Yet Another Angle for Mother
In my book, The Other Oswald, A Wilderness of Mirrors, I attempted to make sense of the similarities of the defections to the Soviet Union of Lee Harvey Oswald and Robert E. Webster. I also attempted to reveal the involvement of James Angleton and James Rand in their actions. The suspicious behavior of Oswald's wife Marina and the mysterious connections of his cousin, Marilyn Murret were investigated as well. It soon became obvious that all of these players were being manipulated by U.S. and Soviet Intelligence in a game of cold war espionage.
I found links between ONI's false defector program and Angleton's mole hunt in Oswald's case. Webster appeared to be handled by James Rand, ATIC (LONGSTRIDE), as well as the CIA and Angleton. Hints of CIA involvement in Murret's travels were abundant. As for Marina Prusakova Oswald, I suspected that she was part of a KGB project to send Soviet women home with U.S. defectors.
Marilyn Dorothea Murret
Oswald's cousin, Marilyn Murret, led a bizarre lifestyle as a free-lance teacher who traveled the world. A 1964 syndicated article, called the Allen-Scott Report, that dealt with defectors to the Soviet block, listed Murret and Webster among the ten “Most Wanted”. Even though Webster had already repatriated and Murret was never a defector at all. She was a tourist.
In an interview with the FBI, Scott said he had information that there was a “tie-up” between her and Lee Harvey Oswald. A logical assumption since she was his cousin. Scott continued that he also had information that indicated Murret was linked with the "Communist apparatus" of Professor Harold Isaacs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Harold Isaacs, a former Communist spy, later become a paid agent of the Japanese. An ex-editor of Newsweek, who worked in the United States at MIT in 1953, he also maintained a network in Japan and possibly throughout the world specializing in youth movements. Since 1950, he had also been involved in classified projects for the CIA. Isaacs wrote articles for The Militant, the organ of the Socialist Worker Party, which certainly made him known to a subscriber named Lee H. Oswald.
I suspected that since Oswald had been involved with a group of Japanese Communists in Japan while stationed at Atsugi, that it was possible this was the Isaacs apparatus and that Murret may have encouraged this contact. Both may in fact, been infiltrating this group.
In 1975, William Gaudet, the same CIA agent who was in front of Oswald in line to get a Mexican Visa in October 1963, told Attorney Bernard Fensterwald that Marilyn Dorothea Murret may have worked for the CIA in New Orleans. He should know since he did. Evidence that Murret was a CIA agent comes from a classified Warren Commission document (1080) that was released accidentally through a misfiling error.
I wondered if the CIA had a project involving “tourists” visiting Russia. This would go a long way toward explaining the travels of Marilyn Dorothea Murret.....It turns out they did have such a project.
Oceans, Redwoods and Redskins
Enter Thomas B. Casasin. Casasin became Chief of the Soviet Russia, SR6 Branch in 1960. Casasin told the HSCA in an interview conducted on August 17, 1978, that “the function of Section 6 was operations in support of the Soviet Russia Division of the CIA,” including “classical espionage work.” As we shall see, Casasin was closely linked with William Crowley, who in turn, was joined at the hip with James Angleton. Casasin also played a roll in the debriefing of Webster, and if Joan Mellen is right, Oswald's as well. Furthermore it was he who was investigating links between Soviet women marrying foreigners and the KGB. So it seems Casasin played a role in the lives of each of the subjects of this article; Webster, Oswald, Marina. But what about Marilyn Murret?
In the early 60s, "Thomas B. Casasin (chief of SR/6) identified the REDSKIN cryptonym as the legal travelers program. It involved using persons to give information about the Soviet Union who had a 'very legitimate' presence in the Soviet Union, such as scientists, etc."
Richard Bissell, in a memo dated 9/2/59, described a program called REDSKIN as follows: "Operations directed against the USSR proper, whether our own or liaison assets are involved, requiring the specialized knowledge and accumulated experience of the SR Division...(this includes) CI operations designed to place or recruit sources inside the USSR, legal travel operations into the USSR using nationals of third countries or US citizens, and operations based on the use of Soviets traveling legally from the USSR into the Free World. The various types of legal travel operations into and out of the USSR are considered to constitute an integrated program (REDSKIN)." Was Murret one of these people? What about Oswald?
