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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Morley's Interview of Marina Oswald Porter Fizzles!

Updated: Feb 17

The build-up to Jefferson Morley's release of a 1996 interview of Marina Oswald Porter started on February 9th. Just have a look at the description above, and you might believe that Morley had scored a new interview with Marina Oswald. But no, Morley had discovered, while moving his office, some tapes from a 1996 interview of Marina.

On February 13th, Morley posted a teaser, and finally last night published excerpts from his interviews:

I listened to the interview last night and was completely underwhelmed. Marina Oswald Porter clearly said nothing of substance. There were no questions on any evidentiary matter -- nothing on the backyard photographs, nothing on Oswald practicing with his rife, nothing on the Walker shooting, nothing about her collaboration with Priscilla McMillan Johnson, and nothing on why she changed her mind about her husband's guilt.

Marina expresses her frustration that previous investigations have found her husband guilty, and she seeks a way to have that conclusion overturned. The overarching subject of the interview, in my opinion, is that of coping - how does one cope with the fact that your husband is guilty of a heinous crime. Believing that he is innocent is certainly a very good way to cope, but it does raise questions.

Marina does read conspiracy books (see page 13 in the transcript)

Marina: I mean, I have been chiseling through every dumb book for information, not information and theories, but for the factual evidence that can back you out in the court of law.

Morley hoped that his interview with Marina would lead to an article in the Washington Post. But he came up with nothing and that is why these tapes were left in his office for decades.

Morley has presented something which has been edited - his upload is only 38 minutes long, but he says he talked to Marina for over an hour. And in those 38 minutes, you get a healthy dose of commentary by Morley. I'd like to know what he has cut out of the interviews.

If he releases the entire conversation, it might add some interest.

Another Morley Substack post by Chad Nagle attacked the credibility of Priscilla McMillan Johnson, author of Marina and Lee, by suggesting that she was associated with the CIA. Nagle tries hard to make it appear that Johnson wrote the book at the behest of the CIA but can present no evidence to support the allegation.

Nagle mention several "key facts" that most critics who applauded the 2013 re-release of Marina and Lee are ignorant of.

For instance, here is his first "key fact":

First, Marina Oswald did not believe the central thesis of “Marina and Lee.” When McMillan befriended her in 1964, Marina was a widowed mother of two small children living in a foreign country where her husband had been accused of a heinous crime. She was interviewed by the Warren Commission more than 40 times without benefit of counsel. She went along with what the authorities told her to protect her children and avoid deportation.

Marina then settled into a quiet life in Texas, remarried and raised a family. Based on new evidence uncovered by JFK researchers, she changed her mind. By 1977 Marina no longer believe her first husband had killed the president. McMillan’s book, while professing friendship with Marina, didn’t report that key fact, which distorted Marina’s story.

This is just not true. Marina and Lee was published in 1977 and on August 9, 1978, Marina Oswald Porter testified before the HSCA. McMillan did not "distort" Marina's story.

Chairman Stokes: Now again you know Priscilla Johnson McMillan, don't you?

Mrs. Porter: Yes, sir.

Chairman Stokes: That is the lady who wrote the book "Marina and Lee."

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Chairman Stokes: And you talked with her with reference to what she was writing about the book, didn't you?

Mrs. Porter: Sure.

Chairman Stokes: You have read that book?

Mrs. Porter: Yes; not recently but a year ago.

Chairman Stokes: I beg your pardon?

Mrs. Porter: A year ago, yes.

Chairman Stokes: Let me read you this passage to you from the book. I am reading at page 436.

Marina was now certain that Lee was guilty. She saw his guilt in his eyes. Moreover, she knew that had he been innocent, he would have been screaming to high heaven for his rights, claiming that that he had been mistreated, and demanding to see officials at the very highest levels, just as he had always done before. For her, the fact that he was so complacent, that he told her he was being treated all right, was a sign that he was guilty.

Chairman Stokes: Did you tell Mrs. Johnson that?

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Chairman Stokes: Now in addition to it, you told Mrs. Johnson, did you not, about the police coming and taking away many possessions and one of the possessions that they left was a small demi-tasse cup, and then you looked and discovered the fact that they had not taken the cup, you also found in there Lee's wedding ring. Did you tell her about that?

Mrs. Porter: Well, I do not -- I remember the demitasse, but it is missed. I don't know where it is. Are you asking me did I find Lee's ring?

Chairman Stokes: Did you find his ring?

Mrs. Porter: Yes, sir.

Chairman Stokes: And then did you tell Miss Johnson this:

"Oh, no," she thought and her heart sank again, "Lee never took his ring off, not even on his grimiest manual jobs." She had seen him wearing it the night before. Marina suddenly realized what it meant. Lee had not just gone out and shot the President spontaneously. He had intended to do it when he left for work that day. Again things were falling into place. Marina told no one about Lee's ring.

Chairman Stokes: Did you tell Miss Johnson that?

