James Hosty was born in 1928. He graduated with science degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1948.
Hosty worked for the First National Bank in Chicago and as a salesman before joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation in January, 1952. He initially was sent to Louisville but in December, 1953, was transferred to Dallas, Texas.
In March, 1963, Hosty was ordered to keep Lee Harvey Oswald under observation. Soon afterwards Hosty received a message from the FBI's Washington office that Oswald was subscribing to the Daily Worker, the newspaper of the American Communist Party.
In June, Hosty heard from FBI headquarters that Oswald was in New Orleans, and requested information on him. Hosty visited the home of Ruth Paine to discover where Oswald was living. He spoke to both Paine and Marina Oswald about Oswald. When Oswald heard about the visit he went to the FBI office in Dallas. When told that Hosty was at lunch Oswald left him a message in an envelope.
The contents of the envelope has remained a mystery. A receptionist working at the Dallas office claimed it included a threat to "blow up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department if you don't stop bothering my wife." Hosty later claimed it said: "If you have anything you want to learn about me, come talk to me directly. If you don't cease bothering my wife, I will take appropriate action and report this to the proper authorities."
Soon after Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Hosty was called into the office of his superior, Gordon Shanklin. Hosty was asked about what he knew about Oswald. When Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby two days later, Shanklin ordered Hosty to destroy Oswald's letter.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation I discovered that Hosty's name and phone number appeared in Oswald's address book. J. Edgar Hoover was worried that this indicated that Oswald had been working closely with the FBI. That he might have been an FBI informant on the activities of left-wing groups such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Instead of passing Oswald's address book to the Warren Commission, the FBI provided a typewritten transcription of the document in which the Hosty entry was omitted. When it was discovered that Hosty had misled the Warren Commission he was suspended from duty. Later he was transferred to the FBI office in Kansas City.
The message that Oswald handed in to the FBI office in Dallas remained a secret until 1975. It became public knowledge when someone in the FBI tipped off a journalist about the existence of Oswald's letter. Oswald's relationship with Hosty was explored by the Select Committee on Intelligence Activities and the Select Committee on Assassinations. Hosty admitted that he had misled the Warren Commission by not telling them about the existence of the letter from Oswald. Gordon Shanklin denied knowing about the letter but this evidence was contradicted by the testimony of Hosty and William Sullivan, the Assistant Director of the FBI.
Hosty worked for the FBI until his mandatory retirement at the age 55, in 1979. According to his son, Thomas Hosty, he granted interviews to anyone who wanted to talk about the case: "Even the ones who had some conspiracy agenda... He figured if these people met him, they would see who he was - a straight arrow.”
Hosty published his book on the Kennedy assassination, Assignment: Oswald in 1996. The New York Times has pointed out that: "In his memoir, Mr. Hosty acknowledges some mistakes but contends that F.B.I. officials made bigger errors - first by trying to eliminate evidence that might make it seem as though the agency had any hint of Oswald’s plans, and then by letting commission investigators portray Mr. Hosty as a bumbler when the evidence emerged about his contact with Oswald in the weeks before the assassination."
His son, Thomas Hosty, who helped him write the book, later recalled how upset his father had been by the suggestions that he was in some way involved in the conspiracy against John F. Kennedy: “The irony was, my dad was a devout Irish-Catholic Democrat Kennedy supporter... Being portrayed as part of a plot to kill the president, it was just so hurtful to him.”
Samuel A. Stern: You said before that you had no further connection with the case of Oswald until October 1963.
James Hosty: That is correct.
Samuel A. Stern: Would you tell us in detail what your first contact was in October?
James Hosty: On October 3, 1963, I received a communication from our New Orleans office advising that Lee Oswald and his wife Marina Oswald had left the New Orleans area a short time before. According to the communication, Marina Oswald, who was at that time 8 months pregnant, had left New Orleans with her small child, 2-year-old child, in a station wagon with a Texas license plate driven by a woman who could speak the Russian language. Lee Oswald had remained behind and then disappeared the next day. I was requested to attempt to locate Lee and Marina Oswald.
Samuel A. Stern: Did the request come to you personally?
