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The WC Testimony of Michael Paine (Part 3)

[Photo: Handwritten letter to the Soviet Union written by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 9, 1963]

Michael Paine appeared three times before the Warren Commission (WC). The first time was on March 17, 1964, and the second time was the very next day. On the second day, the WC attorneys asked basically the same questions as the day before – but this time they asked for more detail.


A summary is in order at this point. The sources for this summary will include elements from the WC testimonies of James Hosty, Ruth Paine, and Marina Oswald.

The wealthy Michael Paine, who was separated from Ruth and their two small children in 1963, was in closer contact with Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) than he was willing to tell the WC attorneys. Michael supported Ruth’s plan to help Marina Oswald obtain prenatal care at Parkland Hospital, although this meant that LHO would come over every weekend to visit Marina and their baby June, and sleep and eat there at no charge on Friday and Saturday nights.

Michael and Ruth discussed it – they did not feel that LHO was dangerous. (Ruth never saw LHO strike Marina, and never saw any of the black eyes on Marina that the Russian emigrees had testified to the WC.)

Ruth cared so deeply about Marina’s prenatal care that she agreed to support LHO on weekends in this way – for Marina’s sake. After a few weeks Ruth wrote to her mother that LHO wasn’t such a bad guy after all. He was always kind and gentle with Marina while in her home. He played nicely with the kids outside, and he did handy work around the house.

As October 1963 began, neither Michael nor Ruth knew that LHO secretly brought his rifle to Ruth’s garage. We speculate that this happened on the afternoon of Friday, October 4th, when LHO first arrived at Ruth Paine’s house, after six months in New Orleans. His accomplices had driven LHO to Dallas from Mexico, and most likely had driven him to Irving, too. When LHO arrived, he probably placed his rifle bundle on the side of Ruth’s house (the side that had no neighbors). And when LHO found at that moment that Ruth had gone grocery shopping and left Marina in charge, he brought his rifle bundle into her cluttered garage.

The rifle was wound in a blanket and tied with string at both ends in a bundle. In subsequent days, Michael Paine worked in his garage from time to time, and he even moved LHO’s bundle out of his way a number of times. Michael testified that he never guessed it was a rifle – he guessed it was some sort of camping equipment. He also testified that he would never open anybody’s private property – even in his own garage.

The WC attorneys now asked Michael Paine about the humiliation of U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson in Dallas on October 24, 1963, and whether LHO had anything to do with that.

Mr. LIEBELER: Did he tell you whether or not he was at the Stevenson meeting itself?

Mr. PAINE: …I didn’t ask him that.

Mr. LIEBELER: You have no recollection of his mentioning it at all?

Mr. PAINE: No, I don’t remember what – I think I assumed that he had.

Mr. LIEBELER: You assumed that he had been at the Stevenson affair?

Mr. PAINE: I think I assumed that.

Mr. LIEBELER: Do you have any basis for that assumption?

Mr. PAINE: There had been some discussion in the ACLU, some other people had gotten up and had spoken of that awful…previous night, that awful time, and I think he seemed to nod his assent…

Mr. LIEBELER: You inferred from that that he had possibly been present at the Stevenson meeting?

Mr. PAINE: Yes.

Mr. LIEBELER: There was no other basis for your assumption in that regard?

Mr. PAINE: That is right.

Let’s review. Michael Paine had driven LHO to General Walker’s US Day rally at the Dallas Memorial Stadium in downtown Dallas on Wednesday, October 23. At that event General Walker led perhaps a hundred people to carefully plan the humiliation of Adlai Stevenson at the same stadium the following night.

As for the nationally broadcast humiliation of Adlai Stevenson on October 24, 1963, Michael said he could not be certain – but he assumed that LHO was there. Really? Yet LHO had no car. Michael drove LHO to General Walker’s US Day rally on October 23rd. Also, Michael drove LHO to an ACLU meeting two days later, on October 25th. At that ACLU meeting LHO remarked to the gathering about what happened at General Walker’s rally.

So, it makes good sense that Michael himself drove LHO to the Adlai Stevenson rally, an event that occurred on October 24th – the date precisely between those other two events – on precisely the same street where Michael had driven LHO for those other two events.

If so, then we can see a strong motive for Michael Paine to meekly testify that, “I think I assumed that he had” attended the Stevenson meeting. Michael knew where the facts would lead – to a confession that Michael literally collaborated with LHO on political research in Dallas during October 1963. In 1964, when the US public expected to see heads roll after the JFK Assassination, such a confession would be tantamount to suicide.

