Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wecht Program - AF1 Radio Tapes Synopsis

From the Program The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law 13th Annual Conference - Passing the Torch - An International Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. October 17-19, 2013 Duquesne University, Pittsburgh PA. Program page 31. [ ]

By William E. Kelly, Jr. 

 There are a number of audio tapes of forensic value in high profile crime cases, including Kent State, the RFK assassination and the assassination of President Kennedy.
While the controversial Dallas Police tape has received the most attention because some acoustical experts say it contains evidence of a fourth shot from the Grassy Knoll, also of interest are the recordings of Air Force One radio transmissions from 11/22/63, including the LBJ Library cassette recordings released in the late 1970s and the more recently discovered reel to reel Air Force One tapes found among the personal effects of Gen. Clifton, the president’s military aide.

 Dissatisfied with the official transcript of the LBJ Library version of the tapes I compiled my own transcript, and when the Clifton tape was released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), I compiled a transcript of that as well, then compared the two. The Clifton tape is longer by about a half hour, but both contain unique information, so I put together a combined and annotated transcript that is still a work in progress.

 Ed Primeau, an acoustical forensic specialist, studied the quality of the tapes and with the assistance of his staff created a combined copy, using the better quality of the two where they overlapped, and added the transcript to an audio visual recording so you can read along as you listen to the tapes. And we now have a high quality combined tape that will be used to conduct a complete forensic analysis. This will include a scientific, technical analysis that will try to determine how many frequencies were used, what frequencies they were, how many edits there are, as well as eliminate noise and enhance background conversations.

 This forensic analysis will also include a review of the conversations – identify those who talk or are mentioned, translate all codes and technical language and compare it to what we know from other sources.

 Since the Clifton tape is longer than the officially released LBJ version, it includes conversations that were edited out of the publicly released version, which allows us to try to determine why key elements were deleted from the public version and others not.

The newly released tapes also include new and possibly significant characters, including Major Harold Patterson and the widow of Col. Dorman, Air Force General LeMay’s aide, both of whom can be heard on the tapes.

 Maj. Harold Patterson, also known on the tapes by his code name - “Stranger,” was in charge of the White House Situation Room at the time of the assassination. Shortly after the release of the tapes both Patterson and Mrs. Dorman were located and interviewed for the first time about what happened that day.

 Major Patterson confirmed that he was the officer in charge of the White House situation room that day, but hasn’t yet heard the tapes and didn’t know he was on them. He did recall talking with Pierre Salinger on the cabinet plane, and the affirmed the fact that the plane’s code books were missing.

Gen. LeMay’s aide, Col. Dorman, is heard on the newly released tape in a section edited out of the publicly released version, with an urgent message for Gen. LeMay, who was flying back to Washington from Canada, where he was said to be on a fishing trip with his family.

 Col. Dorman’s wife, who was working at the White House that day, recalled what happened at the White House when the president was shot.

 There are also riveting conversations among White House aides and the military officers on such subjects as the autopsy, the living arrangements of the new President and plans for the autopsy and funeral, and much to be learned from a complete forensic analysis of the tapes.

 The entire combined tape is over eighty minutes in length.

The discovery of the new version of the Air Force One radio transmissions from Air Force One cannot be underestimated, as it not only gives us a fuller picture of what happened that day, it has quickly led to the identification of a number of new and important witnesses, and gives us reason to believe that somewhere on the shelf of an archives other, even more complete and unedited tapes still exist and will one day be discovered so we will have an even better understanding of what happened that day.

 To Listen to the combined and refined AF1 Radio Transmission Tape: 

 Links to other blog posts and articles re: AF1:





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