James Hosty:To the Dallas office, and the case was then reopened to me. Dallas was an auxiliary office to New Orleans, and it was reopened. I had previously handled the case. It was reopened and assigned to me... On the 31st of October, I did a credit check on Michael and Ruth Paine for the purpose of developing further background. This credit check showed that Michael Paine was employed at Bell Helicopter as an engineer, showed no employment for Mrs. Paine, just showed her as a housewife, showed they had resided in Irving area for a number of years, and showed a good reputation.
I then checked the criminal records of the Irving Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff's Office. They had no record for either Ruth or Michael Paine. Contacted the Bell Helicopter Co. and the security officer at Bell Helicopter, Mr. Ted Schurman, advised me that Michael Paine was employed by them as a research engineer and he held a security clearance.
I then went to St. Marks School in Dallas. I had known from previous experience this school enjoyed a good reputation and I could approach them safely. I talked to Mr. Edward T. Oviatt, the assistant headmaster at St. Marks School. He told me that Mrs. Paine was a satisfactory employee, loyal to the United States, and he considered her to be a stable individual. He stated that Mrs. Paine was employed as a part-time teacher of the Russian language at that school, and he also advised that in a recent conversation with Mrs. Paine she had advised him that she had a Russian-born woman living with her.
This woman could not speak any English She had just given birth to a new baby, and she had another small child. The husband of this woman had deserted her and Mrs. Paine felt sorry for her and had taken her in. Mr. Oviatt went on to explain that Mrs. Paine did this for two reasons. She wanted to improve her Russian-speaking ability by having this person who spoke only Russian in her household. Also, he stated that she was by nature a very kindly individual, Quaker by background, and this was the sort of thing that she would do to help a person in distress.
Samuel A. Stern: What was the purpose of all these inquiries into the background of Mr. and Mrs. Paine?
James Hosty: . I wanted to make sure before I approached Mrs. Paine that she was not involved in any way with Lee Oswald, in any type of activities which were against the best interests of the United States.
Samuel A. Stern: How do you mean before you approached Mrs. Paine?
James Hosty: Well, it was my intention since we could not determine where Lee Oswald was, that he was obviously not at her address, that the best way to find out would be to ask Mrs. Paine.
Samuel A. Stern: Now, tell us in detail of your interview with Mrs. Paine starting from the time you rang the doorbell.
James Hosty: All right. As I say, when I entered the house I immediately identified myself. I showed her my credentials, identified myself as a special agent of the FBI, and requested to talk to her. She invited me into the house.
Samuel A. Stern: Did she seemed surprised at your visit?
James Hosty: No, she didn't. She was quite friendly and invited me in, said this is the first time she had ever met an FBI agent. Very cordial. As I say, it is my recollection I sat here on the couch and she sat across the room from me. I then told her the purpose of my visit, that I was interested in locating the whereabouts of Lee Oswald. She readily admitted that Mrs. Marina Oswald and Lee Oswald's two children were staying with her. She said that Lee Oswald was living somewhere in Dallas. She didn't know where. She said it was in the Oak Cliff area but she didn't have his address. I asked her if she knew where he worked. After a moment's hesitation, she told me that he worked at the Texas School Book Depository near the downtown area of Dallas. She didn't have the exact address, and it is my recollection that we went to the phone book and looked it up, found it to be 411 Elm Street.
Samuel A. Stern: You looked it up while you were there?
James Hosty: Yes; that is my recollection that we looked it up in her telephone book to show it at 411 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas. She told me at this time that she did not know where he was living, but she thought she could find out and she would let me know.
As soon as I walked into Gordon Shanklin's smoke-filled office, I saw the copy of the newspaper lying on his desk. I grabbed it. Staring back at me in bold, black print was the front-page headline: "FBI KNEW OSWALD CAPABLE OF ACT, REPORTS INDICATE."
"Oh God," I groaned.
I quickly scanned the first few paragraphs while Shanklin sat quietly behind his desk puffing away. The story read, "A source close to the Warren Commission told the Dallas News Thursday that the Commission has testimony from Dallas police that an FBI agent told them moments after the arrest and identification of Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, that 'we knew he was capable of assassinating the president, but we didn't dream he would do it...' In a memorandum to supervisors on Nov. 22, Lt. Jack Revill, head of the Dallas police criminal intelligence squad, reported that FBI special agent James (Joe) Hosty had acknowledged awareness of Oswald in the basement of the City Hall at 2:05 PM, Nov. 22. His remark was made as five officers brought Oswald in from Oak Cliff, Revill reported.
