Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Women in Lee Oswald’s Life

From left: Marguerite Oswald, Marina Oswald Porter, Marilyn Murret, Ruth Paine
What impact did women have on the life of Lee Oswald?  There seems to be few studies completed on this subject.  Obviously there is no evidence of any woman being influential enough to push Lee along a path towards political assassination, that is if he were involved, or provide guidance for his political views.  Undeniably his mother plays the first and longest influential role, though one strained from a haphazard upbringing for not only Lee, but brother Robert and half brother John Pic.  Into adulthood, the three brothers would have little interaction with their mother.  Oswald’s only experience with a father figure was with Edwin Ekdahl, his mother’s third and final husband, and that didn’t last long.  Basically, most of the notable women in his life were family.

What follows is a look into four of the most important women in Lee Oswald’s life and a common thread that bonds them all together.  

The Mother
Now here is an odd bird.  Many of the Warren Commission members considered Marguerite Oswald to be a total kook, besides a rambling, annoying person.  She lived a life of multiple marriages, low paid jobs, moving here and yon, and a host of peculiar dealings.  For example after Lee went truant from school, Marguerite was interviewed by probation officer John Carro.  She could barely give any information that was correct.  She fumbled through names, death dates, marriages, and falsely claimed that her family owned property in Corning, Texas, a town that never existed in the state.  She couldn’t even get Lee’s birthday right, missing it by a day.  Some have suggested that this woman was not really Marguerite Oswald at all but instead, an impostor.  And what would be the purpose of that?She was peculiar but never gave evidence of being psychotic.  She was however, a habitual and lifelong liar, making numerous false statements from local to Federal authorities, all the way to the Warren Commission.  

She had a history of baffling business dealings as well. For example, she once bought a house and paid more than the asking price; she then sold it below its market value.  She neither paid a reasonable fee nor made a profit when she could have accomplished both.  A transaction only a nitwit would make.  She wanted the house quickly and needed for unknown reasons to unload it as swiftly.  In fact, she had history of buying and selling houses often with no steady income to finance the mortgages and in some cases, requiring no mortgage at all.  

Whatever she did to raise her three sons (at one point placing John and Robert temporarily in an orphanage, keeping Lee with her; eventually Lee join them), they grew up to have little to do with her.  In the now recorded home movie of the final family gathering at Thanksgiving of 1962 with the three brothers and their families, all were in attendance save for one...Marguerite.  And she lived in town.  Robert Oswald told the Warren Commission that she never knew of the gathering, was never invited and her name was never mentioned.  That was cold.  

She always maintained that her son Lee was some sort of government agent.  When asked, she never had any real proof.  It would have been a hard thing to prove anyway as no agency such as the CIA or the FBI would ever admit to it, especially after the assassination had taken place.  

But here is the oddest thing about this odd bird.  Her tax returns from 1956 to 1962 are classified.  Generally speaking, if your returns are classified, then it means the person was doing something classified for some agency of the government.  Your work history and living arrangements are listed in an IRS return.  If it lists “Department of Treasury” as an income source then you are working for the government in some capacity.  Her work history is one of menial jobs so perhaps this extra income would allow her to buy the many properties as she did.  Notice also this is within the time frame of Lee joining the Marines in 1956, defecting in 1959, and returning to the United States in 1962.  Senator Schwicker said there was a false defector program to the USSR.  If Lee is one of those defectors, then he is working for the government or the DOD.  Oswald’s tax returns of 1957, 1960 and 1961 have never been released.  When Marina applied for her Social Security survivor benefits she only got credit for two work years, 1962 and 1963.  All of Lee’s other income years were ignored.  Perhaps some of these returns would show a Department of Treasury income stream?

