Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The Tale of the Tapes
by Vincent J. Salandria, Esq.
Vince Salandria, one of the earliest critics of the Warren Commission's conclusion, gave a stirring keynote speech at the 1998 Dallas COPA conference, of which this is a partial excerpt that is elaborated on. He calls attention to the references by T.H. White and Pierre Salinger to transcripts and parts of the Air Force One radio transmissions of 11/22/63 that are not contained in the extant tapes and transcripts.
On November 21, 1998, I delivered a two-hour speech in Dallas (at COPA) 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.
On November 23, 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?"
On February 16, 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 U.S. 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.
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 "Liberty," between Air Force One in Dallas, the Cabinet plane over the Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs' Communications Center in Washington.
Then on page 33 I read the following about the flight back to Washington, D.C. from 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 November 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 Dealey Plaza 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.
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 Midwest --- and the White House was in constant communications with the plane."
I then wrote to Dr. Robert Bahmer, Archivist of the United States, requesting access to the tape. Dr. Bahmer replied:
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 Russia...
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 United States, 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.
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 the Lancer conference in Dallas 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.
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.
John Kelin: Vincent J. Salandria wrote one of the earliest critiques of the Warren Commission's published data, an article appearing in The Legal-Intelligencer, Philadelphia's daily law journal, in 1964. Salandria was convinced early on that there was much more to the assassination than was reported in the press. "Dealey Plaza," he said, "reeked of conspiracy."
In the summer of 1964, he went to Dallas 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 Markham had been intimidated into giving testimony that conformed to the Warren Commission's lone gunman thesis.
Salandria later published incisive articles in Liberation and The Minority of One. He served in an advisory capacity to Jim Garrison during the New Orleans' DA's investigation into the Kennedy assassination.
See John Kelin's Praise From A Future Generation.
Horne Memo AF1 Radio Tapes
October 17, 1995
To: Jeremy Gunn
cc David Marwell
From: Doug Horne
Subject: Air Force One Audiotapes from November 22, 1963
1. As directed, Joan Zimmerman and I visited Archives II to listen to audio recordings of the November 22, 1963 Air Force One tapes. Our initial effort lasted two working days, October 10-11, 1995.
2. The Air Force One tapes presently held by NARA are 3 edited cassette copies provided by the LBJ library, and are identified as follows:
LBJ Library Cassette No. Identifiers
NLJ 3 SRT 969-1
NLJ 4 SRT 969-2
NLJ 5 SRT 969-3
An unidentified voice informs the listener at the outset of the first cassette (NLJ 3) that the recording is “edited and condensed.” The agency or organization which performed the editing is not identified either. Total length of the recorded material on these edited tapes is estimated at about 2 hours; without running a stopwatch a more precise estimate is not possible, since the 3 cassettes used for the transfer by the LBJ library are not uniformly filled with material. For example, the second side of tapes NLJ 4 and NLJ 5 are almost 100% blank, and the first side of tape NLJ 3 is not completely filled.
3. Procedures: The audiotapes at NARA must be listened to in Suite 4000 at Archives II. The tapes are requested in suite 4000; they are not held by Steve Tilley.
An imperfect, Horne e:\wp-docs\AF1.wpd File: 4.0.4 [...An] incomplete “transcript” of the edited audiotapes can be found in LBJ library box # 19. It is highly recommended that anyone listening to the tapes first check out this item from Steve Tilley on the sixth floor, and run off a photocopy of the transcript.
4. Joan Zimmerman and I took voluminous notes, noting the many occasions when spoken word on the tapes is not accounted for on the LBJ transcript. We also took notes in an attempt to expand on areas of the “transcript” which are only summations of conversations (vice verbatim accounts), and attempted to correct occasional inaccuracies found in the LBJ “transcript.” We both feel that it would be premature, at this time, for the ARRB to attempt to create a true, verbatim transcript of the edited Air Force One tapes, since the Review Board is engaged in a search to locate the unedited tapes from which the LBJ variant is condensed. If-and-when a complete audio record of these conversations is located, it may be considered worthwhile for the ARRB to expend the resources necessary to create a complete and precise transcript for inclusion in the JFK Collection at NARA.
5. The Air Force One tapes commence when the Presidential aircraft (Special Air Mission, or “SAM” 26000) is still on the ground at Carswell AFB near Fort Worth, Texas on the morning of November 22, 1963; as the tape begins, President Kennedy has not yet boarded the aircraft following the Fort Worth breakfast event, so the aircraft is not yet referred to as “Air Force One.”
The LBJ tapes include the flight from Carswell AFB to Love Field outside Dallas before the assassination, and the flight from Love Field to Andrews AFB outside Washington DC after the assassination.
The various parties (or “patches,” to use military communications jargon) include the following, listed exactly as spoken on the tapes:
Name/Call Sign Remarks
SAM 26000 - The Presidential aircraft, when the President is not onboard.
Air Force One - The Presidential aircraft, when the President is aboard.
SAM 86972 - The State Department aircraft carrying Press Secretary Salinger, Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Agriculture Freeman and other Cabinet members and Administration officials. When the assassination occurred, this aircraft was enroute from Hawaii to Japan; subsequent to the assassination, the aircraft returned to Hawaii to refuel, and then flew directly from Hickam AFB in Hawaii to Andrews AFB Washington.
(At) “Andrews” An “Airman Gilmore” answers for Andrews AFB throughout the tape and appears to be the central player attempting to facilitate all “patches.”
“Liberty” - Precise definition unknown, but through context, “Liberty” appears to be the party controlling radio frequency assignments among 26000, 86972, and the various parties in Washington DC who are talking with Government officials on Air Force One while it is enroute Andrews AFB.
[BK Notes: Now we know "Liberty" to be "the Fish Bowl" at Collins HQ, Cedar Rapids, Iowa – On the newly discovered tape – “Cedar Rapids” is mentioned, and refers to the "Liberty" station at Collins Radio HQ station at Cedar Repids.]
“Command Post” - Command Post’s location is never specified.
“Air Force Command Post” - Air Force Command Post’s location is never specified.
“SAM Command Post” - SAM Command Post’s location is never specified.
“Crown” - White House Situation Room.
6. The LBJ transcript from LBJ box # 19 has appended to it many of the USSS-WHCA code names used by personnel onboard SAM 26000, SAM 86972, and at the White House situation room; additional code names found on the tapes can be found on pages xxi and xxii of Death of a President, by William Manchester.
Nevertheless, there are still some code names used in the tape which Ms. Zimmerman and I could not decipher using the research tools mentioned above. Two of these unidentified dramatis personae on the tapes are “Stranger” and “Dagger”. It was interesting to note that on November 22, 1963 following the assassination, presumably due to the great stress induced by the day’s events, use of the USSS-WHCA code names was sloppy and inconsistent, with many speakers interchanging their code names and real names during the same conversation (thus compromising the purpose of the code names).
7. As a result of our review of the LBJ library’s edited and condensed version of the Air Force One tapes, many noteworthy observations were made which clearly justify ARRB’s pursuit of the unedited versions of these audiotapes, or of other records which could shed light on the ambiguities inherent in the incomplete and intriguing record constituted by these taped conversations.
These “investigative leads” are summarized below in no particular order or priority, and regardless of how they are eventually resolved or clarified, any assassination records which could shed light on these sometimes confusing and controversial passages belong in the JFK Collection at NARA:
A. Four radio frequencies were identified as the means of communications between parties onboard aircraft SAM 26000, SAM 86972, and the White House Communications Agency in Washington, namely:
11176 MHZ (Upper sideband)
15011 MHZ (Upper Sideband)
13247 MHZ (Upper sideband)
18027 MHZ (Lower sideband)
Part of the LBJ library collection donated to the JFK Collection at NARA includes a typed summary prepared by Master Sergeant John C. Trimble, USAF (the WHCA technician who was the radio operator onboard Air Force One during the flight from Dallas to Washington on November 22, 1963). In his statement, he says: “I…had three phone patches going simultaneously most of the time.” Since total fight time, from takeoff from Love Field, until “on the blocks” at Andrews AFB was 2 hours and 17 minutes, the unedited audiotapes could conceivably be as long as 7-9 hours in total duration, although how much of this time would be “dead time” is unknown. One serious problem with the edited Air Force One tape is that the listener does not know which frequency (i.e., “patch”) he is listening to at any one time, or whether or not the various conversations which are condensed onto the tape are recorded in the proper time sequence.
B. Onboard Air Force One on the return flight to Washington, Secret Service Agent Kellerman, and later General Ted Clifton (Military Aide to the President) make it clear that their desire is for an ambulance and limousine to take President Kennedy’s body to Walter Reed General Hospital for autopsy “...under guard...,” as specified by General Clifton. Gerald Behn, Head of the White House Secret Service Detail, counters that a helicopter has been arranged to take the President’s body to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda for autopsy, and that all other personnel will be choppered to the South Grounds of the White House. Ultimately, the President’s physician, Admiral George Burkley (on Air Force One), sides with Gerald Behn (at the White House) in support of a Bethesda autopsy and persuades the Surgeon General of the Army, General Heaton (in Washington) to cancel arrangements for a Walter Reed autopsy. Once it becomes clear that Bethesda is to be the site, two things happen: first, both Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist that the President’s body be transported to Bethesda by ambulance (vice helicopter), even though Gerald Behn at the White House informs General Clifton that President Kennedy’s Naval Aide, CAPT Shepard, has assured him that it will be no problem for the helicopter to carry the heavy casket; second, even though Admiral Burkley and General Clifton insist on ambulance transport of JFK’s body to Bethesda, Gerald Behn at the White House subsequently orders Roy Kellerman: “You accompany the body aboard the helicopter.” Finally, General Clifton insists and then repeats, in great detail, orders for a forklift and platform at the left rear of the aircraft for the casket, a personnel ramp at the left front of the aircraft for President Johnson and other passengers’ debarkation, and another personnel ramp at the right front of the airplane (the dark, unlit side of the aircraft where there is a galley door) for the departure of Jacqueline Kennedy. These concerns are mirrored at flight’s end in a conversation from Colonel Swindal (Air Force One pilot) to Colonel Cross (USAF also) on the ground.
