Testimony Of J. Edgar Hoover
The CHAIRMAN. The Commission will be in order.
Director Hoover, will you please raise your right hand to be sworn, please. You solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give before the Commission will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. HOOVER. I do.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Rankin will carry on the examination, Mr. Director.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Chief Justice, do you want to tell him briefly what our purpose is?
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes; it is our practice to make a brief statement before the testimony of each witness, and I will do it now.
Mr. Hoover will be asked to testify in regard to whether Lee H. Oswald was ever an agent, directly or indirectly, or an informer or acting on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in any capacity at any time, and whether he knows of any credible evidence of any conspiracy, either domestic or foreign, involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
What he has to say about an article in the National Enquirer, Commission Exhibit No. 837, and concerning the failure to include the name and information concerning special agent Hosty in the initial report of the Oswald address book and any suggestions and recommendations he may have concerning improvements or changes in provisions for the protection of the President of the United States. Now, Mr. Rankin, you may proceed.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Hoover, will you state for the record your name and position?
Mr. HOOVER. J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice.
Mr. RANKIN. Where do you live, Mr. Hoover?
Mr. HOOVER. I live at 4936 30th Place, Northwest, Washington, D.C.
Mr. RANKIN. And you have been Director of the Bureau for some 40 years according to the newspapers?
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct; since 1924.
Mr. RANKIN. You have furnished us a considerable amount of information, Mr. Hoover, about whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald was ever an agent or acting for the Bureau in any capacity as informer or otherwise at any time. Are those statements correct?
Mr. HOOVER. They are correct. I can most emphatically say that at no time was he ever an employee of the Bureau in any capacity, either as an agent or as a special employee, or as an informant.
Mr. RANKIN. I call your particular attention to Exhibit 835, and suggest that you will find that that is your letter, together with your affidavit about this subject matter, and other matters that you furnished to us concerning this particular subject.
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you wish to add anything?
Mr. HOOVER. No; there is nothing that I desire to add to what appears in this letter and my affidavit which accompanied it to the Commission.
Mr. RANKIN. You have provided many things to us in assisting the Commission in connection with this investigation and I assume, at least in a general way, you are familiar with the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy, is that correct?
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct, When President Johnson returned to Washington he communicated with me within the first 24 hours, and asked the Bureau to pick up the investigation of the assassination because as you are aware, there is no Federal jurisdiction for such an investigation. It is not a Federal crime to kill or attack the President or the Vice President or any of the continuity of officers who would succeed to the Presidency.
However, the President has a right to request the Bureau to make special investigations, and in this instance he asked that this investigation be made. I immediately assigned a special force headed by the special agent in charge at Dallas, Tex., to initiate the investigation, and to get all details and facts concerning it, which we obtained, and then prepared a report which we submitted to the Attorney General for transmission to the President.
Mr. RANKIN. From your study of this entire matter of the assassination and work in connection with it, do you know of any credible evidence that has ever come to your attention that there was a conspiracy either foreign or domestic involved in the assassination?
Mr. HOOVER. I know of no substantial evidence of any type that would support any contention of that character. I have read all of the requests that have come to the Bureau from this Commission, and I have read and signed all the replies that have come to the Commission.
In addition, I have read many of the reports that our agents have made and I have been unable to find any scintilla of evidence showing any foreign conspiracy or any domestic conspiracy that culminated in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Representative FORD. May I ask this, Mr. Hoover. As I understand your testimony, it is based on the evidence that has been accumulated thus far?
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct, sir.
Representative FORD. Is the Federal Bureau of Investigation continuing its investigation of all possible ramifications of this assassination?
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct. We are receiving and we, I expect, will continue to receive for days or weeks to come, letters from individuals that normally would probably be in the category of what we would call crank letters in which various weird allegations are made or in which people have reported psychic vibrations. We are still running out letters of that character and in turn making a report to this Commission upon it, notwithstanding the fact that on the face of it the allegation is without any foundation. Individuals who could not have known any of the facts have made some very strange statements. There have been publications and books written, the contents of which have been absurd and without a scintilla of foundation of fact. I feel, from my experience in the Bureau, where we are in constant receipt over the years of these so-called crank letters, that such allegations will be going on possibly for some years to come.
I, personally, feel that any finding of the Commission will not be accepted by everybody, because there are bound to be some extremists who have very pronounced views, without any foundation for them, who will disagree violently with whatever findings the Commission makes. But I think it is essential that the FBI investigate the allegations that are received in the future so it can't be said that we had ignored them or that the case is closed and forgotten.
Representative FORD. Could you give us some idea of how many agents are currently working to one degree or another on any aspects of this case?
Mr. HOOVER. I would estimate, Congressman Ford, that there are at the present time at least 50 or 60 men giving their entire time to various aspects of the investigation, because while Dallas is the office of origin, investigation is required in auxiliary offices such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, and even in some foreign countries like Mexico. We have representatives in Mexico City.
At the outset of the investigation, following the assassination, it was the desire of the President to have this report completed by the Bureau just as quickly as possible, and as thoroughly as possible, and I would say we had about 150 men at that time working on the report in the field, and at Washington, D.C.
