WHO KILLED BOBBY?: Well isn’t it odvious who: Bush’s CIA Killed ROBERT F. KENNEDY

WHO KILLED BOBBY?:  Well isn’t it odvious who: Bush’s CIA Killed ROBERT F. KENNEDY

 
 

                                    

The CIA at the HotelFour years ago, the story you’ve just read inspired me to write a screenplay on the case. It would be a challenge to distill the complexities and conundrums into a two-hour film, but the biggest problem was that I still didn’t know “who did it.” I didn’t believe the official version of events. I didn’t believe Sirhan acted alone, so I went in search of an ending and became, to use a very seventies term, an “assassinologist.”I read all the books on the case and was particularly affected by Robert Blair Kaiser’s sublime portrayal of the struggles to unlock Sirhan’s mind. The more I listened to Sirhan speak, in custody, with Kaiser, or under hypnosis, the more credible I found his memory block and the possibility that he was a “Manchurian candidate.”In subsequent books on the case, author Phillip Melanson presented the most convincing scenario to me: Sirhan as a hypnotically controlled “patsy” with a programmed memory block; two guns — the second wielded by Cesar or someone else; Pena and Hernandez covering up within the LAPD; and unnamed doctors and CIA operatives filling out the conspiracy.But this last part, about the CIA operatives, seemed undeveloped. Pena and Hernandez, with their CIA connections, could supervise the cover-up, but there was no evidence of a CIA presence at the hotel on the night of the shooting.

If you’re researching one Kennedy assassination, you’ve got to research the other. If there was a conspiracy in Los Angeles and the CIA was involved, I reasoned, the same team was probably involved in Dallas as well. Yet the existing books on the Robert Kennedy case were very light on connections between the two assassinations.

So, this was my starting point — to look at CIA operatives suspected of involvement in Dallas in 1963 who might also have been in Los Angeles five years later. One of the first people I looked at was David Sanchez Morales.

***

Morales was a legendary CIA operative, about whom little was known until the late eighties, when Bradley Ayers began to investigate the man he had worked with at the CIA’s secret Miami base, JMWAVE, in 1963. Morales was chief of operations and went by the nickname “El Indio” — the “Big Indian.” Close friends called him “Didi.” He was half Mexican and half Yaqui-Pima Indian, known as big more for his weight (250 pounds) and oversized reputation than his height (a modest five-ten). The first known photograph of Morales, taken in Havana in 1959, was initially released in the Cuban press in 1978, the year he died.

Ayers located two close friends of Morales in his hometown of Phoenix — Morales’s best friend since childhood, Ruben Carbajal, and his former lawyer, Robert Walton — and they were interviewed in 1992 by author Gaeton Fonzi for his book The Last Investigation.

Fonzi spent several days with both men before a final joint interview. The friends recalled a drinking session with Morales and Walton’s wife, Florene, at the Dupont Plaza hotel in Washington in the spring of 1973. At one point, Walton let slip that he had done some volunteer work for Kennedy.

“[Morales] flew off the bed on that one,” said Walton. “I remember he was lying down and he jumped up screaming, ‘That no good son of a bitch motherfucker!’ He started yelling about what a wimp Kennedy was, and talking about how he had worked on the Bay of Pigs and how he had to watch all the men he had recruited and trained get wiped out because of Kennedy.

“Suddenly, Morales stopped, sat down on the bed and added, ‘Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?'”

Fonzi looked over at Ruben Carbajal, who had been listening silently. Carbajal looked at Fonzi and nodded. “Yes, he was there, it was true,” Fonzi wrote. “But, in all the long hours we had spent together and all the candid revelations he had provided, it was a remembrance he couldn’t bring himself to tell me about his friend Didi.”

Author Noel Twyman interviewed Walton and Carbajal separately three years later for his rare, self-published book, Bloody Treason. Neither man had any doubt that Morales had been involved in the JFK assassination and again recalled the hotel drinking session.

“He said, ‘We got that son of a bitch, and I was in Los Angeles also when we got Bobby,'” recalled Walton.

“When ‘we’ got Bobby?”

“‘When we got Bobby.’ And when he said ‘also’ I linked that back to Dallas. I’m not sure he ever said ‘I was in Dallas’ but he did say ‘I was in Los Angeles when we got Bobby.”’

Ruben was now more open about the Dallas comment. “By ‘we took care of that son of a bitch,’ does ‘we’ mean the CIA?” asked Twyman.

“Goddamn right, that’s what it means,” replied Carbajal.

Twyman asked Ruben about Walton’s quote, essentially, “and I was in Los Angeles when we got Bobby.”

“I don’t remember that part right now,” said Ruben carefully. “I don’t remember that part…. Because he could have been there. He was there many times. Two sisters, you know, lived there and one of his daughters.”

Ruben had gotten used to Morales’s involvement in Dallas, but he wasn’t ready to finger him for another Kennedy assassination.

***

As Twyman’s huge and impressive tome focused on the JFK assassination, he never pursued the Los Angeles angle. Morales’s SOB line regarding Dallas became widely known through Fonzi’s book, but the Los Angeles addendum was overlooked, remaining buried on page 471 of Twyman’s book until 2004.

Twyman told me the main source of his information on Morales was Bradley Ayers, who, last he’d heard, was living in the woods in Minnesota. I did a search and found that Ayers had moved to Frederic, Wisconsin. I couldn’t find a phone number, so I e-mailed Gary King, the editor of the local paper. Brad popped in occasionally, so Gary would call and ask if he’d be willing to talk to me. A few days later, word came back that Brad Ayers was willing to cooperate, and my introduction to the world of David Morales began.

***

Brad was understandably cagey in our initial discussions, but very willing to help any investigation into the Kennedy assassinations. He suggested I get a copy of his book, The War That Never Was, a whistle-blowing account of his time at JMWAVE, first published in 1976. His publisher had insisted on pseudonyms to protect operatives’ identities, but Brad faxed me a key to the true cast of characters.

He also told me he had a witness in a “Southwest city” who had matched the 1959 photo of Morales to a man seen at the Ambassador Hotel the night of the RFK assassination. He would go into details when we talked a bit more but, approaching seventy years old, he was eager to get things “on the record.” He later summarized his background:

I was a regular army captain in 1963, with a specialty in covert and paramilitary intelligence operations. Suddenly, I was beckoned to Washington, DC, asked to report to the Office of Special Warfare at the Pentagon, and subsequently offered an opportunity to serve with the CIA in its secret war against Cuba. I transferred to South Florida, to JMWAVE, the only CIA station that was ever established on U.S. soil.

I arrived in April 1963, and Ted Shackley, as chief of station, welcomed me. I met the assistant chief of station, a fellow by the name of Gordon Campbell, who later became my case officer on a particular mission shortly before the Kennedy assassination. I also worked under a fellow by the name of David Morales, who was the chief of operations. The concept was to conduct covert paramilitary operations involving infiltration and commando raids in an effort to destabilize Castro’s Cuba. We also embarked on efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Kennedy had been handed the CIA’s plan for the invasion of Cuba on assuming office in January 1961. Brigade 2506, a small military contingent of commandos — approximately fifteen hundred CIA-trained Cuban exiles — would be landed on the south shore of the island at the Bay of Pigs, and then penetrate inland and take over the country, in the belief that the Cuban population would rise up against Castro. From a military planning standpoint, it was an ill-conceived operation and really stood no chance of succeeding without air support.

But CIA director Allen Dulles assured the young Kennedy it would be another quick, bloodless coup in the manner of the CIA overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Kennedy pressed ahead but made it clear it must be a Cuban operation, with no U.S. hand visible. Aging American warplanes, repainted with Cuban markings, attempted to bomb Castro’s air force in advance of the landing but failed miserably. The Kennedys refused to authorize further air support, and Castro’s planes picked off the fifteen hundred invaders with ease, killing many and capturing the rest.

It was a spectacular embarrassment for the Kennedy brothers three months into JFK’s presidency, and the CIA would never be trusted again. Dulles was fired, and the president threatened to “shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces, and scatter it to the winds.”

He chose his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to personally oversee a new secret effort to overthrow Castro and reclaim the Kennedy honor. Bobby chaired the same “Special Group, Counterinsurgency” that would oversee the creation of the Office of Public Safety, the police advisory body headed by Byron Engle that would later provide operational cover for Pena, Hernandez, and David Morales. And so, Robert Kennedy, chairing the special group, proceeded to micromanage the secret war on Castro.

***

The special group soon identified a need for paramilitary training for Cuban exiles willing to go on infiltration raids into Cuba, and Bradley Ayers got the call. He went by the cover name “Daniel B. Williams” and was initially assigned to the operations branch:

“Dave, the big New Mexican Indian who ran it, was the only branch chief who treated us less than respectfully. He ran all the station’s activities with a heavy hand and was famous for his temper.” Morales resented Ayers’s intruding on his turf and repeatedly tried to block his path to station chief Ted Shackley, raising objections to his proposals to train the Cubans properly in response to failed missions.

In The War That Never Was, Ayers refers to Assistant Chief of Station Gordon Campbell by the pseudonym “Keith Randall.” He judged Campbell to be around forty years old, “in robust physical condition … dressed as if he had just come off the golf course, tanned, clean shaven, with a trim build, balding blond hair, and penetrating blue eyes.” Campbell also ran the Maritime branch and lived with his wife on a yacht berthed at Dinner Key Marina in Miami.

***

Ayers would sit in on briefings with Shackley, Campbell, Morales, other branch chiefs from JMWAVE, and visiting personnel from Washington, DC, such as Des Fitzgerald and William Harvey. Bobby Kennedy was demanding quick results and was on top of everything.

“Robert Kennedy, chairing the special group, had to pass on each and every mission,” Brad recalled, “and you had these suits sitting there in Washington under Robert Kennedy’s control — and all well-meaning of course — but they weren’t in the field. The majority of them had no military background. It created a huge amount of resentment on the part of the operational people at JMWAVE. Particularly, I know for a fact, Morales would go absolutely berserk when the word came down that an operation had to be changed or possibly even canceled because the risk of attribution and unintended consequences was too great.”

***

In the summer of 1963, Ayers was taken by airboat to a covert meeting at the Waloos Glades Hunting Camp in the Everglades. At dusk, some men were standing around a campfire in the middle of a clearing, with lights burning in two Quonset huts and two helicopters parked in the shadows.

The door to a Quonset hut swung open and four men emerged. One was Gordon Campbell, and “I caught my breath at the appearance of the second man. It was the attorney general, Robert Kennedy. The four men talked in low voices for a few minutes, and then the attorney general came over and shook hands with each of us, wishing us good luck and God’s speed on our mission.”

Toward the end of November, as Ayers trained Cuban exile commandos on a tiny island in the Florida Keys, he recognized a plane passing overhead “as the single-engine Cessna based at the CIA headquarters in Miami …. A white object was released directly over the old house. It was a roll of toilet tissue, streaming as it fell. It landed only a few feet away…. The center tube of the tissue roll had been closed with masking tape …. Hastily, I opened up the tube and pulled out the paper inside. It was Campbell’s printing:

NOVEMBER 22 1963

PRESIDENT KENNEDY HAS BEEN SHOT BY AN ASSASSIN. SUSPEND ALL ACTIVITY. KEEP MEN ON ISLAND. COME ASHORE WITHOUT DELAY. GORDON

***

Ayers saw very little of Campbell after that, and more than a month after the assassination, Campbell told him to ease off on the training and then pretty much disappeared.

“The word around the station,” Brad told me later, “was that Castro had killed Kennedy, and that Oswald was a pro-Castro operative. I don’t know why, but deep in my guts, I had some feeling that what we had been doing down there was in some way connected. I had a gnawing suspicion about some of the things I had heard at the station. The anti-Kennedy comments. The sentiments that were expressed about the Bay of Pigs. The resentment that I couldn’t help but overhear — just disgust with the Kennedy administration. From that point forward, I had growing suspicions about the agency’s role in John Kennedy’s assassination.”

***

As I read Brad’s book, I sought out film footage of the night of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. If Morales said he was there, perhaps his highly distinctive features would appear in the material shot that night. I ordered tapes of network news footage of Kennedy’s victory speech and the shooting aftermath.

A week later, at the end of September 2004, the tapes arrived. The first one was a raw video feed recorded by a CBS camera at the Ambassador, minutes before Kennedy took the stage. About fifteen minutes into the tape, less than a minute after Kennedy left the stage and headed toward the pantry, the camera panned across the ballroom. Standing at the back in a white shirt was a “dead ringer” for the Morales in the 1959 photo. I couldn’t believe it. It was a wide shot, so “Morales” was quite small in the frame and the lack of detail was frustrating, but as the camera held on him for a few seconds, my gut feeling said this was Morales.

I played the tape on. Twenty-eight minutes later, I saw him again, floating around the darkened ballroom with a shorter colleague with a pencil mustache. They loitered behind CBS reporter Terry Drinkwater as he prepared a piece for the camera. I got a closer look at the bronzed complexion and strikingly distinctive features. His belly protruded from his gray suit, and his colleague scribbled notes as the pair surveyed the room. Not only did it look like Morales; they were acting like spooks.

***

I had also ordered a copy of the LAPD’s “composite of motion picture films” from the California State Archives, the repository of the LAPD investigation files since the late eighties. SUS had assembled a twenty-minute film of footage shot at the hotel before, during, and after Kennedy’s speech, capturing some of the shooting aftermath. The picture quality is admittedly very poor — ungraded 16-millimeter prints, crudely spliced together into a rough chronology — but the film contains a key scene that promised to unlock the secrets of the assassination.

Within moments of the shooting, NBC producer Chris Michon ran from the pantry doorway out into the ballroom, climbed up on a viewing platform, pointed an imaginary gun to his head, and mouthed the words “bang, bang, bang” to alert his camera team on risers at the back of the room to start rolling. Next to NBC on the risers, Walter Dombrow’s CBS camera picked up Michon’s panicked reaction as ripples of hysteria began to sweep the room.
 
