Sabato’s JFK book takes aim at the ‘acoustics evidence’

As reported in Politico, pundit Larry Sabato’s new JFK book discounts the idea that the sound of the gunfire that killed JFK was recorded.

I’ll be speaking in a panel discussion of the book, “The Kennedy Half Century” at the Newseum here in Washington at 10 am on Tuesday. You can watch the event live registering here.

If you want to know more about this complex subject, here’s a good primer on the “acoustics evidence,” courtesy of MaryFerrell.org.

And a relevant video:


In this video Josiah (“Tink”) Thompson, author of “Six Seconds in Dallas” and veteran insurance investigator, explains why he thinks the sound recording from Dealey Plaza matches up with the Zapruder film.

 

 

48 comments

  1. Jeff Pascal says:

    I’m disappointed in Sabato because since June he has said on his web site that there would be a Press Conf. with new developments on the Assassination. I naively thought this would be showing conspiracy. The Dictabelt evidence is not one of the main reasons people believe in a conspiracy, so why hold this scientific report for several months till his book release? This is being used to act as if this disproves conspiracy in some media circles.

    • Neil Hodges says:

      You have to read the whole article. Sabato clarified that while he’s dismissing the HSCA’s acoustic evidence, he believes Oswald may not have acted alone.

      The way the article is written, many may come away thinking Sabato dismisses all JFK conspiracy theories but that’s not the case…

    • Marcus Hanson says:

      Jeff,

      Re:”The Dictabelt evidence is not one of the main reasons people believe in a conspiracy”

      Really? Conspiracy theories do,of course,pre-date the acoustics issue.It is indeed not promoted as the SOLE reason for belief in conspiracy,but it is one of the cornerstones.

      I do not know of any CT who supports the GK gunman theory,but ALSO disputes the original acoustics findings.

      Gaeton Fonzi,though,would likely have agreed with you : he concluded there was a conspiracy, long before the dictabelt issue arose.Yet,I doubt Robert Blakey would have allowed the HSCA to publish a finding of probable conspiracy,without the (rather late) report of Weiss and Aschkenasy.
      He would,in my opinion,have ventured no further than allowing for a finding of a =possible= conspiracy.

      • jeffc says:

        I’m not a proponent of the acoustic evidence – too many questions about its provenance. The conspiracy is proven, in my opinion, by 1) the sketchy physical evidence said to establish Oswald’s guilt 2) the impossibility of the SBT and 3) the obvious cover-up.

        • Photon says:

          #1. Like it was his rifle,he was the last person seen on the sixth floor before the assassination,his prints were on the boxes next to the window,there was an eyewitness,he murdered a cop while trying to escape,he tried to murder another cop while trying to escape,etc.
          #2 like multiple (even on national TV) studies have proven over and over again that a FMJ round could do exactly what #399 did and come out more “pristine” than the original. Or that JFK and Connolly were lined up exactly in a line to make the SBT a fact.
          #3. Like a cover up so obvious that there has been no realistic alternative proven in 50 years.

          • Raul says:

            Did you know there were many prints on the boxes, some of which were unidentified?

          • JSA says:

            Photon,

            Let the record show that you left out the majority of witnesses who heard and/or thought shots came from in front of the car. They outnumber those who thought shots only came from behind. You also selectively ignore the witness testimony of two shots coming almost together, which negates a rifle allegedly fired by Oswald.
            You also left out the bullet hole in the front windshield of the car, seen by many at Parkland, the car rushed out and refitted before evidence could be saved and examined by non-partisan investigators. I could cite more holes, but these are pretty good ones to show that your argument is full of holes.

          • Why bring up Oswald in a thread about the acoustics? While Oswald can be tied to the rifle found on the Sixth Floor, he himself was not, that is if you believe DPD officer Baker who saw him through the 2nd floor lunchroom door window less than two minutes later, and five people who were on the stairs at the time didn’t see Oswald come down, so he wasn’t even on the sixth floor when the shots were fired. The gunman was identified as wearing a white shirt (Oswald wore brown) and had a bald spot on the top of his head, a distinguishing mark that eliminates Oswald. Oswald was framed for the crime, and anyone who follows Ozzie the Rabbit lets the real sniper go free.

