Editor’s Introduction: We present “RFK: The Real Story” below, a major new research report by the Truth & Reconciliation Committee (TRC) debunking official accounts and conventional wisdom that convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan killed Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) in 1968.
This report, more than a year in drafting, is especially timely. California’s full parole board may rule within days on a recommendation last summer by a hearing panel of two members that Sirhan, shown at left soon after his 1968 arrest, be released on parole in accordance with California’s standard parole policies. The recommendation would then go to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to approve, deny or let stand.
In recent days, our Justice Integrity Project has excerpted a similar TRC report, JFK: The Real Story. The TRC was founded in 2019 to investigate the 1960s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (JFK), his brother, RFK, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., (MLK) and the Black civil rights leader Malcolm X.
The TRC (www.americantruthnow.org) mission is to help Americans confront the truth of the assassinations, all of which changed the course of American and world history and adversely affect us to this day. The subsequent cover-ups and failures to disclose critical case files have added to the public’s distrust of both the government and the media, a situation that has helped create the dysfunction in our current political environment.
Written by respected journalists and researchers, this report (available in its entirety via RFK: The Real Story) relies on documented evidence to refute the official government story of this assassination. As with other Truth and Reconciliation movements, our goal is not to punish the perpetrators but to set the historical record straight and thereby help bring about a new era of understanding for current and future generations.
The Justice Integrity Project has been active as a co-founding board member in supporting the committee’s work to advance public understanding of evidence that has been ignored or under-reported by the mainstream media. This editor also has been a consulting attorney for the Sirhan’s defense team, which was revitalized in 2007 by Dr. William F. Pepper of New York, with California attorney Angela Berry spearheading advocacy for a parole.
Today’s report (with photo selection and captions by our project, not the TRC and with footnotes omitted but available on TRC version on its website) answers the key questions about the tragic event in Los Angeles in 1968. As in the death of RFK’s brother John five years previously, the main questions are “Who Killed RFK? Why Does It Matter Now?”
– Andrew Kreig, Justice Integrity Project editor
Presented by the Truth & Reconciliation Committee, whose founding members include members of the Kennedy and King families, Robert Kennedy’s associates Paul Schrade and Adam Walinsky, forensics expert Dr. Cyril Wecht, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, civil rights leader Reverend James Lawson, Jr., activist actors and directors Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, Oliver Stone and many others.
The assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy appeared to be a cut-and-dried case, with Sirhan Sirhan, who undeniably fired a handgun towards Senator Kennedy, being convicted of murder and remaining in prison ever since. Over the decodes, however, overwhelming evidence that RFK’s murder was actually committed by a different gunman has emerged.
The facts of the case need to be exposed, especially since Sirhan Sirhan is currently being considered for parole by the California Parole Board and Governor Govin Newsom.
The official autopsy by the respected coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi confirmed that RFK was killed by a shot fired at point blank range from behind, whereas all of the eyewitnesses placed Sirhan several feet in front of Kennedy and the gun in his outstretched hand no closer than l.5 to 5 feet away while firing.
Kennedy was shot four times. Three bullets hit him and one went through his jacket, and five other victims were struck by bullets for a total of nine confirmed shots. Sirhan’s gun only held 8 bullets. Other evidence that at least 13 shots were fired was found by the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in door frames and ceiling panels. An audiotape later analyzed by an expert sound engineer confirmed at least 13 shots, with five coming from the opposite direction of Sirhan’s. Further, multiple witnesses confirmed hearing at least 12 shots but their statements were ignored by police.
The police ignored three eyewitnesses who stated they saw a security guard, who was standing right behind Kennedy, pull his gun. One witness saw him fire it. His gun was never checked by the police or FBI and subsequent revelations show him lying about owning a .22, the same caliber gun that Sirhan used.
Sirhan’s gun was never forensically matched to the fatal bullet. The LAPD criminalist lied when he testified that bullets test fired from Sirhan’s gun matched the fatal bullet. The test bullets he matched were from an entirely different gun taken from an LAPD evidence locker unrelated to the Kennedy killing. Over time, many more details about a cover-up by the LAPD have surfaced.
These and other revelations, which most of the Kennedy family, the public and media seem unaware of, indicate a different assassin than Sirhan Sirhan as RFK’s killer. We encourage you to read this primer and decide for yourself.
The assassination of Robert Kennedy seemed, at first blush, to leave little room for mystery. Everyone near Kennedy saw Sirhan Sirhan firing towards him. But for those watching closely, and for those who would later wonder if there was more to the story, there was abundant reason to look beyond first appearances.
Just after midnight on June 5th, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, after Senator Kennedy had won the California Democratic primary and thanked his assembled supporters, Assistant Maitre d’ Karl Uecker led RFK through a dimly lit kitchen pantry en route to a press conference. Thane Eugene Cesar, a security guard hired for the night, followed Kennedy closely behind, holding the senator’s right elbow and appearing to guide him.
As Kennedy stopped at the edge of a steam table to shake hands with kitchen workers, a 24-year-old Palestinian Christian, Sirhan Sirhan (who had moved to the LA area as a child), began firing at Kennedy from several feet in front of him. After two shots, Uecker grabbed Sirhan’s arm and, with the help of others, pushed him down onto the steam table, pinning his gun hand. Though Sirhan’s hand was pinned down and pointed away from Kennedy, Sirhan continued firing wildly, injuring five bystanders. According to the eyewitness testimony, Sirhan’s gun always remained one and a half to five feet in front of the senator while the coroner’s report deter mined Kennedy was hit three times from behind, with the fatal shot to the back of his head at point blank range of one to three inches. He died 26 hours later.
AUTOPSY INDICATES A SECOND GUNMAN
According to respected LA County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi, right, who performed the official autopsy, the three bullets that entered Kennedy’s body were fired from behind him at close range. The fatal shot, Noguchi concluded, was fired from approximately one to three inches behind Kennedy’s right ear, penetrating his brain. Two other bullets entered his right armpit and a fourth went through the shoulder pad of his jacket.
Paul Schrade, a United Auto Workers Union executive, walking behind Kennedy, was struck by a different bullet altogether. Witnesses saw Schrade fall before the senator did, suggesting Schrade was hit by the first shot from Sirhan’s gun. Noguchi later stated that he believed the fifth shot killed Kennedy. Since Uecker had grabbed Sirhan’s firing hand after the second shot and, with help from others, pinned his arm to a table in front of Kennedy, Sirhan could not have fired the fifth and fatal shot from behind at point blank range.
In the 1970s, Schrade, along with actor Robert Vaughan and former Congressman, Allard Lowenstein, requested that the LAPD and California courts reopen the case. They were repeatedly denied. Now, at the age of 96, Schrade has long ago forgiven Sirhan for shooting him and has made it his life’s work to seek parole for Sirhan and to reopen the case to determine RFK’s actual killer. He is supported by attorney Denise Bohdan whose father, Fernando Faura, was a journalist investigating the crime soon after it happened. Faura uncovered significant evidence indicating an accomplice with Sirhan who was never investigated by the authorities. In fact, witnesses to the accomplice were browbeaten by the LAPD investigator to change their accounts.
BULLET COUNT PROVES MULTIPLE GUNMEN
In addition to the three gunshots hitting Kennedy from behind and a fourth bullet that passed through his coat, five other people were shot and injured, totaling nine shots. Sirhan’s .22 caliber gun only held eight bullets so another person would have had to be shooting as well. Within hours, FBI agent William Bailey found two additional bullets lodged in the pantry door frame, increasing the bullet count to 11. Police and FBI photographs showing two more bullet holes in the pantry door divider and another hole in the jamb of a backstage door suggested four more shots may have been fired. Additionally, two witnesses reported hearing at least 12 shots.
In 2005, an expert audio engineer, Philip Van Praag, laboriously examined a sound recording of the shooting and made several important discoveries. There were 13 “shot sounds,” with two instances of “double shots” (shots fired so closely together, they could not have come from the same gun). He also determined that five of the shots were fired from the opposite direction of Sirhan’s eight shots, indicating that they were fired from behind Kennedy.
SUSPICIOUS SECURITY GUARD
As the shooting began, security guard Thane Eugene Cesar was standing behind and slightly to the right of Kennedy, in the exact firing position described by the autopsy. Several witnesses observed Cesar drawing his weapon and one witness saw him fire. He was interviewed within hours by the LAPD but they never checked his gun. Cesar claimed he was carrying a .38 caliber revolver that night but he also owned a.22 caliber revolver at the time. Cesar later lied saying he had sold the.22 four months prior to the assassination. But the sales receipt proved he actually sold it three months afterwards. He also told the buyer it had been involved in a “police shooting.”
Thane Eugene Cesar held extreme right-wing views, supported George Wallace for President and openly admitted hating the Kennedys. At that time, he was working at Lockheed, home of the U-2spyplane, with a high-level security clearance from the Department of Defense. A week before the assassination, he took a part-time job working evenings as a security guard for Ace Guard Service. Kennedy was assassinated on Cesar’s second assignment.
