New interview with JFK witness Ruth Paine from about a month or so ago. She describes her dealings with Lee Harvey Oswald while his wife Marina and their baby(ies) [Lee and Marina’s second baby was born that October while Marina was staying with Paine] were staying at her house in Irving, TX in the fall of 1963. At the time Lee lived separately from his family in a rooming house in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas while working at the Texas School Book Depository. He would visit his family at the Paine residence on weekends, but normally stayed at the rooming house during the week.

Paine is viewed with hostility and suspicion by many JFK researchers. She didn’t like Oswald and was convinced he acted alone in the assassination. To some conspiracy theorists she seems to represent the ultimate snitch – a back-stabbing goody-two shoes; the “teacher’s pet” of the Warren Commission and it’s lone-nut conclusion. They have pointed out her family ties to the CIA (her sister worked for them), her husband’s family connection to the “military-industrial complex” (through his stepfather and Bell Helicopter), and her central role in Oswald’s getting his job at the TSBD (she’s the one who suggested he apply there) as evidence that she was part of a conspiracy to knock off Kennedy and blame Oswald.

Personally, I’ve always found the accusations against Paine to be borderline-preposterous. First of all, the Paines were liberals. Ruth Paine is a Quaker. Hello? Liberal Quaker peace activists tend not to participate in politcal assassinations. Kennedy was himself a big fan of the Quakers. Paine had learned Russian years earlier so that she could promote peace between the two superpowers. That is how she ended up befriending Marina and Lee in the first place.

Secondly, as I’ve already described in a previous post, Oswald’s Guilt, it’s virtually impossible to make the case that Oswald was deliberately “placed” in the TSBD job by anyone involved in a possible conspiracy, let alone Ruth Paine. The overwhelming preponderance of the evidence suggests that Oswald got the Depository job by accident when Paine heard her neighbor Linnie Mae Randle describe how her brother worked there. Randle’s brother, Buell Wesley Frazier, lived with Randle, only a half-block from Paine. Frazier provided Oswald with his rides to and from Dallas and Irving after Oswald landed the job. Was Frazier “placed” at the Depository by conspirators so that his sister could “mention” that fact while having coffee with Ruth Paine and Marina Oswald at a third neighbor’s house, so that Paine could have an alibi for conveniently “suggesting” (wink, wink) that Oswald apply there? I hope you understand I’m being facetious. The fact is that this scenario would have been virtually impossible to stage. Many conspiracy theorists can’t admit this essential fact and it makes the whole research community look ridiculous. My advice to other JFK assassination buffs is that they stop jumping on Paine until they have some real evidence against her (and fyi I don’t buy Roger Craig’s station wagon story either).

I will say that Paine does seem a little obtuse to me. Especially in this interview, when she describes how she didn’t think Oswald was all there mentally because he used an alias at his Oak Cliff rooming house, where he had registered as “O.H. Lee”. Paine says Oswald’s aliases were evidence of his delusions. After 50 years she’s still blind to the overwhelming evidence of Oswald’s very real connections to intelligence agencies. Oswald used another alias, “Alek J. Hidell”, to set up a phony Fair Play For Cuba chapter in New Orleans a few months earlier, as part of a propaganda/smear campaign against that organization, as I describe in an earlier post. His use of aliases was a device to help him avoid detection, not a sign of mental illness.

My message is don’t buy the more extreme accusations against Ruth Paine, but do take what she says about Oswald with a huge grain of salt. After all, she doesn’t really seem to have known him very well, and after 50 years she doesn’t seem to have done any additional research on him, either.