OSWALD, MARINE CORPS INTELLIGENCE
THE ASSAULT ON THE STATE DEPARTMENT -
Peter Dale Scott Fredonia Conference July 1990
“The special handling of Lee Harvey Oswald by the State Department….swiftly aroused…suspicions of FBI, ONI and Marine Intelligence personnel, and Hoover’s allies (notably Ottto Otepka….)…We know this chiefly from Oswald’s ONI records, where we also learn that there were considerable ONI messages on Oswald (alias Harvey Lee Oswald), stored in Maine G-2 (intelligence) files that were never seen by the Warren Commission.”
“The charade of Oswald’s discharge from the Marine Reserve in 1960 was an operation coordinated by Marine G-2 and ONI Counterintelligece…”
Oswald’s Suppressed ONI and Marine G-2 Records
“Lee Harvey Oswald’s defection to the
Union in 1959 was immediately described as an “intelligence
matter’ by the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence” 1. CNOMessage 22257 of 4 Nov 59to ALUSNA Moscow: Oswald ONI-142; reprinted in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, 445, of Newman, 14-15.
“In the ensuring years the military intelligence agencies continued to collect information about him. Since he publication of the Warren Report we have seen the belated release of documents on Oswald from ONI (the Office of Naval Intelligence), from Army G-2 (Intelligence) and even
(Air Force Intelligence), the first of the military agencies to consult
Oswald’s security file in the State Department.”
“Oswald however, did not serve in the Navy, Army or Air Force; like his brother Robert he was a Marine. In October 1959, at the time of this defection, he was no longer on active duty, but had transferred six weeks earlier to the Class
III Ready Marine Corps
Reserve (19 WH 665). We shall see that over three years marine G-2
(Intelligence) both received and disseminated records concerning Oswald,
regionally and at Marine HQ. Nevertheless, despite Marine G-2, all
unclassified, and presumably a tiny fraction of the whole. 2. (These large gaps
in what is available suggests the existence of a second system of classified
“We know further that the Marine G-2 HQ did receive classified intelligenece on Oswald. The
on October 10, 1963, sent
a Secret cable to the Navy, reporting that someone identifying himself as Lee
Oswald had been in contact with the Soviet Embassy in . Like the first Navy cable about Oswald’s
defection, the action copy of this cable was referred to ‘92’ (the Office of
Naval Intelligence). Handwritten on this copy are the words, “Passed to G-2 –
City 10/11/63.” 15
ONI and the Deception of the So-Called ONI “File on Oswald”
“In response to the Warren Commission request of
February 18, 1964, John McNaughton’s
office supplied what it referred to as ‘the complete file of the Office of
Naval Intelligence on Lee Harvey Oswald.” 16 In fact this file was not
complete. More importantly, it was only created on November 22, 1963, from Oswald records which apparently
were stored earlier in two or three files, some of which possibly had a
different subject or subjects.”
“In the Archives version of this ONI file, we find clues to its own creation on
November 22, 1963.
A memo to file of that date by the duty officer in the
refers to both an ‘ONI investigative file’ (possibly from Op921D,
investigations) and a ‘supplemental file,’ (possibly from Op921E,
counterintelligence). Later the duty officer learned ‘of a request being
prepared from General Carroll of ONI
Support Center DIA [the
Defense Intelligence Agency, a McNamara creation] to see the file on Oswald.’
Advised of this request, ONI Chief Admiral Rufus Taylor gave instructions ‘to
prepare a file for him to be passed to General Carroll.” 17
17 Memo to file of
Nov. 1963 from Patrick D. Molinari, Duty Officer NAVCINTSUPPCEN
(ONI-261). Something analogous may have happened at Marine HQ G-2 as well. A
House Committee staff report says that the HSCA “contacted Lt. Col. Bill Brewer
of the Intelligence Division of Marine Corps Headquarters on August 1, 1977. Brewer had been in charge of
compiling the Oswald military file [sic, emphasis added] for the use of the Warren
Commission” (11 AH 542). This report adds ambiguously that according to Brewer,
“his records check had only individual local records within the individual
commands where Oswald had served and did not include records that were
classified secret or top secret” (ibid.). On this and other related matters,
see the excellent analysis by Paul Hoch in Echos of Conspiracy, 10 EOC
The details of this file-preparation suggests conscious deception by ONI on November 22, both of General Carroll (The Kennedy-McNamara appointee as head of
DIA), and subsequently of DOD General Counsel John
McNaughton). It was reviewing the ONI “file on Oswald” that McNaughton
requested three documents, referred to in the file, which he never got to see.
