Good Day All.... FYI, followed by some previous articles.... Does
anyone have any recent updates with respect to the dictabelt work by
Dr. Carl Haber and Dr. Vitaliy Fadeyev?
Retired National Archives official charged with stealing sound
By Lisa Rein
The former chief of the National Archives' audio-visual holdings has
been charged with stealing nearly a 1,000 sound recordings over a
Tuesday's charges against Leslie Charles Waffen come a year after
federal agents raided his home, seizing dozens of boxes from his
The U.S. Attorney's office in Greenbelt charged the 40-year Archives
official with theft of federal property, which carries a sentence of
up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine. Waffen had retired from
the Archives shortly before last year's raid.
Charging documents say agents seized 955 "sound recording items"during
the raid, although the items are not specified.
Waffen's attorney, Michael Fayad, said he was "not in a position" to
comment on the charges.
The audiovisual holdings contain more than 90,000 film, sound and
video recordings made by government agencies and private sources. Many
are presidential recordings, kept at presidential libraries and
museums. Many more are kept at the Archives' facility in College Park.
Federal agents raid home of recently retired National Archives
By Lisa Rein and Spencer S. Hsu Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 29, 2010; 8:16 PM
Federal agents raided the home of a former official at the National
Archives this week and seized up to 20 boxes from his Rockville
basement, weeks after his retirement from the government's record-
Leslie Waffen, 65, was chief of the Archives' audiovisual holdings,
which contain more than 90,000 film, sound and video recordings made
by government agencies and private sources. Agents with the U.S.
Marshals Service and the Archives' inspector general executed search
warrants a day before government watchdogs criticized the agency in
two reports Wednesday for failing to properly safeguard sensitive
U.S. Marshals spokesman David Ablondi said his agency, Montgomery
County police and Archives investigators arrived in the 500 block of
Saddle Ridge Lane at 7:45 a.m. They appeared to wake Waffen and his
wife, said a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
The Archives agents arrived with a moving truck and a list of items
they were searching for. Warren directed them to his basement, where
they identified and removed "10 to 20 boxes," a law enforcement
official said. The agents loaded the truck and left after about 45
Ablondi and Archives officials declined to say what was in the boxes.
David S. Ferriero, who took over as chief archivist at the National
Archives and Records Administration last year, acknowledged the raid
in a statement to employees Thursday and commended the inspector
general's office for "their commitment to ensuring the restoration of
stolen property back to the National Archives.
"I will not tolerate any violation of the law that protects both
records and property that belongs to the U.S. government and the
American people," Ferriero wrote. He noted that his staff is improving
training, requiring new policies and buying new equipment "to ensure
that our holdings are safe."
The government's sound archives date to 1896. A 2004 New York Times
article described the efforts of Waffen's team to preserve the only
known audio recording of the John F. Kennedy assassination. His
department also had custody of the Zapruder film, the famous 8mm color
home video of the assassination.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has tracked Archives security
concerns for years, said in a statement: "There's a lot of work to be
done because these problems have needed correction for years. I hope
there will be a plan to get the organization back on track quickly."
Auditors with the Government Accountability Office said the agency is
leaving itself open to hackers as it preserves records electronically.
Auditors found the agency did not protect its computer networks with
strong firewalls, used weak passwords and failed to encrypt sensitive
The report also highlighted a "large and persistent" backlog of paper
and media records that need to be preserved.
Sen. Thomas E. Carper (D-Del.), who also follows security issues at
the Archives, said the findings alarmed him.
"The items in jeopardy are more than just pieces of paper,
collectibles or electronic files - they are priceless links that
connect us to our nation's history and help tell the story of
America," Carper said in a statement. "So I am sure it is unsettling
to the American people - as it is to me - that the monumental task of
preserving these valuable artifacts is not always being performed to
the standards we all should expect."
Lawmakers criticized the agency last year after the disappearance of a
hard drive with sensitive data from the Clinton administration. The
drive contained national security information, more than 100,000
Social Security numbers, contact information for Clinton
administration officials, Secret Service and White House operating
procedures, event logs, social gathering logs and political records.
Staff writers Ed O'Keefe and Dan Morse and staff researcher Alice
Crites contributed to this report.
The remastermind: Dictaphone expert helps refine JFK recording
By Steve Lathrop
It has been 45 years since Bill McWilliams first became immersed in
the continuing investigation of the assassination of President John F.
"I was right in the middle of it all," he says.
He still is, in his own way.
From his home in North Albany, McWilliams works with engineers at the
Lawrence Livermore National Loboratory in California, trying to
determine the exact number of shots fired in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22,
Widely considered an expert Dictaphone technician, McWilliams was
recruited by researchers who are using advanced techniques in sound
reproduction to provide them with first-hand information on the
machine and the assassination as they search for additional evidence.
