THE CONFESSIONS OF RUTH PAINE by Steve Jones
As some readers of the JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly may be aware, Carol Hewett, Barbara Lamonica, and I have been conducting research on Ruth and Michael Paine, arguably two of the most significant yet overlooked individuals in the tapestry of people, places, and events that continue to swirl around the vortex that we know as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I would like to share with the Quarterly's readers some thoughts that Ruth Paine revealed to a close personal friend of hers. This friend subsequently discussed these thoughts with me, but sought from me a promise [being kept] never to reveal her identity in order to protect her privacy.
In the spring of 1997 Jim Douglass, a researcher and Christian peace worker, put me in contact with Ruth's friend in the hope that she might be willing to give me some valuable insights into the life of Ruth Paine, once a central figure in the lives of Lee and Marina Oswald, and, by extension, their children. When I traveled to the friend's home and knocked on her door, she greeted me by saying that we should go somewhere else to talk because she feared that her home might be subject to electronic surveillance. When we did finally sit down to talk, she apologized for seeming paranoid, but quickly gave me reason to believe that her fears were not unfounded. She explained that she had been a Christian peace worker during the turbulent Reagan-Bush years when the United States government was heavily funding the Contras in their efforts to overthrow the populist Sandanista government. Since the peace workers helped the poor and the oppressed natives who generally sided with the Sandanistas, United States intelligence agencies made life very difficult for them.
Ruth's friend explained to me that she had recently returned from her fourth (that is my best recollection of the number...) tour of duty in Nicaragua. Since she had returned to the States, she had been openly followed in the streets by federal law enforcement agents in a manner that was obviously meant to intimidate her. FBI agents had visited her home on several occasions. Her mail had been opened and her phone had been tapped. If anyone doubts that the United States government really does this sort of thing to people who openly oppose the agenda of the national security state, I highly recommend the book Resisting Reagan by Christian Smith. [ed. note: Steve's point is well taken here].
This friend got to know Ruth in 1990 when they were both working for pro-Nica, one of the various peace organizations that was involved in that beleaguered Central American country. She went on to explain to me that when Ruth first showed up at the camp, everyone began to distrust her because of her behavior, which overlapped every characteristic of a CIA infiltrator. Ruth was taking notes off of bulletin boards, asking people many personal questions, and taking photographs for supposed purposes that turned out to be false. In fact, Ruth never went anywhere without a notebook handy, ready to jot down anything and everything she saw or heard. The rest of the group had gotten very good at spotting infiltrators, because the CIA was always sending people down there either to gather information or to act as agent provocateur to disrupt their efforts.
One evening when volunteer Sue Wheaton told the group about Ruth's connection to the Kennedy assassination, the suspicion intensified to the point of paranoia. Based on what the volunteers had seen the CIA do in Nicaragua, none of these people would hesitate to question whether or not it was possible for the agency to assassinate an American president. Because of the volunteers' conviction in that regard, Ruth became ostracized except for one woman who, though she maintained a distrust for Ruth, took a personal liking toward her and began to develop a friendship with her.
The group openly confronted Mrs. Paine with their suspicions, but she would adamantly deny any connection to the CIA (or, one presumes, other 'initial' agencies), and steadfastly stuck to her Warren Commission testimony of being an innocently maligned do-gooder regarding the assassination. When confronted so openly it was common 'agent' behavior to quietly depart, based on the assumption that the 'cover' had been blown. But because of Ruth's persistent denials and the group's unwillingness to kick someone out who had been wrongfully accused, Ruth was asked to take a leave of absence from the group instead of being summarily dismissed.
Her friend was given the assignment of driving her across the border into Costa Rica to a retreat center where peace workers sometimes went for badly needed R & R. When they approached the camp and were getting out of their car, several others came up to greet them and help them with their luggage. As those people approached the car and saw who it was they started screaming, "Oh my God, it's Ruth Paine, she's CIA -- get her away from us!!" Ruth Paine's reputation had somehow preceded her and they were forced to return to the volunteer camp where Ruth bravely, and without complaint, finished out her year before returning to the United States.
