Oswald lived in a surveillance state

In response to my post on Oswald under surveillance, a Twitter friend asked if surveillance was the reason why Oswald rented a room under a fake name (“O.H. Lee”) six weeks before the assassination of JFK.

I said no. 

Oswald in NO
Lee Oswald came to the attention of CIA-funded anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans


When I talk about the surveillance of Oswald I’m not talking about 24-hour physical surveillance, which is by far the most intrusive and expensive form of surveillance. As far as I know, Oswald was not subject to physical surveillance.

He was targeted by more pervasive and discrete surveillance systems, specifically code-named CIA intelligence collection operations that targeted:

  • locations (LIENVOY eavesdropped on embassies in Mexico City);
  • communications nodes (HTLINGUAL captured U.S. mail sent overseas); or
  • leftist political activity (AMSPELL challenged pro-Castro groups).

Such systems are more pervasive and efficient than physical surveillance of a person and almost as effective in determining the actions and intentions of the target. When such systems are especially pervasive, they define and create a “surveillance state.”

The U.S. government’s surveillance powers in the early 1960s were limited and crude compared to today but they were spreading and growing.

They were also unknown to JFK investigators. The Warren Commission had some awareness of LIENVOY. The Commission knew nothing of LINGUAL and AMSPELL, much less Angleton’s role in all three.

Since the reporting from LIENVOY, HTLINGUAL, and AMSPELL was delivered to Angleton’s Counterintelligence Staff, I say it is fair to say that Oswald was under counterintelligence surveillance from 1959 to 1963.


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