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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 307« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of )

Testimony of Abram Chayes

Representative Ford.
Mr. Chayes, will you take the following oath. Do you swear the testimony you are about to give is the. truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. Chayes.
I do.
Mr. Coleman.
The Honorable Abram Chayes is the Legal Adviser to the Department of State. Mr. Chayes will be asked to testify with respect to the files and other information and documents supplied the Commission by the Department of State dealing with Mr. Oswald.
Mr. Chayes will also be asked about the legal correctness of certain decisions made by various offices of the State Department with regard to Oswald, including whether Oswald had lost his American citizenship by his actions in 1959, whether his passport should have been returned to him in July 1961, whether his passport should have been renewed based upon the July 10, 1961, application, whether he should have been issued his 1963 passport, and whether action should have been taken to revoke it in October 1963 as a result of information received by the Passport Office, and whether the Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service acted properly in connection with section 243 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to Marina. Mr. Chayes will also be asked about the lookout card system in the Passport Office.
Mr. Coleman.
Mr. Chayes, will you state for the record your full name?
Mr. Chayes.
My name is Abram Chayes. There is a middle name that I don't use. It is Joseph.
Mr. Coleman.
Where do you presently reside?
Mr. Chayes.
At 3520 Edmunds Street NW., Washington, D.C.
Mr. Coleman.
When did you become Legal Adviser to the State Department?
Mr. Chayes.
I think I was sworn in on February 7, 1961.
Mr. Coleman.
So, therefore, anything that happened with respect to Mr. Oswald prior to that time you had nothing to do with and knew nothing about?
Mr. Chayes.
Well, I should say that I never heard the name Lee Harvey Oswald until November 22, 1963, so that neither before nor after the time I became Legal Adviser, before the assassination, did I have any direct knowledge about Oswald, nor do I believe I passed directly on any matters in the case, although there may have been some matters that were considered in my office. I am not sure about that, but I took no personal action in the case.
Mr. Coleman.
Since the assassination your office has had occasion to review the various files which were in the State 'Department dealing with Lee Harvey Oswald, is that correct?
Mr. Chayes.
Yes; on November 22, Mr. Ball, the Under Secretary of State, directed me to take in personal charge all the flies in the Department that I could find, and to review those files and be prepared with a report for the Secretary the following morning on the general relations of Mr. Oswald and the State Department.
I did take some flies, the basic files into my custody at"that time, and retained them in my custody, I think, until we sent them to the Commission at the Commission's request. And others than who were working on the matter in the Department had access to the files but had to work in my office on them.
Mr. Coleman.
On or about May 28, 1964, you had occasion to reassemble the files and deliver another set to the Commission, is that correct?
Mr. Chayes.
Yes; from time to time between the first delivery, which was probably last December sometime, and just last week we have made other papers available to the Commission as they have come to our own notice. A file search of this kind in a place like the Department of State is a pretty elaborate business.
Only last week we got a whole new shipment from the Moscow Embassy in which they said, "We have sent you before everything that you didn't have duplicates of, but here is a whole bunch of duplicates."
And it turned out that some of them weren't duplicates as appeared just this morning. We made those available as soon as they came in.
Mr. Coleman.
I take it with the covering letter of May 28, 1964, and the description you made of the file together with the other files that you delivered
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