Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Did Robert Oswald Know?

A number of researchers have wondered if Lee Oswald's brother Robert knew more than he ever admitted to.  Indeed, his half brother John Pic told the FBI that Robert knew more that he was letting on.  As one researcher told me, Robert wasn't going to be doing any talking from early on to this day.  Robert did publish a book in 1967 regarding his relationship with his brother (Lee: A Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by His Brother) and did appear in several documentaries.  Publicly, he has always stood by the official story and kept a low profile over the years.  

However, his testimony to the Warren Commission, conducted in 1964, reveals Robert's contradictory accounting of events.  A careful reading of the transcript makes it apparent that Robert is not being forthright regarding many issues and this opens up other unexpected mysteries.

The Oswald Trust
Early on, much attention is given to a trust fund set up to accommodate donations given to Marina Oswald, Lee's widow after his death.  The amount was $25,000, supposedly donated from people around country.  Robert was one of the signatories to the trust.  However, this was not the only amount of money Marina received.  Before she was called to give testimony,  in February of 1964, Marina signed a contract with Tex-Italia Films and Cinema International Productions, to appear in a movie about her life.  She was paid a flat fee of $132,350.  Soon after signing the contract, the Tex-Italia Film company shut their doors in Hollywood, never to be heard from again.  No movie about Marina was ever made.  How's that for taking care of the star witness in the case?

However,  it's unlikely that Robert would not have known something about the details of this transaction as close as he was to Marina. He was in fact, with her when she was working out the details of the contract.  In fact, it's hard to see how the Commission lawyers didn't know about it either.  FBI Director Hoover must have known as he told lead council, J. Lee Rankin, that the FBI was not going to be investigating any of Marina Oswald's financial dealings.  Rankin must have breathed a sigh of relief!  So the kabash was put on this from the beginning and was never to be mentioned again.  

It's unknown what Marina Oswald did with this large amount of money or for that matter, where the mysterious men of Tex-Italia Films acquired the funds. 

Marina Speaking English
Robert told the Warren Commission that his sister in law Marina had "limited knowledge" of English and he would communicate with her via hand signals.  As we shall see in the section, this is not true–Marina was a very good English speaker and before he spoke to the Commission, Robert Oswald actually admitted to it.

In December of 1963 Robert gave FBI S.A. Barnwell Odom a 15-page statement and in it he notes meeting with Marina to discuss a management contract she was about to sign with Jim Martin (who briefly became her lover).  There was a discrepancy in the contract that Marina noted–since she could read English–and discussed this issue in English with Robert with no translator present.   He'll deny her language skills later.  It should be noted that Jim Martin told the HSCA in 1978 that Marina could understand English quite well (Armstrong p. 340-341). 

And there are other sources regarding Marina and her English speaking.  Robert’s mother Marguerite Oswald said in her Commission testimony that Marina could speak English.  Lee wrote Marina letters in English while in the Soviet Union (Armstrong, p. 339). The so-called "other defector" Robert Webster (who I might add is the spitting image of Lee) said he met Marina while in Moscow in 1959-60 and she spoke in English to him (she denies knowing him).  Also, Marina’s stenographic notebook (CE100) that was found by the Dallas Police is written in English.  They also found other notebooks with her English writing that are now in the National Archives (Armstrong p. 340-341).

So why is Robert Oswald obviously covering for Marina?  He's speaking under oath and perjuring himself in the process.  And no one on the Warren Commission or their staff attorneys outs him on this.  Marina meanwhile, requires the use of an interpreter to answer questions from the Commission during her testimony.  Many researchers consider Marina to be a KGB agent and speaking English too well would be a dead giveaway to the CIA.  Conversely, Lee spoke excellent Russian yet rarely spoke it in Russia.  Likewise, that would give him away to the KGB if he were operating as an agent.  

Basically, Marina had excellent English language skills and was allowed to pull the wool over everybody's eyes.  Robert helped facilitate this charade.   

The  Strange 1947 to 1948 Jump
During the Robert Oswald's questioning by assistant counsel Albert E. Jenner, Jr., the following happens:

Mr. Oswald.  No, sir. I would say at no time it was. In moving up perhaps there to the time of the divorce and everything, I don't remember when Mr. Ekdahl moved out of the house. At that time we were living on Eighth Avenue in Fort Worth. This was during a summer period there. And I think this was the summer after the second year that we attended there this would be the summer of 1947.

