Source – covertactionmagazine.com
- “…The LAPD task force set to investigate the killing—the “Special Unit Senator” (SUS)—was headed by 22-year LAPD veteran Lt. Manuel Pena, who reportedly killed eleven people in the line of duty—more than any other officer in the history of the department…Pena temporarily retired from the LAPD to work with USAID’s Office of Public Safety in South America….Charles A. O’Brien, California’s Chief Deputy Attorney General, told William Turner that USAID was being used as an “ultra-secret CIA unit” that was known to insiders as the “Department of Dirty Tricks” and that it was involved in teaching foreign intelligence agents the techniques of assassination”
New Evidence Implicates CIA, LAPD, FBI and Mafia as Plotters in Elaborate “Hit” Plan to Prevent RFK From Ever Reaching White House
Yet even after over 50 years, high government officials like Vice President Kamala Harris are still trying to cover up the truth about his murder.
[California parole commissioners recommended on August 27th, 2021 that Sirhan Sirhan should be freed after spending more than 50 years in prison for assassinating Robert Kennedy. Governor Gavin Newsom (D), however, rejected parole for Sirhan in January. Strong evidence suggests that Sirhan was not the real killer and would be exonerated in any new and objective trial. This article is another in CAM’s series on political assassinations. It was originally published in September 2021 and is being reposted on the anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s assassination.—Editors]
“The color of the Statue of Liberty
Grows ever more deathly pale
As, loving freedom with bullets,
You shoot at yourself, America.”– Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “The Freedom to Kill,” 1970.
On June 5, 1968, a few minutes after midnight, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles while walking through a narrow serving area called “the pantry.” Kennedy had just won the California primary and was on his way to a room where print media reporters were waiting to hear him speak.
In early March, Lyndon B. Johnson had thrown open the race by announcing that he would not seek re-election because of the failure of his Vietnam policy. Kennedy emerged as a leading contender by energizing the youth wing of the party with his calls for sweeping social change.
Kennedy was in many ways a strange liberal icon because he grew up idolizing Herbert Hoover, was closest in his family to his father, Joseph, the millionaire business tycoon, began his career supporting Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunt, called for victory against communism in Vietnam in the early 1960s, and oversaw a terrorist campaign designed to overthrow the Cuban government.
Nevertheless, by the latter part of the 1960s, Kennedy had evolved into a crusader for the poor and dove on Vietnam who was trying to ride the wave of the protest movement into the White House.
Biographers Lester and Irene David wrote that Bobby was the Kennedy who “felt deepest, cared the most, and fought the hardest for humanity—crying out against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, championing the causes of blacks, Hispanics, and Mexican-Americans, and crusading against the suffering of children, the elderly and anyone else hurt or bypassed by social and economic progress.”
After Kennedy’s death, the Democratic Party became a shadow of its former self, with six of the next nine presidents being Republicans. The Party in this period abandoned its core base—union laborers, minorities, and blue-collar workers—focusing instead on Wall Street.
Official Version of Assassination
According to the official version, Kennedy was shot and killed by a lone gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian-born Jordanian citizen who was allegedly aghast by Kennedy’s recent decision to send 50 jet bombers to Israel to do harm to the Palestinians.
According to his mother, Sirhan had been traumatized as a child by the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His family home in East Jerusalem was destroyed by an Israeli bombing raid and he had witnessed the death of his older brother, who was killed by a Jordanian military vehicle that was swerving to escape Israeli gunfire.
Subsequently, he was arrested and convicted of the murder.
The prosecution during his trial—led by World War II hero Lynn “Buck” Compton who was subsequently appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan as Justice of the California Court of Appeals—showed that Sirhan was seen at the Ambassador Hotel on June 3, two nights before the attack, to learn the building’s layout, and that he visited a gun range on June 4.
Alvin Clark, Sirhan’s garbage collector, testified that Sirhan had told him a month before the attack of his intention to shoot Kennedy—a fact seemingly confirmed by diaries that Sirhan kept which showed premeditation.