(Editorial notes: (1) The fact that Jacqueline Kennedy never used the ramp at the right front of the aircraft has caused at least one researcher to question the real motivation for its placement; (2) An Air Force document titled: “Historical Highlights of Andrews Air Force Base, 1942-1989″ states that “...the body of the slain President was removed to Walter Reed General Hospital...,” which further fuels the controversy over the movements of the President’s body after Air Force One landed at Andrews. )
C. On one occasion on the tape, Admiral Burkley states to Gerald Behn at the White
House, “I have called General Heaton and asked him...,” but on the LBJ edited audiotape, there is no previous conversation recorded with General Heaton, leading one to the conclusion that a conversation took place which is not present on the edited tape. The first conversation between Burkley and Heaton on the tape comes after this remark.
D. On 4 different occasions on the edited tape, “Crown” (the White House Situation Room) attempts to put “Witness” (CAPT Tazewell Shepard, President Kennedy’s Naval Aide) in communication with Air Force One (and the Air Force One patch with General Heaton) in order to resolve the confusion over the arrangements for the President’s autopsy. There are so many crude edits and breaks on this edited and compressed audio recording that it is unclear whether CAPT Shepard “never got through” to Air Force One at all, or whether he perhaps did on one or more occasions, but those conversations have simply been omitted from of the present version of the recording.
E. Concerning the President’s limousine, SS-100X, two remarks of interest can be heard on the tape. In the first, Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman says to Gerald Behn (at the White House), “I’m sure the Volunteer boys will go over his car and so forth.”
(Note: “Volunteer” was the USSS-WHCA code name for Vice-President Johnson.) Second, apparently late in the flight to Andrews, someone onboard Air Force one is informed about the status of the plane carrying the two cars from Dallas (SS-100X and the Secret Service follow-up car), namely that “...373 (a tail number) departed at 2141 Zulu…the one with the Presidential cars onboard.” Near the end of the flight Air Force One can be heard inquiring if there is an ETA for “the C-130 with the vehicles.”
F. Background chatter can be heard at one point, discussing a “limousine and ambulance at Andrews,” and later in the same background conversation, something about a “black Cadillac”. This is probably an indication of simultaneous conversations taking place onboard Air Force One on different frequencies, which only highlights the importance of obtaining unedited tapes of all of the conversations.
G. During the flight from Dallas to Washington, “SAM Command Post” calls Air Force One and a “Colonel Arnbuck (phonetic) from OPS” expresses a concern from the Chief of Staff (General LeMay?) as to whether President Johnson and Mr. Kennedy’s body is onboard the aircraft. This question is followed immediately on the tape by the confusing tug-of-war over who will control autopsy arrangements, etc.
H. On more than one occasion during the flight, personnel in Washington specifically ask whether Mrs. Kennedy is onboard. “A.F. Command Post” first asks this question, immediately before the “Chief of Staff’s Office” inquires about the whereabouts of President Johnson and Mr. Kennedy’s body. Subsequently, “Air Force Command Post” asks who the top people onboard are. “Winner” (a Mr. Hatcher at “Crown”) later asks if Mrs. Kennedy is onboard. During the flight Admiral Burkley assumes that Mrs. Kennedy will accompany the body, General Clifton very carefully arranges separate debarkation arrangements from the aircraft for Mrs. Kennedy, and Gerald Behn (Head of White House Secret Service Detail) attempts on two occasions to separate all passengers on Air Force One from JFK’s body after arrival (desiring to send the body alone to Bethesda on a helicopter, and all other personnel to the South Grounds of the White House). The significance of this repeated concern about Mrs. Kennedy’s whereabouts and her plans upon landing is a source of controversy among some researchers and is another reason to pursue unedited audiotapes of these flight conversations.
I. Immediately after Behn orders Kellerman to “...accompany the body aboard the helicopter”, the following exchange takes place:
Kellerman: “I was unable to get ahold of Payne and Bob Burke (names are phonetic approximations).” After a break, the words “...Payne and Burke at the ranch…” are heard; it is unclear whether the speaker is Kellerman or Behn. Finally, an unidentified speaker says, “…Payne and Burke were not notified…”. The meaning or possible significance of this exchange, if any, is not known.
J. Immediately after the above exchanges, an unidentified voice twice says, “...is on 6970...”. (Note: Aircraft #86970 was the Vice-Presidential aircraft, which also flew back to Andrews AFB from Love Field on November 22, 1963.)
K. One last noticeable exchange worth reporting is from “Wing” (Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, USAF, President Kennedy’s Air Force Aide) to “Slugger”(Capt. Cecil Stoughton, USAF, White House photographer who photographed both the swearing-in of LBJ onboard Air Force One in Dallas, and the onloading of JFK’s casket at Love Field): Wing asks that Crown relay to Slugger that he must meet the aircraft as soon as possible after arrival Andrews, and that if he cannot do this, he is to see Wing as soon as possible after arrival, or contact him in any way feasible. The urgency and importance of this matter to Wing is very clear from his tone of voice. Later, Crown informs Wing that Slugger remained on the ground in Dallas. One of the many conversations not on the LBJ transcript which is on the edited tape reads as follows:
Andrews(?): “Air Force One, this is very important.”
Slugger: “This is Capt. Stoughton in Dallas.”
Air Force One: “Warrior advises he is unable to speak with you at the present time and asks would you please call the White House in about 30 minutes.”(Note: It is unclear what this is all about, and additionally unclear why Warrior is the party unable to speak with Slugger, when it was Wing who asked to speak with him in the first place.)
Gen. Clifton's AF1 Radio Transmission Tape from the Raab Collection
THE ORIGINAL WHITE HOUSE VERSION OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION AIR FORCE ONE TAPE, NOT PREVIOUSLY KNOWN TO EXIST
The foremost new addition to the historical record in one the most important events in American history, this tape predates the National Archives / Johnson Library version, is more than 30 minutes longer, and contain new names and incidents.
IT ALSO CASTS LIGHT ON THE NUMBER OF VERSIONS OF THE TAPES, AND THE LATER CREATION OF THE PUBLIC VERSION IN THE DAYS OF THE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION
Years before the creation of the LJB Library version, thought until now to be the only surviving one, another tape existed of conversations aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963. This crucial piece of history has been long sought. White House records revealed nothing. The discovery of this, the earliest version known to exist, and the events and names it discloses, will change the way we view this seminal event of the 20th century.
SELECTED CLEAR DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN THE FIRST AIR FORCE ONE TAPE AND THE JOHNSON LIBRARY VERSION, WITH NEW TEXT QUOTED
Ours was a non forensic process; differences were identified solely from professionally digitized files using standard audio equipment
THE ANXIOUS EFFORT TO REACH KENNEDY’S ADVERSARY, GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY.
All references to LeMay have been deleted from the Johnson version. His aide wanted to reach him badly and immediately, and was trying to interrupt Air Force One transmissions to do so. (see below for more on LeMay). “Colonel Dorman, General LeMay’s aide. General LeMay is in a C140. Last three numbers are 497, SAM C140. His code name is Grandson. And I want to talk to him.” Any delay, he said, “would be too late.” LeMay’s precise location at the time of the assassination and after have been a subject of open speculation. This places him.
Audio clip excerpt – LeMay’s aide urgently attempts to reach the General
NEW NAMES, MISSING IDENTITIES
Someone code-named “Monument,” someone referred to as “WTE,” and someone named “John” referred to. “Hello? Can you get me Secretary Rusk? Hold on please…Cedar Rapids, give me 972. Stand by we are having a State Dept. join now. I’m showing a…I’ll have John give you a call soon as he’s done. WTE wants him. OK. Hold on line. 1102 3000 1104.” Talking about Rusk: “He is talking to Mr. Ball. Stand by one. State Dept is talking to Mr. Salinger at this time. Do everything on there. You talk to Ball. Number one is trying to break in…” “…november alpha bravo 90. I’d like to talk to Monument who’s aboard that aircraft.”
REVEALING THE IDENTITY OF CODE NAME STRANGER, OMITTED IN THE LBJ VERSION
He was identified by Pierre Salinger in his book. “Andrews, The answer to your request is Maj. Harold R. Paterson, I think. Maj. Harold R. Paterson.”
THE DISPOSITION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S BODY, AND THE AUTOPSY. THE 1ST REFERENCE TO TAKING THE PRESIDENT’S BODY TO WALTER REED
There is additional discussion as to whether it should be taken to Walter Reed or Bethesda, on procuring an ambulance, and on whether Mrs. Kennedy would also going there. These were areas of disagreement. “Andrews supplying ambulance for body to take to Walter Reed. Repeat please, repeat please. Walter Reed for body, Walter Reed. Over. Say again, say again.”
THE HEAD OF THE SECRET SERVICE, TRANSPORTING KENNEDY’S BODY, AND BRINGING THE NEW PRESIDENT’S PARTY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.
There is expanded discussion of which vehicles would pick up the body: Gerald Behn, the head of the Secret Service, is overheard giving his frank opinion on the matter, discussing the cars, a “black Cadillac,” and/or ambulances. “… a black Cadillac…I would get them out there anyways regardless Henry, get them out there anyways regardless of the maybe. Maybe is what they said…” Later, a separate voice remarks, “I am trying to order White House car 102 and 405x. I understand you are ordering two cars, is that a roger?” The ARRB report noted a later reference to a “black Cadillac” but since this conversation was omitted noted that it lacked context and might be important. This discrepancy is just one of a handful of such specific circumstances the ARRB notes.
Excerpt: The head of the Secret Service on the disposition of the body
THE PRESIDENT’S REMAINS; SURGEON GENERAL HEATON AND ADMIRAL BURKLEY. “MRS. KENNEDY WILL ALSO BE GOING”
There are expanded discussions with him. “Air Force One, Crown, I’m putting General Heaton on the line, over. Air Force One, Crown, go ahead. General Heaton on the line. Hello, General Heaton… General Heaton, this is Admiral Burkley…You…the military district of Washington in regards to the taking care of the remains of the President Kennedy, and we are planning on having the President taken to directly to Walter Reed and probably Mrs. Kennedy will also be going out there.”
