The global coverage of the sad story of Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother suing Baumgardner funeral home for his brother’s coffin demonstrates the enduring public interest in the smallest details of the JFK story.
While custodians of the conventional wisdom in the U.S. media turn up their noses at such fare, the UK’s Daily Mail uses the story to float the notion that Oswald was “in fact a covert U.S. intelligence agent,” a proposition for which there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence.
Oswald was certainly of special interest to the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff from the day he defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959, to the day he died November 24, 1963. On November 2, 1959, Sam Papich of the FBI and Jane Roman of the CIA discussed his story on the phone. The CIA opened its first file on Oswald within a month. The oft-heard argument that Oswald would not have been of interest to the CIA because of his character is demonstrably false.
For the next four years, all intelligence on Oswald collected by the State Department, FBI, or CIA went into Oswald’s file, which was controlled by the staff of Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton.
In this 1995 Washington Post story I interviewed Jane Roman. During the interview, which was taped, she conceded that certain senior CIA officers had a “keen interest” in Oswald “held on a need to know basis” in October 1963, six weeks before JFK was killed.
In 1964, Angleton concealed the nature of his interest in Oswald from the Warren Commission. At the same time, he ordered harsh interrogation techniques for Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko who had knowledge of the Soviet files on the accused assassin. More than 2,000 pages of records related to Nosenko’s interrogation remain secret.
In 1978 undercover officer George Joannides concealed the nature of the CIA’s interest in Oswald from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Thirty years later, three former HSCA investigators are suing the CIA to find out why.