It was McWilliams who serviced the now-famous Dictabelt #10 at the
Dallas police station the day of the assassination. It is the machine
that recorded events as they crackled forth from a motorcycle
policeman's open microphone.
"I heard it all as it happened," McWilliams says.
The research, which has been going on since 2005, was authorized by
Leslie Waffin of the National Archives, who released the machine to
the lab to apply the latest techniques in sound reproduction.
Dr. Carl Haber and Dr. Vitaliy Fadeyev have led the research using a
digital optical camera called a Smartscope to scan the grooves of the
belt and create a digital image of sound patterns.
It is fed into computers programmed to clean up the sound removing
excess noise, static and voices.
"The sound is reproduced without the stylus riding on the grooves,"
said McWilliams. "And the computer can eliminate any unnecessary
Already involved for more than a year, McWilliams supplies equipment,
specifications and mechanical data for the dictabelt recordings.
"It's a slow process. They are still working on it," he said.
"Ultimately they are trying to find out if there were more shots
The day of the assassination, McWilliams not only heard the event, he
witnessed the transfer of the mortally wounded president from the
ambulance to the hospital, which was located directly behind the
Dallas Police Station.
"I believe there were more shots fired," he says. "Maybe this will
answer that question."
In addition to his work on the assassination investigation, McWilliams
never is far from a Dictaphone, which were in wide use between the
late 19th- and early 20th century. Dictabelts that had grooves cut
into a plastic belt, rather than onto a wax cylinder, were introduced
in 1947. Then the tape recorder gained popularity, and Dictaphones
fell out of favor.
McWilliams may be the world's largest provider and repairer of vintage
machines. His shelves are lined with wax cylinders, vacuum tubes,
cassettes and magnetic tape analog recording and dictating equipment —
technological relics that predated tape recorders and cell phones.
"He's known all over the country," said his wife Dorothy.
Working from a large shop behind his home, McWilliams and his son Doak
have created a website and also sell parts on eBay.
"I don't deal much with the computers," he admits. "I don't really
trust them." He doesn't ignore them, either; he simply prefers being
able to use his hands. His entire inventory has been indexed by hand
to back up the computer log.
McWilliams spent 33 years with Dictaphone after his graduation from
Texas Institute of Technology. He eventually becoming a regional
The Korean War veteran retired in 1989 and moved to Albany in 2000.
He now owns about 200 machines dating back to 1889, a year after
Dictaphone — then Columbia Graphophone — was created.
"I've always collected," he says. "Some are pretty unique."
His largest is 6 feet tall, and 300 pounds and the smallest is a hand-
held device that fits into a shirt pocket. Also included is a 1953
model that was the world's first audio machine to announce the time.
"There are probably no more than two or three of them in the world,"
The collection evolved into repair work, parts sales and consultation.
It also has star quality.
"I get a lot of calls to rent or loan machines to movie prop
companies," he said.
The Kevin Costner movie "Thirteen Days" and the PBS series "Meaning of
Grace" both used vintage Dictaphones from McWilliams' inventory.
The sound of 40-year-old gunfire in Dealey Plaza Applying today's
technology to fragile recording of JFK assassination
12:10 PM CDT on Saturday, July 31, 2004
By KATHARINE GOODLOE / The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON – It could be the ultimate artifact for historians and
conspiracy theorists alike: the only sound recording from the moment
of John F. Kennedy's assassination, made by a Dallas police motorcycle
Many scholars believe it can answer a mystery from Nov. 22, 1963:
three shots or four?
Spurred last year by the 40th anniversary of the assassination,
researchers at the National Archives are trying to preserve and copy
the recording, which is too fragile to be played again and has never
been authentically copied. It could, they say, offer the only hard
evidence of how many bullets were fired that day.
Researchers have long studied inferior copies of the recording. Some
say it shows three shots were fired at Kennedy's motorcade and
concluded Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone; others say it shows four
shots were fired and concluded Oswald was aided by a second gunman.
So as the Archives aims to copy the recording, they're also reviving
the debate surrounding it.
"There is not closure on this issue," said Gary Mack, curator of the
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. An authentic copy of the
recordings, he said, "might be able to resolve part of the Kennedy
assassination, one way or the other."
The controversy surrounding the assassination, though, has also
surrounded the recording. The Dallas Police Department created the
original recordings inadvertently. A radio stuck in the "on" position
relayed sounds of the killing to headquarters, where they were etched
onto dictation belts. But they are alternately noisy and inaudible, so
years passed before anyone examined them for echoes of gunfire.