Mr. Dulles.  If it is agreeable, I think we will adjourn for just a minute. It is now 11 o'clock.

Coming back from the break, the Commission starts qualifying the exhibits.  When finished, they resume the testimony: 

Mr. Jenner.  At the recess, Mr. Oswald, we were dealing with excuse me. We were dealing with the period of time that you and your mother and your two brothers lived in Benbrook, Tex. This brought us through the summer of 1948, I believe. Am I correct?

Mr. Oswald.  That is correct, sir.

So, a year is lost from the summer of 1947 to the sumer of 1948.  It’s odd that Robert is going along with this.  How could he not recall 1947, the year they left off at?  Or, could have it been a conflict of addresses?  Robert’s older brother, John Pic, in earlier testimony listed their address at this time as 1505 8th avenue in New Orleans.  But there is evidence to show that there was an Oswald family living at 101 San Saba at the same time, in the summer of 1947.  As noted by researcher Jones Harris, Allen Dulles was the most informed member about the assassination on the Warren Commission.  Harris pointed out to me that it was Dulles that calls for the break.  Was Dulles trying to prevent a mishap here?  It was known in Washington circles that Dulles had an interest in doubles and had once met a young man at a party that was fresh out of college and spoke fluently in both Russian and Chinese.  Dulles learned that this young man also had a twin brother who was also fluent in both languages.  Dulles reportedly said, “I must have this pair.” So if the former CIA Director had this interest in doubles and Oswald was part of a doppelg√§nger scheme, then by ordering the break in testimony, Dulles averted a possible exposure of intelligence operations.  

And this flew over everybody’s heads.  

Stripling Junior High
Probably the most controversial part of Robert Oswald's testimony to the Commission.  While talking of Lee's early life, and school attendance, Robert mentions Lee attending W. C. Stripling in Irving, Texas.  However, under the official story, neither Lee nor his mother are supposed to be living there at that time and existing school records have him attending Beauregard Junior High in New Orleans in the fall of 1954.  And this is not the first time Robert makes a mention of Stripling.  In fact, he mentions it three times.  The first is in 1959 to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram upon Lee's defection to the Soviet Union; the second instance is to the Star-Telegram in 1962 upon Lee's return, and the final time in front of the Warren Commission.

In fact, it would have been difficult for any one to have known of this except for Robert mentioning three times.  Researcher John Armstrong started digging into this and ran across a Frank Kudlaty, the assistant principle at Stripling.  When asked, Kudlaty said he remembered Lee Oswald attending because he was called by the Principle to head to the school Saturday morning (the 23rd) and hand over all records pertaining to Lee Oswald to the FBI agents who were on their way.  This he did, but did not get a written receipt nor did he have the ability to make a photostat of the records.  Lee Oswald apparently was only there for about six weeks in the fall of 1954.  Kudlaty noticed an interesting fact–there was no letter stating where the records were sent to upon Lee Oswald leaving.   Also, there were no loss of six weeks from his records at Beauregard in New Orleans during this time (Armstrong, p. 97-101).

Frank Kudlaty wasn't the only witness either, faculty and former students remembered Lee Oswald attending Stripling.  He lived across the street from the school.  It's easy to remember the kid that gets to go home for lunch. 

It's quite surprising that the attorney  Albert Jenner allowed Robert to pass this by without correction.  The Commission and staff had the records and they knew the answers beforehand; that’s basic lawyering.  Robert was never corrected.  Never the less, it's not the only instance of Lee's school records contradicting.  His records from the fall of 1953 do as well.  One set has him in PS #44 in New York and the other set has him in Beauregard Junior high in New Orleans at the exact same time.

Evidence of Lee Oswald being doubled?

Thanksgiving 1962
This is also known as "family reunion" before the Big Event that occurs a year later, to the day.  It's also an example of odd family behavior.  Gathering for the holiday dinner are Robert, his wife Vada and kids, Lee and Marina and their child June, and half brother John Pic, his wife Margret, and their kids.  Robert would say in an interview years later that it was a "Typical Thanksgiving day for any family."  But there is one person missing.  Their mother, Marguerite.  As Robert stated to the Commission, their mother was not invited, never knew of the gathering, and according to him, her name was never mentioned at the gathering.