Dombrow zoomed out to pick up the commotion, then reframed on a balding man in a blue jacket walking calmly through the crowd toward the back of the room. He seemed to be coming from the direction of the pantry, and he held his right arm across his chest, with what seemed to be a small container in his hand. A shorter Latin man with a mustache, alongside him to his right, had both arms raised, motioning him toward an exit. The bald man glanced at the Latin man, who waved toward the exit again, and the bald man left in that direction. As panic swirled around these men, they seemed composed and alert and moved through the room with a sense of purpose.

***

I was intrigued. Repeated viewings of this clip suggested that the bald man may have been leaving the pantry with a disguised weapon in his hand, as a Latin accomplice (who fit a Cuban profile) waved him toward an exit.

I sent frame-grabs of my discoveries by e-mail to Brad’s local paper. Gary King printed them out, and Brad reviewed the images of “Morales” and the second suspicious character who seemed to be leaving with a package in his hand. Brad’s response was immediate. Allowing for the quality of the images, he gave a strong indication that this was, indeed, Morales. But the real surprise was the other suspicious character. “Less a little hair,” Brad saw him as a “dead ringer” for Gordon Campbell, suggesting that two JMWAVE veterans were at the hotel, with two unidentified associates, on the night Bobby Kennedy was murdered. I had a potentially incredible story on my hands.

I now came to a fork in the road. Thoughts of a screenplay were being rapidly overtaken by plans for a documentary. Why fictionalize a story whose every twist and turn was this strange and unpredictable? The facts of the case were all-important and could not be muddied by dramatic license. A documentary it would be.

To finance it, I would need to shoot some footage to give potential backers a sense of the story — key interviews with Brad and others who knew Morales and Campbell and could identify them on camera.

In January 2005, surfing my credit card, I flew to snowbound Minneapolis to finally meet Brad and show him these clips in person.

In response to the first clip, of the bronzed figure at the back of the ballroom, he said, “Yeah, that’s the figure that I had previously identified as Morales to a very high degree, I would say 90 percent. I’m a little bit troubled by the configuration of the nose … but the general facial impression except for the nose, is an individual that I would identify as Morales to a practically hundred percent degree.”

The second clip, in which the same man is seen surveying the room with a colleague, seemed to strengthen his ID: “This, definitely from the profile, is hugely similar. The body language is very, very much characteristic of Morales. See how he moves back and forth very casually, so as not to attract attention to himself. That is [him], no question. The second clip reduces any significant question I have about the first clip. And, to me, it reinforces my opinion that that’s Morales.”

Why was Morales there? The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction, and wouldn’t normally be there protecting Bobby Kennedy. Given Morales’s frequently expressed hatred of the Kennedys, Brad concluded that his presence at the hotel could mean only one thing — he was involved in the assassination.

***

With the Morales ID confirmed in Brad’s mind, we moved to a possible identification of Gordon Campbell, and I showed the clip of the balding man as he moved through the room: “Yeah, that’s excellent. I could certainly verify 90 percent ID of Gordon Campbell. Less a little hair, as I remembered him. The facial features are certainly his. Absolutely. And, you know, I’m looking beyond the face, I’m looking at the body, the carriage.”

There were no photos of these men publicly available in 1968, so the likelihood of them being identified by any of Kennedy’s staff was minimal: “It does not surprise me at all that these folks would be so audacious as to believe that they could pull this off; in fact they did.”

***

I had also found an amateur photograph of the same man standing in the Embassy Ballroom earlier in the night with a swarthy, Mediterranean-looking colleague. Brad confirmed that this was the same Gordon Campbell as in the video clip. The swarthy figure next to him looked familiar, but he couldn’t identify him. So, at this point, there were five possible conspirators: An initial ID on Morales and Campbell, and three other men pictured with them at various times in the hotel.

I couldn’t find anyone else who knew Gordon Campbell, so on this first trip, the focus was on David Morales. I flew to Phoenix, his hometown, where Ayers had first come in the late eighties as a private investigator, to explore the shadow world of “El Indio.”

Much of what we now know about Morales was dug up by Ayers on this initial investigation. He was mugged, had his briefcase stolen, and was continually under surveillance. But he located Walton, Carbajal and a possible witness to Morales at the Ambassador Hotel. True to his word, Brad now put me in touch with David Rabern.

***

David was now CEO of a million-dollar security firm, the most prominent in the Southwest. He was a highly respected figure in his industry, coauthoring a textbook for the certification of security professionals. We grabbed a discreet corner in a local restaurant and David sketched in how he came to be at the Ambassador Hotel that night.

In 1968, Rabern was an undercover operative in Los Angeles, freelancing for a number of different agencies, and specializing in concealed-alarm installation, sweeping buildings for bugging devices, and planting some of his own, often in a variety of disguises. He lived close to the Ambassador and had just worked on a short project in alarm systems with “a group of people … that had worked for Central Intelligence”:

And they had mentioned that, at the Ambassador Hotel — they says, “They’re going to have a big to-do there, you gonna be there?” and I said, “Yeah, I could be there.” … That’s not an unusual thing for any of the agencies. Even police departments will give free tickets to functions and such as that, just to have their people in the audience.

I was walking across [the lobby] going towards the front doors when I heard the gun-shots and … it was just like a little pop-pop-pop-popping sound that you could barely hear. Could [Sirhan] have done it alone? I don’t think so. I don’t think the man’s makeup would have allowed him to do that in the first place. I think there was probably a lot of people involved. Why that never came out is a mystery still.

When Brad Ayers visited Rabern in the late eighties, he took the 1959 photo of Morales from his briefcase and got an instant reaction. “I told him I’d seen the guy on the premises. I didn’t see him in the ballroom. I saw him out in the lobby area. In fact, I probably saw him several times. He was in and out.”

When I played David the video clips, he instantly recognized “Morales” as the same man.

“Yes. I’ll be darned …. Oh, that’s him, yeah …. That’s him …. They were certainly observing and collecting information,” he said as “Morales” surveyed the room with a colleague.

I asked David if he recognized anyone in the photograph of “Campbell” and his swarthy colleague in the ballroom. “This man here, the bald one … I think he was talking to Morales at one time …. “

“So you’d be sure then, that the man on the left in the photograph was talking to Morales at one point?” I asked.

”I’m almost certain, yeah …. You’ve got the military stance, arms behind their back; that’s a dead giveaway.” He laughed.

The video of Campbell confirmed the identification. While Rabern didn’t know Morales and Campbell by name, he remembered seeing them at the hotel that night and connected them, seeing them talking together at one point.

But he also sounded a word of caution at this stage: “Because they’re Central Intelligence doesn’t make them bad guys automatically. They’re out there protecting our country like everyone. By the same token, it doesn’t mean they can’t have turned bad.”

We began to analyze how such an operation might have been put together. “Sirhan Sirhan was probably one of several that were armed and ready to take him. Sirhan Sirhan was, in my opinion also, a throwaway. He’s what we call the shooter in the public’s eye but who the real shooter was? This level here, you get a professional. And a professional, you’ll never see. .. you’ll never know anything except they were there, that’s about it.”

A second gun could be disguised: “We camouflaged firearms in all different kinds of configurations. Sometimes, they’d look like a day-timer … purse-like situation. It’d show a zipper on the outside but it had Velcro and you could pop it open.”

Would the assassin have used a silencer, so witnesses wouldn’t hear the extra shots? “Strongly possible, yes. Silencers can be made out of all kinds of things, too. Maybe a book or something like that, could be inside that and could be muffled …. That would have been the proper way to do it, and just disappear. Not get out there like Sirhan Sirhan did, and start shooting his gun …. I mean that could have been to draw that away from the real shooter.”

Overall, David thought it was an impressive presentation.

“Suspicion? High, high suspicion I can’t deny that. Why they were doing the things that they were doing I’m surprised that that was never investigated. After all of these years, you’d think that someone would have noticed these things and done something about them.”

***

While in Phoenix, I also interviewed Robert Walton, a good friend of Morales’s who had also acted as his lawyer during the seventies. Now sixty-nine, Walton was struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

It was true, he told me, that Morales hated the Kennedys after the Bay of Pigs and saw them as rich, spoiled brats. David also hated Communists. When he went on a parachute jump one time, he found out some of his co-fliers were playing for the other side and he proceeded to cut the straps on their parachutes.

We discussed the drinking session at the Dupont Plaza in 1973, when Morales gave his “five-minute self-indictment” in the presence of Walton, his wife, Florene, and Ruben Carbajal. The tirade was sparked by an admission that Walton had worked for Kennedy as a volunteer.

“You did work for Kennedy?” asked Morales.

“Yeah, I did,” said Walton.

“Well, that motherfucker … ,” raged Morales as he launched into a tirade. “He didn’t hit anybody,” recalled Walton, “but he was striding around the room and … he was just out of control. I don’t ever recall seeing him lose it like that before.”

“And what was his actual comment then, that finished that?” I asked.

“Well, it was something like … ‘I was in Dallas when we got that motherfucker and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.’ … Just right out of the blue …. I mean, boom, and then, everybody was kind of stunned. I don’t remember anything being said after that. Everybody was in my room and everybody else left.

“What it said to me was that he was in some way implicated with the death of John Kennedy and, let’s go one step further, and also Bobby … but there were no details.”

“Did you ever talk to him about that subject again?” I asked.

“I never had the opportunity to risk having my nose broken.” Robert laughed. He looked at the footage but couldn’t say if it was Morales one way or the other. It had been a long time, and the quality of the images and his waning eyesight proved inconclusive.

***

The next day, I drove down to Nogales on the Mexican border to meet Morales’s best friend since childhood, Ruben “Rocky” Carbajal. Now in his late seventies, Ruben was a pugnacious character, with a neat mustache and a silver tongue. We talked in the private bar of his home, bought from the police chief, on a hill overlooking the town. Ruben chain-smoked throughout, a bourbon lined up on the counter.

“They called him a man of a thousand faces,” he began. “He was one of the most interesting men you ever want to meet.” Ruben knew Morales by his nickname, “Didi.” They grew up together in the barrios of Phoenix. David’s father abandoned the family when he was five years old, “so he grew up with us, you know, in and out of our house all the time. We went through high school together. My parents wanted him to be with me to make sure nobody messed around with me, ’cause everybody’s brother wanted to kick the shit out of me.”

According to Ruben, David rose to the rank of brigadier general in the CIA and was fiercely patriotic: “He’s what you call a hundred percent American all the way through — you don’t mess with him — and he’ll blow your ass apart.”

Ruben talked me through Didi’s exploits over the years: “Well, he’s the one, him and Tony Sforza, that did up Che Guevara up there in Bolivia. Didi cut his head off; get that through your head.”

After the death of Dan Mitrione, Morales was brought in to cleanse Uruguay of Tupamaros. “They went from door to door,” said Ruben, knocking on the counter, “and as soon as they opened the door, they had to kill children, old men, children, old men, anybody that was there got killed, right down the line … and that’s how they gave the government back to the people …. “

“So they just wiped out all the leaders of the Tupamaros?”

“They wiped out their families and everybody,” said Ruben. “All these holy people that think by talking to people, you gonna get it done; you gotta kill ’em.'”

From there, David went on to Chile to “overthrow old Allende” in 1973, allegedly stealing ten million dollars from the Chilean treasury in the process. Earlier that year, Walton and Carbajal had joined Didi for a drinking session at the Dupont Plaza. Ruben had his own take on the incident.

“They were sort of wanting some information about what happened down there, you know, at Dallas. And we were drinking and finally Didi … let them know in a roundabout way, ‘Well, we got the son of a bitch,’ that’s what he said. You don’t have to be a brain to figure out what he meant, you know.”

Ruben made it clear that Didi hated the Kennedys for going back on their word and withdrawing air support at the last moment at the Bay of Pigs, and he was sure Morales’s comment was more than idle boasting — “You don’t make comments like that, if you don’t know what’s going on.”

“Did he ever tell you anything else about Dallas?”

“No, I didn’t ask no more. The more you ask, the less chance you got of living.” Then Ruben launched into a tirade about Robert Kennedy, and it was easy to hear Morales echoed in his voice.

“And then I don’t have no respect for that Robert, when he put down in the newspaper … ‘The blacks, take anything you want, it belongs to you.’ What kind of a goddamn asshole … all the ethnic groups we have in the United States, what about the rest of them, huh? I tell you, that man is crazy, he wants to start a civil war right here in the United States, with that stupid talk like that. And then he got knocked off in a hurry, didn’t he?”

***

I asked Ruben about the Los Angeles part of David’s confession. Bob Walton heard Morales say “I was in Los Angeles, when we got the little bastard,” meaning Bobby.

“No. He was in Los Angeles but he didn’t say ‘We got him,’ you know. That ‘they got him.’ Just a difference [in] the wording, you know.”

Great, I thought. Back to Sandra Serrano country. “We shot him.” “They got him.” Did he think David was involved in the Bobby Kennedy shooting?

“No, he probably … might have known behind the scenes what was going on, but that has never been clear to me, you know, exactly what happened.”

“He didn’t say ‘we got the little bastard’?”

“No, he didn’t say that. That wasn’t his words at all. Not to me. Robert Walton might have interpreted it that way, but I didn’t interpret it that way. ‘Cause the only reason he’d be in that area at that moment, ’cause his daughters were married and one of them was living over there, you know.”

***

But June of 1968 was too early for Morales’ daughters to be married. His eldest, Rita (a pseudonym), was only sixteen, and the family was about to leave Boston to join Morales in Laos, where he’d been stationed for almost a year. If Morales was in Los Angeles, he wasn’t visiting family, that’s for sure.

***

When I showed the video clips to Ruben, he was instantly dismissive.

“See the figure in the white shirt here?” I said, pointing out the figure at the back of the room.

“No way. No way; that’s not him at all.”

