Testimony Of Michael Ralph Paine

The testimony of Michael Ralph Paine was taken at 12:05 p.m., on July 23, 1964, in the office of the U.S. Attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.

Mr. LIEBELER - Would you raise your right hand and take the oath, please? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I do.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you state your name for the record?
Mr. PAINE - Michael Ralph Paine.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are familiar with the Commission's procedure and you have testified before the Commission as I have heretofore indicated, isn't that correct?
Mr. PAINE - I have testified before---yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You testified previously that when you first met Lee Oswald in April 1963, that you discussed to some extent Gen. Edwin A. Walker?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I think we did discuss him in passing.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald ever indicate to you in any way that he had been involved in the attempt on General Walker's life?
Mr. PAINE - Not that I remember at all--nothing whatsoever. I think the only thing he did--the only thing that I can remember now, was that he seemed to have a smile in regard to that person. It was .inscrutable I didn't know what he was smiling about--I just thought perhaps it was--the guy assumed it was rapport for a person who was an extreme proponent of a certain kind of patriotism or something.
Mr. LIEBELER - General Walker was?
Mr. PAINE - General Walker was--yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, when you first met Oswald, as I recall, on April 2, I believe it was, of 1963?
Mr. PAINE - You have been keeping up with this--I haven't been thinking about Oswald for a year.
Mr. LIEBELER - You don't have any recollection as to the date at this point?
Mr. PAINE - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - In any event, you did meet Oswald sometime in April, for the first time; do you recall whether it was before or after that Walker had been attacked?
Mr. PAINE - I don't recall now; and as I remember--back in the fall--I wasn't aware then whether it was before or after. It isn't just a lapse of memory now.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember discussing with Oswald the fact that someone had shot at General Walker?
Mr. PAINE - No---I don't. That would have led me to think it was prior to his being shot at.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are referring to this specific date. Now, my question means to comprehend any time do you remember discussing at any time with Oswald the fact that General Walker had been attacked?
Mr. PAINE - No; I did not.. I didn't see him--I saw him that one evening, you see, and then I didn't see him for a space of some time.
Mr. LIEBELER - You didn't see him after that one time in April until after he had returned from New Orleans?
Mr. PAINE - I guess that's right.
Mr. LIEBELER - So, that would have been in October 1963?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - On June 11, 1964, Marina Oswald testified before the Commission at which time the following colloquy occurred, as indicated on page 7368 of the Commission's transcript:
Mr. McKENZIE - Mrs. Oswald, you say, or you said a few minutes ago, that Mr. Paine knew or knows more about your husband's attitude about the United States than you do. Why did you say that?
Mr. OSWALD - Because my husband's favorite topic of discussion was politics and whoever he was with. he talked to them politics and Mr. Paine was with him a fair amount and I am not sure they talked about politics.

Apparently it should have been "I am quite sure they talked about politics." But, at any rate, the transcript does read,

"I am not sure they talked about politics.
"They went to meetings of some kind together. I don't know what kind of meetings.
Mr. McKENZIE - Do you know where the meetings were?
Mr. OSWALD - In Dallas. After they came back from some meeting, my husband said to me something about Walker being at this meeting.

Do you remember going at any meeting with Lee Oswald at which Mr. Walker was present?
Mr. PAINE - No---the only meeting I went to was the ACLU meeting, that I recall.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you recall going to any meeting yourself in October 1963, with or without Oswald, at which General Walker was present?
Mr. PAINE - General Walker was present at the Oswald mentioned the U.N.-U.S. Day meeting held by the rightists, which occurred a day or two or two nights .before the ACLU meeting. He had been to that by himself. I had gone that same evening to a John Birch meeting. We were not together, but they were two things that occurred simultaneously, and that's where Lee, by his report at the ACLU meeting said he was and Walker was there. Maybe that's what Marina had in mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - But you, yourself, don't have any recollection of your ever being at a meeting when he was there?
Mr. PAINE - No; I have never seen General Walker that I can recall.
Mr. LIEBELER - You have never seen Walker?
Mr. PAINE - Unless he was--in a year previous to that I had been to the Indignation Committee meeting--no-- that is the answer to your previous question.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do--to the best of your recollection, you don't ever remember seeing General Walker present?
Mr. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or having been at a meeting at which you subsequently learned that he was present, although you didn't see him?
Mr. PAINE - That's right--I can't remember about the previous year, but I don't think that has relevancy.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well, since the time you met Oswald--you were at no meetings at which General Walker was present, to your knowledge?
Mr. PAINE - That's true.
Mr. LIEBELER - Marina Oswald goes on to testify and I will recapitulate part of it,

"After they came back from some meeting, my husband said to me something about Walker being at this meeting and he said, Paine knows that I shot him."

Do you have any reason to believe that--the first question, of course, is and I have already asked you that and you testified you did not know Oswald shot Walker prior to the assassination of President Kennedy; is that correct?

