Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Air Force One Radio Tapes Update - The Story Thus Far

The Air Force One Radio Tapes Update - The Story Thus Far -

Synopsis of September 2014 AARC DC Conference Presentation on the Air Force One radio tapes.

by Bill Kelly

I was honored to be asked to give a presentation on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes from November 22, 1963 at the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) conference in Washington D.C. on the 50th anniversary of the release of the Warren Report.

Given my forty-five minutes in the smaller Brakeout Room, and the fact the Pittsburgh Conference presentations from last October were recorded and archived on line, I was going to just focus on the latest state of the quest for the Holy Grail of the JFK Assassination evidence – the complete Air Force One radio transmissions. But because there were new people in the audience, I decided to rehash the events as they have occurred so far, state where we are today and where we are going in the way of legal appeals and cases, play the Jeff Carter 50 Reasons video tape and then answer questions.

             The Cyril Wecht Center for Forensic Science and Law Conference October 2013

I began by recalling how I was drawn to this line of inquiry in the streets of the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas where Wes Wise - former TV newsman and Mayor of Dallas told me about J.D. Tippit’s good friend Carl Mather who owned a car the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald reportedly was seen driving around that very neighborhood at the time of the Tippit murder. Carl Mather’s alibi, that passed muster, was that he was at work at Collins Radio in Richardson, Texas at the time of the assassination and of the murder of Tippit. Mather then visited and consoled his good friend and Tippit’s widow, Marie Tippit.

Wes Wise and Carl Mather: JFKcountercoup: Wes Wise and Carl Mather
Carl Mather and Collins Radio: JFKcountercoup: Carl Mather & Collins Radio

That was the first I ever heard of Collins Radio. Later, while reading George deMohrenschildt’s manuscript, “I’m a Patsy,” published in conjunction with the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) report, I discovered deMohrenschildt introduced Oswald to retired Admiral Chester Brouton, a senior executive at Collins Radio. Brouton declined to hire Oswald even though, as deMohrenschildts points out, the Marines trained Oswald in electronics and he worked at a radio factory in Minsk after defecting to the Soviet Union.
What if Oswald were working for Collins Radio at the time of the assassination? Would Kennedy still have been killed?

Manuscript of George deMohrenschildt HSCA Appendix: I'm a Patsy

A November 1, 1963 New York Times front page report on the CIA raider ship the Rex, stated  that when the ship dropped off anti-Castro Cuban commandos  it was officially leased to the Collins Radio company of Richardson, Texas to do electronic research.

The Rex and Collins Radio - New York Times: FKCountercoup2: Castro Says CIA Uses Raider Ship
Also see:  JFKcountercoup: The Rex Blows Collins Radio CIA Cover

I began a file on Collins Radio, which is now very thick with informational tidbits related to the company and the assassination. For example the widow of the accused assassin subsequently married Kenneth Porter, who worked at Collins Radio. Also, a Cuban executive of the company was murdered in Miami. I delivered a talk on the Collins Radio Connections at the 1992 COPA Conference in Washington and published an article on the subject in Backchannels Magazine (Vol. 1 No.

Backchannels: JFKcountercoup: The Collins Radio Connections

Following the assassination Collins Radio merged with industrial giant Rockwell International to form Rockwell Collins, and with increasing interest in this company I wrote to them and asked for copies of the annual reports for 1962-63-64. From these reports I was intrigued to learn that Collins Radio had a contract with the government to supply the radios for Air Force One and other VIP planes as well as to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber fleet. Collins also coordinated these radio communications from a special radio relay center set up in a glass building at their Cedar Rapids, Iowa headquarters they called the “Fish Bowl” which was known over the airways as “Liberty” station.

JFKcountercoup: Collins Radio Connections

My research into the history and background of this company indicated that it was founded by Arthur Collins, who as a young lad built his own short wave radio receiver in his garage. Young Arthur’s receiver was able to pick up the radio communications being sent by U.S. Navy Admiral Byrd from his expeditions to the arctic when the Navy’s radios couldn’t, so they depended on young Collins to relay Byrd’s reports and messages to them.
This early connection with the military allowed Collins, when he set up his new radio company, to receive orders from the government, especially during World War II, after which Collins received the contract to supply radios to the Air Force, especially the SAC bombers and Air Force One and other high priority executive planes.

