Six weeks before Dallas, these CIA officers wrote two misleading memos about Lee Harvey Oswald

Oswald in Custody
Oswald, target of CIA attention

Why would senior CIA officers circulate two inaccurate descriptions of Lee Harvey Oswald with various government agencies six weeks before he allegedly shot and killed President John F. Kennedy?

The answer to the question is elusive. The CIA has never formally offered an explanation, another reason why all of the government’s assassination-related documents need to be released. Presently, key documents about the death of the 35th president will not be released until October 2017 at the earliest. Other documents now found in the National Archives are riddled with redactions hiding key names, dates, words and phrases.

Where has this shameful secrecy taken us? To a place of confusion and suspicion.

Even David Slawson, former Warren Commission investigator, has repudiated his past defense of the commission. Slawson now says that the first official inquiry into JFK’s murder was the victim of a “massive cover-up” by the CIA and FBI.

CIA officers talk about the man who would soon be accused of killing Kennedy

Among the evidence not shared with investigators were two erroneous CIA cables about accused assassin Lee Oswald that circulated among the federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies in October 1963 just six weeks before JFK was shot to death in Dallas.

MEXI LHO query 100863
Mexico station asks HQs about Oswald on Oct. 8, 1963

The story is well known. In late September and early October, Oswald visited Cuban and Russian diplomatic offices in Mexico City. The CIA’s extensive surveillance network captured a man identifying himself as Oswald making a phone call to the Russian Embassy.

On October 8, 1963, the CIA’s Mexico City station then asked headquarters for information about Oswald. With its query, the station included a surveillance photo of a man leaving the Russian Embassy, with the clear implication he might be Oswald. This individual, who looked like a 35-year-old Soviet official with an athletic build, became known as “the Mystery Man,” and the publication of the photograph led to a host of rumors linking Oswald with the KGB officers in the Soviet consulate.

What happened next is not well known.

A group of CIA officers in Langley (all of whom reported to deputy director Richard Helms or counterintelligence chief James Angleton) responded on October 10. They drafted and circulated two cables about Oswald. These cables are a puzzle that has yet to be solved.

Not only did the two Oswald cables contradict each other, they both contained erroneous information about the man who would be charged with killing Kennedy.

Read the two cables side by side, and they are hard to reconcile.

The first October 10 cable

Oswald Cable #1
Excerpt from Oswald cable #1

The first October 10 cable reported that a “reliable and sensitive source” describes “Lee Oswald” as an “American … approximately 35 years old, with an athletic build, about six feet tall…”

This was a mistake and a bad one. Documents available in Oswald’s CIA file showed that Oswald was about to turn 24 years old and stood five foot nine with a slender build.

This faulty description of Oswald was apparently based on the photo of the man leaving the Soviet consulate, which had been identified to CIA headquarters by Mexico City officer Ann Goodpasture. This individual was “the Mystery Man” who resembled a 35-year-old Soviet official with an athletic build. Publication of his photographs led to a host of rumors and theories linking Oswald with KGB officers in the Soviet consulate.

This cable was drafted by Charlotte Bustos, who covered matters regarding Mexico at CIA headquarters. She relied on sources known in CIA terminology as coordinating officers. They were Ann Egerter, an analyst on Angleton’s staff, and Stephan Roll, a counterintelligence officer in the Soviet Russia office of the clandestine service.

Egerter and Roll were unlikely to make such a mistake. Both were well-acquainted with Oswald’s biography. Egerter had opened a biographical file on “Lee Henry Oswald” in December 1960. Of course Oswald’s real middle name was “Harvey,” as Egerter knew. But the middle name was not the only mistake in the cable. Between 1960 and 1963 Egerter received a stream of FBI and State Department reports on Oswald’s travels and politics and family life. Nothing in Oswald’s file suggested that he was six feet tall, 35 years old, or had an athletic build.

The final draft of the cable was 4:12 pm Washington time (time-stamped 20:12, or 8:12 pm Greenwich Mean Time) and sent to the headquarters of the State Department, FBI and the Navy. All of these agencies had tracked Oswald after his defection to the Soviet Union in 1959. The cable said that the information about Oswald would be provided to “your representatives in Mexico City.”

That statement was deliberately misleading.

Three other senior CIA officers also signed off on this memo.  A few hours later, the above-named officials at Langley sent a very different physical description of Oswald to the Mexico City station.

The second October 10 cable

At 6:29 pm Washington Time (time-stamped 22:29, or 10:29 Greenwich Mean Time) a second memo about Oswald was sent out by Bustos at CIA headquarters, with her colleagues Egerter and Roll again providing the narrative. Four other senior officers signed off on this memo, including Dick Helms’s trusted deputy Tom Karamessines.

Oswald cable #2
Exceprt from Oswald cable #2

The second memo accurately described Oswald as 24 years old, rather than 35.  However, it contained a closer-but-still-flawed description of “Lee Henry Oswald” as “5 foot 10, 165 pounds” — which is how Oswald had been consistently described in reports on his stay in the Soviet Union. In the real world, Oswald was five foot nine and never weighed more than 140 pounds.

The second cable was not circulated to the headquarters of the FBI and other federal agencies, which had received the first memo. Instead, the second memo instructed the Mexico City station to share this different description of Oswald with the local Mexico City offices of the FBI agencies, who had no idea of Oswald’s history! Although this cable did mention Oswald’s defection, it did not state what CIA learned since June 1962: that Oswald and his family had returned to the United States and that Oswald had recently been arrested in New Orleans. Information about Oswald was held closely six weeks before JFK was killed.

Hidden from the American people

CIA officers told  other U.S. agencies this man was Lee Harvey Oswald.

As intelligence historian David Wise complained as early as 1968, the Warren Commission only got to see one of these documents in paraphrased form — and now we can see why.

On March 16, 1964, an agreement was reached between the Warren Commission and the CIA that paraphrased documents would be acceptable when there were “security problems,” but that the full memo of October 10 that went to “other federal agencies” would be provided to the Commission.