Given this incriminating information, Cesar remains a key suspect as a second gunman. Dan Moldea, the author of a book presenting Sirhan as a lone assassin, claims Cesar passed a polygraph test that proved his innocence. However, Moldea has never been willing to release the results of that test, calling into question its existence and, if so, its actual results. Announcing Cesar’s death in 2019 in the Philippines on Facebook, Moldea disclosed he was the godfather to Cesar’s son, handled his media inquiries and held his Power of Attorney.
Reacting to the news of Cesar’s death, Robert Kennedy’s son, RFK Jr., revealed he “had plans to meet Thane Eugene Cesar in the Philippines until he demanded $25,000 through his agent Dan Moldea…,” adding that “Compelling evidence suggests that Cesar murdered my father… Police have never seriously investigated Cesar’s role in my father’s killing.”
A POSSIBLE HIGH-LEVEL CONSPIRATOR
Authors David Talbot (Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years) and Lisa Pease (A Lie Too Big to Fail) have identified Howard Hughes’ right-hand man Robert Maheu, a former FBI agent and the CIA’s Castro assassination plot coordinator, as the likely planner of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Multiple government documents prove that Maheu worked for the CIA in assassination plots and other covert activities in the 1960s. Maheu also admitted to Talbot that he hated the Kennedys.
Maheu’s principal accuser is former top Howard Hughes executive and Maheu associate John Meier. Meier knew that Thane Eugene Cesar was an employee of Maheu’s private security firm that performed top secret activities for the CIA. Meier also described suspicious conversations he heard between Maheu and Donald Nixon, Richard Nixon’s brother, shortly before and after the assassination and wrote about them in his diary (partially published in Gerald Bellett’s Age of Secrets). Hughes had long been a major financial supporter of Richard Nixon and a close collaborator with the CIA. Meier now 88, has continued to try to get his information about the case out to the public.
SIRHAN’S ALLEGED MOTIVE
Sirhan was arrested with a newspaper clipping in his pocket criticizing Kennedy’s campaign pledge to sell jet bombers to Israel to replenish jets lost in the Arab-Israeli War the year before. A notebook found in his bed room contained repetitions of the phrase “RFK must die…RFK must be assassinated by June 5 ’68″, the first anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War.
At trial, the strange “automatic writing” in Sirhan’s notebooks was cited as evidence of the cold, callous, pre-meditated nature of the crime but Sirhan claims he has no memory of writing in the notebooks nor of the shooting itself. And it has never been explained how it was possible for Sirhan to have written the most incriminating page on May 18th, two days before Kennedy made his first campaign speech promising bombers to Israel.
Supporters of the lone assassin story point to Sirhan’s “confession” in which he stated “I killed Robert Kennedy willfully, premeditatively, with 20 years of malice aforethought.” Sirhan’s claim that he had been planning the RFK killing since the age of four was ridiculous and nobody in court likely took his outburst seriously.
The outburst came after days of pleading with the judge to fire his attorney due to the dismal defense he was being provided. Yet, the “confession” has been taken out of context and used against him ever since.
Sirhan’s lead attorney, Grant Cooper (who had the threat of an indictment hanging over him for lying about the source of stolen grand jury transcripts in another case), never raised any of the obvious discrepancies at trial. Cooper accepted that his client was guilty but mounted a defense of “diminished capacity,” claiming Sirhan had been in a dissociated state and not fully responsible for his actions. The jury did not accept that theory and Sirhan was convicted of murder and he has remained in prison ever since.
There were serious concerns about LAPD criminalist DeWayne Wolfer’s work on other cases. Also, the Los Angeles District Attorney failed to conduct an independent evaluation of the firearms evidence, despite an offer from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office to do so. Wolfer mislabeled and misrepresented the bullet and gun evidence to the grand jury at trial. At no time was the bullet recovered from Kennedy’s neck ever matched to Sirhan’s gun. The test bullets he presented were not from Sirhan’s gun, but from a wholly different gun taken from an LAPD evidence locker. He also lied in a subsequent investigation in the 1970s to cover his tracks which became evident when the records of his daily logs and other LAPD and trial items became available in the 1980s.
The LAPD also destroyed crucial evidence, including photos seized at the scene, door frames and ceiling panels with bullet holes and suppressed their files on the case for 20 years.
Witnesses who gave accounts conflicting with the official story of Sirhan as a lone assassin were either given coercive polygraph examinations by LAPD Sergeant Enrique Hernandez or their testimony was ignored. In audiotapes of these sessions, Hernandez is heard browbeating witnesses into retracting their statements.
Researchers later discovered that the two LAPD officers in charge of the investigation were connected with the CIA. The LAPD was working closely with the CIA on their Operation Chaos program in the late l960′s using domestic surveillance, agent provocateurs and other tools to target anti-war and civil rights activists. The two men in day-to-day control of the LAPD investigation, Enrique Hernandez and Manuel Pena, had both trained police officers in South America for the CIA-connected Office of Public Safety. Pena signed off on every report and decided which leads to follow and who to interview. According to FBI agent Roger La Jeunesse, Pena had performed assignments for the CIA for a decade.
POSSIBLE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
Sirhan has consistently claimed to have no memory of the shooting or of any conspirators. He remembers being led into a dark place by a girl who wanted coffee, being attracted to her and then blacking out until he was being choked on the steam table. A witness spoke of seeing a girl in a polka dot dress communicating with Sirhan moments before he fired. Another witness saw a woman with the same characteristics run away from the site of the shooting saying, “We shot him! We shot him!”
The defense and prison psychiatrists who worked with Sirhan before and during the trial concluded that the writing in his notebooks and the shooting were done in a “dissociated state.” The defense psychiatrist indicated that Sirhan’s interest in the occult and Arab politics led him to hypnotize himself to shoot Kennedy. However, this psychiatrist may have been unaware of, or chose not to introduce, the CIA’s MKULTRA program, which had been trying to create hypnotically-programmed assassins since the early 1950s.
MKULTRA was considered so sensitive that then-CIA Director, Richard Helms, had the agency’s MKULTRA records destroyed in 1973 rather than send them to Congress as part of the post-Watergate probes even though the agency willingly provided evidence of certain international assassinations and other highly sensitive matters. In fact, it was RFK’s brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, who, in 1977, gave the opening statement outlining previously exposed CIA MKULTRA projects and played a lead role in the Senate committee looking into the CIA’s hypno-programming operation.
Since 2008, Dr. Daniel Brown, right, a leading expert on hypnosis and coercive persuasion on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for 38 years, has spent over 150 hours with Sirhan trying to recover his memory of the shooting. During these sessions, Dr. Brown verified Sirhan’s amnesia and the hypnotic programming that generated the “RFK must die” automatic writing in his notebooks and triggered his shooting at Kennedy.
These sessions also produced new evidence of “range mode” programming possibly used to set up Sirhan as a distraction in the pantry, while a second gunman fired the fatal shot from on inch behind Kennedy’s right ear. After Brown identified physical and verbal cues, on three occasions, Sirhan assumed a firing stance, entered “range mode” and fired at imagined targets, as Brown believes he did on the night of the assassination. Brown also believes Sirhan was conditioned to forget his actions and connections to others involved while in this dissociated state. He believes the girl in the polka dress, who was seen with Sirhan and later running away from the crime scene, gave Sirhan the cues to enter “range mode” and fire involuntarily at Kennedy, with no conscious intent to kill him.
SUPPORT FOR REOPENING THE CASE
In 2017, after considerable research on the case, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. met Sirhan Sirhan for three hours in a Son Diego prison and concluded that Sirhan did not kill his father. “There were too many bullets. You can’t fire 13 bullets out of on eight-shot gun,” he told The Washington Post. ” My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s joint statement, co-authored by Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s speech writer Adam Walinsky, called the prosecution of Sirhan “a mockery of a trial that has been demolished by numerous eyewitnesses, investigators and experts…the case should be reopened for a new comprehensive investigation while there are still living witnesses.”
Sirhan, shown in a 2016 photo, has spent over 50 years in prison for a murder he cannot remember committing and which the physical evidence shows he did not commit. It is time for the authorities to act before truth and justice in this case are lost to history. We encourage you to visit Justice for RFK (www.JusticeForRFK.com) to learn more and take action to open a new investigation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee is dedicated to America confronting the truth of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Robert F. Kennedy, which changed the course of American history and adversely affect us to this day. As with other Truth and Reconciliation movements, our goal is not to punish the perpetrators but to help bring about one era of understanding for the sake of current and future generations. You can also visit www.americantruthnow.org for more information.
AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Of the millions who experienced President Kennedy’s public execution as a near-fatal blow to their sense of possibility, no one grappled with the catastrophe more than his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. One may debate the attitude and politics of Robert Francis Kennedy before the calamity in Dallas but there is no doubt that JFK’s brazen assassination seismically altered Robert Kennedy, just as surely as it bent the course of American history ever afterword.
