Thursday, May 29, 2008

RFK assassination information

It's that sad, horrid time of year again, the time of year when I'm reminded we need to do all we can to protect and support people who try to do good in the world, because there will always be those who feel the need to rob us of them.

40 years ago next week, just after Midnight on June 5, the morning after California's June 4th primary, Senator Robert Kennedy finished his victory speech, exited behind the stage and entered the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel en route to the Colonial Room.

Kennedy wanted to spend a moment with the print press media. The radio microphones and TV cameras had had their time with him, and he wanted to go thank the grunts who sat behind typewriters - remember typewriters? - banging out stories about the campaign, his chances for the Democratic nomination, the hope he offered (or the threat he represented, depending on their point of view). Kennedy usually made a point of speaking to these journalists, and tonight would be no different.

Until it was.

The pantry was only lightly crowded as he entered. Most of the crowd was behind him. He walked through the swinging doors, heading East through the pantry. He stopped to shake hands with some kitchen workers.

Vincent DiPierro watched in wonder. He was very excited to be there. His father, who worked there, called and told him to get down there so he could meet Kennedy.

Vince noticed a girl in a white dress with dark polka dots with a "good figure" interacting with a young man with dark, curly hair. He thought she was holding him as he balanced on a tray stand. But as Kennedy stepped forward, the curly headed man stepped down from the tray stand and circled behind hotel maitre d' Karl Uecker, who was just grabbing Kennedy's right hand with his left to pull him forward.

Suddenly a hand reached in front of Uecker. The sound of balloons popping. A blue flash. Kennedy on the ground, and Paul Schrade collapsed behind him. A lone tie, belonging to the security guard Thane Eugene Cesar who had been holding Kennedy's right elbow, lay stretched out next to Kennedy on the ground.

Two men and a girl in a polka dot dress ran out as Sirhan stepped forward to fire. One of the men ran out separately from the other two. People gave chase, yelling, "Stop him!" "He's got a gun!"

At the back of the hotel, a young Mexican-American woman named Sandy Serrano was relaxing, until a dark haired man and girl flew out. "We shot him. We shot him," the girl in the polka dot dress said. Serrano asked in disbelief, "Who did you shoot?" "We shot Kennedy!" the girl said, as she ran past with her companion and disappeared into the darkness.

Screams. Wailing. Kennedy's been shot. He's been shot. Oh God. Oh no. Not again. Grief descended over the country and beyond like a thick black shroud. Hope was buried for many years.

Martin Luther King had just been shot as he exited his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Four and a half years earlier, Robert's brother John had been assassinated in Dallas.

All that blood. All that horror. All that loss. And now, with Bobby, it was almost too much to bear, for many.

The country fell apart. People who had protested the war as a unit fractured. Some gave up. Others turned to drugs for escape. Still others marched on, their hair increasingly long, their voices increasingly harsh.

Our vote was taken from us. Goodness was taken from us. Liberalism was taken from us. Our country was taken from us.

And we were told this was all due to random acts of lone assassins. Some knew better. Some didn't want to know better. And all too many didn't know better. And how could they?

The Warren Commission information was still largely under wraps, published in part in an obscure set of 26 volumes.

The files from the FBI's investigation of King were still secret.

The LAPD's "Special Unit Senator" files were kept from the public for 20 years.

All the evidence was withheld from public view.

Imagine if, just a few weeks after the assassination, people had learned that not only did at least three others witness the girl in the polka dot dress saying "We shot him" to the Mexican girl - but that over twenty witnesses saw a suspicious girl in a polka dot dress, often in the company of a guy who looked like Sirhan.

Imagine if, just says after the assassination, the police said to the public, wait a minute. We know at least 12 bullets were fired in the pantry, so we're looking for additional suspects, since Sirhan's gun can only hold eight.

Imagine if, just hours after the assassination, the police told us that a second suspect had been handcuffed at the hotel and brought in for questioning because several people thought he'd been escaping with a gun in a rolled up poster.

Imagine if the system had worked.

Wouldn't it have been appropriate if Sirhan had a lawyer who wasn't facing disbarment at the time he represented him? A lawyer who, upon learning the police had messed up the labeling of the bullets, wouldn't have just stipulated that the evidence was whatever the police said it was? A lawyer who, upon learning that the shots came from an inch behind Kennedy, based on the autopsy evidence, realized that his client couldn't have killed Kennedy, since he had been some three feet in front of Kennedy? A lawyer that wouldn't have stipulated to his client's guilt before the evidence had even come in?