Now, all the reports that come in from the field are, of course, reviewed at Washington by the supervisor in charge of the case, and then in turn by the assistant director of the division, and then in turn by Mr. Belmont, who is the assistant to the Director.
Reports in which there is a controversial issue or where statements have been made of the existence of some particular thing that we have never heard of before, I myself, go over these to see that we haven't missed anything or haven't had any gap in the investigation so it can be tied down.
Recently the National Enquirer had a fantastic article in it as to the existence of a letter that had been written or a request that had been made by the Department of Justice to Chief Curry of the Dallas Police Department, to withhold arresting Rubinstein, or Ruby, and Oswald after the Oswald attempt on General Walker's life.
First, I had the agent in charge at Dallas interview Chief Curry and I have sent to the Commission a letter as to what Chief Curry had to say. He branded it as an entire lie that he had never received any request of that kind. I had our files searched to be certain we had not written any such letter as that and found we had not. I requested the Department of Justice to advise me whether they had written any such letter and Mr. Katzenbach advises there is no reference in the Department files to the alleged letter from any Department of Justice official to Chief Curry nor any reference that an FBI official was asked to request the Dallas police not to arrest Oswald or Ruby. A letter is being sent to the Commission today setting forth this information.
Representative FORD. The point that I think ought to be made is that despite the magnitude of the effort that has been made by the FBI and by other agencies, and despite the tremendous effort that has been made, I believe, by the Commission to help and assist and to consolidate all of the evidence that we possibly could, that there is always the possibility at some future date that some evidence might come to the surface.
Mr. HOOVER. That is, of course, possible; yes.
Representative FORD. I want just to be sure that no leads, no evidence regardless of its credibility will be ignored, that it will be pursued by the Bureau or any other agency to make certain that it is good, bad or of no value.
Mr. HOOVER. Well, I can assure you so far as the FBI is concerned, the case will be continued in an open classification for all time. That is, any information coming to us or any report coming to us from any source will be thoroughly investigated, so that we will be able to either prove or disprove the allegation. We found in the course of our investigations that individuals have made statements. Yet, when we investigate they will frankly admit that the statement is an entire falsehood, or that they don't know why they wrote the letter or why they made the statement. But, nevertheless, we have the record and generally in those instances we try to get a signed statement from that individual so it can be made a part of the record.
Representative FORD. Under your authority from the President, the authority which gave you the FBI, the responsibility to conduct this investigation it is not an authority with a terminal point. It is an authority that goes on indefinitely?
Mr. HOOVER. Very definitely so. The President wanted a full and thorough investigation made of this matter, and we have tried to do so. As I have stated, I think we will continue to receive allegations. I think this will be a matter of controversy for years to come, just like the Lincoln assassination. There will be questions raised by individuals, either for publicity purposes or otherwise, that will raise some new angle or new aspect of it. I think we must, and certainly we intend in the FBI to continue to run down any such allegations or reports of that kind.
Representative BOGGS. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, Congressman Boggs.
Representative BOGGS. Mr. Hoover, I don't want any cover--to cover any ground which has been covered but I just have one or two questions. First, let me say that you and the Bureau have been very cooperative with this Commission.
Mr. HOOVER. Thank you.
Representative BOGGS. And tremendously helpful. I have been concerned about some of these wild press reports and concerned about what impact it may have ultimately on the history of this thing. For instance there is a man named Buchanan who has written a series of articles.
Mr. DULLES. A book now. A book is out; yes.
Representative BOGGS. A book now. I understand they have been widely circulated in the European press, and this man came here and was, as I got it from some other sources, he took in some people here, some American journalists, and I am told that this man has a Communist background, and in addition to that is a most unreliable person. He has made these allegations that the Dallas police force was involved in the assassination and so on.
Would you have any suggestions on how this Commission should deal with this sort of thing?
Mr. HOOVER. We have received a request from the Commission to review that book and to make a report upon any portions of it that can be contradicted or substantiated by actual facts or documents. I know Buchanan's background. He worked on the Washington Star and he was dismissed from the Washington Star because he was a member of the Communist Party. He spent much of his time in recent years in France writing for French newspapers. I have followed the articles that he has written about this matter and they are what I would call "journalistic garbage." There is not a scintilla of truth to most of the things he has written in these articles and in his book which I have had a chance to scan but haven't actually reviewed yet. It is being reviewed by my research section. Some of the allegations are utterly fantastic. I often wonder where some of these individuals get such ideas and why they make such statements without foundation.
Now, he makes many wild charges there, and to read it, a person not knowing him, or his views, or his background, would be inclined to wonder. I think you are going to have that problem, as I say, for years to come. I don't know how you can handle individuals like him other than to have the record clear upon the facts of the case, and either substantiate or disprove his statements. I don't think too much time should be given to these individuals who have such unsavory backgrounds as Buchanan has and who makes statements that have been proved to be untrue. But, at the same time I think when a book like that comes out or an article of that type comes out that deals with the assassination of the late President, I think it should be gone into from an investigative point of view. We should then submit to this Commission, even after it has concluded its hearings, for record purposes, what we have found in each particular instance.
Representative BOGGS. Now, on the other side of the fence----
Mr. DULLES. May I add one other thing just to interrupt. I wish you would add to your list a book called "The Red Roses of Dallas" by a man named Gun. He is a more reliable correspondent.
