What Orest Pena knew

Orest Pena’s story is particularly compelling because he was trusted by the FBI agents in New Orleans. As a bar owner of Cuban descent, he saw and heard a lot of interest to law enforcement. Oswald had visited his bar in the summer of 1963 in the company of a man Pena described as Mexican. Pena also said he saw Oswald with FBI agent Warren DeBreuys on several occasions. DeBreuys denied this and denigrated Pena as unreliable.

In fact, Pena was able to prove that he had been a confidential source for the FBI and still his testimony was ignored, no doubt in part due to the everyday racism which infected even the liberal lawyers of theWarren Commission who could not imagine a Cuban coujld be as credible as a white FBI agent.

The HSCA took him more seriously and was able to incorporate his testimony into their account of the assassination but no one else has been able to read his testimony ever since.

Such is one of the uses of classification. It prevents people from asking follow up questions. Pena is now dead. His testimony will shed new light on the FBI’s interest in and relationship with Oswald.

[Query for readers; Does anybody have a picture of Orest Pena?]

6 thoughts on “What Orest Pena knew”

  1. Pena didn’t tell the WC that he had seen Oswald with an FBI
    agent. On the contrary, Pena claimed he’d seen Oswald in his bar in the summer of 1963 and said, “They [the FBI} asked me if I saw Oswald; so I said I saw him once,” and this:

    Mr. LIEBELER (a WC lawyer) – Now did you ever see Oswald at any other time?
    Mr. PENA – No; I didn’t.

    The Warren Report discusses Pena on page 325:


    The HSCA Final Report says, “Pena’s responses to committee questions on the informant issue and others were frequently evasive. The committee found, therefore, that he was not a credible witness.”

    Was Oswald actually in Pena’s bar? Not likely, imo, because Oswald was a very average looking guy whom witnesses mistakenly claimed they’d seen everywhere from California to a Norwegian ship. For instance, this man, Ruby employee Larry Crafard, was misidentified as Oswald after assassination:


    Most of those freed by the Innocence Project were convicted because of mistaken eyewitness testimony, including victims who identified the wrong person shortly after the crime and had a good reason to remember the face. Pena supposedly saw Oswald briefly in the summer of 1963 and had no reason to pay much attention to him. Oswald wasn’t known to frequent bars except occasionally when he was a Marine.

  2. Such a crock that this was withheld.

    There’s nothing endangering national security in this bartender’s testimony in the slightest, and everyone knows it. It’s just that it happens to be embarrassing to a certain agency that hates to be embarrassed. So sick of this BS

  3. Pena’s HSCA testimony is one of the many records that SHOULD be declassified come October. I imagine it will describe all sorts of counter-intel shenanigans between N.O.La Cubans and various law-enforcement types…can’t wait to read it!

  4. Thx for beginning this new series and highlighting the case of Pena; the lack of follow-up is another mini-tragedy added to this mountain of tragedies, which obscures our ability to see the facts and hence, the truth. Most probably Pena says “embarrassing” things, possibly indictable things, but to think that his testimony is still unavailable to the public so many decades later is unconscionable, unjust and simply wrong. I do hope this coming October brings out this denied history, brings us all a step closer, and surely will confirm what so many have suspected for so long.

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