“Is there any resemblance at all?”

“No.”

I showed him the second clip.

“Well, that’s the same person there was before. No, those are security guards there for Kennedy. I guarantee you he was no security guard for him. That’s not him. I guarantee you it’s not him.”

Ruben’s reaction puzzled Brad Ayers.

“I really don’t know why Ruben would respond that way. I guess probably when confronted with a photograph, which would be pretty hard evidence, putting him on the spot, he may be reluctant to condemn his lifelong friend. He can live with the thought that Morales may have been involved in some way, almost be proud of it. But to ID him, that may be just too far a reach for him. And it doesn’t surprise me.”

***

Bob Walton thought the interview “was a very difficult assignment” for Ruben. “He doesn’t want to admit to dirty tricks or a murder committed by his friend and is still trying to protect his reputation. It’s the legal problem of ‘declaration against interest’ — not wanting to be caught up in a murder-accident investigation and keeping quiet about it.”

Walton held firm — David had definitely said “we” in relation to Bobby. He’d talked to his wife, Florene, about it a couple of times, and she had heard David say “we” for Dallas and Los Angeles as well. But photo identification was difficult — “plus David was a master of disguise, so it’s not easy to identify him in the first place!”

I pondered whether to believe Ruben or not. His denial of Morales in the video was immediate and convincing, but I found his shifting of “we got him” to “they got him” problematic. When Noel Twyman first asked Ruben about the Los Angeles part of the statement, he said “I don’t remember that part right now.” Ten years later, his memory seemed to have improved. The clincher for me was the suggestion that Morales was in Los Angeles to see family. I found this preposterous. Ayers’s and Walton’s thoughts on Ruben’s dilemma were persuasive, and I concluded that he was still trying to protect his friend.

***

I was out of Morales leads for now, so my attention turned to Gordon Campbell. While much had been written about the “Big Indian,” the only other book to mention Campbell, Deadly Secrets, used Brad Ayers as its main source. The authors added some new details, describing Campbell as a tall man with close-cropped silvering hair and a military bearing. He oversaw the maritime branch of JMWAVE, taking charge of all CIA naval operations in the Caribbean.

The Miami telephone book for 1962 and 1963 did list a Gordon S. Campbell at 10091 Sterling Drive, south Miami, but a public record search revealed that he died on September 19, 1962, age fifty-seven. Not our man.

It seemed the only way to discover the truth about Campbell at this late stage was to speak to others who knew him at JMWAVE. But that wasn’t going to be easy. Very few seemed to know Campbell. Ted Shackley made no mention of him in his posthumously released autobiography, and I had no secondary confirmation that he was, in fact, deputy chief of station.

***

The more David Rabern thought about that night at the Ambassador, the more came back to him and the more he seemed willing to share over the next few months. He remembered seeing “Morales” out in the parking lot before the shooting, with two of the guys he’d worked with on the alarm project. He also saw the bald head of “Campbell” within fifteen minutes of the shooting, walking briskly back through the lobby toward the kitchen area.

He remembered a briefing meeting at a bank building on Wilshire Boulevard. Operatives were given packets of instructions for a particular assignment and he recalled seeing “Campbell” leaving the meeting as he was just coming in. I got the sense these operations were targeted at the antiwar movement and compatible with something like Chaos, but David wouldn’t elaborate.

Rabern remembered seeing “Campbell” probably half a dozen times in a two-year period before the assassination, usually in a downtown police station environment, in the company of two men and a woman, all of whom he assumed to be LAPD officers.

The woman was in uniform and had a nice body and a vivacious personality; she wasn’t beautiful, but she caught his attention. One of the guys was Mexican, in his early to mid-thirties, six-one, 200 pounds, and he talked to “Campbell.” The other guy was Caucasian, six-two or six-three, 220 pounds. The two men associating with “Campbell” weren’t wearing uniforms but were law enforcement and had a certain gait that showed they were carrying guns. He remembered “Campbell” wearing a light blue sweater and carrying a sidearm, which means he would have to have been with the police or in some official capacity.

***

Meanwhile, I was still trying to identify the other man standing with “Campbell” in the ballroom. To me, he had an undeniably Mediterranean look. As I researched possible colleagues of Campbell who bore these features, two figures from the Greek mafia within the CIA caught my attention — deputy director Thomas Karamessines and George Joannides.

Karamessines’s obituary photograph in the Washington Post quickly told me it wasn’t him, but Joannides’s notice from 1990 didn’t carry a picture, and it seemed that no photograph of Joannides had ever been made public. Joannides had become something of a cause celebre in assassination circles, as outlined in a series of articles by Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley.

In 1976, after numerous scandals exposed unauthorized and illegal CIA covert operations, Congress appointed a House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to reinvestigate the JFK assassination. In 1978, as the committee’s aggressive young investigators probed through layers of CIA records, the man the agency called out of retirement to act as their liaison to the committee was George Joannides. To the young investigators examining possible links between Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA, Joannides was a smart and highly efficient lawyer, but at no time did they suspect he had played a key role in the story of Lee Harvey Oswald fifteen years before.

***

Joannides was born in Athens in 1922 and grew up in New York City, graduating with a law degree from St. John’s University in Queens. Joannides joined the CIA in 1951 and spent eleven years in Greece and Libya before a posting to JMWAVE in Miami as deputy to the chief of psychological warfare operations, David Atlee Phillips.

Joannides was a cosmopolitan man, fluent in French and Greek and competent in Spanish. His brother-in-law was George Kalaris, who would later succeed James Angleton as CIA director of counterintelligence.

In November 1962, CIA deputy director of plans Richard Helms handpicked Joannides to be the case officer for the most popular group of militant anti-Castro exiles in Miami, the DRE (Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil or Revolutionary Student Directorate).

David Phillips had been funding the DRE’s anti-Castro propaganda campaign to the tune of twenty-five thousand dollars a month and Joannides’s job over the next year or so involved trying to dampen the group’s military ambitions while encouraging their propaganda campaigns and intelligence collection. The DRE knew their case officer as “Howard.”

On July 31, 1963, Joannides was promoted to chief of psychological warfare operations at JMWAVE, and the following week, Carlos Bringuier, the DRE delegate in New Orleans, began to report a man actively promoting Castro in New Orleans. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald. On August 5, Oswald walked into the DRE’s local office and offered to train commandos to fight Castro. Four days later, a DRE supporter spotted Oswald on a street corner handing out pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, the most prominent pro-Castro group in the country at the time. Bringuier and his friends went to confront this Castro double agent. As they angrily denounced him, a crowd gathered and police broke up the altercation.

Twelve days later, Bringuier and Oswald debated the Cuban revolution on Bill Stuckey’s weekly radio show on WDSU, and Oswald revealed he had lived in Russia and advertised his Marxist credentials. All of this was fed back to “Howard.”

As the DRE unveiled an ambitious new invasion plan, Ted Shackley recommended that all funds to the directorate’s military section be cut off. Helms agreed, and on November 19, 1963, Joannides told the DRE that the agency was cutting off its support. Three days later, Kennedy was assassinated.

After Oswald’s arrest, the DRE went public with details of Oswald’s pro- Castro activism in New Orleans, setting the tone for early press coverage of John Kennedy’s assassin. Did Joannides and the DRE conspire to create a Communist legend for Oswald? We still don’t know.

***

In April 1964, Joannides left Miami and was transferred to Athens with a job evaluation that praised his performance as “exemplary.” Joannides stayed in Athens until 1968 and was posted to Vietnam in 1970 to once again work for Ted Shackley, by now Saigon station chief. He returned to Washington in 1972 to work in the general counsel’s office at CIA headquarters until he retired in 1976 to set up a practice in immigration law.

After his stint liaising with the HSCA, Joannides retired in January, 1979. He once told one of his children that he was skeptical of JFK conspiracy theories, but he did not explain why. His heart problems worsened in later years, and he died on March 9, 1990, at the age of sixty-seven. His obituary in the Washington Post made no mention of his twenty-eight years of CIA service, stating only that he had been a lawyer at the Defense Department whose assignments included service in Vietnam and Greece.

***

I was intrigued and called Jefferson Morley in search of a photograph of Joannides. There were none in the public domain, he said, and the Joannides family refused to give him one. I told him I thought I might have a photograph of Joannides at the Ambassador Hotel. These guys were master spies, he said. They wouldn’t let themselves be photographed. He wasn’t interested.

Undeterred, I began to e-mail the photograph to as many of those who knew Joannides as I could. Outside the CIA, the most objective place to start seemed to be the HSCA investigators who worked with Joannides in 1978. Former chief counsel G. Robert Blakey told me he had only limited contact with Joannides, but the two investigators who saw him most were two Cornell law students he had assigned to investigate Oswald and Mexico City — Dan Hardway and Ed Lopez. “They had almost daily contact with Joannides.”

Both men are still practicing lawyers — Hardway in North Carolina, Lopez in Rochester, New York. I e-mailed them the photo, and the results were encouraging. Hardway’s initial response was: “This could be him. Much younger in the picture than in the seventies, and it’s been a long time.” He suggested I talk to Ed Lopez, and I was stunned by his response — Lopez was “ninety-nine percent sure” it was Joannides.

***

Next up was the DRE. Cofounder Juan-Manuel Salvat told me Dr. Luis Fernandez-Rocha was the main contact for Joannides. Dr. Fernandez-Rocha confirmed this in a telephone interview. He remembered meeting “Howard” once a month, and he liked him very much — “he was very cordial and charming, a very well-educated man with excellent manners.” His last contact with Joannides was at the end of 1963 or early 1964.

After my call, I e-mailed him the photograph, and when we spoke four days later, he came right to the point: “Regarding the photograph — this is important. I cannot confirm or deny that this is him. The photograph is a little fuzzy and he looks much thinner than I remember. He has a different haircut and different glasses, but these things can easily change. Number two: I didn’t know he had any involvement with Robert Kennedy. I didn’t meet Robert Kennedy, and I have no idea of any connection between him and Robert Kennedy.” He stressed that it was important I quote him this way, and at the time, the tension in his voice and choice of words gave the impression of a man with something to protect.

I also spoke to Robert Keeley, who had served as a political officer at the Athens embassy from 1966 to 1970 and later returned as ambassador. He recalled Joannides working downtown as a CIA officer. It was common for Greek Americans to come over with their language skills, often under joint U.S. military-AID cover, and Joannides was one of the more senior people there.

Keeley would meet Joannides once in a while at social gatherings, and their wives were good friends. But his response to the photo was inconclusive: “The photo is a bit fuzzy. I can’t help you one way or the other. I cannot say that it is his image, and I can’t say it isn’t.”

***

When I was finally commissioned to make the BBC story, I headed straight to Rochester to show the photograph to Ed Lopez in person.

Today, Lopez is a distinguished lawyer at Cornell University. He grew up a Puerto Rican in New York, and back in 1978, he was a twenty-two-year-old hippie law student, described by fellow investigator Gaeton Fonzi as “a brilliant free spirit with an infectious smile, long, curly locks, baggy jeans and flip-flops.”

“I was a bit of a rebel,” remembered Lopez. “Dan and I would dress up in cut-off shorts just below our crotch area and cut-off shirts and show up at the CIA in these outfits.” The CIA was understandably suspicious of “these two little hippies coming in to look at the files to make a decision about whether they might have been involved in the assassination.” They put the young law students under surveillance, and there was a white van parked regularly outside their apartment.

Blakey assigned Lopez and Hardway to examine Oswald’s activities in Mexico City prior to the John F. Kennedy assassination, when he allegedly visited the Cuban and Russian embassies and made contacts in a city that was a hotbed of espionage at the time. Ultimately, “the Lopez report basically concluded that there was some type of a relationship between the CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald. Exactly what that relationship was we could never tell.” What was his personal view? “I have no doubt in my mind that he was being run by someone at the CIA … Was there a connection to the point where they were running the assassination? … That we could not confirm.”

***

Lopez first met George Joannides in the early summer of 1978, when Joannides was assigned as the new CIA liaison to the HSCA investigators. “Joannides was our point person, the guy who controlled what we could see and what we couldn’t see at the CIA. He was probably in his mid-fifties …. He was a dapper guy, funny and affable … five-eleven or so, in shape, with graying hair, slightly receding.”

The HSCA knew practically nothing about Morales or Campbell at the time, and to Lopez, Joannides was nothing more than an extremely competent clerk providing access to the files. Joannides never disclosed his history with the DRE at JMWAVE, even though this was one of the areas the committee was investigating.

After Joannides died, Lopez finally found out about his past. “At first, I was shocked; then I was angry because I felt like we had been taken. And then, being a lawyer, I said, ‘My God, this is obstruction of justice.’ But the guy himself, he did his job perfectly.”

Joannides never blanched as Lopez and Hardway discussed his past colleagues, and Lopez was very clear on Joannides’s mission: “The CIA wanted someone who knew what had been going on back then to control what was made available to us…. How could we trust anything the CIA was giving us if the guy that was our point of contact, who controlled what we saw or didn’t see, happened to have been a person who we would have investigated back then had we known who he was?”

***

When I showed Lopez the ballroom photograph in person, he seemed extremely confident of his identification: “When I look at this picture, to me it’s a younger George Joannides. I couldn’t say one hundred percent that it’s him … but I’m ninety-nine percent sure that it’s George Joannides.”

I had also found two additional photographs of “Campbell” and “Joannides” standing in the same position in the ballroom. These were taken from behind, and showed a third man beside them, with blond hair and horn-rim glasses. These new images also brought an immediate smile of recognition. “I don’t mean to be funny, but I often saw the back of Joannides because he would come down to get us at Langley and we’d be following him. Again, it looks to me just the way George looked. Same posture, hair … like I said, I’m ninety-nine percent sure that it’s him.”