Mr. HOOVER. He is a Philadelphia correspondent.
Mr. DULLES. He has been living in this country since 1946. I have met him over here. Let's see, he was at Dallas at the time. He was then reporting, I think, for the Italian newspaper Epoca.
Mr. HOOVER. That is not the same one.
Mr. DULLES. He might have been lying. This book is full of lies. But I think it is a book that ought to be added, too, and I will see that a copy is sent to the Bureau.
Mr. HOOVER. I would appreciate that.
Representative BOGGS. On the other side of the spectrum some professor out at the University of Illinois wrote a piece in which he alleged the President was a Communist agent, President Kennedy, and Buchanan's allegations are that the extreme right assassinated the President and this fellow's allegations are that the Communists assassinated the President. Would you care to comment? Have you read that piece?
Mr. HOOVER. I have read that piece. My comment on it is this in general: I think the extreme right is just as much a danger to the freedom of this country as the extreme left. There are groups, organizations, and individuals on the extreme right who make these very violent statements, allegations that General Eisenhower was a Communist, disparaging references to the Chief Justice and at the other end of the spectrum you have these leftists who make wild statements charging almost anybody with being a Fascist or belonging to some of these so-called extreme right societies. Now, I have felt, and I have said publicly in speeches, that they are just as much a danger, at either end of the spectrum. They don't deal with facts. Anybody who will allege that General Eisenhower was a Communist agent, has something wrong with him.
A lot of people read such allegations because I get some of the weirdest letters wanting to know whether we have inquired to find out whether that is true. I have known General Eisenhower quite well myself and I have found him to be a sound, level-headed man.
In New York City there is a woman by the name of Kraus who must be mentally deranged as she stands on a Broadway corner there handing out leaflets in which she charges me with being in the conspiracy with the Communists to overthrow this Government and so forth.
Well now, if any person has fought communism, I certainly have fought it. We have tried to fight it and expose it in democratic ways I think that is the thing we have to very definitely keep in mind in this whole problem in the security of the President and the successor to office. Just how far you are going to go for his protection and his security. I don't think you can get absolute security without almost establishing a police state, and we don't want that. You can't put security in a black groove or a white groove. It is in a gray groove, and certain chances have to be taken. You are dealing with a human being when you are dealing with the President of the United States. President Johnson is a very down to earth human being, and it makes the security problem all the more difficult, but you can't bar him from the people.
There are certain things that can be done, and I submitted a memorandum to the Secret Service, and to the White House on certain security steps that might be taken and tightened up. But you are dealing with the general public and that is what has given me great concern in the recent expansion, of the criteria for dissemination that we adopted after the assassination.
Prior to that time we reported to the Secret Service all information that dealt with individuals who were potential killers or by whom acts of violence might be anticipated. The Secret Service would take that information and would do with it as they saw fit. I gave great consideration to it because I am not very happy with the criteria expansion, but I felt we had to include subversives of various character, and extremists. We have, in turn, furnished their names to the Secret Service. I think 5,000 names up to the present time already have been submitted and there are at least three or four thousand more that will be submitted within the next few months.
Then you come to the problem of what you are going to do when the Secret Service gets those names. They have to call upon the local authorities. Just recently, in the city of Chicago, when the President was there, the local authorities were asked to give assistance as they usually do to the Secret Service and they went to the homes of some of these people, and it resulted really almost in a house arrest.
Now, I don't think there is any place in this country for that kind of thing, but these people who belonged to extreme subversive organizations or organizations that advocated the overthrow of government by force and violence were told that they couldn't leave their house or if they did they would be accompanied by a police officer. That gives me great concern because in New York City alone, you run into maybe three or four thousand such individuals who would be members of subversive organizations, and then you get into the twilight zone of subversive fronts.
Now, there again, merely because a man belongs to a subversive front organization, in my estimation doesn't mean that he is blacklisted and is a menace to the country for life. If he belongs to 20 of them, it certainly shows either one of two things, he is either very gullible and dumb or he is a menace. That has been my attitude in regard to Government service where you find a Government employee who belonged to one or two, maybe in his early days. I don't believe this necessarily makes him a security risk. Rather, this would be dependent on the degree of his activity in the front group and his purpose and intent in associating himself with it. But where he has belonged to 15, 18, 20 of them, I don't think he has enough good judgment to be in the Government.
Some ministers get drawn into organizations, some of which are under the domination of the Communist Party. Now, those ministers don't know that. They are just as loyal and patriotic as you and I are, but they happen to belong. Now, that is where the question of human judgment has to be used. We try to use it in selecting these names. But I was startled when I learned of the incident in Chicago because there you come pretty close to a house arrest and we don't want that. We don't want a gestapo. We have to, I think, maintain an even balance.
I think it was very well expressed----
Mr. DULLES. May I ask you, Mr. Hoover, was this house arrest based on names you had furnished the Secret Service and they furnished the local authorities?
Mr. HOOVER. Yes, sir.
Representative BOGGS. That brings me back to the question I think I heard Congressman Ford ask you as I came into the room, because I think this is the crux of our investigation.
