Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"So Only the Conspiracy Speaks!"

“SO ONLY THE CONSPIRACY SPEAKS!”

“So only the conspiracy speaks!” – Control of Communications and Media at Dealey Plaza

As Edward Lutwak details in his book “Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook,” one of the vital and necessary requirements of a successful coup is the monitoring and control of communications, which if applicable to what happened at Dealey Plaza, requires those responsible for the president’s murder to also be wired to the instantaneous electronic reports going to and from the major players on the board.
That certainly limits the suspects as we already know what communications there were and who monitored and controlled them – primarily sideband radios, telephone calls, radio broadcasts, wire service ticker tapes and television. Who had the capability to monitor and control them? Very few people who we can identify and consider as persons of interests or suspects.

Communications is a key element in any covert intelligence operation, as Colonel Claus von Staufenberg considered when he sat down at his desk and devised the plan to kill Hitler that materialized on July 20, 1944.

Von Saufenberg was from a long line of German military men, many of whom were not Nazis but were just continuing their calling as professional soldiers, like their fathers before them, and they were horrified that rather than acknowledge defeat on reasonable terms, Hitler was going to allow Germany to be totally destroyed.

With the backing of a number of high ranking generals, after a few failed attempts, the assignment to kill Hitler was passed to Colonel Claus von Staufenberg, who was seriously wounded in Africa fighting with Rommel, and was given the task as he was a trusted aide to Hitler.

Hitler had been impressed with von Staufenberg and signed the executive order he had devised to secure major government and media buildings in time of national emergency – von Staufenberg’s example was the possible rebellion of the millions of slave laborors. In such a case Operation Valkyrie would call out the Home Guard military units to secure the key centers of government, transportation and communication – especially newspapers and radio stations.

Hitler signed the order, and asked von Staufenberg to join him and his generals for their military briefings at the Wolf’s Lair headquarters, near Rastenberg.

What von Staufenberg didn’t tell Hitler was that the sudden death of the Fuher would be considered one of the emergencies that would trigger Operation Valkyrie, and that was part of the plan.

When von Staufenberg sat down to compose the details of the plan, he included the role of the Home Guard soldiers in seizing key buildings, especially the media – newspapers and radio stations, concluding with, “So only the conspiracy speaks!”

Unfortunately, after von Staufenberg set the fuse, planted the briefcase bomb under the briefing table next to Hitler, and left the building, it exploded, and the conspirators announced that Hitler was dead, but he survived. And when his voice was heard on the radio, the game was up, and instead of seizing the key buildings, the co-conspirators were rounded up by Colonel Otto Skorzeny and other loyal officers. Some, like von Staufenberg, were shot immediately, and eventually over 3,000 people were arrested.

But a few got away, including Hans Bernd Gisivious, a Gestopo officer who met Allen Dulles, the OSS man in Bern, Switzerland, agreeing to become Dulles’ agent. Gisivious kept Dulles informed of the plot by dissident military officers, though both Dulles and Gisivious were weary of von Staufenberg’s plan to use a bomb instead of just shooting Hitler.

After hearing Hitler on the radio, and realizing the plan failed to kill him, Gisivious escaped Berlin and stayed in the home of some friends until Dulles could get him a fake passport, papers and a train ticket to Switzerland. After the war Gisivious testified against some of the Nazis at Nurenburg and Dulles arranged for him to come to the United States in a sort of Project Paperclip arrangement, where Gisivious would use his unique talents in support of the government, and got him a good executive level job with a Texas defense contractor.

On July 20, 1954 – the tenth anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Hitler, Gisivious had dinner with Dulles, then director of the CIA.

In September 1963, when the CIA was engaged in a detailed study of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler, in order to develop a plan to be used against Fidel Castro, the CIA had easy access to direct participants – including Gisivious, Dulles, Dulles’ associate Mary Bancroft, who was in the thick of the Valkyrie plot, and Skorzeny, the counter-coup commando commander.

While the CIA did try to recruit a number of dissident Cuban military officers – including Dr. Rolando Cubella (AMLASH), whose Veradero apartment was considered as a staging area for CIA trained snipers to shoot Castro as he rode by in an open jeep.

But instead of Castro getting shot, it was President Kennedy who was shot in the head as he rode along in an open Lincoln convertible, as the Valkyrie-like plan the CIA had devised had been redirected to JFK in Dallas.

There are a number of strategic aspects of von Staufenberg’s Valkyrie plan that were adapted for use against Castro then redirected to JFK in Dallas, including using standard covert operational procedures, getting the victim to sign off on the plan, utilizing the Home (National) Guard/Army Reserves to carry out the operation, monitoring and controlling the communications and blaming communists for the assassination itself. The only aspect not used was the mechanism of death – instead of a bomb it was a first class trained and equipped sniper with a high powered rifle.

While each of those aspects will be reviewed in detail, this concerns the monitoring and control of the communications.

THE COMMUNICATIONS IN DALLAS

There were numerous radios in Dealey Plaza, as every police car and motorcycle were equipped with radios that allowed them to communicate to and from their headquarters at City Hall, on two different channels.
Then there was the radios in the motorcade – every car had one tuned to a special channel that was operated by the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) officers in a suite of rooms in the Dallas Sherritan Hotel, where the Secret Service, George H.W. Bush and his wife also had rooms.

