Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Throwing Away Money.

Many investigators out there are throwing away money, are you one of them?

I have grown up in this business literally. I started working for my step father Ralph Thomas, owner of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc., when I was 13. I am now 37. I have seen a whole lot of changes in the investigative industry. Equipment getting smaller, and less expensive. Pagers, cell phones, satellite phones, and computers have all changed the business. There are so many different things out there to help the investigator grow their business, and make money. But to me one of the biggest changes has been conventions for private investigators. With the advent of the internet, advertising and being able to reach people easier and faster, conventions have grown enormously. Years ago, getting 50 to 100 investigators together at a convention was great. Now with super conferences just about every year in Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Antonio, and other places, it is not uncommon to find 500-1000 investigators together networking, learning, and making money.

I said this at the beginning of the article, and I will say it again now. Many investigators are throwing away money. If you are an active investigator, and are not attending seminars, conventions, luncheons, and other investigative functions, you are throwing away money!

I can not count how many seminars, luncheons, and conventions that I have been to over the past 20 plus years. In all of the events that I have attended, I have yet to leave without something that helped me make more money.

Conventions and seminars are great things to attend for many reasons.

1. Vendors: There are usually many vendors at these conventions and seminars. You can find information brokers, Insurance companies, and my favourite, Equipment vendors. Many times these vendors will offer show specials, and discounts for those in attendance.

2. Networking. I shouldn’t need to say more about this, but I will. Networking is one of the best tools an investigator can have. None of us are experts in every field of investigation. We need help from time to time. This is where networking comes in. We need to know other people we can go to for advice, or help with certain cases. Conventions are the best place to make these contacts. I do not know about you, but I would rather do business with someone that I have met face to face if given the opportunity. I recently attended an area TALI luncheon, and in the course of 1 hour, there were at least 2 cases that were transferred and future ones to be handled. This was in a meeting of 20 local investigators. Just imagine how many cases are handled, and transferred from 1 investigator to another at a national convention with over 500 plus investigators. One investigator that I met at a NAIS convention about 15 years ago, I have personally given over 20 cases to. I did this, because I met him face to face, and I knew what he specialized in. In return, he has given me lots of business, and recommended countless others, resulting in 100’s of thousands of dollars worth of business that I would not have had, had I not been in attendance in attendance at the NAIS convention in Austin those many years ago. This is just one example of the 100’s and 1000’s of contacts that I have made just like this over the years.

3. Education. At just about every seminar/convention that I have been to, there have been great speakers. I have learned countless techniques, tools, and tricks of the trade that have become invaluable to me. To me, learning from someone in person, is a whole lot better than trying to learn from a book. Being able to ask questions, and pick someone’s brain to me is one of the best learning tools there is.

I talk to many investigators daily. I here a lot of different reasons why they do not attend PI functions.

I didn’t know about it.

I am to busy.

I do not have the money to attend.

If you do not know about the events that are going on in your industry, maybe you need to become a little more aware of what’s out there for you. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Join your state association.
    1. TALI (TX) http://www.tali.org
    2. CALI (CA) http://www.cali-pi.org/
    3. FALI (FL) http://www.fali.com/
    4. Other state associations http://www.pimall.com/nais/pi.assoc.list.html

These are some of the biggest state associations. Almost every state has one, if not more than one. These are invaluable to investigators.

  1. Join a national association.
    1. NAIS http://www.pimall.com/nais/nais.j.html
    2. NALI http://www.nalionline.org/
    3. NCISS http://www.nciss.org/
    4. Other national associations http://www.pimall.com/nais/links.c.html
  2. Join a local association.

If you are not a member of these associations, you are missing out on valuable resources.

If you are too busy, and do not need to make any more money, good for you. Most of us however always need to make more money, and learn more to help us grow.

If you do not have the money to attend, you might not ever. I suggest you invest in yourself. To me that is the biggest and best investment you can ever make. You do not have to travel all over the world or even the country to attend conventions and seminars. Just about every state or neighbouring state will have a yearly convention. Many have quarterly seminars. There are also local meetings and luncheons that you can attend.

In addition to seminars/conventions, there are other networking tools out there for you.

Networking online for free with. Join some of these forums

I encourage all of you to get out there and network. It works, and will bring you more business and money, and who among us does not wish to make more money.

Hope to see all of you soon at a luncheon, seminar, state, national, or world convention soon.

Cody Woods

Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc.

