Jan. 27, 1963: Oswald thinks about buying a gun

On this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald is thinking about buying a gun. The CIA is paying attention to him and his wife.

Oswald's pistol
Oswald’s pistol

The 23-year-old ex-Marine is living on Elsbeth Street in Dallas (in a building that was torn down earlier this month). He works at the Jagger-Chiles-Stovall graphic arts company and is taking typing lessons at night. He lives with his wife Marina and subscribes to a variety of leftist publications.

Socially, his friends tend to be more conservative. One of his most supportive friends is a Russian emigre with friends at the CIA named George de Mohrenschildt to whom he would later give a photo of himself with a gun.

Having obtained a printed mail order form for “Seaport Traders,” Oswald fills it out with this date. He uses a fake name, “A.J. Hidell,” and a real post office box address (P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Texas). He orders a pistol, holster and ammunition, then scratches out the last two items. He would not mail the form for another six weeks. (The heavy and hot debate among JFK experts about this gun is beyond the scope of this article.)

What can be said with certainty is that January 27, 1963, is a small but significant moment in the events leading to JFK’s assassination.

This was the first time Lee Oswald is known to have used name “Hidell.” He would later use this same name when ordering pro-Castro literature from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. People have speculated weakly that “Hidell” might be a reference to “Fidel.” Others note that Oswald once gave the name “George Hidell” as a reference.

Speculation aside, the most salient and least disputed fact is that Oswald uses this alias for his purchase of guns and for his public pro-Castro activities. In other words, Oswald uses “A.J. Hidell” when he is thinking like a gun-wielding supporter of Castro.

Eleven months in the future, on November 22, 1963, this same Oswald would arrested for killing JFK, and a Cuban student exile group funded by the CIA would publicly identify Oswald as a pro-Castro gunman.

Whether Oswald shot JFK or not, January 27, 1963, is the day when his enduring persona as “a pro-Castro gunman” begins to take shape.

At this key moment, the CIA is paying more attention to Oswald than the FBI. The local FBI office has closed its file on Oswald the previous October. The bureau, said FBI director Clarence Kelley, regarded Oswald as “unworthy of any further consideration.”

In Langley, the CIA’s file on Oswald, controlled by James Angleton’s Counterintelligence Staff, remains open. Indeed Angleton’s covert mail opening program called HT/LINGUAL had just three days earlier intercepted and opened a letter to Marina Oswald from a correspondent in Russia. This letter went into Angleton’s files, which were not shared with the rest of the CIA. (For the underlying CIA documentation of this story, see John Newman’s in Oswald and the CIA, pp. 280-286.)

As Oswald/”Hidell” begins to act more forcefully on his pro-Castro convictions in the spring of 1963, the FBI and CIA will watch him more carefully.

For now, Oswald puts aside the order form. “A.J. Hidell” doesn’t need a gun just yet.

(Private comments/questions/corrections are also welcome at info@jfkfacts.org.)






16 thoughts on “Jan. 27, 1963: Oswald thinks about buying a gun”

  1. At least since Garrison in ’67 pro-conspiracy authors have offered that Oswald may have been on intelligence assignment when he started his Fair Play for Cuba chapter. However, we are told there is not enough evidence to establish this as fact. Likewise, since the HSCA and Gaeton Fonzi’s book, pro-conspiracy authors have opined that David Atlee Phillips had some hand in either setting up Oswald, guiding his Fair Play for Cuba activities, setting up Oswald in Mexico City, etc. But, again, we are told there is not enough evidence to make that claim.

    Since recently released documents have demonstrated that David A. Phillips was running a CIA operation against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (penetrating the group), are left to conclude that those authors more than thirty years ago just got lucky in concluding Oswald was probably a provocateur and was possibly being run by Phillips? Who files show would have been doing just that?

    That’s very lucky.

  2. Brian, “Maurice Bishop” had Veciana learn tradecraft at special sessions in an office at a Miami Bank, and Oswald was apparently trained in intelligence tradecraft – which anyone could have learned by reading Alan Dulles’ book “The Craft of Intelligence,” in which he explains that the tradecraft is neutral and all intelligence services us the same techniques. If David A. Phillips had practiced perfect tradecraft, he would not have had Oswald and Veciana meet unless there was a reason. Nor would he have allowed Veciana to later identify enough of his background and mannerisms for Congressional investigators to identify him. But he did.