The article ended with some enlightening comments from the police: "Dallas police officers watched several known extremists prior to the Kennedy visit and even sent representatives as far as 75 miles to interview others thought to be planning demonstrations. Police chief Jesse Curry privately has told friends, 'If we had known that a defector or a Communist was anywhere in this town, let alone on the parade route, we would have been sitting on his lap, you can bet on that.' But he refused public comment."
The police were blatantly trying to wriggle out from under a rock. . . . I wanted to laugh. The police had a long list of well known Communists in Dallas, and not one had a police officer sitting on his lap on November 22. In fact, Detective H. M. Hart told me that the police neither picked up nor watched anyone the day of November 22. Clearly, someone from the police department had fed this story to reporter Hugh Aynesworth...
J. Edgar Hoover came out blasting. He categorically denied the story's contentions. Revill himself partially retracted some of the article's allegations; he told the Dallas Times Herald that the comment that I never dreamed Oswald would kill the president was all someone else's fabrication. But Aynesworth and the Morning News had done the damage. It would prove to be irreversible regarding my relationships with the Dallas police and the Dallas media.
Two of my fellow agents, Bob Barrett and Ike Lee, later told me about their conversation with Revill after the story broke. Revill told Barrett and Lee that he had not wanted his November 22 memo to be released to the Warren Commission or the press, but police chief Jesse Curry threatened to charge Revill with filing a false police report if Revill wouldn't swear to the truth in his memo. The police then got a memo from Detective Jackie Bryan, who had been standing near Revill and me during this brief garage conversation. Contrary to Aynesworth's assertion, Bryan supported my version of the events. He reported that he did not hear me make any kind of comment suggesting I knew Oswald was capable of killing the president.
Oswald died at Parkland Hospital at 1:07 P.M. without regaining consciousness or speaking another word. All that remained was the burial.
Two hours later Agent Hosty was summoned to FBI headquarters in Dallas. According to Hosty's sworn testimony, his superior, Gorden Shanklin, thereupon ordered him to destroy both the note Oswald had delivered to the FBI shortly before the assassination and the memorandum that Hosty had prepared about the incident." After returning to his office, he followed his orders and destroyed this evidence, flushing the remains down the toilet.
About a week after the assassination, Aynesworth, along with Bill Alexander, an assistant district attorney in Dallas, decided to find out if Lee Oswald had been an informant of the Dallas FBI, and of mine in particular. To this end, they concocted a totally false story about how Lee Oswald was a regularly paid informant of the Dallas FBI. At the time, I had no idea what information the Houston Post was relying on; it wasn't until February 1976, in Esquire magazine, that Aynesworth finally admitted he and Alexander had lied and made up the entire story in an effort to draw the FBI out on this issue. They said Oswald was paid $200 a month and even made up an imaginary informant number for Oswald, S172 - which was not in any way how the FBI classified their informants. Aynesworth then fed this story to Lonnie Hudkins of the Post, who ran it on January 1, 1964. Hudkins cited confidential but reliable sources for his story's allegations. The FBI issued a flat denial of the Post story. I was once again prohibited by Bureau procedure from commenting. It was clear that they were pointing a finger at me, since I was known to be the agent in charge of the Oswald file.
The Commission had before it the hard fact that Oswald's notebook contained the name, phone number, and license plate number of Dallas FBI agent, James Hosty. The FBI's explanation was that Hosty had asked Ruth Paine, with whom Marina Oswald was living, to let him know where Oswald was staying, that he jotted down his phone number, and that Marina, under prior instructions from her husband, also copied down Hosty's license plate.
Agent Hosty testified that he was fully aware of the pending Presidential visit to Dallas. He recalled that the special agent in charge of the Dallas office of the FBI, J. Gordon Shanklin, had discussed the President's visit on several occasions, including the regular biweekly conference on the morning of November 22.
