The Tale of the Tapes
by Vincent J. Salandria
1998, I delivered a two-hour speech in
espousing the thesis of a high-level national security state plot to kill
President Kennedy, and that any concept of a renegade conspiratorial killing
was irrational. Dallas
1998, I sent a copy of that speech to Professor Noam Chomsky, who
had long declared a high-level conspiracy to be irrational. I wrote him:
"I have that kind of perverse nature that only benefits from negative
criticism. Could you find time to provide some?"
1999, Professor Chomsky replied: "It [the speech] is a lucid
presentation of the conclusions that you and others have reached." Lucid
in dictionaries is defined as rational. Therefore, Professor Chomsky no longer
shares the view that a high-level institutional conspiracy explanation of the
assassination is irrational.
I would like to excerpt one concept from that speech which compels the conclusion of a high-level national security conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Readers will no doubt recall the 18 1/2-minute gap in the Watergate tapes which served to prove the institutional guilt of and brought down President Richard M. Nixon and his cohorts. I will demonstrate how the
national security state destroyed not 18 1/2 minutes of tape, but about 5 1/2
hours of three tapes which proved their guilt in the killing of President Kennedy. U.S.
In November of 1966, I read Theodore H. White's The Making of the President, 1964. On page 9 of the book I came across the following:
There is a tape recording in the archives of the government which best recaptures the sound of the hours as it waited for leadership. It is a recording of all the conversations in the air, monitored by the Signal Corps Midwestern center "
between Air Force One in Liberty ,
the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs' Dallas in Communications
Center . Washington
Then on page 33 I read the following about the flight back to
from Washington, D.C. : Dallas
On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy, learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President's mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick.
I knew that on
23, 1963, The Dallas Morning News had informed its
readers that the Dallas District Attorney, Henry Wade, stated:
"Preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved in the
shooting ... the electric chair is too good for the killers."
Despite the evidence of conspiracy of which
reeked, the White House
Situation Room had informed President Johnson and the other occupants of Air
Force One that, notwithstanding what they may have smelled, seen and felt in Dealey
Plaza which spoke of a
conspiratorial crossfire, Oswald was to be designated as the lone assassin. Dealey
I wrote to Mr. White. Mr. White replied by letter that the communications to Air Force One and the Cabinet Plane were "By government radio --- all relays go through a big Signal Corps center in the
--- and the White House was in constant communications with the plane."
I then wrote to Dr. Robert Bahmer, Archivist of the
, requesting access to the tape. Dr.
Bahmer replied: United
We have no knowledge of the existence or location of the tape recording mentioned by Mr. White, despite having made some efforts since the receipt of your letter to obtain some information about it.
I then noted that Pierre Salinger in his book, With Kennedy, reported what the party on the Cabinet Plane heard: The message kept coming off the wire service machine and finally one started grinding out the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and his previous life, in
So, I wrote to Pierre Salinger on December 3, 1966: In your fine work, With Kennedy, you make mention of radio communications with the White House and the cabinet plane over the Pacific on November 22, 1963 (pp. 212-25) You identify "Stranger" as Major Harold R. Patterson.
Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1964, also refers to these conversations but particularly related to those dialogues with the Presidential plane, Air Force One.
I have asked the National Archives for a copy of this tape. Dr. Bahmer, the excellent Archivist of the
, cannot locate it, although Mr. White
states on page 9 of his book: "There is a tape recording in the archives
of the government." I enclose Dr. Bahmer's letter; Mr. White will not
provide any further information. United
Specifically what I am about is the verification of what Mr. White states was on the tape, to wit: "On the flight the party learned that there was no conspiracy; learned of the identity of Oswald and his arrest; and the President's mind turned to the duties of consoling the stricken and guiding the quick."
If such was said, before there was any evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin, and while there was overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy, then the White House is in the interesting position of being the first to designate Oswald as the assassin and the first to have ruled out in the face of impressive evidence to the contrary, that there could have been a conspiracy.
Now, Mr. Salinger ... That tape is being denied only to the American public ... Will you render this service to civilian rule and democracy for which President Kennedy gave his life?
(signed) Vincent J. Salandria
Mr. Salinger replied on December 26. He was most willing to serve civilian rule and democracy:
The section of my book dealing with the conversations between the White House and the Cabinet plane were taken from a transcript of the tape of those conversations made by the White House Communication Agency. I have never either read or heard the tape to which Mr. White refers, i.e. the conversations with Air Force One. Since the tape with which I worked was provided by the White House Communication Agency, it would seem to me that the tape of the conversation to which you refer would emanate from the same source, if such a tape, in fact, exists.
As to the conversation with the cabinet plane, the transcript of that conversation is in my personal files which have been turned over to the National Archives for placement in the Kennedy Library. I certainly have no objection to your seeing that transcript...
I again wrote to Dr. Bahmer, who replied:
After receipt of your letter of December 28, a careful examination was made of the papers that Mr. Salinger has sent to us for storage. We have not, however, been able to find anything in the nature of a transcript of the tape recording that you are searching for.
So I wrote directly to the White House Communication Agency requesting access to the tape recording. James U. Cross, Armed Forces Aide to the President, replied:
I have been asked to respond to your letter, addressed to the White House Communication Agency, concerning a tape recording to Air Force One,
November 22, 1963.
Logs and tapes of the radio transmissions of military aircraft, including those of Air Force One, are kept for official use only. These tapes are not releasable, nor are they obtainable from commercial sources.
I am sorry my response cannot be more favorable.
Of course, Cross lied. They were obtainable by Theodore H. White and Pierre Salinger for non-official use.
The content of these messages was confirmed in 1993 by Robert Manning, Kennedy's Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, who on
November 22, 1963 was
on the Cabinet plane over the Pacific. He reported having heard the same
account of Oswald being designated as the presumed assassin. (Gerald S. and
Deborah H. Strober, Let Us Begin Anew, An Oral History of the Kennedy
Presidency, Harper Collins Publisher, 1993).
Mr. Douglas P. Horne, a staff member of the Assassination Records Review Board, spoke at a conference in
in November, 1999. He spoke at length of the Review Board's fruitless attempts
to locate the audio taped communications to Air Force One. He informed the
audience that it was a shame that the 6 or 7 hours of three separate tapes
appear to be gone from this world. 18 1/2 minutes of missing tapes was a fatal
matter which caused the Nixon Presidency to unravel. A 90 minute, edited tape
of Air Force One communications is extant. The disappearance of some 5 1/2
hours of this vital tape which was made to disappear by the U.S. military
leaves our national security state, the force behind the assassination of a
peace-seeking President John F. Kennedy, undisturbed and still the preeminent
power extending U.S. military hegemony throughout the globe. Dallas
We know from the three sources which we have supplied what is contained on that tape and what that tape proves with respect to the institutional involvement of our national security state in the killing of President Kennedy.
Vincent J. Salandria wrote one of the earliest critiques of the Warren Commission's published data, an article appearing in The Legal-Intelligencer,
daily law journal, in 1964. Salandria was convinced early on that there was
much more to the assassination than was reported in the press. " Philadelphia ," he said, "reeked
of conspiracy." Dealey
In the summer of 1964, he went to
with his then-brother-in-law Harold Feldman, and Feldman's wife Immie (see
above). Among the witnesses they interviewed was Helen Markham, the Warren
Commission's star witness in the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit.
They came away convinced that Dallas
had been intimidated into giving testimony that conformed to the Warren
Commission's lone gunman thesis. Markham
Salandria later published incisive articles in Liberation and The Minority of One. He served in an advisory capacity to Jim Garrison during the
' DA's investigation into the Kennedy