    1. E. Howard Hunt helped Allen Dulles to write “The Craft of Intelligence” – http://www.amazon.com/The-Craft-Intelligence-Allen-Dulles/dp/8170493293/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359439324&sr=8-1&keywords=craft+of+intelligence

      And, yes, “intelligence” officers and agents do stupid things all the time. James Angleton, the head of “counter intelligence” for the CIA made a career out of some incredibly bad decisions. Are they Machiavellian – yes. Are they at all times competent? No way.

      1. Yes Robert, and I suspect the men behind the curtain like my secret controller since after Roosevelt died, Left Club Foot Dulles with help from James Angelton would want to set up many secret agents so that the Government would be forced to use the “Lone Nut” already set in place to blame.

        Dulles even told the Warren Commission after Texas officials were saying Oswald was a paid informant for the FBI that if you ask an agent of the government if they were involved, they will lie. And of course LBJ who knew too much needed the threat of war with Russia excuse to order the cover up and “find Oswald guilty.” because he married a Russian which was a perfect cover for Dulles and counter intel.

        I suspect David Atlee Philips was one of Philip David Ochs’ handler because Phil told me the day he said he was working for National Security to find out about the plan to kill Kennedy that he was going to the Fair play for Cuba in NYC to find out more. VT Lee told me on the phone many years ago, “Yes, Phil was working with us”.

        Phil gave me many clues and he was in Dealey that day too and I have the film clips. Phil even played the name game by using “John Train” as his double identity and there was a John Train associated with CIA. I suspect Phil changed this double personality to “Luke Train” when he found out who Train was.
        Also the name game of his first name Phillip and naming his daughter, “Meegan Lee”. Also VT Lee could be a double reason Phil chose to use Lee as Meegan’s middle name. Phil asked me to be Meegan’s Godfather after he told me the CIA had poisoned him.

        So The shotgun effect of setting up their own operatives and many threats to JFK which were not reported officially was the perfect way to force the lone nut patsy theory. It is a perfect example of Dulles “hiding in plain site” method.

    2. Well, Bill when it came out I read Gaeton Fonzi’s book and then later the related Congressional testimony and reports.
      I’m more persuaded by Weisberg’s analysis of the event, particularly in his detailed writings on Veciana and intelligence at the Weisberg Digital Archive.

      I haven’t read any evidence that Oswald was in Dallas during the time in question.

      If Veciana was so well trained at recognizing faces then he sure failed when it came to a man he had seen more than a few times. He always denied to Fonzi that Phillips was Bishop—It’s not him, but he knows.

      1. That is a great question Brian. And, I think we have only 3 options, Veciana was mistaken, Phillips made a mistake or there was a purpose.
        I haven’t read a purpose I find believable. On the other hand, mistakes are made. Phillips may not have known that LHO was going to be involved in the assassination at that point, in which case, the chance meeting between Veciana and LHO would be no great concern.
        Since I haven’t read that LHO was in the Dallas area at that point in time, I’d imagine it could have been a mistaken indentity on Veciana’s part. Especially if there was a similar looking man to LHO embroiled with intelligence at that time. Michael Paine comes to mind, btw.
        I think we’re all at a point where we can accept that Phillips was Maurice Bishop. Fonzi made it clear that Veciana would not ID Phillips w/o permission. The Bios of Phillips and Bishop are too obviously similar, as well as the facial features. Don’t forget that Fonzi found others to identify Phillips as Bishop.

  3. Robert,
    Is it good intelligence practice to have two contacts (Oswald and Veciana) show up at the same time and the same place?
    If Phillips was really there, was this poor planning on his part?

    1. Brian, there are plenty of people in “intelligence” that do things that are not so “intelligent.” Oliver North in the 1980’s would be a prime example. John J. McCloy remarked that he knew a lot of clunkerheads in “intelligence.”

      If Phillips was there, and I believe Veciana that it was “Maurice Bishop” aka D.A. Phillips, then, yes, it was poor intelligence practices. Sloppy.

      It was also not a good idea for Gen. Edward Lansdale to be photographed at TSBD.