The Spy Exchange & Security Center

Spytek Wholesale

Phone: 512-719-3595

Fax: 512-719-3594



9513 Burnet Rd #101

Austin, TX 78758

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The Detection Of Active And Non-Active Eavesdropping Devices Buried In Walls And Furniture
For those really serious about countermeasures services in the area of corporate, professional and business accounts, clients are demanding a high level of sweeping services. One of the things that they frequently want to know about is if the service can determine if there are any hidden eavesdropping devises hidden inside walls and furniture. There is a technique known as non-linear junction detection that will, with the right equipment and training, help you detect eavesdropping devices inside walls and furniture even if the device is not operating. Non-Linear Junction Detectors are detectors that look something like a metal detector and will detect various types of items inside walls or furniture. The idea, of course; is to be able to detect the inside of a wall or inside furniture for hidden eavesdropping devises without tearing them apart.
The use of a Non-Linear Junction Detector is dependent on the fact that electronic devices and metallic objects that come in contact with one another create what is commonly called a non-linear junction. That is, any two components that touch each other will produce a non-linear junction. What a non-linear junction detector does is detect these non-linear junctions. In doing so, active or inactive, working or non-working eavesdropping equipment such as bugs, microphones, tape recorders and other listening devices hidden in walls or furniture can be detected.
What a non-Linear Junction Detector does is sends out a radiated signal and then reads a harmonic frequency level that is a return of the signal sent out. In effect, you are reading bounce-backs. In effect then, a non-linear junction detector sends out a microwave signal that penetrates walls and then picks up a reflected signal that bounces back. With the better models, various forms of analysis can be made of the reflected signals coming back to the unit. There will, of course, be many things inside of walls and furniture that will produce natural non-threatening non-linear junctions. For example, springs inside a chair that make contact with a screw head or nails making contact with other metallic objects inside a wall will produce a reading. However, proper analysis can be made with the right kind of gear.
It's important to understand that the two functions of a sweep using Non Linear Junction Detectors are:
1) The Detection Of Non-Linear Junctions.
2) The Discrimination between junctions between electronics and other junctions
Without the second, the sweep is simply useless because their is just too many other objects that are causing the readings.
So how does one use a Non-Linear Junction Detector for Discrimination.

Photos Of The Graphics On Orion. The bar graph on the left is the strength
level of the equipment. Note the difference in the
junction readings on the graphics for harmonics two and three.


Harmonic returns that are not electronics are not well defined. Electronics are well defined. Electronics will have a strong second harmonic signal and a weak third harmonic signal. A false junction will have a weak second harmonic signal and a strong third signal.
The new Orion Non-Linear Junction Detector has extremely good isolation of second and third harmonic signals which come up on a visual bar graph. It is important that the two harmonic signals mentioned do not interfere with each other and that's exactly how the Orion was made to work.


Noise Spikes: On an actual junction, the noise level will decrease as you approach the object and increase as you move away. Audio will be at it's lowest level directly in front and/or over the object. It will be the highest just off the object on both sides.

Vibration Listening: Upon hitting a junction, you can hit the wall with your fist or a rubber hammer which causes a vibration. This vibration will cause the demodulated audio to change. On a false junction (non-electronic) the vibration will produce a cracking sound. On a real junction, silence is golden.

Tuning In: With good detectors you can sometimes hear audio from some tape recorder heads. On many video chip cameras you can pick up the video synchronization pulse noise.

Side equipment that should be part of any non-linear junction detector would be a a flexible fiberscope or borescope, metal detectors, dental mirrors, stud finding equipment, soft hammers, flash lights and maybe even xray equipment.


THE TSCM BIBLE (Version 2.0)
The Ultimate Guide To Testing And
Checking For Bugs And Wiretaps
By Ralph D. Thomas

A Guide To Checking Telephone Lines

Testing Procedures For Countermeasures Surveys
By Theodore N. Swift

Friday, October 16, 2009



By Ralph D. Thomas

In the 1950's and 1960's, divorce investigation was the major mainstay of most private investigative agencies in the United States. Although the focus of these investigations has changed, they still account for a major division of private investigative assignments today and many private investigative agencies specialize in them. Many modern day private investigators have developed other areas of private investigative practice and turn down domestic investigative assignments. However, there are many agencies who tend to specialize in this area, have become quite succesful at it and it's worth considering for several reasons.