Imagine transparency, honesty, and justice.

Imagine a world you don't live in.

People in power, especially power obtained dishonestly, sometimes act in the most heinous of ways to preserve that power. They will threaten, bribe, hurt, maim, and kill if necessary. They will cover up for each other.

Unless they are named Scott McClellan, and bless him for doing the right thing, albeit a bit late. Bless all those who come forward, at risk to themselves, to pass along whatever truth they know.

The only reason we know what we do now about the Kennedy and King assassinations is that a lot of brave people told what they knew when there was still time to act on that knowledge. That takes guts, and my hat is way off to the brave witnesses who came forward.

My hat is also off to the researchers who smelled a rat, and refused to believe the false trail laid down so thoroughly for them in the mainstream media.

Because we're in a major anniversary year, there are a couple of outstanding conferences coming up. If you live near Los Angeles or Pittsburgh, come learn about the assassinations of the sixties. And come meet me! I love to meet readers of Real History. You are an amazing group. I treasure the people I've met over the years through our collective curiosity on these matters. You are my heroes.

The Coalition for Political Assassinations is putting on its conference June 6-8. The speaker list is amazing:

Robert Joling and Philip Van Praag, co-authors of An Open and Shut Case
William Pepper, Sirhan's current attorney
Ted Charach, the maker of the film "The Second Gun"
Bill Turner, former FBI agent and an extraordinary writer on this case
Paul Schrade - felled by a bullet himself the night Robert Kennedy was killed
Mark Sobel - filmmaker with a recent (and award-winning) documentary on RFK
Shane O'Sullivan - documentary filmaker on the RFK assassination
Michael Calder - author of JFK v CIA
Summer Reese - lawyer and associate of Larry Teeter's, Sirhan's former attorney
Lisa Pease - co-author and co-editor of The Assassinations

I just finished speaking on Black Op Radio tonight about the RFK case. Len Osanic has created a truly extraordinary archive of interviews on covert history which you can download (if recent) or order (if you waited too long). I'll be on another radio show back East next week. I'm told my appearance on The Discovery Channel's "Conspiracy Files" show has recently aired again. I've been filmed for four documentaries in the past couple of years and queried for a fifth. There's a lot of heat on this case, finally.

And this fall, there's going to be an AMAZING conference at Duquesne University, sponsored by the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law and the Duquesne University School of Law. So if you can't make it to Los Angeles June 6-8, come to "Making Sense of the Sixties / A national symposium on the assassinations and political legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy" in Pittsburgh, PA October 3-5.

The speaker list for that event includes:

Gary Aguilar, Physician; independent JFK assassination researcher
Michael M. Baden, Chair, Forensic Pathology Panel, U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)
James DiEugenio, Author, Destiny Betrayed and co-author/co-editor of The Assassinations
Robert J. Joling, Co-author, An Open & Shut Case; former trial attorney and judge; past-president, American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Robert Blair Kaiser, Author, R.F.K. Must Die; member, Sirhan Sirhan defense team
James Lesar, Former defense attorney for James Earl Ray; F.O.I.A. attorney
Lisa Pease, Co-author/co-editor of The Assassinations
William Pepper, counsel for Sirhan Sirhan; former counsel for James Earl Ray
David Talbot, Author, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
Robert K. Tanenbaum, Author, attorney and former Deputy Chief Counsel, HSCA
Philip Van Praag, Co-author, An Open & Shut Case; audio expert and independent RFK assassination researcher
Cyril H. Wecht, Member, HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel; witness, Commission on CIA Activities within the United States

Don't stop questioning. Don't sell your soul to join the guys on the lucrative, but wrong, side of this case. Have some decency. Care.


Additional information

Sirhan now says, "I am innocent." - A short summary of the RFK assassination issues.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination Part I: The Grand Illusion - Evidence of conspiracy.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination Part II: Rubik's Cube - Possible conspirators.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Remembering Sydney Pollack

Robert Parry at Consortium News has published my tribute to Sydney Pollack, which includes a rundown on my favorite Pollack films, and examples of why his death is such a loss for those who want a little meat with our entertainment. Here's the start:

Sydney Pollack has died of cancer at 73. If you don't know his name, you should, as he's responsible for some of the best films from the last 40 years.