          • leslie sharp says:

            #1. Like it was his rifle,
            There are challenges to that allegation; perhaps he was prompted to bring in a rifle.

            he was the last person seen on the sixth floor before the assassination
            How can that be proven? by the next to the last person on the floor? How would they have known there was no one hiding on the floor?

            his prints were on the boxes next to the window,
            His job at TSBD most likely involved moving boxes.

            there was an eyewitness,
            …Whose testimony would be challenged by any good defense attorney based on visual impairment

            he murdered a cop while trying to escape,
            He was alleged to have murdered …. that was never proven in a court of law. The murder of Tippitt prompted the arrest of Oswald, full stop.

            he tried to murder another cop while trying to escape,
            I’m not up to date on that incident; can you elaborate?

            #2 like multiple (even on national TV) studies have proven over and over again that a FMJ round could do exactly what #399 did and come out more “pristine” than the original.
            That trajectory has been effectively challenged.

            Or that JFK and Connolly were lined up exactly in a line to make the SBT a fact.
            The suggestion that two humans could have spontaneously aligned in such a way, particularly in those circumstances, has been challenged. Dummies or electronic reenactments on the other hand could be manipulated.

            #3. Like a cover up so obvious that there has been no realistic alternative proven in 50 years.
            The HSCA determined the possibility of a conspiracy; does that not introduce reasonable doubt in defense of Oswald? The imprimatur of a cover up is to cover things up, in perpetuity. Until the cold case is reopened, you cannot argue that “no realistic alternative has been proven.”

          • Photon says:

            #1 Was it his rifle or not? How can you “prompt” somebody to bring a rifle into work? If you admit that he brought a rifle to work why ignore the obvious ? He tried to murder another cop-you are not up on that? So Oswald arrested himself in the Texas Theatre? Don’t you know the circumstances of his arrest, or is that some conspiracy, too?
            #2. The alignment of JFK and Connolly has been documented in multiple photographs, movies and testimony. I suppose Dave Powers was in on the conspiracy when he took movies that conclusively prove that Connolly was inboard and below the level of JFK in the limo. What do you need- a picture? Look at the Altgens photo.
            #3 The HSCA conclusion was based solely on acoustic evidence that was completely debunked and tossed in the wastebasket of history by Norman Ramsey and real experts who noted that the so -called recording of the assassination happened at least one minute after the assassination. The “experts” never even heard ” hold everything secure” when it was audible even on a cheap reproduction put out in “Oui” magazine. Had they done even the simplest research they would have known that it came from an open mike on a
            a tricycle police motorcycle at the Trade Mart, complete with Doppler sirens as the motorcade sped past on the way to Parkland.

          • George Simmons says:

            Didnt the eyewitness initially state he could not identify Oswald, only to change his story when he came before the WC?

            And during his WC testimony, did he not state that he had poor eyesight?

          • leslie sharp says:

            Photon, can you further share your assessment of these aspects of the allegations against Oswald:

            his prints were on the boxes next to the window,
            . . . His job at TSBD most likely involved moving boxes.

            there was an eyewitness
            . . . Whose testimony would be challenged by any good defense attorney based on visual impairment

            he murdered a cop while trying to escape,
            . . . He was alleged to have murdered …. that was never proven in a court of law.

            #3 The HSCA conclusion was based solely on acoustic evidence that was completely debunked and tossed in the wastebasket of history
            . . . Does this mean that those who write the history trump a House Select Committee? Would you not then advocate that another government-sanctioned committee be formed to hear the facts presented by those historians to whom you refer, now that they have the answer to the assassination? Where in the constitution does it state that those who write history dictate the facts, determine evidence, and judge the accused? In a criminal case, a jury of one’s peers is charged with that responsibility.

          • Mball says:

            The last person known to be on the 6th floor pre-assassination was Bonnie Ray Williams. Oswald’s prints were on the boxes because he worked up there. Mac Wallace’s prints were up there too. Why? He worked for LTV in Calif. The evidence against Oswald in re Tippitt is very iffy – about 50-50. The stuff about the pristine bullet causing all the damage is incorrect. No test simulating the actual conditions necessary for an honest test have duplicated what was claimed for that bullet. They can’t even prove that #399 came from a wound because there is no provable chain of evidence on it. Also, the accoustics evidence proofs of Bolt et al was subsequently retested and verified by Don Thomas. His work was peer reviwed and confirmed. What is Sabato’s evidence that disproves the HSCA accoustics evidence? Where is the science that can be peer reviewed? Are we supposed to just take his word for it?