Ed reflected on the photographs: “George Joannides is an enigma to me. After he died, when I heard that he’d been involved with JMWAVE, that he’d been involved with the DRE, and now looking at this photo … it doesn’t surprise me for a minute to find him at the Ambassador Hotel on the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot. If he was the level operative that he appears to have been through DRE and JMWAVE, if another operation was going on that was key, he would have been there.”

Was there a benign reason why he might be at the hotel? “Can I give an alternative explanation for George Joannides being there other than to, like, run an assassination? God help us. The agency hated the Kennedy brothers. Every CIA operative I met from the early sixties hated John Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs. These are people who’ll do anything for the good of their country … and if it meant assassinating a second Kennedy to make sure that he didn’t rise to power because he would be dangerous for the country, they’d do it.”

***

Lopez was clear on what was needed now. “I think the key people at the CIA need to go back to anybody who might have been around back then, bring them in, and interview them. Ask: ‘Is this Gordon Campbell? Is this George Joannides? Did you know about any operation going on? If you didn’t, then why the hell were they there?’

“Do I expect that to happen? No. I expect a very short, pat answer. ‘We don’t know why he was there. It’s a rogue element.’ That’s the way the CIA worked. Everybody was a rogue element because no one can know what everybody else is doing.”

As we wrapped up, Ed said I should go visit his fellow investigator Dan Hardway and talk to him face-to-face; he had a phenomenal memory.

***

After interviewing Ed Lopez, I traveled to Washington, DC, to meet a still skeptical Jefferson Morley. Having invested ten years in the Joannides story, he was literally shaking as we sat at his kitchen table and I showed him the photographs in the ballroom and the alleged video of Morales and Campbell.

My own attempts to contact the Joannides family had met a wall of silence, but Morley planned to visit one of Joannides’s daughters that weekend. For years, Morley has been involved in a laudable and protracted struggle to get the CIA to comply with the JFK Records Act and release Joannides’s operational records from JMWAVE. He has been supported by a who’s who of respected authors on the Kennedy assassination, a bipartisan group mixing Oliver Stone and Gerald Posner, the most famous proponent of Oswald as lone gunman. Although Joannides’s wife is dead, Morley has courted the Joannides children during this period, believing that their cooperation would ultimately help lead to the records’ release.

When he visited one of the daughters that weekend and showed her the main photograph in the ballroom, the response was a terse “No comment.” Weeks later, a second daughter, now a superior court judge in Alaska, would give the same response. You had to wonder: If it wasn’t their father in the photograph, why were they being so defensive?

***

While in Washington, I also visited Wayne Smith, who during twenty-five years with the State Department (1957-1982) served as executive secretary of President Kennedy’s Latin American Task Force and came to know Morales well.

The moment Smith saw the bronzed figure at the back of the ballroom, he exclaimed, “That’s him. That’s Dave Morales.”

“Really?” I said, surprised at the speed of recognition.

Smith gave a deep, visceral sigh, as if taken aback by the implications. “Yes, I’m virtually certain; is there anything [more]?”

I played the second, longer clip, and he watched intently. “Yeah, that’s … yeah, when he turns sideways, that’s Morales. That’s Morales.”

Smith was intrigued and recounted his connection to Morales. “He worked in the CIA station in Havana when I was third secretary of the Political Section [from] fifty-nine until we broke relations in sixty-one.” He saw him again a number of times after that, passing each other in corridors at the State Department and they had dinner together when Morales visited Buenos Aires in 1975.

“When I saw him in Argentina,” Smith recalled, “we got into an argument about Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs and all that … and what he said was that ‘Kennedy got what was coming to him.”’

Did he give any indication that he might have been involved in some way? “He didn’t,” said Smith. “He said ‘Kennedy got what was coming to him,’ and he said it in a very determined way, as if he took great satisfaction in it, but no, he didn’t.”

I asked Smith if there was a benign explanation for Morales’s presence at the hotel? “Well, I don’t see any … if the CIA or the Security Division of the Department of State ordered him to be there to protect Bobby Kennedy, that’d be one thing, but I don’t think that’s the case. And if they didn’t, then there is no benign explanation I can think of.”

Was Morales a suitable figure to protect Bobby Kennedy? “No!” Smith laughed. “No, I mean, in my wildest imagination, I couldn’t imagine assigning David Morales to protect any of the Kennedys …. Bobby Kennedy is assassinated [and] David Morales is there? The two things have to be related.”

***

Smith’s ID of Morales was hugely significant, validating Brad’s identification and supporting Brad’s credibility in his ID of Gordon Campbell.

David Rabern had placed “Morales” and “Campbell” together. “Campbell” and “Joannides” were photographed together. It seemed three senior figures from JMWAVE who worked under Bobby Kennedy in the war on Castro were at the Ambassador Hotel the night he died, and they certainly weren’t there to protect Kennedy.

I continued to seek further corroboration from four former CIA colleagues. Felix Rodriguez canceled, and Grayston Lynch was ill, but I did meet Tom Clines and Ed Wilson, Morales’s closest associates in the agency, next to the late Tony Sforza, according to Ruben.

I met Clines at the Marriott in Tysons Corner, Virginia, a stone’s throw from CIA headquarters. He didn’t want to appear on camera, but we talked for an hour or so about his time at JMWAVE. He had started off training a select band of twenty-nine guys for the Bay of Pigs and went on to be the case officer for Cuban exile leaders such as Manuel Artime and Rafael Quintero. He worked in covert operations in Miami. Morales was his boss, and later in his career, he was Morales’s boss. He said Gordon Campbell wasn’t deputy chief — that was a guy by the name of R.B. Moore, “a pretty ineffectual guy not worth talking about.”

He described Chief of Station Ted Shackley as “a one-man brigade.” He went to Clines, Morales, and Sforza for difficult missions. They’d attempt crazy operations that often ended disastrously, but a good few were successful.

Bobby Kennedy was seen as an irritant by the covert ops people because he had a back channel to the Cubans, who would skirt around the bureaucracy to get boats quickly by calling Bobby from a pay phone. Clines never met Kennedy personally but described him as overanxious to get results, complaining that the agency was slow and sidestepping them with the Cubans. He smiled when I asked if mobster Johnny Rosselli worked at the station but wouldn’t answer directly.

When I first spoke to Clines, he brought up the “assassination of Kennedy Senior” at the end of the call. When I asked his opinion, he said he wouldn’t discuss it on the phone, but in person, he didn’t want to touch it either, dismissing Morales’s hotel-room rant as “just bullshit.”

As talk turned to the matter at hand, Clines fondly remembered Brad Ayers as a wild character who would bring snakes up from the swamps to show the women in the office. Then I showed him the video of Morales, twice. He said it looked like Dave but it wasn’t him. “Dave was fatter and walked with more of a slouch,” he said. “He would have had his tie down.” It seemed an odd comment. To me, the “Morales” in the video did walk with a slouch and his tie down. Was this a coded way of saying it was him?

I also showed Clines the alleged photograph of Campbell and Joannides. He said he knew both men, and that it wasn’t them, either. “Campbell was good to know,” he added, “because he came from a rich family, but he wasn’t a memorable guy — if you gave him a gun for an operation like that, he was likely to shoot himself. That’s why we sent him up to Canada, as the CIA liaison up there.”

Clines discounted Brad’s ID because he wasn’t at JMWAVE very long, but he was surprised by Wayne Smith’s. “Smith knew Dave, and he would know, but I don’t think it’s him.”

By 1968, Morales was again working for Ted Shackley in Laos. Could Shackley have masterminded such an operation? “But he was in Southeast Asia,” protested Clines. Supposedly, so was Morales. “Why don’t you ask his wife, Hazel?” Clines said. “She knew everything.”

It was a strange meeting. Clines’s comments on Morales seemed ambivalent to me — “It looks like him but it’s not him.” What does that mean? When I spoke to David Rabern later, he was sure Clines would have been briefed by the agency before the interview and suggested I take what Clines said with a pinch of salt.

***

A few days later, I met Ed Wilson in the boardroom of his attorney’s office in Seattle. Wilson is currently suing the CIA for falsely imprisoning him for twenty-two years for selling explosives to Libya. Wilson has always insisted that the deal was an agency operation and that the CIA hung him out to dry. An appeals court in Houston freed him in 2004, and he is now suing for compensation.

Wilson appeared tall, as sharp as a tack, and very distinguished in a tweed jacket and neatly trimmed moustache. He was in his late seventies, worked out every morning, and was an engaging raconteur. Every Morales anecdote was accompanied by a disbelieving guffaw. He was clearly very fond of Dave.

They knew each other mainly in Washington from 1971 to 1976. When Dave was in town to go to language school with Clines, he would stay at one of Wilson’s apartments. “He and Clines couldn’t go a night without drinking. And Morales couldn’t go to bed at night without getting laid.”

Morales was fiercely loyal to Ted Shackley: “Shackley liked guys like Morales that would just do anything. If the operation was military, it would probably be Clines and Morales. In the Dominican Republic deal, the opposition had a radio station across the river. So Dave got his bag and rowed across and said, ‘Hi, I’m Doctor Mendes, I want to visit my patient,’ and pretty soon, the radio station just blew up.” Wilson guffawed. “I tell you these stories because that’s Dave, you know, he’s a nutcase. He was a helluva character, a dedicated, loyal American; he really was. I don’t know about the Allende thing, but I’m sure if Shackley was involved, he was involved ’cause they were, like, connected at the hip, you know.”

But work always came above family. “Dave, one time, was working on an operation in a Miami safe house, and they were all around a table working on it, and Dave got a phone call, and he said, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ and listened — ‘ No, nothing you can do.’ He went on with the meeting. Come to find out that his kid had [fallen] in the swimming pool and was close to death and they pulled him back. When I think of Dave, I think of that story. What a coldblooded bastard. I would have got in my car and gone there, but not Dave. If there was nothing he could do, he continued with the meeting.”

When it came to Dave’s outburst at the Dupont Plaza, Wilson was as dismissive as Clines: “I think that comment was just Dave being a big shot. That’s bullshit, you know.”

Would he be capable of something like that? “He’d be capable, but what would be his purpose unless somebody [ordered] him which is probably what you’re after, but I don’t believe it…. He’s too smart…. Why would anybody risk their whole career to do something off the record or illegal? … You know damn well you’re gonna get caught.”

Finally, I showed Ed the video clips of “Morales” in the ballroom: “That’s not Dave. No. He has negroid features; Dave didn’t. Indian Dave had dark features, but he had Indian features …. The complexion’s not that far off, but that’s not Dave. That’s not his mouth; that’s not his eyes. That’s not his nose. I’m pretty good on faces. I’d bet my life on it, that’s not him.”

***

It was a very definite “no” from a man with no agenda; but the strange thing was that Wilson didn’t recognize Morales in the 1959 photo, either. His response to the photo of the two men standing in the ballroom was also interesting.

“I seen that guy with the glasses somewhere, but God, I can’t tell you where for the moment …. The other guy with the bald head looks familiar too …. He looks a little like Helms, in a way. The other guy looks like a normal CIA spook. Doesn’t have his cloak and dagger with him, but …”

He guffawed again, the laugh of a man wrongfully imprisoned by the CIA for twenty-two years, freed of bitterness but with a well-honed sense of the absurd.

***

Wilson was free with his opinions and very persuasive, but he didn’t know Morales in 1968 and he didn’t recognize him in the earlier 1959 photo. Who could I trust? Two independent witnesses outside the agency, or close confidants of Morales, some still consulting for the CIA?

With the Morales ID, the scales were now finely balanced, but with the identifications of Campbell and Joannides at the hotel on the same night, a Morales look-alike talking to Campbell out in the lobby seemed too freakish a coincidence. I had to give Ayers and Smith the benefit of the doubt.

On balance, I still felt I was on the right track with my three suspects, so I aired the story in a segment on the BBC on November 20, 2006 — Robert Kennedy’s eighty-first birthday, had he lived.

Two men, allegedly Gordon Campbell and George Joannides, stand in the Embassy Ballroom.

“Campbell,” “Joannides,” and an unidentified third man.

 

 WHO KILLED BOBBY?: Bush Bush Bush His CIA goons did the Job.
 
EIGHTEEN: Chasing ShadowsBrad hoped my BBC film would be a “smoke-out,” and in the months following its broadcast, much new information came to light on all three operatives allegedly at the Ambassador Hotel on the night Bobby Kennedy was murdered.While blogs quickly picked up on the story — and the Cuban government newspaper, Granma Internacional, gave it a ringing endorsement, splashed across the front page — not a single U.S. media outlet followed it up.First out of the gate with a critique online was Jefferson Morley. Within hours of the broadcast, perhaps to placate the Joannides family, he publicly declared the piece “unfounded and unfair … to make such serious allegations on such flimsy evidence is irresponsible.” This was the same guy who, the week before, told me he’d found the “no comment” of the Joannides family “telling.”The following day, we had a robust discussion and Morley amended his comments: “thinly-sourced can be true if the source is good … [and Lopez’s] near-certainty that Joannides appears in the photo … has to be taken seriously. If Joannides was there, the implications are profound. The CIA must be compelled to abandon its JFK stonewalling and disclose fully about George Joannides’ actions and whereabouts in 1963 and 1968.”***

As I worked on my BBC film, I was contacted by Brad Johnson, a senior news writer with a global television network based in the United States. Over the years, Brad had amassed, without doubt, the most comprehensive archive in existence of news coverage of the assassination. Two days after my BBC story aired, Brad contacted me with further sightings of my three CIA suspects.

Together, we reviewed every frame of film or video recorded at the hotel that night by the national networks, local television stations, and independent filmmakers — almost a hundred hours’ worth of material.

Thanks to his ingenuity and much dogged research, we found many more clips of the people we believed might be Morales and Campbell at the Ambassador Hotel that night. We were able to trace the movements of “Gordon Campbell” throughout the evening, with the help of his distinctive blue sports coat and receding hairline, and could also sketch in a rough chronology for “David Morales.”