Upon returning to America, Ruth and the woman-source of this story continued the friendship that they had begun in the jungles of Nicaragua. The friend explained to me what a strange feeling it is to care about someone, to find someone likable and personable yet to not completely trust them. The friend always had the feeling that Ruth Paine was hiding something, that she was holding something back and that she wasn't being totally honest about her connections to the CIA or her involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald. The two of them could sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and discussing any topic under the sun, except for two: the CIA and the Kennedy assassination.
Yet the friend continued to gently press Ruth, reminding her that confession is good for the soul. At one point, Ruth became irritated about the constant inquiries into the assassination and told her friend, "If you want to know about the Kennedy assassination, I have old issues of Life magazine that I can give you. That will tell you everything you need to know." However, that disclaimer not withstanding, the friend did tell me that over the years there were a few times that Ruth did open up ever so slightly about both the CIA and the assassination. These comments, along with some other general information that the friend shared with me helped to both confirm and to dismiss some of the previous thoughts that we 'Paine researchers' had developed.
One hypothesis that can now be dismissed is that Ruth Paine's long vacation in the summer of 1963 had any sinister or clandestine purpose. In July, 1963, she drove her 1955 Chevy station wagon on a whirlwind tour of the eastern United States, culminating in her picking up Marina Oswald in New Orleans and bringing her and one child (Marina was expecting their second child in October) back to Texas in late September, as Lee was about to embark (unknown to them) on his adventures in Mexico. At the 1995 COPA conference, I gave a presentation in which I hypothesized that Ruth may have been involved in helping to impersonate Oswald on this trip, or even that Lee may have joined her in order to be seen at several demonstrations that Ruth attended during the trip, such as Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech/protest march in Washington in late August, 1963. But her friend informed me that Ruth takes those long cross-country journeys every summer, that she loves to drive, and that on those trips she has been visiting the same people for years, including her ex-husband Michael, whom she divorced in 1971.
What has been corroborated beyond any doubt is that Ruth has immediate family members who were employed by the CIA. Documents have been located at the Archives showing that her sister was a staff psychologist for the CIA as of 1961 and that her father had been approached by the Agency to run an educational co-operative alliance in Vietnam in 1957. Though refusing to admit that she herself ever had anything to do with the CIA, she admitted to her friend that her father had been in their employment. She said that while working as an insurance executive for Nationwide Insurance, and later for the Agency for International Development, her father had often gathered intelligence for the CIA. But she was quick to add that he would never have done so if "he had known what the CIA was really all about." By this she meant that her father was serving in the capacity of a genuine patriotic, anti-Communist fervor and did not really understand how the CIA used such intelligence gathering to undermine local economies and suppress indigenous people so that American corporations could move in and exploit local cheap labor. The fact that Ruth understands this showed that she was quite attuned to the motivations, methods, and purposes of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The one and only time Ruth showed any cracks at all regarding the assassination itself was when she was having difficulties with her now 40-year-old daughter. With tears in her eyes, Ruth stated that her daughter did not want to speak to her any more until she came to grips with "the evil that I have been associated with in my life." When the friend gently pushed further and asked, "What evil?" Ruth clammed up. But the friend assured me that she was convinced this was a veiled reference to the Kennedy assassination and that Ruth was not talking strictly about Lee Oswald. The friend firmly believes this because the comment was made in the context of a brief discussion about the assassination. I learned this after several lengthy visits with the friend and decided that it was time to take things one step further. I asked the friend if she would be willing to act as an intermediary between interested researchers and Ruth Paine, and the friend accepted the challenge.
Ruth was going to be making one of her yearly summer trips and would stop to visit the friend. The arrangement was that I would give her articles that Barbara, Carol, and I had written for PROBE along with some documentation. The friend was to 'confront' Ruth with the information and ask her to explain it. Depending how this went, the friend would consider arranging a meeting between the researchers cited and Mrs. Paine.
Predictably, things fell apart at this point. A week before the scheduled arrival, the friend called me and told me that Ruth had canceled out, calling and saying that she was very busy and would have to cut her trip short and thus wouldn't have time for the visit. The friend noted that this was out of character because Ruth had been especially looking forward to the visit for a reason that cannot be divulged here. I could not help but think that someone had been listening to our phone conversations and that Mrs. Paine had been tipped off.
