OSWALD CAMERA DISAPPEARED DURING FBI INVESTIGATION
By EARL GOLZ
A small German-made spy camera found among Lee Harvey Oswald's possessions by Dallas police disappeared when the FBI obtained the Oswald property less than a week after the assassination, The Dallas News has learned. Detective Gus Rose has told investigators with the House Assassinations Committee that he found the Minox camera, LOADED WITH FILM, in Oswald's seabag at the Irving home of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Paine on either Nov. 22 or Nov. 23, 1963. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated here Nov. 22. AFTER UNSUCCESSFULLY TRYING TO PRESSURE ROSE INTO REPORTING HE HAD FOUND A MINOX LIGHT METER AND NOT A MINOX CAMERA, THE FBI TWO MONTHS LATER PLACED INTO THEIR RECORDS A MINOX CAMERA WHICH THEY SAID WAS NOT OSWALD'S.
An FBI report said the Minox III camera was OBTAINED JAN. 31, 1964, from Mrs. Ruth Paine of Irving and that it belonged to her husband. Mrs. Paine's home was where Oswald's wife was staying at the time of the assassination and was where Rose said he found a Minox camera among Oswald's personal effects more than two months earlier.
MRS. PAINE TOLD THE NEWS SHE DOES NOT RECALL BEING ASKED TO TURN OVER A MINOX CAMERA TO THE FBI, although "I'm sure they (FBI) talked about it and what they did or what we did I just don't remember." Her husband owned a Minox badly in need of repair in 1964, BUT SHE COULD NOT RECALL THE FBI OR ANY OTHER LAW AUTHORITIES SEARCHING HER HOUSE OR GARAGE FOR IT AFTER THE DALLAS POLICE SEARCH OF NOV 22-23.
THE SERIAL NUMBER OF THE MINOX CAMERA REPORTEDLY OBTAINED FROM MRS. PAINE BY THE FBI WAS LISTED AS 27259, WHICH DID NOT EXIST AMONG ANY OF THE MINOX CAMERAS DISTRIBUTED FOR COMMERCIAL SALE IN THIS COUNTRY, according to Kurt Lohn, then in charge of distribution for Minox Corp. in New York City. All Minox cameras distributed in this country had six digits starting with serial number 135000, Lohn said, so 27259 "IS NOT A REGISTERED NUMBER...NOT A VALID NUMBER." Lohn said the "unobtrusive" camera is about three inches long and an inch wide and was used as a "spy camera" by both sides during World War II to photograph documents and other espionage work.
Oswald worked at the Dallas typesetting firm of Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall in 1962, which did CLASSIFIED work for the Army Map Service. There he learned to operate specialized photographic equipment at a job he took several months after returning from Russia, where he defected in 1959.
WHILE OSWALD WAS IN RUSSIA HE PHOTOGRAPHED A NUMBER OF MILITARY INSTALLATIONS AND OTHER SENSITIVE SCENES OF MORE INTEREST TO AN ESPIONAGE AGENT THAN A SIGHTSEER. THE PHOTOS, ALL TAKEN IN THE MINSK AREA WHERE OSWALD LIVED, SHOWED THE AIRPORT, AN ARMY OFFICE BUILDING, A POLYTECHNICAL INSTITUTE AND A RADIO-TELEVISION FACTORY ASSEMBLY LINE. FOR 14 YEARS THE FBI DID NOT EVEN REVEAL THE OSWALD PHOTOS IN RUSSIA EXISTED UNTIL REFERENCES TO THEM WERE DECLASSIFIED WITH OTHER ASSASSINATION DOCUMENTS LAST JANUARY. NEITHER THE PHOTOS THEMSELVES NOR THE LOCATION WHERE THE FBI FOUND THEM WAS REVEALED.