  2. Curt says:

    Could we get a critique of Sabato’s acoustics study from the scientists who testified before the HSCA?
    Or even from Don Thomas who’s research supported the knoll shot? Would be interesting to hear of Sabato’s acoustics study and the methodology.

    • Mball says:

      I agree. Did the people who tested for Sabato submit their methods and conclusions for peer review? In order for their view to hold sway, they’ll have to show that the HSCA’s, and subsequently Thomas’s, methods and conclusions were wrong. Misreading the evidence doesn’t dispose of the extremely close correlation in time and location between the pulses detected on the dictabelt and the gunfire recorded during the testing.

  3. Photon says:

    Why would you want a critique from the guys who went on record with the “95% probability” comment without ever picking up the ” hold everything secure” that proved that the recording was from at least a minute after the assassination.
    The “experts” blew it, as did the Committee when they based their conclusion on this poorly researched recording. Sabato is merely stating the obvious.

  4. Thomas says:

    I’m consistently amazed how the mainstream media picks up on stories like these. Don’t we already know for a fact that Sabato’s “revelation” is very old news? The media coverage of this story and academic integrity on this subject is continually disappointing.

  5. Bill Kelly says:

    Photon wants you to keep your eyes and ears and mouth shut, no more questions, they’ve all be answered, it was Oswald, the former USMC U2 radar operator and intel operative and Soviet defector who masterminded the assassination and pulled it off all by himself, but rather than the really great assassin he must be, he’s really a no good wife beating loser and loner who couldn’t hold a job.

    • leslie sharp says:

      BK, you are so right. The contradictions are never addressed. I believe the reason for that avoidance must be the impossible task of assigning a “motive” that matches both: a sociopathic loan nut who by the way was a former Marine, U2 radar operator and intel-operative & Soviet defector allowed to re-enter the US, and a calculating, rabid pro-Castro communist with no significant history other than mental instability and unique rifle skills. Either assessment is always presented in a vacuum. If combined, the question becomes, who was running Oswald?

      • D. Olmens says:

        Contradictions never addressed? Please describe some.

        On the topic of contradictions, please also explain to me how you can be so certain that there was a conspiracy when there is no concrete and irrefutable evidence to prove the claim that Oswald was acting at the behest of, or in any league with anyone? What you have is a lot of tantalising and very interesting little bits of information, but it’s the process of connecting them together that is more problematic. The puzzle is still missing a few rather important pieces.

        • leslie sharp says:

          D. Olmens, Can you identify those missing puzzle pieces? I realize you are not insisting on the missing pieces themselves, and for the purpose of this discussion, I think you are asking about The Gaps between certain ‘intriguing’ puzzle pieces in the rationale that prevent you from considering a conspiracy. That is a reasonable approach, and one that could shift the conversation. Will you identify specifically the gaps that concern you?

    • Eric Saunders says:

      I am sure that you know by now that it is policy that nowhere is the assassination to be discussed without a propagandist defending the discredited Warren Commission. And as for Oswald, he was such a brilliant lone-wolf communist(?) that he managed to infiltrate Guy Bannister’s office where that Latin American Anti-COmmunist League was located. What an amazing guy!

      • D. Olmens says:

        So, anyone who doesn’t agree that there was a conspiracy is a propagandist? That seems a little unbalanced to say the least. Is that really the case? I disagree.

        • JSA says:

          No, just because you’re mistaken doesn’t automatically make you a liar. Some people are just wrong because they don’t have all of the facts. Some people are wrong because they are in denial. I can think of lots of cases today of denial besides just the JFK assassination being more than one lone gunman. There’s global warming denial, there’s denial that cigarettes have a strong cancer link and that nicotine is very addictive, there’s Nazi holocaust denial…I could name more to bolster my point. Many people seem to be in denial that a domestic coup could take place in this country and that our media could have failed to call it out if it did happen. They say that the government can’t keep secrets, etc. They either omit or haven’t thought about how the atomic bomb project was kept a very tight secret until the summer of 1945, just to give one example. They also conveniently forget or omit that by late 1963, Kennedy was surrounded by powerful people in a position to take him down and cover up the main evidence pointing to them. I’m talking about the head of the FBI, the people directly under figurehead John McCone at CIA, including former director Allen Dulles, Lyndon Johnson, and Curtis LeMay, but quite likely all of the Joint Chiefs, by passive if not active support. All wanted Kennedy removed from power or (in the case of some of the Joint Chiefs like Shoup) would stand idly by and let it happen, not try to stop it.

