Collins Radio by Bill Kelly
Back Channels Magazine,
Volume 1, No. 4. Summer, 1992 p. 1-2.
Edited By Peter Kross
According to the former chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), “the principal impetus for the overwhelming support…establishing the HSCA…came from another source – the … Senate Committee on Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. In this report, dated April, 1976, the Senate committee published revelations that raised in the minds of many, serious possibilities of government complicity in the assassination.”
“Two astonishing facts had been developed by the Senate investigations,” the counsel noted, “- the CIA, as part of an assassination of foreign leaders (executive action) program, had enlisted the cooperation of top underworld figures in the United States in an effort to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba. In addition, word of the CIA/Mafia plots had been withheld by the Agency from the Warren Commission.”
In a sense, at least one member of the Warren Commission, former CIA director Allen Dulles, knew of the plots to kill Castro, but did not inform the other commissioners. Instead, he provided them all with a book about American assassins, and how they are, historically, mentally deranged loners.
The final report of the HSCA concluded that, “in the judgment of this committee, the CIA/Mafia plots, like the AM/LASH plots, should have been aggressively explored as part of the 1963-64 investigations.”
Both the CIA/Mafia and the AM/LASH plots to kill Castro were extensively evaluated by the Congressional committees, and the CIA eventually admitted to partaking in at least six different plots to kill Castro.
But three respected researchers – Gaeton Fonzi, Timothy Crouse and Paul Hoch, separately questioned why the CIA would admit to its attempts to kill Castro with flashy shellfish toxins, exploding cigars and dart gun pens, yet fail to mention the October 1961 and the November 1971 plots involving Antonio Veciana.
Yet another plot, the Rex raid of October 31, 1963, which is on the public record, is another example of the government’s failure to affirm secret operations to kill Castro that are directly entwined with the assassination of President Kennedy.
The Rex episode first came to light on October 31, 1963 when Fidel Castro announced that a team of assassins were arrested on a beach in Cuba. They had high powered rifles and other assassination weapons and confessed that the CIA had organized arm shipments to Cuban insurgents and had trained them to kill Cuban leaders.
According to Castro, the men arrived in Cuba aboard two small motor launches, marked with the name “the Rex.” A New York Times reporter in Florida confirmed that the Rex, a ship docked at Palm Beach, Florida, was indeed missing two of its launches. It was later written, “President Kennedy had expressed his great annoyance to the CIA at the fact that the Rex, one of the CIA’s boats used in raids on Cuba, docked at Palm Beach while he was there on vacation.”
This raid also took place against the clearly stated policy of the U.S. government that, “no raid against Cuba were to originate from U.S. shores.” The CIA even launched the Bay of Pigs invasion from bases in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
The New York Times published a photo of the Rex in its November 1, 1963 edition, and identified the 174 foot vessel as registered out of Bluefields, Nicaragua, “but in fact operating out of West Palm Beach, Florida.”
A decommissioned U.S. Navy sub-chaser, the Rex, captained by Aiejandro Brooks, was the flagship of the CIA’s operation JM/WAVE fleet. It was outfitted with searchlights, a crane for lifting its speedboats aft, elaborate electronic gear amidships, and had an arsenal that consisted of two 40 mm cannon, a 57 cal. Recoilless rifle, two 20 mm cannon and two 50 caliber machine guns.
The Belcher Oil Company of Miami, had bought the Rex from Paragon, a company owned by Luis Somoza of Nicaragua. The New York Times reported that, “dockage for the ship was said to be paid by Sea Shipping Co. from a post office box.”
In November, 1963, the ship was being leased to the International Division of the Collins Radio Company of Richardson, Texas, to be used for possible ELENT (electronic intelligence) gathering activity.
What is significant about the Rex and its mission to deposit assassins in Cuba on October 31, 1963, is that Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy, once visited the home of retired Admiral Chester Brouton, then an executive of Collins Radio, the company that leased the Rex. So someone associated with accused assassin of JFK worked for a company that was actively engaged in an assassination attempt against Castro just three weeks before the President was killed.