The motorcade radios on special WHCA motorcade frequency were located in the pilot car – a half mile ahead of the motorcade, the lead Secret Service car, the Lincoln limo, the SS followup car (they called The Queen Mary), and the car the Vice President was riding. Besides the radio in the front seat, LBJ had his own portable walkie-talkie like radio that he listened to as he hunkered down on the floor of the car with a SS agent on top of him.

While both Dallas police channels were recorded on a dictabelt machine, and their acoustics forensically analyzed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) specialists, (and they concluded four shots were recorded), the WHCA claims their motorcade frequency broadcasts were not recorded, or at least the tape no longer exists.

We know some of what was on that recording because of what listeners heard, including Air Force One pilot James Swindell, who instead of going to lunch with his crew, he stayed behind in the cockpit and listened to the WHCA motorcade channel, hearing Secret Service agent Kellerman’s frantic voice that clearly indicated something was wrong.

In fact, Kellerman was on the radio, finger pressing against the button that allowed him to talk, when the fatal head shot was fired, so that would certainly be on the tape of that channel, if it was recorded, as it should have been.

Besides the WHCA base station set up at the Sheraton Hotel, the radios in the motorcade and Air Force One, there was another base station that could have monitored the radio communications at the Dallas Emergency Response Center in the basement bunker under the Science Museum at the Dallas Fairgrounds. That was controlled by Colonel Jack Crichton, the head of the 488th US Army Reserves Intelligence unit, who was at the time of the assassination, was at a meeting at the Adolophis Hotel, just across the street from Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club.

Some of the Dallas Emergency Response Center’s records have been located, and they will be checked to see if the communications center was active on the day of the assassination, but it isn’t just the ability to monitor communications that matters, it’s the capability to control them.

The WHCA radios, the radios in the motorcade and the radios on Air Force One, the Vice President’s plane, the cabinet plane – then over the Pacific ocean on the way to Japan, were all on the same circuit – one under the control of the manufacturer – Collins Radio, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the main relay station was located and known as “Liberty” station, as it is referred to on the extant Air Force One recordings we do have.

Art Collins got his start in the radio business as a teenage HAM radio buff who built his own short wave radio, the only one capable of picking up the remote broadcasts from Admiral Byrd from his artic expeditions. The military didn’t forget that as Collins got major military contracts during World War II, and Art Collins became close personal friends with Air Force General Curtis LeMay, a HAM radio buff himself.
Admiral Byrd himself was cousin of D. H. Byrd, owner of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD), from where a sixth floor sniper shot from during the assassination operation.

Collins Radio also had a station at their hanger at Redbird Airport in Oak Cliff from where their executives would fly to Cedar Rapids or Washington D.C. The Collins Radio station at Redbird was probably capable of monitoring all of the radio frequencies being used.

Art Collins was a founder and director of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (GRCS) that President Kennedy would have mentioned in his opening remarks at the Trade Center if he was permitted to live to deliver his speech. As the GRCS was to be the recipient of an award at that event, it is likely that Art Collins was in the audience awaiting the President, who would never arrive.

Collins’ radios were in each key car in the motorcade, at the WHCA makeshift base station at the Dallas Sheraton hotel, the Dallas Police HQ at City Hall and possibly the DPD Special Services Unit at the Fairgrounds, the Emergency Management command and control center bunker below the Science Museum at the Fairgrounds, (two, possibly three) radios aboard Air Force One, the VP plane, the cargo plane for the cars, a base station set up in the Secret Service offices in the Executive Office building, and at Parkland, where a WHCA officer commandeered the wall pay phones and established a secure ground link to all of the above.

Other government officers and reporters used Parkland office desk phones to make calls.

After the three radio channels being used by the Dallas police and WHCA in the motorcade, telephones were the second means of communicating the news first that the President had been shot, and second that he was dead.

One media car in the motorcade only had one radio-phone, that one reporter called in the fact the motorcade had been fired on, then broke the line so the other reporters in the car couldn’t use it.
One reporter ran into the TSBD and asked for a phone – and another got to a wall phone at Parkland hospital before the WHCA officer commandeered them.

AP and UPI wire service reporters called their Dallas offices where seasoned reporters knew to push the FLASH BREAKING NEWS button – that shut down all other incoming news to give the breaking news priority – and five bells went off in radio news desks around the world – indicating that an extremely important message was to be broadcast and to turn on their large reel to reel tape recorders.

Aboard Air Force One, unknown to President Johnson, JFK had ordered that the radio transmissions from the plane be recorded when the plane was in the air. When Johnson arrived at Love Field, he made the first major decision of his Presidency by going aboard Air Force One instead of the plane he flew in on, reportedly because it had superior communications equipment.

Aboard Air Force One, but before it was airborne, LBJ made three known phone calls that were not recorded because the plane had not yet taken off. One call was to his local Dallas corporate attorney, J. Waddy Bullion. Another attorney in the same law office listened in and said that LBJ asked  Bullion about having to sell his Haliburton stock.”

The second call was to attorney general RFK at his Hickory Hill home in Virginia. LBJ asked RFK if he should take the oath of office immediately or wait until he got back to Washington, and the answer was immediately. LBJ asked for the wording to the oath of office and RFK said he would get back to him.
LBJ then called Judge Sarah Hughes, who he had recommended appointment as a Federal Judge, and told her to come immediately to Love Field to administer the oath.

Bobby then called back with the wording to the oath of office, that LBJ’s secretary transcribed.
Since the AF1 air conditioning, like the tape recorders, didn’t function unless the plane was moving, it was hot and stuffy in the plane’s cabin as they waited for Judge Hughes. She administered the oath, not on a bible, but a Catholic mass missile that his parish priest had given JFK.

