Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RFK assassination on MSNBC this morning

I woke to find to my astonishment coverage of new evidence in the RFK case on MSNBC this morning. The MSNBC coverage was cursory, so allow me to fill in the bigger picture here.

I was the first person to make public the fact that a new audiotape had surfaced in this case when I testifed to the Los Angeles Unified School District at a hearing regarding the tearing down of the Ambassador Hotel. I begged them not to do that, in light of this new tape. I brought with me statements of support from nearly 40 people from multiple countries begging the LAUSD not to destroy the hotel. Sadly, this pitted me against Max Kennedy, one of the many sons of Robert Kennedy, as he and the family thought RFK would be better served by the building of a school on that lot.

A newsman at a mainstream media organization who has a personal fascination with the case first alerted me to this tape, and I confirmed with Phil Melanson that indeed, such a tape was a completely new find. It had languished unheard in the California State Archives, which houses the evidence the Los Angeles Police Department collected during their "Special Unit Senator" investigation of the Robert Kennedy case. A freelance reported named Stanislaw Pruszynski had accidentally left his audio recorder on after Robert Kennedy finished his acceptance speech, having just won the California primary. Pruszynski followed Kennedy into the pantry while his recorder was still running.

Phillip Van Praag, a man with over 35 years of forensic experience analyzing magnetic media and over 45 years in the audio field, got a copy of this tape and studied it. He concluded that at least 13 shots appear on the tape, which would, of course, prove that at least two guns were fired in the pantry, since Sirhan's gun could hold, at most, eight bullets.

Separately, Robert Joling, a lawyer and former President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, had also come to a conclusion, through his analysis of the physical evidence in the case, that the truth is not as has been presented. While neither would welcome the label of conspiracy advocate, if two shots were fired, there are only two possible conclusions: either there was a conspiracy to kill RFK, or a conspiracy to cover-up the accidental firing of a second gun. I think the latter scenario is laughable, and I don't know what Joling and Van Praag advocate, because I am still awaiting my copy of their book An Open and Shut Case.

Van Praag and Joling submitted a paper on their findings to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. I'm awaiting the results of that peer review.

I have not been as excited about the discovery of the audio tape as others because I know what happened when similar audio evidence surfaced in the JFK case. A policeman's Dictabelt recorder had been stuck on in Dealey Plaza, capturing the shots on tape. This evidence was analyzed by two separate professional acoustical firms for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and both concluded there were at least four shots fired from at least two different places. It was that evidence that led the HSCA, against the will of its leaders, to conclude a "probable conspiracy" in the assassination of John Kennedy.

Fast forward to 2005. I'll quote the relevant part from a longer piece I wrote on a JFK conference in DC in which numerous issues relating to the JFK case were discussed:
Richard Garwin, whose program biography did not include his work for the CIA (which he acknowledged during the Q&A), presented an opaque argument that the sounds on the Dictabelt tape came a minute too late to have been any of the shots in Dealey Plaza. Presenting charts and graphs that confused most people in the audience, and fumbling over his sound files, Garwin was not well received.

Garwin was followed by Donald Thomas, who had written an article on the acoustical evidence for the well-respected British publication Science & Justice (2001 – see http://www.forensic-science-society.org.uk/Thomas.pdf).

Dr. Thomas presented a stark contrast to Garwin. Thomas began by asserting that the number on the tape Garwin tested was not the number of the tape the House assassination committee tested. He also pointed out that there is a difference in recording speed and playback speed, and that Garwin’s team had applied one which made the shot sounds no longer line up with the House committee analysis.

Thomas provided slides that made clear the points he was making. One could feel the change in the room. People now felt they could follow along as Thomas lined up each sound with the motorcycle’s probable position, and then showed us pictures from the Zapruder film and others that confirmed that the motorcycle cop, Officer H.B. McLain, was indeed in those positions at those times.
I believe strongly that the CIA was deeply involved in both Kennedy assassinations, based on the more than 15 years of evidence I've read on those cases. (Robert Kennedy himself suspected the CIA's involvement, and called the duty officer at CIA HQ right after the assassination asking if their people were involved.)

I believe that, in light of the publicity Joling and Van Praag are receiving, that some CIA guy like Garwin (and perhaps Garwin himself) will step up next and tell us that the Pruszynski tape has been incorrectly analyzed, that no more than eight shots can be heard on the tape. I believe this because I've seen how this works for too many years now. Honest evidence of conspiracy is constantly supplanted with dishonest "proof" of nonconspiracy.