Understanding The Demand For Divorce Investigations
Although the percentage of divorce investigation conducted for every divorce filed in the United States has gone down based on the newer no-fault divorce laws, the number of divorces has swelled for the same reason. No-fault divorce laws, now on the books in almost every state in the United States; simply means that grounds for a divorce are no longer needed. Before no-fault divorce laws, private investigators had been used to develop evidence for grounds for the divorce. This is how the actual focus of the investigation has changed. Although the same type of evidence is often collected, the way in which the evidence is used has voided the need for "grounds evidence" but that type of evidence is often still in demand. As the number of investigations per every divorce filed in the United States has gone down, the number of divorced filed has swelled to almost alarming rates. It has been estimated that in today's world, four out of every five marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Although in many instances the private investigation is simply providing the client with information to know for peace of mind, the evidence collection can often and is often used in a court of law. As stated, grounds for a divorce are no longer needed; the evidence can be used in other issues such as child custody and division of assets. Many private investigators look upon divorce investigation as simply another form of physical surveillance as most clients will make an appointment with an investigator based on the adultery issue. However, there are often other issued involved that relate to the investigation. Major issues directly effecting a divorce can include:

Spouse Abuse
Child Negligence
Alcohol Abuse
Drug Abuse

Spouse physcial abuse needs to, of course, be documented. Photographs of the injury needs to be obtained. If the client does not or has not retained an attorney in a physical abuse situtation, they should be advised to contact the distrct attorney's office and police department for obvious reasons. Evidence of verbal abuse can easily be obtained under
one party consent states with a hidden tape recorder. Adultery can usually be documented with a physical surveillance of the subject. Child Negligence, abandonment and child abuse also need to be documented by investigation and instruction to the client. Alcohol abuse and drug abuse can usually be documented through physical surveillance and trash monitoring. Bigamy can be documented by checking marriage records. The client can usually be prompted through skillful questioning to see which issues apply. Divorce investigations today can involve surveillance and activities checks, child custody and child abuse issues, physical abuse and verbal abuse as well as hidden assets location. These are all important issues that need to be determined. The point I am trying to make is that most circumstances call for profesional services above and beyond conducting a physical surveillance. There are many things that the client can do for themselves and the modern day investigator can work with the subject's attorney to help document needed evidence regarding these issues.

Other References From The Divorce Soure Site
Harrassment And Domestic Abuse
What You Need To Know About Divorce Law
Seven Myths Of Divorce
The Process Of Divorce

Other Areas Of Domestic Investigation
Aside from divorce investigations, there has emerged other major trends in private investigative assignments centering around domestic types of assignments. One of the newer areas of domestic investigation that has been booming in the last ten years is the need and demand for background checks in the areas of pre-relationship and pre-martial investigations. The demand has been high in this area. Also emerging and continuing to go up is the number of investigations and background checks dealing with domestic help. Since both the father and mother are now in the work force, children are left in the care of third parities. What has emerged is investigations centering around the third parties who are in charge of the care of the children. Aside from background checks of these third parties, there is a demand for the rental of covert video camera equipment. In every major city in the United States, you'll find many successful private investigative agencies that specialize in these types of cases.

Focus On Children
Children are one of America's most important asset as it's America's future. Children in America today are of special concern as modern circumstances hand them problems that once were not there. The number of divorces is extremely alarming--only one in five marriages are a success. Mothers have entered the work force leaving child care to third parties. A number of booming investigative specializations are emerging as long range trends. Background checks of third party caretakers are an enormous market. Many investigative agencies are reporting brisk business for the rental of hidden video cameras to check out nannies and baby setters. Child abuse investigation is up--way up. The trend towards a special focus in children in the private investigative profession then, is centered in the following areas:


Conducting The Divorce Assignment
The number one investigative skill to develop in divorce investigations is the art and skill of surveillance. The surveillance will establish activity of adultry on the part of the other spouse. However, legal aspects of the surveillance need to be strictly observed. The client will liekly has an idea of when the activity is taking place. The purpose of these types of assignments is usually to establish evidence of adulty and cheating. It is important both from a legal and ethcal standpoint that the investigator not engage in entrapment. Here are some articles useful to both the professional investigator and the client:


Aside from that, it's important for you to understand that you are dealing with a client who is going to be highly emotional about these issues. They are often upset and fearful. If your client has interest access, I strong suggestion would be for them to use the web site:

This site contains extensive information, the equivalent of a 700-page book, about divorce. Organized so you can quickly and easily find the straightforward, practical information you need.
Another major information center on the subject. You'll find a state-by-state information resource at this site.
Trash monitoring can also be used to develop other evidence such as drug and alcohol abuse. Background investigations are sometimes called for to establish other activities of the subject in a divorce issue.