Pollack was a film director par excellence, a name you could take to the bank. If he was involved, you knew the film would be compelling, and possibly an award winner.

His last credit was as an executive producer of HBO's recent film "Recount," a tight, compelling presentation of the key events in that awful 2000 debacle that passed for an election.

One of the first films of his that I saw left a lasting impression on me. "The Way We Were" was much more than a love story. It was my first introduction to the irrational anti-Communist hysteria that destroyed so many good people's lives in the 1950s.

Then came "Three Days of the Condor," the movie that first sparked my interest in the CIA. In retrospect, the movie was downright prescient:
Turner: Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?

Higgins: Are you crazy?

Turner: Am I?

Higgins: Look, Turner…

Turner: Do we have plans?

Higgins: No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all. We play games. What if? How many men? What would it take? Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime? That's what we're paid to do.

Turner: So Atwood just took the games too seriously. He was really going to do it, wasn't he?

Higgins: A renegade operation. Atwood knew 54/12 would never authorize it, not with the heat on the Company.

Turner: What if there hadn't been any heat? Suppose I hadn't stumbled on their plan?

Higgins: Different ballgame. Fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan. Oh, the plan was all right, the plan would've worked.

Turner: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

Higgins: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years, food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

Turner: Ask them.

Higgins: Not now — then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!
Please read the rest here. Pollack was a rare light in the entertainment business, calling us always to our higher selves. I will miss his sensibilities greatly, and hope a worthy successor appears.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Minutes from Mars

I'm watching and waiting for the Phoenix probe to land on Mars! There are some who argue that the space program shouldn't take precedence over health and education programs here at home. I beg to differ. I think health care and education are extremely important. But I don't see them as incompatible with a robust space program.

Now, there's a big difference between gaining knowledge that is shared, that makes our lives better, and developing weapons in space. The former I'm very much in support of. The latter I only support from a defensive point of view, but I'm well aware that defensive weapons can usually become, all too quickly, offensive ones as well.

If we really provided excellent health care to our citizens and strong educational programs we wouldn't need missiles. Every country on earth would want to join the United States. But that's not "fun" for combat oriented types. They don't want to win by luring others to their point of view. They want to conquer them explicitly.

Whenever I see this question in the Zogby poll, "Do you consider yourself to be mostly a resident of: your city or town, America, or the planet earth?" I always answer planet earth. And I vote that way. I look for who is best not just for our country, but for our planet. Who really understands the urgency of addressing the issues raised by global warming? Who is really suited to cut our carbon levels dramatically?

We're running out resources on this planet. That may seem hard to believe if you drive across the United States, or spots in Europe, or Australia. But what I mean is, we're running out of energy sources to fuel our daily lives. We're running out of fresh water supplies. Some use that as an excuse to talk about population control. I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about places to which we can eventually expand.

Look. Our little sun is going to die in another few billion years. We need to prepare for that, and it will take us hundreds, if not thousands, of years to reach beyond our solar system.

What's the rush, you might say? I think that exploring othe planets spurs creativity, studies in science and invention, and technologies and products that could help us long before those billions of years are up.

I grew up as a child of the space age. I used to watch, utterly fascinated, as rocket ships took off, and, when I was older, the space shuttle. I drove to the desert one time to catch a shuttle landing. It was like a bizarre fair. All different kinds of people were camped out there - from hippies to retirees, families with children and solo musicians. It was a great experience. When you first see the shuttle, it looks like a little white fly in the sky - it's zigzagging, and looks like it's coming straight down. But within a short few minutes, it's on the ground. It happens so fast it's hard to believe it just popped down from outer space. I just love all of this.

So today I'm in hog heaven, camped out on the couch, awaiting touchdown. I've been disappointed in the past - not all probes survive the landing! But NASA learns more each time. I hope all goes well.

Update: Touchdown! A beautiful, safe, soft landing. Now I'm waiting for the first images to arrive. Wooo-the-heck-hoooo!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alexander Cockburn gets it wrong, several times

Alexander Cockburn states some inaccuracies in his article entitled Death-With Hillary Primes Manchurian Candidate.