      1. Robert,
        North was on the National Security Council staff, not a trained Central Intelligence Agency officer.
        The Landsdale reference is also irrelevant to my question.
        In their discussion about intelligence during the Jan. 27, 1964 executive session, McCloy and Dulles were referring to the intelligence of “agents” not CIA officers.
        Again, it’s incredulous to think that a trained CIA official (not an agent) running two separate operations would schedule his meetings with two individuals in those operations so that they would come into contact with one another.

        1. Oliver North worked deeply in intelligence and closely with VP and former CIA director GHW Bush. And North did a lot of reckless, crazy things. Google “Chip Tatum Oliver North.”

          Chip Tatum says that GHW Bush was thinking about killing North because he was so reckless.

          Lansdale was also very well versed in intelligence and 2 of his peers (Prouty & Krulak) identified him in a photo at TSBD.

          David Atlee Phillips, William King Harvey and David Morales were all intelligence officers; they all hated Kennedy; and they were all heavy drinkers.

          D.A. Phillips was the one who sent a team into Cuba at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I can imagine him doing anything. Ditto a slew of other trained “intelligence” officers.

          1. One more thing that I forgot and its critical. Lt. Col. Oliver North is on the record as saying he patterned himself after Gen. Edward Lansdale. North called himself “Lansdalized” and there is a picture of the two of them together in the 1980’s.

            So the man who may have organized the “Big Event” in Dallas was the role model for the man who became the face of Iran-contra in the 1980’s.

          2. So, Robert, your analysis of the intelligence practice I questioned is based on the words “may” and “imagine”?

            Oswald “may” have been there with Veciana and “Bishop”.

            One can “imagine” this happening.

  4. “As Oswald/”Hidell” begins to act more forcefully on his pro-Castro convictions in the spring of 1963, the FBI and CIA will watch him more carefully.”

    Oswald was US intelligence with the fake public persona of a pro-Castro Marxist. This fake public persona made him easy to set up for the murder JFK, especially after Oswald was murdered in the custody of the Dallas police. It is possible the Dallas police let Oswald get murdered by Jack Ruby who was sent by the murderers of JFK in a clean up operation.

    Gaeton Fonzi’s book “The Last Investigation” goes over how Alpha 66 anti-Castro Cuban radical Antonio Veciana identified Lee Harvey Oswald speaking with the CIA’s David Atlee Phillips in the months before the JFK assassination in Dallas. Phillips was running subversions of the pro-Castro “Fair Play for Cuba Committee.”

    David Atlee Phillips’ own brother suspected him of having a role in the JFK assassintion; it caused a family split; and on his death bed Phillips admitted to his brother that he had been in Dallas on the day of the JFK assassination.

    “The Last Investigation:” http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Investigation-Gaeton-Fonzi/dp/0980121353/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359329287&sr=8-1&keywords=gaeton+fonzi

    Sidenote: as for Oswald and his gun. If Oswald really were a crazy lone nutter who was going to shoot JFK on 11/22/63 … wouldn’t he have brought his revolver WITH HIM to work to aide in his escape post assassination?

    If you were an assassin, wouldn’t you?

  5. It’s to the point now where one can no longer sympathize with or even take seriously those who not only steadfastly hold to the idea that a “lone-nut” gunman killed Kennedy, but also write books, maintain web-sites, and take every opportunity publicly to impugn the credibility of individuals who dare point to all of the peculiarities surrounding the assassination. One has to wonder if they themselves really believe what they obviously invest so much time and effort in propagating.

    Forget entirely the idea of assigning blame or complicity to any group or person and just focus on the many, many open questions that have been out there since practically day one, and it would seem that any right thinking person could not help but say, ‘hey, there’s something else going on here.’ It’s really as if the “lone-nut” adherents are the crack-pots now, isn’t it? This summary from the Marry Ferrell web-site speaks so well to an open minded perspective on the thing, drawing no firm conclusions, other than there had to be something else unfolding with respect to the assassination.

    Simple logic it seems refutes completely the established official version. If A, Oswald shot the president because he wanted to be famous for something, and if B, he proudly proclaimed he did so after being given every opportunity to publicly do so, then C, he did it. But, if not A and not B, then C remains an open question, right?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top