In fact, Hosty participated in transmitting to the Secret Service two pieces of information pertaining to the visit. Hosty testified that he did not know until me evening of Thursday November 21, that there was to be a motorcade, however, and never realized that the motorcade would pass the Texas School Book Depository Building. He testified that he did not read the newspaper story describing the motorcade route in detail since he was interested only in the fact that the motorcade was coming up Main Street, "where maybe I could watch it if I had a chance."
Even if he had recalled that Oswald's place of employment was on the President's route, Hosty testified that he would not have cited him to the Secret Service as a potential threat to the President. Hosty interpreted his instructions as requiring "some indication that the person planned to take some action against the safety of the President of the United States or the Vice President." In his opinion, none of the information in the FBI files - Oswald's defection, his Fair Play for Cuba activities in New Orleans, his lies to Agent Quigley, his recent visit to Mexico City - indicated that Oswald was capable of violence. Hosty's initial reaction on hearing that Oswald was a suspect in the assassination, was "shock, complete surprise," because he had no reason to believe that Oswald "was capable or potentially an assassin of the President of the United States."
Shortly after Oswald was apprehended and identified, Hosty's superior sent him to observe the interrogation of Oswald. Hosty parked his car in the basement of police headquarters and there met an acquaintance, Lt. Jack Revill of the Dallas police force. The two men disagree about the conversation which took place between them. They agree that Hosty told Revill that the FBI had known about, Oswald and, in particular, of his presence in Dallas and his employment at the Texas School Book Depository Building. Revill testified that Hosty said also that the FBI had information that Oswald was "capable of committing this assassination." According to Revill, Hosty indicated that he was going to tell this to Lieutenant Wells of the homicide and robbery bureau. Revill promptly made a memorandum of this conversation in which the quoted statement appears. His secretary testified that she prepared such a report for him that afternoon and Chief of Police - Jesse E. Curry and District Attorney Henry M. Wade both testified that they saw it later that day.
Hosty has unequivocally denied, first by affidavit and then in his testimony before the Commission, that he ever said that Oswald was capable of violence, or that he had any information suggesting this. The only witness to the conversation was Dallas Police Detective V. J. Brian, who was accompanying Revill. Brian did not hear Hosty make any statement concerning Oswald's capacity to be an assassin but he did not hear the entire conversation because of the commotion at police headquarters and because he was not within hearing distance at all times.
Mr. Shanklin advised us, among other things, that in view of the President's visit to Dallas, that if anyone had any indication of any possibility of any acts of violence or any demonstrations against the President, or Vice President, immediately notify the Secret Service and confirm it in writing. He had made the same statement about a week prior at another special conference which we had held. I don't recall the exact date. It was about a week prior.
As I reported in the News five months later, under the two-column headline "FBI Knew Oswald Capable of Act, Reports Indicate," Hosty arrived at City Hall about 2:05 and rode up in an elevator with Lt. Jack Revill, head of the DPD Criminal Intelligence Squad, and Officer V. J. "Jackie" Bryan. According to Revill's written account of the episode, typed up 45 minutes later and delivered to Chief Curry that afternoon, in the basement Hosty "stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of the Subject (Oswald) and that they had information that this Subject was capable of committing the assassination of President Kennedy."
Hosty denied making the statement to Revill. Over the years he has refused my interview requests.
A few months after the assassination, I asked Gordon Shanklin why the bureau didn't at least tell the Dallas police about Oswald, and where he worked. I observed that the cops surely would have wanted to babysit such a character.
"We didn't want him to lose his job," Shanklin explained.
"Well, Mr. Kennedy lost his," I said quickly, appalled at what I'd just heard.
Though Shanklin never deliberately-to my knowledge anyway-caused me any difficulty, I was told by some of his agents that I was not his favorite person.
The House Committee on Assassinations confirmed that the Hosty entry had been deleted in the retyping of the memo. It called the incident "regrettable," but "trivial", even though what was at stake was an apparently false statement by FBI officials under oath....
The FBI's handling of Hall, and of the whole Odio story, suggests they had something to hide. To begin with, the agents they sent to interview Silvia Odio, and who asked no questions about the "double agent" story, were James P. Hosty, Jr., and his partner, Bardwell D. Odum. Hosty also interviewed Juan B. Martin, the man Odio had been interested in buying arms from; yet his write-up of this interview is utterly trivial and makes no reference to gunrunning at all.