I read the FBI report very carefully and the whole implication of the report is that, number one, Oswald shot the President; number two, that he was not connected with any conspiracy of any kind, nature or description.
Mr. HOOVER. Correct.
Representative BOGGS. Do you still subscribe to that?
Mr. HOOVER. I subscribe to it even more strongly today than I did at the time that the report was written. You see, the original idea was that there would be an investigation by the FBI and a report would be prepared in such form that it could be released to the public.
Representative BOGGS. Surely.
Mr. HOOVER. Then a few days later, after further consideration, the President decided to form a commission, which I think was very wise, because I feel that the report of any agency of Government investigating what might be some shortcomings on the part of other agencies of Government ought to be reviewed by an impartial group such as this Commission. And the more I have read these reports, the more I am convinced that Oswald was the man who fired the gun; and he fired three times, killed the President, and wounded Governor Connally.
And I also am further convinced that there is absolutely no association between Oswald or Ruby. There was no such evidence ever established.
Mr. DULLES. Or Oswald and anybody else? Would you go that far?
Mr. HOOVER. Anybody else who might be----
Mr. DULLES. In connection with the assassination?
Mr. HOOVER. Yes; I would certainly go that far. There was suspicion at first this might be a Castro act.
Representative BOGGS. Right.
Mr. HOOVER. We had information that had been obtained in Mexico City by another intelligence agency indicating there was a man who had seen a certain amount of money passed to Oswald at the Cuban Consulate. I think it was $6,000 that was passed. We went into that very thoroughly. The man later retracted his statement and stated it was not true. He was asked whether he would take a lie detector test, and he did. The lie detector test showed that he was telling a lie.
As to the lie detector, I do want to make this comment on it. I have always held to the opinion that it is not a perfect piece of machinery. It is an interpretation made by human beings of what the machine, the polygraph, shows. I would never want to convict or to send to the penitentiary any person solely on the evidence of the lie detector. It is a contribution in an investigation, a more or less psychological contribution.
But I have seen individuals who have failed the lie detector test and who were just as innocent as they could be. That particular lead in Mexico City was completely disproved; there was no foundation for it.
We found no associations between Oswald and Ruby. There has been a story printed that Ruby and Oswald worked together and were close friends.
There was no evidence, there was never any indication that we could find that Oswald had ever been in Ruby's nightclub or had had any association with him.
Ruby comes from Chicago, he was on the fringe of what you might call the elements of the underworld there. He came to Dallas, opened up the nightclub and it was a place where, certainly not the better class of people went, but it wasn't any so-called "joint," to use the vernacular. It was just another nightclub. So far as we have been able to establish there was no relationship or contact between Oswald and Ruby or anyone else allegedly involved in this assassination.
Representative BOGGS. The FBI interviewed practically everybody who ever associated with Oswald?
Mr. HOOVER. It did.
Representative BOGGS. You didn't find any indication of why anyone should even suspect that Oswald would do this, did you?
Mr. HOOVER. We found no indication at all that Oswald was a man addicted to violence. The first indication of an act of violence came after he, Oswald, had been killed, and Mrs. Oswald told us about the attempt on General Walker's life by Oswald. No one had known a thing about that. I think in the Enquirer article there is reference to the fact that the Dallas Police knew or suspected Oswald of possibly being a party to the shooting into the house of General Walker. Chief Curry specifically denies that. There was no connection of that kind and there was no evidence that Oswald had any streak of violence.
We went back into his Marine Corps record. He was a "loner." He didn't have many friends. He kept to himself, and when he went abroad, he defected to Russia. The first evidence we had of him in our file was a statement to the press in Moscow. And then later, about 22 months later, he returned to the Embassy there and according to the report of the Embassy we have and which the Commission has been furnished, the Embassy gave him a clean bill. He had seen the error of his ways and disliked the Soviet atmosphere, et cetera, and they, therefore, cleared him, paid his way and paid his wife's way to come back to this country.
At no time, other than the so called street disturbance in New Orleans, was there any indication that he might be a fighter. Well, in that particular instance he was handing out leaflets that he printed for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and some of the anti-Castro forces, we have several thousand of them in New Orleans alone, happened to see him and they moved in on him and immediately the police moved in and arrested him. I believe they fined him $10 for disorderly conduct. There was no evidence in the place where he was employed in Dallas of acts of violence or temper or anything of that kind on his part.
Representative BOGGS. You have spent your life studying criminology and violence and subversion. Would you care to speculate on what may have motivated the man? I know it would be just speculation.
Mr. HOOVER. My speculation, Mr. Boggs, is that this man was no doubt a dedicated Communist. He prefers to call himself a Marxist, but there you get into the field of semantics. He was a Communist, he sympathized thoroughly with the Communist cause.
I don't believe now, as I look back on it, that he ever changed his views when he asked to come back to this country. I personally feel that when he went to the American Embassy in Moscow originally to renounce his citizenship he should have been able right then and there to sign the renouncement. He never could have gotten back here. I think that should apply to almost all defectors who want to defect and become a part of a system of government that is entirely foreign to ours. If they have that desire, they have that right, but if they indicate a desire for it, let them renounce their citizenship at once.
That was not done. He stayed in Moscow awhile and he went to Minsk where he worked. There was no indication of any difficulty, personally on his part there, but I haven't the slightest doubt that he was a dedicated Communist.