Excerpt: General Heaton and Admiral Burkley planning the disposition of the President’s body
Someone was looking for Texan Congressmen who were there during the assassination. “Air Force 1970, John D. needs to know here on the ground if you have Congressmen Thomas, Thornberry and Brooks aboard. Can you check them out for us? Say again, Robby…The…need to know…”
Excerpt: Looking for the Congressmen from Texas
STATE DEPARTMENT COMMUNICATIONS
There is additional material relating to the communications with State Dept. officials, coordination of their return information, and concern about information they were being given.
RADIO BANDS, LOGISTICS
There is expanded conversation about what bands they will speak on, information valuable in assessing the process of communication on board Air Force One during the flight home.
These are just a few of the points of difference we found, using the acoustic equipment at our disposal. Forensic equipment could certainly reveal more. Moreover, this discovery permits the application of new technologies to the original film and not simply to a digital file. It is the most significant piece of audio/visual history ever to reach the public market.
Note on Curtis LeMay: He was the Air Force Chief and a particularly staunch opponent of the Kennedy administration. Robert McNamara stated that LeMay was a staunch advocate of “preemptive nuclear war to rid the world of the Soviet threat.” Air Force Chief Curtis LeMay, who had been advocating nuclear war with the Soviet Union since the early 1950s, thought Cuba was a “sideshow” and told the President that the United States should “fry it.” LeMay, himself a member of the Joint Chiefs, “was in the habit of taking bullying command of Joint Chiefs meetings,” and with LeMay leading the charge for war, “the other chiefs jumped into the fray, repeating the Air Force general’s call for immediate military action.” Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy told an aide that the administration needed to make sure that the Joint Chiefs did not start a war without his approval. Thirteen days after that crisis began, the Soviets announced that they would remove the missiles from Cuba, with the US agreeing to remove missiles from US bases in Turkey and “pledging not to invade Cuba.” At the announcement of the end to the crisis, General LeMay told Kennedy, “It’s the greatest defeat in our history,” and that, “We should invade today.” Lyndon Johnson had better relations with General LeMay.
MAJOR EVENTS TIMELINE:
November 22, 1963 – John Kennedy is assassinated, and the conversations on board AF1 are recorded. These conversations will eventually become one of the most important primary resources in the investigation
Late 1963-1965 – A copy is created for Ted Clifton, Senior Military Aide to John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson military aide
1966-1968 – A shorter, edited version is created during the Johnson Administration, which was later given to the LBJ Library and distributed by it to the National Archives and the John F. Kennedy Library. By the time LBJ leaves, all other versions go missing.
1970s – The LBJ version is released to the American people
1990s – A governmental agency’s efforts to discover any other version of this tape in governmental repositories are unsuccessful, even under penalty of perjury
2011 – The original, longer copy belonging to Clifton is discovered
President Kennedy was murdered while riding in a motorcade in Dallas at 12:30 pm CST on Friday, November 22, 1963. Several photos and films captured the assassination, including the famous Zapruder Film. JFK was rushed to Parkland Hospital, where a tracheotomy and other efforts failed to keep him alive. After he was pronounced dead around 1 pm, his body was flown back to Washington aboard Air Force One, on board which were his wife Jackie and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Upon landing his body was taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where an autopsy was performed, and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday the 25th.
Meanwhile, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested around 2 pm at the Texas Theatre in the Oak Cliff suburb of Dallas and charged with murdering a police officer named J.D. Tippit. Protesting that he was “a patsy,” Oswald was paraded in front of the world’s gathering cameras and accused of murdering President Kennedy as well. He was interrogated throughout the weekend, though no recordings or transcriptions were made. During an intended transfer to county facilities on Sunday morning the 24th, Oswald was shot and killed on live television in the basement of the Dallas Police station. His murderer was a local nightclub owner with alleged connections to organized crime named Jack Ruby. People were stunned by all this and there was a wide-spread call for investigation of the Kennedy assassination and aftermath.
Who killed Kennedy and why
In 1964, the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, named by President Johnson and known as the Warren Commission, found no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby were part of “any conspiracy, domestic or foreign…” The issuance of the Warren Report was followed about two months later by 26 volumes of hearings and exhibits, the “supporting evidence” on which the Report and one-assassin conclusion were based. Soon people who read the tomes were claiming that despite its lengthy report the investigation was half-hearted and incomplete, that there were discrepancies in the evidence, that information tending to place the commission’s conclusion in doubt had been ignored or withheld, that important witnesses had not even been interviewed, etc. They maintained that the official story did not stand up to scrutiny, and there must have been some conspiracy at the heart of the assassination. This led to widespread allegations of a government cover up, and a plethora of theories were proposed about who killed President Kennedy and why. The percentage of Americans who doubted the Warren Commission’s conclusion leaped from 39% after that report was issued to 60% in 1967.
A demand for answers 30 years after the event
In 1991 Oliver Stone released the film “JFK,” which examined the events leading to the assassination and the alleged subsequent cover-up. The film was very popular, showing again the enduring fascination of the public with this quintessential story of tragedy and conspiracy. It also proved to be a landmark moment politically, as it ignited an outcry for answers about the assassination that led to the passage of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The act set up the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board to search for, collect and re-examine for public release assassination-related records held by federal agencies. The Board finished its work in 1998 and issued a final report, which though not containing findings on the assassination of President Kennedy, did result in the release of previously withheld government records and the exposure of some new additional information through its depositions of eyewitnesses. Yet for all the excitement and good intentions, the Board’s work spotlighted more the important information that was still missing than what it had been able to find.
The famed Air Force One Tapes
There is just a trio of important sources of primary evidentiary material in the Kennedy assassination. Two of these are the evidence created or found in Dallas (such as acoustic evidence, ballistic evidence, and physical findings in the Book Depository), and the medical evidence (such as coroner’s photographs and reports). Essentially everything about these materials is known, and they have been analyzed and reanalyzed. They have not been significantly augmented for decades, and not much can be expected in the way of new discoveries.
The third important source of evidence in the Kennedy assassination are the famous Air Force One tapes, which recorded conversations between that plane, the White House Situation Room, and other places in the immediate wake of the assassination.
The matters discussed included the disposition of the President’s body, where it should be taken and how it should be removed from the plane and transported, the details of disagreements about these key facts, plans for where Mrs. Kennedy would be taken, attempts to organize a conversation about the President’s autopsy, mentions of cars, limousines and ambulances, plus innumerable other topics. The tapes also placed the various parties, allowing the public to learn where they were, at what time, and what they were saying.
These tapes were released by the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, and they start with an announcer stating: “The following recording has been reproduced from ground recorded non-high fidelity tape to re-cord record patch communications of Air Force One.” He continues, “This tape has been edited and condensed to contain only pertinent information relative to events during 22nd of November, 1963. Only material available from radio circuits used is available.” The tapes at the National Archives and John F. Kennedy Library are the version provided by the Johnson Library, and no other version of the tapes has been known to exist. So with the only tapes available an edited version, and no answer to the questions of who ordered the edits or what had been edited out, the tapes themselves poured fuel on the fire and became a central part of the controversy.
ARRB expressed a great deal of interest in these tapes, and in a lengthy memo stated that they contained important observations that would “clearly justify” its pursuing them. It was concerned about the accuracy of the edited version, “crude edits and breaks,” and its known discrepancies, like a conversation with General Heaton that was referenced at one spot but not recorded anywhere. Plus there were the questions of what code names, locales and call numbers were missing, and what may have been the significance of others statements. And most obviously, what was edited out and why.
The ARRB went looking for the unedited tapes. It went so far as to issue a targeted request to the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) under penalty of perjury, and to the Air Force, seeking all additional records or versions of the Air Force One tapes. Neither had any such records nor knowledge of the disposition of any such records. So again all that was left was the Johnson Library version.
The Discovery of the first Air Force One Assassination tape, not previously known to exist; Timeline of the versions of the Kennedy assassination tapes
So the prevailing state of affairs has been that the LBJ tape is the only one that exists, that it was edited from original tapes that are presumed lost or destroyed, and that we would learn nothing else.
Who possessed the newly discovered tape, one that is longer than the LBJ Library tape
President Kennedy never appointed a chief of staff, but the man who undertook many of the responsibilities of that office was his senior military aide Chester (Ted) Clifton. Clifton was in the Dallas motorcade and was aboard Air Force One on that fateful day and involved in the discussions. Following the assassination, he was in charge of dealing with military and national security affairs in the aftermath. He retained his position for a while in the Johnson administration. He served from January 20, 1961 to his retirement on August 3, 1965.
The raw tapes
The ARRB established that the WHCA was responsible for communications between Air Force One, the White House Situation Room, and other sites on the day of the assassination. It tape recorded those actual communications. These were the raw tapes. They would have been at least 4 hours and 20 minutes long, as known portions of the tape commence no later than 1:45 EST and conclude on wheels down for Air Force One at approximately 6:05. The version states that it had been edited down from these.
The first Air Force One Assassination tape
Sometime between the end of November 1963 and July 1965, the raw WHCA tapes from November 22, 1963 were used to create an Air Force One Assassination tape that was 2:22 minutes long. The WHCA labels the tape as “For General Clifton,” and it is the first identifiable White House Version of the tape produced. Two originals of this version were made for General Clifton at that time. That this version was made prior to General Clifton’s retirement in August 1965 is indicated by the fact that Pierre Salinger was given access to at least some portions of it to research his book, “With Kennedy,” which was published in 1966.
The Johnson Library edited version
During the Johnson presidency, at some time between the end of 1965 and January 1969 when LBJ left the White House, a different, shorter and edited version was created. The preparer of this still had access to the raw tapes, showing that they existed then, and may well also have had access to the first Air Force One Assassination tape. In this edited version, dozens of deletions were made from the first Air Force One Assassination tape. This edited version went back to Texas with LBJ (leaving no version in the White House records), and it was given by him to the Johnson Library, where it resides today. This version is the one that both the Kennedy Library and National Archives have, and is the one that was made available to the public in the 1970s.