James Hosty was hardly the right agent to send for an impartial investigation. As the FBI agent assigned to handle both arms trafficking and the Oswalds before the assassination, Hosty quickly became a party to some of the FBI's most serious cover-up activities. On November 24, 1963, long before he finally interviewed Silvia Odio in December, Hosty had already destroyed a threatening note which Oswald had left for him at the Dallas FBI office. He had done so on orders from his boss, Gordon Shanklin, which almost certainly came from Washington.
Straight from the FBI counter-intelligence agent assigned to Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination of President Kennedy - and the lead investigator in the FBIs post-assassination investigation of Oswald - Assignment: Oswald is the first authoritative insiders account of our centurys most traumatic event. Combining his own unique, intimate knowledge of the case with previously unavailable government documents, including top secret CIA files just released from the National Archives, James Hosty tells the true story behind the assassination and the governments response to it, including the suppression of a documented Oswald-Soviet-Castro connection.
Special Agent Hosty began to investigate Lee Harvey Oswald in October 1963, a full month before the JFK assassination. From November 22 on, Hosty watched as everyone from the Dallas Police, the FBI, the CIA, Naval Intelligence, and the State Department up through the Warren Commission to J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson reacted to and manipulated the facts of the presidents assassination - until Hosty himself became their scapegoat. Now, after seeing his name appear in three inconclusive federal investigations and countless fact-twisting conspiracy theories (including Oliver Stones motion picture), Hosty has decided to tell his own story.
Hostys testimony has been universally acknowledged as vital to any complete understanding of the Kennedy assassination, Hosty brings to this story an exclusive insiders knowledge of the mechanisms, the power structures, and the rivalries in and among the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies and why they have determined who knows what about the assassination. Here, at last, is an unmistakably expert and responsible account of the murder of President Kennedy.
Now, in Dallas, he explained that he had just flown in on a 11 special" and hadn't even checked in at the local FBI office. We exchanged pleasantries, but I kept it short. I knew I was on the Bureau's "no contact" list of "enemies" and didn't want to compromise Jack by being seen together.
Over drinks with reporters at the Press Club of Dallas, I picked up some leads on the security breakdown story. A local brought up the name of police officer Welcome Eugene Barnett, who was stationed in front of the Depository Building when the shots rang out. I found Barnett directing traffic near the Adolphus Hotel. "If the moon fell on Dallas," the sandy-haired young man said, "it would land at my feet." He had been instructed to watch for troublemakers. As the president's motorcade swung past him, he heard a sharp report, like a firecracker. After about three seconds there was another shot. Dealey Plaza reverberated with the sounds. He looked over his shoulder toward the roof of the depository but saw nothing. The Secret Service men in a car behind the president's limousine were looking around, unable to fix where the shots were coming from. In what seemed like another three seconds after the second shot, a third sounded. A woman ran up to Barnett and yelled, "Over there in the bushes!" pointing to the landscaped flank of the plaza now familiar as the grassy knoll. While several policemen scurried in that direction, Barnett ran to the rear of the building, convinced that the first two shots had come from the roof and that the perpetrator might try to escape out the back door. But no one came out.
Barnett's account was intriguing in that it indicated shots from two locations, which meant at least two shooters. This was reinforced by his tight spacing of the shots. It didn't seem that the suspect could have fired three rounds in roughly six seconds with a bolt-action rifle fitted with a telescopic sight, which would have caused parallax. But I was in Dallas on a two-day deadline on the security story. The FBI had a definite responsibility to alert the Secret Service, which was charged with presidential protection, to the presence in the area of anyone who could possibly pose a threat. I knew that the standard procedure was to instruct all agents to contact informants and other sources to identify any such risks. Oswald, known to be a defector to the Soviet Union and pro-Castro activist, was on the face of it a political extremist. But a Secret Service spokesman I contacted, Jack Warner, flatly denied that the FBI had sent over a skinny (a background file) on Oswald. It had sent over a "risk list," but Oswald's name was not on it.