Once in the air the Air Force One radio communications were recorded by the WHCA, and possibly by Collins Radio relay station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Dallas Emergency center, and most certainly by the Cubans from their Veradero listening post the Soviets had given them. One of the Cubans who had worked there, and later defected, told his CIA debriefers that Fidel Castro himself had ordered them to listen for news of the President in Texas. While Brian Latell and other CIA propagandists use this fact as evidence of Castro’s foreknowledge and responsibility for the assassination, it really only indicates he knew JFK would be in Texas.

Aboard the cabinet plane over the Pacific enroute to Japan, an assistant press secretary read the wire service ticker that the President was shot, and took it to the senior cabinet officer on the plane – Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who shared it with Press Secretary Pierre Salinger.

Salinger detailed these facts in his book  “On Orders of My President.”

Salinger says he then went to the radio shack on the plane and contacted the White House where he requested the Situation Room. Salinger, using his code name – talked to WHCA officer Maj. Patterson, using his code name “Stranger.” Stranger informed Salinter that the President was dead and for them to turn around and return to Washington immediately.

Rusk was incredulous. He wasn’t going to take orders from someone named “Stranger,” and asked who “Stranger” was.

Salinger went to the pilot and requested the code book from the plane’s safe, as seen in the film “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Love the Bomb,” but the code book wasn’t there. It was missing.
Rusk then ordered Salinger to break security and request the name of “Stranger,” – and the answer came back – Major Patterson, the WHCA officer who Salinger personally knew and vouched for him.

The cabinet plane then turned around and landed in Hawaii to refuel, where only the Secretary of State de-boarded so he could use a secure land line to call the White House Situation Room to get further details, and to learn whether they should go to Dallas, as Salinger wanted to do, or go direct to Washington. The answer was clear – the President’s body was in the air aboard Air Force One and was no longer in Dallas so the cabinet party and plane should go directly to DC.

The Air Force One radio transmissions were recorded by the WHCA, and at least two different transcripts were made – one of the original unedited tape, and another of an edited tape. We know this because William Manchester, author of “Death of a President,” was allowed to read the unedited transcript, and he quotes portions of it in his book, portions that are not on the edited transcripts or either of the edited tapes we now have.

In addition, Pierre Salinger was given a copy of the transcript that he quotes from in his book, but those portions of the transcript are not on the edited tapes and transcripts we now have. Salinger said he returned the transcript to the Kennedy Presidential library, but they no longer have it.

Like the cabinet plane’s code book, the original unedited tapes and Salinger’s transcript went missing from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) custody.

Back in Washington, Sen. Ted Kennedy reported that all of the phone lines in Washington were down, as he was running around trying to find a telephone that worked.

Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base. An Air Force plane was bringing General LeMay to Washington from Michigan while the cabinet plane was also flying back to Andrews.

President Johnson was one of the last to deplane. On the runway he conferred with Assistant Secretary of State Ball, and the military, read a short statement for the TV cameras and radio, and walked to a helicopter to fly to the White House lawn.

Johnson and his staff of four walked past the Oval Office, but passed its French doors at the Rose Garden and continued on to the Executive Office Building (EOB) next door. There LBJ retreated into his inner office with two of his top aides – and made a series of telephone calls, most of whose names were noted by secretaries. Although the Oval Office telephone conversations in the White House were recorded, none of LBJ’s phone calls from the EOB were recorded.

From the recipients however, we know that one of the calls went to the Texas State Attorney General, with President Johnson ordering the Texans NOT to charge Oswald with conspiracy – or more precisely “furthering a communist conspiracy,” something the radio news had reported.

And indeed, David Atlee Phillips’ CIA asset Joseph Goulden, the Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, had been on the phone with Assistant District Attorney William Alexander, asking him about charging Oswald with “furthering a communist conspiracy,” the origin of that rumor.

After receiving the call from LBJ, Barefoot Sanders called District Attorney Henry Wade, tracking him down having dinner at a Dallas restaurant, and told him about the order from the White House about the “communist conspiracy” charge, and Wade went back to his office where he confronted Alexander, ordering him to charge Oswald with conspiracy.

From the EOB, LBJ then went to his home, the Elms, where he made some phone calls while the WHCA and Secret Service set up secure land line telephone lines.

At the end of the day, we know that the tape of Secret Service security channel for the motorcade is missing, as well as the original unedited Air Force One radio transmission tapes, the transcripts of the unedited tape that both Manchester and Salinger had quoted from, and the cabinet plane’s code book was missing. That’s a lot of missing records that could fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle.

I believe the original unedited Air Force One radio tapes still exist, and like the tapes General Clifton kept in his personal possession, others kept copies of these tapes as well, and one day, they will surface. In addition independent tapes could have been made by the amateur HAM radio clubs, or even the Cubans at Veradero, as the side band radio transmissions could have been picked up by anyone with a radio and the frequencies being used.

So far, everything we’ve heard about the lone assassin and Castro communist conspiracy being behind the assassination, that is “the conspiracy speaking.” Now it’s time for the truth to speak. 


BK NOTES: This is a lead - in to this very important essay: 




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Friday, January 11, 2019

The National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations - Reconsidered


The National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations

The new national museum of Intelligence and Special Operations – a $10 million showcase – should not just glorify such actions, but be an objective, academic institution that will point out the mistakes, destruction and loss of life that such covert actions have caused over the years, and put such activities in their proper historical perspective.