Over the preceding thousand days of the Kennedy presidency, the Kennedy brothers had come to understand that many of the most lethal enemies of American democracy lay not outside the country’s borders, but within. There were the giant corporations who sought total command over the nation’s economy, the generals who lobbied for nuclear war as the final solution for communist Cuba and the Soviet Union, and the mobsters whose criminal networks had metastasized into every town and city worth corrupting. Finally, there were the clandestine armies of the CIA, led by elites who saw the Kennedy brothers’ progressive policies as a challenge to their right to rule the world by means of terror, coup and assassination. Could some of them have operated from the shadows to murder the country’s hope for a “New Frontier,” one that bordered on peace, equality and justice?
The brothers had powerfully challenged these immense forces. In an analogue to the rough style of touch football they played in Hyannis Port, the Kennedys made vigorous use of the Department of Justice, the IRS, the courts, National Security memoranda, and forceful public appeals to cajole, badger, shame and otherwise diminish the excessive power of these adversaries. Had some or all of these groups discarded the rules and dropped the pretense of a democratic game?
Robert Kennedy immediately believed after his brother’s 1963 death that they had. As the country’s top lawman and his brother’s aide-de-camp, it had been his job to watch over these groups, whom he had discovered often worked hand-in-glove together. After learning of the assassination from an apparently jubilant FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy called CIA Director, John McCone. “Did your people have anything to do with this horror?” he demanded. Inquiries into organized crime and the Cuban exile community followed soon after. So began RFK’s investigation into what he sensed had been a successful coup d’état. He became, in the words of author David Talbot, “the country’s first assassination conspiracy theorist.”
RFK knew, however, that to confront such forces head-on without presidential power would lead to certain defeat. He decided to bide his time and publicly support the findings of the Warren Commission. But when could he make a run for President? And wouldn’t the forces that plotted the assassination exercise their considerable powers to stop him?
In the meantime, the United States descended into the madness that marked the latter half of the Sixties. Vietnam ripped the country apart. Inner city rebellions exploded and the country’s youth grew ever more disaffected. “The evil triplets” of “racism, extreme materialism and militarism,” as Martin Luther King described them, seemed to be claiming victory over the country, whereas just a few years earlier there had been reason to hope there might exist a political path beyond them.
RFK set himself to confronting those national poisons. He shook off his deep despair and won a seat in the U.S. Senate. As a senator, Bobby Kennedy pursued a foreign policy often divergent from that of the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA. On trips abroad, he eschewed formal events with the local U.S.-backed elite and instead met with ordinary citizens. When students took the opportunity of his visit to protest U.S. foreign or economic policy, he engaged them, and almost invariably won them over to his faith in democracy’s capacity to dethrone the imperial order without recourse to totalitarian communism.
RFK offered encouragement to liberation struggles, from Eastern Europe to Latin America to South Africa, and made pronouncements that infuriated the administration back home and the oligarchs abroad. And all the while, secretly, when he could bear to ask the questions, he asked trusted aides to make inquiries into his brother’s death.
Meanwhile, the pressure to challenge Lyndon Johnson grew. Johnson had begun his administration by continuing the social programs conceived during the Kennedy years. However, he simultaneously did the bidding of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower had warned about, embroiling the country in ever- more disastrous and expensive imperial adventures. Martin Luther King assessed the situation in a single sentence: “The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam.”
The exponential increase in the bombing of a defenseless rural people, the huge surge in American personnel, and the Viet Cong’s Tet offensive on major cities in South Vietnam (which gave lie to the military’s promise of imminent victory), combined to force Bobby’s hand. As nephew Stephen Kennedy Smith related, “He banged his hand on the television set and said ‘That’s it. I’m going to run.”‘
It was among the most exhilarating campaigns in American history. In a whirlwind 85 days, RFK crisscrossed the country. Crowds of Americans of all kinds mobbed his every appearance. The poor and dispossessed were his passionate base; they sensed that this son of privilege meant it when he said, “We cannot continue to deny and postpone the demands of our own people, while spending billions in the name of freedom elsewhere around the globe.” He was one of them now; he would not shirk from the battle.
President Johnson shockingly bowed out of the race soon after Kennedy’s entrance. The immense, adoring crowds that attended his appearances suggested a tidal wave that would sweep him to victory at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and onward to the presidency.
Relaxing among friends at the home of filmmaker John Frankenheimer shortly before the California primary, one of the guests said aloud what was on the minds of many in the country and around the world: “You know, don’t you, that somebody’s going to try and kill you?”
“That’s the chance I have to take,” was Kennedy’s reply.
With the deep support of African-Americans, Latinos and workers, Bobby won the crucial California primary. Just after midnight on June 5th, 1968, Kennedy stood at the podium in a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to acknowledge his victory, and thank his ecstatic supporters. His last public words were, “Now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there.”
Written by leading journalists and researchers, this is the one of four reports to be released that will refute the official government stories about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Robert F. Kennedy with documented evidence. We seek the release of all documents on these cases, whether controlled by local police or national authorities, many thousands of which continue to be hidden from public view more than 50 years after the deaths. The subsequent cover-ups have added to the public’s mistrust of government and the media, which has helped create the current dysfunctional political environment. We also seek to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help bring truth, understanding and an improved democracy to the U.S.
For more information about the Truth and Reconciliation Committee or to support our effort, please visit:
D E M A N D THE T R U T H
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
Change.org. Petition Seeking Sirhan’s Parole.
The Truth & Reconciliation Committee (TRC). The RFK primer is presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee whose founding signers include members of the Kennedy and King families, RFK associates Paul Schrade and Adam Walinsky, forensics expert Dr. Cyril Wecht, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, civil rights leader Reverend James Lawson, Jr., activist actors and directors, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, Alec Baldwin, Oliver Stone and many others. (www.americantruthnow.org).
We call for major public inquests into the four major assassinations of the 1960s that together had a disastrous impact on the course of American history: the murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
These public tribunals, shining a light on this dark chapter of our history, will be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation process in post-apartheid South Africa. The inquests — which will hear testimony from living witnesses, legal experts, investigative journalists, historians and family members of the victims — are intended to show the need for Congress or the Justice Department to reopen investigations into all four assassinations.
Operation RFK Truth. This project led by California attorney and filmmaker Denise Bohdan is to build website and social media platforms for a JusticeForRFK campaign. The goals are to a) advocate for Parole for Sirhan and b) bring awareness to the case to build public sentiment for a new investigation. Operation RFK Truth staff are working with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, Bohdan’s film team from CutOutEntertainment and Sirhan’s legal team for these goals.
The materials focus heavily on remaining questions about responsibility and motive for Kennedy’s shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles shortly after his victory in the California Democratic primary appeared to pave the way for his presidential nomination. Shown below is his victory speech shortly before he was gunned down while leaving via a kitchen pantry to avoid crowds.
Included also in this guide compiled by our Justice Integrity Project is research that explores the assassination’s current implications for the U.S. justice system and other governance.
Related News Coverage
Justice Integrity Project, Expert Report Part 2: JFK’s Assassination and Why It Matters, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 2, 2021. Editor’s Introduction: This excerpt concludes our presentation of “JFK: The Real Story,” a major new research report by the Truth & Reconciliation Committee (TRC), which was founded in 2019 to investigate the 1960s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (JFK), his brother, New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., (MLK) and the Black civil rights leader Malcolm X.
The TRC (www.americantruthnow.org) was formed by members of the Kennedy and King families, Daniel Ellsberg, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, David Crosby, Reverend James Lawson Jr., Oliver Stone, Adam Walinsky, James Galbraith, David Talbot, and other public figures. It states:
The Justice Integrity Project, which has been active as a co-founding board member in supporting the committee’s work, republished the first part of the report here (JFK’s Assassination Part 1) to advance public understanding of evidence that has been ignored or under-reported by the mainstream media.
Today’s second and final part (with photo selection and captions by our project, not the TRC) answers the key questions about the tragic event in Dallas in 1963: “Who Killed JFK? Why Does It Matter Now?”
Justice Integrity Project, Expert Report: JFK’s Assassination and Why It Matters (Part 1), Andrew Kreig, Nov. 29, 2021. Editor’s Introduction: This is an
excerpt that begins “JFK: The Real Story,” a major new research report by the Truth & Reconciliation Committee, which was founded in 2019 to investigate the 1960s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (JFK), Black civil rights leader Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., (MLK) and the president’s brother, New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Justice Integrity Project, JFK Murder Documents, Deadlines, Disclosures, Disputes, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 7, 2021, updated Nov. 25. The Biden Administration’s recent delay in releasing the final trove of classified documents pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy tees up three annual research conferences this month during the anniversary of JFK’s slaying in downtown Dallas.
The conferences and postponed document releases build on millions of pages of previously declassified documents and many hundreds of books through the decades fanning widespread public doubts about official accounts. Those official accounts, most notably the 1964 Warren Commission report, assigned guilt for the president’s death solely to ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. Flaws in the report largely ignored by government, academic and mainstream media foster lingering fears that watchdog institutions fail to probe and prevent civic tragedies and cover-ups, including in current times.
