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THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 5: The Double Dangle)

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After the downing of the U-2, Oswald's usefulness as a dangle was ended. His casefile could still be used to hunt for leaks to the Soviets.

On May 1, 1960, the U-2 went down. As discussed in Part 4, whatever role Lee Harvey Oswald had played as a "dangle" to entice the Soviets to watch him closely or speak with him about his knowledge of the U-2 was now completed. However, James Angleton, intelligence analyst Ann Egerter, and other officers in the counterintelligence division of the CIA continued to use the Oswald casefile as a tool to look for leaks in the US security apparatus. If any information inside Oswald's file fell into the wrong hands, that would provide a lead as to who was providing information to the Soviets. This technique was known as the molehunt - Angleton was an expert molehunter. Angleton and Egerter have been presented throughout this series as two of the twelve individuals that built the Oswald legend. (Legend Makers #1 and #5, respectively).

May 2, 1960 was the date given by FBI agent John Fain (Legend Maker #7) of an interview conducted five days earlier with Lee's brother Robert Oswald. Fain said that Robert told him that after a three day visit upon his discharge from the Marines in September 1959, Lee had left Fort Worth for New Orleans and to resume his former employment in the import-export business. Robert said that the family was shocked when Oswald turned up in the USSR and sought Soviet citizenship.

May 3, 1960 was the date given by Fain of an interview conducted five days earlier with Lee's mother Marguerite. Marguerite said that she was shaken because her letters to Lee in the Soviet Union were being returned and she didn't know how he was doing. Lee had told her during his visit the previous September that he was thinking of going to Cuba. Mrs. Oswald had also just recently received a letter from the Albert Schweitzer College in Switzerland saying that they were expecting him on April 20, 1960. What had caused Lee to change all his plans?

To further the molehunt, the descriptions of Lee Oswald and Robert Webster were merged together

The clue may be in Marguerite's supposed description of Lee to Fain: "5' 10", 165 lbs., light brown and wavy hair, blue eyes".

Except for the hair color, the above is a description of Robert Edward Webster (seen in Part 2 of this series), not Oswald. Here's Webster's job application to the Rand Development Corporation in 1957: Five feet ten, 166, blond hair, blue eyes. It's also well documented that Webster's hair was slightly wavy. Oswald also had slightly wavy hair.


Oswald's height was generally described as 5 feet, 9 inches, as seen in this photo, though Oswald exaggerated his height to 5 feet, 11 inches starting with the Switzerland college in March 1959 until his return from the Soviet Union. After his return, Oswald reported himself as 5 feet, 9 inches, except when dealing with government officials, probably to stay consistent with his earlier statements. Nowhere else is Oswald's height described as 5' 10", except in a critical memo about an Oswald sighting in Mexico City shortly before the assassination with Egerter as co-author.

Oswald's actual weight in the 1956-1963 period varied between 131-136 pounds. As late as 1963, when a young man of 23 would be expected to have "filled out", Oswald exaggerated his weight at 140-150, which aided his chances for employment. When Oswald exaggerated his height to 5' 11" in March, 1959 to the Swiss college, he also exaggerated his weight to 160 on that one occasion, probably to create more flexibility in his legend.

No one ever estimated Oswald's weight at greater than 150, except Fain and Egerter. When FBI agent John Quigley saw Oswald in jail in New Orleans in August, 1963, he estimated his weight at 140. Oswald reported his weight in Dallas at the time of his arrest as 140. Oswald's body was weighed at 131 pounds the day after his death. Although the Warren Report tilts Oswald's weight numbers to try to get closer to the 165 number, it remains consistent with this analysis.

Oswald described his eyes as grey, but government officials generally described Oswald's eye color as blue in all documents I have seen except his recently obtained passport. During Oswald's arrests in 1963 in New Orleans and Dallas, his eyes were described as blue-hazel and "blue-gray". It seems like someone decided it was time to knit together the different threads of evidence.