According to Joan Mellen, “Casasin also refers in his 25 November 1963 memo to a program called AEOCEAN 3, then run out of SR10, and referring to Oswald in particular: this was the legal travelers program, i. e. the intelligence use of legal travelers to the Soviet Union. It seems apparent that Casasin, a pseudonym, was not in the loop, and is struggling to make sense of Oswald and his defection.”
Casasin, like Otto Otepka, was unaware Oswald was a dangle, and actually considered recommending him for “REDWOOD”. A project involving Legal Travelers to the Soviet Union. REDWOOD was part of Operation AE-OCEAN. REDWOOD also featured an Assassination program.
Casasin, recalled that he thought Oswald's behavior struck him as “odd” and "unusual" after reading a dispatch on him following Oswald's return to the United States from the the Soviet Union. He told his subordinates something along the lines of, "Don't push too hard to get the information we need, because this individual looks odd." Casasin therefore decided not to use him in operations in the REDWOOD target area. REDWOOD was an action indicator for the SE Division. Of particular interested was what information Oswald could provide on the Minsk factory where he had been employed.
As with Otto Otepka, Casasin was not privy to Angleton's vest pocket operations. The Oswald project was one of these.
REDWOOD/REDSKINAERODYNAMIC/OPERATIONAL - was a CIA source program based in legal travelers to the Iron Curtain countries.
REDWOOD was an action indicator for the SE Division. (SED was a CIA geographic designation for the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc countries of Eastern Europe). It seems now a case of one hand not knowing what the other was doing, a not infrequent CIA situation
AEOCEAN - Run out of SR10, and referring to Oswald in particular: this was the legal travelers program, i. e. the intelligence use of legal travelers to the Soviet Union. As stated, it seems apparent that Casasin, was not in the loop, and had a hard time making sense of Oswald and his defection. The definition provided to the HSCA staffers by the CIA was; “people traveling legally or planning travel to the USSR.”
REDSKIN -Operations directed against the USSR proper, whether our own or liaison assets are involved, requiring the specialized knowledge and accumulated experience of the SR Division...(this includes) CI operations designed to place or recruit sources inside the USSR, legal travel operations into the USSR using nationals of third countries or US citizens, and operations based on the use of Soviets traveling legally from the USSR into the Free World. The various types of legal travel operations into and out of the USSR are considered to constitute an integrated program. (Note: There were 30-35 REDSKIN trainees at an SR safe house in New York).
AEOCEAN-3 was the agent used by CIA Officer Jacques Richardson aka Thomas B. Casasin for the CIA's Legal Travelers Program inside the Soviet Union. A CIA document identifies him as Philip R. Neilson. His was the first notable case of a defector immigrating with Soviet women and these women possibly being sleeper agents. This agent, similar to Lee Harvey Oswald, was able to marry a Russian woman named Tamara Kungarova and later immigrate to France with her. Another document states "On his second trip to the USSR in January 1959, Philip Robert Neilson, REDSKIN agent, was given an INTOURIST interpreter/guide Tamara Stepanova Kungrova. A romance developed between them and Neilson became determined to marry her, which he finally did in the spring of 1962."
In a memo (11/25/63) from Casasin to Walter P. Haltigan during the time Oswald was in the USSR, Casasin said that he was “"increasingly interested in watching a pattern that we had discovered in the course of our bio and research work in (SR) 6: the number of Soviet women marrying foreigners, being permitted to leave the USSR, then eventually divorcing their spouses and settling down abroad without returning "home". Although the OCEAN 3 case was among the first of these, something like two dozen similar cases eventually turned up. SR6 established links among some of these women and the KGB. KUDESK became interested in the developing trend SR6 had come across. Casasin closed his addendum to the memo with this line, indicating that was not aware of Angleton’s program: “It was partly out of curiosity to learn if Oswald’s wife would actually accompany him to our country, partly out of interest in Oswald’s own experiences in the USSR, that we showed operational intelligence interest in the Harvey story.”