But maybe. The fact that Obama has gotten this far in a process from the outset somewhat rigged against him gives me hope. The fact that the media coverage is so obsessively watched and detailed by people involved in politics means that for once, the media is being held more accountable than usual. And more people are seeking their own information, no longer trusting that the mainstream media will give them "all the news that's fit to print." Maybe this time, the truth will out. I'm not holding my breath. But I'll allow an ounce of hope in that regard.

If you're interested in the real history of the RFK assassination, please read the two pieces below.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination: Part 1 – The Grand Illusion

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination: Part 2 – Rubik’s Cube

11 Comments:

Anonymous Deighved H Stern MD said...

Of course, I am with you, Lisa.

I welcome any intellectually sound reports that reaffirm what we already know about the assassinations, simply because they keep these crimes in the public conscousness, and serve to remind us that our current predicament did not develop overnight.

But I am saddened at the same time by the knowlege that this is not new information. It is simply a more esoteric method of proving what the autopsy already showed beyond any reasonable doubt: that all of the shots that hit RFK were fired from behind him and to his right at point-blank range, and that they could not have come from Sirhan's gun.

A truely honest report of this story would make it clear that these fancy and opaque (to most people) analyses only serve to reinforce the conclusions already made clear by the best and most obvious evidence, and that evidence has been available for almost 40 years.

I keep hoping that these stories will eventually strike a chord in those who have thus far been unable to reach that forbidden zone of intense discomfort - the one where suddenly we realize that even the most "trusted" institutional sources of information cannot be accepted at face value.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When viewing the video play close attention, just after the shots and people are scurring around in shock, to a white male dressed in business suit with a rather nonchalant demeanor with his hand just briefly brushing his mouth. Who is he?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous simpilmindz said...

Lisa,
I am with you all the way on this and one day I hope we will get the real truth about the assassinations of the 1960s. But as the years go by (I was 20 when JFK was murdered and I'm now 65) I must confess I grow weary.

If the full story is ever released it won't change a damn thing because it will be too late to do anything meaningful about it. The plotters and perpetrators will be long dead and all those who believed the official versions of those events will simply shrug their shoulders and say something like: "So what? It was such a long time ago and we should move on. After all we have plenty of problems to deal with right now."

And so it goes. Time rolls on and there is always something happening. The powerful know that if they can delay the truth long enough eventually when it comes out, if it ever does, it won't really mean a damn thing, except to the tiny handful of people to whom the truth is important.

An example. There is some evidence to suggest that the British murdered Napoleon during his second exile on the island of St. Helena. I personally don't think that they did, but what if one day the British government released documents that proved beyond doubt that this is indeed what happened? What would change? The few people who were interested enough to follow this story and believe that Napoleon had been assassinated by the British would feel vindicated. There might even be a TV special about it. But then what? What would change in the real world? The answer is, I fear, nothing.

A long time ago someone I greatly admired, he eventually became a minister in Blair's government, so obviously along the way he jettisoned some (a lot?) of his principles, said the following to me: "What you have to understand is that most people are place-seekers. They just want to find a place where they feel comfortable and can survive and possibly prosper to some extent. If the leaders say 'black is white' they all chant 'black is white'; if the leaders one day suddenly change this to 'white is black' they immediately chant 'white is black'." Then he added, "The really interesting thing is that if you challenge them, pointing out that that is not what they were saying the day before, they deny that they ever said such a thing."

In my experience this is largely true. Most people don't want to know the truth. They want a partial truth that they can feel comfortable with; i.e. one that confirms what they already believe.

In spite of that I still live in a spirit of hope that one day we will know what happened.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Ellis said...

Lisa:

I am a big admirer of yours, and I feel the same sense of loss of a great opportunity. I have to believe that if the internet had been around at the time of all those assassinations, we would have gotten to the truth a long time ago.

Anyway, why do you think this is coming out now, since to most of us, it is not really news? Of course, it has not gotten widespread coverage; aside from the MSNBC link you attached, I haven't seen it in any mainstream newspapers.

I'm interested in your thoughts.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks, all, for your comments. I appreciate your insights.

Ellis, in answer to your question, I honestly think the impetus is the fact that a purely scientific study was introduced before a very reputable scientific body. It's to the point where the mainstream would look odd if they ignored it altogether.