There has been some question raised which cannot be resolved, because Oswald is dead, as to whether he was trying to kill the President or trying to kill the Governor. He had had some correspondence with the Governor as to the form of his discharge from the Marine Corps. It was not a dishonorable discharge, but a discharge less than honorable after he defected.
Governor Connally had left the Navy Department, and was back in Texas as Governor. Oswald may have had his anger or his animosity against the Governor, but no one can say definitely--that is mere speculation, no one can tell that, because the gun and the sighting of the gun was directed at the car.
Now, first, it was thought that the President had been shot through the throat that is what the doctors at the Parkland Hospital felt when he was brought in.
If that had been true, the shot would have had to come from the overpass. But as soon as the body arrived in Washington, the doctors at Bethesda Hospital performed the autopsy and it was then determined definitely from their point of view that he had been shot from the rear, and that portions of the skull had been practically shot off. There was no question but that the gun and the telescopic lens could pinpoint the President perfectly. The car was moving slowly. It wasn't going at a high rate of speed, so that he had perfect opportunity to do it.
Now, some people have raised the question: Why didn't he shoot the President as the car came toward the storehouse where he was working?
The reason for that is, I think, the fact there were some trees between his window on the sixth floor and the cars as they turned and went through the park. So he waited until the car got out from under the trees, and the limbs, and then he had a perfectly clear view of the occupants of the car, and I think he took aim, either on the President or Connally, and I personally believe it was the President in view of the twisted mentality the man had.
But he had given no indication of that--we had interviewed him, I think, three times. Of course, our interviews were predicated to find out whether he had been recruited by the Russian intelligence service, because they frequently do that.
Representative BOGGS. And had he been?
Mr. HOOVER. He had not been, so he said, and we have no proof that he was. He had been over there long enough but they never gave him citizenship in Russia at all. I think they probably looked upon him more as a kind of a queer sort of individual and they didn't trust him too strongly.
But just the day before yesterday information came to me indicating that there is an espionage training school outside of Minsk--I don't know whether it is true and that he was trained at that school to come back to this country to become what they call a "sleeper," that is a man who will remain dormant for 3 or 4 years and in case of international hostilities rise up and be used.
I don't know of any espionage school at Minsk or near Minsk, and I don't know how you could find out if there ever was one because the Russians won't tell you if you asked them.
They do have espionage and sabotage schools in Russia and they do have an assassination squad that is used by them but there is no indication he had any association with anything of that kind.
Representative BOGGS. Now we have some people, including this man's mother, talk about Oswald having been an agent of the Government of the United States. I think his mother mentioned the CIA; she has made these statements publicly for money, apparently.
Mr. HOOVER. Yes; she has.
Representative BOGGS. Just for the purpose of the record, I think it would be well if you would comment on that, Mr. Director.
Mr. HOOVER. Of course, we have interviewed his mother and his wife, and all his relatives, and everybody that he is known to have associated with. His mother I would put in a category of being emotionally unstable. She has been around the country making speeches, and the first indication of her emotional instability was the retaining of a lawyer that anyone would not have retained if they really were serious in trying to get down to the facts. But she has been in New York City; she has been in Chicago; I think other parts of the country, always speaking for money.
Now, that kind of an individual is the type we have seen over the years, who will say almost anything to draw a crowd. Just to be able to say something sensational. Many times we have gone out to such people and asked them specifically, "Now, what is your basis for this?" And they will say, Well, I just had a feeling that that was true, so I said it."
She has never made that statement to us, but we have many other instances where that kind of statement is made. They don't have the legal evidence that you must have if you are going to take any positive action. I would put very little credence in anything that his mother said.
I think his wife was a far more reliable person in statements that she made, so far as we were able to ascertain, than his mother. I think the mother had in mind, naturally, the fact she wanted to clear her son's name, which was a natural instinct, but more importantly she was going to see how much money she could make, and I believe she has made a substantial sum.
Representative BOGGS. And the allegations she has made about this man being an agent either of the CIA or the FBI are false?
Mr. HOOVER. Well, I can certainly speak for the FBI that it is false, and I have discussed the matter, naturally, with Mr. McCone, the Director of CIA, and he, of course, will no doubt appear himself, but there is no indication at all that he was employed by them. We frequently get that kind of a story from individuals who, when they get into some kind of difficulty, will claim they were working for the CIA or they were working for the FBI.
Representative BOGGS. Surely.
Mr. HOOVER. Now, no one can work for the FBI without the approval being given at Washington and a record kept of it, even of the confidential informants. That is very tightly controlled. We have no so-called lump sum that we can use to hire people. So there has to be a voucher and specific details of payment. And I know at no time was he an informant or agent or a special employee or working in any capacity for the FBI.
As to the interviews we had with him in which he gave us some information, some of it was not the truth, but this was not particularly significant. The interviews we had with him I would not term as talking with an informant. He was interviewed while under arrest by the New Orleans police, and then after he had committed this act of assassination we interviewed him in police headquarters in Dallas. But they were the only contacts we had, I think four contacts altogether, and he received no money of any kind, no promise of any kind, and there was no indication that he was rendering assistance to the U.S. Government. We looked upon him as a criminal after the assassination, of course, and prior to that time we looked upon him as an individual who we suspected might become an agent of the Soviet government. There was no proof of that, and we checked him carefully.