On March 24, 1964, the text of the first October 10 cable was provided in full to the Commission as part of a package referred to as CD 631. The Warren Commission was not told about the second October 10 cable.

Most of the details of both memos were blocked from public view until the 1970s, when the two cables were released in heavily censored form. Even at the conclusion of the HSCA hearings in 1978, blacked-out portions of the documents prevented the public from learning that Charlotte Bustos had written both of the memos, and that she had relied on information provided by Ann Egerter and Stephan Roll.

When former CIA director John McCone was confronted with these two descriptions at a classified 1978 deposition, he protested that attaching any significance to the difference between the two descriptions amounted to “nitpicking.”

Why did the same CIA officers disseminate two different stories about the unimportant Oswald on the same day? The CIA has never answered this simple question! Obviously, their actions were related to their responsibilities for counterintelligence, espionage and covert operations. I offer a more detailed answer in the preface to my online book State Secret.

But the real question is this: Why are our leaders allowed to discuss the death of John F. Kennedy in any context without providing the documents that provide the best chance at providing the best answer?

74 thoughts on “Six weeks before Dallas, these CIA officers wrote two misleading memos about Lee Harvey Oswald”

  1. Isn’t more than likely that Oswald was never in Mexico? And that’s why they didn’t have a photo of him. Several people stated that they had spoken with Oswald, but when they saw his photo in the paper and on the news claimed that wasn’t the same man.

    The FBI and CIA clearly knew Oswald was innocent. One of them tried to hide the 2 shooters in the Moorman photo, right behind Zapruder. They knew, and all of these documents and stories came afterward because they’re horse pucky. Stories invented to fool the gullible minded and keep researchers going in circles.

    It’s because of all these stories that no one has gotten anywhere in the last 50 years.

  2. Why hasn’t anyone said anything about the 2 gunmen that were behind Zapruder in the pergola?

    Both can be seen in the Moorman photo, and the Nix & Darnell films.

    One looks to be Edwin Collins, and the other looks like James Bookhout (or 2 other possibilities… Jack Ruby or Roscoe White).

    A 3rd shooter can be seen on the roof of the records building, in a reflection in the Zapruder film (left side, top).

    Still talking about Oswald makes no sense.

  3. Such a plot requires that it be PROVEN beforehand that neither Soviet, Cuban nor Mexican spy services had pix of Oswald/”Oswald” in MC. Has the latter ever been queried?

  4. Steve Kasarsky

    I had always held the belief that the CIA or MI had known of the duplicate Oswald. Ergo, CIA Mexico City could not allow photos of LHO since they did not know if he was real or the duplicate. The OP would be blown if other photos of him surfaced while in the U.S. at the same time. And it would have seriously caused WC to look at CIA culpability.

  5. William Edwards

    “In the real world, Oswald was five foot nine and never weighed more than 140.”

    The REAL Lee Harvey Oswald was 5’11”, weighing 145 pounds when his Marine ID card was issued in September, 1959. Other Marine records for that period consistently list his height at 71 inches (5’11”).

    The “Oswald” who was killed by Jack Ruby was 5’9″. There were other physical characteristics of that person that do not match what was know about Lee Harvey Oswald.

  6. I believe Hosty was sincere – but he wasn’t very smart and he was more interested in clearing his reputation than figuring out what happened.

    To that end, he was the one who revealed that Robert Barrett was shown a wallet at the scene of the Tippit shooting by Captain Westbrook. That was a big plus. But he offered no analysis.

    Hosty gave away little secrets that he knew would put the heat on other people, while he kept proclaming his innocence.

    He went so far as to say there was a cover-up by the FBI and others, designed to get Communist complicity out of the picture – and Hosty gives lip service to this idea – I believe that he convinced himself that it might be possible.

    He never gave up any important info about Warren Heitman and Bard Odum, two agents who were deeply enmeshed in some of the more questionable aspects of the case, other than describe Heitman as a “puppet” of FBI CI chief Bill Branigan.

    He spent half the book covering up the fact that he should have reported to HQ that Oswald was working at a “sensitive industry” on Hosty’s watch – namely, the Jaggars photographic plant, where Oswald was helping out on photos of Cuba during the missile crisis pursuant to the Jaggars contract with the Army Mapping Service.

    That would have put Oswald on the “security index” and much more during the late 62-early 63 period before Oswald was fired in April.

    Hosty closed the file weeks after Oswald got that job, and reopened it two weeks before he was fired. I think there was some kind of “cause and effect” there at the time. The nature of Oswald’s work at Jaggars was definitely something the FBI had to hide after 11/22, and you can bet no one was happy with Hosty.

    1. april, as noted in my recent exchanges with you, there is more to Bardwell Odum than has been revealed in the wider setting of this particular forum. If you google “Raymond Gallagher Bardwell Odum” you will be able to get up to speed on why this FBI Agent is worthy of study.

      Bill Simpich: “He never gave up any important info about Warren Heitman and Bard Odum, two agents who were deeply enmeshed in some of the more questionable aspects of the case, other than describe Heitman as a “puppet” of FBI CI chief Bill Branigan.”

      A wide conspiracy requires 1) compartmentalization and 2) key personnel placed in strategic roles to ensure a lemming effect.

      1. I believe you, Leslie, about Odum and am trying to find out more about him. You come up with some very good points on this website and I take what you say worth looking into even if we aren’t always in agreement.

        1. april, thank you for that.

          On another thread of jfkfacts, the subject of the Walker bullet has surfaced. In the event you are not following it, Jean Davison linked to an FBI report detailing facts about the bullet found at Walker’s home:

          From that report: “Special Agent Odum forwarded the Walker bullet to the FBI Laboratory where it arrived for examination on December 4, 1963.”

          Agent Odum, one of 40 in the Dallas area, was certainly a very busy agent after the assassination and here he is involved in pursuing the Walker shooting as well.

          This is the same Agent Bardwell Odum who surfaced in an FBI report relating to another bullet, the Magic one, #399

          And this is same Agent Odum who took the MC CIA photo of the Mystery Man to Marina in an attempt to determine if she could identify him. I’m wondering why Agent Hosty didn’t make that trip to the Executive Inn with Odum? Oswald had been his assignment, not Odum’s.