They lay untapped during the Warren Commission investigation, the
first government inquiry into Kennedy's assassination. That panel
concluded Oswald was the lone gunman, firing three shots at the
Controversy about the dictation belts' contents was revived during the
House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation, and the belts
became the linchpin of their 1979 report. The recording, the committee
said, indicates four shots were fired – including one from the grassy
knoll. Their conclusion that Oswald likely did not act alone set
conspiracy circles ablaze.
But some scholars point to the delay in finding the tapes as reason to
question their authenticity. Others conducted studies on the
recording's sound waves that both rejected and reaffirmed the House
committee's findings. Even now, the debate continues.
"The evidence remains controversial and probably inconclusive from the
standpoint of history," said John Tunheim, a federal judge in
Minneapolis who chaired the Assassination Records Review Board. "It
really has gone back and forth."
One step toward reconciling the debate, experts said, is producing an
authentic copy of the recordings for use in future research.
That's the goal of the National Archives, which received the set of
five dictation belts from the Justice Department in 1990, as many of
the assassination records were made public. But the keynote belt,
which recorded the actual killing, was worn and split from use by
Dallas police, the FBI, the Secret Service and other government
Too fragile to be played again, but too important to be ignored, the
Archives simply stored the belt without copying it in the hopes future
technology would enable them to reproduce the recording without
harming the original. More than a decade later, that day is almost
Although many of copies of the dictation belt exist – some are even
available online – most are not well documented, and none is deemed
authentic by the Archives. That designation matters because a bona
fide copy would validate further research.
"The question of what is authentic and what is not is debated every
day by researchers," Mr. Tunheim said. "So when you make a copy, it's
important to be done under perfect circumstances."
The Archives revived a push for an authentic copy of the belt after a
spate of calls from researchers near the 40th anniversary of the
assassination in November. Most wanted an authentic copy of the main
dictation belt, said Leslie Waffen, who oversees custody of the belt
for the Archives.
"We couldn't say to them that we had a true and actual copy of the
belt," Mr. Waffen said. "We said we really ought to look into this
further and see if there's anything available, technology-wise, for
What they found is optical scanning, which digitally charts the
grooves in the dictation belts and reproduces them on a data map. The
end product would be a visual display, which Mr. Waffen said is likely
to be more useful to researchers than an audio one.
"You have to get beneath the noise to pick something out of there," he
said. "We're hoping the optical scanning method will allow people to
The technique would also avoid further wear on the original belt – a
key factor in the Archives mission to preserve its authenticity. The
Archives hosted a forum this summer to discuss the method, but decided
the technology is a year away from being feasible, Mr. Waffen said. No
official estimate is available, but Mr. Waffen expects the procedure
will cost less than $1,000.
But will such a copy further research or merely fan existing
Mr. Mack, who was one of the first people to believe the recordings
included echoes of gunfire, said their continued study could yield
three outcomes. It could confirm the Warren Commission's report,
uphold the House committee's report, or do neither, he said.
"Many people have tried to resolve which group of scientists is
correct," he said. "The Dictabelt itself is a starting place."
Whatever the research generates, scholars said it's unlikely to snuff
out the conspiracy theories that have gripped Americans for the past
"There's always been a swirling controversy with the Kennedy
assassination, and there always will be," Mr. Waffen said. "But at
least in this case we can provide a solid piece of material
researchers can turn to."
E-mail: kgoodloe at dallasnews.com
Best Regards in Research,
U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, plank walker
Sooner, or later, The Truth emerges Clearly
For your considerations....
Homepage: President JOHN F. KENNEDY "Men of Courage" speech, and
Assassination Website Homepages Detailing Evidence, Witnesses,
Suspects + Outstanding Researchers Discoveries and Considerations....
Dealey Plaza Map: Detailing 11-22-63 Victims precise kill zone
Witnesses, Films & Photos, Evidence, Suspects & suspected bullet
trajectories, & Important
information & Considerations in One Convenient Resource....
Visual Report: "The First Bullet Impact Into President Kennedy: While
JFK Hidden Under the 'magic-limbed-ricochet-tree'"....
Visual Report: Reality versus C.A.D. : the Real World, versus, Garbage-
In, Garbage-Out.... http://img814.imageshack.us/img814/5500/realityvscadmyersh.gif
Discovery: Very Close JFK Assassination Witness ROSEMARY WILLIS
Zapruder Film Documented 2nd Headsnap:
West, Ultrafast, and Directly Towards the Grassy Knoll....
Visual File: JFK Assassination Research, Maps, & Discoveries for Your