Mr. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, do you have any reason to believe that Oswald might have thought that you knew that he, Oswald, had shot at General Walker?
Mr. PAINE - I can't see how he would have thought I knew that. I just don't see--he might have said something that revealed that and I didn't catch his meaning, so it never sunk in to me at all, that is, to assume that he wasn't lying and that is the only way I can explain it.
Mr. LIEBELER - So that you think that this testimony that Marina has given is either the result of a misapprehension, or a lie on Oswald's part or on Marina's part?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you don't have any doubt about that whatsoever?
Mr. PAINE - I am perfectly certain that I didn't know he shot at Walker.
Mr. LIEBELER - Marina herself goes on to say:
"I don't know whether this was the truth or not, I don't know whether it was true or not, but this is what they told me."
And I presume she means that's what Lee had told her.
Mr. PAINE - Now, wait--this is--it would be well to check for that "they"---this is testimony in June, you said, and that "they" could possibly be Martin and Thorne. I don't know much about Martin and Thorne either, but I had the impression that they were telling her stories.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well, of course, this is what the translator said Marina had said. Marina is going to be here tomorrow and I will ask her about this then and see if she can clarify the record, but the point we want to bring out now at this time is that your testimony is quite clear that you did not know before the assassination that Oswald had shot at General Walker?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You testified before that Oswald had shown you one of those newspapers of his one day and said you could tell what they wanted you to do by doing some reading between the lines; is that correct?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And my recollection is that he was specifically referring to a copy of The Worker that he showed you at that time?
Mr. PAINE - It was.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever see Oswald reading The Militant?
Mr. PAINE - I do not now remember which are the things that I have come to realize later and which I knew at the time. I was not particularly aware of The Militant, as I recall. I really have to remember what my feelings were back in the fall when I was questioned on the matter and that, as I recall, the name and quality or the name and nature of The Militant wasn't really very familiar to me.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have any discussion with Oswald about the U.S. policies toward Cuba?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I don't think we did discuss that except in the very brief talk in the car when he was reciting someone else's approval--apparent approval of Castro and citing that he was a Communist.
Mr. LIEBELER - I remember you testified about that before that it was on the way back home after an ACLU meeting.
Mr. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you told him, or thought if that was what he had to go on to identify anyone as a Communist, that he apparently was reaching quite far?
Mr. PAINE - I thought so, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you recall that in the fall of 1963 there was a climate of what might be called, and what was in fact called, detente between the United States and the Soviet Union that apparently led people in. some quarters to believe that the Soviet Union would withdraw its support from the Castro regime or at least modify its attitude?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have any discussion with Oswald about that?
Mr. PAINE - No, we did not.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald ever indicate in any way that he was aware of such a thing?
Mr. PAINE - We very seldom spoke about it. Most of our discussions were to the more specific elements, since there was such a wide area of disagreement it didn't seem best to talk about smaller points, so we didn't talk about Soviet-American relations as I recall it in that regard.
Mr. LIEBELER - I show you a photograph which depicts the same individual as is depicted in Commission Exhibit No. 237 and ask you to examine it and tell me if you recognize the individual?
Mr. PAINE - I remember the same face on a picture that I saw earlier, but I had not at that time, and do not now, recognize the person., but he could work at Bell.
Mr. LIEBELER - In our discussions in Washington, we had some conversations about what you thought Oswald's possible motive might have been for the assassination--I don't think you have really ever set them forth for us on the record, and if you care to give us your views on that, I would appreciate having them.
Mr. PAINE - I was more eager to speak about it then--I was thinking about it then. Since that time I haven't thought about it at all.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you reconstruct the thoughts that you had at the time You were in Washington?
Mr. PAINE - I think my thoughts then were brief and they certainly are now. I thought it was a very spur of the moment idea that came into his head when he realized that he would have the opportunity with sort of a duck blind there, an opportunity to change the course of history, even though he couldn't predict from that action what course history would take, that in my opinion would not have deterred him from doing it. I thought that he was of the mind that something small or evolutionary changes were never going to be of any effect. It had to be, though he never revealed to me what kind of actions or policies he would have advocated or did advocate or did want to see I had frequently had the impression that it was--it had to be of a rather drastic nature, where kindness or good feelings should not stand in the way of those actions.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he ever discuss with you his notion of how society ought to be structured?
Mr. PAINE - Yes--he did discuss them but not in a way--did he ever describe anything that could be real. It was more a way that society should not be structured, that he talked about. Now, I shouldn't really say that--it was a negative description of how society should not be, and I never did get a description of what he would like or what one of a more positive nature would be like.
Mr. LIEBELER - You had the feeling that whatever it was, if in fact he had a notion about it, would have required a drastic and sudden change?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I don't know about the suddeness but he assumed that the society was all tied together, the church and the power structure and our education was all the same vile system and therefore there would have to be an overthrow of the whole thing. Just how he was going to overthrow it or what he was going to overthrow toward--it was not clear to me, especially, because it was also apparent that he didn't particularly admire Russia, so I didn't--I never did get it clear in my mind what program he was going to inaugurate with his new world.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he ever tell you he had written about this subject?