Today’s column surveys this fall’s major developments. These include the records release delay, the three conferences and Oliver Stone’s sequel, JFK Revisited, to his blockbuster film JFK three decades ago. The new documentary launched in the United States on Showtime on Nov. 22, the anniversary of JFK’s death.
This editor has published a book in the field this year, worked closely with leaders in records release advocacy and also spoke at two of the three November conferences.
One was organized by Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), shown via Zoom with details, on the weekend days of Nov. 20 and 21, with a free all-day session on Friday, Nov. 19 for students. The other was the JFK Assassination Conference, which was seen both via Zoom and in person at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Dallas, beginning Thursday Nov. 18.
A third conference, organized since 1996 by the JFK Lancer event and publishing company, was its “November in Dallas” annual event, this year via remote viewing from Nov. 19 through 21, with heavily discounted admission for students.
Our project always seeks to promote all three conferences with the view that there is much to discuss, with many valuable perspectives deserving an audience.
An appendix below contains more details on these events, as well as excerpts from a number of news stories and commentaries this fall regarding the records release process and its implications, plus analysis of several recent assassination witness revelations.
This column is also the 57th segment of the Justice Integrity Project’s JFK Assassination Readers Guide, which lists major books, films, archives and interpretative articles, with an index and links in the appendix.
Shown also below is a report on the new issue of Garrison, a 398-page webzine published this month. This edition’s focus is on original commentaries about the 1960s assassinations of John Kennedy (JFK), his brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) and Malcolm X.
Related News Coverage
Washington Post, Opinion: For Sirhan Sirhan, no remorse, no release, Charles Lane, right, Sept. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As political leaders are wont to do after terrorist attacks, President Biden directed angry words at the branch of the Islamic State behind the Aug. 26 bombing in Kabul that killed 13 American service members. “We will not forgive,” he declared. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
Never is a long time, though, and the years have a way of eroding such sentiments.
The day after Biden spoke, a two-member panel of California’s parole board offered a measure of forgiveness to a forgotten terrorist: They recommended release for Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the Palestinian refugee who fatally shot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), then 42, on June 5, 1968, leaving 11 children fatherless, snuffing out a remarkable career and decapitating a political movement.
Sirhan’s case raises complex questions about punishment and redemption. It centers, or should center, on remorse, which is the key to unlocking any decent society’s store of forgiveness — while honoring its pain and preserving the truth.
On behalf of society, the parole commissioners should have been more demanding. They duly noted Sirhan’s “lack of taking complete responsibility,” as one put it, then legalistically assigned greater, mitigating, weight to Sirhan’s advanced age now, and, per a 2018 California law, his youth at the time of the offense.
The majority of Kennedy’s immediate family — six children and his widow, Ethel, 93 — issued statements decrying the parole recommendation. It may be overturned within four months by the full 16-member board or, failing that, by the winner of Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.
These Kennedys should be heeded — not because they are the victim’s family, of course, and still less because they are Kennedys.
This is about sending the right message to California and to American society as a whole: Justice may be tempered by mercy, for those offenders who sincerely, humbly, seek it.
Fox News, RFK’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, objects to Sirhan Sirhan’s release: ‘He should not be paroled,’ Louis Casiano, Sept. 7, 2021. 2 of Kennedy’s sons have spoken in favor of Sirhan’s release.
Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, said Tuesday that she is opposed to the release of Sirhan Sirhan, right, the man imprisoned and recently recommended for parole in the 1968 killing of her husband.
“Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man,” she said. “We believe in the gentleness that spared his life, but in taming his act of violence, he should not have the opportunity to terrorize again.”
At the end of the letter, Kennedy hand-wrote: “He should not be paroled.”
Two of Kennedy’s sons – Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – said they support Sirhan’s parole. The board recommendation still needs approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
RFK’s son and Fox News correspondent Douglas Kennedy explained why he believes his father’s murderer should be granted parole by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Bobby believed we should work to ‘tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.’ He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband,” Kennedy said in a typed statement.
Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian from Jordan, has been imprisoned for more than 50 years for fatally shooting Kennedy inside the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following the then-New York senator’s California primary victory speech. Sirhan opposed Kennedy’s support for Israel.
He has said he doesn’t remember shooting Kennedy. A two-panel parole board in California recommended last month that he be released. It was Sirhan’s 16th appearance before the board.
WhoWhatWhy, Investigation: Sirhan May Go Free — But Truth on the Kennedy Assassinations Remains Locked Up, Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor, Sept. 5, 2021. The possible parole of Sirhan Sirhan — convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy and imprisoned for more than half a century — reminds us that disturbing questions still remain about what really happened in the pantry of Los Angeles’s Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968.
The official story states that Sirhan was a militant Palestinian Christian, driven to murder the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee over his support of Israel. According to this view, anything suspicious about Sirhan’s identification as RFK’s sole killer can be explained away as inconsequential details; probing deeper into the killing is self-indulgent conspiracy theorizing, and releasing Sirhan now would be an affront to justice.
Many of us pride ourselves on being “pro-science” and are appalled by those who react reflexively to almost any “establishment” narrative with suspicion and counter-theories. COVID-19 and climate change come to mind.
Russ Baker is editor-in-chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.
Milicent Cranor is a senior editor at WhoWhatWhy. She was a creative editor at E.P. Dutton; comedy ghostwriter; co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles for medical journals; and editor of consequential legal and scientific documents.
America’s Untold Stories, Sirhan Sirhan Part 2: Exclusive Report from the Parold Hearing, Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert, Sept. 3, 2021 (101 mins). America’s Untold Stories with Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert is featuring part two of Sirhan Sirhan and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy. Mark presented at the Sirhan Sirhan Parole Hearing on August 27, 2021.
This is exclusive coverage of the parole hearing and the trial that put him in prison.
New York Times, Opinion: The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn’t Deserve Parole, Rory Kennedy (a documentary filmmaker and the youngest child of Robert Kennedy, right, the New York senator and presidential candidate assassinated in June 1968), Sept. 1, 2021.
I never met my father. When Sirhan Sirhan murdered him in the kitchen hallway of the Ambassador Hotel in front of scores of witnesses, my mother was three months pregnant with me. Of my 10 older brothers and sisters, Kathleen, the eldest, was 16, and Douglas, the youngest, was little more than 1. I was born six months after my father’s death.
My mother and the majority of my siblings agree with what I now write, although a couple do not. But I will say, for myself, while that night of terrible loss has not defined my life, it has had impact beyond measure.
In 1969, when Mr. Sirhan was found guilty by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death, I was barely a toddler. I know, as it is part of the historical record, that my uncle Teddy sent a five-page handwritten letter to the district attorney in a last-minute plea to save the condemned assassin’s life. The letter invoked my father’s beliefs: “My brother was a man of love and sentiment and compassion. He would not have wanted his death to be a cause for the taking of another life.”
Despite this plea, Superior Court Judge Herbert Walker upheld the sentence, ruling that Mr. Sirhan should “die in the manner prescribed by law,” which in California in 1969 was the gas chamber. There was no consideration of future rehabilitation. The court’s decision seemed based entirely upon the prevailing conception of justice in California at that time: As my father was taken forever, so too should Mr. Sirhan be.
In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional and suspended it. At the time, “life without parole” was not yet an alternative in California; it wouldn’t take effect there for another six years. Mr. Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to “life with the possibility of parole.” Because of this, in legal terms, the word “forever” was taken off the table.
But as last Friday’s parole hearing made clear, his suitability for release has not changed. According to Julie Watson, an Associated Press reporter present, Mr. Sirhan still maintains that he does not recall the killing and that “it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that.” If? How can you express remorse while refusing to accept responsibility? And how, having committed one of the most notorious assassinations of the latter part of the 20th century, can you be considered rehabilitated when you won’t even acknowledge your role in the crime itself?
Yet last week’s parole commissioner, Robert Barton, found a way. Although the official transcripts have not yet been released, he is reported as telling Mr. Sirhan, “We did not find that your lack of taking complete responsibility” for the shooting indicates that you are “currently dangerous.”
It is true that Mr. Sirhan has been incarcerated for a long time. For 53 years, to be exact. That is, after all, an easy number for me to track. It is the same number of years that my father has been dead. It is the age that I turn on my birthday this year.
The decision to release Mr. Sirhan still has to be reviewed by the full parole board and then by California’s governor. I ask them, for my family — and I believe for our country, too — to please reject this recommendation and keep Sirhan Sirhan in prison.
Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig, a pro bono consultant attorney for the defense, submitted the following reader comment appended to the column above:
Anyone’s heart and sympathies must go out to the author of this column, as well as other Kennedy family members, supporters and supporters everywhere of the late senator’s dedication to democracy, justice and human rights.
Even so, this column and nearly all of the reader comments sidestep several vital elements of this proceeding that illustrate those kinds of RFK ideals.
Most importantly, the parole board focused on the relevant law and facts generally applicable to California cases, such as the prisoner’s age, prison good conduct and strong evidence he could be released to his family home/community or deported without undue risk to society.
