Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #789 RFK Assassination Reopened

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

Grant Coop­er and Sirhan

The death of Robert F. Kennedy

Intro­duc­tion: Robert Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion was not the work of a “lone nut,” any more than were the killings of his broth­er, Mar­tin Luther King and many oth­ers. Robert Kennedy was dis­patched by the same forces that killed his broth­er.

We’ve pro­duced much pro­gram­ming and post­ing over the years on the assas­si­na­tions of JFKRFK and Mar­tin Luther King. All of these killings are con­nected and, togeth­er, com­prise the sys­tem­atic elim­i­na­tion of viable pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship in this coun­try.

(The Freiko­rps in Ger­many and the Patri­otic Soci­eties in Japan paved the way for the rise of fas­cism in those coun­tries through a sim­i­lar pro­gram of orga­nized killing.)

The assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy has been mov­ing toward a for­mal re-open­ing. Due to the efforts of attor­neys William Pep­per and Lau­rie Dusek, the evi­dence of a sec­ond gun gains cred­i­bil­ity and momen­tum.

(For a detailed overview of the RFK assas­si­na­tion , see AFA #9. For an exam­i­na­tion of some of the main points of infor­ma­tion, see FTR #582).

In addi­tion to new sci­en­tific infor­ma­tion con­firm­ing that more than eight shots were fired (Sirhan’s gun only held eight), that the girl in the pol­ka dot dress” was real and indi­ca­tions  that Sirhan was indeed hyp­no-pro­grammed, a wit­ness has come for­ward claim­ing that there was more than one gun­man and that her pre­vi­ous tes­ti­mony was dis­tort­ed.

Nina Rhodes-Hugh­es claims that she nev­er endorsed the sin­gle gun­man the­ory on the record and that her tes­ti­mony to that effect was inac­cu­rate. She says she saw a sec­ond gun­man and that there were more than eight shots fired.

Notice the rel­a­tive silence sur­round­ing the re-open­ing of the case–an inci­dent that deter­mined the course of a very impor­tant Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1968.

Stat­ing the obvi­ous, Robert F. Kennedy’s kids RFK jr. and Rory have stat­ed that they believe that Pres­i­dent Kennedy was not assas­si­nated by a lone nut.

We’ve not seen any state­ments by Kennedy fam­ily mem­bers about the assas­si­na­tion of Robert Kennedy. The inves­ti­ga­tion of Robert Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion yields evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries lead­ing in the direc­tion of his brother’s killing, Dr. King’s assas­si­na­tion and the shoot­ing of George Wal­lace. (Had Wal­lace run as an inde­pen­dent can­di­date he might have threat­ened Nixon’s “South­ern Strat­e­gy.”)

Pro­gram High­lights Include: 

  • Dis­cus­sion of Sirhan’s first attor­ney Grant Coop­er.
  • Coop­er’s links to Mafioso John­ny Rosel­li.
  • The fact that Coop­er was under indict­ment at the time he rep­re­sent­ed Sirhan and was thus vul­ner­a­ble to manip­u­la­tion.
  • Nina Rhodes’ omis­sion from Sirhan’s tri­al as an eye­wit­ness.
  • Sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence for 13 shots in the Ambas­sador Hotel pantry–Sirhan’s gun only con­tained eight rounds.
  • Indi­ca­tions that five of the shots were trav­el­ing in the oth­er direc­tion from Sirhan’s fir­ing tra­jec­tor.
  • Infor­ma­tion that the sequenc­ing of shots that pre­cludes the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Sirhan being the only shoot­er.
  • Sirhan’s hyp­not­ic regres­sion, yield­ing indi­ca­tions of the flash of a sec­ond gun.
  • Sirhan’s hyp­not­ic regres­sion indi­cat­ing that the “girl in the pol­ka-dot dress” held a sex­u­al hold over him and that the influ­ence was a fac­tor in the hyp­no-pro­gram­ming of him.
  • Author and edi­tor George Plimp­ton was at Robert Kennedy’s elbow at the time of his assas­si­na­tion. Plimp­ton edit­ed the Paris Review, which had long stand­ing ties to the CIA.
  • The appar­ent sui­cide of RFK, Jr.‘s wife, this at the time that the assas­si­na­tion of his father was head­ing back to court.
  • A review of some of the key aspects of the Robert F. Kennedy assas­si­na­tion, includ­ing evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries link­ing the RFK, JFK, MLK assas­si­na­tions, the shoot­ing of George Wal­lace and Water­gate.

1. The assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy has been mov­ing toward a for­mal re-open­ing.

 “Sirhan Sirhan, Assas­sin of Robert F. Kennedy, Launch­es New Cam­paign for Free­dom 42 Years Lat­er” by Jacqui God­dard; The Tele­graph [UK]; 12/03/2011.

Lawyers for Robert F Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sirhan claim to have new evi­dence that will free him from prison, 42 years after he was jailed for assas­si­nat­ing the US sen­a­tor.

They say the new mate­r­ial hands them “game, set and match” in their cam­paign to release him from the life sen­tence he was giv­en on being con­victed for gun­ning down the sen­a­tor at a Cal­i­for­nia hotel.

