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For The Record  

FTR #582 Retrospective on the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

Recorded January 21, 2007

Listen: MP3

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Introduction: With the release in late 2006 of the popular motion picture Bobby, attention has been focused once again on the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The killing of Senator Robert F. Kennedy is often perceived as the one major American political assassination that was indisputably the work of a “lone-nut.” Although the crime superficially appeared to be the work of Sirhan Sirhan acting alone, there is conclusive evidence that such was not the case. The program presents forensic evidence that points conclusively to more than one gunman being involved. Coroner Thomas Noguchi’s autopsy revealed that the fatal shot was fired from a few inches from the back of Senator Kennedy’s head. Sirhan was standing several feet in front of Kennedy. Noguchi stated that just before he was to testify in court, a member of the D.A.’s office tried to get him to change his testimony. In addition to firm indications that more than 8 shots were fired (Sirhan’s gun only held 8 shots), the program presents evidence that Los Angeles Police personnel destroyed evidence that Sirhan did not act alone. Following the premier of Bobby, BBC Newsnight aired a story that alleged that several top CIA officials were present in the Ambassador Hotel on 6/5/68. One of them made comments that indicated his and [possibly] CIA involvement in the killings of both Kennedy brothers. After highlighting evidence that Sirhan was not the killer, the program sets forth information that points in the direction of one Thane Eugene Cesar as the probable real assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. A security guard in the Ambassador Hotel on the night of the assassination, Cesar was standing in perfect firing position just behind Robert Kennedy. Concluding with a possible explanation for the failure to explore the profound discrepancies in the physical evidence in the case, the program details the intelligence backgrounds of the two LAPD officers in charge of Special Unit Senator’s day-to-day operations. (SUS was the LAPD “investigative” unite put together to oversee the legal inquiry into Kennedy’s killing.)

Program Highlights Include: The fascist and national security connections of Thane Eugene Caesar, the security guard believed by many to have been the actual assassin; Cesar’s dissembling with regard to his ability to see and recount the events of 6/5/68; Cesar’s dissembling about when he sold a gun like the one used to kill Kennedy; the alleged presence in the Ambasssador Hotel of David Morales, CIA Chief of Operations and a veteran of JMWAVE, the CIA’s anti-Castro station in Miami; the alleged presence in the Ambassador of both Gordon Campbell and George Joannides, like Morales, veterans of JMWAVE.

1. “New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy’s assassination has been brought to light. The evidence was shown in a report by Shane O’Sullivan, broadcast on BBC Newsnight. It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968. The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and some of the officers were based in South-East Asia at the time, with no reason to be in Los Angeles. Kennedy had just won the California Democratic primary on an anti-War ticket and was set to challenge Nixon for the White House when he was shot in a kitchen pantry. A 24-year-old Palestinian, Sirhan Sirhan, was arrested as the lone assassin and notebooks at his house seemed to incriminate him. However, even under hypnosis, he has never been able to remember the shooting and defense psychiatrists concluded he was in a trance at the time. Witnesses placed Sirhan’s gun several feet in front of Kennedy but the autopsy showed the fatal shot came from one inch behind. Dr Herbert Spiegel, a world authority on hypnosis at Columbia University, believes Sirhan may have been hypnotically programmed to act as a decoy for the real assassin. The report is the result of a three-year investigation by filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan. He reveals new video and photographs showing three senior CIA operatives at the hotel. Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA’s Miami base for its Secret War on Castro. David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends: ‘I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.’ Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations. Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to act as the CIA liaison to the Congressional investigation into the JFK assassination. [Emphasis added.] Now, we see him at the Ambassador Hotel the night a second Kennedy is assassinated. . . .”
(“CIA Role Claim in Kennedy Killing” by Shane O’Sullivan; BBC Newsnight; 11/21/2006.)

2. The balance of the program consists of excerpts of AFA#9, recorded on 6/5/85, detailing the facts concerning the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. As noted briefly in the passage above, the shot that ended Robert Kennedy’s life was fired from a distance of an inch or so from the back of his head. No witness has ever placed Sirhan any closer to Kennedy than two or three feet in front of of him [the Senator]. Most witnesses place Sirhan around six or seven feet from the Senator, and none place him behind Kennedy. The inescapable conclusion, therefore, is that there were at least two gunmen in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. Other forensic evidence suggests the distinct possibility that Sirhan’s gun was never actually fired in the initial ballistics test allegedly performed by the Los Angeles Police Department. Subsequent investigations revealed that key evidence was destroyed by the LAPD, such as ceiling panels containing bullet holes. Those panels would have proved the existence of more than one gunman.

3. Much of the rest of the program highlights the actions of Thane Eugene Cesar on the evening of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. Working as a security guard at the Ambassador Hotel on the fateful evening, Cesar was identified by one eyewitness as the man who fired a shot [ostensibly returning fire] that “accidentally” struck Robert Kennedy. Cesar was in perfect position to have fired the fatal shots, standing behind Robert Kennedy. A number of things suggest that Cesar’s motives may not have been “accidental.” Employed by Lockheed’s Burbank facility in an area allocated to work on the CIA’s U2 project, Cesar was a known political reactionary who hated Kennedy. [Among the evidentiary tributaries running between the assassination of Robert Kennedy and America’s other political assassinations is the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was also associated with the U2 project.] A doctrinaire racist, Cesar was in contact with American Nazi groups and has given contradictory information about his activities in connection with Kennedy’s slaying. At first able to precisely recount the number, location and angle of Senator Kennedy’s wounds [when interviewed by a broadcast journalist shortly after the shooting], Cesar later claimed not to have been able to see the event clearly and not to have distinct memories of the incident. The owner of a gun like that Sirhan allegedly used to kill Kennedy, Cesar claimed to have sold it to an associate several months before RFK’s killing. In point of fact, he sold the weapon to that colleague after the assassination. Later, the weapon was stolen from the home of Cesar’s friend, who had moved to Arkansas

4. After the discussion of Thane Eugene Cesar, the rest of the broadcast focuses on a probable reason why so many of the discrepancies in the evidence were never properly investigated. In charge of the “investigation” by the LAPD were two Mexican-American police officers who had worked for the US intelligence system in Latin America. Working for the Agency for International Development’s police assistance program, both Manuel “Manny” Pena and Enrique “Hank” Hernandez had served AID in Latin American, training and advising police in counterintelligence and counterinsurgency techniques. Traditionally, AID assignments of that nature have served as a cover for CIA operations in that part of the world. The presence of Pena and Hernandez in such a key position in Special Unit Senator lends credence to the BBC Newsnight allegation about a possible CIA presence in the Ambassador Hotel.

5. NOTE: The source materials used in this program [and in AFA#9, from which the broadcast is excerpted] are: The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy by William Turner and Jonn Christian; Random House [HC]; Copyright 1978 by William Turner and John Christian; The Tangled Web by S. Duncan (“Rush”) Harp—privately published manuscript.


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