          And this is the same Agent who interviewed Sylvia Odio; he was present when she was testifying in Dallas before the WC, yet he was never called to testify.

          1. I believe I read where Odum also showed the photo of the MC mystery man to Oswalrd’s mother and asked her if she recognized the man. She stated that she did not know the guy. After Ruby killed her son she then stated that the photo that the agent showed her was Ruby! Why the Warren Commission didn’t call her as a witness and ask her when they present the photo to her….Is this the photo that was shown to you by the FBI Agent?

    2. Yes, Bill, I agree that Hosty spent a lot of time in his book trying to clear his reputation. I guess he thought they were trying to make him a “scapegoat”.
      As for that wallet, you might check, “With Malice”, by Dale K Myers. He goes into more detail on the subject as his book takes on the Tippit murder. Even if you don’t agree, you might get some ideas.

  7. Yes, this whole matter might be seen differently in certain aspects, depending on who was doing the interpreting and because of so-called “cherry picking.” But for some reason Hosty played a definite role with respect to Oswald and seemed privy to certain information. He didn’t deny this fact. Simple field agent or not. If he’s into lying…….why? Why would he over exaggerate his importance? Is it worse than what he concluded, Oswald as the shooter who was perhaps encouraged by Kostikov and the Soviets? And Cuba? Could American intelligence in Mexico City have been infiltrated, compromised by so-called enemy agents, making it important that Hosty know the details? Was he just being made a “scapegoat” for some reason.

    1. april, interestingly enough there is a conversation on another thread here at jfkfacts, and commenter ‘annie’ (lower case, no last name) seems focused on Agent Hosty as well as the General Walker shooting. Perhaps you are following the debate?

      On that thread, Jean Davison has introduced a link to an FBI report on the bullet found in Walker’s home:

      And look who appears in that report: “Special Agent Odum forwarded the Walker bullet to the FBI Laboratory where it arrived for examination on December 4, 1963?

      As I commented to Jean, Odum was one busy agent was he not?

      This is the same Agent Bardwell Odum who surfaces on another FBI report – the one that introduced confusion about the chain of custody of another bullet … the Magic one found in Parkland ER, #399.

      This is the same Agent Odum who carried the MC CIA photo of the Mystery Man to determine if Marina could identify him. I’m curious if you have wondered why – if Agent Hosty was assigned to LHO for months prior to 11.22.63 – he did not accompany Bardwell Odum when Odum took the photo to the Executive Inn?

      This is the same Agent Odum who interviewed Sylvia Odio; who was present when she was being interviewed in Dallas by the Warren Commission attorneys; who was personally acquainted with the Paines. And yet Agent Odum was never called to testify.

  8. Bill Simpich.where does “the decision on October 9, 1963 of an FBI agent, Marvin Gheesling, to remove Oswald from the FBI watch list for surveillance. This was shortly after Oswald’s arrest in New Orleans in August and his reported travel to Mexico in September. Obviously these developments should normally have made Oswald a candidate for increased surveillance” Fit in along with Hostey Memo on 10th?

    1. It is intriguing.

      Oswald asked for an FBI agent to interview him after he was arrested in New Orleans
      In August 1963.

      Hosty may have found out from SA Quigley around August 15 about oswalds arrest.

      When lambert Anderson at hq learned about it, he asked New Orleans to find out if Oswald was a security risk. Hosty received a copy of this letter, which asked him to report on oswalds status.

      Curiously, on sept 10, the day hosty wrote back, another memo from Dallas did not check the box informing Headquarters that there was a security flash on file for Oswald. Why not?

      Here’s the security flash:

      That same day, hosty wrote in his memo that Oswald had a history of distributing fpcc flyers in dallas and was a subscriber to the worker newspaper.

      As set out in chapter 5 of state secret, this is information that almost certainly came from Victor Vicente, the AMSANTA operative who worked inside the New York fpcc office and reported to both the fbi and the cia. Known as t-3245, Vicente had access to this info.

      I believe hosty’s memo is what got tilton and Anderson to launch an anti-fpcc operation a week later. I believe the Oswald legend was used in some way in Mexico city.

      On October 8. The day that Mexico city sent out a memo to hq essentially asking “who is Oswald”, the
      Anderson got together with Marvin gheesling, the fbi supervisor who filed the original security flash on Oswald after his arrival in the user. The purpose of the flash was ostensibly to let the fbi know if Oswald returned to the usa.

      When Oswald returned in 1962, the security flash was not removed. In fact, it was the force that alerted the fbi that Oswald was arrested in August 63.

      Nonetheless, even though the security flash had proven useful, Anderson and Gheesling decided to remove the security flash on October 9, right before the two cia cables on October 10 would have alerted officials to take a harder look at the Oswald file.

      1. Bill,

        “When Oswald returned in 1962, the security flash was not removed. In fact, it was the force that alerted the fbi that Oswald was arrested in August 63.

        Nonetheless, even though the security flash had proven useful, Anderson and Gheesling decided to remove the security flash on October 9, right before the two cia cables on October 10 would have alerted officials to take a harder look at the Oswald file.”

        Could you please tell me how the CIA cables would have activated the “flash” alert? As I understand it, the “flash” was in Oswald’s fingerprint file and was activated in August ’63 when the N.O. police checked his FBI fingerprint record after his arrest. How would CIA cables have activated the flash, if no fingerprints were involved?

        1. Jean, as stated on the page you refer to at the end of your post, “lee harvey Oswald…any information or inqiry received notify espionage section, division 5”. I don’t see any indication ghe info sought is limited to fingerprints; a long description of oswald is included.

  9. leslie As usuel you our way ahead of me on the facts, On Waco i know nothing but that day i turned tv on to CNN and saw tanks pumping gas and thinking how stupid to start that fire. Latter to learn that millitary advisor was at Ruby Ridge a hundred miles from my home.Al Umber i don’t recall that name but WOW he tracks Boris Pash and evan Peer deSilva foot steps or they track his.