First, does Cockburn actually think California still has a primary upcoming? Apparently so:

Ever since she realized back in early March that Obama was going to take the nomination Hillary Clinton’s long-term strategy has been to do her best to ensure McCain will win this November so she can become the Democratic nominee in 2012.. But she had a short term strategy too and on Friday she deliberately made it explicit in a newspaper office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There she suggested that someone is likely to step up to the plate and assassinate Barack Obama in the waning moments of the California primary, just as Bobby Kennedy was forty years go almost to the day. The wish is mother to the deed. If anything does happen to Obama in California Mrs Clinton should surely be indicted as a co-conspirator.
Uh, Alex? California's primary this year was held on February 5th. Obama will not be in California in June.

And Cockburn, who years ago co-wrote an article explaining how Sirhan couldn't have shot Kennedy, since he was in front of Kennedy and Kennedy was shot from behind, now just lies to avoid the issue:

To save conspiracists the trouble of writing to me, I should say that Kennedy had just passed the dishwasher, then twisted back and to his left to shake hands, which explains why the entry wound in his head seemed to indicate a shot from a quarter other than where Sirhan was standing.
I use the word lie quite deliberately. He is not mistaken. He did his homework. He knows this cannot be true, and has written about the issue correctly in the past. I have a copy of his article saying there had to be a second gun in the pantry in my files. You won't find it online.

No. Cockburn has learned, like so many before and after him, that the way to a mainstream media career is to lie about such items, to support the official government propaganda, the truth be damned. So now he says something provably false - that Kennedy had turned his back to Sirhan at the moment of the firing.

First, that's simply not true. By all witness accounts, Kennedy had finished shaking the busboy's hand and had turned to move forward when Sirhan lifted his hand and fired at Kennedy's face. All the witnesses put Sirhan's gun muzzle a foot from Kennedy at closest, with the vast majority putting the muzzle about three feet from the Senator. So even if Kennedy had his back to Sirhan, Sirhan was still not close enough. The coronor found powder burns on the back of Kennedy's ear. Tests on pig ears showed that the only distance that gave a comparable pattern was when the gun was about an inch away. Not one witness to the shooting ever put Sirhan that close.

Somewhere along the way, Cockburn I fear traded his soul for his journalistic career. I fear it's not an uncommon story. I'm only curious re the turning point. I feel this strongly because I looked him in the eye and saw the enormous fear there when I confronted him in person one time about the JFK assassination. I went to a book signing event locally. When he asked for questions, I said I had a visual question that would require me standing on a chair. Bemused, he encouraged me to proceed. I got up there and put a hand behind me pointing towards the back of my neck on a downward angle.

"What I want to know is, how does a bullet that enters the back of neck from six floors above exit the front of the throat horizontally?"

Cockburn instantly turned angry and said something dismissive re conspiracy theorists, at which point someone in the audience jumped in to defend what I was asking.

I talked to him afterwards, because I wanted to look into his eyes. They were shifty and his tone was menacing, but his eyes were filled with fear. I felt suddenly sorry for him, at that moment. What a small man. What a lost soul.

But I don't feel sorry for him using the occasion of Clinton's awful, inexcusable invocation of RFK's assassination as an opportunity to inject more untruth into the assassination story.

Who does Cockburn serve? It's not the left. He ridicules Hillary, but doesn't spare the rod on Obama either:

What about Wall Street, whose leading bankers have devastated middle-income America with the sub-prime scams? Obama has been tactful, meanwhile hauling in hefty campaign contributions from these same bankers as Pam Martens has described on this website.
What Pam Martens and others have failed to explain is that Obama receives money from INDIVIDUALS, not corporations. Corporations are prohibited to donating to political campaigns, except through Political Action Committees (PACs). And Obama has refused to take PAC money. But he will take money from individuals. There'sa $2,300 contribution limit on that, so no one person can gain much advantage by contributing the maximum. Some of the contributors are bankers. Some of them work for oil companies. But to jump from there to say that Bankers and Oil Companies want Obama to be President is a ridiculous leap.