          The thing that bothers me about all of this is the black and white thinking that seems to take place. This is a wonderful country, despite the flaws and the possibility of a coup fifty years ago. We have the potential to do great things, like liberate Europe, help the world fight hunger and disease, and we can go to the Moon. Government isn’t all bad. It’s occupied by corrupt people sometimes, but our basic system is still a great one. We need to be honest with ourselves however and grow up about the real problems and flaws, face them head on. The JFK assassination is one of these flawed areas.

    • Andy Young says:

      Your right Bill, Photon would rather all of us were silent, but at the same time he has us all thinking, a recent post about the nitrate test inspired me to look much deeper into the process, its complicated but conclusive, false readings are obtained from wood,paper, metals, glass, paint, cardboard and ant surface that has come into contact with any of the above, I may publish this with LHO and the book depository, Spectrographic Analysis and Neutron Activation Analysis are void because of the same contaminatoin from the above materials, none of these processes are used here in the UK due to the misscaridge of justice to The Birmingham Six (IRA) Bombings in the 1970′s and The Royal Commission findings in 2007, the six men tested positive because the were playing cards (card and ink), they were released, exonerated and received conpensation, the findings also called into question the experts as they new these problems. If I do write this it will be a very large undertaking, between 25000-50000 words, this I think is why nobody else has bothered, still Proton playing devils advocate may inspire others in other area’s to think and conduct research for themselves, so for this alone I applaud Proton, I for one welcome all points of view, its stimulates us all and i hope it encourage the new people to this site to dig deeper themselves, the more they look the greater there understanding. PS Proton is blinkered and uses an attack posture where a lightened debate is needed.

      • jeffc says:

        The issue with the paraffin test is false positive – not false negative as Photon has also been implying. This is why the FBI spent inordinate effort in late 1963 and early 1964 trying to understand why their lone assassin had a negative test on his cheek. As described in McKnight’s “Breach Of Trust”.

        • Mball says:

          As I understand it, the problem isn’t that Oswald had nitrates (I believe it is) on his hands. As someone stated, those can come from different objects he handled If he fired a weapon, that would also leave a deposit. The problem, I believe, is that he didn’t have any deposit on his face and he should have if he’d fired that rifle. People who later fired it had deposits all over their faces.

    • Photon says:

      Do you have any proof that Oswald ever was a U2 “radar operator”, what ever that was .
      Do you have any proof that Oswald ever tracked ANY U2 flight?
      Do you have any proof that Oswald ever was in communication with any U2 flight?
      The claim that Oswald was in any way associated with the U2 program is a complete myth promulgated by individuals with absolutely no connection with the program, either pre-Powers or post-Powers .

      • leslie sharp says:

        Photon, are you finally willing to engage in discussion about the possibility that Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union might have included radio intel relating to US Air Force Intelligence operation? Have you studied the transfer of defense funding to AF intelligence in the early ’50′s, and operations intent on positioning informants within the Soviet Union?

        • Photon says:

          Can’t answer it, can you?
          Apparently you didn’t realize that U2 overflights had nothing to do with the Air Force per se. The pilots were “sheep-dipped” precisely to get the Air Force out of the picture. The Soviets had precise data on altitude and speed capabilities of the U2 from 1956 on. Now what “radio intel” was Oswald supposed to be involved with? Making radios in Minsk? At the same time hundreds of American Amateur Radio operators were building Heathkits of greater sophistication than anything Oswald made in Minsk. What was this so-called Air Force intel operation that you claim to know about?

          • leslie sharp says:

            I refer you to E.H. Cookridge’s work. Can you prove that certain intelligence operations initiated at the beginning of the Cold War were shut down, or did they simply progress with greater sophistication into the late ’50′s and early ’60′s? Who do you believe was running the U-2 project?