They have launched a fresh appeal on behalf of Sirhan, 67, claim­ing in court for the first time that pros­e­cu­tors fab­ri­cated bal­lis­tics evi­dence against him at tri­al, switch­ing a bul­let that was tak­en from the dead senator’s neck for one that they claimed matched the defendant’s gun.

Lawyers also seek a re-exam­i­na­tion of claims that Sirhan was framed by shad­owy agents — indi­rectly sug­gested as being the CIA — who they say “hyp­no-pro­grammed” him into tak­ing part in the shoot­ing to divert atten­tion from their own fatal gun­fire.

Court doc­u­ments filed in fed­eral court in Los Ange­les now pull togeth­er years of research, evi­den­tiary doc­u­ments and psy­cho­log­i­cal analy­ses of Sirhan for a case that his lawyer says proves him as a vic­tim of “an egre­gious mis­car­riage of jus­tice” and “hor­ren­dous vio­la­tions” of his legal rights.

“On the law, and on the evi­dence, it’s game set and match to us. It’s all over,” Dr William Pep­per told The Sun­day Telegraph.

“But we are deal­ing with a high pro­file polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tion that involves the gov­ern­ment and gov­ern­ment agen­cies and a cov­er-up for 43 years, So I’m not con­fi­dent that we are going to over­come the pol­i­tics, but I’m con­fi­dent that they have got to give us an evi­den­tiary hear­ing and put all this under oath in a court of law, which has nev­er hap­pened.”

Sen­a­tor Kennedy died on June 6, 1968, one day after the shoot­ing at the Ambas­sador Hotel in Los Ange­les, where he had been cel­e­brat­ing vic­tory in the Cal­i­for­nia pri­mary of the race for the Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. He had just deliv­ered his vic­tory address in the ball­room and was tak­ing a short cut out of the hotel through the crowd­ed kitchen when Sirhan stepped for­ward and opened fire.

The senator’s loss altered the course of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and sent shock waves through a coun­try still com­ing to terms with the assas­si­na­tion four and a half years ear­lier of his broth­er, Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy, by polit­i­cal mal­con­tent Lee Har­vey Oswald. . .

2. Nina Rhodes-Hugh­es claims that she nev­er endorsed the sin­gle gun­man the­ory on the record and that her tes­ti­mony to that effect was inac­cu­rate. She says she saw a sec­ond gun­man and that there were more than eight shots fired.

“Key Wit­ness in Assas­si­na­tion of RFK Says Sirhan Sirhan Didn’t Act Alone” by Eric Pfeif­fer; The Sideshow [CNN]; 4/30/2012.

A key wit­ness to the 1968 assas­si­na­tion of Robert F. Kennedy has retract­ed her offi­cial state­ments in the case and now claims that con­victed assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan did not act alone.

Nina Rhodes-Hugh­es, 78, tells CNN that the FBI “twist­ed” her orig­i­nal state­ments to author­i­ties. In recent court fil­ings led by Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­eral Kamala Har­ris, state pros­e­cu­tors argue that even if there were a sec­ond gun­man on the scene, Sirhan is still guilty of mur­der.

“What has to come out is that there was anoth­er shoot­er to my right,” Rhodes told CNN. “The truth has got to be told. No more cov­er-ups.”

Rhodes’ orig­i­nal FBI state­ment says she only heard 8 gun­shots at the time and makes no men­tion of a sec­ond shoot­er. How­ever, Rhodes, who was just feet away from Kennedy says she nev­er claimed to have only heard 8 shots.

“I nev­er said eight shots. I nev­er, nev­er said it. There were more than eight shots,” she told CNN. “There were at least 12, maybe 14. And I know there were because I heard the rhythm in my head.”

Last Novem­ber, Sirhan’s attor­neys announced they were fil­ing a chal­lenge to the ver­dict, alleg­ing a con­spir­acy by author­i­ties in the case. They are ask­ing that Sirhan be released from prison. His attor­neys argue that Sirhan was the vic­tim of a mali­cious form of “hypo pro­gram­ming” that false­ly caused him to believe he was RFK’s assas­sin.

“For me it’s hope­ful and sad that it’s only com­ing out now instead of before — but at least now instead of nev­er,” Rhodes told CNN.

Rhodes was nev­er called as a wit­ness in Sirhan’s tri­al but claims she gave an inter­view short­ly after the shoot­ing dur­ing which she claimed to have heard at least a dozen shots.

3a. There is strong and mount­ing evi­dence for a “sec­ond gun” hav­ing been present in the Ambas­sador Hotel.

“Attor­neys for RFK Con­victed Killer Sirhan Push ‘Sec­ond Gun­man’ Argu­ment” by Michael Mar­tinez and Brad John­son; CNN; 3/5/2012.

If there was a sec­ond gun­man in Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion, who was it?

Lawyers for con­victed assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan claim their client did not fire any of the gun­shots that struck the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 1968. And in their lat­est fed­eral court fil­ing, they also rule out anoth­er man some have con­sid­ered a sus­pect — a pri­vate secu­rity guard named Thane Eugene Cesar, who was escort­ing Kennedy at the time he was shot.