    1. gerry, also Wisner and Karamessines in the Athens station. This would have been the general time frame that Athens-born Joannides was either recruited or applied for agency work. Prior to the CIA he held a position with the Greek embassy in DC. It is untenable he would not have been known to Al Ulmer who was in Athens from ’52-’55.

      Ulmer’s wife, and presumably her husband, was in Tyler, TX on November 22, 1963 visiting their relatives whose other guests included Barbara and George HW Bush. Ulmer was working in London for Niarchos at that point. I won’t reference Russ Baker’s book in this post because I came by this research naturally, doing my own digging related to other Tyler connections I was coming across. Months ago I asked Jeff Morley if he had pursued Ulmer once he identified the business with Win Scott, and (paraphrasing here Jeff so please correct me if I’m misremembering) he said he did not see it as significant. I disagree strongly.

      PS someone recently stated that Linnie Randle’s husband was in Waco, TX the night of the assassination talking about his brother-in-law Frazier. And I thought deBrueys’ name surfaced in that particular exchange. apologies, I’ll see if I can locate it on old threads here at jfkfacts.

      1. leslie Linne Randle husband was interviewed by Special Agent Warren de Brueys. Randle advised that the trip to Austin was in connection with his employment for Irving Counter Top.I talked about Austin trip because Fraziers famiely is involved with coverup

        1. Thanks for the correction, gerry, it was Austin.

          It was only logical that the investigation pursue those closest to Oswald in the months leading to the assassination. I believe that is referred to as ‘propinquity,’ and that common sense of investigators demands they look into the dots that connect the characters and events. Yet, dot connecting has been ridiculed on this site. Why would deBrueys travel all the way to Austin to interview someone who had only ‘encountered’ Linnie Randle’s husband? Doesn’t that seem like a third if not fourth degree of separation in the investigation? I read it as an indication that ‘they’ may have been concerned that there were loose ends that might be tied together to expose Linnie’s critical role in the identification of a rifle. Other’s may argue that they suspected she and the Paines had a role in the preparation for the assassination. And still others may argue it was standard procedure to follow those leads, or dots as it were.

  10. Perhaps Hosty made an error concerning the actual date of the intercepted call and date/day the photo was taken but the information and responsibility were anything but “secondhand” for him. He had been assigned to Oswald’s file and it was Hosty who ordered the photo cropped even though it was in Odum’s custody at the time. Maybe the call was intercepted at an earlier date but the info dated later on any paperwork they did. I don’t have the answer. They seemed to overlook small details while protecting their interests, their surveillance project.

    1. Perhaps they were attempting to conceal any information that might confirm LHO’s alleged presence by putting forward a photograph that wasn’t obviously LHO (part of the strategy to cover up), not dissimilar to the tactic of destroying/hiding audible evidence of the alleged LHO telephone call?

    2. april, I think at issue is precisely how did Hosty know the sensitivity involved in the surveillance operation in Mexico City? Yes he was admonished in New Orleans, but was that on behalf of protecting the CIA’s visual and audio surveillance operation, or did the FBI via the DISC have their own operation running that was in violation of the legitimate mandate of domestic agencies, and Hosty knew about it?

      I’m surprised and somewhat amused at any argument that uses Hosty as a source of credible information; after all wasn’t he the guy that flushed notes with critical information related to Oswald just after the arrest?

      As introduced previously, Bard Odum’s role in this time period should not be overlooked. In spite of his being one of some 40 FBI agents involved in the immediate investigation, in spite of his having interviewed Sylvia Odio (and having a cameo appearance during her WC testimony), in spite of him being on first name “Bob” and “Mike” basis with the Paines, in spite of his two attempts to interview Marina and his direct encounters with Marguerite, and in spite of his being involved in cropping a photo sent via overnight flight to Dallas from MC, Mr. Odum was not called to testify before the Warren Commission. Added to that mystery, his obituary does not reference his intense experience in the Kennedy assassination investigation … it is mentioned as a mere side note to the man’s FBI career.

      1. leslie We our not to forget Warren de Brueys
        In addition to working in several divisions at FBI headquarters, Mr. de Brueys was an assistant legal attaché at U.S. embassies in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, and legal attaché at embassies in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, Brazil. He also worked in San Juan, Puerto Rico and El Paso, Texas, before retiring from the bureau in 1977.

          1. gerry, I’m not ignoring this, I’m just not sure about the allegations related to deBrueys. I think you mentioned that he was in some way connected to a Waco incident on the evening of the 22nd or 23rd that linked to Linne Randle? I may be confusing the events.

            I am however deeply interested in Win Scott. I continue to question whether or not the full story of his role in the months leading to 11.22.63 has been reported. I also have yet to understand his history with Al Ulmer; if it was little more than a casual acquaintance, why would Scott choose to go into business with Ulmer and the British guy, Dempster in his retirement? And why is Ulmer frequently absented from that record?

      2. Leslie
        Hosty knew about the CIA surveillance in Mexico City. In fact that fact kept him from interviewing LHO about his trip to Mexico City prior to the assassination. Hosty thought it possible that during an interview he would somehow give away this information to Oswald and Oswald might then pass it on to the Cubans or Soviets thus compromising their monitoring systems. This can be found on page 51 in, “Assignment: Oswald”. He mentions the surveillance being the CIA’s project but the FBI was aware of
        it. He never mentions the FBI having their separate program. Hosty seems to be aware of each step and is the agent that LHO is upset with. It is Hosty and not Bard Odum who upsets Oswald and it is Hosty who further upsets him during his interrogation at the Dallas Police Station. Even Lieutenant Jack Revill of the Dallas Police Intelligence Unit was upset with Hosty for not warning them prior to the assassination that LHO was a possible
        threat; After the assassination, Revill snorted to Hosty, “Well, if you know that Oswald killed Kennedy, why the hell didn’t you tell us? Why didn’t you tell us Oswald was in town and was a known communist?” Hosty replied, “Jack, I couldn’t tell you. You know Bureau policy, the need to-know rule,” I said. I was referring to the Bureau’s long standing policy on espionage cases, that only those who “need to know” particular information are told.”
        If the FBI needed to cover a few things for security reasons, Hosty was aware and even told Bard Odum to crop that photo. Bard Odum didn’t even know that the man in the photo wasn’t Oswald. Hosty was the one who recognized that it wasn’t Oswald. Obviously Odum didn’t really know what Oswald looked like. Obviously a lot of people didn’t. But Hosty did. I wouldn’t disregard him as a witness or call him unreliable. He fessed up to numerous problems the intelligence community had, the policies they adhered to.