Also powerful evidence exists that Sirhan did not fire the fatal shots, as numerous books, witnesses and other evidence have shown. That evidence has persuaded two of the RFK children to argue that Sirhan could not have killed their father and that instead someone else must have fired the fatal shots from the rear. A third child, the family’s eldest and a former state lieutenant governor, has argued that doubts about the prosecution are so powerful that there should be a new investigation. These arguments are expressed, among other places, in a powerful series of in-depth articles by Tom Jackman, an experienced justice system reporter at the Washington Post.
Among those living experts alive and available are Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the medical examiner, consultants Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Dan Brown, and shooting victim Paul Schrade.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is shown at right campaigning in 1968′s California primary with Paul Schrade, Western states director for the United Auto Workers and a close aide to the candidate. Schrade was shot non-fatally in the head at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles along with Kennedy in June 1968.
New York Times, Parole Board Urges Release of Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy’s Assassin, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 28, 2021 (print ed.). Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is campaigning to win a recall election in California, can choose to uphold or reject the recommendation, which would free Mr. Sirhan after more than five decades.
California parole commissioners recommended on Friday that Sirhan B. Sirhan should be freed on parole after spending more than 50 years in prison for assassinating Robert F. Kennedy during his campaign for president.
The recommendation from the two commissioners does not necessarily mean Mr. Sirhan, 77, will walk free, but will most likely put his fate in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat facing a recall election that will determine his political future. A spokeswoman for Mr. Newsom declined to say whether he would approve the recommendation, only that he would consider the case after it is reviewed by the parole board’s lawyers.
The parole hearing was the 16th time Mr. Sirhan had faced parole board commissioners, but it was the first time no prosecutor showed up to argue for his continued imprisonment. George Gascón, right, the progressive and divisive Los Angeles County district attorney who was elected last year (after working his way up from patrolman to San Francisco police chief), has made it a policy for prosecutors not to attend parole hearings, saying the parole board has all the facts it needs to make an informed decision.
At the hearing, which was conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Sirhan said he had little memory of the assassination itself, but he said he “must have” brought the gun into the hotel.
“I take responsibility for taking it in and I take responsibility for firing the shots,” he said. Mr. Sirhan, much of his short hair turned white, was seated in front of a computer and wearing a blue uniform with a paper towel in his chest pocket.
Shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy gave a victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following his victory in the Democratic primary in California. As Kennedy, a senator from New York, walked through the hotel’s pantry, Mr. Sirhan shot him with a revolver. Five other people around Kennedy were shot as well, but they all survived.
Kennedy died the next day, less than five years after President John F. Kennedy, one of his brothers, had been assassinated.
In a telephone interview, Douglas Kennedy, who is a correspondent for Fox News, said his family was split over Mr. Sirhan’s release. Emphasizing that he was speaking only for himself, he said he believed that Mr. Newsom should follow the recommendation of the parole board and release Mr. Sirhan.
He also said that seeing Mr. Sirhan at the hearing had made him feel more compassion for him.
“I spent my life sort of avoiding words like ‘killed,’ ‘assassin,’ ‘assassination,’ and Sirhan’s name in general,” said Mr. Kennedy, who was 1 at the time of his father’s assassination. “So I’m grateful for today’s hearing just to demystify some of that.”
In Friday’s statement, six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children said they were “devastated” by the recommendation that Mr. Sirhan be released.
They had largely avoided engaging in the parole process because of how traumatic their father’s death had been, they said, but felt compelled to denounce the recommendation, which they said caused “enormous additional pain.”
Many of the questions at the hearing focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Mr. Sirhan at one point began crying when he spoke about refugees suffering in the Middle East.
“Whatever I would want to do in the future, it would be towards resolving that peacefully,” he said, but he also added that he wanted to “disengage” from the conflict because he was too old.
An odd coalition has urged prison officials to release Mr. Sirhan over the years, including those who say Mr. Sirhan has served his time and others who believe he is not the real assassin.
Though several investigations have determined that Mr. Sirhan was the lone gunman, and Mr. Sirhan has said the same, some have pursued a conspiracy theory that claims there was a different killer, citing what many say was a sloppy police investigation and varying theories about how many shots were fired and what the ballistic evidence shows.
Mr. Sirhan also said he was grateful to have been spared from execution and promised that he would live a peaceful life.
“Over half a century has passed and that young impulsive kid that I was does not exist anymore,” he said.
The decision to grant parole will first be reviewed by the legal division of the Board of Parole Hearings, a process that can take up to about four months. If the lawyers find an error, they can send the case to the full slate of commissioners to review.
If not, then the case will be sent to the governor, who has 30 days to review it. The governor, who has said that Robert F. Kennedy was his hero, can either approve the recommendation, send it back to the parole board, reverse the recommendation or take no action and let it go into effect.
In several instances, Mr. Newsom has denied parole to people whom the parole board has recommended for release, including two followers of the notorious cult leader Charles Manson, most recently in June.
Washington Post, California parole panel votes in favor of release from prison for Sirhan Sirhan, Tom Jackman (shown at right), Aug. 28, 2021 (print ed.). Parole for 77-year-old convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy still must be approved by full board, governor.
A California parole board panel on Friday voted in favor of Sirhan B. Sirhan’s request for release from prison on parole, 53 years after he was arrested and convicted of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, finding that he was no longer a threat to society, according to Sirhan’s brother, one of Kennedy’s sons and one of Sirhan’s surviving victims.
It was Sirhan’s 16th parole hearing. Since California abolished capital punishment in 1972, and Sirhan’s sentence was reduced to life, he has been eligible for release since 1975. The decision by the two-person panel will be reviewed by the full parole board for 90 days before it is final. Then the California governor, currently Gavin Newsom (D) who is facing a recall election which ends on Sept. 14, will have 30 days to uphold the decision, reverse it, or send it back to the board.
Paul Schrade was one of five people who were wounded in the shooting as they walked behind Kennedy, and Schrade has long believed that Sirhan shot him, but did not shoot Kennedy. After the ruling, Schrade said, “I’m pleased that we’ve done this for Sirhan because he didn’t deserve all of the very bad behavior from the prison system,” meaning repeated parole denials, “and prosecutors and police. He was innocent and didn’t deserve this for 53 years.”
For the first time, the Los Angeles County district attorney did not appear at one of Sirhan’s parole hearings to argue in opposition. Newly elected prosecutor George Gascòn issued a policy that his office would no longer participate in parole hearings.
“The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing,” Gascon adviser Alex Bastian said, noting that parole boards are better suited to judge a prisoner’s time behind bars and likelihood of reoffending. “If someone is no longer a threat to public safety after having served more than 50 years in prison, then the parole board may recommend release based on an objective determination. Our office policies take these principles into account and as such, our prosecutors stay out of the parole board hearing process.”
Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of Robert F. Kennedy assassination, seeks parole with no opposition from prosecutors
Only one journalist, Julie Watson of the Associated Press, was permitted to observe the hearing. She reported that Commissioner Robert Barton pointed out that Sirhan qualified as a youthful offender for purposes of parole consideration — he was 24 in 1968 — and the board is required to give that “great weight” under the law. Sirhan also qualified for “elderly parole” for being 77 and having served more than 20 years.
Shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy gave a speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. As he walked through a hotel pantry after the speech, Sirhan ran toward him from the front and fired a .22-caliber pistol, witnesses said. Sirhan was immediately wrestled onto a table and the gun seized, but Kennedy was mortally wounded. He died the next day.
Sirhan’s defense team claimed that he was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. Psychiatric experts on both sides of the case agreed, and Los Angeles County prosecutors reached a deal with the defense to allow Sirhan to plead guilty to first-degree murder and accept a life sentence, rather than face a capital murder charge and a possible death sentence. But a Los Angeles judge rejected the deal and demanded a trial.
At the trial, prosecutors said Sirhan had developed hatred for Kennedy because of the senator’s support of American military aid to Israel. Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian, experienced the Israeli takeover, and emigrated with his family to the United States. In his bedroom, police found a notebook in which Sirhan had repeatedly scribbled, “RFK Must Die.”
At Friday’s parole hearing, Barton asked Sirhan if he still followed the conflicts in the Middle East and his feelings today. Sirhan said he did not follow it but thinks about the refugees and the suffering, and he broke down crying, the AP reported.
Barton said the conflict has not gone away, and he noted it “obviously is still able to touch a nerve.”
At his trial, Sirhan’s lawyers, one of whom was under indictment by the same prosecutors he was facing, continued to make a case that Sirhan was mentally ill, and did not challenge the physical evidence in the case.
The Guardian, Sirhan Sirhan: six Kennedy children condemn decision to grant killer parole, Martin Pengelly, Aug. 28, 2021. Two children of assassinated Senator Robert F Kennedy support California decision, which may be reversed.
Six children of Robert F. Kennedy have condemned the decision to grant parole to Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot and killed the New York senator as he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.
“He took our father from our family and he took him from America,” the six said in a statement late on Friday. “We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release.”