When you contribute, you are asked to provide your employers name. Exxon is, for most people, a job, not a belief system. And individuals there have given money to Obama. Pam Martens and others use that to say that Exxon, the corporation, supports Obama. But that's factually inaccurate. Exxon, the corporation, may hate Obama. The Board members may all be supporting the Republican ticket. But because some employees collectively gave 40,000 dollars (less than the amount of money Obama raised in a day online in March), Martens and others dishonestly portray that as showing "oil industry" support for Obama.

Sometimes Counterpunch gets it right. Sometimes it gets it horribly wrong. And you can bet, when it comes to matters of great importance to the government, it will be on the wrong side. And that speaks well for Obama. The more organs like Counterpunch attack him, the more reassured I am that he is NOT the candidate of the establishment.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton refers to the RFK assassination as reason to stay in the race

[UPDATE: This article is being carried at under the much better title, supplied by Robert Parry, "Hillary's Shark-jumping moment."]

Okay. I am SO DONE with the Clintons. I was no fan of theirs during their administration. And Hillary Clinton has run one of the most negative campaigns in modern history against Barack Obama, who, by contrast, has managed to stay, rather miraculously, above the fray.

I've watched Hillary diss all caucus goers as "activists", claiming HER supporters couldn't get there because they work, implying dishonestly that those who did go weren't employed. I've watched her say that any state she lost was unimportant in the overall scheme of things, whereas states she won were "the most important."

It's been disgusting to me personally to have her carrying any banner for the Democratic party, of which I've been a proud member all my life, because I feel she undermines our values. She complains she's gotten unfair treatment because she's a woman. But Obama never complained he got unfair treatment because he was black. McCain doesn't complain about getting unfair treatment because he's old. Everyone gets unfair treatment at times. To label it misogyny is bizarre, untrue, and demeaning to all the women who have spent lifetimes fighting for equal rights. You can't ask to be President of the United States and then whine about how unfairly you're treated. All people running for President are going to be treated unfairly. As she says herself, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

When she and her husband tried to paint Obama as unelectable because he was black (and don't even try to argue in their defense - that's EXACTLY what they've been doing) they are basically speaking heresy against core Democratic values.

I'm one of the few Democrats I know who does not look back fondly on the Clinton years. I have to go back to Jimmy Carter to find a president I was at least satisfied with. I watched in shock as the Clintons sold out our economy, our jobs, and our manufacturing base with their unqualified support for NAFTA. I cheered Dick Gephart's valiant effort to defeat his own party's president on this.

I watched as Hillary Clinton was handed the health care issue, with the full power of the presidency behind her. She couldn't get it done. She didn't forge the necessary coalitions, and when she did compromise, it was in all the wrong places, so that by the time she brought forward a bill, there was little left worth supporting.

The best part about this campaign is that now many Democrats are finally seeing the Bill and Hillary Clinton that the right wing has hated for so long. And perhaps that common ground will help us forge some new bridges in the fall. The problems we face in this country - reclaiming our vote, opening up government, turning the Titanic around re global warming, and finding a new energy future are too big to leave to partisan concerns. I'm looking forward to hearing new voices rise in the Republican party, as the neocon philosophy slowly recedes from the national conversation, having utterly failed us for the past eight years.

Today was the final straw for me. For her to bring up the assassination of Robert Kennedy as a reason for staying in the race was the lowest blow yet, even from a Scorpio such as herself. She was trying to make the point about June being the end of the campaign, but the subtext of course was, someone might kill Obama, and that's why she's waiting around.

Go away, Hillary. Please. Go far, far away. You and your husband's lies have aided in destroying people's faith in government. Go duck sniper fire in some other country. You don't belong in our party. You couldn't even run your own campaign well. I don't want you anywhere near government. You don't deserve it.

When this campaign first started, I had no reason to get involved. I thought any of our leaders - John Edwards, Clinton, or Obama, would do a better job than the Republicans so I planned to just sit the primaries out. But when I saw what some Clinton supporters were saying about Obama (having 'no' record, being unqualified for any of a number of bogus reasons) that pressed my button. I have great sympathy for the underdog.

The more I read, the more I realized we'd be crazy NOT to elect Obama. He has it all. He's smart. He's experienced. He's principled. He had a genuine, documented record of forging important legislation and getting bipartisan support. He made a break with politics as usual to run a campaign that was truly of, by, and for the people when he rejected all PAC money. He spoke out against the war when it was politically risky to do so. He chose community organizing over Wall Street. He grew up in two countries, so he has a better understanding in his blood than most of how lucky we are here in America, and how much the rest of the world suffers, often as a result of our foreign policy abroad.