        1. After thinking about FBI agent, James Hosty, and my earlier comment, I remember there was something that alarmed Hosty. While Oswald was in Mexico City in October of 1963, he had met with Kostikov, KGB agent from the KGB department of terrorism and assassinations. This information had been kept from agent Hosty. On page 175 of “Assignment; Oswald,” Hosty says, “The conversation casually changed subjects, but I was thinking only about Kostikov. I now understood what Malley’s aide, Dick Rogge, meant when he said that I had the case on Oswald but that I didn’t know he was dangerous.” Hosty had recently been given a thirty day suspension for his poor handling of Oswald’s file but no one had told him about Kostikov. It actually embarrassed him and he didn’t at first want to admit that he didn’t know. This missing piece of information on Oswald had left Hosty with the impression that Oswald wasn’t dangerous at the time. One might think that maybe Hosty was just expressing “sour grapes” and covering himself. Or something far more important. That the Soviets were somehow involved in the assassination and the government was trying to keep this from the American public and trying to prevent a war with the Soviets. This was on Hosty’s mind at the time and he felt he was somehow a scapegoat. The intelligence community was seemingly covering something up about the Mexico City event. Perhaps that is still in the unreleased files under “national security”. But Hosty was definitely alarmed about Oswald meeting with Kostikov and noone telling him.

          1. april, pretty much everything you are saying is coming from Hosty himself. Your comments presume it was the same Oswald in Mexico City as the Oswald to whom Hosty had been assigned. Many would suggest that is a false assumption. And you fail to highlight the fact that Hosty destroyed notes, and perhaps files.

            “Hosty knew about the CIA surveillance in Mexico City. In fact that fact kept him from interviewing LHO about his trip to Mexico City prior to the assassination. Hosty thought it possible that during an interview he would somehow give away this information to Oswald . .”

            I find that an absurd claim on Hosty’s part; he was a seasoned agent and fearing he would spill the beans is almost laughable.

            “. . . and Oswald might then pass it on to the Cubans or Soviets thus compromising their monitoring systems.” (by ‘their’ do you insist that Hosty is referring to the CIA?)

            This begs the question: just how much did Hosty know about this top secret CIA operation, and why? How frequently was he being updated on the operation and why? Who were they watching that Hosty needed to know about? I have read that the Defense Industrial Security Command had an interest MC.

            “He mentions the surveillance being the CIA’s project but the FBI was aware of it.”

            earlier you have argued that the policy of “need to know” was a driving force behind Hosty’s failure to inform the Dallas Police of Oswald’s presence in their area. Yet Hosty – who was a field agent, not likely part of the inner circle of the upper echelon of the FBI – knew about a CIA top secret surveillance program in Mexico City? Why did Hosty “need to know” about that operation?

            “He never mentions the FBI having their separate program.”

            Are you arguing that because he didn’t mention a separate program that there wasn’t one?

            The reason for my addressing Bard Odum is that he would later pursue witnesses in the case and by then he was aware of the photo not being Oswald, he was aware of a CIA surveillance program in MC (that top secret, need to know program) and as he pursued leads was he also probing about the Mexico City story? If so why was he not called to testify before the Warren Commission even if it might have been behind closed doors? Was he also afraid of triggering a backlash from the possibility the Russians were involved in the assassination? What information did he have to cause him to draw that conclusion? Where are Bard’s records?

          2. Hosty was not able to interview Oswald about his Mexico City visit because of FBI policy. He had no choice because of Bureau policy. That he might “spill the beans” was something he thought possible.
            And yes, if I’m discussing what Hosty was doing and thinking, I better quote the man. It better be coming from Hosty himself.
            And yes, perhaps the FBI also had their own monitoring system. However, if the CIA already had a surveillance system up and going, why not make it a joint program. The less equipment up, the less chance of being noticed. They probably were already worried about being caught or being compromised. Or conflicting with each other, not sharing information.
            Perhaps Hosty might be considered of small consequence to some but it was Hosty who Oswald was worried about and who Hoover/FBI and the WC were very aware of in the matter. He was put on a 30 day suspension by the Bureau and criticized by the WC. They felt him responsible for the information concerning Oswald.

    1. Rick G:

      Yep, my buddy seems to be as befuddled as the “kooks” and “buffs” on MC and LHO. It is almost as if he does not have the answers on this part of the investigation… .

  11. Jeff I would recommend you contact Howard Leutrell Osborne he was the Black CIA Officer in charge of the CIA Office of Security back in the 50’s and 60’s, He has a website and is currently investigating the murder of MLK. He was also in charge of the Soviet Bloc office in those years. I know in the interviews I have read he suspects Howard Hunt in JFK/MLK deaths.

    1. Lenny Holtz Howard Leutrell Osborne Was born in 1939 same year as Oswald. What i don’t understand is why no one is interested in Albert Osborne.

      1. Gerry, my opinion on Albert Osborne is that he was a low-level informant that helped the intelligence agencies in some way.

        He admitted to the FBI that he had”two separate identities. It looks like he may have had a scam fleecing active church members from their money. He was either a fascist or posed as one during World War II. He watched whatever was going on on the bus taking the man identified as Oswald to Mexico City. Curiously, he identified Oswald as blond and differently in general from other witnesses on the bus.

        My thinking is that he sabotaged his testimony so he wouldn’t be used by ghe Warren Commission. I think that because the mythological “torbitt document” identified Osborne as the head of a Mexican assassination ring with no supporting evidence, many people feel burned and exhausted by anything to do with Osborne.