At 12:16 a.m., in the space of five seconds, Robert Kennedy and five others were shot in the pantry. Twenty-one seconds later, “Morales” is first spotted in the footage, not in the Embassy Ballroom, where I first thought, but at the back of the Ambassador Ballroom, one floor below. This makes sense. Kennedy was due to go downstairs for another speech. If he wasn’t diverted into the pantry and Plan B had to be activated, “Morales” was ready and waiting.

At 12:47, “Morales” emerged from the pantry and walked into the ballroom among a group of police officers. Moments earlier, a Kennedy volunteer is seen blocking this doorway to the public. The sequence strongly implies that “Morales” is one of the investigators at the crime scene.

At 1:03, “Morales” is clocked comparing notes with the shorter man with the pencil mustache in the darkened ballroom. If this wasn’t Morales, who was he? His behavior across all these clips was consistent with a plainclothes operative or undercover cop monitoring the situation, yet there was supposedly no police presence at the hotel at the time of the shooting.

***

British author and former school deputy principal Mel Ayton has devoted his retirement to shooting down conspiracy theories. He was soon taking poor-quality video-grabs of my BBC film and e-mailing them across the pond. JMWAVE veteran Grayston Lynch had been ill when I tried to interview him a few weeks earlier, but after the BBC broadcast, he recovered to tell Ayton that the men in his bootlegged images were not Morales and Campbell.

Lynch subsequently refused to speak to me. His wife, Karen, said Gray was furious at “conspiracy theorists,” and in no mood to look at the new material. Her e-mails were friendly, funny but blunt:

If you believe ANYTHING Bradley Ayers has to say on any subject concerning the CIA, I have some ocean front property in Kansas City I would like to try and interest you in. It always amazes me how these weasels ingratiate themselves with the media and have their disinformation spread so unwittingly. Ayers was drummed out of the Agency and has a real bone to pick with them. Sorry, you hit a nerve.

Happy Christmas, Karen.

***

The Lynches’ comments netted out to very little: an agency veteran unlikely to admit it was Morales, whatever the circumstances, and scorn for Bradley Ayers, a man I had come to trust implicitly, for all the vagaries of photo identification. And for the record, Ayers was not “drummed out” of the agency. He resigned his commission when he saw a close colleague thrown out of a helicopter, and his credibility cannot be questioned. Ted Shackley corroborated many key details in Brad’s book, and Tom Clines fondly remembered him. Brad had been seconded to the CIA from the army but was not a contract employee, so he was not bound by the secrecy oath, as Clines and Lynch were. His whistle-blowing could not be so easily brushed off.

***

At this point, I thought I had run out of Morales’s associates, but Ayton found two more through author Don Bohning, former Latin American editor for the Miami Herald. Manuel Chavez and Luis Fernandez were both in their late seventies and had worked out of the CIA’s public office in Miami in the early sixties. For a few months, they worked alongside Dave Morales before he moved to JMWAVE.

Ayton had e-mailed “six sets of very grainy and dark photos” to Chavez, who tried to enhance two of the better ones in Photoshop and sent them on to Fernandez. This did not sound ideal for comparison purposes, so I contacted the extremely receptive Chavez and sent him a DVD of best-quality images to review instead.

Manny Chavez first met Morales in Caracas, Venezuela in February 1957. Chavez was the assistant U.S. air attache and Morales was assigned to the CIA office in the embassy. The families were close until Morales left in the wake of the coup in January, 1958.

Chavez saw Morales again in Miami in late 1961 when he was working out of the CIA’s public office downtown for a few months before he moved to JMWAVE.

Manny said the 1959 photo “looks almost exactly as I remember Dave Morales,” but some of the later photos of Morales in the seventies were foreign to both him and Luis — “Could there have been another Dave Morales?”

***

Once my DVD arrived, Manny got to work immediately: ”After reviewing it alone twice, I then called Bernice, my Managing Director of 63 years, and ran it for her, also twice. We then carefully looked at it together and concluded it probably is not the David Morales that we knew in Miami and Caracas.

“Yes, there is some resemblance — tall, dark complexion, but we both agreed that there are two essential differences. The David Morales we knew during 1957/58 and again in 1961/62 had a much rounder and darker face and a full set of black hair. The person in the photo has a receding hairline that I do not recall David Morales having.”

On further analysis, Manny thought that the Morales he knew was also shorter and fatter than the man in the video. Manny then sent the DVD on to Luis Fernandez.

“I reviewed the DVD that you sent three times,” he wrote, “and conclude that the person who is shown walking around in the crowd and then sticking his head around the corner of a partition is not David Morales with whom I worked in Miami.”

Manny asked Luis if he had any doubts. “Definitely, he is not Dave Morales,” said Luis. “This person seems taller, more slender and lighter color. Dave was fat, round faced and darker complexion, like a true Mexican Indian, whereas those of the man in the DVD are of an African-American.”

“Shane, this is our honest opinion,” wrote Manny. “We have no reason to withhold or cover-up any information on the identity of David Morales. Had Bernice and I had any doubts, we would have said so, and I am sure that Luis Rodriguez feels the same way. Rest assured I will try to help you get the truth to the best of my ability, even if I later learn that I may have been wrong.”

Manny continued to help me get to the bottom of things, and the candid, guileless generosity of both him and Luis made me seriously reconsider the ID of Morales for the first time.

***

I also followed up with Felix Rodriguez, who had worked with Morales for several months in Vietnam. “Last time I saw Dave Morales was in early 1972 [when] I visited him in Na Trang. I saw the clip and definitely that is not Dave Morales. I scanned the picture you sent me and I sent it to my former supervisor in Vietnam. He also agrees with me that the man in the picture is not Dave Morales.”

Clines’s former supervisor was Rudy Enders, a colleague of Morales at JMWAVE. “I mentioned to him the name of Gordon Campbell and he knew him well since Gordon was his boss in Miami, but for your information, Gordon Campbell died in 1962 at the CIA facility in Miami from a massive heart attack and my friend was there when it did happen. You better check your sources on that. This will be easy to verify by you with Gordon’s family or the agency.”

Well, the agency refused to verify the identities of previous employees, so they weren’t going to be any help. But I wondered how Gordon Campbell could have died in 1962 if Bradley Ayers met him in 1963? Tom Clines never mentioned him dying; he said they’d sent him up to Canada.

“I just talked to Rudy,” Felix replied, “and he assured me that Gordon Campbell died in front of him; he was one of the people who tried to revive him. He said Bradley Ayers was in training and did not work with Gordon Campbell and if Tom Clines said that, he was probably thinking of someone else, since Gordon Campbell died right in front of him. Just for your info, another retired agency officer under Rudy at the time told him that he can attest that Brad Ayers arrived in Miami long after Gordon Campbell died. He read Brad’s book and said he thought it was … all lies and fabrication. I guess your source is not very reliable. Felix.”

Clearly, these old agency hands had no liking for Brad, but this account of Campbell’s death didn’t make sense.

Did Brad just make up all those details about Campbell in his whistle-blowing book in 1976? Any kind of fabrication would have made it easy for agency veterans to instantly destroy his credibility and defeat the purpose of the book. That didn’t make sense. It was curious that former colleagues had waited thirty years to start attacking a work Shackley and Clines had previously corroborated. I seemed to have touched a nerve.

***

But as I began to edit my feature documentary, I was out of time and money to do any more research in the States. Then, just before Christmas, I received a very excited call from journalist David Talbot, who was completing his first book, Brothers, on Robert Kennedy’s response to his brother’s death. Talbot was intrigued by this new evidence and had secured funding from the New Yorker magazine to follow up my investigation. His coauthor would be Jefferson Morley, who admitted “I spoke too soon in November.”

***

It was a risk to share my research with other journalists, but if I didn’t have the resources to carry the investigation further, I was glad they did. I sent David what video and photographs I had so they could verify and perhaps build on my findings with the best materials available. Talbot and Morley hit the road to investigate my story over the next six weeks, and David called with updates along the way. Their initial focus was on Joannides.

They started off knocking on doors in Washington, brandishing the ballroom photograph to aging associates in doorways to a chorus of denials. But the Joannides family themselves remained tight-lipped, sticking to a frosty “no comment.”

***

Next stop was North Carolina. Talbot and Morley took HSCA investigator Dan Hardway out to lunch and had the face-to-face meeting Ed Lopez had recommended. While at first Hardway hadn’t wanted to get involved, now he opened up and said, yes, the man in the photo was Joannides.

I called Hardway several weeks later, and he still clearly remembered his days at the HSCA with Lopez. “We were arrogant young kids, trying to intimidate CIA clerks into giving us records.” Joannides was brought in to get them under control and slow the process down. He totally changed the access program. Hardway remembered him as “imperious, with a contemptuous look.” He saw Joannides only two or three times at most.

“When I first looked at that photograph,” he said, “I thought, ‘That’s not him.’ But then I thought, ‘I’m fifty-four now and Joannides was fifty-four when I knew him.’ I realized how quickly your appearance changes at that point in your life, added to the fact that Joannides had heart trouble.”

So while he couldn’t be positive, he told me his exact words to Talbot and Morley, from the look of the man at the Ambassador and the way he was standing, was that “he could very well be the guy that I remember — I’d be surprised if it wasn’t him.”

***

Ed Lopez reconfirmed his identification to Morley and Talbot, so as they traveled down to Florida, the congressional investigators said it was Joannides, while Washington friends said it wasn’t. In Miami, they quickly found another member of the DRE who recognized Joannides. Isidro “Chilo” Borja was the military director of the DRE and now runs an air-conditioning business in Miami. As he later confirmed to me, he met Joannides only a couple of times, forty years earlier, but yes, the man in the photograph looked like Joannides.

The last leg of Talbot and Morley’s journey took them to see Joannides’s former station chief in Saigon, Tom Polgar. Word came back that before Talbot and Morley mentioned his name, Polgar identified Joannides in the photograph. Polgar also identified the blond man in horn-rimmed glasses in the other ballroom photographs as James Critchfield, the CIA’s chief in the Middle East at the time.

This was extraordinary. But a couple of weeks later, according to Talbot, Polgar realized the import of what he’d said and backtracked. He no longer thought it was Joannides.

I called Thomas Polgar to clarify all of this. He was now eighty-five years old, a very friendly, lucid, open man with a strong Hungarian accent. He had looked up my story on the Internet after Talbot and Morley’s visit and recalled their meeting. They had briefed him on what they wanted to talk about — namely, George Joannides, James Critchfield, and David Morales.

Polgar didn’t know Morales, but Joannides had worked for him as a branch chief in Saigon for most of 1972. When he was shown the ballroom photographs, Polgar told Talbot and Morley — and later confirmed to me — that the man at the Ambassador was “not incompatible” with the Joannides he knew in Saigon, but he couldn’t positively identify him.

Polgar identified the third man as “not incompatible with James Critchfield.” He first met Critchfield in 1949 and would have seen him again in 1968 at one of the group meetings of senior CIA staff. Polgar left Washington for South America around that time, while Critchfield was in charge of the Middle East and Germany.

Even if it was Joannides in the photograph, Polgar didn’t see any great significance. “Politically interested people were always attracted by free drinks at a party for a big primary. There was no Internet then; it was a big social occasion. A lot of agency people traveled commercially through Los Angeles en route overseas, and the place to stay was the Ambassador. Joannides could have been on home leave.” He advised me to check the registered guests at the hotel. ”A senior officer like Critchfield wouldn’t travel on a false passport and would have registered under his real name.”

I asked if Joannides’s presence could suggest something darker. “If it was a planned assassination, they wouldn’t have been within a thousand miles of there,” Polgar said, adamant that senior officers would not have been involved in something like this.

***

In the early seventies, Critchfield married his third wife, Lois, herself a CIA officer. When he got back to Washington, Jeff Morley showed her the photograph, but she denied it was her late husband. He also contacted Timothy Kalaris, son of the former CIA counterintelligence chief and nephew of Joannides. “That is not my uncle; I can tell you that,” said Kalaris. “I don’t know how anybody who ever knew him could say that’s him.”

***

While Talbot and Morley were on the road, the death of legendary CIA operative E. Howard Hunt was announced, and a few weeks later, his memoir, American Spy, was published. Hunt called Morales a “cold-blooded killer … possibly completely amoral” and on March 21, Rolling Stone magazine ran an interview with Hunt’s eldest son, St. John, titled “The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt.”

In 2003, Hunt thought he had months to live. He was bedridden with lupus, pneumonia, and cancer of the jaw and prostate, and gangrene had forced the amputation of his left leg. As he faced death, he spoke to his son about the planners of the JFK assassination. He scribbled a crude diagram connecting LBJ at the top to senior agency figures Cord Meyer and Bill Harvey (who first brought Morales to JMWAVE). The arrows continued down to the names “David Morales” and “David Phillips.” A line was drawn from Morales to the framed words “French Gunman Grassy Knoll.”

Hunt had worked with Morales and Phillips on the Arbenz coup in Guatemala in 1954. Phillips recruited Joannides as his deputy in the psychological warfare branch at JMWAVE and worked closely with Morales throughout his career. Morales admitted to Ruben Carbajal and Robert Walton that he was in Dallas, and before he died, so, famously, did Phillips. He called his estranged brother, trying to make his peace, and his brother asked, “Were you in Dallas on that day?” “Yes,” said Phillips, and his brother hung up.

***

As the Hunt circus played out in the media, the last leg of David Talbot’s trip took him to meet the two eldest daughters of Morales, Rita and Sandra (a pseudonym). A few months later, I spoke to them myself in ninety-minute conversations, during which they talked openly about the legends that have grown around their father.

Morales joined the army at twenty, in April 1946, and was sent to Germany three years later, to be based at the European Command in Munich. Within a year, the CIA’s intelligence chief in Germany, Richard Helms, requested clearance for Morales to “be enrolled for basic cryptographic training.” Helms would rise to CIA director by the time Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

Joan Kerrigan was half Irish and half Scottish and grew up in Boston. After college, Catherine Gibbs Secretarial sent her to work for the CIA in Germany, and there she met and married Morales in March 1951. Their first daughter, Rita, was born the following year, and Joan’s boss became Rita’s godfather and recruited Morales as a contract agent for the CIA.

