THE CIA HUNT FOR POPOV'S MOLE AND LEE HARVEY OSWALD'S DEFECTION

The purpose of this folder is to give some examples of how records on Lee Harvey Oswald arriving at CIA from other U.S. government agencies were handled in the weeks and months immediately following his defection to the USSR in October 1959.  This effort is made difficult due to the extreme sensitivity of where these records were originally placed and where they were NOT placed, and by the fact that some important documents concerning this problem which were originally in the NARA JFK collection have now gone missing.  I first explored this subject in my Oswald and the CIA (1995, 2008), and have updated this study in considerably more detail on Countdown to Darkness, Volume II.

The strategy was to 1) subvert the normal distribution of incoming Oswald documents to the CIA by not allowing them to go to the Soviet Russia Division (SRD) and instead buttonhole them in the Office of Security, Security Research Staff (OS/SRS); 2) at the same time dangling Oswald as U-2 flypaper in front of the KGB in the USSR; 3) hoping that this would prompt the KGB to contact their mole in SRD; and 4) surfacing the mole by leading the mole to initiate a request for information on Oswald.

A Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU) Colonel, Pyotr Semyonovich Popov, warned his CIA case officer in April 1958 that a KGB mole in the CIA had betrayed much of the technical data of the super secret U-2 spy plane.  Lee Harvey Oswald had worked as a Marine radar operator at the CIA U-2 spy base in Atsugi Japan until his 1959 defection in Moscow where he offered to give the USSR some "special" information abut his work as a radar operator.