        I agree that his story is intriguing but also believe that it is one of many distractions if you are looking for more important stories. For example, the October 16 memo you mention was the cia keeping an agreement with the fbi to let them know whenever a suspicious American made contact with anyone at the Soviet embassy. This was the info that Hosty wasn’t supposed to know about.

        I would add that though Hosty’s book has some revealing passages, it is filled with errors about matters that he only knew about secondhand. The one cited by April, that “on October 1st, the CIA intercepted Oswald’s phone call from the Cuban embassy to the soviet embassy”, actually happened according to CIA records on Saturday sept 28. This is important because contrary to Hosty’s claim that the CIA tried to photo Oswald that day, the CIA had no photo program set up for Saturdays.

        1. Bill, I have to disagree, until this is explained.:
          On 12 Sept., 1918, Osborne’s “second” John Howard Bowen, reported his D.O.B. as 14 Oct., 1880.:

          Note that he was a YMCA employee and Osborne later claimed a Montreal YMCA residence address. Support for
          1918 Bowen docuemnt info.:

          Chester Times Newspaper Archive: May 18, 1915 – Page 5
          Bowen’s wife’s grave and 1934 obit.:

          FBI reported in CE 2443:

          …..but furnished him with a card reflecting the
          following data :
          Name : JOHN HOWARD BOWEN
          Born : January 14, 1880
          Father : JAMES A, BOWEN
          Mother : EDITH MONTGOMERY
          Place of Birth : Chester, PA…

          Bowen died in Jan., 1962, and his D.O.B. that had in 1918 matched what Osborne gave FBI, was changed.:
 Bowen was buried in same cemetery has his wife. FBI claimed unsuccessful Chester, PA. records/newspaper search. Bowen’s brother’s wife claimed his body.:

          1. A recap, with more documentation.:
            FBI conducted inquiries, John Howard Bowen, d.o.b. Oct. 14, 1887, at Chester, PA between 20 Dec., 1963 and 7 Jan., 1964. School records, credit bureau, newspaper morgue, coroner/death records all yield no traces.
            Feb. 8, 1964, FBI interviews Bowen again, he relates being raised by his grandmother, Sarah Hall, (actually the mother-in-law of the real John Howard Bowen). Also on Feb. 8, Bowen provides Oct. 14, 1880 d.o.b. and his parents’ names, James A Bown and Edith Montgomery.
            Pennsylvania church record document the marriage in June, 1879, of a Chester, PA couple with identical names as imposter Bowen had related to FBI. The real Bowen was baptized in 1897 at age 16, born Oct. 14, 1880
            , and again on 1918 Draft Registration doc.
            As of March 3, 1964, imposter Bowen had not admitted he was Osbourne, and FBI apparantly making inquires of all John Howard Bowens “born around 1900.” ….. The FBI seems not to have gone back to Chester, PA after interviewing Bowen on Feb. 8, 1964, to search with the 1880 d.o.b. and Bowen parents names. The mystery as to why, at the time of his Jan., 1962 death, the real Bowen’s age was almost three years older than he had stated his age to be in 1897 and 1918, or why the 1878 birth year was etched into his gravestone. The FBI should have searched at Chester, PA again after that Feb. 8, interview, they should have discovered the real Bowen’s Jan., 1962 burial in a local cemetery, and maybe some of this mystery would be solved. Usually the imposter crafts the deceptions, the victim of an imposter rarely changes his long established d.o.b.

          2. Tom Scully, Do you have a theory why Osbourne picked or was given JOHN HOWARD BOWEN as his AKA? What troubles me about osbourne is that he was eligible for Canadas OAS pension but most likly he never got it, this would have been red flag to get his passport, The YMCA is interestig to me as my pick for planer of Assassinasion Boris Pash has used his YMCA connection starting in 1920 all the way to 70tys

          3. Sorry Gerry,
            I just read your question. The things I see in common of Osborne and the REAL Bowen are the YMCA connection and that they both moved around, a lot.
            That isn’t enough to do more than speculate. As Bowen, Osborne told the FBI he started using the Bowen alias after WWI. This disclosure would have been
            the opportunity for the FBI questioner to ask Osborne, why? My core question now is whether Osborne intimidated the REAL Bowen into changing his D.O.B.
            from 14 Jan., 1880, to 4 Jan., 1878, and if so, when, and why. I only discovered today that the Social Security # displayed on the REAL Bowen’s 1962
            death certificate is matched with an SS record with the 14 Jan., 1880 D.O.B. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the evidence pictured at this link,
   , two different SS numbers containing identical data, both last active in 1955, and the FBI presenting the appearance of an
            exhaustive investigation that is now proven not to have been exhaustive, or even all that thorough. Why wasn’t Osborne charged with giving false info to
            a federal agent, and how many other FBI investigations related to the JFK assassination were as incomplete as this one… a foreigner in the U.S. using on alias?

        2. BILL i to disagree for Osborne to get a Canadian Passport the same day in NO he would need to be a higher intelligent asset He certainly was a expencive distraction as they investigated him in a least 7 countries. He was much like David Ferrara except David flew a plane,Osborne road a mule.

    2. Lenny, Leutrell Osborne is not the same person as Howard J. Osborn, a former chief in the CIA’s Office of Security.

    1. Goodpasture died in 2011. After denying in 1978 – along with several other CIA officers – that a tape of Oswald survived the assassination, she admitted it in 1995.

      1. How about Oscar Contreras and his testimony of encountering an ‘Oswald’ in MC who did not resemble the man arrested in Dallas?

  12. Steve Stirlen

    Just to be clear, although Mr. Simpich wrote the piece, I believe Mr. Morley has expressed the same points in various places on his website. I obviously do not wish to speak for anyone but myself.

  13. Steve Stirlen


    Here is the crux I believe is at the VERY heart of the ENTIRE JFK assassination debate:

    “But the real question is this: Why are our leaders allowed to discuss the death of John F. Kennedy in any context without providing the documents that provide the best chance at providing the best answer?”

    Kind of sums it up doesn’t it?

    1. Exactly who thought this guy was Oswald aside from the reporting source-of which there is no evidence that that source had ever seen Oswald?