If Lee Oswald is a mystery then his mother remains another enigma. A researcher that interviewed her told me that she was languishing away for money, as in some sort of government pension, as if she were entitled to tax payer money for her son being involved in an enormous national tragedy.  She seems to be two totally different people to those that knew her.  Some people describe Marguerite as a tall, attractive, and pleasant woman.  Others knew a Marguerite that was short, poorly dressed, unlikable, and didn’t get along well with others.  It’s rare for people have such a divergent impression of another person’s appearance and character.  Unless of course, she is being impersonated as John Armstrong suggests in his book, Harvey and Lee.  If Lee is an intelligence agent then most likely Marguerite is going to know to some degree.  Her sealed tax returns are a sign of deeper intrigue in the case than first imagined.  

Basically, what was she up for 7 years that the government doesn’t want us to know?

The Cousin
Marilyn Murret was the daughter of Lillian Claverie Murret, Marguerite Oswald’s younger sister.  Lee stayed with the Murret’s several times during the course of his life.  His uncle Charles was a full-time steamship clerk, but also was a bookie on the side for Carlos Marcello.  Marilyn is an interesting character.  A school teacher by profession, she didn’t limit her educational skills to New Orleans and was quite the world traveler teaching in foreign countries.  The FBI investigated her background and found that Marilyn had traveled to Japan, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Iraq, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and many other countries.  She was once detained in East Berlin for twelve hours for unknown reasons.  She would be called to give her testimony for the Warren Commission and later, in 1978, for the House Select Committee on Assassinations.  

Marilyn Murret’s Warren Commission testimony in April of 1964 makes for an incomplete read.  Staff attorney Liebeler unfortunately spends most of it asking leading questions or questions regarding unimportant events, and then omitting the questions he should have asked.  For example, regarding Marilyn’s overseas treks, he asks her about her employment in those countries (only three and then as a teacher) but rarely asks her about her employment in New Orleans or during Lee’s childhood.  Does Liebeler ask about why she was doing so much traveling in so many countries or how she financed the trips?  No.  One trip was 3-week vacation to Europe.  What she did in those countries she didn’t have employment in?  Also, during her testimony she reaffirms the myth that Marina could not speak English other than rudimentary sentences.

Was Marilyn Murret an operative?  There are hints that she was.  As stated above, she gave her sworn testimony to the HSCA and all 23 pages of her testimony were classified and never released.  Even before she spoke to them, the Committee had to seek permission from the CIA in order to talk to her.  If she had no prior relationship with the Agency then why go to that trouble?  

Researcher Jones Harris, who briefly worked with Jim Garrison during his criminal investigation of Clay Shaw, told me of the time they brought Marilyn Murret into Garrison’s office for questioning.  A tall, attractive woman she arrived accompanied by a gaggle of lawyers.   She sat and said little while the lawyers did all the talking.  Nothing came of this encounter and she was never called to testify at the trial.  Apparently she came prepared to do battle if called to be a witness and wisely let others do her talking for her.  It worked.

Dick Russell has even more intriguing news on Marilyn in his book about intelligence agent Richard Case Nagell entitled, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Russell was told by Houston Post reporter Lonnie Hudkins that a CIA source had told him that Marilyn Murret was a CIA agent assigned to Japan in the late 1950’s and helped facilitate Oswald’s trip to Russia.  She arrived in Japan in September of 1959 and started teaching at an all-English school.  Was she teaching the the children of the military?  Or the children of diplomats and government agents stationed there?  While that is unknown, it should be pointed out that all three of the brothers, John, Robert, and Lee as part of their overseas military service, passed thru Japan.  In fact, it was Marilyn that told John Pic while stationed in Japan in 1959 of Lee’s defection (in a minor squabble, John said it was Marilyn and Marilyn said it was John’s wife–I side with John Pic’s account).

Russell also reports that CIA officer William George Gaudet told his lawyer that Marilyn may have worked for the Agency in New Orleans (Russell, p.120)

Marilyn has been asked if she was ever connected with the Agency and she vehemently denied it.  Despite her denials, Marilyn Murret, with her numerous and unexplained world travels, employing old espionage tricks such as using false birth dates of her parents on her passport applications (Lee did as well), the HSCA requiring a CIA nod to interview her and then her testimony is sealed, and having a former CIA officer admit that she may have worked for the Agency, it is very likely that she was involved in intelligence work for the government of the United States.