A second daughter, Sandra, was born fifteen months later, but when the family came back from Germany in October 1953, her maternal grandfather, a first-generation Kerrigan, didn’t meet them at the airport because he didn’t approve of the mixed-race marriage.

According to Rita, Morales joined the army “because he was dirt-poor, everyone else was joining and it seemed a way out” of the barrios in Phoenix. “If he hadn’t met our mother and joined the CIA, he would have left the army at the end of his tour and gone back to Arizona. He felt he got lucky and owed his good fortune to the company and would never have gone rogue or jeopardized his status.”

After returning to the States, Morales spent the next ten months on PB Success, planning the Arbenz coup in Guatemala, and soon became a permanent CIA employee. After a posting in Venezuela, he was transferred to Batista’s Cuba in May 1958, as an attache at the U.S. embassy. On Sundays, Morales would take his kids into the office, and they’d play on the typewriters.

There were eight kids in the family — seven of whom are still alive — and they lived with Morales during all his postings except Vietnam (his family was part of his cover). Growing up, Morales’s daughters remembered their father as a stern disciplinarian with a hot temper. “It wasn’t a democracy. It was a monarchy and he was in charge.” He was a distant workaholic. “He didn’t strive to know us,” remembered Rita. “I never took any money for college because I would be tied down by him …. He had a chip that he had to work harder being Hispanic, but when he wasn’t drinking, he was a good guy.”

Morales never discussed politics, and they found out only late in his life that he voted Republican. But Sandra clearly remembered her Bostonian mother going to vote in 1960, wanting Kennedy to win.

In October 1960, the family moved to Miami, where they stayed for the next five years. Morales grew very close to the Cuban exiles as he was put to work on JMARC, a Cuban invasion plan that would end so disastrously at the Bay of Pigs.

***

Rita was in sixth grade when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. She remembered her father being home that evening and showing no reaction to what had happened. He never spoke about the Kennedys. Sandra thought he was home that evening but was less certain. She couldn’t see him as a shooter in Dallas, though: “He was a wingtip-and-white-shirt guy. I always saw him in a suit …. I never saw him with weapons or target shooting.”

If he wasn’t a shooter, could he have masterminded the operation? “Who knows?” said Sandra. “I’ve no knowledge of that. Just he worked for the CIA, and they probably did a lot of stuff.”

The family had heard about the recent Hunt revelations through a brother-in-law. Could Morales have been at a planning meeting for the assassination? “He might have been there,” said Rita, “but who were the others? He didn’t organize it. Who was above him? If my father got a direct order to do it, I’m sure he did it. He knew the type of people who could get the job done.”

***

In June 1965, Morales was posted to Peru. His own cover history statement reads: “I was detailed to the Agency of International Development (AID) as a Public Safety Advisor. After attending the International Police Academy, I was assigned as one of two senior public safety advisors to the Peruvian National Police (Guardia Nacional) as a counter-insurgency advisor.” This was the same program used by Pena and Hernandez.

CIA records indicate that Morales stayed in Peru until February 1967 and shipped out to Laos in late 1967, where he would be reunited with Ted Shackley as a “community development officer,” again under AID cover. The gap in his CV between these postings fits the time frame of the search for Che Guevara perfectly. The hunt formally began in late April, when sixteen Green Berets were sent over to train the Bolivian search team. Guevara was captured and shot on October 9.

Morales’s daughters said he was in Laos for about a year before the family followed. He would come home for a month at a time and be gone for five. He built them a house, and Rita remembered arriving in Vientiane on July 4, 1968. It took them two weeks to get there, traveling through Japan and Hong Kong with their father. Sandra confirmed these dates. She was going to school in Massachusetts at the time of the RFK assassination. School got out around June 20; then they left for Laos. Morales met them in Japan, and they spent a week there before traveling through Hong Kong and Thailand to Pakse.

Morales never left Laos afterward, so Rita didn’t think he could have been in Los Angeles, but these dates place the beginning of their trip East two weeks after the assassination. Sandra thought that Morales would have been in Laos on June 5, and he was the boss, so it wasn’t like he could disappear for long periods without it being noticed. But the family was not with their father until at least two weeks after the shooting of Robert Kennedy.

The family stayed in Laos for a year and then moved back to the States. Morales went on a two-year tour to Vietnam in October 1969, and when he came back, he’d go on three-month temporary assignments to places such as Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina — supporting Ruben’s tales of the Morales officially retired on July 31, 1975, but he continued to consult for the company. He bought a place in Flagstaff but his doctors said he couldn’t handle the altitude, so they moved out to Wilcox, Arizona, and lived in a mobile home while building a new house on 186 acres of land seventeen miles outside of town. Sandra debunked stories that the house was alarmed like a fortress — there were no alarms, and they never locked the doors.

***

In January 1978, Rita had her first son, Morales’s first grandchild. They went to Wilcox to see him in March, and after the trip, Rita told her sisters he wouldn’t live much longer. He was coughing badly, smoked a couple of packs a day, “drank horribly” (he was an alcoholic), and “ate terribly.”

Morales finally died in May 1978 of a massive heart attack brought on by his alcoholism and an existing heart condition. His daughters emphatically stated that his death was not suspicious. An autopsy requested by Sandra showed that one of his ventricles was enlarged.

***

“The company” contacted the family in the “eighties or nineties” to ask if they could publicly release Morales’s personnel file, but the family had a meeting and said no, because all their names were in the file. Many of Morales’s records were finally released in the late nineties under the JFK Records Act.

***

When it came to the man at the Ambassador, both daughters were clear. They did not think it was their father.

Rita thought her father was more broad-shouldered than the guy in the video and had a very dark complexion, with stronger Indian features. The man at the Ambassador looked African American to her, with a “cafe au lait complexion” and a higher hairline. “My father always had a full head of hair; it never even thinned before he died. It was gray when he came back from Vietnam but black before then, and he always wore a heavy mustache.”

Sandra also pointed out noticeable differences: “The way he turned his head doesn’t look like my father. He has a pointier nose, he’s younger, and the bottom of his face is different. My father had broad, full lips; a broad nose, almost flat, and was very dark skinned, darker than the guy in the video.” She thought the man at the Ambassador looked like a light-skinned black man. Her father was five-eleven but this guy was taller, and by 1968, her father had salt-and-pepper hair and a heavy “walrus” mustache.

I had expected Morales’s daughters to be defensive, but they weren’t that way at all. Rita had done a lot of research on her father, and both daughters were familiar with Gaeton Fonzi’s book The Last Investigation. “He may have done a lot of stuff I don’t want to know about, but those were the times,” Rita said. But she was annoyed at the legends that have grown up around her father. She said Ruben Carbajal was “full of shit and delusional — he and my father were so drunk, they could have been saying anything.” Her mother was now in her eighties — “she has good days and bad days but generally she doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t think she’d talk to you.”

When we spoke, Rita’s son — the grandson Morales saw before his death — was now grown up and preparing to ship out to Iraq. He’d inherited his grandfather’s intelligence and personality, she said. He’d watched my BBC story on the Internet and said it didn’t look like his grandfather.

***

When Sandra first met David Talbot, she showed him a family photo taken in Laos during the year after the RFK assassination. It convinced Talbot and his assistant that “the Morales in the picture (who looks very similar to other published photos of Morales) is not the Ambassador man.” But Sandra didn’t want to release a family photo to the media or get involved, so I had to take David’s word for it.

The mixed evidence he found on his trip led the New Yorker to pass on the story. Talbot concluded, “I still wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out there was an intelligence operation at the Ambassador that night. It just needs a lot more reporting to pin it down. And unfortunately, as is often the case on Kennedy investigations, Jeff and I ran out our thread. I do believe that Morales probably played some role in the RFK killing (and certainly did in the JFK plot). But the Ambassador photo story, to me, is a blind alley.”

***

A couple of months later, after my discussion with Sandra, she realized the importance of photographs of her father in laying the story to rest. She didn’t want to release the family photo but found three others from the same time period and sent them to me and David. One was a tourist snapshot taken in Cuzco, Peru, in 1966 or 1967, Sandra thought. It shows an overweight Morales with a mustache, salt-and-pepper hair, and a high hairline.

The two other photographs were from Morales’s tour in Vietnam (1969-1971), three or four years later. Morales wears a bolo and has radically slimmed down.

The flat, distinctive nose and high hairline are the consistent features across these photographs, but if you weren’t looking for a match, the Morales in Peru and the Morales in Vietnam seem like two different people. It’s quite bizarre how Morales seems to have changed so much from one year to the next.

When I compared these photographs to the video of the man at the Ambassador, my gut reaction was the same as Talbot’s. It didn’t seem to be the same person.

But when I sent these new photographs to Bradley Ayers and Wayne Smith, it merely reinforced their previous identifications. They accepted that these were authentic pictures of Morales yet were equally sure he was the man at the Ambassador.

***

I was subsequently contacted by Morales’s son, Frank (a pseudonym) who had seen my film on YouTube: “My initial impression is the person you identify as my father is not him, the gentleman seems to have a lighter skin complexion, his hair does not seem to match nor his facial features. His build is also not heavy enough to match my father’s during that time period … I would like to assist you in your quest for the facts, to include providing you photos of my father during that time period.”

When I sent Frank a DVD of the video clips of his father, it confirmed his initial impression: “It is not my father. I believe the person shown is of African-American heritage, he seems to have short curly hair, my father’s hair was wavy. Also the depicted individual has a smaller chin and a lighter complexion than my father. He seems taller than my father, who was 5ft 11-1/2 inches, and that person has a smaller build than my father.”

***

Photo identification is notoriously difficult, and obviously I never met David Morales. These images are of insufficient quality for biometric testing, so it comes down to a judgment call. While I have great respect for the identifications of Ayers and Smith, when I look at the photographs objectively, the man in the photo at the Ambassador seems to me a different person from the man in the photos provided by the Morales family. It can be argued that his family and former colleagues have a vested interest in protecting his name, but my sense from the family, Manny Chavez, Luis Rodriguez, Ed Wilson, and, even now, perhaps Ruben Carbajal, is that they were giving me their honest opinion.

But while I may have misidentified David Morales in the video, that does not mean he wasn’t at the Ambassador Hotel. I simply identified a different person. While I greatly appreciate the openness and wealth of biographical detail shared by the Morales family, they couldn’t account for their father’s whereabouts on June 4-5, 1968, and the CIA has declined to provide Morales’s travel records.

The fact remains: Morales said he was in Los Angeles the night Bobby Kennedy was shot. Bob and Florene Walton heard him implicate himself in the shooting, and Ruben Carbajal’s suggestion that he was visiting his daughter was clearly not correct. But where do you go with that?

***

When Sandra changed her mind and released the photos, she asked that they not be attributed to the family because “that would start other stories.” Unfortunately, when Talbot and Morley published them online in July 2007 in an article detailing their investigation, they credited Morales’s daughters.

The same article also saw the release of the first alleged photos of Joannides. Two prints showed him at a CIA party in Saigon in June 1973, five years after the assassination and before he met Lopez and Hardway.

Morley noted, “Joannides wears glasses as did the man in the BBC report, but he has a more pointed jaw, larger ears, a different hairline, and a more olive complexion. The CIA declined to release Joannides’ travel records. Most likely, he was in Athens in June 1968.”

But when I showed the new photos to Dan Hardway, his view remained unchanged. He found the two sets of photos compatible with each other and the man he knew in 1978. He’d still be surprised if the man at the Ambassador wasn’t Joannides. Ed Lopez didn’t know what to think as he tried to reconcile two images of a man he knew thirty years before.

***

While the Morales ID was in grave doubt and the Joannides ID was under question, very little had emerged regarding Gordon Campbell. Rudy Enders had told me he died of a massive heart attack in 1962, and now another JMWAVE officer, Mickey Kappes, told David Talbot the same story. I knew that Kappes and Enders were neighbors in Florida — was this a “red herring”?

No, it seemed legitimate. Jeff Morley dug up a Miami Herald obituary from September 21, 1962, for a Colonel Gordon S. Campbell, a World War II veteran who moved to Miami from Washington twenty years earlier and was a maritime consultant. He was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This was the same man I’d previously found listed in the Miami phone book.

Enders said Campbell was “a yachtsman and army colonel who served as a contract agent helping the agency ferry anti-Castro guerrillas across the straits of Florida …. I was right there when he died,” he told Morley. “He was getting a drink at the drinking fountain [at JMWAVE]…. He stood up and started shaking, and he collapsed and we tried to revive him. We gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation and it just didn’t work. It was a real bad heart attack.”

Campbell’s death certificate, which identified him as a “maritime adviser,” states that he passed away on September 19, 1962. Morley and Talbot concluded, “He could not have been at the scene of Bobby’s Kennedy’s assassination on June 5, 1968, because he died in 1962.”

***

But this was an extraordinarily pat statement. Consider the facts: Colonel Gordon S. Campbell died in September 1962 at JMWAVE in Miami at the age of fifty-seven. In the summer and fall of 1963, Bradley Ayers worked closely with a man who introduced himself as “Gordon Campbell,” as meticulously detailed in his book. This man was forty years old and could not have been fifty-seven, according to Brad. He was known around the station as “Gordon Campbell” and was the man Ayers later recognized at the Ambassador.

What’s so strange about this is that while Campbell supposedly died before Bradley Ayers arrived in Miami and was much older than the man Ayers knew, the profile in the obituary — a maritime consultant — fits the man Ayers knew precisely.

Why had Tom Clines told me that after JMWAVE, Campbell was sent to Canada to act as the CIA liaison there? Neither he nor Grayston Lynch mentioned anything about Campbell dying of a massive heart attack in 1962 — something you might expect regulars at the station to remember.

