The Government Decides That Truth Doesn't Exist
At noon, on a street in Dallas, the president of the United States is assassinated. He is hardly dead when the official version is broadcast. In that version, which will be the definitive one, Lee Harvey Oswald alone has killed John Kennedy.
The weapon does not coincide with the bullet, nor the bullet with the holes. The accused does not coincide with the accusation: Oswald is an exceptionally bad shot of mediocre physique, but according to the official version, his acts were those of a champion marksman and Olympic sprinter. He has fired an old rifle with impossible speed and his magic bullet, turning and twisting acrobatically to penetrate Kennedy and John Connally, the governor of Texas, remains miraculously intact.
Oswald strenuously denies it. But no one knows, no one will ever know what he has to say. Two days later he collapses before the television cameras, the whole world witness to the spectacle, his mouth shut by Jack Ruby, a two-bit gangster and minor trafficker in women and drugs. Ruby says he has avenged Kennedy out of patriotism and pity for the poor widow.
--Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire: III Century of the Wind. Part Three of a Trilogy, translated by Cedric Belfrage, Pantheon Books, 1988, p. 183
The following is taken from The People's Almanac #2, by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, Bantam Books, 1978, pp. 47-52.
THE LAST WORDS OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD
Compiled by Mae Brussell
Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone in shooting Pres. John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, or did he conspire with others? Was he serving as an agent of Cuba's Fidel Castro, himself the target of American assassins? Or in squeezing the trigger of his carbine was he undertaking some super "dirty trick" for a CIA anxious to rid itself of a president whose faith in the "company" had evaporated in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco? Or was he representing a group of Cuban exiles, the Teamsters Union, the Mafia? Indeed, was it Lee Harvey Oswald at all who killed JFK? Or was there a double impersonating Oswald? These questions continue to nag many people more than a decade and a half after that dreadful day in Dallas, in spite of the 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits served up by the Warren Commission, the congressional investigations, the release of heretofore classified FBI documents.
Almost everyone, it seems, has been heard from on the Kennedy assassination and on Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt or innocence, except one person -- Lee Harvey Oswald himself. From the time of Oswald's arrest to his own assassination at the hands of Jack Ruby, no formal transcript or record was kept of statements made by the alleged killer. It was said that no tape recordings were made of Oswald's remarks, and many notes taken of his statements were destroyed.
Determined to learn Oswald's last words, his only testimony, "The People's Almanac" assigned one of the leading authorities on the Kennedy assassination, Mae Brussell, to compile every known statement or remark made by Oswald between his arrest and death. The quotes, edited for space and clarity, are based on the recollections of a variety of witnesses present at different times and are not verbatim transcripts. "After 14 years of research on the JFK assassination," Mae Brussell concludes, "I am of the opinion that Lee Harvey Oswald was telling the truth about his role in the assassination during these interrogations."
12:30 P.M., CST, NOV. 22, 1963
Pres. John F. Kennedy Assassinated
Lee Harvey Oswald left work, entered a bus, and said, "Transfer, please."
12:40 - 12:45 P.M.
Oswald got off the bus, entered a cab, and said, "May I have this cab?" A woman approached, wanting a cab, and Oswald said, "I will let you have this one. . . . 500 North Beckley Street [instructions to William Whaley, driver of another cab]. . . . This will be fine." Oswald departed cab and walked a few blocks.
1:15 P.M. Officer J. D. Tippit Murdered
1:45 P.M. Arrest at the Texas Theater
"This is it" or "Well, it's all over now." Oswald arrested. (Patrolman M. N. McDonald heard these remarks. Other officers who were at the scene did not hear them.) "I don't know why you are treating me like this. The only thing I have done is carry a pistol into a movie. . . . I don't see why you handcuffed me. . . . Why should I hide my face? I haven't done anything to be ashamed of. . . . I want a lawyer. . . . I am not resisting arrest. . . . I didn't kill anybody. . . . I haven't shot anybody. . . . I protest this police brutality. . . . I fought back there, but I know I wasn't supposed to be carrying a gun. . . . What is this all about?"
2:00 - 2:15 P.M. Drive to Police Dept.
"What is this all about? . . . I know my rights. . . . A police officer has been killed? . . . I hear they burn for murder. Well, they say it just takes a second to die. . . . All I did was carry a gun. . . . No, Hidell is not my real name. . . . I have been in the Marine Corps, have a dishonorable discharge, and went to Russia. . . . I had some trouble with police in New Orleans for passing out pro-Castro literature. . . . Why are you treating me this way? . . . I am not being handled right. . . . I demand my rights."