As mentioned in Part 2, Webster and Oswald looked almost exactly the same.
Oswald/Webster by unknown
These photos are particularly eerie. The only major difference was their hair color, something that's easy to change. During this period, Oswald's future wife Marina was routinely dating foreign visitors. She appeared to be doing it largely for fun and to take advantage of the more exciting life style offered by these visitors. Finally, Soviet security felt it was a problem and Marina was encouraged to move to Minsk. Minsk is where Lee and Marina met.

Robert Webster and Marina met at the American Exhibition held in Moscow during the summer of 1959, and they saw each other on several subsequent occasions. Curiously, Marina only spoke English to Webster, while she only spoke Russian when she came to the United States with Oswald. On one occasion, Marina even confused Webster with Oswald. Were Webster and Oswald being used wittingly or unwittingly in some kind of operation?

It looks like Webster was used as a dangle to find out about Soviet progress in plastics and fiberglass and the impact on the Soviet military program

Let's take one more look at the events surrounding Oswald's entry into the USSR discussed in Part 2, but this time we'll include the events involving Webster taking us back to the days before the American Exhibition in Moscow ended in early September 1959. The American Exhibition was the locale for the famous "kitchen debate" between Nixon and Khrushchev, where the two leaders used the setting of a modern kitchen as the theatrical backdrop for a debate over which nation offered a better way of life.

Robert Webster was an employee of James H. Rand, III, president of the Rand Development Corporation that had a display at the Exhibition. Rand does not appear to be a CIA officer because he has a "201 number" that are used for foreign agents or other persons of interest, but he's certainly a well-respected source with a special identifier - see this analysis report cover sheet Rand prepared for the Domestic Contacts division after Webster's return.

The Assassination Records Review Board interviewed Joan Hallett in the 1990s, a temporary receptionist and the widow of the former naval attache. Hallett remembered seeing Oswald at the Embassy on September 5, right at the end of the American Exhibition, and no one could understand the discrepancy between her strong and clear and recollection and the September 5 date. The solution is simple - Hallett was mistaking Webster for Oswald. Webster disappeared on 9/10/59 - six days after the Exhibition ended. Oswald didn't arrive in Moscow until October 16.

On September 4, Oswald filled out a passport application saying that he was leaving the US on 9/21/59 on a ship for four months to attend
school at the Albert Schweitzer College and the University of Turku in Finland. He added that he would tour Russia, Cuba, and other countries, and make a second trip within a year. This was not quite right in any case, as Oswald was not scheduled to attend Albert Schweitzer until April 1960. Oswald's statements were a red flag for any counterintelligence agent reviewing passport applications.

The day before Webster disappeared, he was told by the Soviets that he would be accepted as a citizen in exchange for teaching them how to make the Rand spray gun demonstrated at the American Exhibition. CI head Ray Rocca testified that Webster was regarded as a loss because of Soviet "interest in Webster's knowledge about the "specifications of a nozzle that prepared plastic in a particular fashion". Webster was having marital problems back at home, and enjoying the attentions of a Russian woman named Vera. Rand felt that the Soviets were using Vera to entice Webster to stay, "in order to gain his knowledge of (the) plastics and synthetics industry".

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Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Content in Series: "The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend"

Article The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 10: Nightmare in Mexico City)  (View Article Stats) 07/26/2013
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Article THE JFK CASE: The Twelve Who Built The Oswald Legend (Part 6: White Russians Keep An Eye On Oswald In Dallas)  (View Article Stats) 11/22/2011
Article THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 5: The Double Dangle)  (View Article Stats) 12/27/2010
Article THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 3: Counterintelligence goes molehunting with Oswald's file)  (View Article Stats) 12/06/2010
Article THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 4: When the U-2 Goes Down, Oswald is Ready to Return)  (View Article Stats) 11/16/2010
Article THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE THAT BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 2: An Instant Visa Gets The Marine Into Moscow)  (View Article Stats) 09/02/2010
Article THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part One: Mother, Meyer, and the Spotters)  (View Article Stats) 08/22/2010
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View Series: The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend
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The purpose of a dangle is to put a witting or unw... by Bill Simpich on Monday, Dec 27, 2010 at 9:16:08 AM
It's a pity your article wasn't placed more promin... by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on Thursday, Dec 30, 2010 at 7:11:38 PM