The statement was signed by Joseph P Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G Kennedy, Maxwell T Kennedy and Rory Kennedy.
Two Kennedy children supported the decision. Douglas Kennedy, a toddler when his father was killed, said he was “overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr Sirhan face to face. I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.”
Robert F. Kennedy, right, was US attorney general under his older brother, John F Kennedy, when the president was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Five years later the younger Kennedy was a senator from New York when he was killed at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, moments after delivering a victory speech in the California primary. Five others were wounded.
Sirhan, now 77, insists he does not remember the shooting and had been drinking beforehand but was convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death, commuted to life when the California supreme court briefly outlawed capital punishment.
The hearing on Friday was his 16th attempt to gain parole. Because of laws passed in 2018, the board was required to take into account the fact that Sirhan suffered childhood trauma from the conflict in the Middle East, committed the offense at a young age and is now elderly.
Appearing by video from a San Diego county prison, Sirhan said: “Senator Kennedy was the hope of the world … and I harmed all of them and it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that.”
The board found Sirhan no longer poses a threat to society, noting his enrollment in programmes including anger management classes, Tai Chi and Alcoholics Anonymous, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We think that you have grown,” commissioner Robert Barton said.
The ruling will be reviewed over 120 days then sent to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to grant, reverse or modify it. If Sirhan is freed, he must live in a transitional home for six months, enroll in an alcohol abuse program and get therapy.
The six Kennedy children who oppose release said they were “devastated” and appealed to the governor, Gavin Newsom, “to reverse this initial recommendation” which had “inflicted enormous initial pain”.
“Sirhan Sirhan committed a crime against our nation and its people,” they said, adding: “We hope that those who also hold the memory of our father in their hearts will stand with us.”
Famed coroner Thomas Noguchi (shown above in a graphic prepared by the Justice Integrity Project) found that Kennedy had been shot three times at point-blank range from the back, with a fourth shot passing through his jacket without striking him, though witnesses said Sirhan was in front of Kennedy. Noguchi determined the shots were fired from a distance of three inches.
Sirhan’s lawyers moved Noguchi off the stand quickly without raising the issue of the gunshots. The defense also did not raise the issue of apparent multiple bullet holes found in the ceiling and door frames of the pantry, in addition to those which struck Kennedy and five other victims, possibly indicating more than the eight bullets that Sirhan’s gun held were fired.
A jury convicted Sirhan in April 1969 and sentenced him to death. When California eliminated the death penalty, Sirhan was resentenced to life. California has since reinstated the death penalty, but has a labyrinthine appeals process and rarely executes anyone.
The conviction was a source of controversy in Los Angeles almost immediately after it was handed down, after a weekly newspaper pointed out the bullet holes indicating more than eight shots were fired. The Los Angeles police then destroyed the ceiling tiles and door frames where the holes had been seen, though the case was still on appeal.
Beginning in the 1970s, surviving victim Paul Schrade became involved in pushing for further investigation, citing ballistics tests done on Sirhan’s gun which showed that bullets test fired from the gun did not match the bullets pulled from Kennedy and two other victims. He also cited a recording made from the hotel ballroom where Kennedy had just spoken, on which some analysts say 13 shots can be heard, while others say only eight shots were recorded.
- Washington Post, Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t think it was Sirhan Sirhan
Schrade appeared at Sirhan’s previous parole hearing in 2016, informing the board that he was a friend of Kennedy’s and had worked on campaigns with him since 1960. He apologized to Sirhan for not speaking at earlier hearings on his behalf.
“I know that he didn’t kill Robert Kennedy,” Schrade said in 2016. “And I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t sure of that. Because I loved Robert Kennedy and I would not defend somebody who killed him. Kennedy was a man of justice. So far, justice has not been served in this case. … There is clear evidence of a second gunman in that kitchen pantry who shot Robert Kennedy.”
Schrade helped convince Robert Kennedy Jr. of that view, and in December 2017, Kennedy Jr. visited Sirhan in prison and told him he believed he was innocent of the assassination, according to an interview with The Post in 2018. Kennedy Jr. said this week he still holds that view.
Washington Post, Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of RFK assassination, seeks parole with no opposition from prosecutors, Tom Jackman, right, Aug. 26, 2021. Sirhan B. Sirhan, convicted of the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, will face a California parole board for the 16th time Friday in a prison outside San Diego. But unlike the first 15 times, no prosecutor will stand to oppose the release of Sirhan, who is now 77.
Newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told The Washington Post shortly before his inauguration in December that he was creating a sentencing review unit to revisit the cases of about 20,000 prisoners for possible resentencing, analyzing both the fairness of long sentences and the cost savings for releasing low-risk or older inmates. Gascón issued a directive that his office’s “default policy” would be not to attend parole hearings and to submit letters supporting the release of some inmates who had served their mandatory minimums, while also assisting victims and victim advocates at parole hearings if requested.
A growing group of prosecutors, who say the job is more than locking people up, wants to help free criminals, too
In Sirhan’s case, Gascón’s office is remaining neutral. The office said it will not attend the parole hearing, as Los Angeles prosecutors have done historically, but it also will not send a letter in support of Sirhan’s parole.
“The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing,” said Alex Bastian, special adviser to Gascón. “The parole board’s sole purpose is to objectively determine whether someone is suitable for release. If someone is the same person that committed an atrocious crime, that person will correctly not be found suitable for release. However, if someone is no longer a threat to public safety after having served more than 50 years in prison, then the parole board may recommend release based on an objective determination.”
Spectrum News 1, ‘Coroner to the Stars’ Dr. Thomas Noguchi Revisits Famous Cases, Staff Report, Feb. 15, 2021. Known as the “coroner to the stars,” Dr. Thomas Noguchi was Los Angeles County’s chief medical examiner during the darkest days of Hollywood’s deaths.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Dr. Noguchi presided over the autopsies of movie stars, musicians, politicians, and victims of serial killers. He often seized the opportunity to talk to the press about his findings, something for which he was often criticized. To him, it was a chance to shine a light on the importance of forensic science.
Now in his 90s, Dr. Noguchi opened up about his monumental career on LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez. He revisited some of his most famous cases, such as the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Janis Joplin.
He also spoke about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel — for which Sirhan Sirhan was arrested. Dr. Noguchi now believes this case should be reopened, stating that evidence does not definitively prove that Sirhan was the shooter, and that the fatal shot was from behind.
Dr. Noguchi continues working today, studying the intersection of medicine and law. He consults as Professor Emeritus of Forensic Pathology at USC Keck School of Medicine. He stands by his findings in all of his cases throughout the years, including even the most controversial. As the former chief medical examiner, he said the most important thing to do is tell the truth, so that no person is victimized by rumors.
The Pruszynski Recording
Former CNN writer Brad Johnson and later author on his decades-long research into the murder of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
During recent years, the discovery and analysis of a journalist’s tape-recording of the shooting spree has helped helped convince some experts that it strongly supports a conclusion that a second shooter was active at the murder scene besides Sirhan. The analysis below is drawn from the 2018 book The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-up — A New Investigation. Co-authors Tim Tate, an experienced BBC reporter, and the late Brad Johnson, above left, who worked many years at CNN, began their book research 25 years before its publication. Years ago, Johnson also helped the Justice Integrity Project prepare the slides illustrating this column with quotations from key witnesses.
From their book:
In the spring of 1968, Montreal Gazette reporter Stanilaw (“Stash” to his friends) Pruszynski, age 32, took an unpaid leave from his newspaper to cover the Kennedy campaign. He used a cheap casette tape-recorder as a tool for research that he hoped to develop into a book. “Security around Robert Kennedy was non-existent,” he later recalled even though the candidate was at time accompanied by, among others, famed athletes like Rafer Johnson and Roosevelt Grier.
In covering Kennedy’s victory speech after the California primary on June 4, 1969, the journalist inadvertently switched his recorder back on so that it was functioning from a distance of about 40 feet away when the candidate was shot at the Ambassador Hotel. The reporter failed to realize the significance of his tape and handed it over to investigators shortly after the shooting. The tape was first cataloged as “CSA-K123″ and made available to the public in 1990 as part of a huge records dump by the Los Angeles Police Department to California’s State Archives in Sacramento. Atlanta-based CNN writer Brad Johnson, interested since the 1970s in controversies surrounding the RFK assassination, studied this recording as part of his unique project to create a comprehensive time-line of broadcast recordings and related coverage.
On May 31, 2004, Johnson recalled, he recognized the importance of the tapes in showing the sequence of shots over a five-second period beginning at 12:15.59 a.m. He travelled to Poland to interview Pruszynski and made arrangements for review of the tape by expert sound engineers, including Philip Van Praag, author of a history of the audio recording industry.
Van Praag, shown below, identified at least 13 shots, whereas Sirhan’s gun could hold only eight bullets and Sirhan had no time to reload because he was wrestled down by Kennedy’s aides after he fired his first shots.
Readers Guide To RFK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives, Andrew Kreig. These are major books, videos, documents, websites and other archives most relevant to 1968 Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy’s murder.