2:15 P.M. Taken into Police Dept.
2:15 - 2:20 P.M.
"Talked to" by officers Guy F. Rose and Richard S. Stovall. No notes.
2:25 - 4:04 P.M. Interrogation of Oswald, Office of Capt Will Fritz
NBC newsman Bill Ryan announced on national television that
4:45 P.M. At a Lineup for Helen Markham, Witness to Tippit Murder
"It isn't right to put me in line with these teenagers. . . . You know what you are doing, and you are trying to railroad me. . . . I want my lawyer. . . . You are doing me an injustice by putting me out there dressed different than these other men. . . . I am out there, the only one with a bruise on his head. . . . I don t believe the lineup is fair, and I desire to put on a jacket similar to those worn by some of the other individuals in the lineup. . . . All of you have a shirt on, and I have a T-shirt on. I want a shirt or something. . . . This T-shirt is unfair."
4:45 - 6:30 P.M. Second Interrogation of Oswald, Captain Fritz's Office
"When I left the Texas School Book Depository, I went to my room, where I changed my trousers, got a pistol, and went to a picture show. . . . You know how boys do when they have a gun, they carry it. . . . Yes, I had written the Russian Embassy. (On Nov. 9, 1963, Oswald had written to the Russian Embassy that FBI agent James Hosty was making some kind of deals with Marina, and he didn't trust "the notorious FBI.") . . . Mr. Hosty, you have been accosting my wife. You mistreated her on two different occasions when you talked with her. . . . I know you. Well, he threatened her. He practically told her she would have to go back to Russia. You know, I can't use a phone. . . . I want that attorney in New York, Mr. Abt. I don't know him personally but I know about a case that he handled some years ago, where he represented the people who had violated the Smith Act, [which made it illegal to teach or advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government] . . . I don't know him personally, but that is the attorney I want. . . . If I can't get him, then I may get the American Civil Liberties Union to send me an attorney." "I went to school in New York and in Fort Worth, Tex. . . . After getting into the Marines, I finished my high school education. . . . I support the Castro revolution. . . . My landlady didn't understand my name correctly, so it was her idea to call me 0. H. Lee. . . . I want to talk with Mr. Abt, a New York attorney. . . . The only package I brought to work was my lunch. . . . I never had a card to the Communist party. . . . I am a Marxist, but not a Leninist-Marxist. . . . I bought a pistol in Fort Worth several months ago. . . . I refuse to tell you where the pistol was purchased. . . . I never ordered any guns. . . . I am not malcontent. Nothing irritated me about the President." When Capt. Will Fritz asked Oswald, "Do you believe in a deity?" Oswald replied, "I don't care to discuss that." "How can I afford a rifle on the Book Depository salary of $1.25 an hour? . . . John Kennedy had a nice family. . . ." (Sheriff Roger Craig saw Oswald enter a white station wagon 15 minutes after the assassination. Oswald confirmed this in Captain Fritz's office. A man impersonating Oswald in Dallas just prior to the assassination could have been on the bus and in the taxicab.) "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Ruth Paine. Don't try to tie her into this. She had nothing to do with it. I told you people I did. . . . Everybody will know who I am now." "Can I get an attorney?. . . I have not been given the opportunity to have counsel. . . . As I said, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee has definitely been investigated, that is very true. . . . The results of that investigation were zero. The Fair Play for Cuba Committee is not now on the attorney general's subversive list."
6:30 P.M. Lineup for Witnesses Cecil J. McWatters, Sam Guinyard, and Ted Callaway
"I didn't shoot anyone," Oswald yelled in the halls to reporters. . . . "I want to get in touch with a lawyer, Mr. Abt, in New York City. . . . I never killed anybody."
7:10 P.M. Arraignment: State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald for Murder with Malice of Officer J. D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Dept.
7:50 P.M. Lineup for Witness J. D. Davis
7:55 P.M. Third Interrogation, Captain Fritz's Office
"I think I have talked long enough. I don't have anything else to say. . . . What started out to be a short interrogation turned out to be rather lengthy. . . . I don't care to talk anymore. . . . I am waiting for someone to come forward to give me legal assistance. . . . It wasn't actually true as to how I got home. I took a bus, but due to a traffic jam, I left the bus and got a taxicab, by which means I actually arrived at my residence."
8:55 P.M. Fingerprints, Identification Paraffin Tests -- All in Fritz's Office
11:00 - 11:20 P.M. "Talked To" by Police Officer John Adamcik and FBI Agent M. Clements
(Oswald had mastoidectomy scars and left upper-arm scars, both noted in Marine records. "Warren Report," pp. 614-618, lists information from Oswald obtained during this interview about members of his family, past employment, past residences.)
