Arguments Against Points 7–10

Mark Lane:
Oswald Innocent? A Lawyer’s Brief

7 : Oswald was seen in the building by a police officer just after the President had been shot

Wade said, “A police officer, immediately after the assassination, ran in the building and saw this man in a corner and tried to arrest him; but the manager of the building said he was an employee and it was all right. Every other employee was located but this defendant of the company. A description and name of him went out to police to look for him.” (At this point it might be in order to state that all of the Wade quotations are reproduced unedited, and in their entirety. The text of the Wade remarks appeared in the New York Times, Nov. 26.)

Unexplained by Wade is why the officer was going to arrest Oswald, who was sipping a soft drink in the lunchroom along with others. If the officer had reason to single out Oswald for arrest for the assassination at that time, it seems unlikely that the mere statement that Oswald was an employee might result in immunity from arrest.

Wade does explain, however, how the almost immediate description of Oswald was radioed to the police and to the citizens of Dallas. The explanation: “Every other employee was located but this defendant of the company.” The New York Times (Nov. 23) reported: “About 90 persons were employed in the Texas School Book Depository and most of them were out watching the President’s motorcade when the shots were fired.” Police Chief Curry, who was riding in a car just 40 feet ahead of the limousine carrying the President, said he could tell from the sound of the three shots that they had come from the book company’s building. Moments after the shots were fired, Curry said, he radioed instructions that the building be surrounded and searched (New York Times, Nov. 24). The deployment of 500 officers from his 1,100–man force made fast action possible in the manhunt, he said.

The scene painted for us by Wade and Curry finds officers immediately rushing to the building to seal it off and search it. This is the building from which the fatal shots allegedly were fired.

In these circumstances, is it likely that Oswald was permitted to leave the premises after the police had arrived? Is it likely that Oswald, after killing the President, and deciding to leave the premises, decided first to stop off for a soda, and had then — only after the building was surrounded, sealed off, and the search begun — made an effort to leave? Is it likely that each of the almost 90 employees, most of whom were outside of the building, engulfed in the panic and confusion attendant upon the assassination, could easily and quickly return to his place of employment through the police line, while still on his lunch hour, so that “every other employee was located but this defendant…” and the description of the one missing employee radioed at once?

8 : Oswald’s wife said that the rifle was missing Friday morning

Wade said, “The wife had said he had the gun the night before, and it was missing that morning after he left.” All indications are from statements made to other law officials and from FBI private briefings that Mrs. Oswald had never been quoted as saying anything remotely similar to Wade’s assertion.

Mrs. Oswald was alleged to have said, at the very most, that she saw something in a blanket that could have been a rifle. However, it soon became plain that the Secret Service “leak” was itself absolutely inaccurate. Later we discovered that Mrs. Oswald stated that she never knew that her husband owned a rifle nor did she know he owned a pistol (New York Times, Dec. 8).

Perhaps Wade and the Secret Service felt confident that, just as Oswald never got the opportunity to tell his side of the story, Mrs. Oswald might also have difficulty in being heard. Immediately after the assassination Marina Oswald, Oswald’s wife, was incarcerated by the Secret Service. “The widow and relatives of Lee Harvey Oswald are being sequestered here (Dallas) by the Secret Service. A spokesman for the Secret Service said the family was being kept in a secret place for its own protection … A Secret Service spokesman said he did not know when they would be released.” (New York Times, Nov. 27.)

Inasmuch as there will be no trial, Marina Oswald clearly is not being held as a material witness. Since the federal government has no jurisdiction in any event, there seems to be no legal basis for her incarceration. Lee Oswald’s mother, jeopardized by the existing hysteria as much as his widow, after being released from Secret Service “protective custody,” requested that a guard be stationed at the door of her home. The Secret Service rejected that request, stating that she was not in danger. One wonders then why Marina Oswald, widely and inaccurately quoted by the Secret Service and FBI, has remained in custody and practically incommunicado as well. The same issue of the New York Times that correctly stated Marina Oswald’s view of the rifle said, “Mrs. Oswald has been moved from the motel where she was taken with Mrs. Marguerite Oswald, her brother–in–law and his wife, after her husband was killed. She is now excluded from Oswald’s relatives as well as from the public.” Several days after the “protective custody” began a reporter sought an interview with Marina Oswald. She indicated a desire to meet the reporter. The FBI then intervened and prevented the interview.