Rose, a 24-year veteran of the Dallas police force, said the camera he found "was real small, about like a half-pack of cigarettes in size" and was loaded with a cassette of film. He said he didn't know whether any of the film had been exposed. Rose's detective partner, R.S. Stovall, who helped in the search of the Paine house and garage, made an inventory of the property taken. Dallas police records show that Stovall itemized a "small German camera and black case on chain and film." Stovall, said cameras and camera equipment were found both in the house and in Oswald's seabag in the garage Nov. 22-23, but he could not recall where the German camera was found. He also said he remembers someone - "I think it was somebody from the FBI later on, asking about that deal" involving the camera and light meter. "They (FBI) were (later) calling it a light meter, I know that," Rose said. "But I know a camera when I see it....The thing we got at Irving out of Oswald's seabag was a Minox miniature camera. No question about it. "
They tried to get me to change the records because it wasn't a light meter. I don't know why they wanted it changed, but they must have had some motive for it." THE FBI'S REPORTED ACQUISITION OF A MINOX CAMERA FROM MRS. PAINE TWO MONTHS LATER OCCURRED AFTER NEWSMEN STARTED ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT REPORTS THAT THE FBI WAS TRYING TO PRESSURE DALLAS POLICE INTO ALTERING THEIR INVENTORY OF OSWALD'S PROPERTY. Robert Gemberling, now retired FBI agent who wrote the first report submitted to the Warren Commission referring to the camera Mrs. Paine reportedly supplied to the FBI, said "if that's what the report says, I feel sure that's true. "It would stand to reason that if we found a light meter that would be used with a Minox camera then naturally, we would want to know where the camera is,"
Gemberling told The News. "Now Mr. Rose, I can't vouch - If he says he thought it was a camera and it was or whether he thought it wasn't, I just can't say. I don't know." J Gordon Shanklin, agent-in-charge of the Dallas FBI office during the assassination investigation, said he could not recall the camera incident. "I am sure it (camera or light meter) went up there (FBI lab in Washington), whatever it was," Shanklin said. "It's probably still in evidence. I don't know....But I am sure that if it had been a Minox camera and it was found, then it would have been reported as that."
AN INVENTORY OF PROPERTY TAKEN FROM THE PAINE HOUSE AND GARAGE WAS MADE NOV. 26, 1963, IN THE FBI OFFICE HERE AND LISTED "ONE MINOX CAMERA" UNDER ITEM NUMBER 375. THE INVENTORY WAS WITNESSED BY FBI AGENT WARREN DE BRUEYS AND DALLAS POLICE CAPT. J.M. ENGLISH. IN A SECOND PUBLISHED FBI INVENTORY AFTER DE BRUEYS AND ANOTHER AGENT, VINCENT DRAIN, DELIVERED THE PROPERTY TO THE FBI LABORATORY IN WASHINGTON ON NOV. 27, NO CAMERA WAS LISTED UNDER ITEM 375 BUT INSTEAD THE WORDS "MINOX LIGHT METER" APPEARED FOR THE FIRST TIME. ITEM 377 ON NOV. 26 LISTED 2 ROLLS OF UNDEVELOPED MINOX FILM AND TWO ROLLS OF "APPARENTLY EXPOSED" MINOX FILM. UNDER THE SAME ITEM ON NOV. 27 THE FBI INVENTORY READ TWO MINOX CASSETTES OR ROLLS "(ONE CONTAINING FILM)" AND TWO CONTAINERS WITH "UNEXPOSED" MINOX FILM. No description could be found in the Warren Commission volumes about whether the undeveloped film was developed to determine if any images were on the frames.
OSWALD PICTURES RELEASED BY FBI PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SMALL SPY CAMERA REVEALED AFTER ALMOST 15 YEARS
By EARL GOLZ
Photographs developed from Minox spy camera film found among Lee Harvey Oswald's personal possessions have been released by the FBI after being suppressed almost 15 years. About 25 images shot in foreign countries on two rolls from the miniature German-made camera were made available by the FBI under a Freedom of Information Act request by Alan Weberman, an independent assassination researcher in New York City.
More than 20 prints developed from one roll show civilian scenes apparently in Europe. Five shots from the other roll were military scenes either in the Far East or Central America. A Minox camera with a cassette film roll inside disappeared from Oswald's possessions after the FBI took custody of the property in 1963 from Dallas police, The News earlier had disclosed.
THE BUREAU LATER TRIED UNSUCCESSFULLY TO PRESSURE POLICE INTO CHANGING THEIR INVENTORY LIST TO READ MINOX LIGHT METER, NOT CAMERA, according to detective Gus Rose who said he found the camera in Oswald's seabag at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Paine in Irving. The FBI had indicated the two rolls it developed were found separately in tin containers with ribbons tied around them. House Assassinations Committee investigators recently interviewed a former FBI agent who had custody of the Oswald property when the camera with film INSIDE DISAPPEARED, The New has learned. The former agent, Warren de Brueys, monitored Oswald's activities in the summer of 1963. He came to Dallas for two months to assist the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination.
"Monitoring is a word I would be reluctant to use," de Brueys told The News. "I never personally met him (Oswald), never knowingly personally talked to him. And I say that advisedly because - who knows - I don't think it happened. He may have called on the phone and made an inquiry one time without identifying himself."
THE HOUSE ASSASSINATIONS COMMITTEE HAS SPENT CONSIDERABLE TIME INVESTIGATION RECURRING RUMORS THAT OSWALD MAY HAVE BEEN AN INFORMANT FOR THE FBI OR CIA. COMMITTEE INVESTIGATORS RECENTLY TOOK THE DEPOSITION OF AN ACQUAINTANCE OF OSWALD IN NEW ORLEANS WHO SAID HE SAW AN UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT GIVE OSWALD A LARGE ENVELOPE FROM A PASSING GOVERNMENT CAR IN THE SUMMER OF 1963. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover became so disturbed by the informant rumor that during the Warren Commission investigation in 1964 he ordered agents close to the Oswald case to sign affidavits denying Oswald was an FBI informant.
