Sunday, October 27, 2013

Synopsis - Wecht Conference Presentation on AF1 Radio Tapes

Synopsis of Kelly's Presentation

A Forensic Analysis of the Air Force One Radio Transmission Tapes –
A presentation by William Kelly at the Wecht Conference in Pittsburgh on October 18, 2013 Amended with additional sources and references.

William E. Kelly, Jr.:
There are a number of audio tapes in evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy, including the Dallas Police dictabelt tape and the Air Force One radio transmissions tapes.

A thorough understanding of the acoustical evidence on the Dallas Police dictabelt recordings may require a good working knowledge of the underlying scientific principles involved in interpreting the data on the tapes – so you have to know math and be good at science and physics to argue about what is on the Dallas Police tape.
But that is not the case with the Air Force One radio transmissions, as anyone can listen to them and pretty much understand what they’re saying, though it helps to know what the codes they use actually refer to.

President Kennedy ordered all of the radio communications from Air Force One be recorded when the plane was airborne, which helps explain the fact that there are no existing recordings of the phone calls President Johnson made from a land line aboard the plane #26000, before it took off.
It is also a noteworthy fact that the first decision President Johnson made as president at Parkland Hospital was to return to Washington aboard Air Force One, rather than the plane he flew in on (Air Force 2), because, according to the Warren Report, it had superior communications equipment.

Before the LBJ Library released an edited version of the Air Force One radio tapes, three respected journalists – William Manchester, who was writing “The Death of the President,” T. H. White, author of “The Making of the President 1964,” and Pierre Salinger (“On Instructions of My Government”) were all given access to a transcript of Air Force One radio transmissions and quote from it, even though some of what they quote is not on the existing tapes. So we know that there is a lot edited out, and the eighty eight minutes we now have could possibly be as long as seven hours of tapes, given the fact that there were three radios going at once and the trip from Love Field in Dallas to Andrews in Washington was over two hours.
I became involved in the study of the Air Force One radio transmissions about twenty years ago when I visited Dallas in November for an annual COPA conference around the 1992 anniversary. While there I visited the Assassination Information Center which was then on the third floor of the mall in an old factory building in the West End Market Place behind the Texas School Book Depository. That’s where the late Larry Howard, who ran the place, gave me copies of  the cassette tapes of the Air Force One radio transmission recordings that he said came from the LBJ Library.

That same weekend, I met Wes Wise, a former Mayor of Dallas who was a radio and TV reporter at the time of the assassination, and he gave me a tour of Dallas assassination hot spots, one of which was a restaurant parking lot in Oak Cliff where Wise said he gave a talk on his experience reporting on the assassination a few weeks after it was over and things had died down a bit.
It was at this restaurant where Wise met T. F. White, who was a mechanic in a garage off the alley behind the restaurant. On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, Mr. White said he saw a man in a 1957 Plymouth acting suspiciously. When White walked closer, he got a good look at the man behind the wheel, who sped away after a few police cars passed by. White told Wise he wrote down the license number of the Texas plate on the car, and that driver was Lee Harvey Oswald. Although reluctantly, White gave the piece of paper with the license number written on it to Wise, with the understanding that he would not be identified or be involved in any way.

Wise then checked out the license plate number and learned it belonged to a Carl Mather, and passed it on to the FBI to investigate further. The FBI went to Mather’s house and saw the 1957 Plymouth in the drive way. They knocked on the door and met Mrs. Mather told the FBI agent that on the morning of the assassination her husband and the Plymouth were at Collins Radio Company in Richardson, Texas, where Carl Mather was employed.  But in the afternoon Mr. Mather came home and they went together to the home of their good friend, Mrs. J.D. Tippit, whose husband had been killed that day. 
So Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy, was seen driving a car owned by Carl Mather, a good friend of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, in the immediate vicinity of Tippit’s murder. And Mather’s alibi at the time was that he was at work at Collins Radio Company in Richardson, Texas. According to a House Select Committee investigator in 1976, Mather also worked on the radios aboard Air Force Two, the Vice President’s plane. Mather worked on this plane at a special secret facility in Maryland called Brandywine.