      1. Photon;

        I thought maybe the approaching “tax day” had caused such despair that you had headed underground! It is good to see you still out and about!

        How about this? How about YOU explain WHY the CIA would release this picture WITHOUT quickly clearing up the confusion by releasing a statement saying something to the effect that “we KNOW this is not Oswald.”

        Then, how about this? You explain why the tapes of the man who identified himself as Oswald but was not were DESTROYED by the agency?

        And, to make your tax season even more joyous, how about YOU explain how the CIA can tell the American people with a straight face that their surveillance equipment, i.e. cameras, were NOT operating that weekend in a city that was the “hub” of spies and spying in the Western world in 1963?

        No matter how hard you try, YOU and the entire WC defenders/lovers/apologists/believers/promoters/songbirds will NEVER be able to defend the actions of the CIA AND the FBI AND the WC investigators charged with investigating MC and LHO. All three FAILED miserably and completely! The FBI and the CIA lied, and are still lying, and the WC investigators were only worried about their jobs and reputations and future employment and should be terribly ashamed for not pressing Warren to dig deeper for answers. Remind me—is there ANYONE in the beloved WC that was allowed to write ANYTHING about dissenting with the “official” report? I know there are now—51 years later. But was there anyone in 63 that CARED enough about that little ol’ thing called the TRUTH to voice their objections then?

        You can put as much lipstick on this as you want, but underneath it is still a pig that will never get any better looking!

        1. I believe that a serious mistake has been made. The first Oct 10 memo is about somebody other than Lee Harvey Oswald; an individual who was married to a different woman.

      2. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

        Knowing that some American named Oswald was at the Cuban Consulate trying to travel illegally to Cuba in route to the URSS, COS Win Scott didn´t report him as a case of operational interest. That´s a conspiracy fact in itself, and the following CIA “mistakes” (sending a non-Oswald photo, erasing the Oswald´s tapes, and so on) actually forge a chain that nobody can overlook.

  14. Steve Stirlen


    If you look at paragraph 8 or 9 above, two names pop up that you and I have went back and forth on repeatedly. Helms and Angleton! Surprise, surprise!!! “Let me quote Mr. Morley for you: “these cables are a puzzle YET to be solved.”

    Does not sound like Mr. Morley believes in the Photon “simple mistake” theory, does it?

  15. Steve Stirlen


    This is where we could REALLY use your expertise! Who is the man in the photo? You say the release of the picture was a simple, innocent mistake. Yet, the CIA has NEVER fully released a statement—at least to my knowledge—about the picture, its release, and an apology. You don’t think they were trying to hide something, do you? Surely, the CIA would not LIE, would it? I shudder to think they were being dishonest…

    1. Here is what FBI agent, James Hosty, had to say about the picture of the “mystery man” in his book, Assignment: Oswald; Around noon on October 1st, 1963, the CIA intercepted Oswald’s phone call from the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City to the Soviet Embassy. A KGB officer invited Oswald to come by, and Oswald did. The CIA attempted to photograph him as he entered and exited the Soviet Embassy but was only able to take this picture of an unidentifiable man. At Hosty,s suggestion, before they showed this photograph to anyone, intelligence agents carefully cropped out the background, which would have shown the embassy and revealed the ongoing surveillance.” The CIA seemed more concerned with concealing their surveillance of both the Soviet and Cuban embassies than with being accurate. It seemed they wanted to keep the surveillance secret at the expense of all else. Even after the assassination, RFK made his wishes known that the investigation of what happened in Mexico City be stopped as it might expose the fact that they had been trying to assassinate Castro.

      1. It just seems possible IMO that they wanted to keep their surveillance under wraps at all costs, not realizing, at the time, that their mistakes would later become a big issue. How would they explain this man who obviously wasn’t Lee Oswald. James Hosty should have realized right away that the “mystery man” wasn’t Oswald.

        1. According to FBI agent, Hosty, the CIA did make an attempt to photograph Oswald as he entered and exited the Soviet Embassy. So, they were expecting a photo of Oswald from their surveillance equipment. When Hosty saw the photo, he would know right it wasn’t Oswald. All the more need to sweep it under the carpet, all the more need to crop it and make it as unnoticeable as possible.

      2. Agent Hosty talked about this very subject, this mystery photo, early on in his book on pages 36-37. The cropping, according to him, took place after the assassination, on Saturday, November 23rd……”As the meeting broke up, Bardwell Odum, a senior agent on the criminal squad, came over to me. He told me that at 2:00 this morning, Wally Heitman had gone to the Navy air base just outside of Dallas to meet Eldon Rudd, an assistant legal attache at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Rudd, who was actually an FBI agent, had flown in on a two-seat Navy jet fighter to personally deliver a surveillance photo and a phone intercept transcript. Heitman was chosen to receive this highly sensitive material because he and Rudd knew each other by sight. Heitman brought the material to the Dallas office and turned it over to Shanklin. I learned that Shanklin had never gone home last night, and that at about 4:oo am , a ten-page encoded teletype had been sent to headquarters.
        Odum now had custody of the Rudd photo that was thought to be a shot of Oswald as he walked out of the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. I took a look at it and knew immediately that it was not Oswald. Odum asked if I knew who the man was and if he had any association with Oswald. Not so far as I knew, I told him. Odum had orders to show it to Oswald’s wife, Marina. I took another look at the photo; I noticed something I should point
        out to Odum. Bard, I said, you can’t show that photo to people outside the Bureau. Look, you can see the doorway to the Soviet Embassy. Here, take these scissors and crop out the doorway. That way no one will know where the photo was taken. ………in this type of case, you go to great lengths to protect your sources and methods.”
        Hosty himself handled the cropping of the photo and said why.

        1. April, Hosty cropping the photo was something that every FBI man working security knew had to be done. Protecting the CIA’s photohouses and listening posts around the Soviet and Cuban embassies was an absolute must.

          As Hosty said at p. 51 of his book, “I was forbidden from interviewing Lee about the Mexico City trip prior to the assassination because we didn’t want to compromise our sources and methods in Mexico City. If I had…asked him about his visit to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City, he would have learned more than I. Oswald would have realized that US intelligence had monitoring systems in Mexico City. If Oswald had then forwarded this information on to the Soviets and Cubans, the CIA surveillance setup would have been blown.”