The loss and/or destruction of the raw tapes and the first Air Force One Assassination tape
The raw tapes never resurfaced after 1965-6, and the very existence of the first Air Force One Assassination tape was forgotten. Over the years all efforts to find the raw tapes or any other original version proved fruitless. They are no longer with the White House Communications Agency, where they were created.
General Clifton’s first Air Force One Assassination tape rediscovered
General Clifton’s effects were recently disposed of by his heirs, and his copies of the original first Air Force One Assassination tape were among them. The reappearance of this tape is a major event in the Kennedy assassination case, and makes possible for the first time a complete understanding of the versions of the tapes and their chronology. We had the tapes professionally digitized, so they are now in both digitized and reel-to-reel form.
THE IMPACT OF THE ASSASSINATION
The long term impacts of this proved to be profound. The assassination left people more cynical and distrustful than before, an attitude still in evidence today. And though the Kennedy years were not really part of the era that followed known as the Sixties, they set off various chain reactions that led it off.
The phenomenon of interest in the Kennedy assassination, which never seems to die
The event took place in 1963, 48 years ago. Yet people still have a keen interest in it and very definite opinions. A 2009 CBS poll found that only one in 10 Americans believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. By 74% to 13%, the public thought there was an official cover-up to keep the public from learning the truth about the assassination.
This discovery is the first major change in the availability of primary resource on the assassination since the Commission finished its deliberations in the 1990s and the most important since the 1970s.
The sale of the original first Air Force One Assassination tape and donation of the digitized content
In January 2012, one of the two originals officially went to the National Archives at a Press Conference to the Kennedy Assassination Records division which has a Congressional mandate to collect important history and is the nation’s repository for Kennedy Assassination records.
For sale is the other original, identical, tape. The buyer will receive the original reel-to-reel, and the high definition digitized copy. It is the only original known to be in private hands.
THE RAAB COLLECTION
The Raab Collection is a leading international dealer in important historical documents for sale and has worked with the families of great historical figures for decades to discover, save, preserve, and sell original history.
The Raab Collection
US Archives releases longer audio tape from Air Force One after Kennedy assassination
01/30/2012 4:23 PM
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- The Kennedy assassination was one of the most heart-wrenching and chaotic events in modern American history -- and one still replete with mysteries.
But now a little more light has been shed on one of them: What was edited out of the flight deck recording from Air Force One as it carried John F. Kennedy’s body and the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, from Dallas to Washington.
The National Archives and Records Administration today released a newly discovered recording – running about 2 hours and 20 minutes -- that is nearly 40 minutes longer than the only version previously known to exist.
The more complete recording was discovered last year by the Raab Collection, a manuscript collector in Pennsylvania, after one of its agents purchased at auction a box of personal effects from the estate of General Chester Clifton, who was Kennedy’s military aide.
The whereabouts of the complete Air Force One radio transmissions from Nov. 22, 1963, still remain a mystery. But what makes this a historically significant find is that it is an earlier version of the raw transmissions than the one housed at the LBJ Library, which was more heavily edited and runs only about an hour and 40 minutes.
Clifton, who died in 1991, left the White House in 1965, while the LBJ Library version was made public in 1971.
“This is the earliest that likely exists,” said Nathan Raab, vice president of the Raab Collection in Ardmore, Pa.
The newly found tape, a copy of which was donated to the Archives, includes never-before-heard transmissions between the White House Situation Room and another plane taking Secretary of State Dean Rusk and other Cabinet members to Tokyo at the time of Kennedy’s shooting and was turned back. It also contains an urgent request to locate the head of the Air Force, General Curtis LeMay, whose whereabouts in the immediate aftermath of the assassination have remained an obsession for generations of conspiracy theorists.
Some of the newly discovered radio traffic is raw and uncensored, such as when Rusk and his party are informed of the shooting while flying over the Pacific.
“Kennedy apparently shot in head,” the male radio operator in the Situation Room reports. “He fell face down in back seat of his car, blood was on his head, Mrs. Kennedy cried ‘oh, no’ and tried to hold up his head.”
Also heard are more mundane things, such as the pilots of Air Force One discussing how to avoid tornados in Arkansas and Mississippi along the flight path from Dallas to Washington, D.C.
Raab said he was most intrigued by the portion involving LeMay. Kennedy and the hawkish Air Force chief were widely known to mistrust each other and all references to LeMay were deleted in the Johnson Library version of the recording.
In the longer version, one of LeMay’s aides, a Colonel Dorman, contacts the White House Situation Room seeking to reach the general, who he tells them is flying in a C-140 aircraft with the last three numbers 497 and whose code name is “Grandson.”
“And I want to talk to him,” the colonel says. Any delay, he adds, “would be too late.”
But he is told they will have to interrupt transmissions with Air Force One to do so. The Situation Room reports that they are using both frequencies available to communicate with the presidential aircraft.
Summarizing the portions of the tape not made public before, the National Archives cited “references to new code names and incidents; a private conversation between Jerry Behn, the head of the Secret Service, and an unidentified individual about the disposition of the president’s body; an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay to reach [him]; and attempts to locate various members of Congress from the Texas delegation.”
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said the recording “provides additional documentation concerning the immediate response of the US Government on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination.”
The tape, added, Raab, “will allow the public a more complete view of the chaotic circumstances following the assassination of President Kennedy.”
But the recording only goes so far. Several hours of raw tape are still missing. The transmissions heard on Air Force One that day should cover more than four hours -- from before 2 p.m. Eastern time to after 6 p.m., when the new president and the casket bearing JFK arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland.
“The raw tapes never resurfaced after 1965-66, and the very existence of the first Air Force One assassination tape [found among Clifton’s papers] was forgotten,” said the Raab Collection. “Over the years all the efforts to find the raw tapes or any other original version proved fruitless.
They are no longer with the White House Communications Agency, where they were created.”
The Raab Collection is selling the original copy of the reel-to-reel recording for $500,000, along with other items found among Clifton’s estate, including an autographed photograph of President Kennedy.
Bryan Bender can be reached at email@example.com
YAHOO NEWS: New audio tape sheds light on JFK assassination
Long-lost audio recordings of the aftermath of president John F. Kennedy's assassination have been made public, captivating historians and stirring fascination about that fateful day.
Almost 50 years after the November 22, 1963 assassination, a two hour and 22 minute reel was found among the personal effects of JFK's senior military aide, Major General Chester Clifton, who died in 1991.
The reel contains more than 30 minutes of previously unheard footage of conversations on board Air Force One as Kennedy's body was being transported back to Washington from Dallas.
It includes new code names and incidents, including a private conversation by the head of the Secret Service, Jerry Behn, about where to take the body and plans for where the First Lady,Jacqueline Kennedy, would be taken.
There is also an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force chief of staffCurtis LeMay, a well-known hawk and Kennedy critic, to reach Clifton; and attempts to locate various congressmen from Texas.
The material was acquired by the Raab Collection, a rare documents dealer based in Philadelphia, who donated a digitized copy to the National Archives, made public at gpo.gov/fdsys.
Experts say the tapes will stir debate among conspiracy theorists, especially about LeMay, a major Kennedy adversary whose name was conspicuously missing from an edited version of the original tape.
"People have always wanted to know where was Curtis LeMay on the day Kennedy was shot and there have been mixed messages about it. This tape provides exactly where he was," Kennedy historian Douglas Brinkley told CNN.
The Raab Collection is looking to sell on the original box and tape -- which has a label reading "Radio Traffic involving AF-1 in flight from Dallas, Texas to Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963" -- for $500,000.
"As Americans have looked to the history of the Kennedy assassination in search of answers, somewhere in an attic there existed a tape, made years before the only known surviving version, of the conversations on Air Force One on that fateful day," vice-president Nathan Raab says in a sale flier.
"This longer, more complete tape is a crucial discovery, and a landmark piece of American history."
The recording is a longer, unedited version of audio produced by the library of president Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy after the assassination.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
The Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), in a letter dated January 20, 2012, requested that the National Archives and the CIA release some 50,000 pages relating to the JFK assassination that remain withheld in full from the public, as well as an undisclosed number of partially deleted records. The letter maintains that release of such records well before the 50th anniversary of the assassination on November 22, 2013, is essential to having a full and robust national discussion of this event and its significance. The working group that produced the AARC's letter consisted of three AARC Board Members and two leading attorneys who have a profound interest in the subject. The letter was also signed by Professor G. Robert Blakey, the former Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
- Rex Bradford at Mary Ferrell Archives [http://www.maryferrell.org/] Please visit MFA at: http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Featured_AARC_Letter_to_US_Archivist_on_CIA_Records
Rex Notes: In short, the AARC has advised NARA and the CIA that fifty years of secrecy is enough. The working group is currently discussing how best to develop a plan of action to get NARA and CIA to expedite disclosure of the withheld records. Stay tuned.
The majority of the over 1 million pages of records in the MFF's Document Archive come from the files of the AARC, whose President Jim Lesar along with other members have worked tirelessly and successfully for release of JFK assassination records over the decades.
Assassination Archives and Research Center
Jim Lesar, President
1003 K Street N.W., Suite 640
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel (202) 393-1921
January 20, 2012
United States Archivist David S. Ferreiro
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington D.C. 20081-0001
BY CERTIFIED MAIL NUMBER
7011 1570 0000 4139 8117
Dear Mr. Ferreiro:
In 1992, Congress passed the “President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992” (“JFK Act”) which requires “the expeditious public transmission to the Archivist and public disclosure of” all records designated as assassination relate. The clear design of the legislation was to declassify and release to the public as many of the records as possible, holding back only a few of the most highly-classified documents until 2017. At that time the only way in which a record could continue to be withheld would be if the President of the United States personally approved the continued withholding of specific records under mandated strict standards. The legislative motivation behind the JFK Act was to enable the American public to review as many as possible of the entire original body of more than 5 million government pages pertaining to the assassination to allow full scholarly and historical analysis of it, and to assess its impact by and on the historical events surrounding it.
