Lee Harvey Oswald, Russia and the CIA.
By S.r. Dusty Rohde
In the past 53 years, so much emphasis has been placed on possible connections between Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out a few facts on the subject.
Typically, the CIA’s operational jurisdiction lays outside United States borders, not within them. Operational jurisdiction within U.S. borders falls upon the FBI, or at least in 1963. Other agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security were created after this time period.
The “Cold War” with Russia was at it’s peak during the Kennedy administration in the 60’s. However, the Cold War didn’t officially end until 1991. In the 1980’s and part of the 90’s, I worked for the DOD overseas, on a remote island, requiring top secret security clearance. Only 12 people were allowed on this island (out of several hundred that worked there every day), and I was one of the 12. Anyone besides these 12 individuals caught on island after 4:30 pm would result in their immediate arrest, no excuses accepted. These hundreds of employees were flown on and off island everyday. (See below)
“In 1983, Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union had escalated to a level not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis because of several factors. These included the United States’ Strategic Defense Initiative, its planned deployment of the Pershing II Weapon System in Europe in March and April, and FleetEx ’83, the largest naval exercise held to date in the North Pacific. The military hierarchy of the Soviet Union (particularly the old guard led by Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov and Minister of Defence Dmitriy Ustinov) viewed these actions as bellicose and destabilizing; they were deeply suspicious of U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s intentions and openly fearful he was planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. These fears culminated in RYAN, the code name for a secret intelligence-gathering program initiated by Andropov to detect a potential nuclear sneak attack which he believed Reagan was plotting.”
Our “mission” was part of the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as “H.O.E.” (the Homing Overlay Experiment). This involved testing of ICBM missiles and developing the missile defense shield.
Part of the requirements of maintaining our security clearances involved constant check-ups by numerous government law enforcement agencies. Those agencies could and would include the GSA, NSA, DEA, CIA, FBI, and a whole host of others. It was not unusual for me or my co-workers to get phone calls from these agencies asking questions related to our co-workers every couple of months. These questions were often…”do you know if this person has been to a Communist country? Do you know if this person has had contact with anyone in a Communist country? Do you know if this person has any outstanding debts? Does this person drink excessively? There were usually several other questions, all along the same vein. This was and still is a common practice.
Those 12 of us who actually lived on the island had no way off of the island, except by plane, helicopter or swimming. Planes only flew on a set schedule (Army Caribou’s), and helicopters (Huey’s) depending on necessity. My co-workers and I tried unsuccessfully to get the Army to allow us to have a boat. We were told flat “NO”! So then we put in a request to have a raft or kayak’s….again the Army’s response was “NO”! The Army stated they didn’t want us to have anything like that because it would make it to easy for someone to take classified or Top Secret material off island. The main reason we wanted a boat, raft or kayak was because every time we had a “mission”, Russian spy ships would show up, and they didn’t always respect the three mile limit, several times they were within a mile of the island. I should mention, this island was only 450 feet wide at it’s widest point, and it wasn’t very long either. There were often discussion’s on what we would do if the Russian’s tried to invade or take over the island, as we had no way off, at least none that would be quick enough, except to swim. The Russian spy ship was called by the code name “Brand X”. (See below)
This image above is not the exact same ship, but it was similar in appearance to this one, but with a few dish radar added to it.
During these discussions, a topic that also came up was the fact that we weren’t allowed to have any conventional type weapons on the island, (only security forces had them). That means no guns. But, we did have high tech cross bows, under water bang sticks of various calibers, like 12 gauge, .357 or .22 calibers. We also had custom made knives and practiced martial arts on a regular basis.
Even though we couldn’t have boats of any type, we did have scuba gear, and places we could hide that Russians wouldn’t be able to spot us easily. We would be able to hear anyone approaching long before they saw us. This location included us donning our scuba gear, and if spotted, we would simply swim away using our underwater gear. The point being, we had no intentions of becoming Russian prisoners. These concerns were very real, and at one point the situation would become very tense.
On September 1st, 1983…I was off duty. That same day, we got shocking reports that KAL flight 007 had been shot down (a civilian airline). This aircraft had briefly passed through the North American Aerospace Defense Command buffer zone, which was off limits to civilian airlines. This was for their own protection as the area was used for missile testing. This would give rise to some conspiracy theorists to claim the aircraft was shot down by the USA with missiles, but this wasn’t true. The aircraft was in fact shot down by the Russians. We got the reports of the shooting down of the aircraft long before the MSM reported anything about it. We had a countdown to a mission “launch” and Brand X had been hanging around for a couple of days already. Later that evening, around 9 pm, I happened to be walking outside and it was a very dark, moonless night. Suddenly I heard a helicopter fly by fast overhead, but I couldn’t see it, it had no lights on. I knew immediately it wasn’t a Huey, as they have a very distinctive “wap, wap, wap” sound. I had never heard this type of helicopter before and it buzzed the island fast…and directly across the runway, which got my attention instantly. Then more helicopters buzzed the island, travelling fast, from all different directions. I was getting more than a little concerned as I had no idea if these were our helicopters or Russian helicopters. The fact that they were crossing the island, and over the runway at all different angles was very abnormal and unsafe. I was just about to decide to make for the scuba gear when all of a sudden parachute flares started popping all over and around the island. That’s when I started thinking “shit, shit, shit”! What the hell is going on? (See below)
Those of us on the island weren’t given any advance warning these helicopters would be showing up. Often times, during missions, we had a mini-sub at the island, but it only held two people, and it wasn’t likely they were going to let us take it. Besides, we didn’t know how to operate it anyhow. As it turned out, the helicopters were ours, meaning the U.S.A. This was an attack squadron of Apache helicopters sent to the island by President Reagan to guard the island against any potential Russian attack. (See below)
This squadron was under orders to “blow up” or “shoot down” any ship or aircraft that got outside normal shipping lanes or flight paths. Needless to say, I made a point of not leaving the island until after these guys left. As you might imagine, tensions were very high for a week or two.