The Wife
Of all the women here, Marina Prusakova is the one with the most dubious background.  She has long been suspected as being a KGB operative.  That largely comes from several different aspects of her life. First off, her upbringing in Russia which includes graduating from pharmacy school at the age of 17, traveling widely around Russia, and her time in Leningrad where she may have been part of a Honey Trap.  In her personal life she was known as a rounder.  Secondly, her first years in the United States where she led everyone to believe that she could not speak English, when she could.  And lastly,  the amount of lying she did as a witness in front of the Warren Commission.  

Lee’s courtship and marriage to Marina was a rapid affair.  They met at dance, knew each other for a few weeks, got married, and had their first child not long afterward.  It’s no secret that it would be very hard for a Russian woman marrying a foreigner to leave the USSR with her husband, as she would need state permission to marry.  If allowed to leave, they would be expected to operate as a mole for the KGB in their new husband’s country.  Marina was allowed to get permission for all of this with minimal bureaucratic obstruction leading one to believe such an arrangement was made.

While friends and family members saw them as being a happy young couple, their marriage was apparently a stormy one with spats, separations, and allegations of Lee being an abusive husband. 

One of Marina’s gambits is maintaining her image of an innocent in America.  To the world, this poor, petite waif could only understand a few words of English.  However, this was far from the truth.  There were many instances of Marina speaking and reading English competently.  

The first hint come from the other defector, Robert Webster, who said he met her in Russia and she spoke English well enough, though with an accent.  Marina denies meeting him.  While still in the USSR, Lee mailed her letters in English.  In the National Archives, researcher John Armstrong found Marina’s notebooks in her handwriting, in English.  Robert Oswald after the assassination wrote an 15-page report for the FBI and said that Marina understood English and detailed a chat about her business contract with no translator present.  A few months later, Robert would surprisingly deny her language skills in his 1964 WC testimony.  Her business manager James Martin in his testimony to the HSCA in 1978 said Marina understood everything said to her in English.  And after all of this, Marina needs a Russian language translator to give her testimony to the Warren Commission!  

For more on Marina’s background and English speaking abilities you can read my article, From Marina Prusakova, With Love.

Was Marina working for Russian authorities during the early years of residence in American and beyond?  The CIA suspected so and documented their beliefs in a 29-point report.  Marina’s story of her life is basically of her own making.  There was no way at the time to double-check her account of anything she reports.  Marina’s ruse of pretending not to speak English when she could is unnecessary and leads to the notion that she had something to hide, especially form American authorities such as the FBI and the US Secret Service.  Lee followed a similar strategy, rarely speaking in Russian while in the USSR even while he was a very good Russian speaker.  Their apartment in Minsk was bugged, and he most likely did not want to be suspected of being a spy and hence arrested.  Perhaps Marina had the same fear of being exposed.  

Marina must have not be cut out for the spy business as she was caught lying numerous times with everybody from the FBI to the Warren Commission.  At one point Senator Richard Russell accused her of lying on six different issues.  This brought Marina to tears.  Being the star witness, she signed a deal with Tex-Italia to produce a film on her life.  She was paid a six-figure sum before film makers disappeared and no film was ever made.  Nice, uh?  No one thought to question her about this deal at the time.  She did her best to incriminate her husband in the crime.  In recent years, without the pressure exerted on her, she’s turned around and no longer considers Lee guilty of killing President Kennedy. 

Lastly, their relationship can be summed up best by Marina’s wistful reflection:

“I had two husbands: Lee, the father of my children, an affectionate and kind man; and Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President Kennedy.”

The Friend
Ruth Paine, the gaunt Quaker will always be integral part of the tragedy since it was she who arranged for Lee Oswald to get the job at the Texas School Book Depository while providing housing for Marina and her two children.  Her gaunt looks belay an intelligent but pinched looking character and many of her actions are indeed dubious and in principle, clearly deceptive.