Yet despite the passage of nearly 20 years since the Act was passed, it was only recently that scholars learned that there are not just a few CIA records missing from the public records, but approximately 50,000 pages which remain classified. (The volume of partially withheld pages is unknown but is also quite substantial.) This contravenes both the letter and spirit of the JFK Act and is unacceptable as a matter of law.
Enforcement of the JFK Act’s disclosure mandate originally repose in a five-member panel of citizens, the Assassinations Records Review Board (“ARRB”). Upon demise of the ARRB, the Act delegated NARA to carry out its provisions “until such at time as the Archivist certifies to the President and to Congress that all assassination records have been made available to the public…” 1. The Act further provides that “all postponed or redacted records shall be reviewed periodically by the originating agency and the Archivist consistent with the recommendations of the Review Board...” 2.
Since the expiration of the ARRB, the CIA and NARA have upheld the purpose of the JFK Act and facilitated the public disclosure of many thousands of records. According to a press release on NARA’s JFK Act website, the CIA speeded up its processing of withheld documents through 2010. As a result, for example, in 2004, two volumes of the CIA’s Jack Pfeiffer report on the Bay of Pigs were reviewed and released under JFK Act standards. But, with all due respect, NARA now appears to be disregarding its mandate and is not fulfilling its responsibilities to enforce the provisions and intent of the JFKAct.
In 2010, NARA held a public forum to discuss the plan of a National Declassification Center (“NDC”) to declassify historical records. Pursuant to an Executive Order issued by President Barack Obama, the NDC was instructed to release 400 million pages of backlogged historical records by 2013. It was at this NARA forum that Deputy Archivist Michael Kurtz revealed that the CIA continues to withhold approximately 50,000 pages of JFK assassination-related records. He also stated that as part of the NDC’s plan to release historical records, these records would be reviewed for release prior to 2013.
However, at a subsequent public forum the NDC reneged on this commitment. Without providing reasoning or justification under the JFK Act, it now takes the position that the JFK records will not be part of the declassification of historical documents project but will need to wait for further evaluation by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2017.
First, while the goal of declassifying the general backlog is highly laudable, NARA has seemingly lost sight of the fact that the JFK Act Collection continues to be of paramount interest to scholars, historians, and the American public. Indeed, we understand that NARA receives as many or more inquires on this Collection than any other discrete subject of historical research at NARA. The American public has maintained that elevated level of interest for almost 50 years.
Second, the nature of the public’s interest in the rapid declassification of the JFK assassination records – which warrants giving priority to the disclosure of these records above others – is reflected in many ways. Foremost is the unanimous vote by Congress to mandate that disclosure be given urgent attention. Congress also decreed that these documents be released under perhaps the most liberal and wide-ranging disclosure standards ever enacted.
Third, dozens of new books and articles on the subject of the assassination and the concomitant history of the United States continue to appear regularly nearly five decades after President Kennedy’s murder.
With the 50th anniversary of the assassination less than two years away, there is little doubt that public interest will only increase as November 22, 2013 approaches. A new spate of books and films and news articles is already beginning to reflect the depth of this phenomenon once again. The 50th anniversary will be the occasion of a renewed national debate on the assassination and the investigations into it, and the significance of the new information which has emerged as a result of the JFK Act releases will be studied and analyzed. This debate will occur in the context of the hard political truth that poll after poll reflects that there has been a precipitous decline in public confidence and American citizens have come to profoundly distrust their institutions and leaders. This national debate needs to be as fully informed as possible lest public distrust be further increased and – equally antithetical to democratic principles – lest purveyors of theories not based on documentary evidence continue to spread doubt and confusion about the case. (Conversely new records can point to areas of research where further scrutiny is warranted.)
Knowledge of our history is an essential feature of democratic accountability. The Founding Fathers were profoundly absorbed with the study of historical events and the political lesson to be learned from them. Exemplifying this tenet, NARA’s motto states: “The Past Is Prologue”. But since the advent of the Cold War, knowledge and accountability have been greatly shrouded by pervasive secrecy surrounding the most critical aspects of our governance. This point is forcefully illustrated by what has recently been learned as a result of JFK Act disclosures.
For example, we now know that the CIA was confronted with inquires from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) about the pre-assassination contacts of alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald with the Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (“DRE” or “Cuban Student Directorate”). Declassified documents show that the DRE was a CIA – “conceived, created and funded” Cuban exile organization in the 1960s. In the late 1970’s the CIA brought a retired CIA officer, George Joannides, out of retirement to act as liaison with HSCA when it sought records from the CIA regarding the Oswald/DRE activities and requested the identity of DRE’s case officer. Neither the CIA nor Joannides ever informed HSCA that Joannides himself had been the DRE’s case officer at the very time Oswald was in contact with the DRE; and neither the CIA nor Joannides provided the information sought by the Congressional committee.
Professor G. Robert Blakey, who served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the HSCA, has stated in a sworn affidavit that the CIA’s conduct in inserting Joannides “undercover” into the HSCA investigation “constituted not only a breach of the written memorandum of understanding the HSCA in good faith entered with the Agency,...., but a manifest, and hardly minor matter, a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. & 1505”, which proscribes conduct that “impedes….the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry....of an committee of either House’....”
Similarly, in a sworn affidavit addressing the CIA’s withholding of records pertaining to Joannides from the ARRB, Prof. Anna Nelson, a Professor of History who was a member of the ARRB stated:
By its actions, the CIA has thus destroyed the integrity off the probe made by Congress, influenced the ARRB which was required by the legislation to use the records of that investigation and cast additional doubt upon itself. It is important that all additional information which bears upon the CIA’s conduct regarding both the congressional investigation and itself be made public as soon as possible so that Mr. Morley and others may continue to research these matters. Moreover, Congress itself may wish to investigate the CIA’s alleged corruption of its inquiry into the Kennedy assassination.
In order for the American public to be fully informed about the type of questions raised by the HSCA Chief Counsel Blakey and ARRB Nelson, the records currently withheld by the CIA should be reviewed and released under JFK Act standards before the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. The Archivist of the United States is authorized and required by the JFK Act to undertake such action. The undersigned respectfully and urgently request that you do so.
In view of the need for prompt action on this matter, I would appreciate a response from you at your earliest possible convenience.
1. 44 U.S.C.A. 2107, &12(b)
2. Id., &5(g)(1.).
Jim Lesar, President AARC
Brenda Brody, AARC Board of Directors
Daniel Alcorn, Esq., AARC Board of Directors
Mark Zaid, Esq.
Charlie Sanders, Esq.
Prof. G. Robert Blakey, Esq. Former Chief Counsel and Staff Director
For the House Select Committee on Assassinations
John Fitzpatrick, Director, Information Security Oversight Office
Gen. David Howell Petraeus, Director, CIA
Rep. Michael Rogers, Maj. Leader, House Permanent Committee on Intelligence
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Min. Leader House Permanent Com on Intelligence
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Sen. Patrick Leahy, Majority Leader Senate Judiciary Committee
Rep. Lamar Smith, Majority Leader House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Darrell Issa Majority Leader House Oversight and Govt. Reform Committee
Rep. Trey Gowdy Majority Leader Subcommittee on Healthcare, DC, NARA
Sen. Saxby Chambliss Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Sen. Chuck Grassley Minority Leader Senate Judiciary Committee
Rep. John Conyers, Minority Leader House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Elija Cummings Minority Leader House Oversight and Govt. Reform Committee.
Rep. Danny K. Davis Minority Leader Subcommittee on Healthcare, DC, NARA
Note: [I]. The phrase "The Past is Prologue" is also commonly used by the military when discussing the similarities between war throughout history. Historical meaning. Although the phrase is now commonly used to mean what's stated above, as the phrase was originally used in The Tempest, Act 2, Scene I, it means that all that has happened before that time, the "past," has led Antonio and Sebastian to this opportunity to do what they are about to do, commit murder. In the context of the preceding and next lines, "(And by that destiny) to perform an act, Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come, In yours and my discharge" Antonio is in essence rationalizing to Sebastian, and the audience, that he and Sebastian are fated to act by all that has led up to that moment, the past has set the stage for their next act, as a prologue does in a play. Therefore, this phrase might be better used in situations where people are attempting to rationalize wicked acts based on the past. It can also be taken to mean that everything up until now has merely set the stage for Antonio and Sebastian to make their own destinies; in this context it does not indicate that their future acts are fated, but rather that everything up to that point was merely like a prologue, not the important story.
Issa Statement on #SOPA & #PIPA Website Blackouts
WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today issued the following statement on the blackouts of many popular websites – including Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google and thousands of others– in response to the serious threats to an open Internet and digital innovation in America posed by theProtect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA):
"The Protect IP Act and SOPA are threats to the openness, freedom, and innovation of the Internet. I applaud the Internet community, including the thousands of blogs and websites that have decided to go dark today, for participating in our democracy and opening up the debate on legislation to the public.
"This unprecedented effort has turned the tide against a backroom lobbying effort by interests that aren't used to being told 'no.' I know suspending and changing access to sites was not necessarily an easy decision, but this is a responsible and transparent exercise of freedom of speech. I applaud those participating in today's protest for their sturdy defense of American innovation, openness and Internet freedom."
The Oversight Committee had originally scheduled a hearing on DNS blocking for today. The hearing was postponed after assurances from Leader Cantor and the removal of DNS blocking provisions from SOPA were made. Even with this alteration, Chairman Issa continues to oppose SOPA as well as PIPA.
Analysis: Legislators should note anti-SOPA feeling
January 17, 2012
Laws should strengthen our freedoms, not undermine them
If there is anybody left on the internet, gamer or otherwise, who is unaware of or unconvinced by the passion within the online community to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or the Protect Intellectual Privacy Act (PIPA), consider this: starting tomorrow at 12 AM EST, Wikipedia will participate in a collaborated global protest of the bills with a worldwide, 24-hour blackout of their entire English-language site.
The blackout is happening even after House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced this week that a Senate hearing relating to SOPA would be indefinitely postponed, halting the legislation’s movement toward a vote in Congress.