Let’s keep this in mind as we continue our summary narrative.

Everything turned upside down for the Oswalds and the Paines starting Friday, November 1, 1963, when FBI Agent James Hosty came to Ruth Paine’s home and asked Ruth about LHO. Where did LHO live? Where did LHO work? James Hosty wanted to know.

Ruth asked herself, “Why did the FBI come asking about LHO? What’s going on here? Should I be worried?” Hosty assured Ruth that the main reason for his visit was a routine interview of Marina Oswald, a Russian citizen. So, Ruth explained that Marina only one week ago had delivered a baby and was how taking a nap. Hosty told Ruth to let Marina sleep – for now he only wanted to know where LHO lived and worked.

Ruth Paine was as cooperative with the FBI as possible. She invited Hosty into her living room. She didn’t know where LHO lived, but she did know that it was somewhere in Oak Cliff. Also, she knew his phone number and she promptly gave that to Hosty. Also, she knew where LHO worked, and she went to her phone book to get the formal name and address for Hosty.

Ruth told Hosty that LHO would visit Marina every weekend after work – starting on Fridays, that very evening – and as far as she was concerned, Hosty was welcome to visit on any weekend to speak with LHO personally. Hosty politely declined; he didn’t work on weekends. According to Hosty, that fruitful meeting with Ruth lasted about 20 minutes.

As Hosty prepared to leave, however, Marina awoke from her nap and came into the living room. Ruth told Marina that this man was from the FBI, and Marina’s eyes widened. She told Ruth in Russian that if the FBI contacted LHO at work, he might lose his job! Hosty saw this expression on Marina’s face as Ruth translated her words to him. Hosty asked Ruth to relay to Marina that the FBI doesn’t contact people at work, and that the FBI does not harass people but protects people. Ruth relayed that and Hosty wrote his name and office phone number on a business card, handed it to Ruth, and left.

That evening after work, LHO came to Ruth’s home as usual to spend his fifth weekend there. Ruth told LHO about the FBI visit and about all that was said. LHO became silent and sullen. He took Marina into her bedroom and began planning his response to the FBI. This was obvious FBI harassment because of his past with Russia. How dare the FBI offer to “protect” Marina! LHO instructed Marina as follows: “When that FBI agent returns to speak with you – get his name, his phone number, and his vehicle license number!” Marina agreed.

Hosty came the following Tuesday, November 5th, along with a rookie. They briefly met Ruth at her door. Ruth said that Marina was napping again. That’s OK, said Hosty. “Do you have LHO’s address yet?” (Ruth had already given Hosty the phone number of Hosty’s rooming house, and she was surprised that the FBI was unable to identify a street address starting from a phone number.) Ruth invited them inside, but Hosty declined this time. At this brief meeting, Hosty testified, Ruth told him that LHO was an “irrational, Trotskyite Communist.” She said that she had invited pregnant Marina to live with her – but not LHO. She was taking care of Marina, not LHO.

As Hosty and Ruth they were chatting at Ruth’s front door, Marina secretly crept out of the house to the street and copied Hosty’s license plate number, and crept back in. Marina now had Hosty’s name, phone, and license number – just as LHO had instructed.

Upon his regular call to Marina, LHO received Hosty’s contact information as requested from Marina. LHO wrote that down in his little black book. Hosty didn’t know until 1964 that LHO kept Hosty’s contact information in his little black book.

During the ensuing week, as we’ll soon see, LHO planned two big reprisals for the FBI. The first reprisal would begin to roll out on Saturday, November 9, 1963. Let’s take this slowly. Ruth had been slowly teaching LHO to drive a car. He was ready for a learner’s permit, she thought. They were too excited to call ahead, so they drove to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles in Dallas and it was closed. The WC asked Michael Paine whether he was at Ruth Paine’s house on Saturday:

Mr. LIEBELER: Were you at the house on Saturday? November 9th?

Mr. PAINE: I was at the house probably on Saturday and certainly on Sunday. I think that weekend I remember stepping over Lee as he sat in front of the TV, stepping past one of these objects laying on the floor and thinking to myself, ‘for a person who has a business to do he certainly can waste the time!’ By ‘business’ I mean some kind of activity and keeping track of right-wing causes and left-wing causes or something. I supposed that he spent his time as I would be inclined to spend more of my time if I had it, trying to sense the pulse of various groups in the Dallas area.