The development of intelligence as a key security responsibility was outline in detail thousands of years ago by Sun Tzu in his classic work “The Art of War,” which has a chapter on the use of secret agents. In it he explains how, when all five types of agents are working at once it is known as “The Divine Skein,” skin being a thread on a net – an intelligence network.

Such covert actions were considered “Divine” because they appear to be acts of God to those who don’t know how the magic trick works, but once you know, it’s not so mysterious at all.

After World War II President Truman disbanded America’s wartime spy agency - the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and this museum is being funded by a $10 million grant from the OSS Society.


After the assassination of President Kennedy Truman wrote an essay in which he said that he didn’t think such covert operations should be a part of intelligence, which he said should focus strictly on collecting information rather than sabotage and subterfuge. Sabotage is a terrorist act of violence while subterfuge is the use of deceit to achieve one’s goal, neither acts of a gentleman, but used in all covert intelligence operations.

The history of such covert actions is fascinating however, beginning with Troy - the first historically documented covert op.

The Trojan Horse - After a fruitless ten year siege of Troy, the Geeks construct a huge wooden horse, and select a few good men – including Odysseus, to hide inside, and after the Trojans pulled the horse inside the city gates as a symbol of their victory, the first special forces emerged in a surprise attack that leads to victory.

The Intrepid sinking of USS Philadelphia in Tripoli Harbor – Lt. Stephen Decatur sails the captured pirate ship rechristened the USS Intrepid into Tripoli harbor at night to sink the captured American frigate USS Philadelphia, without any casualties.

The Intrepid explosion in Tripoli Harbor – September 4, 1804. Inspired by Decatur’s success, his friend Lt. Richard Somers sails the Intrepid back into Tripoli harbor outfitted as a fire ship to sail it into the anchored pirate fleet, but it explodes prematurely and kills Somers and his crew of 12 men. The three officers and ten seamen were buried on the Shores of Tripoli, where they remain today, despite repeated calls for their return and proper burial at home.  

The Loss of Rangers at Anzio – An elite regiment of Rangers were parachuted deep behind enemy lines and captured a key town, but the main invasion force was bogged down on the beach because of the hesitancy of the commanders, and the entire Ranger regiment was killed or captured.

The Re-capture of Mussolini – After Italian dictator Bonito Mussolini was deposed and imprisoned in a remote mountain castle, Hilter ordered Otto Skorzeny to free him. Skorzeny flew into the castle with a team of commandos aboard gliders, captured the castle prison and freed Mussolini.

Operation Anthropoid - The Assassination of Nazi administrator Reinhardt Heydrich in Prague on May 27, 1942 in an attack on his car by two partisans trained by British Intelligence. The Nazi retribution for the assassination led to the execution of Bishop Gorazd after the assassins were killed in a firefight at the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral. Another 13,000 civilians were arrested and an estimated 5,000 were executed.
The Assassination plans to kill Hitler – MI6. A British plan for a sniper dressed in German military uniform, to kill Hitler as he walked through a garden field to a nearby tea house as he routinely did. The plan was not carried out because it was decided the war was going in the Allies favor because Hitler was making bad decisions, something the allies wanted him to continue to do.

The July 20, 1944 Valkyrie Plan to kill Hitler was devised by high ranking German military officers who didn’t want Germany totally destroyed. The plan was carried out by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg at the Wolf’s Lair, in East Prussia, but the bomb failed to kill Hitler. The failure of the plot led to the executions of General Friedrich Olbricht, Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, Stauffenberg, the death of General Rommel and thousands of those suspected in cooperating or assisting the plotters.

Operation Success – The Guatemalan Coup of 1954 saved the United Fruit Company in South America,  was so successfully executed that President Eisenhower decorated the participants – including many of those CIA officers who went on to duplicate their success in Cuba in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs.

The Lionel Crabb Incident – UK – When the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze delivered Nikita Khrushchev to London, Crabb dived into Portsmouth Harbor on orders of his MI6 controller to inspect the cruiser’s underside, and disappeared on April 19, 1956.

Bay of Pigs – The CIA backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs by over a thousand anti-Castro Cubans, who were trained in Guatemala, resulted in the fiasco that killed many and imprisoned most of the invaders. The botched plan was ostensibly a covert operation, but even the invasion date was well known to many, including John Martino in a Cuban prison. While President Kennedy took responsibility for the failure, and was blamed for not supplying necessary air support, he no longer trusted the CIA,

Operation Mongoose – The post-Bay of Pigs, anti-Castro Cuban covert operations by the CIA, which included further development of plans to kill Fidel Castro.

Northwoods – the US military – Joint Chiefs of Staff – plan to fake a Cuban terrorist attack on Guantanamo  in order to instigate a reason for a full scale US military invasion of Cuba.

Cuban Missile Crisis – When the CIA’s National Photo Interpretation Center positively identified Soviet long range nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis took the world to the brink of nuclear war over 13 days. Ignoring the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended a military attack on Cuba to take out the missiles; President Kennedy instead initiated a secret backchannel communications with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that resulted in the removal of the missiles with the loss of only one life – that of an American U2 pilot shot down over Cuba.  

The Houma Bunker Raid – A not very covert removal of arms, ammunition and demolition dynamite from the Schlumberger company bunker at Houma, Louisiana in 1961 by David Ferrie, Gordon Novel, Andrew Blackmon and others. The cache was to be given to the French OAS anti-DeGaul military men fighting to keep Algeria a French colony, or anti-Castro Cubans. Most of those involved in this raid, including Jean DeMenil, the head of the Schlumberger company in Texas, would know Lee Harvey Oswald and become entwined in the assassination of President Kennedy.

