Clueless J. Edgar Hoover
Imposter At Soviet Embassy in Mexico City?

Conspiracists have long believed that someone impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald at the Cuban and Soviet Embassies in Mexico City in late September, 1963. One piece of "evidence" they use is a memorandum written by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The following is from the Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

The question of an Oswald imposter was also raised in an FBI letterhead memorandum to the Secret Service dated November 23, 1963. It was based in part upon information received by CIA headquarters on October 9, 1963, that on October 1, 1963, Oswald had contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City:

The Central Intelligence Agency advised that on October 1, 1963, an extremely sensitive source had reported that an individual identified himself as Lee Oswald, who contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City inquiring as to any messages. Special Agents of this Bureau, who have conversed with Oswald in Dallas, Tex., have observed photographs of the individual referred to above and have listened to a recording of his voice. These Special Agents are of the opinion that the above-referred-to individual was not Lee Harvey Oswald.
In response to a committee inquiry, the FBI reported that no tape recording of Oswald's voice was in fact ever received. The Bureau explained that its Dallas office only received the report of a conversation to which Oswald had been a party. This explanation was independently confirmed by the committee. A review of relevant FBI cable traffic established that at 7:23 p.m. (CST) on November 23, 1963, Dallas Special Agent-in-Charge Shanklin advised Director Hoover that only a report of this conversation was available, not an actual tape recording. On November 25, the Dallas office again apprised the Director that "[t]here appears to be some confusion in that no tapes were taken to Dallas * * * [O]nly typewritten [reports were] supplied * * *."

Shanklin stated in a committee interview that no recording was ever received by FBI officials in Dallas. Moreover, former FBI Special Agents James Hosty, John W. Fain, Burnett Tom Carter, and Arnold J. Brown, each of whom had conversed with Oswald at one time, informed the committee they had never listened to a recording of Oswald's voice.

Finally, on the basis of an extensive file review and detailed testimony by present and former CIA officials and employees, the committee determined that CIA headquarters never received a recording of Oswald's voice. The committee concluded, therefore, that the information in the November 23, 1963, letterhead memorandum was mistaken and did not provide a basis for concluding that there had been an Oswald imposter.

This from the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Report, pp. 249-250.

Of course, conspiracists will happily say that all those FBI agents lied. Indeed, they will happily say that the House Select Committee was lying.

And an Assocated Press reporter, having been fed very selective information by two conspiracy advocates (John Newman and Jeff Morley) bought the whole "tapes not of Oswald" story. And there are indeed multiple FBI documents from the Bureau's headquarters in Washington saying that tapes, with a voice not Oswald's, arrived in Dallas.

The problem, however, is that all these multiple reports in DC stem from one FBI official: Alan Belmont. He talked to Dallas Special Agent in Charge Gordon Shanklin early on November 23, and apparently misunderstood what he was told.

But Jean Davison discovered the memorandum that FBI agent Eldon Rudd delivered to the FBI in Dallas very early on the morning of November 23, after having flown from Mexico City. His task was to deliver CIA materials from Mexico City to Bureau people in that Texas city.

The memo clearly says "these tapes have been erased and are not available for review."

Conspiracists will happily say the CIA was lying about anything and everything. But why would the CIA say the tapes had been erased, and then send the tapes with Rudd to Dallas along with the same memo that said the tapes had been erased?

Further, another document discovered by Davison shows that, on November 22, Gordon Shanklin had talked to Alan Belmont, and was told to expect photos of Oswald and transcripts of calls Oswald made from the Cuban and Soviet embassies. There was no mention of "tapes."

So, there is no mention of tapes being sent to Dallas before Belmont talked to Shanklin on the morning of November 23. And by the evening of the 23rd, Shanklin had found out about the "tapes" report and corrected the record. But the bad information had already metastasized into a paper trail that conspiracists have touted for decades, ignoring contrary data.

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