And then there's Hillary. She's a liar. She's a backstabber (telling Obama to his face how "honored" she was to share the debate with him, and then a couple of days later saying, when he wasn't there to respond, "Shame on you.") She valued loyalty to herself over competency, which is why her campaign had so many issues. She ran as if it was a "coronation" - rich drapery at events, spending campaign donor money as if it was water. Staying at the Bellagio in Vegas. And perhaps worst of all, claiming her husband's presidential experience as her own. (See my response to that here.)

I knew she was a climber, that the only reason she stayed with her husband after he embarrassed her in front of the world was so she could make him pay in a different way - by campaigning for her, and leveraging his connections on her behalf. There's a wondrous kind of karma in this, in that he ended up being one of her biggest liabilities, rather than a help.

As a feminist, I was upset that our first female president would only have gotten there on her husband's coattails. She is not qualified to be president. Why not wait for Barbara Boxer, who would make a fine president? Or Kathleen Sebelius? Or Janet Napolitano? Or Christine Gregoire? There are plenty of women who would make good presidents. I'm not someone who would vote for someone just because she was a woman. I will vote for the best person, no matter their color, their sex or sexual orientation, or their race.

For all her nastiness, for all the lies, I have defended her staying in the race.

Until today.

Look. The nomination race is over. It's been over since Obama won Wisconsin, just a week after sweeping the Potomac primaries. It's been over, mathematically, for a long time.

But I wanted to allow her and her supporters their fantasy. I saw the contest as building our Democratic party base, given us reasons to go into every state and register new voters. And that's been good for us, to a point. Until now. She knows Obama has received death threats. She knows that people who have stood up from positions of power and said no to war have been assassinated. And she saw the press go after Gov. Huckabee for his beyond dumb and horribly unfunny allusion to the same.

The second to last straw, for me, was her comment about how the "hard-working" "white people" were voting for her, implying that other people were not so hardworking. I wanted her excommunicated from the Democratic party for that statement alone.

But this comment was truly the last straw. Her statement today was simply unconscionable.

She needs to go away. Forever. I never want to see her face on TV or hear that voice again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy has a brain tumor - please pray

I don't know or care if you are religious or not, but please send some special prayers/thoughts/positive energy towards the last living member of that band of brothers who gave so much for our country.

I'm so happy I got to see him in Los Angeles just a couple of months ago at a special event for Obama precinct captains. I took a friend from France who had listened to Ted Kennedy's latest book on tape and was a huge fan. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw him.

He's done more legislatively for this country that possibly any other Senator living. He's worked on an enormous amount of important and often bi-partisan legislation on healthcare, immigration, civil rights, and a number of top tier issues.

My own prayers are with him and his family, and indeed, our country, at this time. We need this man for as long as we can have him.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

William Pepper on the RFK Case

As many of you know, William Pepper was not only an associate of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, but also the attorney who won a civil trial that exonerated James Earl Ray in the killing of Martin Luther King. The jury found Ray not guilty, and said the guilt belonged largely with the government. (When I was working on Probe magazine, we covered the trial, thanks to the generosity of James Douglass, who went and watched the entire trial and reported on it for us. Douglass has a fantastic book out about both Kennedy and his assassination that is truly a must read, called "JFK and the Unspeakable." It's a fantastic combination of elegant prose and new data on the case - I highly recommend it.)

What many of you may not yet know is that for some time, William Pepper has been studying the RFK case. After Lawrence Teeter's sad death, Pepper took over as Sirhan Sirhan's defense attorney, and believes the time for legal action is near.

CNN International recently ran an abridged interview of Pepper. A longer version is now available online.

I hope to have more re Pepper in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

P.S. To the person who asked for a comment to be removed - it appears I can't, in the new interface. Once Google took over Blogger some things changed. So I'm sorry - but your comment remains. Bear that in mind for future comments.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Journalists who are the last to see someone alive

Dan Moldea, the author of a Sirhan-did-it-alone book on the RFK case (when provably, Dan knows better, based on his earlier article about the case), was in the news tonight in the strangest of ways. He was working on a book about the DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey and was "one of the last people to see Palfrey alive" (per CNN). Moldea said he had lunch with her and Jim Grady, a friend of his, "a few days before her conviction."

