10 Conspiracy Theories About the JFK Assassination

Oswald Was a Soviet Agent
Lee Harvey Oswald is seen distributing pro-Cuba flyers on the streets of New Orleans, La. in 1962. © CORBIS

After obtaining a discharge from the Marine Corps in 1959, Oswald promptly defected to the Soviet Union, where he lived for 32 months before he grew disillusioned and returned to the U.S. with his Russian wife Marina. But even back home, Oswald continued to dabble in pro-communist activism, and in September 1963 took a bus to Mexico City, where he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies, in an effort to obtain travel visas [source: Associated Press].

Or was it for other reasons? Oswald's curious history has led some to speculate that he was an operative recruited by the Soviets to kill Kennedy. According to investigative journalist Edward J. Epstein, Oswald's final phone call in Mexico City was to an official who was a secret agent in the espionage and assassination branch of the KGB, the Soviet equivalent of the CIA [source: Time].

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the KGB's files on Oswald — turned over to President Bill Clinton by then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and translated into English — actually revealed that the Soviet spy agency had decided against recruiting Oswald. As it turned out, the Soviets saw Oswald as mentally unstable and unreliable, and even harbored suspicions that he might be a CIA spy [source: Schorr]. Of course, the truly conspiracy-minded might question whether the Russians turned over all their documents.