Oswald’s association with Brouton is cited in a HSCA report, specifically in the document, “I’m a Patsy,” written by George DeMohrenschildt, who knew Brouton personally and took Oswald and his wife to Brouton’s home in suburban Dallas where they had lunch by the pool.
Brouton’s position with Collins is also mentioned in Legend: The Secret Life of Lee Harvey Oswald by Edward J. Epstein, but the Rex incident is ignored by the HSCA as well as by Epstein.
Although the associations between Oswald and Brouton, Brouton and Collins and Collins and the Rex should have been enough to warrant an investigation of the corporate structure of Collins Radio, Inc. yet another Collins Radio employee was investigated immediately after the murder of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit on November 22, 1963.
Tippit was killed in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas within an hour of the President’s death and his murder was also attributed to the President’s alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The final report of the HSCA claims that, “…the committee’s investigation uncovered no direct evidence of a relationship between Oswald and Tippit, nor did it attribute any activity or association to Officer Tippit that could be deemed suspicious…”
But the items listed under the Committee’s report Section 11, Volume XII – Oswald-Tippit Associates, are indeed suspicious. This is a serious discrepancy between the stated conclusions of the HSCA and the evidence it developed and published as part of the public record.
As former Warren Commission counsel David Belin put it, “the Tippit murder is the Rosetta Stone of the Kennedy assassination,” and although he meant it to convict Oswald as the lone assassin, it may assist in the unraveling of the covert conspiracy.
Under Section XI – Austin’s Barbecue, it is revealed that besides being a Dallas policeman, Tippit also held a job moonlighting as a bouncer at Austin’s Drive-In restaurant. The owner of Austin’s was a partner with Bert Bowman, who owned money to and lived with Ralph Paul, Jack Ruby’s financial backer.
Ruby also owed money to Paul – an estimated $15,000, and the $3,000 Ruby had with him when he shot Oswald was reportedly Paul’s cash. Although Ruby might not have known officer Tippit, both men worked for the same Bowman/Paul combine.
Both Oswald and Tippit also frequented the same Dobb’s House restaurant in Oak Cliff, and both sat at the same counter for breakfast together on the morning of the day before the assassination. Although they weren’t seen conversing together, Oswald complained loudly about his eggs being too well done, and the waitress said that Tippit “shot him a glace.”
The HSCA reports also show that shortly after Tippit’s murder, Oswald was seen sitting in a parked car that belonged to Tippit’s best friend, Carl Mather, who worked for Collins Radio.
Listed in the HSCA reports as “The Wise Allegation,” because it originated with former Dallas newsman and mayor Wes Wise, the report reads: “Wise…had received information that a car near the scene of the Tippit shooting was traced to Carl Mather, a close friend of Tippit’s….A mechanic who worked across the street had observed a car in a parking lot of the El Chico restaurant on the afternoon of November 22, after radio reports were being broadcast about the shooting in Dealey Plaza. The mechanic told Wise that after the assassination there were sirens blaring and police cars all over the area near the garage.
“He noticed,” the report continues, “a man sitting in an irregularly parked car in the restaurant parking lot; the car was slightly hidden by a billboard. The man in the car appeared to be hiding, all the circumstances seemed so suspicious that the mechanic went across the street to get a better look.”
“When the mechanic saw news accounts of the assassination on television, he saw Lee Harvey Oswald and recognized him as being the man he had seen in the car that afternoon.”
So on the afternoon of JFK’s murder, the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald is seen sitting in a car belonging to a close friend of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, who Oswald is also accused of killing. That friend, Carl Mather, worked for Collins Radio, a company that was actively engaged in at least one plot to assassinate Fidel Castro three weeks earlier.