          • Photon says:

            Why would I want to read anything by the author of “Gehlen, Spy of the Century”? Gehlen’s post war orginazation was so riddled with Stasi agents that the quip in the 60s was that it was cheap to run an intelligence service in the Bundesrepublik because most of the employees had two jobs.
            What if anything made Cookridge an expert on U2s?
            I KNOW who was running the U2 “project”; I have even met non-American U2 pilots who made extremely hazardous flights after Powers was shot down. Those pilots made some of the last strategic recon missions before the U2 was re-directed to tactical recon.

    • D. Olmens says:

      This is misrepresentating a line of argument to try and create the appearance of an inherent contradiction. You’re implying that people, myself included I suspect, are claiming that Oswald was simultaneously both a brilliant assassin and an idiot at the same time. This is not the case.

      Firstly, Oswald an intel operative? Ok, within the realms of possibility I admit, but where’s the concrete evidence he was an actual operative? Secondly, in using the term “mastermind” you’re implying there was an extremely complicated level of planning needed. This is debatable. Just to add a little perspective, Oswald worked in the TSBD and the motorcade route went directly past his workplace which provided an elevated view overlooking Dealey Plaza. Thirdly, in my view, the turmoil in Oswald’s personal life, his inability to hold down a job, imploding marriage, and so on, could well be contributing factors. Oswald a loner? It seems that way. Loser? Depends how you look at his life I guess. Idiot? No claim is made to this effect. Brilliant assassin? No claim is made to this effect either.

      • Jeff Pascal says:

        The way in which the press handled this new dictabelt study, and the way that this was presented to the press dampened my enthusiasm for reading the book, but I must say in browsing quickly at the book in B&N that there is some very interesting material in regards to Dealey Plaza witnesses, and fake Secret Service Agents in The Kennedy Half Century. Including, at least one account never published before.

      • leslie sharp says:

        D. Olmens: Are you refuting the claim (made by some of us) that accusations against Oswald include inherent contradictions: “a brilliant assassin and an idiot at the same time.”

        . . . . Clearly both assertions about Oswald’s character cannot reside in the same argument; therefore, are you saying that he was neither, or that he was one and not the other? Or was he something else entirely?

        D.O. Secondly, in using the term “mastermind” you’re implying there was an extremely complicated level of planning needed. This is debatable.

        . . . . How perfect a storm was required to align the conditions preceding the assassination with the actual act, the immediate aftermath, the following decade, and the pursuant years of cover up?

        D.O. Oswald worked in the TSBD and the motorcade route went directly past his workplace which provided an elevated view overlooking Dealey Plaza.

        . . . Precisely. He did not lurch from the sidewalk with a handgun, or rush into traffic in a frenzy to stop the motorcade. He was in the perfect place at the perfect time. That is not the act of an idiot; the fact that he did not plan for his escape is not the act of a brilliant assassin.

        D.O. the turmoil in Oswald’s personal life, his inability to hold down a job, imploding marriage, and so on, could well be contributing factors.
        . . . how many tens of thousands of Dallasites fit that profile at the time?

        D.O. Oswald a loner? It seems that way. Loser? Depends how you look at his life I guess. Idiot? No claim is made to this effect. Brilliant assassin? No claim is made to this effect either.
        . . . . Loner, Loser, Idiot, (brilliant) Assassin; all terms used by those who insist that Lee Harvey Oswald alone assassinated John Kennedy.

      • Photon says:

        10 years after JFK and despite a level of security exponentially greater than that seen in Dallas a politically active woman known to law enforcement agencies got close enough to the President to fire a shot with a handgun that she was almost totally unfamiliar with. Despite that unfamiliarity she missed inflicting a fatal wound on the President by inches.
        So what was so hard or unbelievable about what Oswald did?

        • leslie sharp says:

          I have already outlined several of many obstacles in the plan Oswald is alleged to have hatched. You could refer to my previous comments to refresh your memory? Also, if you note, I asked why did Oswald leave money and his ring, but take that wallet with him?

        • leslie sharp says:

          Photon, what do you mean “not enough to stop him obviously?

          Are you suggesting that Oswald was “able to leap tall buildings with a single bound….?

          What and who cleared the way of those obstacles? By pure logic, Oswald alone could not have assured the conditions that culminated in the assassination.

          In my view, the outstanding question is who could have guaranteed that the bubble top would not be in place?