          I don’t think the “ten page encoded teletype” that Hosty mentions was sent from Dallas to Headquarters (p. 36) has ever been released to the public.

          Nor, to my knowledge has the transcript of the FBI wiretap placed on Marina’s house in early 1964 ever been released. (p. 110). Hosty says Nat Pinkston placed the tap, and the translation of the recordings was allegedly done by Anatol Bogaslov. Hosty testified about Pinkston…

          The tap on Marina is referenced in the FBI’s “tickler folder”.

          The WC knew Marina was being tapped.

          Hoover wrote that chief counsel Rankin gave his OK to the stakeout of her home and said “let me know” when it would be terminated.

          An account of the tap on Marina was reported by the New York Times in 75.

          Nicholas Katzenbach said that Earl Warren himself ordered the tap.

          FBI records indicate Bobby Kennedy approved the tap.

          SA Milton L. Newsom prepared a 3/23/64 report on the results of the surveillance.

          That’s another story, but the FBI was concerned because they tapped Marina’s conversations with her attorney.

          They also learned about Marina’s sexual desires and attraction to James Martin, her former business manager.

          The Church Committee suspected that Marina was also tapped when she came to DC to testify to the Warren Commission… There is a record of her lawyer’s long-distance calls that can be seen.

          It would be worth double-checking at the Archives or somehow buried within MFF – it’s not impossible the tap transcriptions or the 10-page encoded memo of 11/23 have been released. Hosty’s disclosures are helpful – he was pretty teed off at the FBI brass.

          1. Yes, Hosty was very teed off at the intelligence community in general as he thought they were trying to make him a scapegoat. Everything you said here is good, Bill. Would love to see those transcripts.

        2. Has anyone brought up the fact that some like agent, James Hosty, thought the mystery man in the photo was a Soviet seaman getting his papers in order? They came to the conclusion that Oswald had entered the Soviet Embassy by the side door and that’s why he had avoided being caught on the surveillance camera. Most working the Mexico City event didn’t really know Oswald enough to recognize him. They just made assumptions. It was Hosty who knew Oswald enough to recognize him.

  16. The name is actually Stephen Roll of Mount Union, PA. Johns Hopkins, masters program at Yale, joined CIA 1949. Uncle Vasyl Wolchansky, resident of Ukraine.

  17. Just to add to what I’ve learned from reading “State Secret”, on the day of the assassination the police broadcast description of Oswald at large was the October 10 memo #2 version (that went to Mexico). That bogus info was provided to a cop on the street by an anonymous source, minutes after the shooting. This was a clear ping of the original erroneous information; very ironically, that is the classic intended outcome for the counterintelligence move of seeding records with bogus info to see where the same bogus info pops up next. Wherever it pops up leads back to a specific intersection.

    1. JMWAVE and Theodore Shackley… most likely the moles uncovered by using the ‘marked card” of the 5ft 10in 165lb athletic built Oswald.

      The Shackley/Landsdale connection goes back to the Northwoods document.

    2. Frank, in the scenario you have outlined, would the false description of Oswald given by the anonymous source in Dallas be a kind of a blackmail device sent to the US government in general (particularly those who would have access to CIA files)?

      1. GM, I think it would have yes, and a very artful device it would have been. It would have carried the embedded messages that the entire situation and background was not only fully known by the senders, but was deeply monitored, manipulated, and anticipated through to and after the multi layered denouement summed up by the brief broadcast of that simple physical description.

        This would have been no less than a bright red signal flare advising all from top to bottom and within all agencies to proceed with caution and/or at their own peril.

        This is why I described the appearance of that marked card technique, as you described it, as so very, very ironic. The technique itself would have carried the all important message.

        “State Secret” was a great read and really enlightened me to some ideas I had never heard or considered before.

        1. Robert Harper

          I’ll ditto the great read remark. Mr Simpich also made it available to all interested parties for free online which was most generous. I have read it twice now – the counter intel stuff always makes my brain turn, and I still have to make connections I’ve missed. But amongst much uncertainty, this much is undeniable: Oswald was impersonated and government authorities (CIA/FBI) withheld that information.Why?

          1. Yes, it is a mind bender, but one that derives it’s purchase from a solid base. One key aspect to it that makes it easier to absorb is that it doesn’t really matter if Oswald was in Mexico City or not, the outcome is the same either way.

    1. gerry campeau

      Bill please continue reading MF Chronologies tell Oct 16, lots of info LHO changing room, Jobs interviews, and Albert Osbourne picking up his Canadian Passport in NO on 10th and back in MC On 15 or 16 Last photo of unknown was on 15th

    2. Gerry, the full document from Mexico City to HQ is here:

      This is the memo that spurred the aforementioned two cakes of October 10 in response.

      Here, the Mexico City station is claiming that Oswald called the Soviet embassy on Oct 1, mentioned a previous visit on Sept 28 and that LHO had seen Kostikov, and that on October 1 a man described like “the Mystery Man” visited the Soviet embassy. The mystery man photo was not sent, but the insinuation was that he was Oswald. After 11/22 a mystery man photo was sent and he was clearly not Oswald. Many years later it came out that the mystery man photo was taken October 2 not October 1. The CIA tried to pass it off as a mistake – for several reasons this is not credible.

  18. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

    The “Cables of October” indicate the CIA involved in a conspiracy of silence. A conspiracy fact clearly emerged from the phone calls on September 27, 1963, between the Cubans and the Soviets. The CIA had them tapped and immediately learned about “a U.S. citizen who had requested a transit visa to Cuba because he is going to URSS”.
    COS Win Scott wrote on a transcript: “Is it possible to identify?,” but his next move was to abstain from reporting this incident. On October 10, 1963, Scott wrote the LIENVOY (phone surveillance program) report for September with only “two leads of operational interest:” a female professor from New Orleans calling the Soviet Embassy, and a Czech woman calling the Czech embassy.

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