If not, why not? From a neutral phone I began contacting sources close to the FBI. One, Elmer Jacobsen, an ex-agent in Minnesota, had a source in Bryan, Texas, connected to the Dallas office, who reported that after Oswald returned to Dallas in October 1963, two agents, W. Harlan Brown and James Hosty, approached his mother, Marguerite, to obtain his address. She gave it to them and they interviewed him. Then, ten days before the assassination, Hosty interviewed him again.
So there was a scoop on the crime of the century: The FBI was in contact with the suspect but didn't tell the Secret Service or local police about his background. I rushed back to San Francisco to bang out the copy for the March 1964 issue of Saga in time for a press run in late January. What couldn't be included, since I had no evidence at the time, was that Hosty was running Oswald as a confidential informant. Several months later Jacobsen rather offhandedly mentioned that the Bryan source also had tagged Oswald as an FBI security informant, which would have been reason enough to withhold his name from the Secret Service. Jacobsen added that after the assassination, Oswald's FBI status had been given to the Secret Service in Washington. But there is no evidence that the Secret Service, whose chief, James J. Rowley, was an ex-FBI agent close to Hoover, ever passed on this vital bit of information to the Warren Commission.
When Oswald moved to Dallas, his file was assigned to James P. Hosty Jr. On November 1, 1963, Hosty visited Ruth Payne in Irving, Texas, where Oswald lived. She informed him that Oswald was working at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas and was staying temporarily in a rooming house there. Hosty briefly met Marina Oswald, his Russian-born wife, who appeared frightened. Hosty assured her the FBI would not harm her.
Payne promised to find Oswald's address in Dallas, and Hosty dropped in on her a second time, but she still did not know where Oswald was. Shortly after that visit-sometime between November 6 and 8 - Oswald appeared at the Dallas Field Office and demanded to see Hosty. When told by Nanny Lee Fenner, a receptionist, that he wasn't in, Oswald threw down an envelope, and Fenner read the note inside. She later recalled that it said if the FBI didn't stop bothering him, Oswald would "blow up" the FBI field office or the Dallas police department.
Fenner had worked for the FBI since 1942. People had come in with knives and pistols, and that hadn't bothered her. But she considered Oswald's note a serious threat and brought it to the attention of the assistant special agent in charge. He said to give the note to Hosty, who read the note and tossed it in his in box.
"The note merely threatened unspecified action against the FBI," Hosty told me. "Why would Oswald threaten to blow up the police department?"
After his retirement in 1979, Hosty — freed from the boundaries of his job — was intent on telling his story.
“My dad was a devout Irish-Catholic Democrat who loved Kennedy,” Tom Hosty said. “My father was prepared to lay down his life for the president.”
Another aspect of Hosty’s story was his unwavering belief that Oswald acted alone and that Hosty could not have seen it coming.“There was never an indication that Oswald was a threat,” Tom Hosty said.
In 1991, Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” painted an image of his father that Tom Hosty thought was inaccurate.
“I approached my dad and said, ‘We have to write your book. We have to set the record straight,’ ” he said.
Jim Hosty had kept “boxes and boxes” of documents related to the assassination and investigation. They went through the records, with Tom interviewing his father.
“Assignment: Oswald” came out in January 1996. After its publication, Jim Hosty was approached about his notes from the Oswald investigation. The notes were donated to the National Archives in the 1990s.
“He was a man on a mission,” Tom Hosty said. “He was determined to get the entire story out there to the American public — to set the record straight.”
Special Agent James P. Hosty had a few dozen cases in his portfolio in October 1963 when his supervisor in the Dallas office of the F.B.I. handed him another. It was the well-thumbed file on a suspected communist agitator and possible spy named Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Hosty tried to find Oswald during two trips into the field in early November, without any luck.
The two men met for the first time on Nov. 22, 1963. Oswald was being held at Dallas police headquarters, charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the killing of a Dallas police officer. Mr. Hosty, taking notes as the police interrogated Oswald, was beginning the half of his life that would remain painfully entangled in the mystery and national trauma of the Kennedy assassination...
Oswald had been on the F.B.I.’s radar since returning to the United States in 1962, with his Russian wife, after an unsuccessful effort to settle in the Soviet Union. He had been interviewed by other F.B.I. agents and described in their reports as an avowed communist, a potential spy and a heavy drinker, but never as a potential assassin.