Mr. PAINE - No; he didn't.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you never read any of the things he wrote?
Mr. PAINE - No; I didn't.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you know he had written about anything?
Mr. PAINE - No; if I had thought he had written about something, I would certainly have been eager to have read it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have any opinion that this man was psychologically disturbed, suffering from personality disturbances and neurosis or psycho-sis-you pick it.
Mr. PAINE - No; truthfully, I should say that did not appear to be a good description. It seemed simpler and more to the point to say he was extremely bitter and couldn't believe there was much good will in people. There was mostly evil, conniving, or else stupidity--was the description--that was his opinion or would be his description of most people. That's my description, and the best description I can give of him--to call him other psychological names--names of paranoia or paranoid or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - What made you pick that particular name?
Mr. PAINE - Well, that kind of suspicion of people expecting them to be consciously perpetrating evil or ill toward him or toward the oppressed people-workers-is perhaps a trait of paranoia.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you think that he exhibited this trait?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; he did, but it didn't seem to be uncontrollable. He didn't generally take it--I would say he was paranoid if he always took it personally, but he always seemed to transfer it to, or put himself in the class of people who were oppressed, so that's the distinction why I wouldn't call him sick or wouldn't have then called him sick---before the assassination.
Mr. LIEBELER - Because he seemed to describe this feeling of his in institutional terms?
Mr. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER - And in terms of the social structure and the impact the world had on classes and groups of people?
Mr. PAINE - He was in the exploited class.
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; there was no doubt about that--I mean, as far as his own mind was concerned--that's what he thought?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - So, that he would describe these terrible misfortunes that were being perpetrated on a class of people, but he would make it clear that he did regard himself as being included in that class of people.
Mr. PAINE - That's correct. Now, I think he was a little--I can't remember now where I got the impression that he was allergic to the FBI, which is another case of him mentioning being sensitive to a person--a sense of persecution, but the only thing that I do remember that he did mention that surprised me a little bit was his sense of personal exploitation by his employer at the photoengraving company.
Mr. LIEBELER - And when you say you cannot remember where you got the idea that he was allergic to the FBI, you mean you don't remember whether you were aware of that before the assassination?
Mr. PAINE - That's correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - Were you aware of it before the assassination or can't you remember?
Mr. PAINE - I think I learned that from Ruth's statement of things that he had said and I don't remember whether that was before or after.
Mr. LIEBELER - For instance, if you were told that he in fact did have quite an allergy to the FBI, whether you were aware of it or not at that time, I suppose that that would provide an example of one or two things either an accurate description of what was going on or a slightly exaggerated or greatly exaggerated notion of what was going on and to that extent a manifestation of this feeling of persecution, as he put it.
Mr. PAINE - Yes; it was greatly exaggerated--it had, of course, some grounds, so you wouldn't be too inclined to call it paranoia and the fact that he also perhaps wanted to continue doing the things that would have to have the legitimate fear of the surveillance by the FBI because he would want to be attempting to do something that wasn't legal or proper. In other words, that would agitate him with grounds--for other reasons than paranoia.
Mr. LIEBELER - One of the witnesses who knew him in the Marine Corps testified that he thought that Oswald had a persecution complex which he strove to maintain--had you ever thought of it in that way?
Mr. PAINE - Well, he was certainly--I wanted to give him some sense of letting him participate in some sense of being effective to change the world and to let him be a little more generous in his thinking toward his enemies---his employers by suggesting that they weren't so fully in control of the social situation as he made out, and he certainly resisted all efforts on my part to think in a more generous and active way toward people toward whom he felt bitter. In other words, he had no inclination or tendency to try to get out of that mood---I don't remember now any illogical way he would have maintained that attitude.
I suppose, though, he just had to fight so hard, or fighting is about the only way he would or could get it out. He perhaps never had any experience of relieving the feeling of hate or bitterness through being kind to someone, so you just wouldn't imagine he would think that that was just pious or just talking to suggest that that was a way out of that feeling.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have the feeling that he had a considerable degree of hostility toward the society in general, toward our particular society?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; he had unreasonable and unrealistic and pervasive feelings.
Mr. LIEBELER - In that it affected his attitude toward almost everything?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he ever discuss with you his personal relations with his wife?
Mr. PAINE - No; he did not--he never spoke of girls at all. I thought he was very proper.
Mr. LIEBELER - What was that?
Mr. PAINE - Well, this is the way I supposed he was. I knew that he didn't smoke or drink and it seemed inconsistent with a libertine attitude toward women or even a sensual enjoyment of women would be a form of life that would be contradictory to his ethics.
Mr. LIEBELER - You had no idea that he had been engaged in the Fair Play for Cuba activities while he was in New Orleans?
Mr. PAINE - No; I did not.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever talk to Ruth about Oswald's employment situation in New Orleans?
Mr. PAINE - Not that I can recall--no.. I think I asked her what kind of a job he had found, and that was the extent of it.
Mr. LIEBELER - What did she tell you he had found?
Mr. PAINE - She said he had found the same kind of work he left here--the engraving business--or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember Ruth ever mentioning that Oswald had said that he had gotten fired from his job in New Orleans because of his activities in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't remember her mentioning that.
Mr. LIEBELER - I don't think I have any more questions. Thank you very much for coming.
Mr. PAINE - All right.