Another document I found recounts a former "Redskinner" for the Agency's Soviet Russia Division named Warren Harshman who was a bus tour guide using a route from Helsinki to Warsaw and back. He made five visits to Minsk, Russia and stayed at the Hotel Minsk. He was later debriefed and used the cryptonym AEHOLLY 152 or 52 according to the file.
Days before 11/22/63 the FBI investigated another REDSKIN traveler and informant.
A note dated 4/28/58 requesting an Investigation and Approval from “sources”: asks the CI/Operational Approval and Support Division to OK the use of Priscilla Johnson "legal traveler" as a "REDSKIN traveler and informant". It is interesting that her CIA application was ultimately disapproved for security reasons. An 11/29/63 memo from SAC, Boston, to Director, re: Approximately 30 year old female American tourist of interest to KGB for possible recruitment: The Washington field office had been doing a background check on Priscilla Johnson between late October 1963 and November 1963 in the days before 11/22/63. Looking at her relationship with Harvard University. Could this have been related to Oswald's Mexico City trip and the subsequent investigation of him by the FBI?
I suspect Marilyn Murret was a REDSKINNER as well.
Debriefings; Oswald & Webster
Whereas there is no official evidence of a debriefing of Oswald, Webster was debriefed in Ohio by CIA and Air Force officials. This was reported by Cleveland Resident Agent, Eugene Rittenburg. He revealed that two unidentified agents “..talked alone with Webster in the INS offices for about one hour. During this time, no attempt was made to secure and FPI, rather it was a general 'get acquainted' type session. Webster was very well-dressed but extremely nervous. His nervousness was not caused by our presence, as Mr. O'Brien had previously told us that he was having difficulty getting Webster's fingerprints as he was perspiring so profusely – even through his fingertips.”
A short time after his return he was first questioned at his home in Zelienople, PA by agents of the FBI. Webster was transferred to CIA Headquarters and was debriefed there for two weeks. He told the FBI that he was never questioned by the KGB: "The only time I was questioned concerning American defense matters occurred when some Moscow engineers asked me what government work was handled in the Rand Development Corporation. I denied any knowledge of this, because I had none." Webster informed the HSCA that the KGB never contacted him, that there was no reason for them to do so as the government officials who aided him in his defection had his entire story. He said he had never been questioned relative to intelligence matters. He signed this Secrecy Agreement. Strangely, the word Secrecy is crossed out in the document.
As for Oswald, a program in the PBS documentary series, FRONTLINE, entitled “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”, revealed a document detailing how a man, a defector, (his name was not mentioned), but who had been working at a radio factory in Minsk, had,upon his return to the United States, been debriefed by one “Andy Anderson,” a CIA employee with an 00 designation. Richard Helms was confronted with this document on the show and, the great actor that he is, pretended to know nothing about it. Joan Mellen has done extensive research on the “Anderson” moniker. Mellen believes “Anderson” was a pseudonym used by a woman named Eleanor Reed, a deputy chief of the Section 6 Soviet Russia research branch who was near the age of retirement.
Mellen states that the “Anderson” who debriefed Oswald was, strictly speaking not working directly for Robert T. Crowley, who headed up the CIA Contact Division, Support Branch, the primary function of which was Counter Intelligence. But she may have acted on his behalf in the debriefing. Mellen found that Oswald's debriefing was ordered by E.M. Ashcraft, Chief of the Contact Division. He and Robert Crowley, OSB/CI, Operational Support Branch, Counter Intelligence, were on the same level. Eleanor Reed’s overall boss would have been David Murphy, Chief of the Soviet Russia Division. Robert Crowley may have just about left 00/OSB (Operational Support Branch) where he was replaced by George S. Musulin by the time Oswald returned from the Soviet Union in June of 1962.
