wasn’t interested in Oswald

Jean Davison responds to Bill SImpich’s “Why was Oswald’s name taken off the FBI’s watch list?”

FBI officials removed Lee Harvey Oswald from an FBI watch list six weeks before JFK was killed. The question is why?

Simpich argues that two top FBI officials in Washington, Marvin, Gheesling and Lambert Anderson, removed Oswald’s name because he had proven useful to the Bureau in some type of undercover operation in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.

Davison responds:

“Since he knew Oswald’s history, [Washington-based FBI agent Lambert] Anderson would’ve seen at once that Oswald had repeatedly lied to New Orleans FBI agent Quigley. Oswald told Quigley he’d moved to Fort Worth after his Marine discharge, that he’d met and married Marina there, and that he’d moved directly from Fort Worth to New Orleans. Nothing about living in Dallas where the Walker shooting took place. He claimed that his pseudonym A.J. Hidell was a real person. In other words, Oswald had his own agenda.

“The federal surveillance of Oswald was spotty at best. His FBI case was closed for about seven months in 1962-63. The CIA program HTLingual picked up a few of the Oswald family’s letters to and from the USSR, described here:

“The FBI reopened his case in April 1963 but lost track of him after he left Dallas that month and didn’t relocate him until July:

“After [Dallas FBI agent James] Hosty learned that Oswald had been in Mexico he immediately tried to locate him in Dallas, but his worry was that Oswald might’ve been recruited as a Soviet spy, not that he was a danger to anyone.”

“The HSCA called Hoover’s disciplining of agents “unwarranted…The actions of the agents involved were appropriate under the circumstances as they knew them. That Oswald turned out to be an assassin should not have been used to fault the agents, since they had no reason to suspect that would be the case when they were dealing with him.””


34 thoughts on “FLASH CANCELLED response: FBI wasn’t interested in Oswald”

  1. Writing in 1995, WA PO’s Walter Pincus finds that Soviet embassy of 1963 was tapped by CIA with the co-operation of Mexican authorities. This was unknown to FBI staff in Mexico? Note that CIA might have had reasons of its own for not supplying specific information to FBI.


    Back in the states, “Lee” would write and painfully re-write a letter about his Mexican journey to SOV embassy in DC, knowing that would be intercepted by US authorities.

    Curious that Hosty had no comment on Oswald’s ability to obtain employment at Jaggers, Stiles, and Stovall.

    It would be interesting to check degree of FBI surveillance of other defectors and Marxist-Leninist militants as dangerous to POTUS. My guess would be that before the assassination, such surveillance was very much skewed to the kook right. In any event, did criteria change after Dallas?

  2. Eddy,

    Read further. The context explains it. Hosty couldn’t reveal that the CIA had a phone tap on the Soviet Embassy. He said:

    “… in 105 contact cases, when they contact the Soviet Embassy, you may not interview them without specific permission. In this case, I am sure it would never have been granted because the CIA was involved. They were the ones that came up with the information about Oswald talking to the Soviets. They would have never, ever given permission because this was a new technique and it would have blown all sorts of cover down in Mexico City and would have serious repercussions in the Mexican Government if they had gotten wind that the CIA was being allowed to monitor the Soviet Embassy.”

    However, Hosty could ask other questions, and Marina herself was of FBI interest. Hosty said: “We had an investigation on her under the SOBIR Program, that’s the Soviet Bloc Immigrants and Repatriates Program. They had information, good information from informants, defectors that the Soviets were going to infiltrate the United States with immigrants and repatriates to build up an illegal network of espionage in the event that the diplomatic immunity was taken away from the Embassy people and they could no longer operate.”


    Hosty said he was relieved when he found out that Oswald worked in a warehouse and not in a defense-related industry. He didn’t think of him as a threat to Kennedy.

    But Oswald was furious that Hosty had talked to his wife. According to several witnesses he felt the FBI was harassing him and try to “inhibit his activities,” as Ruth Paine described it.

    1. That’s all well and good Jean but why didn’t the FBI put Oswald under surveillance. Hosty didn’t even bother finding out where Oswald was living at the time on Beckley Street. All he had to do was ask Ruth Paine if she had a telephone number where Oswald could be contacted which she did and his address could have been traced or alternatively tail Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository at the end of a work shift.