Sirhan initially confessed to the killing but later claimed to have no memory of it. After the events transpired, he had appeared calm, but not “in complete control of his mind.”
Sirhan’s death sentence was commuted to a life prison sentence and he was denied parole fifteen times, though recommended for release on August 27, 2021 after over fifty years behind bars.
RFK Jr. Believes Sirhan Is Innocent
In a 2018 interview with The Washington Post, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said that he traveled to meet with Sirhan at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional facility in San Diego County, and, after a relatively lengthy conversation, believed that Sirhan did not kill his father and that a second gunman was involved.
Kennedy Jr.’s view is shared by his sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, and by Paul Schrade, regional director of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and one of Bobby’s closest advisers, who was shot the night that he was killed.
In 2016, Schrade testified in support of Sirhan’s parole, stating his belief that a second shooter killed Kennedy and that Sirhan was intended to be a distraction from the real gunman by an unknown conspiracy.
Kennedy Jr. has pointed out that Sirhan’s appointed lawyer at his original trial, Grant Cooper, was Johnny Rosselli’s personal lawyer. “Roselli,” he said, “was the mobster who ran the assassination program for the CIA against Castro. Cooper pressured Sirhan to plead guilty so that there was no trial.”
Kennedy believes the real assassin was Thane Eugene Cesar, an employee of Lockheed’s Burbank facility—which manufactured the CIA produced U-2 spy plane—and previously Hughes Aircraft who was moonlighting as a security guard for Ace Security Services.
After the shooting, Kennedy Sr. was photographed with Cesar’s clip-on tie next to him, which he had apparently yanked off.
Cesar had told police that he had a hold of Bobby’s right arm when Sirhan began firing at him, and then pulled his gun and grabbed the Senator and fell backwards. Later, however, Cesar changed his story and said that he was shoved by an unknown individual after Sirhan opened fire and drew his gun only after he scrambled to his feet.
In one interview Cesar said he did not see Kennedy get shot and in another—given right after the shooting when doctors had not yet examined Kennedy or issued any statements—stated that he saw Kennedy get shot four times, in the head, chest and shoulder.
Cesar considered the Kennedys “the biggest bunch of crooks that ever walked the earth” and worked for the presidential campaign of Alabama’s segregationist Governor, George C. Wallace.
Before the killing, he had been seen in Las Vegas in the company of a Florida hit man. The man who saw him said Cesar was “owned by Howard Hughes” and was “as tough as they come.”
Hughes was the owner of a major aerospace company and “godfather of Las Vegas” with deep connections to the Republican Party and CIA.
Jim Yoder, who bought the alleged assassination weapons from Cesar after Kennedy’s death, claimed that Cesar worked in off-limits areas at Lockheed, to which only special personnel had access. These areas were under the control of the CIA.
RFK Jr. believes that Cesar was the one that shot his father in the back of the head after hiding in the pantry and waiting for his appearance in the pantry or, alternatively, that he held his father and shot him three times under the arm, while another assassin—a man dressed in a busboy outfit, fired the two shots to Kennedy’s head that killed him—with a gun that was disguised or small enough to remain hidden.
Planning at one point to visit Cesar in the Philippines until he demanded a payment of $25,000, RFK Jr. stated: “With 77 people in the pantry, every eyewitness said Sirhan was always in front of my father at a 3-6 feet distance. Sirhan fired two shots toward my father before he was tackled. From under the dog pile, Sirhan emptied his 8-chamber revolver firing 6 more shots in the opposite direction 5 of them striking bystanders and one going wild.”
“Cesar was a bigot who hated the Kennedys for their advocacy of Civil Rights for blacks. By his own account, Cesar was directly behind my dad holding his right elbow with his own gun drawn when my dad fell backwards on top of him. Cesar repeatedly changed his story about exactly when he drew his weapon.”
“According to the Coroner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, all 4 shots that struck my father were ‘contact’ shots fired from behind my dad with the barrel touching or nearly touching his body. As my dad fell, he reached back and tore off Cesar’s clip on tie.”