This quotation is interesting because Michael fumbled the final clauses in his effort to distance himself from LHO. Michael couldn’t remember positively whether or not he was at Ruth’s home on Saturday – but he probably was – yet this was a big day for LHO, politically. Secondly, Michael remembered looking down upon LHO as someone who “sat in front of the TV” on a weekend when LHO “has a business to do.”

Michael explained the precise nature of that business; it was: “keeping track of right-wing causes and left-wing causes.” Michael fumbled again by adding that this business was precisely his own business, too. He said, “I would be inclined to spend more of my time if I had it, trying to sense the pulse of various groups in the Dallas area.” This was a confession.

Yet the way that Michael phrased it involved some hard back-pedaling. He criticized LHO specifically for lounging around watching TV and neglecting his “business” of “keeping track of right-wing causes and left-wing causes.” But how in the world would Michael Paine know that this extremely specific activity was the “business” of LHO? There is only one answer – Michael Paine and LHO had to have an extremely close political relationship.

So, Michael had to back-pedal. As he put it, “I supposed that he spent his time, as I would be inclined to spend more of my time if I had it.” But back-pedaling only made it worse. Michael supposed that LHO spent his time as Michael would have spent his own time?

The conclusion seems clear. Michael and LHO were tracking right-wing groups in Dallas and reporting this during liberal events – together. This fact would trigger a brake pedal on Michael Paine’s further WC testimony.


On Saturday, November 9, 1963 (whether or not Michael had come) during his sixth weekend at Ruth Paine’s home, LHO finally settled in to focus on the FBI. He asked Ruth to use her typewriter. He wanted to type a letter that he had written during the week. Ruth said OK, but she later noticed that LHO was spending hours at this. He refused her offers to help and he behaved in a secretive manner.

After he finished, it seems he accidentally left his handwritten original on Ruth’s typing table. She saw it there on Saturday night, but she wouldn’t touch somebody’s private property.

On Sunday, November 10, 1963, Michael came over to visit his children, and soon Ruth put Michael and LHO to work rearranging furniture. After dinner, after Michael left, and after everybody had gone to bed, Ruth noticed that LHO’s handwritten letter was still on her typing table late Sunday night. Ruth couldn’t resist, so she casually glanced at it. She saw the phrase, “the notorious FBI.” Well, Ruth didn’t like that one bit.

Ruth respected the FBI. She cooperated with the FBI. How could LHO speak in that tone? In her house? On her typewriter? So, she decided to read the entire letter. For those who haven’t read the letter (and who can’t read LHO’s handwriting), I’ll type it in here (misspellings and all). LHO’s letter was addressed to the “Consular Division, Embassy USSR, Washington DC.” What? That startled Ruth, and that was only the beginning. The letter continued:

Dear Sirs,

This is to inform you of recent events since my meetings with comrade Kostin in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, Mexico City, Mexico.

I was unable to remain in Mexico indefinitely because of my Mexican visa restrictions which was for 15 days only. I could not take a chance on requesting a new visa unless I used my real name, so I returned to the United States.

I had not planned to contact the Soviet embassy in Mexico so they were unprepared, had I been able to reach the Soviet Embassy in Havana as planned, the Embassy there would have had time to complete our business.

Of course, the Soviet Embassy was not at fault. They were, as I say, unprepared. The Cuban Consul was guilty of gross breach of regulations. I am glad he has since been replaced.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is not now interested in my activities in the progressive organization, Fair Play For Cuba Committee, of which I was the secretary in New Orleans (state Louisiana) since I no longer reside in that state.

However, the F.B.I. has visited us here in Dallas, Texas, on November 1. Agent James P. Hosty warned me that if I engaged in F.P.C.C. activities in Texas the F.B.I. will again take an ‘interest’ in me.

This agent also ‘suggested’ to Marina Nichilayova that she could remain in the United States under F.B.I. ‘protection.’ That is, she could defect from the Soviet Union. Of course, I and my wife strongly protested these tactics by the notorious F.B.I.

Please inform us of the arrival of our Soviet entrance visas as soon as they come.

Also, this is to inform you of the birth, on October 20, 1963, of a DAUGHTER, AUDREY MARINA OSWALD in DALLAS, TEXAS, to my wife.

What was this maze of nonsense?!

What was all this about the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC?! What’s this about Mexico City?! What’s this about Havana, Cuba?! What’s this about “our business,” as if LHO had current business with the Soviets?!