      At this point in time the FBI were well aware Oswald had visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico and been in contact with Vladimir Kostikov who was suspected of belonging to the 13th Department responsible for assassinations and sabotage. Let’s remember it was the FBI who earlier in 1963 alerted the CIA to the fact that Kostikov may be part of the 13th Department. Surely they would want to know what Oswald was up to and who else he may be in contact with, especially with a wife who had been placed on the SOBIR Program. Marina had been placed on the SOBIR Program shortly after the Oswald’s arrival back in the US at the suggestion of none other than Hosty himself.

      As far as Marina and the SOBIR Program goes. A file was opened on July 25 1962 and given pending inactive status with an intention of interviewing her at a later stage. At least 90 days were required under the FBI Manual of Instructions and yet almost 16 months later on November 22 1963 Marina still hadn’t been formally interviewed.

      Even more farcical was the fact they put Marina’s file in pending inactive status because they believed they could monitor her through Lee Oswald’s open file which was promptly closed less than 5 weeks later on August 30 1962 which meant they had no means of monitoring who she was coming into contact with. I won’t go into it here because it’s getting off the subject a bit but the recently released JFK records provide some extremely interesting information about some of the Fort Worth Russians who Marina was associating with which will change how this whole aspect of the JFK assassination is viewed.

      1. Peter,

        We all wish that Oswald had been under surveillance, but JFK’s known enemies in Dallas were on the far right. General Edwin Walker, for instance, had a personal grudge against the Kennedys yet he and his supporters were not under surveillance so far as I know. City officials were worried about embarrassing anti-JFK demonstrations, not an assassination attempt.

        Hosty tried to find out where Oswald was living by calling Truly (without revealing he was FBI), but the only address Oswald had given his boss was Ruth Paine’s.
        Hosty couldn’t have followed him from work since he didn’t have a photo of him, and I doubt he thought that was necessary, anyway. Why would he? Oswald seems important to us *now*, but before 11/22 nobody thought he was.

        Kostikov was known to carry out routine Embassy duties, and is it plausible that he would recruit an American stranger to kill Kennedy before anyone even knew that Oswald would get a job that gave him that opportunity?

  3. Ms Davidson. I would be very grateful if you could provide your comments on for the quote below from Mr Allen Lowe, it looks like dynamite to me.

    (quote on)And, as Hosty himself once said (from an interview with Steve Bochan):
    “everyone seems to think that I was trying to interview Oswald. I couldn’t interview Oswald without explicit permission from the CIA. And, they weren’t about to give it and I wasn’t about to ask for it.” (quote off)

    1. I didn’t care for the tone of one of your comments on Jean, and so I’ve chosen not to run. We’ve had a strong exchange of opinions on the FLASH CANCELLED issue. I’d like to keep the focus on the facts and the interpretation of them.

  4. I used to comment here some time ago, I just noticed that this site is back in action and want to know if I am still qualified to post commentary.
    Thanks, Willy Whitten

  5. Interestingly Jean you highlight another prime example of seeming FBI incompetence in their handling of Oswald with regard to how they traced the Oswald’s to Ruth Paine’s home in the October 29 communication Hosty received from the New Orleans office.

    Oswald actually left the forwarding address of 2515 West Fifth Street Irving, Texas for PO box 30061 on September 24. More than a month before the Dallas office was notified. Why did it take them that long. The New Orleans FBI knew the Oswald’s had left there on October 1( Actually the Garners say that the FBI were around at the Magazine Street address the day after Oswald left around September 24). The FBI were very interested in Oswald at the time and it would have been standard procedure to contact the Post Office to see if the Oswald’s had left a forwarding address. At the time they were well aware of Oswald’s PO box 30061.

    This is in contrast what Hosty did in May 1963 when he couldn’t locate the Oswald’s at their Neely Street apartment. He went straight to the Post Office to see if they left a forwarding address. So why were the New Orleans office so tardy in following this angle up. Just another example of convenient FBI incompetence otherwise Hosty might have been out to the Paine house 2 or 3 weeks earlier than he was on November 1.

    1. Apologies for the poor grammar. That should read “The New Orleans FBI knew on October 1 that the Oswald’s had left there.” not “The New Orleans FBI knew Oswald had left there on October 1.” Just in case there was any confusion.