“Cesar sold his .22 to a co-worker [Yoder] weeks after the assassination, warning him that it had been used in a crime. Cesar lied to police claiming that he’d disposed of the gun months before the assassination.”
Kennedy Jr. concluded, “Police have never seriously investigated Cesar’s role in my father’s killing,” adding that the LAPD unit which investigated his dad’s assassination was “run by active CIA operatives” who “destroyed thousands of pieces of evidence.”
A Lie Too Big to Fail
The case against Sirhan being the lone gunman can be summarized in six key points:
1. More Bullets Were Fired Than Were in Sirhan’s Gun
Sirhan’s gun had eight bullets in it. According to officials, three of Sirhan’s bullets hit Kennedy (a fourth went through his coat), and five bullets struck the other victims.
But one bullet was also lost in the ceiling space. And crime scene photos show investigators pointing to bullet holes circled in doorframes and a ceiling panel.
Investigators found twelve points of entry in the six victims, with three bullet holes photographed in the ceiling. LAPD criminalist DeWayne Wolfer said “it’s unbelievable how many holes there are in the kitchen ceiling.”
An audio tape made by Polish journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski recorded thirteen shots. Analysis of the tape found that it showed the gunshots to be coming from two separate directions.
2. Kennedy’s Killer Shot Him from the Back, Not the Front
L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi’s report—which mysteriously went missing from the LAPD’s final report—found that Kennedy had been hit by three bullets from the rear, including one in his head behind his right ear. This conclusion rules out Sirhan who was identified by all witnesses as having shot at Kennedy from the front.
3. Kennedy’s Killer Shot Him from Close Range—Sirhan Was Too Far Away
Noguchi, Wolfer and Pasadena criminalist William Harper, drawing on forensic and eyewitness evidence, all concluded that the shots which killed Kennedy came from close range—a point of near direct contact. Sirhan never got anywhere near that close—he was at least three feet away.
4. Two Guns and Two Shooters
Sirhan’s gun was never matched to the bullets that killed Kennedy. William Harper, who survived an assassination attempt on the eve of his scheduled testimony before a grand jury investigating the handling of firearms evidence, concluded that two .22 caliber guns were involved in the assassination.
Evan Freed, a photographer who was standing near Kennedy when the shooting started, said that another man besides Sirhan—who looked like Sirhan but was wearing darker clothing—fired the first shot at Kennedy and that a man made a failed attempt to grab him afterwards and he ran out of the pantry.
Other witnesses confirm the same story, observing a man with a gun under a newspaper and a woman with a polka-dotted dress running out of the room.
Donald Schulman, a runner for Los Angeles TV station KNXT, reported on the air minutes after Kennedy’s assassination that, after Sirhan fired his gun, a security guard—referring to Cesar—fired back and struck Kennedy three times.
Schulman also stated that he spotted two revolvers other than Sirhan’s and that both had been fired—an observation confirmed by testimony and statements introduced at an official hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court.
5. Karl Uecker
One of the most important witnesses was, Karl Uecker, a maitre d’ at the Ambassador Hotel, who was the first one to grab Sirhan during the shooting in an attempt to subdue him. He told filmmaker Ted Charach that Sirhan could not have been the killer. He stated:
“Sirhan at no time was firing from behind Senator Robert Kennedy. No! No! Not an inch from Kennedy’s head—I don’t believe that it was Sirhan’s gun firing back from an upward direction. I think I would have seen it. I was the closest one. In order for Sirhan to get that close to Senator Kennedy from behind he would have had to pass me and didn’t pass me at that point. I had him very tight, pushed against the steam table while Senator Kennedy staggered back and Mr. Schrade dropped to the floor first. So this does not fit with what Mr. Fitts [prosecuting attorney later promoted by Governor Reagan to California’s Superior Court] told the jury.”