Tape Recording Issues
It is often requested from a client that an
automatic telephone tape recorder be used to catch the other spouse talking on the telephone to a covert girlfriend of boyfriend. However, no party consent is illegal is almost every state. The client should be advised of this. In states that allow one party consent (one party to the conversation needs to provide consent) it is sometimes useful to record the client's own coversations with their consent. Click here to review the state-by-state one/two party tape recording consent laws.

Conducting The Background Check
On other types of domestic investigations such as pre-date or pre-martial investigations, the client wants to know about the subject. This usually involves a criminal records check and other background checks. For information on conducting criminal records checks,
click here. There are several very comperhensive books and manuals on the market today that show you how to conduct various forms of background investigations. To review them, click here.

Related Books
Checkmate: The Domestic Investigation Training Manual By Jody Ball
Child Abuse Investigations: By Jody Ball
When In Doubt, Check Him Out By Joseph Culligan
The Art Of Surveillance (Book And Video Training) By Kelly Riddle
Pre-Martial Investigations By Ralph Thomas

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Compiled By Ralph D. Thomas

Recent trend statics show that there has been a massive surge in demand for counter surveillance sweeping services. The opportunity in countermeasures and counter intelligence has never been greater. There has been a major surge in demand for information security services in the last few years and it's being reported as a major trend almost everywhere. Countermeasures, as a professional service; is generally thought of in the private sector as two types:

1) Domestic
2) Business

Domestic Countermeasures
Domestic countermeasures is expanding in demand for several reasons. First, the dovirce rate has soared. In fact, four in five marriages end in divorce in the United States. There has always been a need and huge demand for counter surveillance services in such situtations. Secondly, there are more people with more money in the United States now than ever before. When the income levels are up, there is a greater need for information protection in a domestic situtation. Thirdly, there is a massive home business movement in which massive numbers of people are starting businesses out of their home. Many of these businesses are almost one hundred precent information driven which has created even wider demand for countermeasures services. Domestic counter surveillance jobs usually bring in between $500.00 and $1,500.00 per job.

3 ROOMS $600.00

Business Countermeasures
In 1997, the US Department Of State; in a study of economic losses from corporate espionage and illegal eavesdropping revealed that American firms lost 8,160 million dollars because of it. The American economy is almost totally dirven by information these days and businesses have worken up to the fact that countermeasures and information security is a most for survival.

The high tech office technology magazine, Modern Office Technology; recently reported the following as standard fees for a countermeasures sweep:

5 ROOMS $1,500.00
11 TELEPHONES $1,043.00

Private investigative agencies and security agencies that have been offering countermeasures services for a number of years are reporting a huge surge in business. Many are reporting three or four times more demand for services than was present only a few years ago. You can easily see that with just a couple of domestic sweep assigments per month and a couple of business sweep assigments per month, you could easily be taking between $5,000 and $10,000 per month in revenue and some services are doing much better than that.

What Is Counter Surveillance Sweeping
Counter Surveillance sweeps are professional detection of illegal eavesdropping and providing information security services. The detection of illegal eavesdropping consists of:

Physical Inspection
Radio Spectrum Sweeping
Radio Spectrum Analysis
IR Detection Sweeping
Electrical Line Testing
Telephone Testing
Telephone Line Testing
Electrical And Computer Testing And Security
Informtion Security Survey

The situation in the United States in regards to countermeasures is a situation in which there is a shortage of people who can offer the level of countermeasures services needed and a huge demand for them. Although there are many services which offer extremely low end countermeasures services, business and industry needs a level above these types of services.The CPM-700 is designed to meet the countermeaures professional's needs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009





Pictured above are the two backyard photos. Look at the angle Oswald is standing at.

Incredable as it may seem, the above photo was discovered in
Dallas Police files over twenty years after the fact.
Is This evidence of fakery?
Click Here For Larger Photo

This article is a working example of what can be done with digital photo evidence. I'm using the famous Backyard Photos of Lee Oswand from the Kennedy association to make the point. All that is needed to conduct this sort of thing is Photoshop and a scanner or digital camera.

The day after the assassination, the Dallas police released photographs of Lee Oswald holding the murder weapon in one hand and a copy of a communist paper in the other hand. These photographs, according to Dallas police, were taken in his backyard. One of the photographs appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in February of 1964.

Captain Fritz had shown Oswald this photograph during interrogation and Oswald said that he knew something about photography and although the photograph was his face, it had been pasted on the body and he had never seen the photographs before.

