"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Oswald's Income
Updated: Mar 19, 2022
Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, makes the erroneous claim that Lee Harvey Oswald was not paid for his last quarter of service in the U.S. Marines. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (7:21 in episode 4)
John Newman: And so [former CIA Chief of Soviet bloc counterintelligence Tennent "Pete"] Bagley raised his voice and insisted, “He had to be witting! He had to be witting!” That was a telling, seminal moment In the history of KGB-CIA spy wars, in the history of Lee Harvey Oswald. His early use by the CIA was just a very, very important one, because finally, after all these years, a very senior CIA officer had just told Malcolm [Blunt] and us that Lee Harvey Oswald was a witting false defector when he went to Moscow.
Whoopi Goldberg: There was another unusual event that took place at the time of Oswald’s defection. The source of his income changed.
Douglas Horne: Oswald’s last quarter of earnings in the United States, before he defected to the Soviet Union, should have been paid by the United States Marine Corps. And they weren’t. Because we asked to see his Marine Corps earnings records that the Marine Corps deposits with the Social Security Administration. They did not pay him any money the last quarter he was in the United States before his defection. Had no income from the Marine Corps, when he should have had.
Whoopi Goldberg: Could this all be coincidence? Or was Otto Otepka correct in suspecting Oswald was not a legitimate defector? And is this why Angleton told his secretary to withhold information from Otepka?
This claim is just plain false.
This page from the USMC pay records published by the Warren Commission in Volume 26 shows that he was paid seven times in the third quarter of 1959: (line 49, box 30)
You can see the withholding of $91.30 for January - September 1959:
The 1040 for 1959 (no doubt based on the W-2) shows exactly the same amount of withholding:
The 1959 form was indeed filed by Marguerite Oswald:
And even Douglas Horne admits the form was signed by Marguerite:
This all appears to be totally consistent with the normal handling of Oswald's third-quarter pay.
Douglas Horne wants JFK: Destiny Betrayed viewers to believe that he discovered a problem as part of his work with the ARRB. Somehow this discrepancy is supposed to corroborate the allegation that Oswald was on some sort of mission for American intelligence.
Actually, the anomaly in the Social Security Administration pay records was first documented in a Warren Commission document. CD 353a is an "Extract of Information" on Oswald from the SSA file:
It does say “no earnings reported” for the third quarter of 1959.
Horne knew about this when he worked at the ARRB:
Horne wrote that it “cries out for explanation.” One possible explanation - an error in the CD - does not appear to have been explored. Yet another example of the film’s “poverty of imagination.”
James DiEugenio has made a big deal out of this huge disclosure:
It is true that when he saw the raw SSA data (after learning that CD 353a was public) he was “severely cautioned” that disclosure of information not found elsewhere “would be a felony.”
But the only information he reveals in the film was also in CD 353a - as he knew in 1997.
I don't think that Douglas Horne or the producers and writers of JFK: Destiny Betrayed will be arrested.
After all, getting things wrong is not a felony.
Thank You: Thanks to Paul Hoch who provided the research for this blog post. He remembered that in 1988 he had written about the Warren Commission's access to Oswald's pay records in a completely different context.
Steve Roe has uncovered further evidence that Oswald was paid by the Marine Corps. Here is a page from Oswald's 201 file:
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