Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this story, which was published Dec. 4, 2019, ended with a look at Mary Bancroft, who was connected to CIA Director Allen Dulles. This second part will begin with a look at others who are alleged to be indirectly connected to Dulles.
Other names have drawn questioning, like Fred and Nancy Osborn. It’s been said that they vouched for the fine character of the Paines to the FBI. Fred’s father helped create the Crusade for Freedom organization, a CIA project involving Allen Dulles who was on the board. About this, Paine said she knew some Osborns in the Philadelphia area, but the first names were different than Fred and Nancy and that she was unaware of any such connections.
Ruth Paine’s husband Michael worked at Bell Helicopter. The company did sensitive work in some areas so the question arose about him having a special clearance. Paine said, "What I’ve been told is that he had the standard clearance for the people working there. His work and focus was in the research department. He was making parts for models and designs of vertical takeoff and landing items."
The effort was to create an aircraft that could rise like a helicopter, then fly horizontally like an airplane. (Note: this may be what eventually became the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey). Paine said Michael told her how unstable their model was. "Part of what he did was try to figure out what went wrong when a model crashed. He was very much into the design kind of things."
And there is the matter of phones being tapped and the hearing of a Ruth – Michael conversation in which one of them said they knew who was responsible for shooting Kennedy. Allegedly Irving Police Chief Paul Barger knew about this. Have you talked to Barger about the assassination? "Not that I recall. I don’t recall the name either," she said. What about your phone being tapped? "That’s an interesting question. I’ve tried to figure out where that report came about, Michael and I talking to each other and being heard by somebody. We talked on the phone after Kennedy was shot, but before we knew Oswald was involved. We both were thinking it was the far right, which had been very prominent in their hostility toward Kennedy. We were both assuming that’s who it was (that shot the President). I’m wondering if someone in Michael’s office heard him say it, (that) we know who was to blame for shooting the President, rather than it being tapped."
"After the assassination I asked the FBI man who was assigned to me whether they had tapped my phone and he said ‘Well, Mrs. Paine you tell us everything we want to know, you always answer our questions so why would we do that.’ And I let it go at that, but I should have said that is not an answer," Paine explained. She then added that after the assassination she called the phone company to get a single party line, which was granted by the company.
Most folks have heard of a Minox camera. They’re known as a spy camera because they are so small. Michael and Lee both had one and some find that quite curious. Paine said she knew Michael owned one. "Michael liked gadgets so it was an interesting little thing and he bought it and he probably used it a few times. I wasn’t aware of any pictures he took with it. But I am aware that it fell out of his pocket and into sea water at Naushon Island one time. We were vacationing there with my mother-in-law and he told me later when people were asking about the camera that it was unworkable, ruined by the salt water," Paine said.
Did you ever see Lee use the Minox camera? Paine said no, but knew that he had some kind of camera because of the backyard photos of himself with his 2 guns. She also said she did not know he had a Minox camera.
In 1993, PBS aired a program on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. In that program Michael Paine, for the first time, said he had seen the famous backyard photo of Oswald and that he knew Oswald had a rifle and a handgun. So I asked Ruth if it upset her that Michael didn’t tell her about all this. "Well of course. That was stunning. Yeah, people didn’t know. I felt very sad that Michael didn’t understand there was significance in knowing about that, that he had dismissed it at the time. He saw Lee as very unconnected, not connected to others or to real ideologies of one sort or another. For instance, as you are aware, Oswald subscribed to both ‘The Worker’ and ‘The Militant,’ papers of the left-leaning groups that wouldn’t speak to each other."
I asked Paine if all these stories, these questions, these anomalies, bother her or make her curious. "From the start I’ve tried to just say what my own experience is so that I could say what I found or what I know, because I feel a kind of obligation to history and a willingness to respond, like to you, about the different stories," she replied.
Any of those stories bother you the most? "I try to ignore them, although I’ll respond if people ask me about them. In a way I can understand Michael’s not registering or taking in the fact that Lee had guns and was proud of that. There is a part of running away from what I don’t want to know in me also."
She knows there are those who see her as part of an assassination plot, a CIA handler of Oswald. "Nobody could handle Oswald. A handler implies cooperation that he was working with somebody, but I saw him as extremely isolated. It’s a funny word (handler), a sort of a spy word it seems to me, a role that somebody has of managing someone else," Paine said.
She mentioned FBI agent James Hosty, who visited her and Marina twice in early November 1963, "was sensible and he kind of looked upon Lee as I did, as a discontent and a not very informed person who has opinions and probably not dangerous. Certainly I tried to ask myself, is this someone the CIA would have hired or worked with and I decided no, there’s no way." About the FBI, Paine said Lee had Marina afraid of the Bureau, likening it to the Russian KGB, which made Marina fearful, thus probably fearful of deportation after Lee was dead. "She didn’t really have family support," she said. Paine feels that both Lee and Marina were perhaps emotionally abused children. I asked if she would like to see Marina again. "No. It was such a terrible thing we all experienced and I don’t want to go back there," she concluded.
As noted in part one of this story, Paine has told me she believes Oswald is the sole assassin and later, at an event at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, elaborated on that saying, "I think it was a spur of the moment thing for him. That he could do this. I don’t think he was shooting at Kennedy. He was shooting at the Presidency."