11:20 - 11:25 P.M. Lineup for Press Conference; Jack Ruby Present
When newsmen asked Oswald about his black eye, he answered, "A cop hit me." When asked about the earlier arraignment, Oswald said "Well, I was questioned by Judge Johnston. However, I protested at that time that I was not allowed legal representation during that very short and sweet hearing. I really don't know what the situation is about. Nobody has told me anything except that I am accused of murdering a policeman. I know nothing more than that, and I do request someone to come forward to give me legal assistance." When asked, "Did you kill the President?" Oswald replied, "No. I have not been charged with that. In fact, nobody has said that to me yet. The first thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall asked me that question. . . . I did not do it. I did not do it. . . . I did not shoot anyone."
12:23 A.M., NOV. 23, 1963 Placed in Jail Cell
12:35 A.M. Released by Jailer
Oswald complained, "This is the third set of fingerprints, photographs being taken."
1:10 A.M. Back in Jail Cell
1:35 A.M. Arraignment: State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald for the Murder with Malice of John F. Kennedy
10:30 A.M.-1:10 P.M. Interrogation, Capt. Will Fritz's Office
"I said I wanted to contact Attorney Abt, New York. He defended the Smith Act cases in 1949, 1950, but I don't know his address, except that it is in New York. . . . I never owned a rifle. . . . Michael Paine owned a car, Ruth Paine owned two cars. . . . Robert Oswald, my brother, lives in Fort Worth. He and the Paines were closest friends in town. . . . The FBI has thoroughly interrogated me at various other times. . . . They have used their hard and soft approach to me, and they use the buddy system. . . . I am familiar with all types of questioning and have no intention of making any statements. . . . In the past three weeks the FBI has talked to my wife. They were abusive and impolite. They frightened my wife, and I consider their activities obnoxious." (When arrested, Oswald had FBI Agent James Hosty's home phone and office phone numbers and car license number in his possession.) "I was arrested in New Orleans for disturbing the peace and paid a $10 fine for demonstrating for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. I had a fight with some anti-Castro refugees and they were released while I was fined. . . . I refuse to take a polygraph. It has always been my practice not to agree to take a polygraph . . . The FBI has overstepped their bounds in using various tactics in interviewing me. . . . I didn't shoot John Kennedy. . . . I didn't even know Gov. John Connally had been shot. . . . I don't own a rifle. . . . I didn't tell Buell Wesley Frazier anything about bringing back some curtain rods. . . . My wife lives with Mrs. Ruth Paine. She [Mrs. Paine] was learning Russian. They needed help with the young baby, so it made a nice arrangement for both of them. . . . I don't know Mrs. Paine very well, but Mr. Paine and his wife were separated a great deal of the time."
(Michael Paine worked at Bell Aerospace as a scientific engineer. His boss, Walter Dornberger, was a Nazi war criminal. The first call, the "tipoff," on Oswald, came from Bell Aerospace.) "The garage at the Paines' house has some seabags that have a lot of my personal belongings. I left them after coming back from New Orleans in September. . . . The name Alek Hidell was picked up while working in New Orleans in the Fair Play for Cuba organization. . . . I speak Russian, correspond with people in Russia, and receive newspapers from Russia. . . . I don't own a rifle at all. . . . I did have a small rifle some years in the past. You can't buy a rifle in Russia, you can only buy shotguns. I had a shotgun in Russia and hunted some while there. I didn't bring the rifle from New Orleans. . . . I am not a member of the Communist party. . . . I belong to the Civil Liberties Union. . . . I did carry a package to the Texas School Book Depository. I carried my lunch, a sandwich and fruit, which I made at Paine's house. . . . I had nothing personal against John Kennedy."
1:10 - 1:30 P.M. Lee Harvey Oswald Visited by Mother, Marguerite Oswald, and Wife, Marina Oswald
(To his Mother.)
2:15 P.M. Lineup for Witnesses William W. Scoggins and William Whaley
3:30 - 3:40 P.M. Robert Oswald, Brother, in Ten-Minute Visit
"I cannot or would not say anything, because the line is apparently tapped. [They were talking through telephones.] . . . I got these bruises in the theater. They haven't bothered me since. They are treating me all right. . . . What do you think of the baby? Well, it was a girl, and I wanted a boy, but you know how that goes. . . . I don't know what is going on. I just don't know what they are talking about. . . . Don't believe all the so-called evidence." When Robert Oswald looked into Lee's eyes for some clue, Lee said to him, "Brother, you won't find anything there. . . . My friends will take care of Marina and the two children." When Robert Oswald stated that he didn't believe the Paines were friends of Lee's, he answered back, "Yes, they are. . . . Junie needs a new pair of shoes."