Attor­neys William Pep­per and Lau­rie Dusek insist some­one oth­er than their client, Sirhan, fatal­ly shot Kennedy. They now say the real killer was not Cesar, a part-time uni­formed offi­cer long sus­pected by some con­spir­acy the­o­rists of play­ing a sin­is­ter role in the senator’s mur­der. . . .

. . . . In their court brief filed Feb­ru­ary 22, Sirhan’s lawyers said that Cesar is “believed in some quar­ters (not here) to be the sec­ond gun­man.”

“It is my per­sonal belief, at this time, that the secu­rity guard, Cesar, was not the sec­ond shoot­er,” William Pep­per said in e‑mail to CNN.

But Pep­per added Cesar still might have been involved in an assas­si­na­tion con­spir­a­cy.

“He may well have played a role,” he said.

“I have infor­ma­tion but can­not reveal it at this time,” said Pep­per, who insist­ed that his infor­ma­tion requires a new tri­al for Sirhan or, at min­i­mum, an evi­den­tiary hear­ing. “We need an evi­den­tiary hear­ing to deal with the sec­ond shoot­er and his iden­tity,” he added. . . .

. . . . Pep­per and his co-coun­sel also allege fraud was com­mit­ted at Sirhan’s 1969 tri­al when pros­e­cu­tors allowed sub­sti­tute bul­lets to be admit­ted as evi­dence in place of the real bul­lets removed from Kennedy’s neck and shoot­ing sur­vivor Ira Goldstein’s hip.

“There was a fraud on the court with respect to the bal­lis­tics evi­dence, I think this is quite clear,” Pep­per told CNN. “The rem­edy is a new tri­al or (Sirhan’s) release.”. . . .

. . . . Sirhan’s lawyers say the [Stanis­law Pruszyn­ski] audio­tape reveals that a sec­ond gun fired at least five shots in addi­tion to the eight shots fired by their client. Pep­per and Dusek base this on an analy­sis of the record­ing by audio expert Philip Van Praag, who has con­cluded that the sounds of at least 13 shots can be count­ed on the tape, even though there were only eight bul­lets in Sirhan’s one and only gun, which he had no oppor­tu­nity to reload.

All of that means that a sec­ond gun had to be involved, accord­ing to Van Praag’s analy­sis. . . .

. . . . Pep­per and Dusek say Van Praag’s con­clu­sions are not spec­u­la­tion, but are “based on sol­id sci­en­tific evi­dence,” and Pep­per says Har­ris’ recent court fil­ing has now raised pub­lic recog­ni­tion of the sec­ond-gun­man sce­nario that he and Dusek are advanc­ing.

“What is of inter­est is that there now seems to be more recog­ni­tion of the fact that there was a sec­ond shoot­er, well posi­tioned to put three bul­lets into the sen­a­tor from close pow­der-burn range behind him, whilst Sirhan was always some dis­tance in front of him,” Pep­per told CNN.

The Van Praag audio analy­sis con­cludes that the Pruszyn­ski record­ing is authen­tic and that all 13 sounds are gun­shots — not a sin­gle one of them a burst­ing bal­loon or any oth­er non-shot noise, shot ric­o­chet or echo.

It also finds that some of the shots were fired too rapid­ly, at inter­vals too close togeth­er for all the shots to have come from Sirhan’s inex­pen­sive hand­gun, and that the five shots which Van Praag says were fired oppo­site the direc­tion of Sirhan’s eight shots — those five being the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th and 12th shots in the sequence — dis­played an acousti­cal “fre­quency anom­aly” indi­cat­ing the alleged sec­ond gun’s make and mod­el were dif­fer­ent from Sirhan’s weapon. . . .

3b. Under hyp­no­sis, Sirhan was able to recall a con­sid­er­able amount of infor­ma­tion about “the girl in the pol­ka-dot dress”–a fig­ure report­ed by many eye­wit­ness­es to have cel­e­brat­ed the assas­si­na­tion of Robert Kennedy and appeared to have impli­cat­ed her­self and oth­ers in the crime.

“Con­victed RFK Assas­sin Says Girl Manip­u­lated Him” by Lin­da Deutsch [AP]; yahoo.news; 4/28/2011.

Con­vict­ed assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lated by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The doc­u­ments filed this week in fed­eral court and obtained by The Asso­ci­ated Press detail exten­sive inter­views with Sirhan dur­ing the past three years, some done while he was under hyp­no­sis.

The papers point to a mys­te­ri­ous girl in a pol­ka-dot dress as the con­troller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambas­sador Hotel. But the doc­u­ments sug­gest a sec­ond per­son shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diver­sion.

For the first time, Sirhan said under hyp­no­sis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believ­ing he was at a fir­ing range and see­ing cir­cles with tar­gets in front of his eyes.

“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actu­ally shoot­ing at any per­son, let alone Bob­by Kennedy,” Sirhan was quot­ed as say­ing dur­ing inter­views with Daniel Brown, a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor and expert in trau­ma mem­ory and hyp­no­sis. He inter­viewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and with­out hyp­no­sis, accord­ing to the legal brief.

