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  • Fred Litwin

Dick Russell's Second Smoking Gun on the Richard Case Nagell Story

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

The first edition of Russell's book The Man Who Knew Too Much contained a smoking gun which didn't really have much smoke.


The second edition has another s0-called 'smoking gun': (page xvii)

"We begin with the story of a mysterious ID card.
It was 1976. Richard Case Nagell had provided written authorization granting my access to files about him being maintained by his then-attorney, Bernard Fensterwald, Jr., in Washington D.C. Poring through a thick sheaf of correspondence and other documents in the lawyer's office, I came across a poor photocopy of a "Uniformed Services Identification and Privileges Card." It bore the picture and apparent signature of Lee Harvey Oswald. Although it appeared in the Nagell file, no other notation accompanied it."

Here is the picture from his book of the photocopy of the card: (from the photo section after page 252)

Somebody enhanced the '62' on the card on the date line. The photograph and the signature are different from the known Oswald card (shown below). The picture on the known card is believed to be from Minsk (too late for the real card) - Warren Commission Volume XXVI, page 346. Folsom Exhibit 1 in Warren Commission Volume XIX, page 665 contains details of the card (number, expiry, etc).


Here is the known Oswald card:

An alternative explanation is that the card found in Fensterwald's files was the real card from 1959, and that Oswald 'updated' it after its 1962 expiration with a crude date stamp, a new (post-Marines) photo, and a new signature.


The card in Fensterwald's files, if not an original Oswald card, would have been fairly easy for someone to make.


Fensterwald did not know how the photocopy ended up in his files and could not remember when it was received in his office. Russell showed it to Mary Ferrell who determined the card was a "replica of the 'Uniformed Services Privilege Card' issued to Oswald on September 11, 1959." Ferrell noted that the only place she had seen Oswald's card was in Judy Bonner's book Investigation of a Homicide, which was published in 1969.


However, Jack White noted that two other books had the card - The Oswald File by Michael Eddowes (1977), and Jesse Curry's book JFK Assassination File (1969). Here is a photo of the card from Eddowes book:


The photocopy that Russell found had a different picture than on Oswald's card and did not have a circular stamp noting October 1963.


Russell then makes an unwarranted leap of faith: (page xviii)

"Published in the photo section of this book, for the first time, is a reproduction of the Oswald ID card that originated with Richard Nagell. As we shall see, Nagell was in jail after September 20, 1963 -- which means that he must have had this Oswald ID card in his possession before that time, two months and two days before the assassination."

The logic escapes me. All we know is that a "poor photocopy" was found by Dick Russell in Bernard Fensterwald's office in 1976. There is absolutely no chain of custody. We can't even be sure that it came from Nagell. He never mentioned the card. Surely it must have been fairly easy for someone to make.


James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, is far more definitive: (page 94)

"This is shocking because, as Nagell's biographer notes, at the time he was arrested in El Paso in September of 1963, Richard Case Nagell had in his personal effects a near duplicate of Oswald's Uniformed Services Identification and Privileges Card."

There is no evidence that any such card was in Nagell's personal effects when he was arrested. Here is a list of his personal effects:


Here is another more complete listing from Nagell's Secret Service file:

It is quite comical to see conspiracy theorists like James DiEugenio believe that a poor photocopy, found in 1976, is proof that Nagell possessed the card when he was arrested in 1963. After all, he continually claims that the chain of evidence for a variety of evidence in the JFK assassination is faulty. In this case, there is no chain of evidence at all.


For a true believer, that is no problem at all.



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