Raymond Zumwalt (Secret Service), "White House Tapes," 19 November 1973

Nixon Library, RG 87 Records of the US Secret Service, Installation and Maintenance of the White House Sound Recording System and Tapes, CO-1-23206 - WH Taping System, box 1 of 5
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Inspector Dagg - Inspection
November 19, 1973
SSS Zumwalt - Technical Security Division 621.0
White House Tapes
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On February 11, 1971, DAD Wong (then SAlC Wong, TSD)c- , 7' C ". call e d me in t 0 his 0 f fie e . He s t at e d r.l r. But t e r fie 1 d had contacted him and \'lanted to record the President) s conversations in the Oval Office. 1 requested a me~~'tinr. ', , between Mr. Butterfield, DAD Wong and myself to dis2~ss ~~ i; the operation of the system. A meeting with Hr. Butt,e rfiel d '-J was held on the same afternoon . Present at the mect-l.'ng-.::; wero Mr. Butterfield, DAD Wong, SA Randolph Nelson and G~ : ~ mv se 1 £ ..
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President had requested installa.tion and that the military was not to find out about it (1 think he lias referring to WHCA), and only a minimum of the Secret Servic e to be aware of the installation. Mr. Butterfield stated the President wanted all conversations in the Oval Office recorded. The system should start when he enters the office and turn off when he leaves. The recorder should llave a voice operated relay that would only record when a sound is made. Mr. Butterfield also stated he wanted the Cabinet Room wired for sound. This system was to have switches under the Cabinet Room table so the President could start and stop the recorders. Switches were als o to be provided in Mr. Butterfield's office that would allow him to control the recorders.
Some of the equipment was on hand and some was borrowed from WHCA. The Oval Office and Cabinet Room were install e d 011 the weekend of February 13 and 14, 1971. The installnt i' ); l was performed by 5S Roger Schwalm, SS Charles Bretz, SA Nelson and myself. ASA1C Shawver was present during certain times of the installation. GSA electrician McVcrry was used to pull cable thru some of the walls. Mr. McVerry was not informed of what we were doing or what the cables ''1ere 'to be used for. The Oval Office and Cabinet Rooln were wired into WT-I, an old telephone frame room which was under the control of TSD. Special locks were installeJ on the door to WT-l with only two keys. one which I kept and the other was placed in Mr. Wong's safe.
Inspector Dagg
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Mr. Won gat a I ate r d ate s aid rv1 r • 13 u t t e II fie 1 d h a ci. a i so requested that the telophones in the Oval Offic~ EOB office and the Lincoln Room in tho Residence be connected into a recorder. It was requested that all three phones be recorded on one recorder. All three phones were connected into a recorder and placed into operation appr(lximately in March, 1971. Mr. Wong also said that Mr. Butterfield wanted tIle EOB office of the President recorded. The EOB office was to have the same operational control features. The EOB office was wired using the same personnel that was used in the other locations. This system was wired into Room 175-1/2 in the EOB, which was also under the control of TSD. A special cabinet was constructed in the corner of 175-1/2, and the same special lock was placed on the cabinet door. The EOB office was placed into operation approximately in _ .,'. April. 1971.
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- Won gsa i d he had r e c e i v e J a r e que s t t 0 i-Ii r e t h e ... ..:-'. President r s study at Camp David. This installation ,"vas not completed until May 18, 1972. The telephone in the study was also connected into a recorder. Both the hard wire and telephone were wired into the TSD room in the shelter under the resilience. The system \'Ias left in tho "Off" position until the President would visit Camp David, at· which time both the audio in the study and the telephone were recorded. At the end of each visit the tapes were placed in a metal suitcase and locked. The peison who returned the suitcase to TSD did not have the combination to the lock. The tapes were returned to TSD and placed in the vault room. The hard wire system was disconnected March 18, 1973, at tho request of Mr. Bull. SAIC Sims advised Mr. Bull that this system should be removed whon it was learned that foreign officials would be staying at Camp David.
