Sunday, July 21, 2013

Charlie Channel Tape Missing

Charlie Channel?

Aboard Air Force One at Love Field, the pilot Capt. Swindel had declined to got into the terminal for lunch with a group of other AF 1 crew members and sat back in the cockpit and relaxed, as his radio droned with the chatter of the motorcade drivers and security personnel talking on “Charlie Channel.” He sat up however, when he heard someone exclaim “He’s hit!” and immediately recognized there was something wrong in the motorcade. (See The Flying Whitehouse)

About five minutes later, the AF1 radio operator (Trimble) came in with a UPI report that three shots were fired at the motorcade, but Swindel “had already learned that from other sources,” (ie “Charlie Channel”).

From what I can gather, there were a number of radios both in the motorcade and base stations listening in to “Charlie Channel,” including Air Force One, the Trade Mart temporary destination station, and the Dallas WHCA base in a suite of rooms at the Sheraton Hotel.

Gerald Blaine in (The Kennedy Detail, 2010, p. – “The U.S. Army Signal Corps had a unit assigned to the White House called the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), and every time the president went on an out-of-town trip, a member of the WHCA would travel to the location with the advance agents to establish a local switchboard that would connect all the telephones to be used during the president’s visit.”

“There were two switchboards at the White House – a civilian one with the telephone number 456-1414, which was operated by a group of wonderful and capable women, and the WHCA switchboard with a confidential number. When the president traveled within Washington, a direct hot telephone line was established from WHCA to the location of the president. For trips outside Washington the WHCA installed lines at each venue as well as in the advance agent’s hotel room that would connect directly to the local switchboard. The temporary switchboard allowed a direct linkage to the White House and to any phone in the world, with a secure frequency. WHCA also set up the radio frequencies to be used during motorcades.” (p. 66)

“Also linked to this organization was an Army warrant officer who carried the ‘football’ – the briefcase containing all the codes and responses in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States…”

From the information contained in Gerald Blaine’s The Kennedy Detail (w/ Lisa McCubbin, Gallery, 2010­, p. 215), it is apparent that Secret Service Kellerman, in the front passenger seat of the target car, was on the Citizens Band – radio, tuned to “Charlie Channel” reserved for motorcade security, saying, “Lawson, this is Kellerman. We’re hit. Get us to the nearest hospital! Quick!” when at the same time the second shot was fired and then the third, and fatal head shot occurred, while he was on the radio talking.

“As he was relaying the message, he heard one bag, and then another, and as Greer trampled down on the accelerator, Kellerman felt the car burst forward with such thrust he felt like it was jumping off the goddamned road.”

“Up ahead the lead car was nearing the overpass when the first shot was fired. Through he open windows of the sedan, Agent Win Lawson heard the sharp report and turned to look back through the rear window. He could see some commotion in the president’s car behind him. Then Kellerman’s voice over the radio, “We’re hit!”

Lawson turned to Chief Curry and said, “Get us to the nearest hospital! Quick!”

So the Special Charlie Channel reserved for the motorcade security, and controlled and monitored by the WHCA, must have picked up the sound of the third and fatal head shot, but the tape of this channel has never been released or its existence even acknowledged.


“Art Godfrey’s midnight shift agents in Austin were headed back to Washington D.C. on a Strategic Air Command (SAC) KC135 that had departed Bergstrom Air Force Base at 3:00 PM. They’d rushed from their hotel to the base, and by the time they had boarded the plane, they still didn’t know whether President Kennedy was alive or dead. The military had all their units on radio silence because of a Strategic Air Command order, and except for the droning of the engines and occasional bits of information gleaned from commercial radio reports heard by those in the cockpit and passed back to them, there was complete silence during the long flight to Washington…” 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." 

1 comment:

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