The Paine’s met the Oswald’s in February 1963 at a gathering held at a friend’s apartment.  In attendance were George De Mohrenschildt, a Russian émigré and well known in the White Russian community in Dallas.  In an odd paring, De Mohrenschildt befriended the young couple and was impressed with Oswald’s ability to speak Russian and read Russian literature.  Eventually Marina would come to stay with Ruth and her two children after Ruth succeeded in helping Lee find a job in the TSBD.

The hints of intelligence were all around Michael and Ruth Paine.  Jim Garrison uncovered in his investigation of the couple that there were numerous files on them and family members that were classified, such as Michael’s sister and other relatives.  Ruth’s father and brother in-law were employed by the Agency for International Development, a known CIA front company.  After the assassination her husband Michael would be employed by them as well.  (Trivia: Barack Obama’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham would be employed by this same outfit in their Indonesian branch. Fellow travelers, all.)  Ruth’s sister is now known to be a former CIA agent.  

Similar to Marguerite Oswald, the Paine’s tax returns are classified as well, from 1956 to 1958.  In an affidavit of the Dallas Police Department, Michael listed his employment as a farmer and Ruth as a farmer’s wife during the 1958-59 period.  What reason is there to classify a farmer and his wife’s tax returns?  Obviously, the Paine’s were doing more than farming in the late 1950’s.  Quite a career leap then, to go from farming to mechanical engineering with Bell Helicopter, a major DOD contractor, upon moving to Texas.  

With evidence we have now, it’s apparent that Ruth Paine is lying under oath in both her Warren Commission testimony and later on during her New Orleans grand jury testimony.  Two of the things she lied about were Marina’s alleged inability to speak English and that Lee could not drive.  For example in page five of the grand jury testimony in New Orleans, she said Lee didn’t want her to learn English which Ruth thought was unjust.  Or maybe Ruth was just out of the loop on Marina’s language skills.  Whatever the case, she was a part of the myth making that started early on.

In her testimony to the Warren Commission, Ruth also backed up the story that Lee couldn’t drive as did her husband, Marina, and brother Robert.  They all testified to this and they all lied.  Ruth said she was supposedly giving Lee lessons in late November of 1963.  In her New Orleans grand jury statements she said Oswald was such a novice that he didn’t know how to turn the stirring wheel to make the wheels straight.  Researcher John Armstrong on his web site lists 29 people that saw Lee Oswald driving a car (32 listed–3 didn’t see him drive but claim to have seen a Texas driver’s license with Lee Oswald’s name on it–LINK).  

There is much more that could be related on Ruth and to a certain extent her husband Michael in regards to actions before and after the assassination but space does not permit.  Such things as a curious phone call between the two naming Lee as the assassin an hour before he was arrested for the crime.  Or Ruth turning over bits of evidence after a thorough FBI search of her home.  And what about that metal box filled with the names of Castro sympathizers that was found in the garage?  What happened to that?  

Now in her later years Ruth Paine has that weary look of someone maintaining a fable for too long.  When asked she defends the Warren Report saying they did a “...really excellent job.”  It must be a heavy burden to bear for an otherwise decent person committed to Quaker pacifist values to maintain a narrative that isn’t real.

The Common Thread 
So what do these women all have in common?  Besides the fact that all four are liars, they are all evidently doing work in some capacity for government agencies, both domestic and in Marina’s case, foreign. They are all hiding something here, something under deep cover,  and it must go beyond the assassination of a President.  If Oswald is being doubled, that could be part of the reason why their behavior and statements regarding Lee Oswald’s life all correlate.  Notice Marina’s statement about her husband being a Lee and a Harvey.   The common defense that people can’t keep secrets so a real conspiracy would air, is not true and certainly not with these women.  Whatever they are party to, they have kept it to themselves.


Lee Oswald driving

Marilyn Murret Warren Commission testimony

The Man Who Knew Too Much, author, Dick Russell
Harvey and Lee, author, John Armstrong
On The Trail of the Assassins, author, Jim Garrison
A Heritage of Stone, author, Jim Garrison