The 1962 attempt to kill deGaul by OAS military officers, failed to kill deGaul in an attack on his motorcade, but the French car’s French Michelin tires did not stop to car when they were shot out, and deGaul got away.

The covert coup in Vietnam on November 1, 1963 that led to the deaths of the Diems.

The Assassination of President Kennedy – November 22, 1963. In order to keep JFK from renewing diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro and joining the USSR in a joint effort to put a man on the moon, the US military and intelligence officers redirected one of the plans they had devised to kill Castro and instead killed JFK at Dealey Plaza.

Iran Contra – Many of those involved in the Dealey Plaza Operation went on to Nicaragua where they supported the Contras in their fight against the leftist Sandinistas who had taken over Nicaragua. In exchange for American missiles, Iran agreed to free captured American hostages and provide money to the American operatives and fund independent covert ops that didn’t need the approval of Congress.

Chile 1973 – the assassination of democratically elected president Salvador Allende in a CIA engineered coup d’etat that led to the deaths of many thousands of people and the establishment of a military dictatorship that lasted until 1989.

And unfortunately, there are dozens and dozens of other examples of key covert intelligence operations gone awry – which means deviating from the appropriate, planned or expected course of action.

I like the idea of a national center for the study of intelligence, security, covert operations, political assassinations and other such deep political events, but they can’t be glossed over like the Spy Museum, but instead need to be thoroughly and critically analyzed so we can be the informed citizens who control the government, rather than the government controlling us. 

Now what we need is for some rich person with a conscience or a society or foundation like the OSS Society or Catherwood Fund to dedicated ten million dollars for a real Center for the Study of Political Assassinations and Covert Operations, based in Washington D.C., where all of the accumulated assassination records can be stored, scanned and put on line, and researches and writers in residence can work. 









Thursday, January 3, 2019

THE LBJ TAPES - New Exclusive Article on Air Force One Radio Transmission Tapes and Transcripts

THE LBJ TAPES - New Exclusive Article on Air Force One Radio Transmission Tapes and transcripts 

BK NOTES: One of the requirements of conducting a successful covert intelligence operation is control over the communications, which makes the Air Force One Radio Transmission tapes and transcripts a primary source for evidence in the case. While we have come a long way since this was written in the 1970s, obtaining an edited transcript and edited cassette tapes from the LBJ Library, and the edited reel-to-reel tapes from General Clifton's estate, this informed article stands up very well today. All of the facts that it establishes are still valid, and all of the questions it asks remain unanswered. 

Now we are resuming our quest for the original unedited Air Force One radio transmission tapes and transcripts, that we know existed at one time, and believe they still exist today, but are being wrongfully and illegally withheld because of what they say and tell us. 

Max Holland wrote a book on this subject - "The JFK Assassination Tapes," in which he neglects to mention or discuss any of the issues that Fred and Larry bring to the table, issues we are still grappling with, and issues that I believe we can and will resolve in the next few years, if only the effort is taken. 

Many thanks for Fred Newcomb and Larry Haapanen to take up this issue, the Newcomb family for permitting us to post this publicly, and for Larry for keeping the issues alive today.     


                                                            THE LBJ TAPES

                                         By Fred T. Newcomb and Larry Haapanen

The late Fred T. Newcomb of Van Nuys, California, was an advertising art director, is co-author with Parry Adams, of a privately printed book on the Kennedy assassination entitled “Murder From Within,” (Author House, 2011)

Larry Haapanen holds a Ph.D from Washington State University, is an ex-Air Force Captain and retired college professor.


SOMEWHERE IN GOVERNMENT FILES 

Somewhere in government files is a tape recording of much greater historical importance than any of the so-called “Watergate tapes” that helped force the resignation of President Nixon.

Instead of centering around a bungled burglary, these tapes contain conversations between high government officials immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy, as his successor, Lyndon Johnson, assumed the responsibility and authority of the Presidency.

The existence of the “LBJ tapes” remained a closely held secret until April 21, 1964, when author William Manchester learned of them while conducting interviews for his book, Death of a President.

Manchester found that President Kennedy had ordered the Signal Corps to record all communications to and from Air Force One whenever the presidential party was aboard, and that then-Vice President Johnson had been unaware of the order. Manchester then requested White House permission to obtain a complete transcript, which he wished to include as an appendix to his book.

President Johnson initially refused his request, but eventually, perhaps because the book had the backing of the Kennedy family, Manchester was allowed to read an edited transcript at the White House on May 5, 1965. “Doubtless,” Manchester wrote in his book, “the tapes will be available to future historians.”

But since security was not an issue, why was it necessary to edit the transcript before it was shown to Manchester? Perhaps because the principals didn’t know they were being recorded on orders of a man who by then lay in a casket in the back of Air Force One.

As the tape reels turned on November 22, 1963, they captured radio traffic between Air Force One (flying from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington), the cabinet plane (over the mid-Pacific carrying half the Kennedy cabinet toward a conference in Tokyo) and the White House Situation Room.

As fearful and distraught men sought to keep themselves and the republic together at a most delicate moment in history, they spoke without knowing their conversations were being recorded for posterity.