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Chairman Stokes: As my time has expired, the Chair would request unanimous consent to proceed for 3 additional minutes. Without objection. Now did you tell --

Mr. Fauntroy: Overruled, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Stokes: That is democracy. Mrs. Porter, it has always been important for the American people to ascribe some motive to this killing. And I notice further that, in the same book, Miss Johnson writes this, and I am reading at page 434 of the book:

In his eyes, his political ideas stood higher even than himself. He would talk about Marxism, Communism, and injustice all over the world.

Chairman Stokes: Did you tell Miss Johnson that?

Mrs. Porter: That was Miss Johnson's conclusions about studying Lee as a person. Her findings weren't based only on what I told her. She did great research and met with lots of people who knew Lee. That was her conclusion, and I agree with her.

Chairman Stokes: Did you tell her that he talked about Marxism to you, and about communism to you, and about injustice all over the world to you?

Mrs. Porter: Yes, probably

[witness consults with counsel.]

Mrs. Porter: Well, when you live with person, you know, a few years, and then you have to put bits and pieces of phrases that have been told, and Priscilla worked, will have to and think about what conversations we have, not to make them up, but to relive them again. That is correct statement that she made.

There was additional questioning by the committee:

Mr. Hamilton: Did you read the manuscript before it was published?

Mrs. Porter: I had offered to read the manuscript.

Mr. Hamilton: But you did not read it beforehand?

Mrs. Porter: No.

Mr. Cornwell: And following that then, after you saw the book in its final form, did you read it in its entirety?

Mrs. Porter: Yes; I did.

Mr. Cornwell: With respect to the matters in the book that you have personal knowledge about, and I take it there are some things in there you simply have no personal knowledge about, but with respect to the things you do, did you find inaccuracies in the book or things that did not comport with your memory?

Mrs. Porter: Well, as far as the facts that came from me or --

Mr. Cornwell: Yes, ma'am.

Mrs. Porter: That is true but some conclusion that she has to come to on her own, maybe even analyzing my character, that was up to her to decide but the facts were not twisted.

Mr. Cornwell: OK. So the facts that you have knowledge of as portrayed in the book are accurate to the best of your memory?

Mrs. Porter: Only the facts that concern my and Lee's life. I am not responsible for other characters. I don't know how true that is.

Mr. Cornwell: I understand. At least the facts that concerns you and Lee and that you had personal knowledge of after reading the book seemed accurate?

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Mr. Cornwell: And it would only be the conclusions or the inference drawn from that that might be Priscilla's and might differ from yours, is that correct?

Mrs. Porter: Yes; that is true.

Mr. Cornwell: Then with respect to those conclusions and inferences, what about the book might you disagree with?

Mrs. Porter: Well --

Mr. Cornwell: Let me explain the reason why I ask the question.

Mrs. Porter: It was long ago since I read the book and I am not going to read it again.

Mr. Cornwell: The committee has a number of objectives, everything from evaluating the performance of our own intelligence agencies to trying to understand for sure what happened in Dealey Plaza on November 22 and of course trying to understand Lee and his personality and his thought processes to the extend we can because the American public has a great interest in that. The last thing is really what I was wanting to know.

What about Lee and his personality or his possible motivations, things that you might peculiarly have an ability to render an opinion on? Would you differ from the book on that?

Mrs. Porter: Well, since the person is dead and I was not a mature person or a qualified psychiatrist to analyze his motives for doing so and so, it was a tedious job for the Warren Commission. All the reporters and lots of curious people working on it, you are doing a very hard job trying to put puzzles together. Priscilla did her best and an honest job trying to put things in some kind of perspective that a normal person could understand and I guess anybody can do just that.

Mr. Cornwell: Sure. The point is not whether -- we are not trying to find fault with the book, all we are trying to do --

Mrs. Porter: I am not defending the book.

Mr. Cornwell: If you have a different view on those subjects because you were one of the closest people to Lee, that is what we would like to know.

Mrs. Porter: Well, I would buy Priscilla's conclusions. From my own personal experience I did not come up with anything different. Priscilla did not have the attitude to condemn or pronounce guilty from the first page, she was just working through the dark as well as I was and everybody else, so I would still, in my mind agree with that conclusion more than the conspiracy theory because I do not know anything about the other matters. I do not know anything about ballistics, you know, to disprove that Lee didn't do it. I would like that very much but I know so little. Do you understand me?

Mr. Cornwell: Yes.

Mrs. Porter: Make a perfect picture.

Mr. Cornwell: I think so. As I understand what you are stating it is that the conclusions that were drawn in the book, even though Priscilla drew them on her own, you agree with them.

Mrs. Porter: Well, she didn't just dream them up.

Mr. Cornwell: I understand, but it was her right to draw the conclusions.

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Mr. Cornwell; And of course she wrote the book.

Mrs. Porter: I did not give her the right but I respect her for doing a very good job, too, and she was very honest. Some things were not very meaningful.

Mr. Cornwell: Your opinions on the subjects are the same as hers?

Mrs. Porter: Yes.

Marina Oswald Porter was given ample opportunity to disavow McMillan's book, Marina and Lee. Instead, she endorses the book's conclusions and continually praises McMillan.