(Robert Oswald told the Warren Commission, "To me his answers were mechanical, and I was not talking to the Lee I knew.")
3:40 P.M. Lee Harvey Oswald Calls Mrs. Ruth Paine
5:30 - 5:35 P.M. Visit with H. Louis Nichols, President of the Dallas Bar Association
"Well, I really don't know what this is all about, that I have been kept incarcerated and kept incommunicado. . . . Do you know a lawyer in New York named John Abt? I believe in New York City. I would like to have him represent me. That is the man I would like. Do you know any lawyers who are members of the American Civil Liberties Union? I am a member of that organization, and I would like to have somebody who is a member of that organization represent me." Mr. Nichols offered to help find a lawyer, but Oswald said, "No, not now. You might come back next week, and if I don't get some of these other people to assist me, I might ask you to get somebody to represent me."
6:00 - 6:30 P.M. Interrogation, Captain Fritz's Office
"In time I will be able to show you that this is not my picture, but I don't want to answer any more questions. . . . I will not discuss this photograph [which was used on the cover of Feb. 21, 1964 Lifemagazine] without advice of an attorney. . . . There was another rifle in the building. I have seen it. Warren Caster had two rifles, a 30.06 Mauser and a .22 for his son. . . . That picture is not mine, but the face is mine. The picture has been made by superimposing my face. The other part of the picture is not me at all, and I have never seen this picture before. I understand photography real well, and that, in time, I will be able to show you that is not my picture and that it has been made by someone else. . . . It was entirely possible that the Police Dept. has superimposed this part of the photograph over the body of someone else. . . . The Dallas Police were the culprits. . . . The small picture was reduced from the larger one, made by some persons unknown to me. . . . Since I have been photographed at City Hall, with people taking my picture while being transferred from the office to the jail door, someone has been able to get a picture of my face, and with that, they have made this picture. . . . I never kept a rifle at Mrs. Paine's garage at Irving, Tex. . . . We had no visitors at our apartment on North Beckley. . . . I have no receipts for purchase of any gun, and I have never ordered any guns. I do not own a rifle, never possessed a rifle. . . . I will not say who wrote A. J. Hidell on my Selective Service card. [It was later confirmed that Marina Oswald wrote in the name Hidell.] . . . I will not tell you the purpose of carrying the card or the use I made of it. . . . The address book in my possession has the names of Russian immigrants in Dallas, Tex., whom I have visited."
9:30 P.M. Lee Harvey Oswald Calls His Wife, Marina, at Mrs. Paine's Home
"Marina, please. Would you try to locate her?" (Marina had moved.)
10:00 P.M. Office of Captain Fritz
"Life is better for the colored people in Russia than it is in the U.S."
9:30 - 11:15 A.M., SUNDAY MORNING, NOV. 24,1963 Interrogation in Capt. Will Fritz's Office
"After the assassination, a policeman or some man came rushing into the School Book Depository Building and said, `Where is your telephone?' He showed me some kind of credential and identified himself, so he might not have been a police officer. . . . `Right there,' I answered, pointing to the phone. . . . `Yes, I can eat lunch with you,' I told my co-worker, `but I can't go right now. You go and take the elevator, but send the elevator back up.' [The elevator in the building was broken.] . . . After all this commotion started, I just went downstairs and started to see what it was all about. A police officer and my superintendent of the place stepped up and told officers that I am one of the employees in the building. . . . If you ask me about the shooting of Tippit, I don't know what you are talking about. . . . The only thing I am here for is because I popped a policeman in the nose in the theater on Jefferson Avenue, which I readily admit I did, because I was protecting myself. . . . I learned about the job vacancy at the Texas School Book Depository from people in Mrs. Paine's neighborhood. . . . I visited my wife Thursday night, Nov. 21, whereas I normally visited her over the weekend, because Mrs. Paine was giving a party for the children on the weekend. They were having a houseful of neighborhood children. I didn't want to be around at such a time. . . . Therefore, my weekly visit was on Thursday night instead of on the weekend. . . . It didn't cost much to go to Mexico. It cost me some $26, a small, ridiculous amount to eat, and another ridiculous small amount to stay all night. . . . I went to the Mexican Embassy to try to get this permission to go to Russia by way of Cuba. . . . I went to the Mexican Consulate in Mexico City. I went to the Russian Embassy to go to Russia by way of Cuba. They told me to come back in `thirty days.' . . . I don't recall the shape, it may have been a small sack, or a large sack; you don't always find one that just fits your sandwiches. . . . The sack was in the car, beside