Another (or possibly the same) transcript was made available to Pierre Salinger, JFK’s former press secretary, to assist him in writing With Kennedy. In 1967, Philadelphia attorney Vincent Salandria learned from Salinger that his copy, originally provided by the White House Communications Agency, had been sent among some personal papers to the National Archives. 2.

When the National Archives could locate neither the tape nor the transcript, Salandria appealed directly to the White House Communications Agency. Colonel James U. Cross, military aide to President Johnson and former Air Force One pilot (and later executive director [of)]the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) replied for the agency:

“Logs and tapes of radio transmissions of military aircraft, including those of Air Force One, are kept for official us only. These tapes are not releasable, nor are they obtainable from commercial sources.” 3

In 1974, Fred Newcomb took up Salandria’s cause. If Manchester and Salinger could gain access to the elusive transcript, he reasoned, how could the government turn down another private citizen? Repeated inquiries of the National Archives and the presidential libraries (and finally, legal threats) produced and edited copy of the transcript from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Texas. According to library director Harry J. Middleton, “This Xerox copy came to us from the White House in a group of miscellaneous papers.” 4

There was nothing to indicate when it was prepared, by whom, or for what reason, and nothing to identify it as the transcript used by Manchester or Salinger.

There are a number of historical questions the original tapes or a complete transcript might clarify. This edited transcript, however, raises more questions than it answers. For instance, among students of the Kennedy assassination there has been cynical curiosity about the selection of the Bethesda, Maryland Naval Hospital over Walter Reed Army Hospital and Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

One reason has been that the autopsy performed there is so fraught with unexplained conflicts and secrecy that it qualifies as a major scandal of the Warren Report.

Another is the fact that but a few hours earlier in Parkland Hospital there had been a nearly violent confrontation between Dr. Earl Rose, Dallas County Medical Examiner, and certain members of the official party when Dr. Rose had tried to detain the body in Dallas for the autopsy required by Texas Law. 5

As Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry described it, “They more or less snatched that body away from him.” 6

The Manchester account – which supposedly drew on this same transcript – satisfied most of that curiosity. He reported that Rear Admiral George Burkley (personal physician to JFK, and later to LBJ) had proposed Bethesda to Mrs. Kennedy; she had consented; and Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, JFK’s Air Force aide, had alerted Washington to send an ambulance to Andrews. This last conversation was described in detail. 7

But in the Newcomb transcript we find this three-way exchange between Army Surgeon General Leonard Heaton in Washington and Major General Chester V. Clifton (JFK’s military aide) and Dr. Burkley aboard Air Force One:

BURKLEY: General Heaton, this is Admiral Burkley. Did you contact MDW in regards to taking care of the remains of President Kennedy taking him directly to Walter Reed? Probably Mrs. Kennedy will also be gion out there. We will clarify that later.
HEATON: All right.
BURKLEY: Just a minute. General Clifton is here.
CLIFTON: This is General Clifton. We do not want a helicopter to go to Bethesda Medical Center. We do want an ambulance and a ground return from Andrews to Walter Reed, and we want the regular post-mortem that has to be done by law under guard performed at Walter Reed. Is that clear?
HEATON: That is clear, General Clifton.8
Yet in the very next conversation we find General Clifton talking to Gerry Behn, head of the White House Secret Service Detail. He begins:
CLIFTON: This is Clifton. I understand that you have arranged for an ambulance to take President Kennedy to Bethesda. Is this correct?
BEHN: It has been arranged to helicopter the body to Bethesda.
CLIFTON: Okay, if it isn’t too dark. 9

The exchange indicates a mutual awareness that Clifton’s order to go to Walter Reed has been authoritively countermanded during the flight. Though the order may have come from McHugh as Manchester states, its omission in (the) transcript tends to renew old speculations.

There is reason to believe the Newcomb copy differs from others: the transcript shown to Manchester apparently did not include the conversation between Behn and Agent Kellerman that took place while Air Force One was parked in Dallas, prior to President Johnson’s taking the oath of office. Had he seen it, it is unlikely he would have written that taping did not begin until the plane was airborne. 10

Other in-flight conversations recounted by Manchester (whether from his transcript or his interviews is unclear) include calls from LBJ aide Bill Moyers and from Secret Service Agents Clint Hill and Lem Johns to the White House, and calls from Congressmen Albert Thomas and Jack Brooks to their offices. 11

None of these appear on the Newcomb transcript.

The Newcomb transcript does, however, include communications with the cabinet plane, implying that the same tape monitored both aircraft.

If this is true, then it is obvious from the conversation (the White House is reading from (a 10:40 bulletin on the AP ticker) that still more conversations are missing. 12

We know that LBJ had used the Air Force One communications system from Love Field to talk to his aide Walter Jenkins and to JFK advisor McGeorge Bundy in the White House, and to speak twice to Robert Kennedy in Virginia (the text of these calls is an unresolved dispute).

Local calls were also placed to Dallas lawyers J.W. (“Waddy”) Bullion and Irving Goldberg, and to Judge Sarah Hughes, and U.S. Attorney H. Barefoot Sanders. 13

These too are missing.

It invokes a twinge of bitter humor to find among the remnant conversations an unsigned footnote which reads:

(Note:) The next part of the tape is traffic between SAM COMMAND POST and AF-1 advising them of weather conditions – tornadoes in AF-1’s immediate flight path. I’m not putting in this traffic but I do have it in my draft if you want it. 14.