Why didn't Morley ask her what changed her mind about Oswald's guilt? And what was her current thinking about Marina and Lee. But nothing (at least in the excerpts that Morley has released).

The second part of Chad Nagle's Substack article is about Priscilla Johnson McMillan's supposed ties to the CIA. He discusses a meeting that Donald Jameson, Chief of the CIA's Soviet Russia Division, had with Johnson in December 1962:

Jameson discussed the terms and circumstances under which Johnson would write an article about dissident Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Jameson found McMillan to be “able, astute, and conscientious.” She was also “rather nervous and shy, giving one the impression of a lack of self-confidence.” He concluded his two-page report with the observation that, whatever misgivings he had, Johnson could be useful.

What Nagle doesn't tell you is that Jameson wrote that she was "concerned about making her articles accurate as to fact and free from any external influence." She also told Jameson that she would write a series of articles for the Reporter, including one on him [Yevtushenko] and that she thought she must write only the truth."

Nagle then discusses McMillan's meetings with another CIA official, Garry Coit, had in 1964 and 1965:

In a couple of “memoranda for the record,” in 1964 and 1965, another SR Division official, Garry Coit, analyzed the usefulness of Johnson. Based on his own meetings with her, Coit said he was “reasonably certain that we cannot expect to use Johnson actively in operations,” but that she would “supply info she has acquired, if asked and if it’s not too sensitive, such as the identities of her friends in the USSR.”

The basic purpose of the first meeting "was to debrief Johnson on her flaps with the Soviets when she was in the USSR, notably at the time of her last exit." He noted that Johnson "had shown some reluctance at the time of our first contact." Coit was also interested in her contacts but wrote that "when asked for their names she always backed off. Therefore no effort was made to attempt to force the issue of a debriefing of her contacts."

Coit concluded that memo noting that "I am reasonably certain that we cannot expect to use Johnson actively in operations. She obviously doesn't want to get involved in deep plots. She is unlikely to be the type of informant who will volunteer information; but she will supply info she has acquired, if asked and if it's not too sensitive, such as the identities of her friends in the USSR."

Coit spoke to her again in 1965 and just discussed Alex Dolberg, a Russian translator, who was thinking of returning to the Soviet Union. She called Coit because "she thinks he could do more harm to followers of Soviet intellectual affairs, both in the West and in the USSR, than anyone else she can think of." He suggested to her that someone talk to him. That was the extent of their conversation -- it all sounds more intellectual than conspiratorial. Why not talk to a Soviet expert in the CIA? Back then, many people did not see the CIA as a uniquely evil part of the government.

Nagle discusses the HSCA's interview with Priscilla Johnson McMillan on February 2, 1978. She denied a relationship with the CIA and under further questioning said that she "had talked about the cultural scene with a person in the Agency, CIA." To her, she probably felt she was talking to a fellow Soviet expert, and she went out of her way to profess her independence. All we know about are three brief conversations she had in the early 1960s with Gary Coit.

And her so-called relationship with the CIA was examined by the HSCA. Here is what they wrote in their final report: (page 214)

So, the HSCA knew about her contacts with Garry Coit in 1964 and 1965 and weren't concerned.

Nagle's conclusion tries to tie Johnson's supposed relationship to the CIA to Marina and Lee:

On the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in 2013, “Marina and Lee” was reissued and the critical applause grew loud, reinforcing the official theory of JFK’s murder while obscuring two inconvenient truths: the author was under the influence of the CIA, and the living subject of the book itself no longer believed its central claim that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK.

Want to know an inconvenient truth? Marina Oswald Porter never repudiated Priscilla Johnson's book. You'd think he would be curious as to why not.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on Jefferson Morley

Morley often repeats stories and changes their meanings.

Chad Nagle claims there was an assassination plot against JFK in Chicago in November 1963. One problem: There is no evidence of such a plot

A response to Morley's Substack post alleging that I am a CIA apologist.

Morley thinks there are two redacted memos on CIA reorganization, but there is only one.

A rebuttal to Morley's response to my post Was Bill Harvey in Dallas in November of 1963?

There is no credible evidence Harvey was in Dallas in November of 1963.

Morley repeats the claim that Dulles was at a CIA training center during the weekend of the JFK assassination. He wasn't.

Morley's claims about Efron are all wrong.

Morley responded to my article "The Truth about Operation Northwoods." Here is my reply.

W. Tracy Parnell is one of the best JFK assassination researchers out there. Here is his look at Jefferson Morley with several important articles.

Operation Northwoods can only understood as being part of the Kennedys' war against Cuba and Operation Mongoose.

And a response from me.

There is no evidence that Dr. West petitioned the court to examine Jack Ruby before his trial.

There is absolutely no evidence that Dr. Louis Jolyon West interfered with Jack Ruby's case.

The phrase 'who shot John' does not refer to the JFK assassination.

Jefferson Morley used a fake Oswald handbill in his press conference for the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

An examination of redactions in the JFK collection of documents.


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