The photographs were found at 2515 West Fifth Street in Irving, Texas, the home of the Paines. On two searches on the day of the assassination of this address, the Dallas police did not locate the photographs. However, another search was made the following day and it was this third search in which the Dallas police say they found the photos. But the two photos were never listed on inventory sheets of Oswald's possessions. Neither was the black shirt and the black pants that Oswald had on in the photographs ever located. Officially, two photographs but only one negative were found. Yet, Dallas police Gus Rose says that there were also two negatives. Until 1967, these photos were the only ones known to be of the backyard pose.

When you attempt to lean at the angle above, you fall over.

Closeups Of The Two Faces

For many years researchers have said these faces were faked.
A fine line runs through the chin. The shadows appear to be the same under the nose.
The second head has merely been tilted to fit into the rest of the photo.

Although taken just seconds or minutes apart, the tilt of the head on the second photo
also tilts the nose shadow.

Overlay Of The Two Faces

The second face is turned into a transparancy and titled to the same angle of
the first one. When the photos are overlayed on top of each other,
they match up perfectly as shown in the third photo about.

The shadows are very stange. Look at the shadows cast by the body. If they were only taken a few
sceonds or even minutes apart, why has the sun moved so much.

The above photos where taken of Oswald while he was in police custody.
Note the clift chin.

Notice the apparant white line that runs through the chin in the blow-ups.
Also notice the arrest photo. Oswald has a clift chin that is not flat on the bottom.

Stubby Fingers In The Backyard Photo

The actual camera the alleged photographs were taken with was not found for several weeks but finally turned over by Robert Oswald, Oswald's brother. Oswald's brother said that he found the camera at the Paine home even though the Dallas police had searched the home several times for the camera. Robert said that the camera belonged to his brother Lee Oswald. This reflex camera was a very poor quality camera and Oswald was highly interested in photography. He owned several very expensive cameras and no one ever explained why he would use such a cheap camera for these photographs.

The Warren Commission said that the photos were taken by Marina Oswald, Oswald's wife, on March 31st, 1963 at the 214 W Neely address. The photos show a bright sunny day. But, a check on weather reports in the area that day reveal that it was cloudy and rainy all day.

The Warren Commission determined that the photos where real and had FBI agent Lindal Shangfield testify before it. The agent brought with him a photograph that had duplicated lighting taken with the reflex camera that might have determined the problems of the shadows on the face. However, this photograph was a photograph of an FBI man with his head cut off. The FBI did state that the actual photographs were compared to the simulated photograph to determine if they came from the same reflex camera which they stated that they did. However, Jack White pointed out that this could have easily have been done by taking composite photographs of the scene using the reflex camera.

In 1976 the Senate Intelligence Committee located a third photograph of Oswald with the backyard pose that was slightly different. The photo was found among the belongings of the widow of Dallas police officer Roscoe White. In the early 1990's Rosco White's son claimed that Rosco White was one of three gunmen that fired at the President which I will go into in another section.

In 1967 after he returned from Haiti, George DeMorenschild found a fourth photo of the backyard photograph that was still a slightly different pose among his personal belongings that he had in storage. On the back of this photograph is written:


The inscription was first written in pencil and then gone over in ink. Handwriting experts have revealed that the writing was not the handwriting of Oswald, his wife, DeMorenschild or his wife.

In 1970, Dallas news reporter Jim Marrs was looking into the backyard photographs when he interviewed Robert and Patricia Hester. The Hesters worked at the National Photo Lab in Dallas. They said they were very busy processing photographic material for both the FBI and the Secret Service the night of the assassination. In 1970, the Hesters told Marrs that the FBI had color transparencies of the backyard photographs the night of the assassination and had one color transparency that had nobody in the picture. Not only is this highly suspicious, this was the night before the photographs where supposed to have been found in the first place.

Photographic expert Jack White has studied these photographs for two decades and testified before the House Select Committee. His conclusion is that the photographs are fakes. His pointed findings include:

1) STANDING OFF CENTER: White concludes that Oswald is standing off center and outside the weight bearing alignment of his feet. A person could not stand in such a position.

2) PROPORTIONS: When the body proportions are brought into alignment from the knees to the head by adjusting the size of the photographs, one head is much larger than the other.

3) OVERALL BODY SHADOWS: Although the photos were supposed to have been taken just seconds apart, the overall body shadows in the photographs are all different. In 133-A the photograph has a 10 o'clock shadow, 133-B a 12 o'clock shadow and 133-C a 10 o'clock shadow again.

4) ARM AND ELBOWS: White said that the elbow is too high in one photograph and the elbow doesn't show up on the one photograph of the arm were Oswald is holding the rifle. This pose had been attempted to be duplicated but could not.

5) HANDS AND FINGERS: On the photographs the left hand and finger looks normal. Yet the right hand is missing fingernails and the hand looks stubby.