So far, the omissions are of doubtful importance – unlikely to yield anything more than firecracker surprises. But among the missing is at least one conversation of nuclear potential. According to Manchester, General Clifton talked to McGeorge Bundy, “asking again [!} whether an international plot was emerging” in the wake of  the assassination. 15

Author Jim Bishop, in The Day Kennedy Was Shot, wrote, “It seemed that he [LBJ] was phoning McGeorge Bundy in the White House Situation Room ever few minutes.” 16

Johnson, who first raised the question of conspiracy during the lifesaving efforts at Parkland Hospital, is also alleged by Manchester to have requested a briefing from CIA Director John McCone. 17

The Newcomb transcript yields only one Clifton-Bundy exchange; and only three lines from President Johnson (to Rose Kennedy and Nellie Connally); and no mention of any conversation of conspiracy, of an international plot, or of the CIA. 18

If it were not for Theodore H. White, the story would end here – Manchester’s reputation stalled against the anonymity of the transcriber/editor.

In the Making of the President 1964, White wrote “On the flight [from Dallas] the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President’s mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick.” 19

It was so peripheral to the drama White was presenting that its inclusion in his narrative seems almost accidental. Even now, its significance is not readily apparent. Yet if it is true, it will rank as one of history’s most electrifying revelations. Let’s restore the perspective of the afternoon of November 22, 1963.

·        When the plane touched down in Washington at 4:59 P.M. (C.S.T.) it had been less than 3 hours since Oswald had arrived at Police Headquarters.

·         There was no firm - - or even apparent – link between the crime for which he had been arrested (the shooting of Patrolman J. D. Tippit in Oak Cliff) and the assassination of President Kennedy across the river in Dallas.

·         The rifle had not been traced, there were no handprints, no bullets, no incriminating photos nor line-up identifications at that hour to connect Oswald (or anyone else) with the assassination.

·         But for those who could imagine such a connection, it would have been difficult to dismiss conspiracy. Oswald’s name was first announced at 3:23 P.M.; his Russian visit and his involvement in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee were announced at 3:26 P.M. 20

·         It was 1:35 A.M. the next morning before the Dallas Police felt secure enough of their suspect to charge him with the President’s murder. 21

·         As late as 10:15 P.M., Police were still reported to be questioning other employees of the Texas School Book Depository. 22

·        On the afternoon of the following day, Police were still looking for a negro suspect who was believed to have driven Oswald from the crime scene. 23

·         While the plain was aloft, at least one other man (Donald W. House) was being detained as a suspect assassin. 24

·         The American military had been put on global alert. 25

·         Pennsylvania troopers had thrown a guard around former President Eisenhower’s Gettysburg farm.
·         The CIA watch committee had been activated. 27

·         The government of West Germany was bracing for a possible invasion.28

Within the time frame of the historical flight, strong suspicions of conspiracy were emerging and none had been laid to rest.

But aboard the presidential plane, according to White, people were being told not only that Oswald was the assassin, but that he acted alone!

The implications stagger the senses. These same central conclusions which the Warren Commission would labor to bring forth by September of the next year are seen in full dress rehearsal aboard the presidential jet less than four hours after last rites were given the late President – now lying in a bronze coffin in the back of the plane.

This is obviously not the sort of allegation to be hung on a broadcast transcript of unknown origin; it challenges our whole vision of American reality.

When something like this turns up, it must be a mistake. Perhaps Theodore White’s Pulitzer Prize – winning journalism lapsed as he wrote this account. No one else’s account confirms it.

“There is a tape-recording in the archives of the government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the Signal Corps Midwestern center Liberty, between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, the Joint Chiefs communications center and the White House communications center in Washington. The voices are superbly flat: calm; controlled. One hears the directions of “Front Office” (the President) relayed to “Carpet” (the White House) and to the cabinet above the Pacific….It is a meshing of emotionless voices in the air, performing with mechanical perfection. Only once does any voice break into a sob…..”

When asked by Vince Salandria for the source of his news denying conspiracy, White wrote back describing the tape. 30

Perhaps it is better that the tape has vanished. If someone talking to the presidential plane knew the outcome of this investigation before it began, how many on the plane knew it, too?

What if we were to assume the worst here: that the primary beneficiary of the assassination, the former vice-president, was somehow involved in a plot to promote himself? After all, it is a matter of public record that the office did fall vacant on his home turf, and that the fatal trip had been made at his behest to mend his political fences.

It becomes obvious now to see how such a tape could be loaded with incriminating conversations; how the tape (and later the transcript) could disappear from the archives after Mr. White has revealed it; and why subsequent researchers would have to lobby and threaten to get even a severely edited transcript. There are at least 25 reported conversations missing from the Newcomb edition – who knows how many unknown.
But if the transcript were edited to conceal links between the former Vice President and the murder, our conjectures seemed doomed by another exchange retained in the Newcomb transcript.

BEHN: Yes, go ahead.
KELLERMAN: I’ll have to call you back. Get a couple of men, rather the Volunteer (LBJ) boys to go over to his car and so forth. We’ll also need hers and several others. 32

The presidential limousine was a mobile murder scene. Its internal ravages – bullet holes, blood spray, embedded bullet fragments – would be crucial evidence in determining the source of the gunfire.

Here is Roy Kellerman (Secret Service Agent in Charge of the Dallas trip) ordering [!] his superior to have men – LBJ’s men – go over the car “and so forth.”