According to Professor Peter Dale Scott, the Rex mission of October 31, 1963 was sponsored by the anti-Castro Cuban group known as the MDC – the Movement Democrato Christiano, which also ran a commando training camp near Lake Ponchartrain in Louisiana that Oswald had previously tried to infiltrate. The FBI raided that camp, and made some arrests and stirred up some publicity.
Scott also says that the Rex mission may have included Watergate burglar Rolando Martinez.
Like may other unsolved mysteries surrounding the Kennedy assassination, the secret mission of the Rex is yet to be fully explained.
William Kelly, Jr. is the Co-Founder of the Committee for an Open Archives (COA), P.O. Box 6008, Washington, D.C., 20005-0708. His research on the assassination of President Kennedy is supported in part by a grant from the Fund for Constitutional Government, Investigative Journalism Project.
From Crime & Cover-up by Peter Dale Scott:
“An MDC-Somoza anti-Castro mission of October 1963 fro a Florida-based ship the Somozas called the Rex, involved both Martinez as skipper (according to Sturgis) and very probably Sturgis himself as well. This Florida based raid violated President Kennedy’s publicly announced prohibition of Cuban exile raids ‘launched, manned, or equipped from U.S. territory.’ It came only one month after Sturgis himself had been publicly warned by U.S. government officials to desist from such activities.” (Note NYT Sept. 16, 1963, p. 39)
In Harpers Magazine, R. Crile and Taylor Branch interviewed Martinez:
“Although Rolando Martinez was in many ways typical of the Agency’s Cuban volunteers, he was more accomplished and experienced than most. When he surfaced in 1972 as one of the Cuban-Americans captured at the Watergate break-in, Martinez was still on the CIA payroll an had 354 missions to Cuba recorded in Agency files. As a boat captain in the clandestine navy of JM/WAVE, he completed fifty missions before the Bay of Pigs and would complete some seventy-five more during the first four years of the secret war.” (Harpers, p. 56)
Rolando Martinez: “….I took a lot of weapons to Cuba. Some were very special weapons for very special purposes. They were powerful rifles with sophisticated scopes – Springfields with bolt action, rifles used only by snipers. They were not sent to shoot pigeons or kill rabbits. Everyone in the underground was plotting to kill Castro, and the CIA was helping the underground. I was with the underground as well as the CIA, so you could say I was involved in the plots too, but that is all so obvious.” (Harpers, p. 83)
Collins Radio & the JFK Assassination 1994
In October 1994 I gave a talk at the national conference of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) in Washington D.C. on the Collins Radio Connections to the assassination of President Kennedy.
Unlike the main speakers – Dr. Cyril Wecht, John Newman, Fletcher Prouty, Michael Parenti, Mark Lane and Judge John Tunheim who were the featured speakers, my talk was in a side-room big enough for only a hundred or so people, but the room was full, and I was glad to see that Peter Dale Scott, Bill Turner and others I respected went out of their way to listen to my short, 20 minute presentation.
While most of what I talked about took place in the 1960s, thirty years previous, Washington was in the middle of a major big time government scandal which dominated the front pages of the Washington Post concerning the emergence, over the previous three years, of a huge $310 million federal building on a 68 acre site near Dulles Airport.
The official cover story was that this was the new national headquarters of the Collins Radio Division of Rockwell International, but eventually it was discovered that it would be the new headquarters for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), jointly operated by the Air Force and the CIA.
The very existence of the NRO was not officially acknowledged until 1992, and former CIA director R. James Woolsley testified that he was concerned that he had committed a serious security breather by uttering the initials “N.R.O.”
On August 10, 1994, NRO director Jeffrey Harris and deputy director Jimmy Hill “nervously and reluctantly joined in the first public testimony in the agency’s 34-year history,” the New York Times reported on page one the next day.
“For four years, the reconnaissance office, the agency that builds and maintains the nation’s multibillion dollar fleet of spy satellites, concealed the money for the headquarters by breaking it up into different accounts in its operating budget, its leaders testified….This was normal, they testified. Building the new headquarters….was in effect, a covert operation.”