More alarming – what’s this about not using his real name?! Next Ruth read a rapid fire of lies, lies, lies!!

1. “The FBI is not now interested” in LHO? The FBI had visited Ruth twice in one week asking about LHO!

2. What about the FPCC? Neither LHO nor Marina had ever mentioned the FPCC to her before.

3. What about the FBI visiting “us”? LHO was never at either of Hosty’s visits to her home!

4. Hosty never “warned” LHO of anything, because LHO was never there!

5. Hosty never suggested to Marina that she could defect from the USSR under FBI protection! Ruth was there! She heard everything!

6. What about LHO’s claim that “I and my wife strongly protested these tactics?” Since LHO was never at those meetings with the FBI, then obviously he could never protest.

7. And finally, how dare LHO use the phrase “notorious FBI” in her house?

Ruth Paine quickly copied this letter in her own handwriting. She would hand it to James Hosty the next time he came to their door. She was upset about the letter. She didn’t fear LHO. She was just disoriented about him. He had seemed so reasonable for the past several weeks. So caring about Marina and his family. This letter came out of left field.

On Veterans Day, Monday, November 11th, LHO spent an extra day lounging at Ruth Paine’s home, and preparing for his next salvo against FBI Agent James Hosty. Early on Tuesday, November 12th, the well-laid plans of LHO unfolded as he mailed his typewritten letter to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC. LHO knew full well that FBI policy mandated that the FBI in Washington DC would intercept this letter. There they would read this personal jab at Hosty and ask him to explain his actions.

LHO’s next salvo came at lunchtime. He personally visited the FBI field office in Dallas with another note that he’d handwritten for James Hosty personally. Hosty wasn’t in his office said the receptionist, so LHO gave her the note to relay to him – no envelope – it was short and sour. (Hosty would flush it down the commode only ten days later. He later testified that it contained strong language against Hosty himself, demanding that he leave Marina alone.)

On the evening of that same day, Tuesday, November 12, 1963, Michael Paine came to dinner at Ruth’s home. After dinner, as Michael sat reading his mail, Ruth interrupted him to show him LHO’s handwritten letter to a Soviet Embassy. Michael was only irked, however, that Ruth had read somebody’s personal mail! Michael was also irked that Ruth would ask him to read it. Ruth insisted, however, so Michael superficially scanned it. The first thing he saw was the greeting, “Dear Lisa,” as it appeared to him – so this now seemed to be a personal mail to a woman named Lisa!

Michael quickly scanned the rest – there was something about Mexico, so LHO was probably boasting to his girlfriend about fictional travels. Michael saw the words, “notorious FBI,” but again, LHO was probably boasting to his girlfriend. The bulk of the letter was illegible to Michael (as it is to most of us). He quickly handed it back to Ruth, telling her in effect, “Yes, yes, it’s full of lies. So what?” Let’s review some of Michael Paine’s WC testimony word for word here.

Mr. LIEBELER: This letter refers to the fact that Oswald had been in Mexico, does it not?

Mr. PAINE: Yes; it tells of his visit to the Cuban Consul and the Soviet Embassy there.

Mr. LIEBELER: Did your wife call that to your attention when she showed you this letter?

Mr. PAINE: …She took it, and I likewise took it as somewhat of a fabricated story. I didn’t suppose he had been down to Mexico. You read “Dear Sirs” there, I read “Dear Lisa.” I thought he was writing to a friend… After I had given the letter back to her, Ruth was somewhat irked that I didn’t take more interest in the thing. …and she didn’t show it to me again. I asked her, “Now what was in that letter that I didn’t see?” ...She didn’t tell me.

So, Ruth Paine read LHO’s handwritten letter to the Soviet Embassy, complaining about FBI agent James Hosty. The phrase, “notorious FBI,” and other elements in it alarmed Ruth. Michael briefly scanned the same letter and it merely embarrassed him to read somebody’s personal mail. Michael did not notice the line in that letter which suggested that Lee Harvey Oswald might not be his real name!

LHO Was Not Deranged

All in all, Michael didn’t believe that LHO was a deranged person. Ruth always regarded LHO as honest. Though bitter about his poverty, he still had pride and a Stoic attitude, and she saw no reason to suspect that LHO was involved in any subterfuge of any kind.