Uecker also said that he saw a guard—Thane Cesar—who brandished a gun which was odd. He testified that he had grabbed Sirhan after the second shot, not the fourth shot—which would further prove the existence of a second shooter because Kennedy was shot three times under the arm and twice in the head, and seven bullets were recovered from six victims.
Investigator Lisa Pease wrote that, “if Uecker had grabbed Sirhan after the second shot, then someone else had to have shot Kennedy at least twice, as Kennedy had provably been shot four times from near-contact range.”
6. Kennedy Was Killed from an Elevated Position
Not only was Kennedy shot from the back, but witnesses saw someone shooting at him from an elevated position twelve to sixteen inches above Kennedy’s head, with knee or body on a steam table.
This could not have been Sirhan who was identified by four credible witnesses, including Uecker, as shooting at Kennedy from the floor on a slightly upward trajectory, which made sense since Sirhan was four inches shorter than Kennedy.
Uecker specified further that he pushed Sirhan up on a table after he grabbed him in a headlock; he was not on a table before.
Richard Lubic, a 31-year-old television producer and campaign aide, heard a voice—“Kennedy you son of a bitch”—and then heard two shots from what sounded like a starter pistol at a track meet.
The shots came from a man who had his knee on a small table or air conditioning vent and lifted himself up on his knee to obtain elevation while shooting. He had bare arms when firing; Sirhan was wearing long sleeves.
Sirhan As “Magician’s Assistant”
Some witnesses thought Sirhan was firing a cap gun. The real assassins appear to have waited until Sirhan fired the first shot and people focused on him, and then moved quickly to get the job done.
Sirhan’s function was that of a “magician’s assistant.” He provided the distraction by firing blanks—which were designed to deceive the mind and eye.
The fact that the shooter was elevated would have also been part of the plan, since people’s natural instinct in a crisis is to look around them and not upward.
The Girl with the Polka-Dot Dress
After the shooting, Sandra Serrano, a 20-year-old Pasadena City College student, observed a twenty-something “Hispanic-looking” man wearing a gold sweater and a dark-haired Caucasian girl with a “good figure” and “funny nose” wearing a white dress with black polka dots. The two were running down a hallway to a fire exit.
Serrano had seen the pair with Sirhan earlier in the night, while Vincent Di Pierro said he saw Sirhan and the girl in the polka-dot dress just before Kennedy was shot with wicked smiles.
As the girl was running to the fire exit, she turned to Serrano, laughing, and said. “We shot him! We shot him.” Astonished, Serrano asked “who did you shoot?” and she replied “Senator Kennedy!”
An elderly couple named Bernstein witnessed this exchange and told LAPD Sergeant Paul Sharaga, who put out an all-points bulletin on the pair.
At that point, however, a police radio blackout commenced which, according to Sharaga, lasted between fifteen and twenty minutes.
Afterwards, Detective Inspector John Powers ordered a cancelation of the description of the two suspects, saying that “we don’t want to make a federal case out of it. We’ve got the suspect in custody.” These comments suggest a police cover-up that was planned beforehand.
“Criminal Equivalent of a Potemkin Village”
Tim Tate and Brad Johnson, authors of the 2018 book The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-Up—A New Investigation, wrote that the LAPD:
“constructed the criminal equivalent of a Potemkin Village [Soviet model villages that masked underlying brutality of the Soviet system]—a Hollywood style set whose façade concealed the truth that evidence was overlooked, destroyed or suppressed, and witnesses were ignored or intimidated into silence. After which L.A. law enforcement locked the whole sorry saga away, hiding their misdeeds and incompetence behind impenetrable walls of official secrecy for two full decades.”
As an example of police malfeasance, no effort was made to perform a ballistics test on Thane Cesar’s .22 caliber gun to see whether the bullets matched those that killed Kennedy.
In addition, a) bullets were planted in Sirhan’s car; b) the crime scene area was never properly roped off; c) hotel employees were allowed to mop up blood from the kitchen floor right after; and d) the LAPD burned more than 2,400 photographs from the crime scene and investigation in a medical waste incinerator before Sirhan’s trial.
…Continued in Part 2
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018)