“We have been negligent, clearly negligent, for not showing the budget breakdown for this project,” Roger Marsh, project manager for the new headquarters said.
John M. Broder, of the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 10, 1994) wrote that even former budget director Leon E. Panetta, who became White House Chief of Staff (and is now Sec. of Defense), “had no idea the four mid-rise office towers belonged to the government.”
Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D. Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that committee members knew the building was being constructed but “budget estimates and details were given to the committee piecemeal and buried in larger intelligence accounts.”
When DeConcini told Clinton, Panetta and national security advisor Anthony Lake, after they read about it in the news papers, DeConcini said the three “were caught by surprise.”
The President ordered the building project declassified, released construction costs, but when DeConcini “urged Clinton to name independent auditors to conduct an inquiry into the project,” the President instead “put the review in the hands of the CIA and Pentagon, who were responsible for hiding the project’s spending in their budgets.”
DeConcini, still fuming at the betrayal by the intelligence agencies, said he had no idea whether the investigation would uncover other multi-million-dollar clandestine operations. “For all we know, they might have a battleship floating around out in the Pacific with a bunch of communications on it that we don’t know about.”
Then it got even better, when the 3rd Anniversary issue of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George Magazine (Oct. 1998) included an article called “The Spys Who Lost $4 Billion,” by David Wise, who had previously co-authored groundbreaking book “The Invisible Government.”
“The NRO is a top secret spy organization whose satellites…can photograph a license plate from outer space,….so how did it lose billions of dollars from its own budget?, Wise asked.
According to Wise, “With some 3,000 employees and an annual budget of around $6.2 billion,….the NRO spends far more money than any of the government’s 13 primary intelligence agencies. It’s budget is twice that of the CIA….and has played a key role in virtually every major foreign policy event of the last 35 years.”
“Yes, Virginia, there is a NRO.”
And 35 years after its cover was blown by a front page story in the New York Times for fronting for the CIA in the operation of the Rex, the NRO pulled Collins Radio off the shelf to cover for the NRO’s new headquarters, which they thought they could just build out in the Virginia suburbs without anybody knowing or asking what they were doing. And they tired to do it without the knowledge of the President, the head of the federal budget, the national security advisors or the head of the Congressional oversight committees.
Frank B. Strickland, Jr., deputy program manager of NRO’s Support Office said, “Our adversaries will change tactics, and the adversaries themselves have changed. Now we have terrorists, rogue nations, nuclear proliferation. The NRO has to keep pace.”
Collins Radio Connections
THE COLLINS RADIO CONNECTIONS to the Assassination of President Kennedy
By William E. Kelly – Revised from report originally published in Backchannels magazine and presented at the national conference of the Coalition On Political Assassination (COPA), October 10, 1994.
If the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of not only a conspiracy, but a covert action and coup d’etat, as many people believe, there should be evidence of this from both the scene of the crime(s) as well as from the highest echelons of power among those who took over the government. This would be especially so if the assassination was not the actions of a lone-nut or a foreign attack by Cuban or Soviet intelligence service sponsors, but an internal manipulation of policy and control, an inside job.
As Edward Luttwack describes in his "How-To" book Coup d’etat – A Practical Handbook(Alfred A. Knopf, 1968, p. 117), "Control over the flow of information emanating from the political center will be our most important weapon in establishing… authority after the coup. The seizure of the main means of mass communication will thus be a task of crucial importance."
At the scene(s) of the crime, eyewitness testimony is always suspect. Homicide detectives prefer more solid leads that provide documented evidence that can be introduced in court, such as fingerprints, telephone and automobile license records.
There are a number of automobile license records of significance in regards to the assassination of President Kennedy, including the tampered photo among the possessions of Lee Harvey Oswald of the license on 1957 Chevy in General Walker’s driveway, plus the license numbers of cars seen in Dealey Plaza photos immediately before and after the assassination.