  6. Sorry Jean I think you misunderstood what I was saying. Hosty definitely knew Oswald had moved to New Orleans. He found out back in July 1963 when the FBI’s New Orleans office notified him after they received information about a mail intercept from the New York office.

    I am talking about what Hosty did in October 1963 when he found out Oswald had been in contact with the Soviet embassy in Mexico and was aware that he and Marina had left New Orleans. This was on October 18. Hosty lied under oath about this to the Warren Commission and consistently lied about many other things during his testimony. He told them he found out on October 25 instead of October 18. This may seem minor but it can be crucial when analysing the whole story.

    Hosty may have had a valid reason for going to Fort Worth on the 18th to try and locate Oswald through his brother Robert who just didn’t happen to live there any more but that raises the question of why he didn’t try to contact Oswald’s mother and see if she knew Lee’s whereabouts. Hosty wouldn’t have known that they hadn’t been in contact for over 12 months. Instead once again Hosty lied under oath to the WC saying “he checked with relatives who had been previously cooperative”. Who exactly were these relatives? There is absolutely no record of Hosty being in contact with any of Oswald’s relatives during this period prior to the assassination.

    The point I was originally trying to make is why didn’t Hosty go to the Oswald’s last known residence in Dallas at Neely Street in Oak Cliff instead of going to Oswald’s old address in Fort Worth when trying to locate him and at least ask neighbours about a Russian speaking woman driving a station wagon. Especially as we know Ruth Paine had visited the Neely Street address a number of times during March and April 1963. It may have not come to anything but it is an obvious lead to pursue. Hosty told the WC that “I went to neighbourhoods where I knew they had been” but there is no mention of it in his October 22 report which details his effort to try and locate Oswald or any other report. Once again this may seem a minor point but it fits a pattern.

    The thrust of what I’m saying is the FBI were like the Keystone Cops when it came to Oswald. He was always conveniently just one step ahead and out of their reach and basically I believe there is a little bit more going on here. As smart as Oswald was I don’t think he was that smart and I don’t think the FBI were that dumb. As I said previously I believe there was some sort of relationship between Oswald and the FBI.

  7. Jean Davison’s rationalizations are, as usual, laughable. First of all, if the watch list was for people’s whose mail was being opened, then guess what? Oswald’s mail was being opened. Ultimately it does not matter how we respond to Jean, since it is all a disinformation game anyway. And, as Hosty himself once said (from an interview with Steve Bochan):
    “everyone seems to think that I was trying to interview Oswald. I couldn’t interview Oswald without explicit permission from the CIA. And, they weren’t about to give it and I wasn’t about to ask for it.”

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way, Allen, but if you accuse me of “disinformation,” you really should back that up with some evidence, don’t you think?

      1. Jean pay attention, I just did.You said the watchlist was for people whose mail was being open, and I pointed out that Oswald’s mail was being opened.

  8. Just to be clear I’m saying there is no mention in the records of Hosty in October 1963 going to Oswald’s last known addresses in Oak Cliff Dallas not that he’d never been there. Hosty was obviously was familiar with them as he visited both the Neely and Elsbeth addresses in March 1963 when reopening the Marina Oswald file which makes it even more strange that he would go out to Oswald’s old Fort Worth address trying to locate him.

    As a bit of background on October 3, Hosty was provided with information that Marina had left New Orleans in a station wagon with a Texas license plate driven by a woman who could speak the Russian language. Surely the Oswald’s last known address at Neely Street would be the best place to start trying to locate them. As we know Ruth Paine had visited the Neely Street address in her station wagon on a number of occasions during March and April 1963.

    1. I don’t where you’re getting that, Peter, but I believe you’re mistaken. Hosty knew that Oswald had moved to New Orleans that spring.

      Mr. HOSTY. I then received a communication on the 25th of October from the New Orleans office advising me that another agency had determined that Lee Oswald was in contact with the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City in the early part of October 1963. [….]
      Mr. STERN. Did this increase your effort to find him?
      Mr. HOSTY. Very much so, yes….. Shortly thereafter, on the 29th of October, I received another communication from the New Orleans office advising that they had a change of address for Lee and Marina Oswald to 2515 West Fifth Street, Irving, Tex.
      Mr. STERN. You received that information when?
      Mr. HOSTY. On the 29th of October.