I also think it's worth noting that the CIA's "total" control of the media, as espoused in their Openness Report of 1992, predated MSNBC. It's just possible that network is not as tightly controlled as the others. I was surprised to see not one but three or four segments on this. I'm pretty sure it was four.

There has been additional coverage on ABC, but only briefly, and not, I don't think, at the network level, but at the affiliate level.

I expect a "rebuttal" of this evidence will, of course, get far more widespread play. That's how these things "work." But oh gosh, how I hope I am wrong here.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Deighved H Stern MD said...

simpilmindz, I understand where you are coming from, but I have to say that I emphatically disagree with your conclusions.

While it is true that it will be "too late to do anything about it" - if you are referring to prosecutions of those responsible, there are some fundamental differences between the assassinations of the 1960s and your analogy to the possible assassination of Napoleon.

First and foremost, unlike the power alliances of Napoleon's day, the American power structure that produced those assassinations is still very much intact. The CIA, the Militarist Class, the Media Giants, and their right-wing and criminal allies not only continue to control the levers of power in this country, but they do so with far more concentrated efficiency. Witness the fact that the White House has been occupied by likely co-conspirators, ratifiers, colluders, or direct descendants of those involved in the assassinations and their cover-up in eleven of the twelve administrations that have followed the JFK assassination. (I am counting LBJ I and LBJ II as a single administration, since I was so brief. I am including Clinton as a "colluder" which is a debatable stance. However, if you examine his relationship with the other major groups in this alliance, and the way he championed legislation designed to further empower them, I believe you will find my decision to be well-founded.) Between LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, GHWB, and GWB, the Presidency has been almost like a royal succession.

A thorough unmasking of theses events, and their origins would generate revolutionary political will to reform these bloated structures, and reverse some of the losses of the past 45 years. That would definitely be "doing something about it."

Despite my frequent bouts of frustration, hopelessness, and depression, I thoroughly believe that one day critical mass will be reached, and the dam will break. The political descendants of the coup ratifiers are well into the process of eating their own. The disaster brought about by GWB - the stark example of where this kind of unchecked political inbreeding ultimately leads - has resulted in the most rational members of the original cabal realizing they will have to give up some of their gains, or risk losing it all - similar to the few who supported Roosevelt.

So no, it isn't too late. If it was too late, GHWB wouldn't turn Gerald Ford's funeral into an opportunity to leverage Ford's unearned reputation for honesty into a platform for shouting down the truth about the crime in which they were both accomplices. If it was not too late, the Washington Post wouldn't force Jefferson Morley to do his groundbreaking work in pursuit of the truth on his own time.

There is still time, and it still matters - a lot.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous simpilmindz said...

Deighved H Stern,
Thank you for your thoughtful, reasoned and well-argued response. I appreciate that there are differences bewtween the possible asassination of Napoleon and the actual assassinations of Malcolm X, JFK, MLK and RFK.

I achowledge that the power structure which was responsible for those foul deeds of the 60s is still very much with us and may, indeed, be showing signs of weakness and wear and tear. It is my understanding that an internal struggle, much like the one JFK and RFK faced, is taking place between the White House and elements within the military and the intelligence community; only this time it's the political leaders who are the hawks and the the military/intelligence faction who are the doves.

Dubya has certainly not advanced the "conservative" cause with his foreign misadventures and his obvious domestic failings.

We live in strange times so anything might be possible. One day the truth will prevail. Let's hope that day arrives sooner rather than later.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous DHSmd said...

simplemindz, thanks for your respone. As one who once (during the Ford Administration) identified himself as a "conservative" I completely agree with you. When the 16 highest deficits in the history of the republic occur under Republic Presidents, mostly with Republican dominated Congress, and the only balanced budget since Eisenhower occurs under the Democrat, it begins to be difficult to buy the "Conservative" brand.

I firmly believe it will all come out. That full disclosure and understanding will either result in the massive reformation needed to save the republic, result FROM that reformation, or be discovered in the ruins after the fall of the Republic. Because sure as we sit here, the dysfunction that has grown from the separation of power from accountability cannot continue much longer if the Nation is to survive.

To paraphrase RFK, one has to hope, because there is no other choice.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous MinM said...

Lisa,

Ironically with the RFK case back in the news. So are your old 'friends' at USAID:

White House aide resigns...

7:19 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks, MinM. Will the CIA never get over its obsession with Cuba???

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a conference planned for the 40th anniversary of RFK's assassination?

11:04 AM  

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