Wikipedia will blackout their English-language site for 24 hours
While such announcements have not swayed opponents of the two bills, the lawmakers behind them do appear to be moved, at least somewhat, by the outrage expressed by the online community. Just last week the author of SOPA, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), announced that he would heed industry warnings to change the bill.
In a statement, Smith said, “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.”
DNS blocking would have given intellectual property holders such as film studios, record labels and game publishers the ability to demand that certain foreign websites suspected of piracy be blocked from US viewers. Most disturbing to SOPA’s critics is that IP holders could block such websites without ever needing the approval of a judge, or without even entering a courtroom.
While this seemed easily opposable for many, including some game companies such as Nintendo, Sony and Bungie, the Entertainment Software Association, of which most top game publishers are members, still supports the bill. Given the outpouring of blatant bashing of SOPA by a vast number of independent gamers, bloggers and developers, this could and likely will be interpreted as a relative disregard toward consumers.
ESA’s support of SOPA also puts members that disagree with the legislation in a tough spot, as they must carefully consider the consequences of contradicting the ESA before going public.
The ESA supports the bill but some members are dissenting
That means that even if Capcom, Konami, SEGA, Square Enix and countless other video game companies do oppose SOPA, they may never contribute to the collective dissonance, lest they create a conflict with the ESA.
The same can be said for media outlets that are owned by holding companies such as Newscorp, which is the world’s second largest media conglomerate and has openly expressed support for SOPA. This is particularly unfortunate since freedom of the press ranks right up there with freedom of speech as an American right that, in a perfect world, would always go unhindered.
Despite the absence of companies stepping forward to oppose SOPA, and despite the fact that the Senate is set to vote on PIPA on January 24, some headway is being made in terms of developing an alternative.
In the statement announcing the postponement of the SOPA senate hearing, a spokesperson for representative Issa said the lawmaker “intends to continue to push for Congress to heed the advice of internet experts on anti-piracy legislation and to push for the consideration and passage of the bipartisan OPEN Act.”
The OPEN act is already garnering far better reviews than either SOPA or PIPA, but they are far from glowing. Where Issa hit the nail on the head is where he called for Congress to “heed the advice of internet experts on anti-piracy legislation.”
Whether legislative ideas come from experts at giant corporations such as Google or Apple, or from independent gamers and bloggers who navigate the most remote reaches of the internet on a daily basis, these are the people that Congress must be collaborating with right now. The internet cannot be regulated in a vacuum of legislators, nor in a vacuum called the United States. A US bill that proposes how to fight global online thievery must be drafted with global consequences in mind.
As Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner indicates on the organization’s announcement of their upcoming blackout, the problem is much bigger than what goes on in Washington.
“SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem,” said Gardner, “All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms.”
There’s no doubt that piracy is bad. It’s stealing. The trick in fighting online piracy is to find the ways that don’t hurt our freedoms, but strengthen them.
Congress shelves anti-piracy bills
By Roger Yu, USA Today January 20, 2012
The controversial anti-piracy legislation that fueled a wide-scale Internet protest earlier this week is on life support as Senate and House leaders retreated Friday and called for a compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was postponing a vote set for Tuesday "in light of recent events."
"There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved," he said in a statement, referring to the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), a Senate bill that would crack down on websites that violate copyrights and sell counterfeit goods. "I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks."
House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who introduced the House version known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also called for a delay.
"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy," Smith said in a statement. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products."
The bills' advocates, including media companies, movie studios, book publishers and music recording companies, say granting U.S. attorneys general and copyright holders more power to enforce punitive actions against rogue websites would save jobs, ensure consumer safety and increase revenues.
Large and small Internet companies, including Google, Facebook and a wide array of Silicon Valley startups, say current laws are sufficient and that the proposed legislation will lead to censorship and kill the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels technology innovation.
To raise awareness and urge Internet users to call their representatives, thousands of Internet companies staged a blackout Wednesday. Some sites, like Wikipedia and Reddit, shut down for a day, while others placed prominently displayed black banners on their pages. An online petition drive by Google attracted more than 7 million participants.
Their battle over the Internet and the right of content use — as well as the limit of enforcement powers — were illustrated starkly Friday when U.S. and New Zealand officials shut down Megaupload.com, a popular cyberlocker that stored online movies and music, and arrested its founder Kim Dotcom (originally named Kim Schmitz) and some employees.
Hackers responded by taking credit for attacking the Justice Department's website and that of Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America.
That law enforcement officers were able to coordinate internationally to take action demonstrates that current laws targeting copyright violators work, says Art Brodsky, a spokesman for Public Knowledge, a Washington D.C.- based communications and technology advocacy group.
"They roped in New Zealand police and the FBI flew down there," he says. "So why do you need more laws?"
In a statement. Chris Dodd, CEO of the MPAA, said the failure to move forward with the bills will ensure continued copyright infringement, but expressed hope that the delay will start a new round of negotiations.
"As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves," said the former senator from Connecticut. "With today's announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property."
The bills' opponents applauded the bills' postponement Friday.
SOPA-PIPA opponents anticipated changes to the bills after several lawmakers withdrew their support following the protests. But few expected a seemingly indefinite delay to be announced so quickly, Brodsky says.
"We knew it was a possibility, but the better probability was that Reid (and several others) were going to come up with something. We hoped they wouldn't do that," he says. "This is not a bill meant for tinkering. This was a bill that, at minimum, must start from scratch."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who introduced PIPA, said he respects Reid's decision but called out those who backed off from their early support. "The day will come when the senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem," he said in a statement.
"Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the U.S. Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy."
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both sponsors of PIPA, withdrew their support a day after the Internet blackout. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also backed out, urging his colleagues on his Facebook page to slow down the process.
There have been some early signs that the bills' sponsors were willing to negotiate. Late last week, Smith said he planned to scrap a provision in the bill that would have allowed copyright holders and law enforcement officials to block foreign websites accused of online piracy.
But the Justice Department and copyright holders could still ask the courts to force advertisers to pull ads from rogue websites, have credit card companies stop payments and get search engines to stop listing such sites.
The fate of the twin bills remains unclear, Brodsky says. Lawmakers could make revisions and bring them back for vote, scrap them entirely or pursue alternative bills.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., joined Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in proposing an alternative anti-piracy bill that is more friendly to technology companies, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act).
OPEN Act would give power to the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate complaints and, unlike SOPA and PIPA, does not grant copyright holders "a private right of action" to target rogue sites.
Wikipedia Editors Question Site's Planned Blackout
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/wikipedia-editors-question-sites-planned-blackout-15383749 - .TxwuhqXOV2A
By PETER SVENSSON AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK January 18, 2012 (AP)
Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet's most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.
"My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that's a slippery slope," said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. "Before we know it, we're blacked out because we want to save the whales."
Wikipedia's English-language site shut down at midnight Eastern Standard Time Tuesday and the organization said it would stay down for 24 hours.
Instead of encyclopedia articles, visitors to the site saw a stark black-and-white page with the message: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." It carried a link to information about the two congressional bills and details about how to reach lawmakers.
It is the first time the English site has been blacked out. Wikipedia's Italian site came down once briefly in protest to an Internet censorship bill put forward by the Berlusconi government. The bill did not advance.
FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2011
The shutdown adds to a growing body of critics who are speaking out against the legislation. But some editors are so uneasy with the move that they have blacked out their own user profile pages or resigned their administrative rights on the site to protest. Some likened the site's decision to fighting censorship with censorship.
One of the site's own "five pillars" of conduct says that Wikipedia "is written from a neutral point of view." The site strives to "avoid advocacy, and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales argues that the site can maintain neutrality in content even as it takes public positions on issues.
"The encyclopedia will always be neutral. The community need not be, not when the encyclopedia is threatened," he tweeted.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which administers the site, announced the blackout late Monday, after polling its community of volunteer contributors and editors and getting responses from 1,800 of them. The protest is aimed at the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate.
"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the foundation said.
Both bills are designed to crack down on sales of pirated American products overseas, and they have the support of the film and music industry. Among the opponents are many Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay and AOL. They say the bills would hurt the industry and infringe on free-speech rights.
Social news website Reddit.com is shutting down for 12 hours on Wednesday, but most companies are staying up. Google Inc.'s home page linked to a petition urging Congress: "Don't censor the Web."
Dick Costollo, CEO of Twitter, said he opposes the legislation as well, but shutting down the service was out of the question.
"Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," Costollo tweeted.
Since Wikimedia depends on a small army of volunteers who create and update articles, it's particularly concerned about a lack of exemptions in the bills for sites where users might contribute copyrighted content. Today, it has no obligation under U.S. law except removing that content if a copyright holder complains. But under the House version of the bill, it could be shut down unless it polices its own pages.
The plans for the protest were moving forward even though the bill's prospects appeared to be dimming. On Saturday, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the bill would not move to the House floor for a vote unless consensus is reached. However, Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said work on the bill would resume next month.
The White House raised concerns over the weekend, pledging to work with Congress to battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy and innovation in the Internet. The administration signaled it might use its veto power, if necessary.
That the bill seems unlikely to pass is another reason Lawton opposes the blackout.
"I think there are far more important things for the organization to focus aside from legislation that isn't likely to pass anyway," he said. He's been contributing to Wikipedia for eight years.
Danny Chia, another contributor to the site, said he had mixed feelings about the blackout. The neutrality applies to the content, but a lot of people interpret it as being about the site as a whole, said the Los Altos, Calif., software engineer.
In an online discussion, others raised the same point about the blackout: Appearances matter, and if the audience sees Wikipedia taking a stand, it might not believe the articles are objective, either.
Wikipedia has seen a small decline in participation, from a peak of 100,000 active editors a year ago to about 90,000 now. Wikimedia Foundation blames this mainly on outdated editing tools, and believes it can get the number growing again with software upgrades.
A Q&A on Contested Internet Anti-Piracy Bills
By JIM ABRAMS Associated Press
WASHINGTON January 19, 2012 (AP)
Online piracy costs U.S. copyright owners and producers billions of dollars every year, but legislation in Congress to block foreign Internet thieves and swindlers has met strong resistance from high-tech companies, spotlighted by Wikipedia's protest blackout Wednesday, warning of a threat to Internet freedom.