We knew of his contact with the Soviet Embassy here at Washington, his contact with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New York, and his contact with the Worker publication in New York. And none of those contacts gave any indication of any tendency to commit violence.
There are many people who read the Daily Worker, or what is now the Worker, and you certainly can't brand them as hazards to the security of the country or as potential assassins. It is in that area that I am particularly concerned that we don't become hysterical and go too far in restricting the citizens of our country from exercising their civil and constitutional rights. The mere fact a person disagrees with you in a matter on communism doesn't mean he should be arrested. Many Communists make very violent speeches, and we know them, but I don't feel that the time has come that they should be arrested. If they have violated the laws of the United States, we will, then, proceed with prosecution, and the cases can then go through the courts. Such cases last for years before they get to the Supreme Court, and even then such cases often start over on some legal angle. But, all in all, I think that the enforcement of security and the enforcement of laws dealing with subversion ought to be handled in the American manner.
I am criticized by the extreme right for that. They put me in the category, I guess, along with General Eisenhower. But the extreme left criticizes me, saying I believe that any person who has on a red necktie may be addicted to communism, and, therefore, is a great danger. That is why I say the extremists at both ends are bad, and I have repeated that several times publicly.
Representative BOGGS. No doubt about the problem being a difficult one. I remember some years back when these fanatics started shooting up the House of Representatives.
Mr. HOOVER. I recall that.
Representative BOGGS. I happened to be there on the occasion and there were many suggestions that we build a bulletproof glass enclosure around the Members of Congress and so on. Of course, all of us rejected those ideas because it would be totally incompatible with our democratic institutions and this, obviously, becomes a problem in the security of the President; that is what you are telling us, isn't it?
Mr. HOOVER. That is the great problem. We have participated in the protection of the President since the assassination. The Secret Service indicates how many agents it needs when the President is traveling somewhere or going somewhere in Washington, and then I assign that number of agents to the Secret Service. They are not under my direction. They are under the direction of the Secret Service because under law they are charged with the protection of the President. We have never done that before, but I felt that it was something we must do if the Secret Service desired it. Sometimes, such as at the funeral of the late President Kennedy, the procession walked up Connecticut Avenue, which created a very, very grave security problem because they were walking with these tall building on either side. As I recall, we had the responsibility for the Cathedral, and we had 43 agents in the Cathedral during the services. I was more concerned about these tall buildings, because all the small buildings have been torn down along Connecticut Avenue, and there were about six or seven blocks to walk. Not only the high officials of this Government, including the President, but the Queen of Greece, General de Gaulle, Emperor Haile Selassie, and many Prime Ministers were present.
They were a perfect target for someone in some window.
Now, you can't empty these buildings. It is impossible to do that, because you can't go to the Mayflower Hotel and say all front rooms must be vacated. Other office buildings are there, even taller than the Mayflower, and you can't make them keep everybody out of the front offices because then you get into a police state.
The Secret Service does try to check to find out who have these various offices. We also check so if there is anything in our files on those individuals the Secret Service is at once advised. When the President goes to a banquet or a social occasion, all of the employees in the hotel, the cooks, waiters, and busboys, and so forth, are all checked by Secret Service to be certain there is no one with a background that would indicate a hazard to the President. But that is as far as I think you can go. You can't put in a whole new staff of waiters and you can't make people move out. People going to a Presidential function are generally invited by card or by list, and that is very carefully checked at the entrance by the Secret Service.
We suggested a few more things that possibly could be done, and some of which I have doubts about. You speak about this matter of glass around the galleries in the House. One of the suggestions that we made was that there be bulletproof glass in front of the President's lectern. In my own mind, I question whether that is wise. Knowing this President as this President is, he wants to get close to the audience; he wants to reach over and shake hands with people. That concerns me because you never know when an emotionally unstable person may be in that crowd. As you noted, he has frequently brought groups into the White House gardens and walked around with people he didn't know. I know the Secret Service people are concerned about it. I am concerned about it.
President Truman last week expressed his concern that the President was taking unnecessary chances.
But the governmental agency having the responsibility for guarding him, the Secret Service, has a natural hesitancy to say, "You can't do this."
Representative BOGGS. Of course, for the record, President Kennedy had the same difficulty.
Mr. HOOVER. That is right. It was best expressed at Parkland Hospital. One of President Kennedy's staff made the statement that the whole fault in this matter was that, in the choice between politics and security, politics was chosen. That is exactly what happened. It was an open car. I am thoroughly opposed to the President riding in an open car.
They did not have any armored car in the Secret Service at that time. I have now sent one of our armored cars over for the President, but it is a closed limousine. But on occasion, such as at Gettysburg and Atlanta the other day, the President got out of the armored car which had been flown there for his use, and commandeered the car of the Secret Service which is wide open, so he could wave and see the people. Now, that is a great hazard. I think he should always be in an armored car that is closed, that can't have the top put down. But as you recall, President Kennedy had the bubble top off of the car that he was in. It was not armored and the bubble top was made of plastic so a bullet could have gone through it very easily.