"She was fine," he said. "She was very upbeat" and "convinced that she was going to be acquitted." But he also says that on no less thant three occasions she had said she was going to kill herself if she was convicted.

He says he had information "from a very reliable source" that Jeane had tried to kill herself before - that she had taken an intentional overdose that failed. I can't help but wonder who that "reliable source" was - one of his CIA buddies?

I say that because Moldea dedicated his book on the RFK case to Walter Sheridan, a man who "disposed over the personnel and currency of whole units of the Central Intelligence Agency." Moldea was also friends with Carl Shoffler, the cop who was supposed to be on his way to his own birthday party, who instead sat in a car near the Watergate and was the first to respond - in plain clothes - when the call came in. Shoffler's ties to the CIA are put in context in Jim Hougan's excellent book Secret Agenda, which I still consider to be the best book ever written on the Watergate story, even while I think it's incomplete in terms of the Hughes angle. Hougan's book is also relevant to the DC Madam case in that it details how the CIA has used sex rings to obtain political intelligence as well as blackmail material on opponents.

Hearing Moldea touted as one of the 'last people' to see the Madam alive, while an obvious exaggeration, reminded me of two other figures who died mysteriously shortly after meeting with high profile journalists with intelligence ties.

During New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's investigation of the Kennedy assassination, key figure Dave Ferrie died. The last person to see him was longtime Washington Post journalist George Lardner, Jr. Lardner has built a career on his access to the CIA - access granted only to friendlies and the CIA's own agents in the media. Oddly, the coroner felt strongly Ferrie had to have died before the time Lardner said he had left Ferrie's apartment. Yet Lardner reported Ferrie was alive and well when he left.

During the House Select Committee on Assassinations' investigation into the JFK case in the late 1970s, George de Mohrenschildt allegedly committed suicide just before his appointment with House Select Committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi, and just after meeting with another longtime journalist and personal protege of the CIA's 25-year counterintelligence chief, James Angleton, Edward J. Epstein. Epstein would purport that de Mohrenschildt had expressed thoughts of suicide.

So when I heard Moldea was trying to say he had personal knowledge that she committed suicide, I couldn't help but think, "how convenient." A lot of people would have a lot to cover up if this woman decided to talk.

I believe Moldea when he says she was in good spirits. I don't believe him when he says she had talked about suicide before. Which doesn't mean that isn't true. But Moldea's so intellectually dishonest book on the RFK case has earned him no trust in my book. And the pattern is not without precedent. Get some high profile journalist to put out the official version of what happened and no one looks twice. No one, that is, except people like me, who know from experience that it's usually not until you look at least twice that the truth starts to surface.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Question of the Day

Why is it that book reviewers who tout anybody-but-the-CIA killed Kennedy books so often have ties, alleged or proven, to the CIA?

Case in point.

Note the book reviewer's credentials:

Justin P. Liuba is a free-lance journalist, former Romanian bureau chief of Radio Free Europe and president of the Romania Relief Foundation.

Why does this raise my eyebrows?
On June 1, 1949, a group of prominent American businessmen, lawyers, and philanthropists – called the National Committee for Free Europe (NCFE) – filed incorporation papers in New York City. The event drew little notice at the time. Only a handful of people knew that NCFE was actually the public face of an innovative "psychological warfare" project undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). That operation – which soon gave rise to Radio Free Europe – would become one of the longest running and successful covert action campaigns ever mounted by the United States.


From the start, [Frank] Wisner and OPC [an OSS offshoot and forerunner to the CIA] regarded NCFE as one of their signature operations. As the Cold War reached perhaps its most dangerous phase, NCFE and other projects (such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1950) rallied anti-Communist intellectuals, politicians, and activists to fight the Soviets on the “plane of ideas” and what was later called "public diplomacy."
Oh sure, you'll say. But what about this?
CIA subsidies to the Free Europe Committee (NCFE's later name) ended in 1971, after Sen. Clifford P. Case (R-NJ) revealed that it received covert assistance. Radio Free Europe was re-chartered as a public corporation (receiving Congressionally appropriated funds). All funding and oversight responsibilities were transferred to the presidentially appointed Board for International Broadcasting.
If you believe the CIA has severed all ties, I have some fantastic swampland real estate to sell you.