San­di Gib­bons, a spokes­woman for the Los Ange­les Coun­ty dis­trict attor­ney, said pros­e­cu­tors were unaware of the legal fil­ing and could not com­ment.

The sto­ry of the girl has been a lin­ger­ing theme in accounts of the events just after mid­night on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claim­ing vic­tory in the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry.

Wit­nesses talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was nev­er iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were con­flict­ing.

Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no mem­ory of shoot­ing Kennedy and said in the recent inter­views that his pres­ence at the hotel was an acci­dent, not a planned des­ti­na­tion.

Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

“I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her.... That’s all that I can think about,” he says in one inter­view cit­ed in the doc­u­ments. “I was fas­ci­nated with her looks .... She nev­er said much. It was very erot­ic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavail­abil­i­ty.” . . .

. . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­notic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door.

“Then I was on the tar­get range ... a flash­back to the shoot­ing range ... I didn’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

Under what Brown called the con­di­tion of hyp­notic free recall, he said Sirhan remem­bered see­ing the flash of a sec­ond gun at the time of the assas­si­na­tion. With­out hyp­no­sis, he said, Sirhan could not remem­ber that shot.

5. Among the rea­sons that Sirhan’s con­vic­tion was real­ized was the remark­able coun­sel he received. Grant Coop­er was tied to Mob­ster John­ny Rosel­li and under indict­ment at the time he rep­re­sent­ed Sirhan. His con­duct would have been more appro­pri­ate for a pros­e­cu­tor than a defense attor­ney.

“RFK Assas­si­na­tion Legal Case Update” by Russ Bak­er; WhoWhat­Why; 4/5/2013.

. . . . Although Sirhan pled guilty at his orig­i­nal tri­al in 1969, Pep­per con­tends that Sirhan was betrayed by a lead mem­ber of his orig­i­nal legal team, Grant Coop­er, who Pep­per notes was him­self under fed­eral indict­ment at the time for ille­gally pos­sess­ing grand jury pro­ceed­ings in anoth­er famous case, involv­ing card cheat­ing at the Bev­erly Hills Friar’s Club. Coop­er, who faced pos­si­ble jail time for that, end­ed up being let off with a $1000 fine.

Intrigu­ingly, his client in the Friar’s affair, John Rosel­li, was an orga­nized crime fig­ure with CIA ties often named as a pos­si­ble con­spir­a­tor in the death of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy.

The defense had Sirhan admit guilt and sought to por­tray him as both men­tally defi­cient and act­ing on impulse. Pep­per notes that the attorney’s per­sonal vul­ner­a­bil­ity was known to the judge and pros­e­cu­tion, and that they nev­er­the­less said noth­ing while Sirhan’s real inter­ests were not rep­re­sented, and excul­pa­tory evi­dence was sup­pressed. Although Sirhan con­fessed to shoot­ing at Robert Kennedy, he lat­er said that he could remem­ber noth­ing at all of that trag­ic day. . . .

. . . If Sirhan had been rep­re­sented by capa­ble attor­neys deter­mined to learn the truth about the polit­i­cally fraught sec­ond mur­der of a Kennedy broth­er in five years, things might have turned out dif­fer­ently. Instead, his attor­neys per­suaded Sirhan to plead guilty in hopes of avoid­ing the death penal­ty; Sirhan put up no resis­tance to this strat­egy since, as he would lat­er reveal, he had zero recall of what hap­pened on the night of the shoot­ing. He was sen­tenced to the death penal­ty any­way, though sev­eral years lat­er the sen­tence was com­muted to life in prison after Cal­i­for­nia abol­ished the death penal­ty.

Pep­per, in his recent fil­ing, directs much of his out­rage at attor­ney Grant Coop­er:

As a mat­ter of record he accept­ed, with­out even the most per­func­tory exam­i­na­tion or chal­lenge, all of the State’s bal­lis­tic evi­dence…. As a result, defense Coun­sel Cooper’s indict­ment [for ille­gally pos­sess­ing grand jury pro­ceed­ings in anoth­er case] went away. He was reward­ed for obtain­ing the guilty plea and death penal­ty sen­tence….

Indeed, here’s what Coop­er said in his clos­ing remarks:

“Now, let me state at the out­set that I want this to sink in if any­thing sinks in—we are not here to free a guilty man.We tell you as we always have, that he is guilty of hav­ing killed Sen­a­tor Kennedy….we expect that under the evi­dence in this case, whether Mr. Sirhan likes it or not, under the facts of this case, he deserves to spend the rest of his life in the pen­i­ten­tiary….Don’t we know from dozens and dozens of wit­nesses that this defen­dant pulled the trig­ger that killed Sen­a­tor Kennedy?…there is no ques­tion about that.”