Mellen concluded that; “Further corroboration that the CIA Soviet Russia Division, Soviet Realities, SR6, in the person of Eleanor Reed, debriefed false defectors is contained in a document that I have just discovered that that CIA released “as sanitized” in 1998. The document resides in Robert Webster’s file, is dated 17 August 1962, and is telling for several reasons; the cases of Oswald and Webster are so similar that we can await, with reasonable expectation, that a parallel document of Oswald’s debriefing by Reed (with, perhaps, her frequent debriefing partner, Rudy (“Valentino”) Balaban, may well surface. This document demonstrates beyond doubt that Reed (“Anderson”) was an SR6 debriefer.”
These memos show that Thomas B.Casasin was looking for links between Soviet women marrying foreigners and the KGB. It is clear that he was instructed by CIA not to reveal to HSCA information about a tourist guide he ran in the Soviet Union under a program called REDSKIN, and who, like Oswald, married a Soviet woman. The involvement of Casasin and Crowley in all this and the interest of KUDESK (Counter Intelligence) operations leads to James Angleton. Casasin (Richardson) was not only involved in the debriefing of Webster and likely Oswald, he was also behind the investigation of Soviet women being sent home with defectors as sleeper agents. In addition he played a major role in the OCEAN/REDWOOD/REDSKIN projects. Thus he is tied to all the key players in Angleton's Oswald Project (Oswald, Webster, Marina, Murret). Casasin was closely linked to Crowley and Crowley to Angleton. Cut-outs like Crowley and Casasin insulated the Angler and kept him in the background where he could spin his webs unnoticed.
In addition to Casasin (Richardson),Crowley, Murphy, Balaband and Eleanor Reed (Anderson), another interesting name surfaces in the debriefing of Robert Webster. Ned Bennett not only was present but was allowed to interview Webster separately. Bennett is yet another link to Angleton. As a CA (Covert Action) officer he worked in close conjunction with CI (Angleton's Counter-intelligence)/R&A (Research and Analysis). It was Bennett who's memo to media assets coined the term “Conspiracy Theorists.” Lamar Waldron says that, “Bennett was chosen because he had written an important article for the London Spectator, entitled “the theories of Mr. Epstein, that trashed the book 'Inquest' by Edward Epstein.” In a subsequent memo, Bennett attached the article as an example of the type of piece that could be written to attack critics.
It seems clear to me that Angleton was using Oswald as a vest-pocket agent in his own off the books operations. He was not only part of a mole hunt, he was also being used to obtain information. A co-worker at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, Dennis Ofsteen, revealed that Oswald had shown him photo's of military installations in Minsk. He also passed on information about the radio factory he worked at in Minsk involving radar applications.
New Orleans police lieutenant, Francis Martello's son, gave Joan Mellen a copy of the note Oswald handed his father to give to the FBI in the summer of 63. In it Oswald used the term “AMEP”, which refers to American Express. Mellen deduced that Oswald was communicating with the CIA while in Russia through a CIA asset at American Express named Michael Jelisavcic who ran The AE office in Moscow. The note also included the word “pouch”. An FBI document dated 12/17/68 to the Director from SAC, New York, was placed in Oswald's 105 file. It indicated a relationship between Oswald and Jelisavcic. The document relates to the Bureau’s attempting to, quote, “resolve all facts concerning possible compromise of Jelisavcic by Soviet intelligence during his employment within the USSR.” The Bureau knew that Oswald possessed Jelisavcic’s name and room number, and were doing the usual damage control. Mellen wonders if “American Express was the conduit for funding, for Oswald’s orders, or simply provided the “pouch” for intelligence information from Oswald going back to Headquarters.”
CIA agent Donald Deneselya told Mellen he witnessed a document describing a CIA debriefing of Oswald alone places Oswald as a participant in U.S. intelligence. She further disclosed that at a meeting of the National Board of the Communist Party, USA, held on December 4, 1963, the party’s National Secretary,” Benjamin J. Davis, rejecting the idea that Oswald was one of their own, commented, “Oswald was with the Central Intelligence Agency.” (This comes from a 12/11/63 FBI confidential document). Among the details Deneselya added was that some time after he witnessed the Oswald debriefing document, he asked James Angleton where he might find a copy so that he could peruse it again. Angleton's response was “You’ll never find that document.”