“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 NOT 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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