Source (the CIA's own Web site).

Monday, May 05, 2008

The CIA is still rebuffing a court order re Joannides

Jeff Morley reported on April 30 that, despite a court order, the CIA is still refusing to explain the absense of records on George Joannides. Joannides was the case officer for the DRE, an anti-Castro Cuban organization sponsored by the CIA. Lee Harvey Oswald famously had a run-in with DRE member Carlos Bringuier in New Orleans that, after which Oswald appeared on TV saying he was a "Marxist-Leninist".

Given the DREs involvement in that episode, which happened just months before the Kennedy assassination, records documenting Joannides' actions regarding the DRE should be released. As Morley wrote:
John Tunheim, a federal judge who chaired the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s, said the Joannides files should be made public.

"Had the Review Board known the truth about George Joannides everything bearing his name would have been made public," Tunheim said in an interview. The ARRB, a civilian review panel created by Congress in the wake of the controversy over Oliver Stone's "JFK," declassified thousands of assassination records between 1994 and 1998.
By refusing to answer the court order to explain the absence of Joannides records in this period, the CIA has essentially put themselves above the law. That's anti-American. In America, the highest authority is not the President, or the CIA. It's the constitution. The rule of law MUST be preserved in this country if we are to maintain a claim to being a democracy.

The CIA's refusal to turn over the records they have to have on this episode verges on treason. Let's hope saner heads prevail. The CIA has nothing to lose here but a false history. No one is going to abolish the current CIA for deeds of the past. It's time to set the truth free, at last, regarding the CIA's still withheld records regarding the Kennedy assassination.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Empire Strikes Barack

As soon as I saw the title, I knew the video was going to be great. Because that's exactly what's going on. The Empire builders want Hillary to be the nominee because a) they think they'll be eaiser to beat in the fall, and b) if they lose, she's still so power hungry they think she'll be more likely to do their bidding. Obama is the wild card, the one candidate not beholden to the empire because he refuses to play ball their way. He won't engage in the politics of the petty. He did the right thing with Wright both earlier, when he refused to disown him, and later, when Wright proved himself worthy of being disowned.

Some of my fellow Obama supporters have been losing heart. But I remind them this is an epic story, being played out before our eyes - the bright young Luke Skywalker going up against the Empire and saying we can do better. But in all great stories, there is what is called the "all is lost" moment, the dark before the final act, when all hope seems gone.

But that's the flow of stories. Inevitably, the hero rebounds, conquers the enemy, and frees the world. Obama WILL be the nominee. It's beyond reasonable doubt, at this point. And he'll be a stronger candidate in the fall for all the drubbing he's taken of late.

The country is not as racist as some hope, and others fear. Many of us grew up in multiracial schools, and work in multiracial workplaces. There is no "other" here, not based on skin color. There is only one WE. And WE will prevail.

So chin up. Eyes forward. We still have much work to do. And after Obama is elected we're going to have even more work to do to cover his back and support his efforts. We're going to have to seize this moment because a good leader comes along so rarely. We're going to have to learn to lead ourselves, to stop waiting for someone to come save us. We must get about the business of saving ourselves.

We'll never have an honest vote until we demand it. We'll never get universal healthcare until we demand it. We'll never get alternative energy until we demand it.

We have much to do. But we've come so far already. And Obama IS going to win, if we don't give up. We've made it this far. We're going to finish in front. Luke Skywalker was a great example, but he alone did not save the empire. He just enabled others to save themselves. That's what Obama offers. And we are up to the task.

Enjoy what's left of the weekend. And enjoy this. I just loved this. The story, to date!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Quick update

We're coming up on the 40th anniversary of the RFK assassination. I'm busy preparing a little presentation for the Los Angeles Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) conference. I'll update you when that's closer.

I'm spending nearly all my spare time trying to help Obama over the hump here. I've been making calls all over the country in his support. I can't wait to see what comes of the caucuses in Guam right now!

I've got several other irons in the fire, and literally dozens of articles in my head waiting for my fingers to put them here. If you don't want to have check here manually - sign up for the email alerts so you'll know when I post next, and about what..!