      Hosty’s book can be searched here:

  9. I know this part of the case extremely well(Oswald and the FBI) and I have absolutely no doubt that Bill Simpich is on the right track and that there was some sort of relationship between Oswald and the FBI.

    From what I can see there is overwhelming evidence to suggest this is the case. Do we really accept that an epidemic of incompetence explains the FBI’s handling of Oswald or was there something more going on.

    Just as an example of this FBI incompetence that doesn’t add up Jean says ” After [Dallas FBI agent James] Hosty learned that Oswald had been in Mexico he immediately tried to locate him in Dallas but his worry was that he might have been recruited as a Soviet spy, not that he was a danger to anyone.

    This is actually incorrect. Instead of trying to locate Oswald in Dallas where Oswald had lived for nearly 6 months before moving to New Orleans which would be logical, Hosty went to Oswald’s Mercedes street address in Fort Worth where Oswald hadn’t lived for over 12 months trying to locate him. There is no mention in the records of him going to Oswald’s last known addresses at Neely and Elspeth streets in Oak Cliff Dallas. As it happens this is exactly where Oswald was residing at the time a few streets away. It makes no sense.

    As far as Hosty’s worry that Oswald might have been recruited as a Soviet spy, why wasn’t he then concerned about Oswald’s contact with Michael Paine who worked for Bell Helicopter (sensitive industry) and had a security clearance. In fact in Hosty’s book ‘Assignment Oswald’ he writes he was reassured when he found Paine had a security clearance. Once again it just doesn’t make sense but it fits a pattern of the FBI dealings with Oswald from the moment he returned to the US.

  10. Jean –

    I’m curious what your reaction is to this story about the aggressive security actions taken in Fort Worth against those appearing to be a threat to the president:

    During his advance work, Howard had investigated approximately 30 people who had made some kind of threatening comment.

    He told me they came up with whatever reason they could dream up to put some of them in jail during the visit. Many of them disliked Kennedy solely because he was Catholic. “Some of them made the crack that they ought to kill that SOB,” said Howard. Of those 30, some ended up in jail and others tailed by agents and police.


    But a traitorous defector and member of the FPCC who had just interacted with CIA assets and the FBI in NO, had just went to the Russian and Cuban embassies in MC, and who just recently dropped a threatening note off to the Dallas FBI office, doesn’t get closely monitored?

    That’s a mighty big ‘oops.’ In fact, it’s unbelievable on its face to me.

    1. Bogman,

      Assuming Howard’s account is true (memories often get “improved”), he was talking about people who disliked JFK or had made a threat against him. Most of the people Hosty monitored were rightwing extremists like that.

      The note should’ve definitely been reported, even though by all accounts it wasn’t a threat against JFK. Oswald was upset because Hosty had talked to his wife. Hosty told the HSCA he considered it a “routine nut letter”:


  11. Yes, Oswald had his “own” agenda, IMO provided for him by David Phillips and maybe one or two others. When the FBI realized he was lying to / misleading them, wouldn’t that be all the more reason to put him back on the watch list?

    1. The term “Watch List” had a specific meaning. It wasn’t literally “people being watched” but rather a list of people whose mail to and from the Soviet Union was being opened in the CIA’s HTLINGUAL program. Two pages starting here:


      Or go to this page and search for “Watch List” (in quotes):


  12. I’m noticing that all these patsies have either been surveilled or have some type of federal record where they could easily be profiled; is this something prosecutors/attorneys might already know, thus one of the reasons cia/fbi were determined to lie about and otherwise conceal the surveillance of oswald from the warren commission?

  13. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

    Thus, the FBI lost interest in Oswald after he returned from Mexico City and the “worry was that Oswald might’ve been recruited as a Soviet spy.” However, the trip to Mexico City must have reinforced, not minimized, the reason to maintain him in the Watch List.
    A former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S., where he openly started to campaign for Castro and “repeatedly lied to New Orleans FBI agent Quigley,” must stay in the Watch List after
    went to Mexico City and visited both the Soviet and Cuban embassies, trying to go to the Soviet Union through the most difficult and even illegal way: Cuba. After that, the FBI must be more interested in Oswald than ever.

  14. I’ve never argued that the FBI “wasn’t interested in Oswald.”

    I said their surveillance of him was “spotty.” Even when his case was open, sometimes the agency knew where he was, sometimes they didn’t. That’s what the record shows.

