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THE JFK CASE: THE TWELVE WHO BUILT THE OSWALD LEGEND (Part 11: The Paines Carry the Weight)

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The premise of this series is that Oswald had twelve people who built his legend. Many people still believe the legend about Oswald being "a loner". As this series shows, Oswald was many things, but a loner was not one of them. His ability to provoke people and work both sides of the political spectrum had the intelligence agencies viewing him as an asset.

Let's turn to a liberal couple that moved to the Dallas suburb of Irving in 1959 - during the same week that Oswald came to visit his mother in Irving before he left for the USSR. When Oswald came back to the area in 1962, the Paines were still there. It was like they had been waiting for him.

Michael Paine was legend maker #12 for Lee Oswald, while his wife Ruth Paine focused on taking care of Marina Oswald and the children. Like most of the legend makers, I think the Paines were manipulated as much as the Oswalds were. We have seen two CIA officers as legend makers - Richard Snyder and Anne Goodpasture - who I think had a pretty good idea of how they were being used to massage the Oswald legend. The Paines appear to be confused right up to 11/22/63.

Although the Paines appear to be government assets rather than agents, I suspect that they knew about the government's need to keep an eye on Oswald. They probably thought that they were helping out the CIA, the State Department, or Bob Odum at the local FBI office. I do not believe that they played any role in planning the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

There was a dramatic event in the moments after JFK's assassination, where several credible witnesses saw a man looking like Oswald escaping from the book depository in a vehicle looking like Ruth Paine's.

I believe that this event was designed to warn the Paines to shut up and let the "Oswald-as-lone-gunman" story go forward.

Here's the evidence that I will offer in support of my statements above.

We met the Paines in Part 7 of this series, when they took over the baby-sitting chores from George de Mohrenschildt (Legend Maker #9) as he prepared to leave for Haiti in April. Lee Oswald left for New Orleans at about the same time looking for work after being fired from the photo lab at the beginning of the month.

At Ruth Paine's invitation, Marina and daughter June moved in with the Paine family until Oswald found work in New Orleans. Like the Oswalds, the Paines were having marital difficulties. It was easy for the Russian-speaking Ruth to invite Marina to move into her home so that she could improve her Russian by speaking with her. [i] Throughout 1963, both Michael Paine and Lee Oswald had their own homes, living separate from their families most of the time.

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At the end of the summer of 1963, the Oswald family decided to return to Dallas. Lee considered looking for work in the Philadelphia-Baltimore-DC area. Both Michael and Ruth had relatives in all three cities that could have put him up, but Lee never took any decisive action on this front that is known.

Either Oswald or someone looking a lot like him went to Mexico City to see if he could obtain visas to enable the family to return to the Soviet Union. Marina was due to give birth in late October and it made sense for her to be back in Minsk where she would have the support of her family. Throughout 1963, both of the Oswalds had asked the Soviet consulate in Washington DC to provide them visas to return to the USSR, but without success.

Ruth Paine went to New Orleans and drove Marina and baby June to her home. She decided to take Marina into her home during the last stages of Marina's pregnancy. When Oswald's attempt to obtain visas failed in Mexico City, he returned to Dallas on October 3. Oswald quickly got himself a place in a rooming house, visiting Marina and June at the Paine residence on the weekends. Although Ruth Paine and Michael Paine were separated, Michael would come over to visit and found himself spending time with Lee.

Michael Paine got Lee Oswald to join the ACLU, which weakened Lee's most powerful advocate

Like Lee, Michael was fascinated with both left and right-wing political groups. Lee and Michael enjoyed talking politics. [ii] Paine claimed that he only met Oswald six times before the assassination -- April 2, October 4, October 18, November 8, 9 and 10. [iii] Regardless of how accurate Paine's memory was, the important thing is that his actions led Oswald to make the unfortunate decision to join the ACLU three weeks before he died. The result was to cut off Oswald's most important ally at the knees.

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On October 5, Lee went to an ACLU meeting at Southern Methodist that was focused on outrages being committed by the ultra-right. [iv] On October 23, Lee went to a John Birch Society meeting that was headed by General Walker. [v] On October 24, Michael went to a sparsely attended John Birch Society meeting while most of the Birchers were outside attacking Adlai Stevenson, just one of "a number of rightist meetings and seminars" that he would check out. [vi] On October 25, Lee and Michael attended an ACLU meeting together at Southern Methodist. [vii] On the day after the assassination, Oswald supposedly told his interrogators that he was an ACLU member. Oswald had submitted the requisite documents, and were received by the ACLU headquarters on the 4th of November. [viii]

In other words, Paine created a conflict of interest between Oswald and the only organization that would champion his cause in the days immediately after his death. The ACLU told the press:

"It is our opinion that Lee Harvey Oswald, had he lived, would have been denied a fair trial by the conduct of the police and the prosecuting officials in Dallas, under pressure from the public and the news media."

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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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