The materials focus heavily on remaining questions about responsibility and motive for Kennedy’s shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles shortly after his victory in the California Democratic primary appeared to pave the way for his presidential nomination. Shown below is his victory speech shortly before he was gunned down while leaving via a kitchen pantry to avoid crowds.
Included also in this guide compiled by our Justice Integrity Project is research that explores the assassination’s current implications for the U.S. justice system and other governance.
The materials contain varied perspectives in a style common to other topics in our series, which includes guides to the assassinations of President Kennedy on Nov. 22 in 1963 and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.
Readers of each can find abundant evidence of covert official involvement, including in the crimes and cover-up. But we provide also books and other evidence supporting the official verdicts. In the case of RFK’s murder, a jury found in 1969 that Sirhan Sirhan acted alone to kill Kennedy and wound five others with shots fired in the hotel’s pantry.
Thus, our operative principle in this project is to raise informed questions aggressively but also to provide sufficient evidence for readers to reach your own conclusions.
The continued public suspicions about the deaths of JFK, MLK and RFK (as the victims were known) have been fostered by the highly irregular legal procedures involving each death, including suppression of relevant documents and fear among witnesses and investigators.
One illustration of the continuing controversy was the dramatic but unsuccessful plea this year by Kennedy’s friend Paul Schrade to California’s parole board to free Sirhan on the grounds of innocence in killing Kennedy.
Schrade, now 91, said he was undoubtedly shot by Sirhan in the forehead at the hotel. But, Schrade maintained, Sirhan could not possibly have shot Kennedy because the New York senator was killed from a point-blank shot from behind, according to medical evidence, whereas Sirhan was always several feet in the front of the senator. Sirhan’s defenders say he was a patsy and victim of mind-control being unjustly held to enable the real killer to escape. Sirhan is shown in a mug shot soon after his arrest. He says he cannot remember relevant details.
Schrade’s reaction is shown during the February parole hearing, as illustrated by an Associated Press pool photograph of the proceedings, which have been marked for decades by unusual secrecy and arbitrary decision-making.
For such reasons, the new Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) has been created as a non-partisan citizen group advocating release of sealed records pertaining to major suspected political assassinations.
This editor is one of CAPA’s founding directors. Information from these Readers Guides is expected to be summarized on CAPA’s site, subject to CAPA’s review procedures from its board of scientific, historical, and legal experts and reader feedback.
Another development involves the continued publication of new revelations, reflections and scholarship. Los Angeles reporter Fernando Faura will publish on June 6 The Polka Dot File regarding his investigation immediately after the shooting of the mysterious woman in the polka dot dress who supposedly yelled “We shot him” and then disappeared.
Faura said murder investigations completely disregarded his evidence when he presented it after the shooting, which he and others claim exemplified a pattern of stifling other leads to RFK’s murder.
Among other recent and planned books (described below) are those of a more historical nature that illustrate the continuing importance of the RFK death, particularly after the JFK and MLK murders had wiped out the other two major progressive leaders of their era.
The goal here is to create a continually updated Readers Guide that provides perspective both on the 2016 elections and on other civic issues as the 50th anniversary of the RFK and MLK killings approaches in 2018.
Especially disturbing for this 2016 election season is the widespread notion promoted by the mass media that all three of the 1960s murders are long-settled issues that concern only wacko “conspiracy theorists” or history “buffs.” Even minimal research would illustrate many major security, legal, and propaganda issues that are highly relevant to current affairs and decision-making by the next group of elected and appointed officials taking charge on the world stage.
This guide is a work in progress. Therefore, new materials and suggestions (including clarifications and corrections) are welcome regarding the entries below.
Realistically, the guide cannot include every book, video, official proceeding or archive about such major figures. An electronic format can make a long catalog especially difficult to read on computers and mobile devices. So, the guide seeks to focus on major works and research centers and that sample a full range of perspective. The guide begins with assassination research and then moves to more general commentary on Robert Kennedy’s life and legacy, and their current implications.
Sirhan shooting victim Paul Schrade, a presidential campaign aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, reflects on his discovery thanks in major part to researchers Brad Johnson and Philip Van Praag of evidence of a second shooter (Photo courtesy of Interesting Stuff Entertainment with graphic for Justice Integrity Project).
Justice Integrity Project, RFK Murder Cover-Up Continues After Dramatic Parole Hearing, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 24, 2016. A California parole board this month rejected a dramatic plea to release the convicted slayer of 1968 presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy, thereby continuing one of the nation’s most notorious murder cover-ups.
Kennedy friend Paul Schrade argued that the convicted Sirhan B. Sirhan, firing from Kennedy’s front, could not have killed the New York senator in a hotel massacre that left Schrade wounded, as shown below in a photo taken at the scene in a pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Other Background News Coverage
Los Angeles Times, Sirhan Sirhan is reportedly stabbed at prison in San Diego, Teri Figueroa, Aug. 30, 2019. Sirhan Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence for the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, was reportedly stabbed Friday in a San Diego-area prison. TMZ and NBC7, both citing unnamed sources, reported that the 75-year-old inmate had been stabbed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a statement Friday confirming that an inmate had been assaulted, but the agency would not say whether the victim was Sirhan Sirhan (shown in a 2016 prisoner photo).
According to the statement from state prison officials, a Donovan inmate was assaulted at 2:21 p.m.
“Officers responded quickly, and found an inmate with stab wound injuries,” the department said. “He was transported to an outside hospital for medical care, and is currently in stable condition.”
“The suspect in the attack has been identified, and has [been] placed in the prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit, pending an investigation.”
According to Cal Fire spokesman Capt. Thomas Shoots, medics responded to a reported stabbing — the person was bleeding from the neck — just before 2:25 p.m. Friday. He said the person, whose identity he could not release, was taken by ambulance to a hospital shortly before 2:50 p.m.
Sirhan Sirhan (shown after his arrest) has been in the state’s prison system since May 1969, nearly a year after Kennedy, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for president, was assassinated.
Kennedy was shot and gravely wounded shortly after midnight June 5, 1968, after a speaking to supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Sirhan, then 24, was subdued at the scene. Kennedy, 42, died early the next day. Online Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records state that the inmate, whose full name is Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, has been up for parole numerous times. His next hearing is slated for February 2021.
Justice Integrity Project, RFK’s Collected Works Provide Powerful Lessons For Today, Andrew Kreig, April 11, 2019. The inspirational words and actions of the murdered 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy came alive once more during a book lecture on April 10 by his eldest daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and biographer Richard “Rick” Allen at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
The speakers, drawing from RFK: His Words For Our Times, a 480-page book republished last year, provided a compelling and entertaining discussion of why the senator exemplified leadership qualities of enduring value to the public.
RFK, who launched his presidential campaign in March during the war-torn year of 1968 in a challenge to the Democratic incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, faced a stressed and angry electorate comparable to those of today, the speakers said.
His memorable method included appeals to the public’s better nature along with a daring and at times courageous willingness to travel to opposition locales. “RFK had a predisposition to go into hostile crowds,” said Allen, a media executive and longtime political aide. “He constantly sought opportunities to wade into crowds that were not friendly.”
Townsend, a professor at Georgetown Law Center and a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, shared several examples of how such actions won over crowds. One such time was in 1966 when Kennedy accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Mississippi Law School. Kennedy, by then a U.S. senator representing New York, had been enormously unpopular in Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South three years previously as Attorney General under his brother John’s presidency by leading the Justice Department’s legal efforts to require integration and African-American voting rights efforts in compliance with federal court orders.
Huge public opposition resulted in just a narrow 5-4 vote by the university’s regents to permit the RFK speech to occur. The senator arrived with his wife, Ethel, holding hands, which surprised some onlookers who had come to think of him as an almost inhuman devil for trying to change the settled ways of segregation and voting restrictions.
The result by the end of the discussions at the school , the daughter recalled, was a 10-minute standing ovation from the audience. “It was his view that if you talk honestly,” she recalled, “you can make a difference.”
The RFK book, originally published in 1992 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the senator’s fatal shooting in 1968 in Los Angeles just after he won California’s Democratic presidential primary, collects his major speeches. They began with his brief years as a journalist and his 1950s work as a U.S. Senate committee counsel helping senators lead hard-hitting investigations of Mafia members and their and allies who ran major labor unions in corruption fashion..
Most of RFK’s words in the book are from his years as attorney general, senator and presidential candidate, with the goal of providing an intimate view of a wordsmith who achieved an enduring reputation for speaking persuasively to unify audiences even on such inherently divisive themes as war, peace, poverty and inequality.
“He was able to win over people,” said Townsend, “not by criticizing them but by asking what kind of nation they wanted to have.”
She and Allen (shown at left in a Justice Integrity Project photo) explained also RFK had a rare quality of holding seemingly contradictory ideas and acting on them in a positive way. One example was what they called “aggressive civility.”
Another was “substantive celebrity,” which Townsend described as using the Kennedy family’s undoubted celebrity during the 1960s to try to achieve solid results in public policy.