…“I wouldn’t want Sirhan Sirhan to be turned loose as he is dan­ger­ous, espe­cially when the psy­chi­a­trists tell us that he is going to get worse and he is get­ting worse. There is a good Sirhan and a bad Sirhan and the bad Sirhan is nasty… we as lawyers owe the oblig­a­tion to do what we think is right to the fullest extent of our abil­ity but we also owe an oblig­a­tion to soci­ety. And, I, for one, am not going to ask you to do oth­er­wise than to bring in a ver­dict of guilty in the sec­ond degree.”

It takes a moment to real­ize that this is not the pros­e­cu­tor, but the defense lawyer. No won­der most of us take for grant­ed that Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy—and act­ed alone. . . .

6a. In a past post, we not­ed the pro­found rela­tion­ship between the pres­ti­gious “pro­gres­sive” lit­er­ary peri­od­i­cal The Paris Review and the CIA. Exem­pli­fy­ing what is known as “the left CIA,” the agents and assets grac­ing the pages of the Paris Review com­prise a sig­nif­i­cant ele­ment of post-World War II Amer­i­can literati and intel­li­gentsia. The pub­li­ca­tion was edit­ed by George Plimp­ton, per­haps best known for his book Paper Lion.A recent issue of Van­i­ty Fair con­tains a short  arti­cle about George Plimp­ton. In this sto­ry, we find an inter­est­ing and, per­haps, very sig­nif­i­cant detail about Plimp­ton’s career. Plimp­ton was at Robert F. Kennedy’s elbow at the Ambas­sador Hotel the night he was killed and “dis­armed the attacker”–a pre­sumed ref­er­ence to pat­sy Sirhan Sirhan.

Although one cer­tain­ly can­not draw con­clu­sions from this, it rais­es some inter­est­ing ques­tions: Might Plimp­ton actu­al­ly have been CIA him­self? Might his pres­ence at the Ambas­sador have been con­nect­ed to the assas­si­na­tion plot? Did he have any­thing to say about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a con­spir­a­cy and a pos­si­ble sec­ond shoot­er?

“Curi­ous George” by A. M. Homes; Van­i­ty Fair; June, 2013.

EXCERPT: . . . .He would sort of pop up around the edges of these impor­tant moments in his­to­ry. For exam­ple, he was stand­ing next to Robert Kennedy when he was assas­si­nat­ed in Los Ange­les, and George lit­er­al­ly helped dis­arm and sub­due the attack­er,” says Bean. . . .

6b. About the CIA, the Paris Review and George Plimp­ton:

“Exclu­sive: The Paris Review, the Cold War and the CIA” by Joel Whit­ney; Salon.com; 5/27/2012.

EXCERPT: . . . . The Paris Review has been hailed by Time mag­a­zine as the “biggest ‘lit­tle mag­a­zine’ in his­to­ry.” At the cel­e­bra­tion of its 200th issue this spring, cur­rent edi­tors and board mem­bers ran down the ros­ter of lit­er­ary heavy­weights it helped launch since its first issue in 1953. Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, T.C. Boyle, Edward P. Jones and Rick Moody pub­lished their first sto­ries in the Review; Jack Ker­ouac, Jim Car­roll, Jonathan Franzen and Jef­frey Eugenides all had impor­tant ear­ly sto­ries in its pages. But as Peter Matthiessen, the magazine’s founder, has told inter­view­ers — most recent­ly at Penn State — the jour­nal also began as part of his CIA cov­er.

[Edi­tor George] Plimpton’s let­ter on Paster­nak is essen­tial, how­ev­er, because for many years a small group of jour­nal­ists has been try­ing to pry more infor­ma­tion out of Matthiessen on the still-unknown extent of the CIA’s role with the Paris Review — and many in par­tic­u­lar have won­dered what the leg­endary Plimp­ton him­self knew of the magazine’s CIA ori­gins. . . .

. . . . In the doc­u­men­tary “Doc,” Plimp­ton admits that Matthiessen found­ed the Review as a CIA cov­er. But Plimp­ton says that none of the oth­er edi­tors knew this until the 1960s. Matthiessen con­firmed that in his Penn State inter­view, and says it would have been ille­gal for him to tell them of the agency’s involve­ment.) “This was right after the war. It was when the CIA was start­ing up. It was not into assas­si­na­tions and all the ugly stuff yet,” he adds in “Doc,” speak­ing to doc­u­men­tar­i­an, Immy Humes. “There were so many guys sign­ing up for the CIA. It was kind of the thing to do.” Matthiessen declined sev­er­al requests to dis­cuss the Paris Review and the CIA with Salon.

But whether or not Plimp­ton knew of his old friend’s work as a spy, the oth­er edi­tors’ ties to the CIA through the Con­gress for Cul­tur­al Free­dom last­ed beyond the John F. Kennedy assas­si­na­tion and the buildup to and U.S. entrance into the Viet­nam War. . . .

7a. Stat­ing the obvi­ous, Robert F. Kennedy’s kids RFK jr. and Rory have stat­ed that they believe that Pres­i­dent Kennedy was not assas­si­nated by a lone nut.

“RFK Chil­dren Speak about Assas­si­na­tion in Dal­las” by Jamie Sten­gle; Asso­ci­ated Press; 1/12/2013.