The tapes were stored in each recording cabinet until a small . amount collected. A five-drawer safe was obtained and p I ace din T r u d y Br 0 ''In's 0 f fie e, Roo m 4 3, EO B. The tapes were wrapped ten or twelve to a bundle and marked with dates they were recorded on the outside of the wrappe r . The tapes were then locked in the safe. The combination to the safe was stored in the safe iri Mr. Wong's office. As this safe began to fill up a room was obtained across from the EOB cafeteria (an old stairway). I had GSA put ste~l sheets to cover the floor. Five safes were placed in this room and storage of tapes were transferred to this location, and, as far as I know they are still in the same location.
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Inspector Dagg
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During the year . 1971, and the first part of 1972, the only personnel to have access to changing the tapes were SA Nelson, S5 Taylor and myself. SA Nelson and SSS Taylor only changed the tapes during my absence, and only for a short period of time. SSS Daker started changing the tapes sometime during 1972. I would change the tape during Baker's absence on leave, trips, etc., after 1972. In August, 1971, AD Kelley and myself talked about a I presented a fake problem to Chief Burnett, new system. TD&PD, to develop a new system. Chief Burnett started u project to have a new system constructed. The first system was received by Chief Burne\t during early 1972. However, the system had an empty~~'ound effect and Chief Burnett stated a filter would be required to correct this problem. When the Watergate break-in was exposed, this project was put on a hold basis and was never used. Six : '. : ". .... :;; '. t a p e recorders were ordered \'1 i t h a ill 0 d i fie at i 0 11 t o operate <· ',·;"'.;:'·:' ,:::,\. at 15/16 speed and maintain good quality on tho sound. . <\>.~, J The r e Cor de r s we r e t 0 be use d \'1 i t h the s r s t em Chi e f . . '.' Burnett had under dev e lop men t, as a result they were n e v er used either. - ..
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The Oval Office, EOB Office, Cabinet Room, White House telephones and the study telephone at Camp David were disconnected and the equipment was removed and returnod t6 TSD supply on July 18, 1973. A complete inventor~ of all tapos were conducted by SAIC Sims, SS 5 Baker and myself. A listing was made of nIl tapes and turned over to General Bennett, Deputy Assistant to the President, at 10:00 p.m., same date. SS Barzee, TSD, changed the combinations to the safes and sealed the combination in an envelope then turned it over to ~·lr. Bennett. The lock on the door was thanged by 5S Barzee and OIll y two keys were turned· over to Mr. Bennett. I walked with SAIC Sims to 058, EPS Control Center, to inform the watch commander that only General Bennett was to have acriess to this room. The next morning SAIC Sims showed me an DIM to 058 that only authori z ed the President to have acce~s to the room where the tapes were stored. On the afternoon of October 30, 1973, SAIC Sims told me that Mr. Buzhardt said a conversation was missing from the tipes on April 15, 1973, and being this was a weekend, he wanted me to explain to Mr. Ben Veniste, from the Special Prosecutor's Office, the operation of the taping system. The next morning, October 31, 1973, I was inform od t hat I was to be in 1'-1 r . Ben Ve n i s t e 's 0 f f ice a tID : 0 0 a. m. Mr. Adams from Treasury was present during the question i n R·
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I received a telephone call from SAIe Sims at 1:00 p.m., October 31, 1973, to meet him Bt Mr. Buzhardt's office. I proceeded to Mr. Buzhardt's office, and, when I arrived, he had a car standing by to go to Judge Sirica's Court. During the car ride, Mr. Buzhardt informed me the ,two days were recorded on the s arne tape. During the time I ''las waiting to be called on the stand, I was questioning SSS Baker as to the last operational proccedures on the taping system. I was called to the witness stand at 2:30 p.m. On tho evening, of October 31, 1973, I had time to obsorve the timer, at which time I remembered some operational problems I had encountered setting the system up. It was found that a Saturday and Sunday on one tape was a normal cperati0n. This changed the way I thought the system had operated. This means the system did not malfunction, instead, due to the large amount of time , the President was in the EOB office during the weekend, the ,tape just ran out. This was the first time in two years '; that I know of a \'Jeekend tape running out.
1 supplied Mr. Buzhardt's staff \'lith samples of the t ape used to record on the system on November 8, 1973. Tho tape recorders ' what were connected to the system on July 18_ 1973, were collected and tagged as to the loca.tion they wore used. SAle Sims turned over seven Sony TC 800n and two Uher R-IS recorders to the court at 9:00 n.m.,
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16, 1973.
Raymond C. Zumwalt Supervisory Security Specialist
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