me, on my lap, as it always is. . . . I didn't get it crushed. It was not on the back seat. Mr. Frazier must have been mistaken or else thinking about the other time when he picked me up. . . . The Fair Play for Cuba Committee was a loosely organized thing and we had no officers. Probably you can call me the secretary of it because I did collect money. [Oswald was the only member in New Orleans.] . . . In New York City they have a well-organized, or a better, organization. . . . No, not at all: I didn't intend to organize here in Dallas; I was too busy trying to get a job. . . . If anyone else was entitled to get mail in P.O. Box 6525 at the Terminal Annex in New Orleans, the answer is no. . . . The rental application said Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union. Maybe I put them on there. . . . It is possible that on rare occasions I may have handed one of the keys to my wife to get my mail, but certainly nobody else. . . . I never ordered a rifle under the name of Hidell, Oswald, or any other name. . . . I never permitted anyone else to order a rifle to be received in this box. . . . I never ordered any rifle by mail order or bought any money order for the purpose of paying for such a rifle. . . . I didn't own any rifle. I have not practiced or shot with a rifle. . . . I subscribe to two publications from Russia, one being a hometown paper published in Minsk, where I met and married my wife. . . . We moved around so much that it was more practical to simply rent post office boxes and have mail forwarded from one box to the next rather than going through the process of furnishing changes of address to the publishers. . . . Marina Oswald and A. J. Hidell were listed under the caption of persons entitled to receive mail through my box in New Orleans. . . . I don't recall anything about the A. J. Hidell being on the post office card. . . . I presume you have reference to a map I had in my room with some X's on it. I have no automobile. I have no means of conveyance. I have to walk from where I am going most of the time. I had my applications with the Texas Employment Commission. They furnished me names and addresses of places that had openings like I might fill, and neighborhood people had furnished me information on jobs I might get. . . . I was seeking a job, and I would put these markings on this map so I could plan my itinerary around with less walking. Each one of these X's represented a place where I went and interviewed for a job. . . . You can check each one of them out if you want to. . . . The X on the intersection of Elm and Houston is the location of the Texas School Book Depository. I did go there and interview for a job. In fact, I got the job there. That is all the map amounts to. [Ruth Paine later stated she had marked Lee's map.] . . . What religion am I? I have no faith, I suppose you mean, in the Bible. I have read the Bible. It is fair reading, but not very interesting. As a matter of fact, I am a student of philosophy and I don't consider the Bible as even a reasonable or intelligent philosophy. I don't think of it. . . . I told you I haven't shot a rifle since the Marines, possibly a small bore, maybe a .22, but not anything larger since I have left the Marine Corps. . . . I never received a package sent to me through the mailbox in Dallas, Box No. 2915, under the name of Alek Hidell, absolutely not. . . . Maybe my wife, but I couldn't say for sure whether my wife ever got this mail, but it is possible she could have." Oswald was told that an attorney offered to assist him, and he answered, "I don't particularly want him, but I will take him if I can't do any better, and will contact him at a later date. . . . I have been a student of Marxism since the age of 14. . . . American people will soon forget the President was shot, but I didn't shoot him. . . . Since the President was killed, someone else would take his place, perhaps Vice-President Johnson. His views about Cuba would probably be largely the same as those of President Kennedy. . . . I never lived on Neely Street. These people are mistaken about visiting there, because I never lived there. . . . It might not be proper to answer further questions, because what I say might be construed in a different light than what I actually meant it to be. . . . When the head of any government dies, or is killed, there is always a second in command who would take over. . . . I did not kill President Kennedy or Officer Tippit. If you want me to cop out to hitting or pleading guilty to hitting a cop in the mouth when I was arrested, yeah, I plead guilty to that. But I do deny shooting both the President and Tippit."
11:10 A.M. Preparation for Oswald's Transfer to County Jail
11:15 A.M. Inspector Thomas J. Kelley, U.S. Secret Service, Has Final Conversation with Lee Harvey Oswald
Kelley approached Oswald, out of the hearing of others, except perhaps Captain Fritz's men, and said that as a Secret Service agent, he was anxious to talk with him as soon as he secured counsel, because Oswald was charged with the assassination of the President but had denied it. Oswald said,
11:21 A.M. Lee Harvey Oswald Was Fatally Wounded by Jack Ruby