“It was not power for power’s sake,” Allen said, “but to help those Americans who needed representation.”
The speakers, drawing from RFK: His Words For Our Times, a 480-page book republished last year, provided a compelling and entertaining discussion of why the senator exemplified leadership qualities of enduring value to the public.
RFK, who launched his presidential campaign during the Vietnam War-torn year of 1968 in a challenge to the Democratic incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, faced a stressed and angry electorate comparable to those of today, the speakers said.
WhoWhatWhy, Opinion & Analysis: Was Sirhan Hypnotically Programmed to Assassinate RFK? Shane O’Sullivan, June 5, 2018. Dr. Shane O’Sullivan, shown above, wrote “Who Killed Bobby?” and directed the documentary “RFK Must Die.”
Fifty years ago, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. His convicted assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, remains in prison in San Diego and claims to have no memory of the crime. Robert Kennedy Jr. visited Sirhan for three hours last December and, on the basis of new audio evidence of a second shooter, is calling for a new investigation into the case.
Over the last 11 years, Sirhan’s attorney Laurie Dusek and Dr. Daniel Brown (shown at left), a leading expert on hypnosis and coercive persuasion at Harvard Medical School, have spent over 150 hours with Sirhan, working pro bono and at great personal cost to recover his memory of the shooting.
The WhoWhatWhy piece shows 67 minutes of video footage spiked from a Netflix documentary showing Dr. Dan Brown and Sirhan’s attorney, Laurie Dusek, discussing their groundbreaking work with Sirhan for the first time.
Washington Post, Did L.A. police and prosecutors bungle the Bobby Kennedy assassination probe? Tom Jackman (shown right), June 5, 2018. For six years after he was shot and wounded while walking behind Robert F. Kennedy in the Ambassador Hotel in June 1968, Paul Schrade mourned the loss of his friend and stayed out of the public eye. But beginning with a news conference in 1974, Schrade has demanded answers to the question of whether a second gunman — and not Sirhan Sirhan — killed Kennedy.
Soon after Sirhan’s trial ended with his first-degree-murder conviction in April 1969, journalists noted that Kennedy had been shot in the back of the head at point-blank range, but witnesses all said Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy. Bullet holes found in the doors of the crime scene indicated more shots were fired than could have come from Sirhan’s eight-shot .22-caliber pistol, some witnesses said. Sirhan’s defense team had not challenged any of the physical evidence at trial.
Consortium News, A just published book on the RFK murder re-examines the evidences and asks what the world might be like if the four 1960s assassinations never occurred, James DiEugenio, June 5, 2018. Authors Tim Tate and Brad Johnson begin their new book, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-Up – A New Investigation (Thistle Publishing) with this quote from RFK the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed: “What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.”
Just two months later Kennedy would become the last in a series of four assassinations of American leaders from 1963-68: President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. The cumulative political impact of those murders is hard to overstate. Toward the end of their book the authors try to estimate what that impact was.
Though it’s impossible to say for sure, they conjecture that, at the very least, the Vietnam War would have ended much sooner and would not have expanded into Laos and Cambodia. We know for certain that President Richard Nixon’s decision to expand the war caused the collapse of the government of Cambodia’s Prince Sihanouk, the eventual takeover by the Khmer Rouge and the death of two million people.
The murder of Bobby Kennedy has always seemed to get less attention in the mainstream media than the other 1960s assassinations, perhaps because it’s been considered an “open and shut case.” There were, after all, seventy witnesses to RFK’s murder. But the Los Angeles Police Department decided very early, and quite literally, that what happened in the wee hours of June 5, 1968 would not be another Dallas, as Tate and Johnson say.
Washington Post, The assassination of Bobby Kennedy: Was Sirhan Sirhan hypnotized to be the fall guy? Tom Jackman (shown right), June 4, 2018. Even as Sirhan Sirhan was being captured, seconds after the shooting of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, he behaved oddly. A group of men had tackled him, held him down and tried to wrest the gun out of his hands.
But “in the middle of a hurricane of sound and feeling,” wrote one of those men, author George Plimpton, Sirhan “seemed peaceful.” Plimpton was struck by Sirhan’s “dark brown and enormously peaceful eyes.” A Los Angeles police officer who had rushed in recalled, “He had a blank, glassed-over look on his face — like he wasn’t in complete control of his mind.”
At the same time, the short, slim Sirhan (shown in a photo after arrest) — 5 feet 5 inches, about 120 pounds — exerted superhuman strength as one man held his wrist to a steam table in the Ambassador Hotel pantry, firing off five or six more shots even as he was held around the neck, body and legs by other men, witnesses said. It took a half-dozen men to wrench the .22-caliber pistol out of Sirhan’s grip.
At the police station, Sirhan was preternaturally calm, officers later said. “I was impressed by Sirhan’s composure and relaxation,” Sgt. William Jordan wrote in a report later that morning. “He appeared less upset to me than individuals arrested for a traffic violation.”
But the hypnosis angle gained momentum in recent years after Sirhan was examined for more than 60 hours by a Harvard Medical School professor with vast expertise in forensic psychiatry and hypnosis. In a lengthy affidavit filed with Sirhan’s last appeal in 2011, Daniel P. Brown (shown at right) concluded that “Mr. Sirhan did not act under his own volition and knowledge at the time of the assassination and is not responsible for actions coerced and/or carried out by others.” He was, Brown said, a true “Manchurian Candidate,” hypno-programmed into carrying out a violent political act without knowing it.
“I have written four textbooks on hypnosis,” Brown wrote, “and have hypnotized over 6,000 individuals over a 40-year professional career. Mr. Sirhan is one of the most hypnotizable individuals I have ever met, and the magnitude of his amnesia for actions under hypnosis is extreme.” Brown said he has spent another 60 hours with Sirhan in the years since his 2011 affidavit, further confirming his conclusions.
Brown researched not only Sirhan’s background but also the details of the case, and wove together the CIA’s notorious “MKUltra” mind-control experiments of the 1950s and 1960s; the Mafia; the famed “girl in the polka-dot dress” seen with Sirhan before the shooting; and an unknown “Radio Man” who secretly directed Sirhan to write the incriminating “RFK must die!” statements in a notebook found in his bedroom.
Lawyers for Sirhan are currently using the theory that he was a hypnotized distraction for the actual killer of Kennedy in a pending appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Although it would have no binding power over the case, a positive finding could be used to push California authorities to reopen the case. Sirhan attorney William Pepper said he’s convinced that someone used “both drugs and hypnosis to make him a totally compliant distraction at the time Bobby Kennedy was within range of the second shooter, who was able to get down behind him.” Kennedy’s fatal wound was fired at point-blank range from behind, while witnesses said Sirhan was in front of him.
But to the U.S. court system, that claim simply didn’t fly. In rejecting Sirhan’s final federal appeal in 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich wrote that Sirhan’s “theory that he was subject to mind control may be intriguing” but that the experts’ views “fall far short of demonstrating that [Sirhan] actually was subjected to mind control.” Wistrich added that “Brown’s retrospective opinion based upon tests assessing [Sirhan’s] mental condition forty years after the fact are of negligible weight.”
Boston Globe, Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it? Nik DeCosta-Klipa, May 31, 2018. Conspiracies surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s death may be most widely circulated. However, one theory questioning our understanding of Robert F. Kennedy’s murder in 1968 has arguably gained more recent traction, including from those closest to the assassination and even one immediate member of Kennedy’s family.
“My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently told The Washington Post. “I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
According to the Post, Kennedy’s second oldest son now believes, after months of research, that his father was killed by a second gunman.
RFK Jr. even visited Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of shooting and killing his father, because he was “curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence.” He isn’t the only one. But others who’ve deeply investigated the case say the second-shooter explanation is a shallow theory that irresponsibly lets Sirhan off the hook.
“If you believe the LAPD reports about this case, there is no way that Sirhan did it and did it alone,” Dan Moldea, right, an investigative journalist and author of The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, told Boston.com.
“But if you assume that the LAPD f—ed up — not crimes of commission, but crimes of omission,” Moldea says the theory begins to unravel.
“What Bobby Kennedy Jr. has done, he’s launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts who are going to believe that Sirhan didn’t do it and that somebody else did,” he said.
Washington Post, Retropolis: Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan, Tom Jackman, May 27, 2018 (print edition). Just before Christmas, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pulled up to the massive Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a California state prison complex in the desert outside San Diego that holds nearly 4,000 inmates. Kennedy was there to visit Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man convicted of killing his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years ago.
While his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, waited in the car, Kennedy (shown at right in a 2017 photo by Gage Skidmore) met with Sirhan for three hours, he revealed to The Washington Post last week. It was the culmination of months of research by Kennedy into the assassination, including speaking with witnesses and reading the autopsy and police reports.
“I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,” Kennedy said. He would not discuss the specifics of their conversation. But when it was over, Kennedy had joined those who believe there was a second gunman, and that it was not Sirhan (shown in a 2016 prison photo) who killed his father, shown at right.
“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and the third oldest of his father’s 11 children. “I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
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