Had Bradley Ayers fabricated his entire association with Campbell, as first published in 1976, predating my investigation by thirty years? If he was going to invent a case officer for his book, why choose a guy who had died of a massive heart attack the year before he arrived?

It didn’t make sense. The possibility that Ayers had invented his “Gordon Campbell” seemed highly unlikely, since so much of his book had been authenticated over the years. Ted Shackley, Tom Clines, and official CIA records all confirmed his service at JMWAVE.

Perhaps there were two Gordon Campbells. Or perhaps the dead man’s name was used as a cover identity by the man Ayers knew, as was common at the agency. Either way, I needed to find out if the man Brad knew at JMWAVE was really the man at the Ambassador.

***

I went back to the new sightings of “Campbell” in the footage located by Brad Johnson.

At 11:29 p.m., a burly man in a mustard-colored coat called out “Mike,” and “Campbell” joined a group at the back of the ballroom, shaking hands, laughing, and apparently gesturing at the TV cameras behind him. At 11:52, Campbell walked toward the exit with a colleague, but he was back among the same group at the back of the ballroom as Kennedy made his speech.

As Kennedy left the stage, the crowd began to disperse, and a minute or so later, Kennedy was shot. As cries from the pantry ignited panic in the Embassy Ballroom, we see “Campbell” walk forward from the back of the room toward the commotion. It’s clear he was not coming from the pantry but had been watching the speech from the back of the ballroom. The Latin man with the mustache had also been watching the speech, a little closer to the stage. When I obtained a new, clean transfer of the original “Campbell” footage, it was also clear that he was holding his right hand across his chest as he walked through the room but his hands were empty. There was no container and no disguised weapon. Why he held his hand across his chest and why the Latin man was waving toward an exit remain a mystery.

At 12:52 a.m., “Campbell” was still in the Embassy Ballroom, listening to interviews with witnesses Booker Griffin, Kristi Witker, and Cap Hardy.

***

When I showed Bradley Ayers this footage, it reinforced his identification of Campbell. The stance, bearing, behavior, and facial expressions all called to mind the man he knew at JMWAVE. While to me Campbell seemed jovial and at ease, Brad read him as nervous, in anticipation of something.

But who was the group with Campbell? Why the seemingly jovial mood? I had seen this group before in a photograph taken just before Kennedy’s speech and included in the police investigation files. The LAPD had circled a number of these men and written their names on the back of the photograph.

A man similar to “Campbell” was shown in profile, but his hairline seemed a little different, and at first I disregarded him. Seeing “Campbell” in this new footage, I realized this was also him in the police photograph.

The LAPD identified him as Michael Roman, and the burly companion who called out “Mike” was his brother Charles. The group were salesmen for the Bulova Watch Company, attending a regional sales conference at the hotel from Monday, June 3, to Thursday, June 6. Twenty-three Bulova guests were registered at the hotel, the largest corporate group in residence. Michael D. Roman, it turned out, was vice president and national sales manager of Bulova.

***

Roman was finally interviewed by the FBI on November 26 while attending a seminar at Harvard: “He stated that he was in the Embassy Room at the hotel around midnight [during the speech and] remained in the room when Kennedy and a group departed and went through the kitchen area. Roman stated he heard the shooting and was subsequently advised Kennedy had been shot. Roman had never seen Sirhan previously, and had no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the shooting.”

The weekend after the assassination, Roman was in Chicago for a divisional meeting, giving sales tips to the Chicago Times. According to an article in the Business section, he commanded an ad budget set to rise to seven million dollars.

Was Roman a legitimate businessman, crisscrossing the country to regional sales meetings and by chance winding up at the Ambassador? Or were Roman and Campbell the same person? Sales manager at Bulova was an ideal cover identity — the sales convention gave him every reason to be at the hotel in the days leading up to the shooting.

***

I started to research Michael D. Roman, immediately coming across his obituary. He shared a birthday with Robert Kennedy — born on November 20, 1918, and died suddenly on December 22, 2002.

The New York Times turned up several articles on Roman, the most interesting dated August 3, 1964. Under the headline “Vice President Named by Bulova Watch Co.” appeared a photograph of Michael D. Roman, instantly recognizable as the man at the Ambassador: “The election of Michael D. Roman as a vice president of the Bulova Watch Company was announced over the weekend by Gen. Omar N. Bradley, chairman of the watch manufacturer.”

***

Roman’s promotion was announced by General Omar Bradley? Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley were the only surviving five-star generals in the army. Campbell was working for Bradley, for a watch company that was having its sales conference at the hotel where Kennedy would be assassinated? It boggled the mind.

***

In Bradley’s autobiography, A General’s Life, he told how his connection to Bulova started. For two years after the war, Bradley was head of the Veterans Administration and took a special interest in the highly successful Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking, which provided free training for disabled veterans, and guaranteed work placements at American jewelry stores.

Bradley visited the school often and became close friends with founder Arde Bulova and his brother-in-law, Harry D. Henshel, who was vice chairman of the company and had received a Bronze Star for organizing the airlift of supplies for Bradley during the Battle of the Bulge.

In 1949, Bradley became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stepping down in August 1953 to become chairman of Bulova Research and Development Laboratories, a subsidiary of the Bulova Watch Company devoted to the development of precision defense items.

Bulova had just built a state-of-the-art ten-million-dollar factory in Jackson Heights, Queens, focused on secret defense research. Bradley would advise Bulova scientists on military needs, and while Bulova continued to make jeweled watches, clocks, and radios, defense work accounted for 40 percent of sales. When Arde Bulova died in 1958, Bradley was named chairman of the Bulova Watch Company, and in fiscal 1959 the company delivered “more than twenty million dollars in defense items to the armed forces on sales of fifty-eight million dollars.”

***

Over the next eight years, Bradley helped the company double annual sales, lobbying the Senate Armed Services Committee to maintain tariffs on watch imports so that the United States would not become “the only major power without a watch manufacturing industry.” He argued that the watch industry was essential to national security and made significant contributions to national defense and space technology.

In the summer of 1967, Bradley went to Vietnam on assignment for Look magazine to report on the war. After a two-week tour of the battlefront, Bradley was convinced that Vietnam was “a war at the right place, at the right time and with the right enemy — the Communists.”

After a winter at the races in Southern California, he bought a new custom-designed home on a hilltop in Beverly Hills and was one of the “Wise Men” advising Johnson on his war strategy through the spring of 1968. Bradley’s diaries at West Point show that he traveled to the Bulova offices in New York on May 31, 1968 and returned to California on the evening of June 6.

I don’t associate a much-loved war hero with a political assassination lightly, but if Campbell was operating undercover as Michael D. Roman, Bradley was a powerful connection.

***

The problem was that Michael D. Roman seems to have been too busy selling watches to take on extra work for the CIA. He’d worked his way up through the jewelry industry since his days carrying sample bags for the Gruen Watch Company in Chicago in 1936, at age seventeen. After military service in World War II, he became Midwest sales manager for the company before joining Bulova in the early sixties.

In 1976, Roman became chairman and executive director of the Retail Jewelers of America, the national trade association for the industry. On his retirement in 1995, he was hailed as “a giant in our industry” and, shortly before his death, was honored by the American Gem Society with a Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the industry’s highest honors.
 

***

Michael Roman’s son was quite surprised to receive my call but extremely open and cooperative. I was making a film on Robert Kennedy, I said, and had been told his father may have worked for U.S. intelligence. At first, he thought I had the wrong person. Michael D. Roman of Bulova? Oh, yes, that was his father all right, but working for the CIA? “That’s a new one on me.”

His father had told him he was at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was shot and that the CIA interviewed him afterward (actually, it was the FBI). But he had no knowledge that his father had ever done intelligence work.

“Although it is exciting to think my father had a double identity,” he wrote later in an e-mail, “in checking with my mother and sisters, no one had any suspicions that my father was something else besides a businessman. Both my mother and I recall the circumstances of him being in the same hotel as Robert Kennedy — that being a sales meeting for the Bulova Watch Company …. I can only assume, with our family’s association with his co-workers over the years and his awards from the industry, that he did work at his vocation full-time. Thus, I suggest that Mr. Ayers is mistaken in his identification.”

Roman’s son graciously allowed me to e-mail him the ballroom photographs and he shared them with the family. At first, Roman wasn’t sure the bald man was his father. One sister said he looked gaunt, but another said it was definitely him, and the rest of the family soon agreed. One sister had worked alongside her father for some time and dismissed the idea that he could have been a high-ranking executive while also a spy as ludicrous.

The Roman family also recognized the figure of “Joannides” in the photographs: “Both my sister and mother confirm the darker-haired man (looks a bit like Henry Kissinger) is Frank Owens. He died a number of years ago and his wife may also have passed away or is at a care facility…. “

***

Owens was a regional sales manager for Michael Roman, and seems to match a “Frank S. Owen” from New York interviewed by the FBI on October 21. Owen registered at the Ambassador on June 4, listened to Kennedy’s speech in the Embassy Ballroom, and remained there during the shooting.

I made a follow-up call to Roman a few weeks later. He had searched for “Gordon Campbell” on the Internet and was curious about the controversies in the case. I ran him through the history and significance of these new characters — Bradley Ayers, his relationship with Campbell, and Brad’s belief that Michael D. Roman was a “dead ringer” for Campbell.

The key point I took from our conversation was that Roman’s son was in high school in 1963 and didn’t remember his father being away for any length of time. His father was working in New York and living with the family in Connecticut, so the idea that he was living on a houseboat in Miami, conducting a secret war on Castro, seemed impossible.

***

Did Roman and Owens lead double lives as CIA operatives Gordon Campbell and George Joannides? It seems highly unlikely. The identification of the “Joannides” figure in the photograph as Roman’s colleague Frank Owens seems to drain away any remaining possibility that the two men standing in the ballroom were once colleagues at JMWAVE.

I now believe the Campbell and Joannides identifications are, most likely, a case of mistaken identity. Of course, it bothers me that of all companies to have a sales convention at the Ambassador Hotel that day, it would be Bulova, headed by the most senior army general in the nation. But coincidence does not always mean conspiracy, and once more, the search for possible accomplices left me chasing shadows.

Triptych of David Morales in Havana, 1959, and in Vietnam, 1969-1971.

George Joannides, Saigon, 1973.

 

 WHO KILLED ROBERT F. KENNEDY
 BUSH SR.
NINETEEN: What Really Happened?

Sirhan is guilty. Sirhan said he was guilty. If he isn’t guilty, it’s the sweetest frame in the world.
— John Howard, Sirhan prosecutor

As evidence of CIA suspects at the hotel began to unravel, something extraordinary happened, and, again, American journalist Brad Johnson was behind it.

In spring 2004, as I was still writing my screenplay, Brad was listening to a little-known audiotape of the shooting that had been largely overlooked for nearly forty years. The audiotape ran about thirty minutes and the quality of the recording was poor, but in the crucial five seconds of gunfire, Brad was sure he heard more than eight shots.

The audiotape had been recorded on a hot new item in the summer of 1968 — a battery-operated portable cassette recorder. Its proud owner was Stanislaw “Stas” Pruszynski, a Polish reporter living in Canada who had taken a sabbatical from the Montreal Gazette to cover the presidential race for a book on U.S. politics. Attaching a microphone to his recorder, Pruszynski taped Kennedy’s speech, gathering quotes he could transcribe later for his book.

In September 2004, Brad traced Pruszynski to Warsaw, where he was now a well-known cafe owner, and got some background on Pruszynski’s whereabouts at the time of the shooting and how the recording was made. In spring 2005, Brad contacted Phil Van Praag, an electrical engineer with thirty-five years’ experience in the audio industry and the author of a seminal textbook on sound recorders.

“The very first time I heard it,” recalled Van Praag, “I was not impressed at all, but I thought, ‘I’ll take this back with me and just put it on my instruments and just see what’s there.’ And when I did that, the spark was ignited.”

***

On June 6, 2007, the Discovery Times Channel aired the one-hour special Conspiracy Test: The RFK Assassination, the centerpiece of which was an examination of the never-before-broadcast Pruszynski recording by Van Praag and several other audio experts, which provided startling new evidence of a second gun.

The producers visited Pruszynski in Warsaw to authenticate the recording, and he identified himself in footage at the hotel. He described how after the Kennedy party left the stage, he stooped down to pick up his recorder from the west side of the podium, gathered up his microphone, and walked across the stage toward the pantry. As he walked down three steps on the east side of the stage, the first two shots were fired.

At this moment, Pruszynski was about forty feet southwest of where Kennedy was standing, and unaware that his tape recorder was still recording. His mic was pointed upward in his direction of travel, toward the pantry. Two sets of open doors allowed the sounds of shots to carry to his microphone, and the sounds of these shots got louder as Pruszynski moved through the door at the east end of the stage and into the backstage corridor that led into the pantry.

The resulting tape is the only known audio recording of the shooting of Robert Kennedy — not that Pruszynski realized this at the time. There were so many radio and TV reporters there that night, he never thought the shots on his tape were anything special. But it turned out everybody else had stopped recording after the speech. Reporter Andy West and Don Schulman’s interviewer Jeff Brent switched on their recorders again only after the shots were fired. Pruszynski never followed the controversies in the case and eventually left journalism and returned to Poland after the fall of the Soviet bloc.

***

The LAPD didn’t ask Pruszynski for his tape on the night of the shooting, and he went back to Canada. Later, however, American friends who’d been with him at the hotel told authorities about the recording. In early 1969, the FBI asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to interview Pruszynski in Montreal. A reel-to-reel dub of the recording was sent to the FBI, and they forwarded it to their lab in Washington for analysis. Pruszynski kept the original.

With the limited technology available back then, the FBI concluded there was nothing of investigative value on the tape but did send copies to their Los Angeles office and the LAPD. The police never examined the recording but, unlike other evidence, managed not to destroy it, and it was among materials transferred to the California State Archives in 1988. It sat there, relatively unnoticed, for another sixteen years until Brad’s discovery.

