Thursday, July 19, 2007

Of Crosstalk and Bells: A Rebuttal to Don Thomas' "Debugging Bugliosi"


I'd like to respond to Don Thomas' recent article, “Debugging Bugliosi,” that appeared on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, in which Thomas wrote: "[Vincent] Bugliosi and [Steve] Barber are easily bamboozled, and Linsker, Garwin and colleagues willing bamboozlers" when it comes to the alleged Deputy Chief N.T. Fisher crosstalk, 'I'll check it.'

Here's what Thomas says about the Fisher transmission:

"The instance of crosstalk closest to [the assassination] was a broadcast two seconds earlier by Deputy Chief Fisher, saying, "Naw that's all right, I'll check it." The last words, "I'll check it," crossed over to Ch-1, just two seconds before the first acoustically identified gunshot. Hence this simulcast establishes close synchroneity between the shooting and the deposition of the suspect sounds on Ch-1.

"In denial of this evidence Bugliosi cites Steve Barber's misinterpretation of the spectrographic comparison (voiceprint analysis) of the Fisher simulcast by Linsker et al. (2006), claiming that the pair failed the test. The exact opposite is true. Bugliosi and Barber are easily bamboozled, and Linsker, Garwin and colleagues willing bamboozlers."

Hardly. Don Thomas' claim that a portion of the channel 2 transmission made by Deputy Chief N.T. Fisher, "I'll check it," crossed over to channel 1 three seconds before the first BBN impulse is a lie - plain and simple.

Thomas' claim is demonstratively proven to be false by the simple fact that the alleged "I'll check it" crosstalk on channel 1 is accompanied and surrounded by heterodyne tones - those pesky frequencies that occur when two competing microphone transmitters are fighting for the same radio space. Heterodyne tones cannot be produced by crosstalk (when a microphone transmitter on one channel picks up second channel radio traffic emitted from a nearby speaker and re-transmits it) because only one microphone transmitter is involved. The fact that a heterodyne tone accompanies the alleged "I'll check it" transmission on channel one is proof positive (i.e., beyond any doubt) that the transmission is originating from channel one and not a re-transmission via crosstalk of a channel two broadcast.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the central point of the endnote in Vincent Bugliosi's book to which Don Thomas was referring in his article. Where does Thomas address this key point? No where. It's not mentioned at all. How's that for dodging the heart of the issue?

Needless to say, there's much more that Thomas fails to mention with regard to the alleged Fisher crosstalk. For instance:

1. Thomas fails to mention that the tone of the two voices (Deputy Fisher on channel 2 and the voice on channel 1) differ drastically - even taking into consideration the speed differences between the two recordings.

2. The pronunciation and the tone of the first word spoken on channel 1 simply does not match Deputy Fisher's pronunciation of the word "I'll" on channel 2.

3. The Fisher transmission on channel 2 contains the phrase, "That's alright. I'll check it." Yet we only hear two words spoken on channel 1 - either "Alright Chaney" or "Alright Jackson". If the channel 1 transmission were actually crosstalk, why don't we hear the entire phrase? Thomas doesn't say.

Thomas' entire argument for a tie point between channels 1 and 2 using the Fisher transmission, which he argues vindicates the HSCA's acoustic analysis, is completely and utterly destroyed by the heterodyne tones that accompany the alleged Fisher crosstalk on channel 1. It just cannot be, period. The fact that Thomas fails to address this fact shows just how bankrupt his argument truly is, and frankly, he's gambling that the conspirati are too stupid to realize it.

As for Thomas' charge that I misinterpreted the work of Linsker et al. in their intial report, Synchronization of the acoustic evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy, published in Science & Justice [Volume 45 No. 4 (2005) 207 – 226] in 2005, in which they concluded,

"Even if the same words 'I’ll check it' appear on both channels, we conclude that they were spoken separately, and at different times," [p.222]

and in their report Acoustic synchronization: Rebuttal of Thomas’ reply to Linsker et al, published in Science & Justice [Correspondence] in 2006 - I'll let you be the judge.

Here's what R. Linsker, Richard L. Garwin, H. Chernoff, and Norman F. Ramsey had to say about it:

"Thomas has misunderstood or misrepresented our analysis, and wrongly claims that the results of our pattern cross-correlation (PCC) tests support his conclusion that CHECK is a crosstalk...[Herein] we prove that the CHECK utterance on Channel 1 is not a crosstalk from the CHECK utterance on Channel 2..."

"...Thomas says that our 'stated reason (p.221) for [concluding that CHECK is not a valid crosstalk] is that “if CHECK were a valid crosstalk its timing would be incompatible not only with HOLD, but also with the timing of the well established crosstalk YOU...”.' No, this was not our stated reason for our conclusion about
CHECK. Our statement of the incompatibility is a statement of fact, as is shown arithmetically directly following that quote. Our conclusion that CHECK is not a valid crosstalk stemmed from several lines of convergent evidence, including PCC analysis, direct spectrographic comparisons, and the timing incompatibilities discussed both at p.221 and p.225. As for Thomas’ blanket statement that 'because there are offsets between all of the crosstalks, any crosstalk is incompatible with all other crosstalks!,' it is a fact that recorder stoppage during transmission silences was a built-in feature of the recording system, so the assumption that such stoppages occurred at such times is not an 'unsupported' assumption. The particular times and durations of such stoppages are indeed unknown, and we have not relied on any assumptions about the particular times and durations of any such stoppages..."