Most significant however, is the Texas plate PP4537. This number was jotted down on a piece of paper by an elderly Oak Cliff mechanic T. F. White, who noticed a man acting suspiciously behind the wheel of a 1958 two tone Plymouth sedan shortly after the murder of Dallas Policeman J.D. Tippitt in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. The car was parked behind a billboard in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant, with the driver, like White, watching the flurry of Dallas police cars racing down the street with sirens blaring, called to the nearby scene of the shooting of Tippit.
White walked across the street to get closer and exchanged glances with the man, who quickly drove away. White wrote down the license tag PP4537 on a piece of paper and forgot about it until later that day when he saw Lee Harvey Oswald on television and recognized him as the man he saw acting suspiciously in the Plymouth earlier that afternoon.
A few weeks later, when Dallas radio reporter and later mayor of Dallas Wes Wise gave a talk at the Oak Cliff restaurant, the owner of the garage where Mr. White worked mentioned the suspicious Plymouth to Wise, who then met White. White reluctantly told his story, but was reluctant to get involved, and Wise had to use all his powers of persuasion to convince White to share the information with him. Wise promised White he would not be brought into the investigation, but tat he, Wise, would handle it. "Do you have the piece of paper with the license number on it?" Wise asked, and sure enough, White had it right there in his pocket and gave it to Wise. It read: PP4537.
White told Wise that nobody knew who or what was really behind the assassination of President Kennedy and he really didn’t want to get involved, but he handed over the paper to Wise, who passed it on to the police and FBI.
A quick check of the Texas plate #PP4537 indicated that it was assigned to Carl Mather, of Garland, Texas. When the FBI went out to the listed Garland address they found the two tone 1958 Plymouth right there in the driveway and knocked on the door. Mrs. Mather answered, acknowledged the car belonged to her husband, who was then away at work at Collins Radio, in nearby Richardson, Texas. When asked where her husband and the car was on Friday, November 22, 1963, she said that the car was in the parking lot at Collins Radio until sometime in the afternoon when her husband returned home and picked up the family to go to the Tippit residence to pay their respects to the widow and family of their good friend, who was murdered that day.
Instead of going out to Collins Radio to interview Mather however, the FBI went first to Mr. White, who Wes Wise had promised wouldn’t be involved, and took additional statements from him, changing his story for the official reports and exchanging the two tone Plymouth to a red Ford Falcon. CBS News made a polite inquiry years later, leaving Carl Mather out of the documentary program they aired but listed Mrs. Mather in the programs credits. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) briefly looked into the affair, granted Mather immunity from prosecution to testify and then failed to question him under oath. The HSCA published a short report they titled "The Wise Allegation," when in fact Wes Wise made no allegations, and merely followed up on his reporter’s instincts. He came up with an automobile license plate number that was scene near the murder of a Dallas policeman that was traced to one of the victim’s best friends, Carl Mather, whose alibi is that he was at work at the time, at Collins Radio.
Documents later released under the JFK Act indicate that Mather was questioned by HSCA investigators and claimed that he worked on electronics at Collins, his specific job being the installation of the radio equipment aboard Air Force Two – the Vice President’s plane.
That this lead was not properly investigated, and remains uninvestigated today, is because such an inquiry actually does lead to the heart of the plot to murder not only Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, but as many believe, is tied directly to the assassination of President Kennedy. If the Tippit murder is connected to the assassination of the President, as the official stories alleges, then the Tippit murder may be the "Rosetta Stone" that could explain the mysteries of both murders.
The significance of the Collins Radio connections becomes apparent with a quick review of the published record, and that:
1. On November 1, 1963 the New York Times published a photograph of the ship the Rex, which Fidel Castro identified as the boat that dropped off a team of assassins in Cuba a few nights previous. The Rex was docked at Palm Beach, Florida, near the JFK family compound, and the Rex’s Halloween eve mission was in clear violation of President Kennedy’s March 1963 edict that no para-military raids against Cuba were to originate from U.S. shores. According to the article in the NYTs, the Rex had been sold by the Somoza regime in Nicaragua to the Belcher Oil Company, its dock fees paid by the CIA front company Sea Ship Inc., with the Rex then being leased to the Collins Radio Company of Richardson, Texas, "for scientific research."