Collins’ military contracts were probably facilitated by Air Force General Curtis LeMay, a personal friend of Collins and a HAM radio buff who was head of the SAC and later chief of staff of the Air Force during the Kennedy administration. 

According to Art Collins they opened a new plant in Richardson, Texas “for security reasons” at the request of the military, who wanted many of the major defense contractors to have special factories separate from their main facility and located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Collins became neighbors of General Dynamics, Bell Helicopter and Halliburton.

Collins Radio Official History: History /

Once located in Texas however, these major companies discovered that there was an insufficient technical labor pool and they had to recruit engineers and technicians from out of state. The problem was remedied by forming an advanced graduate research center to train students for the jobs they had available.

When President Kennedy was originally invited to Dallas, LBJ had arranged for him to receive an honorary degree from Texas Christian University (TCU). However, after it was announced, the TCU trustees rescind the invitation, much to the embarrassment of LBJ and the city of Dallas, whose civic leaders invited the President to address their previously scheduled meeting that was to honor those who founded the graduate research center. The first director was Arthur Collins, who relocated to Dallas and was probably in the audience at the Trade Mart futilely waiting for the President to arrive.

If you read Kennedy’s Undelivered Speech, his copy now stained with his blood, his remarks are clearly aimed towards the people who run these defense industries, and he mentions Collins’ graduate research center in the opening paragraph of his remarks.

JFK’s Undelivered Speech stained with his blood:

JFK: “I am honored to have this invitation to address the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of the Dallas Assembly -- and pleased to have this opportunity to salute the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest.”

One of the first things Kennedy did as President was to order the recording of all radio communications made from Air Force One when it was in the air as well as the ability to record his telephone calls and Oval Office conversations, recordings he said he would later use when it came time to write his memoirs.

Although not reviewed by the Warren Commission, three reporters – William Manchester, Theodore White and JFK’s press secretary Pierre Salinger were permitted to read and quote from a transcript of the unedited Air Force One radio transmissions. In the late 1970s taped copies of an edited version of the Air Force One radio conversations were quietly released by the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

I obtained my copy from Larry Howard at his Assassinations Information Center, which he ran out of a storefront on the third floor of a mini-mall in an old warehouse in the West End, just behind the Texas School Book Depository. Howard gave it to me in exchange for a promise to give him a copy of a transcript I agreed to make of whatever was on the tapes.  

The nearly two and a half hours of radio communications were on five sides of three cassettes – and had varying levels of clarity. But the official transcript, and one later transcribed by an independent researcher proved unreliable, inaccurate in places and in some cases wrong – for instance they identify the “Liberty” station as the White House, when we now know it was the “Fish Bowl” radio relay station at the Collins Radio headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

So over the course of a few months in my spare time, I wrote out my own transcript of what we now regard as the LBJ version of the tapes because other, longer tapes were discovered among the personal effects of the late General Chester Clifton, the President’s military advisor.

There are two exact copies on single reel-to-reel tapes – closer to the original, unedited version than the LBJ Library cassette tapes, but still not the complete unedited version that was known to exist, and because there were two, they decided to donate one to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and sell the other for $500,000. 

The Raab Collectioin:  Full Audio for the Lost JFK Air Force One Tape | The Raab Collection

Downloading this new version from the NARA web site, I once again began the tedious task of transcribing what is said on the tapes, and took notice of the differences between the Clifton and the LBJ Library versions of the tapes and note the differences – the Clifton tape is of better sound quality, but begins a few minutes into the LBJ Library version, so while the Clifton tape is of better quality and longer, both tapes contain unique information.

The Clifton Tape at NARA: Post-JFK Assassination Air Force One Flight Deck Recording

Wikimedia: US National Archives turns to Wikimedia to help release new JFK assassination discovery « Wikimedia blog

So I then began the task of combining them in the correct chronological order so that the transcripts of both tapes flowed together into one seamless copy to create a combined transcript.