"The utterances CHECK and CHECK1 do not constitute a valid crosstalk, as shown by PCC analysis and now by direct spectrographic observation."

I wrote Bugliosi the following, and he published it as an endnote:

"...In addition, a 2005 article published in the British Scientist and Justice journal [vol.45, no.4] written by authors Ralph Linsker, Richard L. Garwin,
Herman Chernoff, Paul Horowitz, and Norman F. Ramsey—all prominent physics scientists who participated on the 1980–82 NAS-CBA panel—published sound spectograms (“voiceprints”) establishing beyond question that the Fisher transmission on channel 2 and the crosstalk on channel 1, which Thomas erroneously believes to be identical, are in fact two separate and distinct transmissions — a point that I was able to deduce with my own ears." [Bugliosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History, CD Endnotes, p.213]

So, exactly where do I misinterpret Linsker et al?

That brings me to a second issue - the "carillon bell," which Don Thomas mentioned during a recent email exchange with researcher Todd W. Vaughan. Thomas wrote:

"...It is not true that BBN's identification of the carillon bell on the DPD recording was scientifically refuted? Mr. Vaughan is referring to a 1982 IBM report which concluded that the bell sound was probably an electrical interference pattern. The presence of this sound is indeed an anomaly. But the proposal that it is an interference pattern was not based on an analysis of the sound, but rather as an explanation for how a sound like this could appear on both channels simultaneously. The problem is that if the noise is an ambient sound (of any kind, bell or not) the simplest explanation for its presence on both channels would be as crosstalk. But if so it must have crossed over from Ch-1 where it is loud and clear on to Ch-2 where it is weaker. But that simple explanation is contradicted by the fact that all of the crosstalks are going in the opposite direction, from Ch-2 on to Ch-1, in particular the Decker crosstalk just 7 sec away. Alternatively, as opposed to a crosstalk, the simplest way a noise can be on both channels would be an electrical interference pattern originating somewhere in the circuitry shared by the instruments on the separate channels. This hypothesis by IBM explains the presence of a signal on both channels simultaneously, but does not explain the acoustical characteristics of the signal.

"An interference pattern would be a white noise, that is, a sound without a characteristic frequency, but rather a random or chance frequency or combination of frequencies. In theory a random noise could by chance produce a sound resembling almost anything, even a bell. In this case though, the problem is not that the noise sounds like a bell, but that it has the specific acoustical characteristics of a specific kind of bell, a carillon bell: that is, a blend of five major musical tones, along with some minor overtones, each of which is an exact multiple of the frequency of the fundamental tone, except for the second major which is a fifth above the octave. The expectation that a random noise, such as an interference pattern, could replicate those same characteristics is like expecting a monkey with a typewriter to produce the star spangled banner – theoretically possible, but not very likely. Hence, the electrical interference hypothesis does not explain the data. Evidently the IBM folks were among the many (including Linsker et al.) who did not realize that the police radio system was capable of picking up sounds from multiple microphones simultaneously..."

Todd W. Vaughan replied to Thomas, as did Michael O'Dell, pointing out that "...BBN themselves never scientifically identified the sound as originating specifically from a bell, that the IBM study determined that the sound's simultaneous co-existence on both Channels 1 and 2 could not be the result of conventional speaker to microphone crosstalk, and that similar electronic interference-type sounds exist at other locations on the recordings..."

In his response, Michael O'Dell included excerpts from the channel 2 recording which contained sounds similar to the buzz of the so-called "carillon bell". The most important one occurs at 12:46 on channel 2 during a transmission made by the dispatcher. That sound, which can only be described as an electronic buzz or beep, is nearly identical to the so-called "carillon bell". The fact that it occurs during a transmission originating from the dispatcher's office proves that the "sound" cannot have originated from a "bell," unless one was inside the dispatch room.

When Don Thomas and Gary Mack appeared on the Fox special, "Fox in Focus: JFK: Case Not Closed", which aired during the 40th anniversary in 2003, Gary played a clip from a sound film made by a local Dallas news crew that captured the sound of a bell tolling at 1 o'clock in the Dealey Plaza area in 1964, marking the 1 year anniversary of JFK 's death. He played the bell toll from the news clip alongside the so-called "carillon bell" sound as it appears on channel 1, insinuating that the two sounds were one and the same.

Unless one is completely tone deaf, the two sounds do not match at all - even when taking the speed differences between the two recordings into consideration. It's not even close.

I believe the evidence convincingly shows that the sound described as a "carillon bell" is nothing more than electronic interference - which is what I pointed out to the people at IBM in 1982.

But hey, I'm just a lowly "rock musician". What do I know?


Steve Barber is a seasoned percussionist from Shelby, Ohio, well-versed in the mechanics of audio and audio recording. Linsker et al have acknowledged Mr. Barber's contribution to the acoustic issues surrounding the JFK assassination, writing in their 2005 report: "We thank Steve Barber, who played a crucial role in the NRC report by pointing out the crosstalk ["Hold everything secure"], and notified us of the independent analysis by Michael O’Dell, who has kindly shared his analysis."

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