6) WATCH: The photographs reveal that Oswald is wearing a watch but all witnesses have stated that Oswald did not wear and didn't own a watch. No watch was found among the possessions of Oswald and he was not wearing one when he was arrested.

7) RIFLE: When the photographs are blown up to the actual height of Oswald that was 5'9", the rifle in the photograph is too long. When the rifle is adjusted in the photograph to it's proper length, Oswald's height is six inches too short.

8) SCOPE: White noted that in the photograph the rear end of the rifle scope is missing and pants wrinkles appear where the end of the scope is supposed to be.

9) FACE: The face shows Oswald with a flat chin but Oswald had a clift chin. There is a line that breaks up the grain of the photograph that runs across the chin that many say is where the cut took place to paste Oswald's face onto the photograph.

10) PHOTOGRAPHIC OVERLAY: When Mr. White took 133-A and 133-B and adjusted and overlayed them, nothing matched up which isn't suppose to happen with two slightly different poses. However, the faces on the two photographs did.

11) FACE SHADOWS: Both photos show the same V shaped shadow below the nose. However, on one of the photos Oswald's head is tilted but the shadow does not adjust for this tilt.

12) NECK SHADOWS: On one of the photos there is light on the right side of the neck but the same photo shows the rifle casting a shadow to this angle.

13) COLLAR SIZE: The collar size can be determined from the photograph using a mathematical formula which came out to size 16. Oswald wore a six 14 1/2 collar and all his clothes found among his personal belongings were in the 14.5 to 15 inch range.

14) BACKGROUNDS: White determined that one photograph had the top cropped off and the other photograph had the bottom cropped off which made the photos appear like they had been taken at slightly different locations. However, except for small fractions, everything lines up on both photographs when the two were compared. That is, the camera did not change position and the only way to do this would be with a tripod which was not used.

15) SMALL DIFFERENCES: For many months White was puzzled by the small differences he noted in the backgrounds but they were not off much. After looking at the photographs some more he determined that on the background of one, the camera appears to be slightly tilted. He then took another copy of the photo by tilting it on a board and everything came perfectly into alignment.

During the 1991 JFK Assassination Symposium held in Dallas,Texas of November of that year, computer image processing expert Tom Wilson corroborated all of the White analysis and added that he inspected the feet on the man in the backyard photograph as to light refraction and compared this to official records of the day concerning the position of the sun. Wilson stated that the photograph was taken at 9:12 A.M. if it was taken on the day it was alleged to have been taken. But Marina Oswald's testimony stated that the photographs were taken in the early afternoon which is completely inconsistant with the Wilson study.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Covertly Recording Telephone Conversations

Covertly Recording Telephone Conversations
Compiled By Ralph Thomas

Review The Internet's Largest Collection Of Long Play Tape Recorders

The federal law makes it unlawful to record telephone conversations except in one party consent cases which permit one party consent recording by state law. What that means is a person can record their own telephone conversations without the knowledge or consent of the other party in those states that allow one party consent.

It's important to understand the difference between what has become known as one party consent and two party or all party consent. One party consent simply means that one party to the conversation must have knowledge and give consent to the recording. Two party or all party consent means that every party to the conversation must have knowledge and give consent to the recording.

There are twelve states that require all party consent. They are:

New Hampshire

There are 38 states that permit one party consent. They are:

District of Columbia
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

In all 50 states and through federal law, it's considered illegal to record telephone conversations outside of one party consent. There are a couple of exceptions. In the state of California, one party consent can be applied only under circumstances in which one party is involved in criminal activity which would include extortion or blackmail. In the state of Arizona, the subscriber to a telephone service can record telephone conversations with no party consent when criminal activity is involved. Other than those two known exceptions, all other recordings outside of those states that permit one party consent are a violation of state and federal law. The question is often asked by clients if they can record the telephone conversations of their spouse in a domestic case or the conversations of their children concerning drug usage. In both of these cases, the answer is it's unlawful. Many clients will complain that they own the telephone and pay the telephone bill so they should therefore have a right to record what they want. However, the law doesn't address who owns the phone nor who pays the phone bill. It only addresses the use of one party and all party consent. Anything outside of that is a violation of state law and federal wiretapping law.

The Federal Communications Commission goes further into details on recording telephone conversations and states that the party recording must give verbal notification before the recording and that there must be a beep tone on the line to indicate that the line is being recorded.