EXCERPT: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is con­vinced that a lone gun­man wasn’t sole­ly respon­si­ble for the assas­si­na­tion of his uncle, Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the War­ren Com­mis­sion report was a “shod­dy piece of crafts­man­ship.”

Kennedy and his sis­ter, Rory, spoke about their fam­ily Fri­day night while being inter­viewed in front of an audi­ence by Char­lie Rose at the Win­spear Opera House in Dal­las. The event comes as a year of obser­vances begins for the 50th anniver­sary of the president’s death.

Their uncle was killed on Nov. 22, 1963, while rid­ing in a motor­cade through Dal­las. Five years lat­er, their father was assas­si­nated in a Los Ange­les hotel while cel­e­brat­ing his win in the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said his father spent a year try­ing to come to grips with his brother’s death, read­ing the work of Greek philoso­phers, Catholic schol­ars, Hen­ry David Thore­au, poets and oth­ers “try­ing to fig­ure out kind of the exis­ten­tial impli­ca­tions of why a just God would allow injus­tice to hap­pen of the mag­ni­tude he was see­ing.”

He said his father thought the War­ren Com­mis­sion, which con­cluded Lee Har­vey Oswald act­ed alone in killing the pres­i­dent, was a “shod­dy piece of crafts­man­ship.” He said that he, too, ques­tioned the report.

“The evi­dence at this point I think is very, very con­vinc­ing that it was not a lone gun­man,” he said, but he didn’t say what he believed may have hap­pened. . . .

7b. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.‘s wife was found dead of hang­ing, an alleged sui­cide. One won­ders if a mes­sage was being sent. The late Ms. Kennedy report­ed­ly had wres­tled with psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems and sub­stance abuse, which no doubt will keep the main­stream pun­dits sat­is­fied.

Obvi­ous­ly, we can­not say for sure whether Ms. Kennedy took her own life or was the recip­i­ent of “assist­ed sui­cide.” We would note in this regard that plen­ty of peo­ple strug­gle with sub­stance abuse and psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders and don’t kill them­selves.

Rush Lim­baugh got hooked on “Hill­bil­ly Hero­in” (Oxy­con­tin) and sought treat­ment for his addic­tion. He did­n’t hang him­self. (If he had, he’d have need­ed dock rope, plus a block and tack­le. The most telling com­ment I’ve heard on Lim­baugh came from come­di­an Mark Rus­sell who com­pared Rush to the Hin­den­burg, although admit­ting that it was inap­pro­pri­ate to com­pare a flam­ing Nazi gas-bag to a mag­nif­i­cent air­ship.)

“Coro­ner: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.‘s Estranged Wife Mary Died of ‘Ashyx­i­a­tion Due to  Hang­ing’ ” by Dylan Sta­ble­ford [The Look­out]; yahoo.com; 5/17/2012.

EXCERPT: Mary Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., died of “asphyx­i­a­tion due to hang­ing,” accord­ing to the results of an autop­sy per­formed on Thurs­day.

Mary Kennedy was found dead in her Bed­ford, N.Y., home on Wednes­day. The 52-year-old design­er had strug­gled with alco­hol and drug prob­lems.

In 1994, the for­mer Mary Richard­son mar­ried Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an envi­ron­men­tal lawyer and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The cou­ple had four chil­dren togeth­er. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed for divorce in May 2010. . . .

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #789 RFK Assassination Reopened”

  1. I have some knowl­edge of the Robert Kennedy assas­si­na­tion back in 1968. I’m very famil­iar with the var­i­ous aspects of the Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy assas­si­na­tion and would like to hear more about his broth­er’s mur­der. There are unan­swered ques­tions about that trag­ic night in Los Ange­les and would like to hear com­ments from those who have stud­ied the case. One thing I know is that there were more bul­let marks in the room where RFK was shot than could be held in Sirhan’s hand­gun and he had no time to reload before being sub­dued by well-wish­ers in the crowd.

    Posted by Joe Smolski | December 22, 2015, 3:27 pm
  2. @ Joe Smol­s­ki–

    AFA #9 should give you a good, run­ning jump.

    Just search this site look­ing for the RFK tag and you should have a good under­stand­ing of the case.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | December 22, 2015, 6:17 pm
  3. Sirhan Sirhan just lost his 15th parole hear­ing. It was­n’t sur­pris­ing, but there were a few twists. For this hear­ing, Paul Schrade, RFK’s cam­paign labor chair­man who was shot by Sirhan, tes­ti­fied that, yes, Sirhan did shoot Schrade, but he could­n’t have shot Kennedy too and should be released. It’s the kind of tes­ti­mo­ny that may be of lim­it­ed use at a parole hear­ing (“he shot me, but did­n’t shoot the oth­er guy”), but at least Schrade got to once again raise ques­tions about lone-assas­sin con­clu­sion. Not that Schrade’s tes­ti­mo­ny helped Sirhan at his parole hear­ing, but for the sake of pro­vid­ing key wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny to impor­tant events in Amer­i­can his­to­ry that future gen­er­a­tions will use to assess the like­ly truth of what hap­pened, it was quite help­ful:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    Sirhan Sirhan denied parole despite a Kennedy confidant’s call for the assassin’s release

    By Peter Hol­ley
    Feb­ru­ary 11, 2016

    After decades of inves­ti­ga­tion, Paul Schrade has no doubt about the iden­ti­ty of the man who shot him in the head short­ly after mid­night on June 5, 1968, in the kitchen of the Ambas­sador Hotel:

    It was Sirhan Sirhan, the same gun­man con­vict­ed of assas­si­nat­ing Robert F. Kennedy.