          That issue defies postulation on either side of this debate. What was the back up plan? Was someone else in position to kill Kennedy in the event that he did not die in front of the the depository building? Did Oswald, as a lone assassin, simply take the gamble that the bubble top would not be in place? How many precedents for that were there at the time? Had Oswald studied those records or considered that possibility? Did someone alert him that the top would be down? And if so or not, did Oswald have a back up plan, or was his a purely opportunistic knee-jerk act of chance and the stars simply aligned? Would the bubble have completely obstructed the/any shots from any direction, or could a more strategically placed sniper have been able to deal with the bubble top?

  6. DR says:

    What the hell?
    Sabato was just on MSNBC Friday the 18th, appx. 8:45 west coast time.

    Unless I heard this completely wrong, Sabato just said the only thing he could guarantee is that Oswald was the shooter that day and we may never know if “He had help”. (I’m paraphrasing)

    I have only seen fabricated evidence that Oswald was on the 6th floor at all, let alone actually shot anyone that day.

    All this energy on a dictabelt when there is so much obvious information of a set-up and cover-up…

    • Jeff Pascal says:

      DR-I agree there is nothing certain about Oswald firing from the 6th floor, in Sabato’s book he implies BW Frazier was wrong about the size of the paper bag allegedly carrying a weapon, but says that the bag is 7 feet. The problem is not only did Frazier and Randle say the bag was about 27-28 inches tops, a MC broken down is 34.8 inches and LHO carried the bag under his armpit, so even if folded over a couple of times this would have been too long. Also, there was no oil residue found on the bag. How could this be? A 7 ft. package holding a ww2 surplus rifle rattling around the back seat of a car for a few miles, then taken up 6 flights of stairs, disassembled then put together? There had to have been fresh prints all over that rifle too unless he wore gloves and wiped the rifle down thoroughly, which presses the time even more with his encounter with Officer Baker. Add in the Coke, and no one saw or heard him go down the stairs, though Williams, Jarman, and Norman, were on the fifth floor, and Styles, Adams and Dorman were on the 4th floor,and Oswald was non athletic wearing hard soled shoes that would have reverberated on an old wooden staircase the faster he moved. So as not to look suspicious, or be out of breath to Supervisor Truly, and Baker is pretty remarkable. That doesn’t mean he didn’t shoot, but sounds like reasonable doubt to me.

      • Photon says:

        Did Frazier have a tape measure?

        • leslie sharp says:

          Photon, was Frazier fully cognizant of events surrounding him at the time? In retrospect, he makes an endearing witness for what he experienced; however, one needs to consider his age, life circumstances, influences in 1963 to measure his testimony. Impressionable comes to mind.

        • Bob Zentrails says:

          No, Frazier testified that Oswald carried a paper bag that was cupped by his hand on one end and stuck in his armpit on the other.

          The M-C was far too long for LHO to have done that. On the other hand, I think a Mauser would have fit perfectly. Perhaps LHO’s co-conspirators were the ones without the tape measure.

          Funny way to carry your lunch, I’ll grant you that.

    • Mball says:

      Sabato’s problem, one that many others have, is a failure to come to grips withn the fact that in some arteas of this case the evidence was tampered with. You can’t hang your inestigative hat on tampered evidence. The actual science used to dissect the shooting strongly indicates multiple shooters, at least one of which was on or very near the grassy knoll. Chief Curry said that no one could put Oswald on the 6th floor at the relevant time with a gun in his hands. He was right. And the chain of evidence in re the gun, bullets, etc. from the 6th floor was hopelessly flawed.

  7. John Bagnole says:

    I don’t understand why Donald Thomas’ outstanding work in this area was not specifically mentioned in the article. He recently spoke at the 50th Anniversary Duquesne conference on “Passing the Torch’” as did Sabato. Sabato’s findings were challenged at the time. Thomas’ earlier work is mentioned on the Mary Ferrell link.

    • Mball says:

      Good point. Thomas laid out his work for the world to see, and had it peer reviewed, That review confirmed his work, and therefore it confirmed the HSCA’s work on the accoustics. I think that many like the assertion of Sabato’s that the accoustics tests were wrong, just trust him. If Thomas has seen Sabato’s work on the accoustics, I’d like to hear his rebuttal.

  8. Angelika says:

    Yes! Finally something about blinkering.

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