Representative FORD. Mr. Hoover, you have categorically testified that the FBI never at any time had Oswald as an agent, as an informant, or in any other way.
Mr. HOOVER. That is correct. I couldn't make it more emphatic.
Representative FORD. And Mr. Belmont testified to the same last week when he was before us.
Mr. HOOVER. Yes, sir.
Representative FORD. Both you and he would be fully familiar with all of the records of the FBI in this regard?
Mr. HOOVER. We would, and we would not only be fully familiar with it because while Mr. Belmont is in charge of the Investigative Branch of the Bureau--we have two assistants to the Director, one in charge of administrative work and the other in charge of investigative work--we have also checked the administrative records where vouchers or payments would have been made and there is no indication that any money was ever paid to Oswald. We have obtained, and they are on file with the Commission, the affidavits of the agents, who at various times were in contact with Oswald, to the effect that he was not an informant; that they had never paid him anything; that he was being questioned as to possible recruitment by the Soviet intelligence; so there was no evidence at any time indicating employment by the FBI.
Representative FORD. And you were not under any limitation or restriction from any other authority in this regard?
Mr. HOOVER. Absolutely not. I have the entire control of whether a man shall be an informant or shall not be an informant. That comes under my chain of command from the local office which has the matter at hand. They can't just put on an informant without our approval. The recommendation on security informants comes to the Bureau; it goes through the Assistant Director of the Domestic Intelligence Division, and, in significant cases, goes to Mr. Belmont, and then to my desk for my specific approval. So I, or my seat-of-government staff, have to approve every one of those who are used as informants in all classes of cases, not only in intelligence cases but in white slave cases, automobile thefts, and all of these cases.
Representative FORD. There is no limitation on what you can tell us about this situation?
Mr. HOOVER. None whatsoever.
Representative FORD. No limitation; no restrictions?
Mr. HOOVER. No restriction. So far as the record of vouchers in the Bureau are concerned, they are open to the inspection of this Commission at any time going back as far as you may want to go.
Senator COOPER. May I ask just one question there? I think you have answered it, but in your examination of this aspect as to whether or not Oswald was an informer or employee or held any relationship to the FBI, you, yourself, have looked into all of the means you have of determining that fact when you make the statement to us?
Mr. HOOVER. I have personally looked into that for two reasons: Because the President asked me personally to take charge of this investigation and to direct it, and I knew that the report ultimately would be made to him. For that reason I became familiar with every step and every action that was taken. Then when the allegation was made by someone--I think it was the mother of Oswald first, if I recall correctly--that he was employed by some Government agency, the CIA, or FBI, and maybe both, I insisted upon a check being made and any record showing any indication of that being brought to me. When they could find none, I then asked for affidavits from the field force that had dealt with Oswald as to whether they had hired him or paid him anything or given him anything, and the affidavits are on file here that they had not.
Senator COOPER. I think you have said there is no sum available to the FBI which would enable these men, these agents, to employ him out of any funds that are made available to them.
Mr. HOOVER. Oh, no; it must be done by voucher, and those vouchers are examined by the General Accounting Office every year or so. We have no lump sum in the field offices for employment of informants as such which is not supported by vouchers.
Senator COOPER. I have just about two questions, I may have to go in a few minutes to the Senate. I would like to direct your attention to that period of time when Oswald was a defector, beginning when he left the United States and when he returned.
Mr. HOOVER. Yes, sir.
Senator COOPER. During that period, did the FBI have any jurisdiction over intelligence regarding him, or any capacity to know?
Mr. HOOVER. While he was in Russia?
Senator COOPER. Yes.
Mr. HOOVER. No; we did not. We were interested in knowing what he might say in Russia that appeared in the press. That was our first intimation that this man had defected, when we read it in a newspaper article. We were, of course, interested in knowing when he would return or if he would return. We had no jurisdiction as to what he was doing in Russia after he had gone there.
Senator COOPER. As I understand it, you had no capacity at that time to follow his activities?
Mr. HOOVER. That is true. We have no agents in Russia. Foreign intelligence is handled by the Central Intelligence Agency, and our responsibility is domestic. We work very closely together.
Senator COOPER. Have you had the jurisdiction since the assassination or the occasion to examine persons connected with the State Department concerning the activities of Oswald in Russia?
Mr. HOOVER. Well----
Senator COOPER. Would that be a matter for some other agency?
Mr. HOOVER. That could be a matter for CIA or for us after Oswald had returned here.
Senator COOPER. Yes.
Mr. HOOVER. Then he becomes a civilian in the country here. Now, there is what we call a delimitation agreement among the Government intelligence agencies. For instance, the military branches of the Government have their own intelligence services and they handle all military deviations in regard to espionage or things of that kind. If they want our assistance and ask for it we, of course, will always cooperate. In regard to CIA, there are many cases which CIA and the FBI work jointly on, of individuals that may have been recruited over in Europe by the CIA, not by us, because we don't have authority to do that abroad, but when that man comes to this country, the best ends of intelligence are served by having the two agencies work very closely together, conduct joint interviews, and exchange information very, very freely. That has been going on ever since I can recall CIA being existence.