Business Recordings

Federal law permits businesses to monitor phone calls that are business related when the monitoring is part or the ordinary course of business. When the content of the telephone conversation is of a personal nature, the monitoring must stop. In those cases of two party consent states, this exemption may be voided.

Calls Crossing State Lines
Calls that cross state lines become complicated legal issues especially when one state is a one party consent state and the other state is an all party consent state. What has happened is that you didn't violate the law in the one party consent state and violated the law in the all party consent state. Moreover, since the call went across a state line, the federal laws would certainly apply. The most famous case involving this type of issue is the Linda Trip case. You will recall that Linda Trip recorded the telephone conversations of Monica Lewinski concerning her relationship with President Clinton. Trip was in Maryland and Lewinski was in DC. Note that Maryland is an all party consent state while DC is a one party consent state. The law is actually quite fuzzy on these issues. The recorder is advised to assume that the sticker law would apply.

Cell Phones And Wireless Phones
Cell and wireless telephones transmit conversation through the air like a radio does. You hear old stories of spying using scanners locked onto a wireless telephone frequency with an attached voice activated tape recorder connected to it to eavesdrop on the conversation. Until certainly, the laws concerning this activity was fuzzy. However, federal law now makes it illegal to record both wireless and cell phone conversations outside of one party consent. You used to be able to go into places like Radio Shack and purchase scanners that would lock onto the frequencies needed to pick up wireless and cell phone conversations. These scanners are now illegal to sell or be in possession of.


Alabama - One Party
Alaska - One Party
Arkansas - One Party
California - All Party
Colorado - One Party
Connecticut - All Party
Delaware - All Party
District of Columbia - One Party
Florida - All Party
Georgia - One Party
Hawaii - One Party
Idaho - One Party
Illinois - All Party
Indiana - One Party
Iowa - One Party
Kansas - One Party
Kentucky - One Party
Louisiana - One Party
Maine - One Party
Maryland - All Party
Massachusetts - All Party
Michigan - All Party
Minnesota - One Party
Mississippi - One Party
Missouri - One Party
Montana - All Party
Nebraska - One Party
Nevada - One Party
New Hampshire - All Party
New Jersey - One Party
New Mexico - One Party
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North Carolina - One Party
North Dakota - One Party
Ohio - One Party
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Oregon - One Party
Pennsylvania - All Party
Rhode Island - One Party
South Carolina - One Party
South Dakota - One Party
Tennessee - One Party
Texas - One Party
Utah - One Party
Vermont - One Party
Virginia - One Party
Washington - All Party
West Virginia - One Party
Wisconsin - One Party
Wyoming - One Party

Other Related Links:
A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls
and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.


18 USC 2510, et seq, The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.


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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Nixon White House Tape Recorders Now With Key Video Presentations Of The Watergate Story And Audio Presentations Of What Was On The White HouseTap

The Nixon White House Tape Recorders
Now With Key Video Presentations Of The Watergate Story
And Audio Presentations Of What Was On The White HouseTapes

In 1971 President Nixon installed secret audio recording systems in the Oval Office, his hide-out office in the Executive Office Building, the Cabinet Room and at Camp David . Conversations were recorded between February 16th, 1971 through July 18th, 1973. The recorders where installed and maintained by the US Secret Service. There were a total of seven hidden microphones in the Oval Office. Five where in the President's desk and one each on each side of the fireplace mantle. Two microphones were installed under the cabinet room table in front of the President's chair. These hidden mics ran to a place in the basement of the West Wing and connected to a voice activated tape recorder hidden in a locker. Four microphones where also placed in Nixon's Old Executive Office Building Office which connected to another tape recorder in another room. The desk phones in the Oval Office, The Executive Office Building Office and the one in the Lincoln Bedroom in the residence of the White House were connected to tape recording systems and telephone calls where automatically recorded. The recordings were tied to the US Secret Service Presidential Locator system. This was a system that knew where the President was at all times. The voice activated automatic tape recording system only worked when the President was in the room. However, it recorded automatically when Nixon was present. Nixon was not the first President to use a secret recording system. Both Kennedy and Johnson secretly recorded some meetings and phone calls. In fact, secret audio recording goes all the way back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Nixon tapes consist of 2,019 hours of audio recordings.

Oval Office/White House Recorder
Sony TC-800B Audio Recorder

The secret White House taping system used a Sony TC-800B audio recording machine like the one on the right. It was a simple machine that was not expensive and cheap tiny Lavalier mics were used that were hidden throughout the Oval office and Nixon's hideout office in the OEB. The recordings were made on thin 0.5-mm tape running at the unusual speed of 15é16 inch per second - half the speed of a cassette recorder. The slow tape speed degrades the recording's already poor signal-to-noise ratio.This accounts for the poor quality of the tapes.