Well the FBI didn’t investigate that line of inquiry any further, they did go back and intimidate Mr. White, even though Wise had promised they wouldn’t.
I had already heard of Collins Radio, a company because it had been identified by the November 1, 1963 New York Times (p.1) as the CIA cover company that leased the raider ship Rex, which had been involved in delivering commandos and arms to Cuba a few days earlier.

Later I read that some Collins employees had made a reservation at the Carousel Club in Dallas that was owned by Jack Ruby, who had killed Oswald while he was in the custody of the Dallas police.

Art Collins I learned, was only a teenager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he was the only person able to pick up the radio transmission of US Navy Admiral Byrd from his Antarctic expedition. Admiral Byrd was the cousin of the owner of the Texas School Book Depository.
An observant researcher also sent me a photo of Art Collins together with Air Force General Curtis LeMay, a short wave radio HAM buff, who enjoyed talking to people on the radio other side of the world. LeMay gave the radio contracts to Collins to equip the nuclear armed Strategic Air Command bombers, as well as the Special Air Mission (SAM) planes, including Air Force One.

Then I obtained the news clips on the unsolved Miami murder of a Cuban exile who had worked for Collins Radio, so my Collins Radio file was getting pretty thick.
I wrote a letter to Collins Radio, at their company headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, asking for copies of their annual stockholders reports for 1962, 1963 and 1964. Since the 60s, Collins Radio had merged with Rockwell International, a major defense contractor that became Rockwell Collins.

When I got the annual reports in the mail I learned that they were very proud of the fact that Collins Radio provided the side band radios used by the Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber fleet as well as the Special Air Mission (SAM) of the US Air Force that included Air Force One and the fleet of planes that provided air transport for the President, Vice President, the Cabinet and major military officers of the highest rank.
From Collins Annual Report: “Air Force One, the Presidential airplane, was placed into service in 1962 using communications equipment developed and manufactured by Collins. The aircraft, a VC-137, military version of the Boeing 707 airliner, was modified to meet the special requirements of flying the President. In 1962, the station many remember as ‘Liberty’ was opened and operated from the new communications and data building (Building 121). The operators called the station the “fish bowl” because of the glass walls. The Cedar Rapids station became known as ‘Liberty’ during the 1960s when Communications Central was involved with Andrews (Air Force Base, Washington D.C.) VIP network. 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, or other aircraft in the VIP fleet carried cabinet members or high-ranking military officers. Over the airwaves the station’s call word was ‘Liberty’.”

So when listening to the Air Force One cassette tapes from the LBJ Library, you hear the “Liberty” station frequently, but the official transcript of the tape identified “Liberty” as the White House, and another reference said it was the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), when I documented the fact that it was the Collins Radio “Fish Bowl” in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
I also found some other disturbing mistakes in the official transcript as I listened to it so I decided to create my own transcript, and stated my own list of codes and identifiers, and shared my transcript by posting it on the internet, first at Rich Delarosa’s JFKResearch Forum and later at the Education Forum (UK) and Deep Politics Forum, and now at my blog JFKCountercoup.

At a Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Washington in September 2004 I met Max Holland and obtained a copy of his then recently released book “The JFK Assassination Tapes,” which discusses some of the conversations on the LBJ Library tapes, but doesn’t include the references to “Liberty.” I asked Holland if he knew about the “Liberty” station at Collins Radio, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and he said he didn’t, so I told him that was the relay station that assigned the frequencies used and monitored all of the communications, not only of Air Force One, but all of the Special Air Missions and SAC.
Reading Max Holland’s book [The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, Alfred A. Knopf, 2004, p. 18] I found one fact I thought astonishing - the Navy officer assigned to the White House Situation Room on the day of the assassination – Lt. Oliver Hallet, the man who would inform Air Force One that Lee Harvey Oswald had been arrested in the assassination (“and there was no conspiracy”), Navy Lt. Hallett actually KNEW Oswald – knew who he was, a former USMC defector, since Hallett had been stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow when Oswald defected. Hallet’s wife was Snyder’s secretary and escorted Oswald to Snyder’s office on the Saturday the embassy was officially closed. (As Bill Simpich discloses in his premier ebook – State Secret – Mrs. Joan Hallet, as Marina herself did, actually confused Oswald with another defector.) [ Read State Secret at].

