Long-lost John F Kennedy assassination tapes found
A LONG-lost version of the Air Force One recordings made just after President John F. Kennedy's assassination has been found and is up for sale for $500,000 (€372,000).
The two-plus hour recording, which includes half an hour of never-before-heard material, predates what was thought to be the only surviving version of the tape. That version is housed in the National Archives and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Texas.
The reel-to-reel tape is inside its original box with a typewritten label showing it was made by the White House Communications Agency for Army Gen. Chester "Ted" Clifton Jr., who was Kennedy's senior military aide and was in the Dallas motorcade when the president was assassinated.
The tape is titled "Radio Traffic involving AF-1 in flight from Dallas, Texas to Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963."
It consists of in-flight radio calls between the aircraft, the White House Situation Room, Andrews Air Force Base, and a plane that was carrying Kennedy press secretary Pierre Salinger and six Cabinet members from Hawaii to Tokyo when the president was assassinated.
"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," said Nathan Raab, vice president of The Raab Collection, a Philadelphia historic documents dealer that put the tape up for sale on Tuesday.
Clifton, who died in 1991, had kept a collection of audio tapes, documents, photographs and video stemming from his years in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The Raab Collection, which is selling the archive, acquired the items at a public sale from Clifton's heirs after the death of Clifton's wife in 2009.
The Clifton tapes include additional debate about what hospital Kennedy's body would be brought to and if Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady, would accompany the fallen president, as well as expanded discussions about arranging for ambulances and limousines to meet the plane.
The edited recording in the National Archives and the LBJ Library, available to the public since 1971, begins with an announcer stating it has been "edited and condensed" but not explaining how much was cut or by whom.
A more complete version of the Air Force One tapes were long sought but never found, adding fuel to decades-old suspicions that there is more to Kennedy's assassination than the official account naming Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman.
The Clifton tape has been professionally digitised and a copy is being donated by the Raab Collection to the National Archives and the John F. Kennedy Library so the public will have access to the material.
The wholly unedited "raw" recording of the entirety of the trip, which also would have included periods of silence and static, has never been located. It would have been roughly 4½ hours long.