Media reports on the Trevor Martin murder case in Florida quoted an acoustical forensic specialist called to testify about the cell phone conversations. I contacted Ed Primeau, a Michigan forensic specialist and asked if he was interested in assisting in helping me combine the two versions of the Air Force One radio transmissions from November 22, 1963.

                                                 Acoustical Forensic Specialist Ed Primeau

Primeau Acoustical Forensics:

He agreed to look at it, so I sent him a copy of my combined transcript and links to the two taped versions of the transmissions and he over the course of a few months he combined them and did so pro-bono because he said he recognized their historical significance. Primeau and his staff not only combined the two tapes but also added my transcript to a new audio-video version that was premiered at the October 2013 conference at the Cyril Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

October 2013 Wecht Institute: Passing the Torch | 13th Annual Symposium | Duquesne University

Washington D.C. based reporter Jeff Morley thought it newsworthy and immediately blogged about it at his web site, and then mentioned it in an Op-Ed article he wrote for the Dallas Morning News.
The Detroit Free Press also published a lengthily article focusing on Primeau’s work that was picked up by the USA Today and run nationally, which resulted in the CNN broadcasting a news report that included live interviews with Ed Premieu, Jefferson Morley and John McAdams, a lone-nut professor who is routinely brought out by mainstream media editors in order to give any conspiracy theories “balance” and to present and represent the official and wrong version of events.

Democratic Underground: JFK Conference: Bill Kelly introduced new evidence - adding Air Force One tape recordings - Democratic Underground
But I was left out entirely, despite the fact I originated this line of research, and complained to McAdams that he has no expertise in this area and that if a lone nutter was required he should recommend that Max Holland, who has written a book on the subject – The Assassination Tapes.  

Ed Primeau then ran the combined tape we had produced through a computer that reduced static and noise so the conversations could be more clearly heard and we now refer to this as the Audio-only Hi Fi version that will be used for forensic study. 

It was first broadcast over WLFR (Stockton College, NJ) for the first time on the afternoon of Friday, November 22, 2013, fifty years to the hour it was actually broadcast. We have since edited this Hi Fidellity version down even further, eliminating dead air time in which no one is talking, and broke that down into less than 15 minute parts that are suitable for FM radio broadcasts, sections we will introduce with explanations as to who is talking and what they are saying.

We hope to get this version on the air this November, and have already have commitments from some College radio stations, including WLFR, but possibly others in a new network we are establishing.

Len Osanic, a Canadian who operates Black Ops Radio on line, collaborated with Jeff Carter to produce a fascinating audio-visual series 50 Reasons – that includes Episode 47 on the Air Force One radio tapes, which I played at the end of my presentation at the AARC conference and took questions afterwards.

Jeff Carter – Black Op Radio Special video on the AF1 Radio Tapes:

Since then Jeff Carter broke the Hi-Fi audio only version into eight - less than fifteen minute episodes that we will preface with introductions as to who is talking and what they are saying, and try to get them broadcast over FM radio this November, possibly on a network of college radio stations.

This new Hi-Fi broadcast quality FM radio version of the Air Force One radio tapes should reach a whole new audience, and appeal to more than just JFK assassination researchers and take it to a new level of public interest.

I have also filed a FOIA request with the Air Force that was denied, and my appeal to the Secretary of the Air Force is still pending, an appeal that I hope will get the Air Force to at least make an attempt to locate the JFK Assassination records in accordance with the JFK Act, as it is bound to do by law.

Stay tuned, there is more to come on this work-in-progress.

Bill Kelly

Negative Response to FOIA Request:

Appeal to Sec of AF will be posted soon:

Air Force One Radio Room 


Becky G said...

What a great post! I have been reading a book on JFK and the things surrounding the assassination. It's called When The Past Came Calling by Larry Kaplan. He has some interesting facts that I think are very credible. His site for book info is Some good stuff in his book, worth the read.

Andrew Kreig said...

I agree with Becky G on this. Thank you so much!

I find inspiring these tales of "ordinary citizens" with exceptional vision and courage.

Andrew Kreig

"Presidential Puppetry" author, Justice Integrity Project Director &
AARC Warren Commission 50th Anniversary Conference Development Director and
Washington, DC 20004