A few days prior to these events, I and some co-workers had some friends who got special clearance to spend the night on the island, so we could do a night dive. None of us had done a night dive before and this dive had been planned prior to the shooting down of KAL-007, prior to Brand X showing up…and prior the Apache attack squadron showing up. With all of this unexpected activity going on, we all sat down and discussed the wisdom of us still doing the night dive, as Brand X was still there and tensions were high. We finally decided “to hell with it”, getting the permissions was a pain in the backside, and we were all there so we decided to do the dive.
There were six of us on this dive team, about an hour after sundown, we headed out with our gear and started our dive from one end of the island. We all had dive lights, and we worked our way down the length of the island, slowly. We ran into a problem almost immediately, as one by one, the light bulbs in the dive lights burned out. If a person’s light burned out, they just paired up with some one who’s light still worked. By the time we got near to the other end of the island, we were down to only one person with a light bulb. We were swimming, when a good sized shark (about a 12 footer) swam through the light beam, and. . . that is exactly when the last bulb decided to burn out (yeah, that sucks, as I’ve been attacked by sharks before this). Now it was pitch black, and virtually impossible to see anything at all under water, so we surfaced. We knew we would have to get out of the water, we also knew at least one shark was buzzing us and we couldn’t see him. The problem being, the reef was coral and razor sharp, covered with sea urchins and hungry eels, and dozens of poisonous lion fish out feeding. Still, we had no choice, we had to get out . . . I decided to get out first, carefully placing my flippered feet on boulders and grabbing rocks with my hands. I pulled myself up quickly out of the water and stepped up with one foot onto the island. I stepped up with the other foot, and no sooner did my foot hit the ground, I heard several clacking noises. I was looking down at my feet when I got out of the water, but I knew what the clacking sound was long before I saw it. The noise was automatic rifles being locked and loaded. About the same time that I looked up, I saw 5 members of the security forces pointing their rifles at me and screaming “freeze, freeze”. I shouted back at them “Whoa, whoa, whoa….take it easy”. The shouting match went back and forth for a minute or two, them telling me to put my hands up, etc, …me trying to calm these pumped up and paranoid security guys down and keep them from pulling a trigger. They thought we were divers coming from the Russian spy ship Brand X, and I remember yelling back at them “do you see any hammers and sickles on my scuba gear”, “am I speaking Russian”….hellooooo! Finally, I got the security guys to calm down and the rest of the guys on the dive team decided it was safe to get out of the water (up to this point I guess they decided they were safer with the sharks than the security guys). Apparently, the security guys had been tracking our lights along the island, and seeing them go out one by one, thought we were trying to sneak on island unobserved. Eventually everything calmed down and we went out separate ways. So why tell this story?
As high as the tensions were on the island at this time, tensions were at similar levels in 1963, but all across the United States. Fear of nuclear war was real, on both sides of the fence. While I was overseas on this island, and even today…going to a communist country or having contact with people from communist countries would be an immediate red flag to the CIA. You would be most likely to have an immediate loss of any security clearance under those circumstances. This is not a subject taken lightly. . .then or now. So if you wonder, would Lee Harvey Oswald have been watched and checked out by the CIA while he was in Russia? That is almost a certainty. That is part of what the CIA does, safeguards America’s “sensitive” information and protects against foreign subversion, etc. This falls directly within the CIA’s jurisdiction and scope of work.This is something I would fully expect the CIA to do, from personal experience. Not only that, it would be a normal part of their function to check up on people with security clearances, which Oswald did have while in the military. Checking up on Oswald, or keeping tabs on him by the CIA under these circumstances doesn’t mean he was in the CIA. Of course, if he was in the CIA, you never would have known about it because the CIA sure as heck wouldn’t have admitted it, and doubly not, if he was in Russia . . . to do so would make Oswald immediately eligible to be executed as a spy and with zero protection under the Geneva convention.
While I concur totally that Oswald was working for, or made to believe he was working for an agency after returning to the USA, I haven’t seen anything to suggest it was the CIA. Here again, the CIA doesn’t have operational jurisdiction within US borders. There are indications where the CIA involved themselves in regards to certain pieces of evidence, like the false photo and tape recording of Oswald in Mexico and a few other things. But, here again, this doesn’t make Oswald an asset or agent of the CIA. It’s true that the CIA came to the aid of Clay Shaw during Garrisons trial, but this doesn’t mean Oswald was an asset or agent. If Oswald was connected to an agency, and there is powerful evidence of that, I have little doubt he was directly connected to the FBI.
Me at work overseas, the person shown at far left, in the space suit . . . was I working for the CIA? Nope. (See below)