The surveillants: more U.S. intelligence officers who watched Oswald

Oswald Under Surveillance

Bill writes:

“I am appreciating your insistence that Oswald was under surveillance, pursuant to LINGUAL, AMSPELL, and LIENVOY.”

Oswald under surveillance

(Here and above: Detaild from a recently declassified 1975 Senate memo about the dates that certain U.S. citizens were subject to James Angleton’s mail surveillance program, known by the code name LINGUAL)

“It occurred to me that there is a fourth source that should be considered – the CIA’s various counterintelligence officers,” Bill goes on.
“None of the programs you cite above cover the numerous CI memos where [Betty] Egerter, [Will] Potocki and [Bill] Bright are monitoring Oswald.  Egerter was CI/SIG (Special Investigations Group), Potocki was CI/OPS (Operations.)
Betty Egerter

Betty Egerter, aide to Birch O’Neal who controlled access to the CIA’s Oswald file from 1959 to 1963.

“Maybe both of them could be described generically as CI Staff, but Bright was a member of SR/CI, as was his boss Stephan Roll.   So I think ‘various CIA counterintelligence officers’ is one way to describe surveillants is not encompassed by LINGUAL, AMSPELL, and LIENVOY.

“A fifth category could be those FBI, ONI, INS and other officers that had various duties regarding the Oswald files.  The most notorious is FBI supervisor Marvin Gheesling, who had a “security flash” attached to the LHO file from 1959 until the day before the twin 10/10/63 cables — pursuant to a discussion with special agent Lambert Anderson over at Nationalities Intelligence.”
Point well taken, Bill The FBI and CIA personnel you mention can all fairly be described as “surveillants.” A surveillant is the noun of surveillance, which is defined as “close watching.” Thus a surveillant is someone who does close watching. Betty Egerter, Will Potocki, Bill Bright, Marvin Gheesling and Lambert Anderson all qualify as surveillants of Oswald from 1959 to 1963. It was their job to watch him closely.
I think Gheesling is especially important. As the custodian of the FBI’s “security flash” list, he had to decide who would be subject of closer surveillance than others. He put Oswald on the list in 1959 and he took Oswald off the list in 1963. In short, he made decisions about the surveillance of Oswald.
Does anybody have a good photograph of Gheesling, Potocki, or Bright? If so, please let me know.


  1. Jean Davison says:

    What did this “security flash” actually mean?

    The reference in John Newman’s “Oswald and the CIA” leads to this note placed in Oswald’s fingerprint file in 1959 asking that the FBI’s Espionage Section be notified if an inquiry was made about Oswald’s prints:

    The heading and footer show that this is Oswald’s individual fingerprint file (327 925D).

    According to FBI official Belmont, “… we placed a stop or a flash notice in our fingerprint files at that time so that if he should come back into the country unbeknownst to us and get into some sort of trouble we would be immediately notified…. with the thought in mind that should he come back to the country we would want to know from him whether he had been enlisted by Soviet intelligence in some manner.”

    After Oswald returned, his 1963 arrest in New Orleans was recorded in the file when the NOPD checked his prints, and the Espionage Section was notified:

    After the assassination an FBI review concluded that Gheesling was “in error in removing stop on subject in Indent [the fingerprint file] on 10/9/63, particularly after arrest on 8/9/63 for FPCC activity in New Orleans. We might have *missed further arrests without stop in Ident.*” [My emphasis]
    Next to last paragraph here:“missed_further arrests” error

    In my opinion, leaving the flash in place wouldn’t have made any difference, despite what the books tell you. After New Orleans, there were no other arrests before Dallas.

  2. Kennedy63 says:

    Jean, you know the “official story” does not end with LHO’s arrest in New Orleans. LHO allegedly goes on to Mexico City intrigues. The Gheesling action let LHO slip under overt Secret Service radars, (but not covert Military, CIA, or FBI radars attuned to pro-Castro FPCC activities), UNTIL 11/22/63. You cite FBI official Alan Belmont who, in 1953, denied the Mafia existed; and, in 1963 was head of the FBI’s JFK Assassination investigation. Belmont was instrumental in attacking Civil Rights leaders (read: Hoovers’ enemies) through FBI’s “COINTELPRO”. I know you can see why Belmont has a credibility problem in regard to JFK and Oswald. The official version about Oswald, makes one truly wonder what Snyder’s (American Embassy, Moscow) speculative code-phrase “maturing effect” really meant when assessing effects on Oswald of his stay in Russia.

    • Jean Davison says:


      The security flash in Oswald’s FBI fingerprint file was still in effect when Oswald returned from Mexico City on Oct. 3. Gheesling didn’t cancel it until six days later. And yet this active flash didn’t sound an “alarm” for the Secret Service or any other agency in early October. That fact fits with Belmont’s explanation that the flash simply alerted a section of the FBI that Oswald’s prints had been checked with the agency following an arrest.

      You don’t believe Belmont. That’s fine, but what evidence is there that his explanation is wrong? Several authors have claimed that Gheesling’s action was important. But based on what evidence? Anyone know?

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