Mr. DULLES. I would like to testify to the fact that that cooperation existed during the whole period I was Director, and I am sure it has continued now with great cooperation on both sides.
Mr. HOOVER. It is a very necessary thing, because the intelligence agency of many of these foreign countries will cover the whole world and the country itself. Whereas in this country you have separate agencies covering espionage activities. CIA covers the foreign activity, and the FBI the domestic activities, and they must be interlocking. An espionage agent of the Soviet Government can arrive in New York today by plane from Paris and he can be in Mexico City tomorrow. Then, CIA would pick him up there. We would not pick him up there. We would watch him while in this country, but as soon as he takes that plane and leaves the United States CIA moves in on him. If he comes back to the United States, we move in on him. Therefore, we have a very close liaison.
As a matter of fact, what we have done in government agencies is to have a liaison agent in our Bureau assigned to contact CIA, the Pentagon, State Department, and various other agencies to cut out the red tape of writing letters back and forth. In order to orally relay information which has come to his attention, our representative can immediately phone it over to the FBI, and if there is need, for instance, to meet a plane coming in to New York or a boat that is docking at New York, it is all accomplished within a matter of 45 minutes or an hour.
If you went through this letter-writing process and the paper war that goes on so often in the Government it might take a week or 10 days.
The FBI does have 10 legal attaches attached to 10 embassies abroad. Their purpose is not operational. They don't investigate in those countries any matters that have to be investigated. That, if it is to be done, is handled by CIA. Our purpose in being there is to maintain liaison with our opposite number such as the Surete Nationale in France and with the national police in the Philippines, to exchange information that is vital to our internal security, and also vital to the internal security of the other country.
Senator COOPER. May I ask one other question?
Is there any, considering the number of defectors in the United States to Communist countries, which cannot be large, I would assume----
Mr. HOOVER. I think there are about 36.
Senator COOPER. Which would indicate, I would think either a lack of reliability on their part and stability or beyond that a dedicated purpose to become Communists, then upon their return, wouldn't it seem to you they should be given some special attention?
Mr. HOOVER. We have now----
Senator COOPER. To determine whether they are a risk to become Soviet or Communist espionage agents or in fact become dangerous?
Mr. HOOVER. We have taken steps to plug that gap.
Prior to the assassination of the President, a defector, before he came back was always cleared for return by a representative of the State Department or the military abroad. When he came back we immediately interviewed him if he was a civilian. It had to be done promptly to determine whether he could be a potential intelligence agent.
Now, in December of last year, following the assassination, we expanded the criteria of what should be furnished to the Secret Service, and all defectors automatically go on the list to be furnished to the Secret Service.
There are 36 defectors that we know of in this country who have been under investigation. Some of those men may have changed their views sincerely. Some of them may not have. But as a matter of general precaution, as a result of the Oswald situation, we are seeing that all go to the Secret Service.
Mr. DULLES. That includes military defectors, does it not?
Mr. HOOVER. Military defectors and defectors from any private agency, after they return to the U.S. and become civilians. Some have defected to China, to the satellite nations and to Russia.
Senator COOPER. Just one other question, because I have to go.
In the course of this investigation, as you know so well, there have been a number identified who were very close, at least to Mrs. Oswald, and a few, I can't say that were close to Oswald yet they had association with him, such as the man who drove him back and forth, Mrs. Paine, with whom Mrs. Oswald lived, and others, has there been any credible, I won't say credible because if you had you would have presented it to us in your report, has there been any claims by persons that these people are in any way related to the Communist Party?
Mr. HOOVER. We have had no credible evidence that they have been related to the Communist Party in this country.
Now, as to Mrs. Oswald, the wife of Oswald, there is no way of knowing whether she belonged to the Russian Communist Party in Russia. She is a rather intelligent woman, and notwithstanding that you have to talk with her through an interpreter, we have had no indication of her association with Communists in this country, nor have any of her close friends or relatives.
As to his mother, we found no indication she is associated or closely associated with the Communists. She is the only one of the group that we have come in contact with that I would say is somewhat emotionally unstable. Our agents have interviewed her. She sometimes gets very angry and she won't answer questions. As to the rest of the group who had been friends of his, or worked with him in the Texas School Book Depository, none of them have indicated any Communist associations of any kind.
Senator COOPER. Thank you.
Mr. HOOVER. Thank you.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Hoover, I hand you Exhibit 863 and ask you to examine that and state whether or not that is the letter that you referred to in which you answered questions of the Commission concerning the National Enquirer magazine or newspaper?
Mr. HOOVER. This letter of May 8 addressed to the Commission is the letter that dealt with our interview with Chief Curry and was predicated upon the article which appeared in the National Enquirer of May 17, 1964.
Mr. RANKIN. I ask you if you would care to add anything to that letter except what you have already testified to?
Mr. HOOVER. No; I have nothing to add to that. Chief Curry was very specific, I am told by my agent in charge at Dallas, that this article is an absolute lie; that none of these things set forth in the article occurred; that he received no phone call or any request of any kind oral or by phone or in writing from the Department of Justice or from the FBI. As I stated earlier, the report from the Department of Justice indicated that they made no request.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Chairman, I offer in evidence Exhibit 863, being the letter just referred to.
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admitted. (The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 863 for identification and received in evidence.)