2. Founded by Arthur Collins, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Collins Radio first made news headlines when young Collins was an amateur radio buff with the only (home made) radio receiver who could pick up the radio transmissions of Navy Commander Richard E. Byrd from his polar exploration expedition. [Richard Byrd is the cousin of the founder of the Civil Air Patrol and owner of the Texas School Book Depository building].
3. Collins Radio became a major defense contractor during World War II, and following the war, participated in Operation Paperclip, hiring Dr. Alex Lipisch, the former Nazi scientist who developed the Delta I glider and ME 163 Komet jet fighter. For Collins, Lipisch was assigned to the boat development program that worked with General Dynamics in attempting to build and refine a sleek, swift speedboat – the V20 - that could be used for Cuban infiltration missions like the Rex mission. It was later used in Vietnam.
4. David Ferrie’s telephone records reflect that in the weeks before the assassination he made frequent calls from the New Orleans law office of G. Ray Gill to the Belcher Oil Company of Dallas, Texas, the company that was the listed owner of the Rex.
5. In the week before the assassination, a reservation was made at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club for a large party of Collins Radio employees.
6. The Dallas P.D. Intelligence Division maintained a paid informant who worked at Collins Radio and reported on fellow employees who appeared suspicious or subversive, including one who was reported to subscribe to the leftist I.F. Stone Weekly.
7. When Lee Harvey Oswald returned to Texas from Soviet Russia, George DeMohrenschildt introduced him to retired Navy Admiral Chester Bruton, an executive at Collins Radio, with the idea of Oswald getting a job there, as he had worked in a radio factory in Minsk, USSR. Oswald and Marina visited Bruton with DeMohrenschilt.
8. At the time of the assassination Adml. Bruton was working on a top-secret nuclear submarine communications project for Collins, with the Navy’s nuclear sub radar and communications HQ being based at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, close neighbors of Michael Paine’s family island.
9. In 1963 Collins Radio began receiving large military contracts including one for the construction of a microwave communications network in Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam.
10. After Oswald was murdered while in Dallas police custody by Jack Ruby, his widow Marina P. Oswald married former Collins Radio employee Kenneth Porter.
11. In Miami, Florida, a Cuban exile, and former executive of Collins Radio, was murdered, assassinated in a still unsolved homicide.
12. Collins Radio supplied and maintained the equipment used by the Voice of America, all manned NASA space flights, the Strategic Air Command (SAC), as well as all equipment used for the CIA’s Guatemalan and Cuban operations. Most significantly, Collins Radio was responsible for installing and maintaining all radio equipment aboard Air Force One, Air Force Two and the Cabinet’s plane.
13. According to the Collins Radio Annual Report to stockholders for 1963-64, Collins Radio not only installed and maintained the radios aboard most military and executive branch planes, they also operated the station known as "Liberty" at their Cedar Rapids, Iowa headquarters, which served as a relay station for all radio communications between the White House, the Pentagon, Air Force One, Air Force Two, the Cabinet plane and Andrews AFB in Washington.
[This "Liberty" station is misidentified on most transcripts of the edited version of the radio transmissions from Air Force One on 11/22/63. "Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed in service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft…was modified to meet special requirements…In 1962, the station many remember as "Liberty" was opened and operated from the new communications building….(in Cedar Rapids, Iowa)…Collins had a contract with the Air Force to serve as either the primary communications station or as a backup whenever Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, and other aircraft in the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was ‘Liberty.’" – From Collins Radio – the First 50 Years.]