    And yet, when Schrade came face to face with Sirhan for the first time in near­ly 50 years, at a parole hear­ing in San Diego on Wednes­day, he argued that the noto­ri­ous gun­man wasn’t Kennedy’s killer.

    But the pan­el wasn’t swayed and Sirhan was denied parole for the 15th time, accord­ing to the Asso­ci­at­ed Press, which not­ed:

    Com­mis­sion­ers con­clud­ed after more than three hours of intense tes­ti­mo­ny at the Richard J. Dono­van Cor­rec­tion­al Cen­ter that Sirhan did not show ade­quate remorse or under­stand the enor­mi­ty of his crime.

    Still, the AP report­ed, Schrade for­gave his shoot­er dur­ing the hear­ing and apol­o­gized to Sirhan not doing more to win his release.

    “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me,” Schrade said.

    The AP not­ed that “Schrade’s voice cracked with emo­tion dur­ing an hour of tes­ti­mo­ny on his efforts to untan­gle mys­ter­ies about the events of June 5, 1968.” He said he believed Sirhan shot him, the AP not­ed, but that a sec­ond uniden­ti­fied shoot­er killed Kennedy.

    The 91-year-old Schrade, a Kennedy fam­i­ly friend, was work­ing as the labor chair­man of the senator’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1968. He was walk­ing behind Kennedy when the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date was shot four times.

    In part because Kennedy was struck from behind, Schrade has long advanced the argu­ment that Sirhan fired shots that night — but not the ones that killed Kennedy.

    The fatal bul­lets, Schrade argued, were fired from a dif­fer­ent shooter’s gun.

    The AP report­ed Wednes­day that Schrade “pro­vid­ed much of the dra­ma” dur­ing Wednesday’s parole hear­ing.

    He angri­ly ignored the commissioner’s admon­ish­ment to avoid direct­ly address­ing Sirhan and chas­tised the pros­e­cu­tion for a “ven­omous” state­ment advo­cat­ing that Sirhan stay in prison.

    Schrade, who long advo­cat­ed the sec­ond-gun­man the­o­ry, recalled how he became depressed and upset after the shoot­ing and vivid­ly described his exten­sive efforts to find answers. He stopped occa­sion­al­ly to apol­o­gize for being ner­vous and emo­tion­al.

    The com­mis­sion­er asked Schrade to wrap up after about an hour, say­ing, “Quite frankly, you’re los­ing us.”

    “I think you’ve been lost for a long time,” Schrade shot back.

    At one point, the com­mis­sion­er asked if any­one want­ed a break.

    “No, I want to get this over,” Schrade answered from the audi­ence. “I find it very abu­sive.”

    It was the first time the shoot­er and Schrade had faced each since he tes­ti­fied at Sirhan’s 1969 tri­al, accord­ing to the AP, and Schrade apol­o­gized for not going to any of Sirhan’s 14 pre­vi­ous parole hear­ings.

    Schrade told the Sarato­gian last year that even all these decades lat­er, each anniver­sary of Kennedy’s death renews his stub­born resolve to seek jus­tice.

    “The truth is in the prosecution’s own records and the autop­sy,” Schrade told the New York news­pa­per. “It says Sirhan couldn’t have shot Robert Kennedy and didn’t. He was out of posi­tion.”

    In a state­ment to Shane O’Sullivan, author of “Who Killed Bob­by? The Unsolved Mur­der of Robert F. Kennedy,” ahead of Wednesday’s parole hear­ing, Schrade out­lined the scope of his argu­ment.

    “The LAPD and LA DA knew two hours after the fatal shoot­ing of Robert Kennedy that he was shot by a sec­ond gun­man and they had con­clu­sive evi­dence that Sirhan Bishara Sirhan could not and did not do it,” the state­ment said. “The offi­cial record shows that [the pros­e­cu­tion at Sirhan’s tri­al] nev­er had one wit­ness – and had no phys­i­cal nor bal­lis­tic evi­dence – to prove Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy.

    “Evi­dence locked up for 20 years shows that the LAPD destroyed phys­i­cal evi­dence and hid bal­lis­tic evi­dence exon­er­at­ing Sirhan, and cov­ered up con­clu­sive evi­dence that a sec­ond gun­man fatal­ly wound­ed Robert Kennedy.”

    ...

    Sirhan was sen­tenced to death in 1969, but his sen­tence was com­mut­ed after the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court tem­porar­i­ly out­lawed cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in 1972.