The friend then began to distance herself from me. Phone messages were not returned and letters went unanswered. After several months, I decided to leave her alone. I determined that for her own reasons, she desired no more contact with me. But I cannot help but surmise that her abrupt dismissal of me, and the work I was seeking to enlarge or corroborate, was out of a genuine sense of fear.
This episode only served to convince me even more that Ruth Paine was, and still is, working in some type of intelligence capacity. It also showed me what a determined, poised, and tough lady she truly is. Though she was under the most intense pressure in Nicaragua and was surrounded by people who distrusted her, she kept her cool. And later, when in the relaxed company of a genuine friend who truly cared about her, Ruth still refused to let down her guard for a brief moment.
If Ruth Pain is an agent, and I still firmly believe she is, she is a damn good one.
Vincent Salandria once told me that the Paines, whether unwitting or not, played a key role in the assassination conspiracy by getting Oswald into the Texas School Book Depository. The conspirators knew that the people they chose for such a vital role had to be rock solid individuals who would never crack.
After my experience with Ruth Paine's friend, I would have to say that Salandria was absolutely right.
BILL KELLY NOTES:
I too have talked to Sue Wheaton about the Nicaragua episodes, and Sue said that Ruth Paine traveled with a man who said he was from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Ruth (and I, and Coretta Scott King and Rod Serling) attended school.
When I was a student at nearby University of Dayton in 1969-71 I took some classes at Antioch, including a history of Vietnam that was taught by a former CIA Saigon Station Chief.
As a graduate student at the Antioch Center for Social Research and Action in Baltimore in 1973-4 my primary professor was active in the Polish union movement, and once brought in a young guy who just returned from the Soviet Union where he traveled around video taping whatever he came across, including the May Day parade of military hardware and leadership. This kid showed us what he had recorded a few days after showing the CIA.
In addition, as I worked closely with Carol Hewett and met Barbara Lamonica and Steve Jones at the COPA conferences in Washington and Dallas, I was aware of their detailed research, that Carol shared with me, as I shared with her what I learned about Michael's mom, Ruth Forbes Paine Young and my recorded interview with her husband Arthur Young, the eccentric inventor of the Bell Helicopter.
While this article is accurate, I thought I would add the Antioch connection, and note the fact that I do take exception to Steve's determination that the summer vacation of 1963 is, as he puts it:is "one hypothesis that can now be dismissed."
"One hypothesis that can now be dismissed is that Ruth Paine's long vacation in the summer of 1963 had any sinister or clandestine purpose. In July, 1963, she drove her 1955 Chevy station wagon on a whirlwind tour of the eastern United States, culminating in her picking up Marina Oswald in New Orleans and bringing her and one child (Marina was expecting their second child in October) back to Texas in late September, as Lee was about to embark (unknown to them) on his adventures in Mexico. At the 1995 COPA conference, I gave a presentation in which I hypothesized that Ruth may have been involved in helping to impersonate Oswald on this trip, or even that Lee may have joined her in order to be seen at several demonstrations that Ruth attended during the trip, such as Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech/protest march in Washington in late August, 1963. But her friend informed me that Ruth takes those long cross-country journeys every summer, that she loves to drive, and that on those trips she has been visiting the same people for years, including her ex-husband Michael, whom she divorced in 1971."
The reason this trip cannot be dismissed just because she took the trip every year because it was the trip that led to her meeting not Michael but Michael's mom Ruth Forbes Paine Young, who was best friends and - traveling companion of Mary Bancroft, Allen Dulles' agent and mistress, and it was on the return leg of this trip that Ruth Paine picked up Marina, the oldest daughter and the rifle and delivered them to Texas while Oswald went to Mexico. That was a significant side trip that she didn't make on any of the other trips.
Steve Jones' article is important however, for bringing out the fact that the eldest daughter is estranged from her mother and would remain so until "she came to grips with the evil" that she was associated with in her life," presumably her role in the assassination drama.