Then the Raab historical auction house in Philadelphia announced that it had obtained two identical copies of a different version of the Air Force One Radio Transmission tapes from among the effects of the President’s Military Aide, General Chester Clifton, one of which they attempted to sell for a half million dollars and the other they donated to the National Archives, and put on line.
Listening to the new Clifton tape, it was quickly determined that it was about a half hour longer than the LBJ tapes, but much clearer, but it begins about ten minutes into the LBJ Library tape, and they are heavily edited so both tapes contain unique information.

After completing a transcript of the Clifton tape, I compared it to the earlier transcript of the LBJ Library tapes and then merged the two, identifying where and when there were edits.
When I read a news report of an acoustical analysis of the cell phone conversation in the Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida, by an acoustical forensic specialist - Ed Primeau, I called him and asked him if he was interested in helping do a forensic study of the Air Force One radio tapes. The idea was to create a single combined tape, using the best version of the two where they overlapped?

 Ed Primeau agreed and he and his staff, including son Mike and Brad Finegan, worked on the project for months, doing very tedious editing of the two different tapes, based on my combined transcript.
I told him when he was finished we would present the completed combined and refined tape at the Wecht Center conference on the assassination. Although he couldn’t make it due to some medical issues, Ed indicated he will be happy to answer any questions concerning the technical nature of this work sometime in the near future. []

Just to give people a feeling for what it is like, - I am putting together some highlights and a synopsis, including the call for “Liberty, Liberty,” seeking to keep radio frequencies open, and the attempts to reach the White House and Air Force One.
The most interesting issue at the beginning of the tapes is the response of the Cabinet’s plane - #86972, as it learns of the assassination while flying over the Pacific towards a conference in Japan, a few hours out of Hawaii. Because the sideband short wave radios use public airways, and anybody can listen in who has the right equipment and frequencies, they use code names for people and places.

On the tape we hear Pierre Salinger, whose code name is “Wayside,” as he gets the latest report on the events in Dallas from the White House Situation Room, where an officer identified only as “Stranger,” reads Salinger the latest bulletins. Then “Stranger” orders the Cabinet plane to turn around and return to Washington.
According to Salinger, the Press Secretary, Rusk didn’t like taking orders from a literal “Stranger,” and wanted to know who he was, but the code book aboard the plane, usually kept in the pilot’s safe, was inexplicitly missing. So Rusk had Salinger order the White House Situation Room to break the code and identify “Stranger.”

A few minutes later, - the radio crackles, “The answer to your question is Major Harold Patterson.”
Salinger knew Patterson from working at the White House and told Rusk that Patterson would not have ordered them to return to Washington unless he got it from the highest authority, probably McGeorge Bundy.

Now having Harold Patterson’s name, a good researcher found him and his phone number and I called him on the phone. Yes, he said, he was the Harold Patterson in the White House Situation Room at the time of the assassination. In fact he was the officer in charge of the WHSR that day, and yes, he worked closely with McGeorge Bundy and Navy Lt. Oliver Hallett, the Navy officer assigned to work with him.
I told Patterson I was listening to him on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes that I was transcribing and offered to send him the internet link so he could listen himself. Patterson confirmed that he told them to check the code book, but the code book was missing, so he had to break cover and tell them his real name.

Patterson said that he worked for the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) and they recorded everything, but didn’t edit the tapes, so the White House, he said, must have edited them, and he didn’t know where the unedited tapes would be kept today.
Nor was he aware, Patterson said, that there was a new book – “Nerve Center,” on the history of the White House Situation Room.

There are a number of other interesting and riveting communication “patches” on the combined tapes, including LBJ talking with JFK’s mother, Mrs. Rose Kennedy, and Nellie Connally back at Parkland Hospital, as well as plans for the plane disembarking at Andrews, the autopsy and funeral arrangements. The tapes also make a reference to a mysterious “black Cadillac” that is the subject of a detailed analysis by former ARRB staffer Doug Horne, I would refer you to Doug Horne’s work if you are interested in that subject.
Some of the conversations that are only on the Clifton tape, and were edited out of the LBJ tape released to the public, gives us some examples of the type of conversations that were edited out.