    Now 71, Sirhan has stead­fast­ly main­tained that he has no mem­o­ry of the 1968 shoot­ing, while var­i­ous parole boards have assert­ed that he has not shown remorse for his crime or acknowl­edged the his­toric grav­i­ty of his actions.

    “I don’t remem­ber pulling a gun from my body,” he told board offi­cials in 2011. “I don’t remem­ber aim­ing it at any human being. Every­thing was always hazy in my head. I don’t remem­ber any­thing very clear­ly.”

    He added: “I’m not try­ing to evade any­thing.”

    On Wednes­day, accord­ing to the AP, Sirhan said yet again that he didn’t remem­ber the shoot­ing at the Ambas­sador Hotel.

    Sirhan recalled events before the shoot­ing in some detail — going to a shoot­ing range that day, vis­it­ing the hotel in search of a par­ty and return­ing after real­iz­ing he drank too many Tom Collins’ to dri­ve. He drank cof­fee in a hotel pantry with a woman to whom he was attract­ed.

    The next thing he said he remem­bered was being choked and unable to breathe.

    “It’s all vague now,” he said. “I’m sure you all have it in your records, I can’t deny it or con­firm it. I just wish this whole thing had nev­er tak­en place.”

    Sirhan may not remem­ber what hap­pened that night, but Schrade says he does, in exquis­ite detail.

    Before the shoot­ing began, he recalls walk­ing six to eight feet behind Kennedy through a hotel kitchen as the sen­a­tor stopped to shake hands with sev­er­al bus­boys, accord­ing to O’Sullivan.

    As Kennedy turned to con­tin­ue walk­ing, Schrade saw more than one flash and heard “a crack­ling sound like elec­tric­i­ty,” accord­ing to O’Sullivan’s book, “Who Killed Bob­by?

    “I got hit with the first shot,” Schrade told the Sarato­gian. “I was right behind Bob. It was meant for him and got me. I thought I had been elec­tro­cut­ed. I was shak­ing vio­lent­ly on the floor and saw flash­es.”

    Writ­ing for the Huff­in­g­ton Post in 2013, Schrade described his final moments with Kennedy and not­ed how close he came to death:

    Bob knew I was hit first because he asked “Is every­body OK? Is Paul all right?” as he lay fatal­ly wound­ed — always more con­cerned about oth­ers than him­self.

    I was lucky. If the bul­let that hit me in the fore­head had been a frac­tion of an inch low­er, I would have been killed instant­ly. Instead, I sur­vived and, after sev­er­al years of recov­ery, I was asked to take part in legal efforts to dis­cov­er all the facts about the shoot­ings — specif­i­cal­ly seri­ous ques­tions about whether Sirhan Sirhan had act­ed alone that night. As painful as it was for me to pur­sue, I knew that Amer­i­cans deserved to know the truth about what real­ly hap­pened to Robert Kennedy, whose death — like the death of Pres­i­dent Kennedy — changed the course of Amer­i­can his­to­ry for­ev­er.

    For those skep­ti­cal of Sirhan’s guilt, the crux of the argu­ment rests on the num­ber of shots fired that night.

    Accord­ing to O’Sullivan, Kennedy’s autop­sy revealed that the sen­a­tor was hit four times and that five oth­ers at the scene were wound­ed. If nine shots were fired, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists main­tain, one must have been fired by some­one oth­er than Sirhan, who was car­ry­ing an eight-shot revolver.

    Sirhan’s lawyers have also argued that their client was not in the right phys­i­cal posi­tion to fire the shot that killed Kennedy, accord­ing to Reuters.

    Schrade told the Sarato­gian that while no live tele­vi­sion footage cap­tured the shoot­ing, he believes that a sec­ond gun­man could have used the chaos to con­ceal a weapon and fire from close range.

    The news­pa­per not­ed that skep­tics’ argu­ments were seem­ing­ly bol­stered by a 2007 analy­sis of an audio record­ing of the shoot­ing. The analy­sis, the news­pa­per not­ed, “indi­cates a total of 13 shots fired, fur­ther strength­en­ing the argu­ment of those who believe a sec­ond gun­man was involved, Kennedy’s true assas­sin.”

    “No wit­ness saw Sirhan’s gun close to Robert Kennedy or behind him,” Schrade told the Sarato­gian. “He was three feet in front of Kennedy. We need to take the evi­dence we have in the files and try to find out who the sec­ond gun­man was and if there was a con­nec­tion with Sirhan. If all else fails, I’m going to have to go pub­lic and accuse the jus­tice estab­lish­ment of not bring­ing jus­tice to RFK. He deserves it and the fam­i­ly deserves it.”

    ...

    Sirhan will be eli­gi­ble for parole again in five years.

    “No wit­ness saw Sirhan’s gun close to Robert Kennedy or behind him...He was three feet in front of Kennedy. We need to take the evi­dence we have in the files and try to find out who the sec­ond gun­man was and if there was a con­nec­tion with Sirhan. If all else fails, I’m going to have to go pub­lic and accuse the jus­tice estab­lish­ment of not bring­ing jus­tice to RFK. He deserves it and the fam­i­ly deserves it.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 22, 2016, 3:43 pm

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