DE BRUEYS WAS NOT ONE OF THE AGENTS WHO SIGNED SUCH AN AFFIDAVIT. "I can state without any reservation that there was no collusion, no effort not to disclose anything," de Brueys said. "Nothing purposely, to my knowledge, was done to conceal anything. That would be the furthest thing in our minds at the time." De Brueys, however, said he has "my limitations as to what I can say....I have signed the secrecy agreement before leaving the bureau." He said he could not remember whether a Minox camera was in Oswald's possession. "There were quite a number of articles," de Brueys said. "I guess I spent all night cataloging those things and I at the moment can't remember that particular item, frankly."
A second inventory of Oswald's property was taken Nov. 27 after de Brueys and another FBI agent, Vincent Drain, personally delivered the two boxes of items to the FBI laboratory in Washington. No camera was listed under item 375 but the words "Minox light meter" appeared in its place. Item 377 in the Nov. 26 inventory listed two rolls of undeveloped Minox film and two rolls of "apparently exposed" Minox film. Under the same item on Nov. 27, the FBI inventory read two Minox cassettes or rolls "(one containing film)" and containers with "unexposed" Minox film.
The photos made available to Weberman were identified by the FBI as coming from item 377. THE BUREAU COVER LETTER TO WEBERMAN STATED THAT IT HAD NOT WITHHELD ANY OF THE PHOTOS "INASMUCH AS THE MATERIAL YOU REQUESTED IS OF GREAT HISTORICAL INTEREST." Three of the photos taken in a military environment in either the Far East or Central America were made from inside a barbed wire encampment showing civilians walking on the other side. Another shot was taken from a boat showing a tanker anchored offshore mountainous terrain. Oswald was stationed in Japan as a Marine in 1957 and 1958 and during that time went on a tour of duty to Taiwan, the Philippines, Corregidor and Indonesia.
The Minox camera, invented in the late 1930s in Latvia and later manufactured at plants in Germany, is about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. It was used as a "spy camera" by both sides during World War II. FBI reports declassified earlier this year show the New York FBI office expressed an interest only three days after the assassination in the Minox film found in Oswald's possessions. THE NEW YORK OFFICE REQUESTED THE FBI LABORATORY IN WASHINGTON COMPARE THE OSWALD FILM WITH OTHER MINOX FILM, BUT THE LABORATORY DETERMINED THEY WERE NOT TAKEN WITH THE SAME CAMERA. THE NEW YORK REQUEST WAS MADE ONE DAY BEFORE DALLAS POLICE HAD TURNED OVER THE OSWALD PROPERTY TO DE BRUEYS.
TWO MONTHS LATER, ON JAN. 27, 1964, FBI AGENT THOMAS W. LENIHAN IN WASHINGTON TOLD J. GORDON SHANKLIN, AGENT IN CHARGE OF THE DALLAS FBI OFFICE, THAT DE BRUEYS' INVENTORY OF NOV. 26, 1963, SHOWED A MINOX CAMERA AMONG OSWALD'S POSSESSION, ACCORDING TO A LENIHAN MEMO. "I advised Shanklin that our laboratory claims that they did not have a Minox camera and that this item should be a Minox light meter," Lenihan's memo stated. "I requested that DL (Dallas FBI office) resolve whether or not a Minox camera was among the effects of Oswald. "
On 1-28-64 Shanklin advised Inspector Moore (Dallas police detective H.M. Moore) that Oswald did not have a Minox camera; that this was a Minox light meter." Two days after Lenihan told Shanklin the camera was a light meter, FBI agents visited the Paine home in Irving where Oswald's personal possessions were found and located a Minox camera in a coffee can in the garage. Mrs. Ruth Paine identified the camera as her husband's. The camera, which Michael Paine considered "unworkable" because of shutter damage, was forwarded to the Washington FBI office with "other evidence," according to an FBI teleprinter message dated Jan. 31, 1964. The message said Dallas police were "aware that no Minox camera (was) obtained in search" of the Paine residence and garage on Nov. 22-23, 1963. Detective Rose, however, remains adamant he found a Minox camera with film in it in Oswald's seabag when he made the initial search at the Paine home.
Michael Paine told The News he recalled taking photos in Korea while he was in the army in the early 1950s and later on a trip to Europe, but not with a Minox camera. He couldn't remember taking a photo of a tanker anchored offshore mountainous terrain, he said.