After two visits from the FBI in a single week, however, and then this bizarre letter – all this shattered her hopes for LHO. He was a liar. What else had he lied about? Ruth was good to Marina and so good to LHO. Why would LHO betray her like this? Michael briefly scanned the same letter and maintained his opinion – that LHO was harmless. Let’s read some of that testimony.

Mr. LIEBELER: Now, on the basis of your knowledge of Oswald and your meetings with him, and your familiarity with him prior to the time of the assassination, did you form an opinion about him as to whether or not he would be likely to commit an act such as this, or whether he would be likely to take the life of any human being?

Mr. PAINE: It was a question we had to consider when we considered having Marina at our house. So, Ruth and I discussed that, whether he was a dangerous person, and he didn’t seem to be dangerous. Of course, I also felt that I wasn’t a particular opponent or foe of his. Helping his family, we were quite free…For the most part, it was a cordial relationship…he didn’t display hostility to me or to Ruth. And he was nice with the children, and while they were living with us, he was nice to Marina also. He was during this time…quite a reasonable person. He was only unreasonable the first time I had met him.

Mr. LIEBELER: You did not think him to be a violent person or one who would be likely to commit an act such as assassinating the President?

Mr. PAINE: I didn’t. I saw he was a bitter person. He was bitter and had quite a lot of negative views of people in the world around him; very little charity in his view toward anybody, but I thought he was harmless.

Way back on April 2, 1963, as Michael claimed, he first met LHO, and spent a half-hour at LHO’s apartment on Neely Street in Dallas. They spoke about politics for the whole time – except for those moments that LHO would scream loudly and rudely at Marina in Russian – in front of a total stranger.

At those moments, Michael remembered what Marina had been complaining about to Ruth Paine, namely, that LHO was mean to her, not allowing her to learn English, and keeping her in servitude. So, Michael moved closer to helping Ruth to help Marina – as gently as possible. Aside from that, Michael regarded LHO as bitter – but not as violent.

All of this is relevant to the JFK Assassination, in a sideways sort of manner. Let’s follow Allen Dulles as he now questions Michael Paine:

Mr. DULLES: In the light of subsequent information and developments, and the information that is publicly available, have you reached any…conclusions as to whether or not Lee Oswald was the assassin of the President?

Mr. PAINE: When the police first asked me, did I think he had done it, my dubiousness in my mind arose from not seeing how this could…help his cause, and I didn’t think he was irrational. It did not seem to me that he could shoot a man as he would shoot a tin can. Difficulty of a person shooting another person [however] was not [a solid] reason for my doubting, and the circumstantial evidence seemed quite powerful to me.

Although Michael was moved by the all the circumstantial evidence, he still doubted. The JFK Assassination was irrational, said Michael, and he didn’t see LHO as irrational. Michael Paine saw that LHO was bitter about his poverty – yet that’s not irrational – that’s actually a rational response. And killing JFK did nothing to help LHO’s political causes, which LHO spoke about incessantly. Despite all the material evidence, Michael saw no motive.

WC attorney Liebeler continued the questioning, with a focus on Michael Paine’s observation that the circumstantial evidence “seemed quite powerful.”:

Mr. LIEBELER: Seemed quite powerful?

Mr. PAINE: Yes. But then I realized with subsequent people…somebody said it is only a single-shot rifle. I recognized that one little fact like that could alter my thinking entirely. Somebody else said there was a shot through the windshield of the car. We went down to the place and looked around and he thought that – he had a theory that the [President] had been shot from a manhole in the street, so I recognized that my views could change with evidence.

Michael also realized that the material evidence as presented by the WC could all be dismissed if only one single contradictory fact was corroborated. Liebeler continued:

Mr. LIEBELER: Do you have a view on Oswald’s guilt at this time?

Mr. PAINE: Most of these other things have proved to be false. It seems to be a clip-fed rifle. The man who thought it was shot from the place – I went down and saw – the diagram drawn by LIFE seemed to be quite accurate so far as I could reconstruct the thing. There was confusion about the number of bullets. I never did discover. It didn’t quite make sense, but for the most part, I accept it, the common view that he did it.

The skeptics had weak claims, but the Single-Bullet Theory and the lack of a motive were still enough to keep Michael Paine in doubt. Although Michael assented to the WC’s “Lone Shooter” theory, “it didn’t quite make sense to him.

There’s still more WC testimony by Michael Paine to consider before we begin an analysis.



Copyright © 2021 by Paul Trejo. All Rights Reserved.

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