If there was no controversy about the source of the shots, these speculations would be pointless. But so many things do conflict with the official notion of Oswald firing down from the Sixth Floor window; the Zapruder movie shows JFK thrown violently backward (toward Oswald); the shots seem to have come too fast for Oswald’s rifle; gunpowder odors are smelled in the motorcade; the Parkland doctors describe a frontal entrance wound, etc. Since there are few likely sources of shooting in Dealey Plaza which would not have ripped up the innards of  the limousine, this car was obviously hot evidence.

Yet the LBJ “boys” who went over it that night produced neither bullet holes nor any description of blood spray pattern (the blood was washed out at Parkland by Secret Servicemen, according to hospital employees) 33

Only a skull fragment, a cracked windshield, and five bullet fragments were found. 34

It will surprise no one that two larger fragments, with parts of copper jacketing still about them, were later matched to the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and which was later traced to Oswald.

But it may surprise some that all were lying loose on the seats and floor of the car.

To put this in perspective, let us digress. Several hours before these discoveries, Secret Service Agent Richard Johnson announced another. He turned over to James J. Rowley, Chief of the Secret Service, a nearly unblemished copper-jacketed bullet given him by a hospital employee at Parkland, where it had been found on a stretcher. This became Warren Commission Exhibit 399, the famous “magic” bullet later credited (with creating) seven wound and two broken bones. 37

Like the limousine fragments, it was matched to Oswald’s rifle. 38

Johnson apparently told no one of his bullet (no one on Air Force One seems to have heard about it) until he returned to the White House, and then both he and Chief Rowley broke the chain of evidence by not inscribing it, as standard police procedure.

This is not the place to evaluate the controversy about the “single bullet theory” or CE399. But because LBJ’s “boys” were sent to “go over” the limousine, and because they found fragments of a copper-jacketed bullet, we should note that all ballistic evidence lining Oswald to the assassination passes through a single agency.

The doctors at Parkland found only lead particles in Governor Connally, 39 as did the autopsy pathologists at Bethesda in President Kennedy. 40 A bullet impression found on a curb near the shooting was also leaden. 41 In fact, no copper jacketing was found embedded anywhere. It was all found lying loose, and it was all produced by LBJ’s “boys.”

Barely three weeks after the shooting, UPI found that the limousine had been quietly shipped to the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan to be bullet-proofed and completely refitted. One wonders why LBJ – who so loved the status symbols of office – wanted to ride about in this same car with its bitter (or at least bittersweet) memories. If this was some macabre gesture of economy, it was most unfortunate since it prevented the Warren Commission from making its own examination and using the car in its filmed re-enactments. Only the bullet-scarred windshield (scarred with lead, not copper) was saved for the Commission 43 and there is both photographs and testimonial evidence to suggest it was not the same one that went to Dallas.

But enough. Asking questions about the Warren Commission, the evidence, the meanings of it all, is like punching the Tarbaby of Uncle Remus tale. Let’s end the speculation.

What we have here is a tape – a tape originally made without the knowledge of those being recorded; belatedly discovered; and eventually released by a President in edited form. The trail of discovery beckons analogy to the Watergate tapes. The existence of the tape is at least established, and if it does not turn up, or is not released to the American public, the mystery of its unavailability will surely darken.

CITATIONS

1.      William Manchester, The Death of a President (New York; Harper & Row, 1967) p. 371n.
2.      Letter from Pierre Salinger to Vincent Salandria, 12/25/67.
3.      Letter from Colonel James U. Cross to Vincent Salandrai, 1/2/68.
4.      Letter from Harry J. Middleton to Fred T. Newcomb, 5/16/75.
5.      Manchester, p. 302-305.
6.      Telephone Interview, April 1971.
7.      Manchester, p. 349-350.
8.      Transcript.
9.      Transcript.
10.  Manchester, p. 371n., 268.
11.  Manchester, p. 341.
12.  Transcript.
13.  Manchester, p. 268-272.
14.  Transcript.
15.  Manchester, p. 342.
16.  Jim Bishop, The Day Kennedy Was Shot (New York; Funk & Wagnalls, 1968) p. 273.
17.  Manchester, p. 346.
18.  Transcript.
19.  Theodore H. White, The Making of a President 1964 (New York; Signet Books, 1965) paperback edition p. 48.
20.  Manchester, p. 284.
21.  Bishop, p. 505.
22.  There Was A President (National Broadcasting Co. 1966) p. 20.
23.  Warren Commission’s evidence, Vol. #24, p. 765.
24.  NBC-TV Broadcast, 2:45 P.M. (C.S.T.) Nov. 22, 1963.
25.  White, p. 20.
26.  White, p. 20.
27.  Manchester, p. 253, 269.
28.  Bishop, p. 285; There Was A President, NBC, p. 30.
29.  White, p. 21.
30.  Note from Theodore White to Vincent Salandria, undated.
31.  Telephone interview, Oct. 17, 1975.
32.  Transcript.
33.  Joe L. Richards, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. #21, p. 226. Ibid, Vol. 21, p. 217.
34.  Warren Commission Exhibits NO. 841, 843.
35.  Warren Commission Document NO. 5, p. 163.
36.  Report of Secret Service Agent Richard E. Johnson, Commission Document NO. 3; Testimony of Roy Kellerman, Warren Committion Hearings Vol. #2, p. 99.
37.  Warren Report, p. 104, New York Times Ed. , P.B.
38.  Warren Commission Document NO. 5, p. 163.
39.  Testimony of Robert A. Frazier, Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. #5, p. 72.
40.  Ibid., Vol. #15, p. 700; testimony of Lyndal L. Shaneyfelt.
41.  New York Times, December 17, 1963.