22. ONI-256, Memo of 23? Nov. ’63 from Special Agent C.J> Roach to Captain [Robert P.] Jackson, Jr., Assistant DNI for Security, Op 921]…Some of the post-November 22 alteration of this “file on Oswald” appears to be work of the Archives itself, when the curator of these records was Marion Johnson. This alteration, which even if innocently inspired could be construed as tampering with evidence, should be investigated by the Review Board, and the November 22 file as far as possible.
As we look more closely at this ONI-G-2 collaboration, we shall see that it has the marks of a counterintelligence operation, indeed of an official ‘deception’ (to use an intelligence term of art) with respect to Oswald. There is of course nothing in this fact per se to link either ONI or Marine G-2 to the assassination.
What is more alarming is the refusal by ONI , on November 22, to share their actual records with even Joseph Carroll, the Air Force General and former FBI agent who in 1961 was appointed by Kennedy to be the first head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Particularly alarming is the deceitful withholding at the time of three records which (unlike most of the others) constituted strong clues to the existence of the counterintelligence collaboration.
In suggesting to their superiors that the three withheld records added no information, senior naval officers were deceptive. Admiral Taylor’s decision to have a file prepared, rather than share raw data, is further evidence that the original files with Oswald records contained truths quite different than those eventually given to the public.
…An even more informative source might be Oliver “Buck” Revell, the former Marine officer who after sharing information with the FBI about Oswald rose to be the number three man in the Bureau. Revell has set out his lengthy involvement with the JFK case in his own words:
I have been involved in the Kennedy assassination investigation since its inception. First as a Marine officer, I was assigned to assist the FBI while it was conducting a detailed inquiry into Lee Harvey Oswald’s military background at the Marine Corps Air Facility,
The Review Board should question Mr. Revell about whatever records he and the FBI may have consulted at the
New River facility, a place whee (as far as we have been told) Oswald never
[102 Note: Larry Haapanen has pointed out to me that, on December 11, 1963, the Secret Service reported that Captain Donovan had suggested the Secret Service tal to Sergeant Carnellias [sic] Brown, “presently stationed at New River, North Carolina,” who “should be able to furnish some information on Oswald’s background” [CD 87, p. 5]. This is presumably the Staff Sergeant “Cornelius Brown” whose name Donovan offered as a source to the Warren Commission (8 WH 297-99, 302).
It is certain that none of the Oswald Marine records we now haaaaaaaaaaave were stored there. In 1963 Oswald’s personnel file was stored at the Federal Records Cener, St. Louis; and forwarded to Washington by November 23 (24 WH 427).
The Review Board should also question, and if necessary depose, those in ONI who on November 22 “prepared a file” for
and their civilian overseers in the Pentagon. It is unlikely that whatever case
existed for secrecy about Oswald on the day of the assassination would still
prevail against the standards for release established I 1994 by passage of the
JFK Records Act.
It is important to clarify whether the ONI-Marine concern with Oswald (or alternatively manipulation of him) was part of a growing tension between civilian and militarist tendencies in the Kennedy Administration: a tension so great that it led in November 1963 to the firing of Otto Otepka, after the recuperating, by drilling, of the Oswald records in his safe. 103
APPENDIX I – Chronology of Oswald’s Discharge
APPENDIX II – A – Records Missing from Oswald’s Marine Persoonnel Rile (With Source) B – Records Missing from Oswald’s ONI File (With Source)