House and Senate bills that once seemed to be on a path toward approval now face a rockier future. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday it was "pretty clear to many of us that there is a lack of consensus at this point."
Amid the high-tech campaign against the bills, several lawmakers came out in opposition. At least four Senate Republicans who had previously cosponsored the Senate bill — Orrin Hatch of Utah, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas and Charles Grassley of Iowa — issued statements Wednesday saying they were withdrawing their support. Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland last week said that, after listening to constituent concerns, he could not vote for the Senate bill as it is currently written.
On the House side, Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., issued a statement that he had heard from many of his constituents and had come to the conclusion that the House and Senate bills "create unacceptable threats to free speech and free access to the Internet."
Here are some of the some of the questions being raised about the bills being considered:
Q. Why is legislation needed?
A. There's no argument that more needs to be done to protect artists, innovators and industries from copyright thieves and shield consumers from products sold on the Internet that are fake, faulty and unsafe. Creative America, a coalition of Hollywood studios, networks and unions, says content theft costs U.S. workers $5.5 billion a year. The pharmaceutical industry loses billions to Internet sellers of drugs that are falsely advertised and may be harmful.
Q. What is Congress trying to accomplish?
A. The two main bills are the Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA, in the Senate, and the similar Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the House. There are already laws on the books to combat domestic websites trafficking in counterfeit or pirated goods, but little to counter foreign violators.
The bills would allow the Justice Department, and copyright holders, to seek court orders against foreign websites accused of perpetrating or facilitating copyright infringement. While there is little the United States can do to take down those websites, the bills would bar online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as credit card companies and PayPal from doing business with an alleged violator. It also would forbid search engines from linking to such sites.
The original bills would have let copyright holders and Internet service providers block access to pirate websites. Critics and Internet engineers complained that would allow copyright holders to interfere in the behind-the-scenes system that seamlessly directs computer users to websites. They said that causing deliberate failures in the lookup system to prevent visits to pirate websites could more easily allow hackers to trick users into inadvertently visiting websites that could infect their computers. The White House also took issue with that approach, saying, "We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet."
Responding to the critics, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said he is taking the blocking measure out of his bill. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also is reworking his bill to address those cybersecurity issues.
Q. What are other concerns with the bills?
A. Critics say they would constrain free speech, curtail innovation and discourage new digital distribution methods. NetCoalition, a group of leading Internet and technology companies, says they could be forced to pre-screen all user comments, pictures and videos — effectively killing social media. Search engines, Internet service providers and social networks could be forced to shut down websites linked to any type of pirated content.
In addition, critics contend that young, developing businesses and smaller websites could be saddled with expensive litigation costs. And they contend existing rights holders could impede new investment in the technology sector.
The White House said it would "not support any legislation that reduces freedom of expression ... or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
Leahy responded that there is nothing in the legislation that would require websites, Internet service providers, search engines, ad networks, payment processors or others to monitor their networks. He said his bill protects third parties from liability that may arise from actions to comply with a court order.
Michael O'Leary, a senior vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, a key supporter of the legislation, said his industry is built upon a vibrant First Amendment. "We would never support any legislation that would limit this fundamental American right," he said. Neither PIPA nor SOPA "implicate free expression but focus solely on illegal conduct, which is not free speech."
Q. Who else supports the bills?
A. The most visible supporters are entertainment-related groups such as the MPAA and the National Music Publishers' Association. But the bills also enjoy support from the pharmaceutical industry, which is trying to shut down illegal online drug operations, and electronic and auto industries concerned about people going online to buy counterfeit parts that may be substandard. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several law enforcement groups also back the legislation.
Q. Who are the opponents?
A. In addition to Wikipedia, many major Internet and technology companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Amazon.com and eBay, are part of the NetCoalition group opposing the bills. Disparate political groups such as the liberal Democracy for America and the conservative Heritage Action have also voiced concerns about censorship.
Q. What is the status of the bills?
A. Momentum for the bills has slowed, giving the edge to Silicon Valley over Hollywood. The Senate, as its first major business when it returns to session next Tuesday, is to vote on whether to take up the bill. Sixty votes are needed to clear that legislative hurdle. It's unclear whether supporters have the votes.
Six Republicans on the Judiciary Committee last week wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying that while the problem of intellectual property theft must be addressed, "the process at this point is moving too quickly" and a vote on moving to the bill "may be premature."
Reid replied that the vote will occur as scheduled, saying that while the bill was not perfect and he had urged Leahy to make changes, the issue was "too important to delay."
In the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith said his panel would resume deliberations on SOPA in February. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and an ally of the high-tech industry, said he had received assurances from GOP leaders that anti-piracy legislation would not move to the House floor this year unless there is a consensus on it.
Issa and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are pushing an alternative to SOPA and PIPA that would make the International Trade Commission, which already is in charge of patent infringements, responsible for taking steps to prevent money and advertising from going to rogue sites.
Issa formally introduced his bill Wednesday, saying the Internet blackout had "underscored the flawed approach taken by SOPA and PIPA" and his bill was "a smarter way to protect taxpayers' rights while protecting the Internet."
The Protect IP Act (PIPA) is a U.S. Senate bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy. Along with its House counterpart Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the bills are designed to provide the government and copyright holders with powers to block access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods,” especially those registered outside the United States. Since its introduction on May 11th, 2011, the proposed bill has been met by opposition from various digital rights activists and bloggers for its encroachment in online activities protected under the first amendment of free speech. Congressional hearings for both bills began on November 16th.
If passed by Congress, Protect IP Act would allow the government to curb public access to websites that have “no significant use” other than infringing copyright, enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. It would also make unauthorized media streaming an act of felony and hold the web publishers and hosting services responsible for curbing their users from posting copyright-infringed content.
In addition, Stop Online Piracy Act would effectively rid of the safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which grants Web sites immunity from prosecution as long as they act in good faith to take down infringing content upon notice. Under strict interpretation, a wide range of online communities and social networks including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook would have to censor users or get shut down and ordinary users could be imprisoned for five years or posting any copyrighted work.
The legislation has been opposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Yahoo!, eBay, American Express, Google, Reporters Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch. EFF’s blog post titled “What’s On the Blacklist?” listed media-sharing services Vimeo and Flickr and e-commerce community Etsy as websites that could be put at risk under the Stop Online Piracy Act. Fight for the Future published a 3-minute infographic video explaining the basics of the bills and their impact on everyday activities of online interactions.
A number of online entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman of Linkedin, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley signed a letter to Congress expressing their opposition to the legislation.
December 15th: Markup Hearing of SOPA
On December 15th, The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a meeting for markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was met by much divided opinions on the bill. According to Politico, the markup debate didn’t break down by partisanship, but a number of Democrat and Republican Representatives including Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Dan Lungren (R-California) argued that the bill was being processed in a rush in the absence of input from technical experts regarding the legal impact of SOPA on the structure of the Internet.
On the other side of the line, Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Howard Berman (D-California) argued for an immediate measure to protect copyright holders from sites that profit from offering illicit and illegally copied content.
“All we’re trying to do here is stop online piracy. Since when did opposition get so fierce against this? What could be behind the motives of people or organizations that don’t think stopping online piracy is something that we need to deal with?” Conyers said.
Meanwhile, the all-day marathon hearing of the bill abruptly came to a temporary halt when Representative Shiela Jackson Lee (D-Texas) raised issue with a tweet that was posted by congressman Steve King (R-Iowa). According toCNET, Representative King wrote via his Twitter account:
We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson has so bored me that I'm killing time by surfing the Internet
Upon discovering the mention of her name in King’s tweet shortly after, Jackson Lee responded to the tweet on congressional record that it is inappropriate “to have a member of the Judiciary committee be so offensive.” When the House Judiciary Committee’s senior member Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) suggested that the clerk expunge the word “offensive” from the official transcript, Jackson Lee repeatedly refused to agree before finally permitting the replacement of the word “offensive” with “impolitic and unkind."
Alternative Proposal: OPEN Act
An alternative version of the bill known as the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act)was proposed by a bipartisan group of congressman during the hearing, which would utilize the International Trade Commission (ITC) as the authoritative venue for enforcement of copyrights and trademarks against foreign-based rogue websites that are outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the alternative bill as explained on KeepTheWebOpen.com states: “The OPEN Act is built to protect creative ownership in America while securing the open, accessible Internet you deserve. We’re going further by actually opening up the legislative process with a new tool named Madison.”
In an official blog post on January 14th, White House cyber-security czar Howard Schmidt and two other officials responded to the official anti-SOPA petitions, which has received over 100,000 signatures combined, by stating that the administration will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression and increases cybersecurity risks, particularly measures that will involve manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS) to block services.
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.
The statement by White House officials quickly spread through the newsvine and blogosphere. Following the official statement, Newscorp CEO Rupert Murdoch took his reactions to Twitter where he expressed his criticisms of Google and the current administration:
Murdoch, who is an outspoken supporter of anti-piracy bills, asserted that White House’s response was made to appeal Google, the company that he accuses of indexing sites offering illegal downloads of copyrighted material.
January 15th: SOPA Hearing Postponed
After sponsors of the bill agreed to remove a controversial provision requiring service providers to block access to users by manipulating the Domain Name Service (DNS), it was reported by several news agencies including New York Time that another hearing of SOPA will be shelved indefinitely until a clearer consensus could be reached. According to the statement released by House Oversight Chairman Representative Darrell Issa: “While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. …Majority leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build a consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”
October 19th: Free Bieber Campaign
On October 19th, 2011, “Free Bieber” campaign was launched by Fight for the Future. According to the satire website FreeBieber.org, Justin Bieber could be technically sent to prison for the videos he had uploaded to YouTube prior to stardom.
A new bill in Congress makes posting a video containing any copyrighted work a felony-- with up to 5 years in prison. But wait… didn’t Justin Bieber get famous by posting YouTube videos of himself singing copyrighted R&B songs? Yep. If this bill passes, he could get 5 years in jail.