Nixon's Uher 5000 Tape Recorder
And The 18.5 Minute Gap

While the recordings were recorded on the Sony TC-800B, Nixon played them back and reviewed them on a Uher 5000. The famous 18.5 minute gap was determined to be caused, not by Rosemary Woods in a transcribing accident, but caused by eight separate erasers.

The Watergate Tapes
Audio Links From The Spy And Private-Eye Museum

Discussion Of Bugs Tape

Friday, September 15, 1972
White House Oval Office
President Nixon, H.R.Haldeman, John W. Dean III
About 34 Minutes
Click Here To Play The Wave Recording
A discussion of press treatment of the break-in and lawsuits; discovery of another bug in the DNC; bugs in other political campaigns; DNC lawsuits; Edward Bennett Williams; RNC countersuits; election law violations; Congress; the burglars' civil rights; the Washington Post's TV & Radio licenses; depositions on sex-lives of DNC members.

The Smoking Gun Tape
Friday, June 23, 1972
White House Oval Office
President Nixon And H. R. Haleman
About Eight Minutes
Click Here To Play Wave File of Recording
"The Smoking Gun" conversation: Haldeman and Nixon discuss the progress of the FBI's investigation especially the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation. This was the final tape release in the final days of the Nixon Presidency that triggered his resignation speech. After this type was released, almost all support for Nixon for an impeachment in the US Senate was gone.

"Cancer on the Presidency" Tape
Wednesday, March 21, 1973
White House Oval Office
President Nixon. H.R.Haldeman. John W. Dean
About 37 Minutes
Click Here To Play Wave File Of Recording
The "Cancer on the Presidency" conversation: Dean recaps the history of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up for the President. They guess at who was responsible for setting the break-in in motion. Dean tells the President that the cover-up is "a cancer on the Presidency" that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger. Also discussed: references to blackmail, perjury; discussion of paying the burglars off with one million dollars. This tape has John Dean talking about hush money paid to the Watergate burglars to keep them quite. Dean tells Nixon that there is a "cancer" growing around the his Presidency and that these people are going to want a lot more money to remain quite. Nixon asks how much Dean thinks it would cost and dean states that it could cost a million dollars. Nixon is recorded stating that he knew where a million dollars could be obtained.

The Nixon Resignation Speech
Listen to a complete Real Audio tape of Nixon's resignation speech.

The FBI Investigation of Watergate
This is a 126 page FBI report of the FBI Investigation of Watergate in a PDF file.

A Close-Up Of The Sony Recorder Model That Was Used To Record White House
Oval Office Conversations In A Locker Below The Oval Office. (See Map Below)

Above photo shows the location of the oval office and the Nixon hide out office where he bugged himself
and the residence where he sat in the Lincoln bedroom and listened to the tapes.

A Photo Of Rose Mary Woods shown how she might have erased the tapes.

A Close-Up Of The Model Of The Uhler Tape Recorder/ Player That Rose Mary Woods
Used That Produced the 18.5 Minute Gap. This Is Also The Same Model Rumored To
Be That Nixon Would Set Alone In The Lincoln Setting Room Upstairs In The White
House To Listen To The Evidence Of The Bugging He Did Of Himself And Others.

The 18 And 1/2 Minute Gap
On the first tape requested from Nixon's secret taping system

The 18 and 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon tapes occurs on tape 342, a meeting on June 20th, 1972 between H.R. Haldeman and President Nixon in the Executive Office Building. This is just three days after the Watergate break-in. As the two talk about assorted matters of concern to the President, there is suddenly an 18 and 1/2 minute gap on the tape. The White House claims the gaps was made accidentally by Rose Marry Woods when she answered the telephone during a period of time she was typing transcripts of the tape. It was later determined that the eraser was made by hitting the erase button nine times.

Watch the YouTube video of Alexander Butterfield
testifying before the senate committee

A Close-up of the Uher 500 Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder Opened.

Video Presentation By Alexander Butterfield
Alexander Butterfield was The White House assistant That Revealed The
Existence Of The White House Taping System To The Senate Committee
Gives A Presentation On His Events While Working For Nixon

Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary making the cover of
Time Magazine, Decemeber14, 1973 with a line drawing of the Uhler recorder.

Click Here To See The Watergate Bug Exhibit

Watch A Video Of The Richard Nixon Funeral

You Can Learn More About The Nixon Tape Recordings from:

The Nixon Presidential Materials Web Site

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