  15. Jean, thank you for your post. I’d add to it that the FBI’s Cointelpro was involved with the CIA in monitoring Oswald, and collaborated with CIA in targeting the FPCC, both domestically and on foreign soil. The DRE, under Joannides as their case officer, engaged Oswald in New Orleans during Oswald’s one-man (unauthorized) FPCC campaign, in the summer of 1963, BEFORE Oswald left New Orleans (for Mexico?). We now understand the sub-contracted roll Guy Bannister (and possibly David Ferrie), and the DRE, played in sheep-dipping Oswald as a pro-Castro sympathizer. Oswald as the JFK patsy was solidified, in the JFK murder, as outcome product fron the subsequent Mexico City operation. Ostensibly, New Orleans is useless – being fruitful only as propaganda – unless, and until, JFK is killed in Dallas. CI/SIGS, and FBI’s Anderson and Gheesling, would have known, at least unofficially, that Oswald was being used in the joint FBI-CIA black ops against the FPCC, as well as his August arrest in New Orleans, evidenced by FBI’s Quigleys’ interrogation of Oswald in the New Orleans city jail, and CIA assets working at New Orleans station, WSDU (Stuckey and Butler). “Oswald applied for a passport in New Orleans on 6/24/1963. Oswald was issued a passport on June 25, 1963. He said he was planning to visit England, France, Holland, U.S.S.R., Finland, Italy, and Poland, and that he intended to leave the country sometime during November or December 1963 by ship from New Orleans.” (Sorce:https://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/appendix-15.html#june). Both the CI/SIG and FBI Cointelpro knew Marina and LHO urgently appealed to the Soviet Embassy, in Washington, D.C.(between 12/31/1962 and November 9, 1963), for entry visas. The alleged Oswald letter of November 9, 1963, the inclusions of details regarding the Russian Consultate and Cuban Enbassy, in Mexico City, are conspicuously pregant with covert operations information. EUSEBIO AZCUE LOPEZ was not replaced until shortly after this letter was forwarded to the Soviet Embassy. The Soviets, a Cuban ally, knew about the change much earlier than published reports. The tenor of the letter doesn’t refect the deparation of Marina’s or LHO’s earlier letters. By November 9th, Oswald was working at the TSBD. The November 9th letter, if authentic, should have put Oswald back on the Watch List. (Source: http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/FBI%20Records%20Files/105-126032%20Part%203/105-126032S3P3.pdf). In any event, Azcue gave a different description of “Oswald”. (Source: cadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo/hscaascu.htm).

    1. Kennedy 63,

      Oswald was not “sheep-dipped”in New Orleans. He had been a Castro supporter since 1959 and first wrote to the FPCC in 1962 when he was living in Fort Worth. The people who knew Oswald at various times described someone quite different from the stick figure caricature seen in conspiracy books.

      The DRE didn’t engage Oswald in New Orleans, Oswald engaged the DRE. He introduced himself to Bringuier, not the other way around.
      Oswald’s FPCC activities were evidently designed to establish a pro-Castro record that would help him get a visa to Cuba. The evidence for this is in his notebook and in what he said to Silvia Duran at the Cuban Consulate.

      Cointelpro targeted the FPCC organization but not Oswald in particular, so far as I know. Is there evidence of that? As you said, his activities weren’t authorized by the national chapter. He was a FPCC member but apparently the only one in New Orleans.

      Your archives link indicates that Oswald wasn’t denied a passport because “…in view of the Supreme Court decisions, the Department was not empowered to deny anyone a passport on grounds related to freedom of speech or to political association and beliefs,” the only basis available in his case.


      The head of the Passport Office told the WC much the same thing:

      It also wasn’t illegal to ask the Soviet Embassy for entry visas, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

  16. What exactly is she arguing? That based on the facts she described, that the FBI decided that Oswald was unimportant?

    That flies in the face of reality. A former Marine who defected to Russia during the height of the Cold War, came back with a Russian bride and then repeatedly lied to the FBI (!!!!!) about his actions would be viewed with suspicion. To this day, as we can see with the Mueller investigation, nothing makes a person more of a target to law enforcement than lying to them.

    Anything is possible, of course, but it’s hard to believe that a person with Oswald’s profile at that point in time under those circumstances would not have been under serious surveillance. Absent other factors, such as his cooperation.

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