TESTIMONY OF HARRIS COULTER beginning at 5H408....
The President's Commission reconvened at 2 p.m.
(Members present at this point: Chief Justice Warren and Representative Ford.)
The CHAIRMAN. The Commission will come to order. You may proceed, Mr. Rankin.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. McKenzie has asked that we develop in the record a little bit about the qualifications of Mr. Coulter as an interpreter, so it would be clear that he is able to translate back and forth.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. Coulter, I think you should be sworn for this.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you rise and be sworn, please? Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. COULTER. I do.
Mr. RANKIN. Will you please state your full name?
Mr. COULTER. Harris Livermore Coulter.
Mr. RANKIN. Where do you live?
Mr. COULTER. Glen Echo Heights, Md.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you have a position in the Government at the present time?
Mr. COULTER. Yes; I am an interpreter with the State Department.
Mr. RANKIN. How long have you been in that capacity?
Mr. COULTER. About 3 months.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you have any special field of foreign languages that you are working in?
Mr. COULTER. Russian is my best foreign language. I also work in French and in Yugoslavian.
Mr. RANKIN. What training have you had for interpreting or translating Russian?
Mr. COULTER. Russian language and area studies was my major subject at Yale University when I was an undergraduate. I also took 4 years of graduate work at Columbia University in Soviet area studies. In addition to that, I studied at the University of Moscow for 6 months. And I have been studying Russian since 1950.
Mr. RANKIN. Can you tell us what period of time you studied at the University of Moscow?
Mr. COULTER. I was there from December 19--excuse me from September 1962 until January 1963.
Mr. RANKIN. Have you been acting as an official interpreter in Government work?
Mr. COULTER. Yes; for the last 3 months I have been.
Mr. RANKIN. And will you describe the nature of that activity?
Mr. COULTER. I have been escorting delegations from Yugoslavia both around the United States and in Washington. I have been working with French delegations here in the State Department. I would have been working with Russians if there had been any. There just haven't been any yet.
In July I will be going to Geneva to be an interpreter at the disarmament negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
I worked 3 years as simultaneous interpreter at the United Nations, in Russian and French.
Mr. RANKIN. And have all these various activities since you have been employed by the Government been as a part of your Government work?
Mr. COULTER. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you have facility in the reading of the Russian language?
Mr. COULTER. Yes; I read it fluently.
Mr. RANKIN. Have you had any difficulty understanding Mrs. Oswald?
Mr. COULTER. Not in the slightest; no.
Mr. RANKIN. I will ask you to ask her if she has had any difficulty understanding you.
Mrs. OSWALD. In the Russian language?
Mr. RANKIN. Yes.
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Mr. McKenzie, do you have anything else?
Mr. McKENZIE. I would like to ask a couple of questions. Mr. Coulter, prior to your service with the State Department which commenced some 3 months ago, where were you employed?
Mr. COULTER. I was unemployed from June 1963 until March 1964. I was in the process of being cleared for a Government job at the time.
I terminated my employment with the United Nations in June 1963.
Mr. McKENZIE. And you have been cleared for Government security purposes?
Mr. COULTER. That is right. The clearance began about August. I had some part-time jobs, freelance work, between the dates, but nothing permanent.
Mr. McKENZIE. But for a number of years you were an interpreter at the United Nations?
Mr. COULTER. About 3 years.
Mr. McKENZIE. And then you started getting a security clearance, and for the past 3 months you have been employed by the State Department as an interpreter?
Mr. COULTER. Yes.
Mr. MCKENZIE. You were the interpreter present this morning when Mrs. Oswald commenced her testimony on this occasion?
Mr. COULTER. I was.
Mr. McKENZIE. And all the above and foregoing testimony Previously testified to from the beginning of this session this morning up through now, you have interpreted; have you not?
Mr. COULTER. I have.
Mrs OSWALD. I appreciate Mr Coulter helping me.
Mr. McKENZIE. Mr. Rankin, the purpose and reason behind my asking you show his qualifications, the interpreter's qualifications, is that the record will reflect that Mrs Oswald was asked questions in English and they were interpreted into Russian, and she has answered in Russian--and so that the record will show she was not answering in English.