Saturday, 19 March 2022 17:18

Doug Horne Replies: On Oswald’s Earnings

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One of the most attention getting parts of JFK: Destiny Betrayed, the four-hour version, is the revelation by Douglas Horne about Oswald’s earnings before he defected to Russia. As the former military records analyst for the Assassination Records Review Board, his voice carries some weight on this issue. He says in the film that he learned from an official contact that Oswald was not being paid by the Marines in the third quarter of 1959. This is quite an interesting statement, especially in light of the fact that Oswald left the Marines under a hardship discharge, visited Texas briefly, and then left for Russia at this time. This was after somehow acquiring the Russian language while in the Marines. We asked Doug to amplify on this important issue for us and he kindly did so.

Here is what I can tell you. Please read most carefully and do not misquote me or even unintentionally misrepresent any of this information. Be most precise, I implore you.

On September 18, 1997, I reviewed the payment records from both the TSBD and the USMC to Oswald, within the earnings records of the Social Security Administration. Roy Truly was not on the SSA name list of persons paid by the TSBD during the fourth quarter of 1963 (Oct-Dec 63). (I have no idea who was paying Truly; but clearly, on the day of the assassination, he was still acting as LHO's supervisor, per his encounter of LHO with cop Marion Baker on the TSBD second floor.)

The Marine Corps did NOT pay Oswald during the third quarter of 1959 (July 1–Sept 11, 1959). The specialist at the SSA told me that while Lee Harvey Oswald was IN the Marine Corps during the third quarter of 1959 (until September 11th, his discharge date), they definitely did not PAY HIM during the third quarter. I reviewed the printed records of the earnings he received from the USMC for that year—which had been stored on microfilm—and it was ZERO for the third quarter, whereas they did pay him for the first and second quarters of 1959. The ARRB’s contact at SSA said there was “no possibility of a mistake” in their records. I printed all of the microfilm records I reviewed on paper and took them back to the ARRB as assassination records.

Now, as you know, Blakey wrote the draft JFK Act legislation. In it, he exempted both the autopsy materials (“All Deed of Gift” materials donated to the Archives) and “tax information” from the disclosure requirements of the Act. The IRS actually wanted all tax information on Oswald to be subject to the Act and to be released; Congress, erring on the side of privacy (like Blakey), refused to allow this in the Act. That is most unfortunate, because at this juncture, these detailed records that I reviewed can only be released if Section 6103 of the IRS Code is amended to permit their release.

The Oswald earnings records I reviewed are covered by RIFs 137-10005-10060 through10089, inclusive. They are redacted unless or until Section 6103 of the IRS code is amended by Congress to permit all “tax information” (which definition includes not only tax returns, but also earnings records) to be released.

I published a memo about all this on September 23, 1998, and all tax information and earnings records issues I was aware of are discussed therein. Its title was: “Questions Raised by John Armstrong and Carol Hewitt About Lee Harvey Oswald's Tax and Earnings Records.” In that memo, all specifics about the microfilm records of LHO’s earnings that I reviewed on September 18, 1997, are REDACTED. The redactions cannot be unredacted unless or until Section 6103 of the IRS Code is amended by Congress to allow release of all “tax information” on LHO, Jack Ruby, and others identified by ARRB RIFs. (We looked at “tax information” for others besides LHO and they are all identified by RIFs, and all the details are redacted).

Now, listen to this: in a Feb 3, 1964, letter to J. Lee Rankin from HEW, the Warren Commission was told that there were NO EARNINGS REPORTED for Oswald for the third quarter of 1959. This was initially withheld from the public for the standard privacy reasons surrounding “tax information,” but in 1965, the confidentiality classification for this information was removed by the USG. (See enclosure 13 to my long memo) That information passed to the Warren Commission in Feb 1964 is in CD 353 (the cover letter) and 353a (the specifics about when he earned money and from whom).

Thus, when reviewing Oswald's earnings records from the Marine Corps in September of 1997, I was simply confirming (by viewing the dollars and cents details) what the Warren Commission had been told by HEW in the Feb 3, 1964, letter, and for which the confidentiality had been removed in 1965. This means that in my oral statements in the documentary, I am simply confirming information that the WC learned about in Feb 1964, and which became open information in 1965 when the USG lifted its confidentiality.

To obtain the unredacted version of my long research memo, and to get the RIFs about Oswald's earnings opened up, Section 6103 of the IRS Code would have to be amended. I do not today have the paper copies of the earnings records. Only the Archives has those, as identified above by RIF numbers.

Now, some of Oswald's “tax information” is already open information, including his 1959 tax return, which shows his total earnings for 1959 to be $996.31 for that year. This would seem to indicate that SOMEONE paid him during the third quarter (because his earnings for quarters 1 and 2 are not that much money), but whichever entity paid him did not pay him very much, at all. SPECULATION: Perhaps it was what would have been his normal USMC salary, IN CASH???

The Review Board recommended in its Final Report “…that Congress enact legislation exempting Lee Harvey Oswald's tax return information, Oswald’s employment information obtained by the Social Security Administration, and other tax or IRS related information in the files of the Warren Commission and HSCA from the protection afforded by the Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, and that such legislation direct that these records be released to the public in the JFK Collection.”

That is all I am willing, or able, to say about this.

In summary, I simply confirmed in my interview for your documentary that what the Warren Commission was told in Feb 1964—that Oswald had no reported earnings in the third quarter of 1959—was confirmed by me through careful examination of the microfilmed paper earnings records at SSA. For someone to actually view and review those records identified by RIF number above, the IRS Code would have to be amended.

That is all I can say.

Doug Horne

Last modified on Sunday, 20 March 2022 00:32

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