Imagine you have one living parent, she lives nearby and you never invite her to Thanksgiving day dinner, nor mention her name with your siblings.  This has the appearance of deeper levels of family intrigue.  

There are other instances before and after showing Robert's aloofness for his mother.  For example in the summer of 1956 he was engaged to Vada.  He never introduced her to his mother or Lee before the wedding. Vada only met them a few years later.  When Robert was being interviewed in 1959 by Star-Telegram, he was asked where they could get in touch with his mother.  Robert was evasive saying that Marguerite was in seclusion and under a doctor's care.  This is not true and there is no evidence to support this.  The reporter eventually found her and she wasn't tucked away.  

Through these actions, Robert displays an apparent aversion to talking about his mother or associating with her.  It's as if he is ashamed of her.  Others who believe that Marguerite was being impersonated (along with Lee) believe Robert's aversion is to an impostor.  And it's not just his mother, in later years he will have nothing to do with Lee's two daughters either.  

Visiting Lee In Jail
Robert going to visit Lee in jail will be the first time he has seen him since the Thanksgiving gathering from the previous year.  Robert had also experienced more than one shock this day.  Other than seeing his brother arrested for the murder of a police officer and the President of the United States, he also was to learn that Marina had given birth to a second child, Rachel.  Robert never knew that Marina was pregnant, let alone had given birth to a new child.

Most striking is Robert's comments that when he finally got to speak to Lee.  He noticed that Lee seems to speak in a "mechanical" way with little visible emotion.  That erie calm that he possessed, that all around him noticed.  Robert did too.  Even more striking is Robert's observation, "I was not talking to the Lee I knew."  That Lee was long gone, replaced by another spirit.  Maybe even a different Lee altogether that wanted to be called Harvey.  And maybe it dawned on Robert at some point what had happened.

Lee Driving
Robert Oswald states in his testimony that he never saw Lee drive a car or even wanted to learn to drive.  Michael and Ruth Paine testified to the same, as did Marina.  However, researchers over the years have found numerous witnesses to Lee driving.  For example Cliff Shasteen, the barber who owned his own shop in (Irving, Texas) had cut Lee's hair numerous times and told the Warren Commission that he and the other barbers saw him driving up to the shop 6 or 7 times in the summer of 1963. Which it should be noted, was the time period of Oswald living in New Orleans, spending most of his time unemployed. Researcher John Armstrong reports at least 27 people saw Oswald driving a car and 3 others report seeing his driver's license.  In fact, more witnesses attest to Lee Oswald driving a car than not.  Only four, Michael and Ruth Paine, Marina Oswald, and of course, Robert Oswald, say Lee could not drive an automobile. (Link).  

So What Did Robert Know?
There are hints here and there which are never followed up on such as Robert admitting that he thought Jack Ruby knew Lee before he shot him on live TV.  An interesting line of thought never explored.  Odd things stick out.  Such as in his book on Lee, Robert stated that Lee came home on leave in February 1958 and they went hunting.  But his released Marine leave records show no such occurrence in February of that year.  It’s quite telling when Robert speaks of Lee seeming like a different person altogether.  The brother who he had grown up with, suffered hardships with, who had idolized him, following in his footsteps into the Marines and beyond, was now a totally different man sitting on a barbed-wire fence.

These brothers loved each other.  The drift probably started when Lee went to the Soviet Union, what Robert would later say with a grin as "sowing his oats."  As a former Marine, and no doubt a patriotic American, Robert should have been appalled at this event.  If he was, he's not telling us.  

So Robert Oswald remains a mystery in this affair.  If he has been charged with retaining secrets, along with the burden that must have been, he has done his job well.  Like a good soldier does.

Testimony pages:  The Oswald Trust, p.290; Marina speaking English, p.338; The 1947 to 1948 Jump, p.282 & 291; Stripling Junior High, p.299; Thanksgiving, 1962 p.388; Visiting Lee In Jail, p.455-456 & 462.

Book:  Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong

Testimony Sources:

Hard Copy interview with Robert Oswald (11.26.90).