It would seem that the Secret Service move was dictated by a desire to prevent any truthful leaks from Mrs. Oswald’s family or friends or through the press in reference to her views. At about the same time more Secret Service and FBI “leaks” regarding Marina Oswald’s recollection of her late husband’s “attempt to shoot Gen. Walker with the same assassination rifle” flooded the front pages of every daily in America. Marina Oswald’s assertion that she never even knew that her husband owned a rifle, buried in the 14th paragraph of a story appearing on page 63 of the New York Times, is a total repudiation of that fabrication.

It may be said that when Marina Oswald is released from “protective custody” she will be able to discuss the truth of the statements attributed to her by the FBI, the Secret Service and Wade. The Secret Service has “suggested to her [Marina Oswald] that it might be safer and easier for her to return to the Soviet Union than to try to live in the United States (Times, Dec. 8).” Perhaps the Secret Service intended to indicate that it would be safer and easier for the Secret Service, the FBI and Wade and the case against Oswald if Mrs. Oswald quietly left the country.

Meanwhile, back to Wade’s “clinched case.” Even if Mrs. Oswald did state that her husband owned a rifle and that it was missing Friday morning, such “evidence” would not be admissible under the laws of Texas. The Dallas law enforcement officials, nevertheless, released that “evidence” to the public and, therefore, to all potential jurors in Dallas, while Oswald was alive and facing the possibility of trial. Such conduct did violence both to the spirit and letter of law and ethics and to the rights of the defendant.

In view of Marina Oswald’s lack of knowledge regarding the rifle, and in view of the statement made by Mrs. Paine, at whose home the rifle was alleged to have been stored, one questions whether Oswald ever actually possessed the rifle. “Mrs. Paine, a Quaker, said she had no idea what was in the blanket. She said that because of her personal beliefs she would not allow a weapon of any sort into her home.” (New York World Telegram and Sun, Nov. 25).

9 : Oswald had a package under his arm Friday

The prosecutor said, “This day he went home one day earlier on Thursday night, and came back to — with this fellow — and when he came back he had a package under his arm that he said was window curtains, I believe, or window shades.”

If Oswald were alive, we would proceed to ask him whether he carried a package to work Friday morning, and if so, what was in the package and what happened to the contents. If Mrs. Oswald were not locked up in a secret location we might ask her about the package. Wade has not indicated what evidence regarding the package led him to the conclusion that he offered (that it contained the murder weapon).

10 : Oswald, while taking a bus from the scene, laughed loudly as he told a woman passenger that the President had been shot

Wade said, “The next we hear of him is on a bus where he got on at Lamar Street, told the bus driver the President had been shot, the President. [He] told the lady — all this was verified by her statements — told the lady on the bus that the President had been shot. He said, ‘How did he know?’ He said a man back there told him. The defendant said, ‘Yes, he’s been shot’ and laughed very loud.”

Wade, in telling his story, made no attempt to explain how Oswald escaped from the building sealed off by scores of Dallas police. We leave that mystery to enter a new one. Why did Oswald, fleeing the scene of a murder, joke publicly about the murder? Why did he “laugh very loud”? Such behavior is hardly consistent with 48 hours of consistent denial of guilt when in custody of the Dallas authorities. The laughter on the bus story seemed so unlikely that the FBI, in off–the–record briefing sessions for the press, conceded that it was untrue. In considering that the bus laughter story is false, we consider also the statement by Wade in the telling of that story, “…all this was verified by statements.”

A Lawyer’s Brief

Four weeks after the murders of President Kennedy and Lee Oswald, the National Guardian published an extended essay by Mark Lane, who pointed out that the existing evidence was not sufficient to have convicted Oswald at trial. Soon afterwards, the essay was expanded and published by the magazine as a pamphlet.

This Version

The National Guardian no longer exists, and copies of Lane’s pamphlet are now collectors’ items. The text has been available online for many years at http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/. It is available here for the first time in correct HTML, and has been split into sections for ease of reading online.

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22 November 1963

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