One such conversation concerns a Colonel Dorman, who identifies himself as General LeMay’s aide, who has a very important message for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on his way to Washington aboard a SAM jet that was sent to pick him up at a SAC base in Canada.
There has been much speculation as to the whereabouts of LeMay at the time of the assassination. My current analysis is that he was probably hunting with his wife’s family in the lake country of upstate Michigan. He took a private plane, destination Toronto, when the SAM jet was sent to pick him up, but the destination was changed to a small SAC base in Canada that was apparently closer to where LeMay was located.

While we don’t know what the important message was that Col. Dorman wanted LeMay to know before he landed, we do know that LeMay disobeyed an order from Air Force Secretary Zuckert to return to Andrews, and instead landed at Washington National. And he arrived back in time that he could have made it to Bethesda to attend the autopsy, if indeed it was LeMay smoking the cigar in the autopy room.
While transcribing the Clifton tape, and first heard Col. Dorman identify himself as LeMay’s aide, I Googled Dorman and quickly learned that he had died tragically in Vietnam, when his jet plane shot down. His widow lived not far from me near Princeton, New Jersey. I obtained her phone number and called her. She confirmed that she was Col. Dorman’s widow and that he had been LeMay’s aid and died in Vietnam.

Mrs. Dorman said she was working at the White House that morning, as part of Mrs. Kennedy’s historic restoration of the building, under a Mr. Castro. She said that her husband called her at the White House from the Pentagon and told her that the President had been shot and for her to get out of the White House and go home immediately. Mr. Castro, she recalled, pulled down all the shades in their offices, and they all said a prayer before she went home. They lived on General’s Row in Arlington, adjacent to the cemetery, and she stopped in the cemetery chapel to say another prayer before going home.
Her husband she said, did not talk about work at home, and she didn’t know what the important message was they had to convey to LeMay before he arrived back in Washington.

She said she had three sons who were teenagers at the time, and I contacted two of them, and the eldest recalled that he and his friends watched the burials from a tree in the cemetery. It was very unusual, he said, for his dad not to be with LeMay in Michigan, because they were always together, stuck like glue. He also recalled going to work with his dad one day, and taking a tour of General LeMay’s plane, “Speckled Trout” which I looked up and is a Command and Control plane like “Silver Dollar,” for commanders to use during a nuclear war.
So the new tapes quickly led me to identify a number of new and important witnesses – Patterson, Dorman, Mrs. Dorman and her sons, who can help us put together some of the missing pieces to the assassination puzzle.

I am also quite confident that someday we will locate the complete and unedited Air Force One Radio Transmission tapes from November 22, 1963, sitting on a shelf somewhere, perhaps among the Cedar Rapids, Iowa archives of the Collins Radio defense contractor who were responsible for distributing frequencies, relaying radio transmissions and monitoring them.
After my presentation, and ten minutes of playing Part One of the tapes as an example of what they sound like, I took questions from the audience.

Someone wanted to know if the National Enquirer article that said “Milteer” was mentioned on the tapes.  Milteer was the Georgia racist who predicted JFK would be shot from a tall building with a high powered rifle. Although he is not mentioned on the existing tapes, it is possible that  he might be mentioned on the unedited tapes or on the transcript of the unedited tapes that once existed.
It was pointed out to me by an audience member that the “Farewell America” manuscript allegedly composed by French Intelligence, includes quotes attributed to the tapes – that aren’t on the existing tapes that may also be on the unedited transcript.

Jeff Morley said that he too had recently talked with Major Harold Patterson,but  now over 80 years old, he declined a formal interview saying couldn’t remember much, and Jeeff also emphasized the importance of attempting to identify, locate and interview these types of witnesses before it is too late.
Max Holland, who was there for my presentation, asked why they had to be merged if the Clifton tape is a half hour longer, and I explained that the Clifton tape begins about ten minutes into the LBJ Library tapes, so there is unique information on both.

John Judge, who was also present, then recounted his experience meeting some SAC B-52 pilots at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, who related the fact that their code books were also missing on 11/22/63.


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