In his book The Making of a President – 1964, Theodore H. White wrote: "There is a tape recording in the archives o 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, and the Joint Chiefs’ Communications Center in Washington….On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President’s mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick."
According to the analysis of E. Martin Schotz and Vincent Salandria (in History Will Not Absolve Us, 1996), "And yet the White House had informed President Johnson and the other occupants of Air Force One, all of them witnesses to the hail of bullets which had poured down on Dealey Plaza, that as of the afternoon of the assassination there was to be no conspiracy and that Oswald was to be the lone assassin. If White’s report were correct this would mean that federal officials in Washington were marrying the government to the cover-up of Oswald as the lone assassin virtually instantaneously. This could have occurred only if those federal authorities had had foreknowledge that the evidence would implicate Oswald and that he would have ‘no confederates.’ An innocent government could not have reacted in such a fashion internally."
Unfortunately, there is no longer "a tape recording in the archives of the government," as the original, unedited, multiple tape recordings of the AF1 radio transmissions cannot be located despite an Act of Congress, the request of the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) and numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. Our government seems to have simply lost the recordings, with no records being kept of their whereabouts or destruction, if in fact they were destroyed.
The Final Report of the ARRB (p. 116) notes: "6. White House Communications Agency. "WHCA was, and is, responsible for maintaining both secure (encrypted) and unsecured (open) telephone, radio and telex communications between the President and the government of the United States. Most of the personnel that constitute this elite agency are U.S. military communications specialists; many, in 1963, were from the Army Signal Corps. On November 22, 1963, WHCA was responsible for communications between and among Air Force One and Two, the White House Situation Room, the mobile White House, and with the Secret Service in the motorcade."
"The Review Board sought to locate any audio recordings of voice communications to or from Air Force One on the day of the assassination, including communications between Air Force one and Andrews Air Force Base during the return flight from Dallas to Washington D.C. As many people are now aware of, in the 1970s, the LBJ Presidential Library released edited audio cassettes of the unsecured, or open voice conversations with Air Force One, Andrews AFB, the White House Situation Room, and the Cabinet Aircraft carrying the Secretary of State and other officials on November 22, 1`963. The LBJ Library version of these tapes consists of about 110 minutes of voice transmissions, but the tapes are edited and condensed, so the Review Board staff sought access to unedited, uncondensed versions. Since the edited versions of the tapes contain considerable talk about both the forthcoming autopsy on the President, as well as the reaction of a government in crisis, the tapes are of considerable interest to assassination researchers and historians."
"Given that the LBJ Library released the tapes in the 1970s, the paper trail is now sketch and quite cold. The LBJ Library staff is fairly confident that the tapes originated with the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). The LBJ Library staff told the Review Board staff that it received the tapes from the White House as part of the original shipment of President Johnson’s papers in 1968 or 1969. According to the LBJ Library’s documentation, the accession card reads: "WHCA?" and is dated 1975. The Review Board staff could not locate any records indicating who performed the editing, or when, or where."
"The Review Board’s repeated written and oral inquiries of the White House Communications Agency did not bear fruit. The WHCA could not produce any records that illuminated the provenance of the edited tapes."
At the time I delivered my report on "The Collins Radio Connections" to the National COPA Conference in Washington in October, 1994, the Washington Post had just then exposed the true occupant of a new, mammoth, suburban Virginia building. It was not the headquarters for Collins Radio/Rockwell International as had been previously reported, but they had just been the cooperating cover company for the super secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), just as Collins Radio had served as a cover for the CIA in the operation of the Rex in Cuba in1963.
Also, in the October, 1998 issue of John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s George Magazine, - David Wise reported on how the NRO had "lost" $6 billion in U.S. taxpayer’s money, and specifically mentioned the fiasco surrounding the construction of the HQ building, or which Collins/Rockwell served as a cover company.
[William E. Kelly is a freelance journalist whose research into the assassination of President Kennedy is partially sponsored by the Fund For Constitutional Government Investigative Journalism Project. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org]