Sunday, November 23, 2003

Eavesdropping in Mrs. Oswald's attic

The Express-News has an Op-Ed piece today by John Tackett, a reporter who was in the press pool in Dallas when Kennedy was killed 40 years ago.

Tackett has a rather strange and obsessive tale to tell.

He starts off by stating that he firmly believes the Warren Report's fictitious version of events and that he does not "engage in conspiracy arguments anymore." He then goes on to tell of his efforts to interview Lee Harvey Oswald's mother shortly after the assassination.

"After the assassination I went to Mrs. Oswald's house to interview her. I was turned away at the door by Secret Service agents. As I stepped off the porch at the dual residence, I decided to knock on the door to the left of Marguerite's.

A frightened widow and her trembling teenage daughter welcomed me in, even fed me supper. They were afraid someone might toss a bomb on Marguerite's porch or shoot through the windows. They liked having a man in the house. Although at my age, I passed for younger than a man.

I could hear Marguerite's shrill voice next door through the thin wall, but not as good if I could get closer somehow, without being seen. I asked the widow if she had an attic. She did, with an entrance through a trap door in the top of her closet. It opened up into an attic common to both sides of the duplex — no wall in between. I scrambled up, note paper and pencil in hand. On my belly, against the rafters, I was right above Marguerite and the agents."

As I was reading this, I was struck by the subhead to the story which read "Seedy characters surrounded Oswald". Wow, no kidding, I thought. And apparently some seedy characters that she didn't know about, too.

Tackett describes how he tried for the next several years to demonstrate that Mrs. Oswald was a bad mother and that she and her son Lee had a strained relationship - as if this would somehow prove that he killed Kennedy singlehandedly.

There is much about Lee Harvey Oswald's story that seems odd. Like the ease with which he was able to quit the Marine Corps and emigrate to Russia (using a mysterious source of income) during the height of the Cold War. And then turn around just as abruptly and return to the U.S. with a Russian wife in tow. Was he part of an ongoing effort at the time to infiltrate the Soviet Union with double agents? Did Oswald think he was still acting under orders to infiltrate Soviet groups in the U.S. upon his return?

The one thing I think Oswald was correct about was his statement that he was a patsy. I think he got set up to take the fall for the assassination but I don't know the extent of his involvement in the plotting beforehand, if any.

Stories like the one Tackett tells just demonstrates to me how easy it was back then to pull off the patsy canard because people were so willing to believe the lone gunmen scenario about a disgruntled Soviet sympathizer.

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