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For The Record  

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

Record­ed Jan­u­ary 21, 2007

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1   Side 2


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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