The campaign was subsequently covered on BoingBoing, Torrent Freak, and TechDirt the same day.
November 16th: American Censorship Day
In a joint effort to raise the awareness of the congressional hearings scheduled to begin on November 16th, a day of online protest dubbed “American Censorship Day” was launched on the same day at 12:00 a.m. (ET). Organized byEFF and a network of supporter groups including Free Software Foundation, Fight For the Future and Creative Commons, the campaign asked its participants to place a censorship badge over the site’s logo in display of solidarity against the legislation of the bill. On Twitter, participants of the protest tweeted links to their websites with the hashtags #sitecensored, #dontbreaktheinternet and #blacklist.
Some of the notable partipants in the American Censorship Day include a wide range of online communities like Wikimedia, Reddit, Tumblr, Mozilla, BoingBoing and Creative Commons among others. On Reddit, an official announcement titled “Stop the ridiculous PROTECT IP Act right now. Sign this petition for the love of the internet” was posted on the frontpage. Tumblr also took part in the protest by censoring dashboard content in black and providing a link with contact information of U.S. Representatives.
On the next day, Fight For the Future published an infographic chart illustrating the turnout of American Censorship Day, which reported over 6,000 participating websites, over 1 million e-mails and over 3,000 handwritten letters sent to Congress about the bills. According to a tweet posted from Tumblr’s Twitter account, an average of 3.6 calls per second was observed during its peak.
California Representative Zoe Lofgren (D) also participated in the American Censorship Day by displaying the badge on her homepage. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi also revealed her stance against the bill via Twitter, in responding to a tweeter who asked: “Where do you stand on internet censoring and #SOPA?” Pelosi’s tweet was also mentioned by California Republican congressman Darrel Issa, who suggested in an interview with The Hill newspaper there’s little hope for the legislation of Stop Online Piracy Act.
December 10th: Wikipedia’s Strike Proposal
On December 10th, 2011, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales asked the readers’ opinions on a potential blackout of the website in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act. In an impromptu straw poll launched on his user talk page, Wales announced that while there are no immidiate plans to blank out Wikipedia, he noted the Italian Wikipedia blank out in early October 2011 as a precedent, in which the parliament backed down on the privacy law after Italian Wikipedia took all of its pages offline.
December 11th: I Work For the Internet
On December 11th, 2011, a single topic blog titled “I Work for the Internet” was launched to compile a long list of user-submitted webcam portraits in display of solidarity against the legislation of SOPA. Launched by one of the central anti-SOPA protest organizers Fight for the Future, the photo project has drawn participation from a number of notable people in online media, including TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld, Tumblr co-founder David Karp and designer Peter Vidani, early Facebook developer Dave Morin, Vimeo’s co-founder Zach Klein and Texts from Last Night Co-founder Lauren Leto among others.
The news of the site was covered by The Atlantic in an article titled “A Web Celebrity-Spotting Guide to the Latest Anti-SOPA Site.” Gawker also covered the news with a hint of criticism towards its vanity-driven nature.
December 22nd: GoDaddy Boycott Campaign
On October 31st, 2011, TechDirt and the Domains both published articles stating that Christine Jones, the general counsel and corporate secretary from GoDaddy.com submitted a piece to Politico stating the company’s support of SOPA, then called the E-Parasite Bill. TechDirt countered the statement by posting screen shots of how GoDaddy itself encourages people to violate SOPA by suggesting domain names that would infringe on other established sites’ copyright and name trademarks. The day before the bill was set to be heard in the House ON November 15th, GoDaddy filed an official statement breaking down exactly why they were supporting SOPA, claiming that “there is no question that we need these added tools to counteract illegal foreign sites that are falling outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.”
This information was relatively unknown until December 22nd when Redditor selfprodigy posted about GoDaddy’s statement to the Politics subreddit, suggesting GoDaddy users move their domains on December 29th to protest the company’s support of the bill. In response, CEO of Zferral Jeff Epstein provided a step-by-step guide on how to transfer domains from GoDaddy to another host and Fight For the Future launched a special pledge page for the would-be boycotters.
A number of major Internet companies vowed to drop their GoDaddy accounts including Wikipedia and the image hosting service Imgur. Additionally, Cheezburger’s CEO Ben Huh stated that he would move the company’s 1000+ domain names off of GoDaddy if they did not change their stance on the bill. The news quickly spread to The Escapist, Ars Technica, Gizmodo and the International Business Times.
Following the news coverage of boycott campaign on December 23rd, GoDaddy released a statement by CEOWarren Adelman announcing that they will no longer be supporting the act and pulled down a post outlining the reasons they had previously supported it: “Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation – but we can clearly do better… It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it."
Despite GoDaddy’s decision to withdraw its support for SOPA, Internet users reportedly waged the boycott campaign with an estimated figure of over 37,000 domains dropped within the first 48 hours and over 70,000 domains by December 29th, including the internet culture blog BuzzFeed. Many news publications and blogs reported on the phenomenon as the Internet users’ punishing GoDaddy for their “flip-flop” stance on the bill.
December 29th: Nuclear Option Rumors
On December 29th, CNET published an article about a possible “nuclear option” that would have other popular online websites like eBay, Google, Facebook and Twitter join Wikipedia in a simultaneous blackout urging users to contact their congressional representatives to stop SOPA and Protect IP. NetCoalition leader Markham Erickson was questioned about the blackout rumors and revealed that “there have been some serious discussions about that.” The following day, articles appeared on Fox News, the International Business Times and the tech blog Geekosystem examining how successful the proposed tactic would be.
The New York Tech Meetup, an organization of nearly 20,000 people who work in the technology industry throughout New York City, is planning a protest on January 17th outside the Manhattan offices of New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who co-sponsored some of the proposed legislation.
January 4th: Chaos Communication Congress
On January 4th, a team of hacktivists gathered at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, Germany and announced a plan to launch satellites into orbit to put the Internet beyond the reach of censors. The story was covered by the BBC and questioned hacker activist Nick Farr about the purpose of the satellites: “The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” Mr Farr said. He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.
The Hackspace Global Grid hacker hobbyist group was subsequently formed to “understand, build and make available satellite based communication for the hackerspace community and all of mankind.”
January 10th: #BlackoutSOPA
On January 10th, 2012, SF Gate published an article about the #BlackoutSOPA Twitter campaign in which Twitter users changed their profile images to have black banners captioned with “STOP SOPA” in protest of the bill. Users had been using the BlackoutSOPA web application that automatically edits the Twitter profile picture after being given access to the account.
The same day, Reddit announced on their official blog that they would be blacking out Reddit on January 18th from 8am to 8pm EST, the same day Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian would be testifying before congress.
Instead of the normal glorious, user-curated chaos of reddit, we will be displaying a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit, link to resources to learn more, and suggest ways to take action. We will showcase the live video stream of the House hearing where Internet entrepreneurs and technical experts (including Reddit co-founder Alexis “kn0thing” Ohanian) will be testifying.
On January 16th, Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that the English-language Wikipedia will be participating in a 24-hour blackout on January 18th, joining the pledges of several other Internet companies like Reddit, Cheezburger, Wordpress, Zynga and Mozilla among others. The 24 hour shutdown of Wikipedia will be replaced with instructions on how to reach out to your local US members of congress:
January 12th: SOPA Sponsor’s Copyright Infringement
On January 12th, Vice Magazine published an article titled “The Author of SOPA is a Copyright Violator,” pointing out that Congressman Lamar Smith had used a nature photograph as a background image for his website without the artist’s permission, as shown in an archived screenshot from July 24th, 2011. Upon tracking down the photographer DJ Shulte who took the photograph, it was discovered that no request for permission was given.
On the following day of the post, Vice launched an open campaign known as “Shop a SOPA” Copyright Hypocrite Hunt in order to catch other copyright infringement associated with supporters of the bill.
January 18th: Blackout Protests
At midnight on January 18th, the English version of Wikipedia went offline and Google featured a censored out logo on its homepage, linking to its own call for action page in protesting against PIPA and SOPA. The well-known tech blogs BoingBoing went offline for the day and Wired blacked out its text on the frontpage. The blogging platform Wordpress also featured a grid of “censored” thumbnails in place of the regular blog thumbnails. Mozilla featured a similar call to action on its homepage. Reddit also participated in the blackout protest, going offline for 12 hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cheezburger sites went dark with a pop-up message encouraging visitors to contact senators regarding the bills. The reverse image search engine Tineye also went offline in protest. Image hosting service imgur also went offline. Quickmeme posted a bulletin message with links to external pages on homepage.
The news of websites’ blackout protests were immediately picked up by CNN, New York Times and other news agencies, including several mainstream publishers who have written little about the ongoing debate in Congress. On the following day, the organizers behind the protest released a report explaining the turnout in numbers: at least 115,000 websites participated in the strike, 10 million signatures were signed to Google’s homepage petition and over 3 million e-mails (excluding ones sent from Wikipedia) were sent to Congress. In addition, thousands of demonstrators attended real-life protests in New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
January 20th: SOPA / PIPA Hearings Postponed
On January 14th, CNET reported that senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked to postpone the vote on PIPA: “We have increasingly heard from a large number of constituents and other stakeholders with vocal concerns about possible unintended consequences of the proposed legislation.”
On January 18th, the New York Times reported that congressmen Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) had abandoned support for the bill. The same day, the LA Times reported that co-sponsors of SOPA Lee Terry (R-NB) and Ben Quayle (R-AZ) pulled their names from SOPA House bill.
By January 20th, seven co-sponsors of PIPA and a total of 45 Senators had either withdrawn their sponsorships or opposed the legislation of the bills, according to a count by OpenCongress. Later that day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement indefinitely postponing the vote on SOPA and PIPA, originally scheduled for congressional hearings on January 24th.
In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act #PIPA. There’s no reason that legitimate issues raised about PROTECT IP can’t be resolved. Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of #jobs yearly #pipa. Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated 4 their work. I’m optimistic that we can reach compromise on PROTECT IP in coming weeks.