***

In September 2005, with Brad’s assistance, Van Praag convinced the director of the California State Archives to let him make high-quality copies of the CSA’s open-reel dub of the Pruszynski recording. Van Praag played back the tape once, making five simultaneous recordings of the tape on five different recorders, both analog and digital, to gain as many perspectives on the audio as possible.

Van Praag believes the California State Archives dub is a fourth- or fifth-generation copy. The original is missing, believed lost by Pruszynski.

Van Praag then spent months analyzing his recordings with different types of decks, electronic recording equipment, and computer programs back at his laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. He knew that Sirhan’s gun held eight bullets and he didn’t reload, so more than eight shots would mean a second gun was fired in the pantry.

Through careful and meticulous analysis of the five second sequence of shots, Van Praag made two sets of startling discoveries: “I have located approximately thirteen shot sounds,” he said. “Now, I cannot absolutely guarantee that thirteen is the correct number. However, it’s greater than eight; I can certainly say that.”

Logically, a second weapon would not fire in perfect synchronization with the first, so Van Praag next looked at the detailed intervals between the shot sounds.

“Within the thirteen captured shot sounds, there are a couple of instances of what I call ‘double-shots’ — two shots that occur so closely together … they couldn’t really have come from a single weapon. It simply isn’t possible to fire a weapon that fast.” Sirhan didn’t have two guns, so this again clearly pointed to a second gunman.

Van Praag located these “double-shot sound intervals” between shots three and four and shots seven and eight. One second comprises 1,000 milliseconds, and Van Praag measured one of these “double-shot” intervals as 120 milliseconds, just over a tenth of a second.

The Discovery Times producers then hired firearms expert Phil Spangenburger to do a test with the same .22-caliber Iver Johnson Cadet model revolver Sirhan had used. Firing off eight shots as fast as he could, Spangenburger’s best time was 2.93 seconds, averaging 366 milliseconds between shots. When he tried to fire two shots as fast as he could, the interval was 550 milliseconds.

***

The producers then sought a second opinion from forensic audio specialists Audio Engineering Associates in Pasadena, just two miles from the Sirhan family home. Van Praag brought along his master recordings and the machines on which they were recorded, “to present as accurate a reproduction of those recordings as possible.”

Company owner Wes Dooley, a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners, examined the recording for a couple of days with his associate Paul Pegas. They independently concluded that there were at least ten “shot sounds” on the recording, including one “double shot.”

Dooley sent a digital dub of the Pruszynski recording to Eddie Brixson, a forensic audio and ballistics expert in Denmark. He also confirmed at least ten gunshots, including a “double shot” interval between shots six and seven.

Van Praag had previously explored whether the second shot sound in the “double shots” could be an echo or a ricochet, pinging off a door frame or the ceiling. He ruled both out and Dooley agreed, reasoning that a .22-caliber bullet travels at a thousand feet per second, similar to the speed of sound, “so if it’s twenty feet from one side of the room to the other, that’s only twenty milliseconds, so I’d say this is not a ricochet; this seems to be another shot.”

***

The shots also had an interesting pattern. There were two shots, then a second-and-a-half pause, then the rest of the shots in a fairly brisk cadence at intervals of a third of a second or half a second, except for the double shots. This seemed to fit witness descriptions of two shots, then a pause, then a barrage. It also echoed Karl Uecker’s claim that he grabbed Sirhan’s hand after the first two shots and had pushed him away, when the shooting started again.

What this seemed to indicate was that Sirhan started firing, his gun arm was diverted by Uecker after the second shot, and then the “double shots” and “extra shots” started as a second gun began firing from behind and to the right of Kennedy.

There was a dissenting opinion from Phillip Harrison, an English forensic audio expert who had examined the recording for author Mel Ayton, unaware of the other tests and before the Discovery Times program aired. Harrison found only seven shots on the Pruszynski recording, with possible locations for an eighth shot that weren’t clear. The problem was that once again, Ayton had not researched the recording properly.

Ayton had provided Harrison with a copy of one of Van Praag’s new master dubs, without giving him the necessary context in which the recording was made. He wasn’t told the location of Pruszynski’s microphone and how it was moving closer to the pantry as the shots were fired, information that is critical to an accurate analysis of the recording.

***

Van Praag continues to examine the recording for further layers of insight into what happened in the pantry during those crucial five seconds, and he was to present his findings to the sixtieth-anniversary scientific meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Washington, DC, in late February 2008.

But thanks to his pioneering work, and Brad’s relentless journalism, we have, for the first time, independent, stand-alone forensic evidence to establish a second shooter in the pantry.

“There’s a lot of conjecture, and there always will be, as to how many shots were fired,” said Van Praag. “However, there had to have been more than one weapon involved.”

***

We no longer need to rely on extra bullet holes in the pantry door frames and ceiling panels — evidence the LAPD destroyed before Sirhan’s appeal. We no longer need to visualize Sirhan’s gymnastics as he somehow managed to fire into Kennedy’s suit coat at an upward angle of eighty degrees.

We have a new paradigm, based on a high degree of scientific probability, that two guns were fired that night. We can now go back to the two firing positions William Harper first described in 1970: Firing Position A, several feet in front of Kennedy, from where Sirhan missed the senator but hit the rest of the shooting victims; and Firing Position B, behind and to the right of the senator, from where a second gunman fired the shots that hit Kennedy.

An analysis of the sequence of shots suggests the second-and-a-half pause after the first two shots gave Uecker reaction time to lunge at Sirhan and grab his gun hand. Eddie Minasian saw Paul Schrade fall first, and Kennedy asked, “Is Paul okay?” suggesting that Schrade was hit with Sirhan’s first shot and that his second hit Kennedy. Sirhan’s arm was then diverted away, and between shots three and four, Van Praag found the first “double shot interval.” From this we can infer that Sirhan got off another shot before or just after Uecker grabbed his hand; then the second gunman started firing.

In October 1993, Dan Moldea interviewed coroner Thomas Noguchi about the sequence of Kennedy’s wounds. “The injury to the back of the right ear … would render him helpless. Kennedy could not be standing if he had such an injury. He would collapse to the floor …. The bullet from the .22 had a great deal of power. Striking the hard bone and the bone shattering would have taken him off his feet …. That means the other shots must have been prior to the senator collapsing.”

How did Noguchi explain Kennedy’s raised arm at the time of the other three shots? “Kennedy could have been waving his arm to guard off from an oncoming assailant … or he could have just heard the gunfire and then raised his right arm, whereby his shoulder pad was raised and the bullet went through, not striking his body.” Either he saw the gun, raised his arm, and ducked, or heard the first shot hit Paul Schrade behind him.

Noguchi concluded that the sequence was as follows: “The shoulder pad shot as he was raising his arm, the two shots to his right armpit … and, lastly, the shot to the mastoid …. In other words, the nonfatal wounds first and then the fatal wound.”

Noguchi thus described the fifth shot as the one that killed Kennedy. If Uecker was correct in saying that he grabbed Sirhan’s hand after the second shot, how could the fatal shot have been fired by Sirhan?

***

This new audio evidence seems to vindicate key eyewitnesses like Kennedy aides Paul Schrade and Frank Burns, TV producer Richard Lubic, and photographer Evan Freed. For forty years, they have all insisted that Sirhan never got close enough to fire the fatal shot described in the autopsy. Yet they were never asked about this at trial. Even witness Vincent Di Pierro, who thinks Sirhan acted alone, provided further evidence of extra bullet holes with the orange turtleneck suppressed by prosecutor John Howard.

But there are still other questions to be resolved. Sirhan fired eight shots and Kennedy was hit three times, with a fourth bullet passing clean through his shoulder pad. If Van Praag’s thirteen shots are correct, Harper’s firing positions make sense. The second gunman fired five times, accounting for Kennedy’s three wounds and the shot through his shoulder pad.

But if there are only ten “shot sounds,” as two of the audio experts say, the second shooter fired only twice, so Sirhan must be responsible for two of the shots fired within an inch of Kennedy. Which two? The two armpit shots were fired at almost contact distance an inch apart, so these must have been fired by the same shooter. The shot through the shoulder pad was from a similar firing position and even steeper trajectory, but the fatal shot came from a much shallower angle.

It’s possible, then, that Sirhan hit Kennedy under the armpit while a second gunman fired the fifth and fatal shot that killed the senator. But if any of Sirhan’s bullets hit Kennedy, it would prove he had come within an inch of the senator, contrary to what the witnesses saw.

We must also remember that the firearms panel examiners in 1975 concluded that the Kennedy neck bullet, the Goldstein bullet, and the Weisel bullet all came from the same gun. Goldstein and Weisel were clearly in Sirhan’s line of fire, so Sirhan may well have hit Kennedy under the armpit before a second gunman applied the fatal shot just behind Kennedy’s right ear. But how two gunmen could get so close to the senator without anybody seeing them is a mystery. While this new forensic evidence is extremely exciting, there is still much work to be done.

***

Two guns would further implicate the LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division in a cover-up. If at least ten shots were fired, it’s likely the two extra bullets were, indeed, those reportedly retrieved from the center divider between the swinging doors of the pantry. Where did these bullets go? Two spent slugs with wood tracings were discovered under a newspaper on the front seat of Sirhan’s car almost twenty-four hours after the shooting. Were they planted there, or did Wolfer just get rid of them? DeWayne Wolfer and his colleague, William Lee, both now retired, should be called to testify.

***

If, as now seems likely, there were coconspirators, who were they? I thought my CIA suspects provided the answer, but while my original confidence in their identifications has slipped away, the “Morales” figure in the video still troubles me. If he’s not Morales, who is he? He seems to be there in some sort of law enforcement capacity, yet we’re told there were no police or other agencies present at the hotel at the time of the shooting. Who is his companion with the pencil mustache? What agency were they working for? And why does “Morales” emerge from the pantry with police investigators forty minutes after the shooting?

Serious questions also remain regarding the recruitment of Pena and Hernandez to marshal case preparation, conspiracy allegations, and the background of the Sirhan family — the three crucial areas that backstopped conspiracy. The connections to the Office of Public Safety here are alarming. Given Morales’s high profile in Latin American operations at the time, it’s quite possible he came into contact with the Hispanic LAPD officers, either on assignment in South America or at the International Police Academy in Washington.

The main suspect for a second gun over the years has been security guard Thane Cesar. He currently lives in the Philippines and has never been called to testify under oath. A new inquiry could also seek testimony from Sergeant Paul Sharaga and Sandra Serrano, who are still around to testify to the girl in the polka-dot dress.

***

If there were two guns, where does this leave Sirhan? Dan Moldea once asked him if he was part of a conspiracy.

“Do you think I would conceal anything about someone else’s involvement and face the gas chamber in the most literal sense?” replied Sirhan. “I have no knowledge of a conspiracy …. I wish there had been a conspiracy. It would have unraveled before now.”

“Why don’t you just accept responsibility for this crime?” Moldea asked.

“It would be a hell of a burden to live with — having taken a human life without knowing it…. It’s not in my mind, but I’m not denying it. I must have been there, but I can’t reconstruct it mentally.”

Sirhan clearly was not aware of any conspiracy. There is also nothing to indicate he was paid to kill Kennedy, and he has consistently stated he acted alone. The “Please pay to the order of” in his notebook is probably Sirhan daydreaming of the belated insurance check he would receive for his injuries after the fall from the horse. It’s curious that Sirhan’s choice of the crowded pantry also gave him very little hope of getting away.

***

So the choice to the reader seems a simple one: either Sirhan consciously premeditated the murder of Bobby Kennedy in cold blood and has lied about it ever since, fooling highly experienced psychiatrists and his defense team with a seamless, unerring performance over forty years; or he honestly does not remember shooting Kennedy due to spontaneous amnesia, caused either by the trauma of the shooting or a memory block initiated by an unknown programmer.

Our view of the case boils down to whether we believe Sirhan when he says he doesn’t remember the shooting or the writing in his notebooks. If we don’t believe him, we simply accept the cold-blooded murderer portrayed by the prosecution and discount the near unanimity of the psychiatrists who said he was a paranoid schizophrenic with diminished capacity. But we must also ask why an assassin who sacrificed his freedom for his country chose to remain anonymous while in custody and didn’t proclaim his cause until the middle of the trial eight months later.

***

I have tried to quote Sirhan himself at great length in this book — his interviews in custody, the psychiatric sessions, both in and out of hypnosis, his volatile court testimony, and his interviews with Jack Perkins, William Klaber, and Dan Moldea — because listening to Sirhan speak about this case, both in and out of hypnosis, is the most persuasive evidence to me that he had no conscious awareness of committing the assassination.

This view is shared by the two men closest to Sirhan as he struggled to recover his memory of the shooting — Dr. Diamond and Robert Blair Kaiser. Diamond believed Sirhan was in a dissociated trance state induced by the mirrors at the hotel, and programmed himself to shoot Robert Kennedy. He was extremely brave in calling it as he saw it and risking his professional reputation with a theory so “preposterous, unlikely and incredible.”

While Dr. Spiegel contested his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, Diamond’s sense that Sirhan had been programmed proved prescient in light of later revelations about the CIA’s “preposterous, unlikely and incredible” MKULTRA program. If Diamond had known of such CIA testing in 1969, he might have placed more stock in the idea of an outside programmer.
 

Harold Blauer (1910 – January 8, 1953) was an American tennis player who died as a result of injections of a mescaline derivative (code-named EA-1298) as part of Project MKULTRA, a covert CIA mind-control and chemical interrogation research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Blauer had no knowledge of the experiment being performed on him, and after his death the experiment was covered up by the state of New York, U.S. Government, and the CIA for 22 years.Blauer was voluntarily admitted to the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) in December 1952 to be treated for depression following a divorce. Blauer was then taken from his room and told he would be receiving an injection. He demurred at first, but agreed reluctantly after being told it was a treatment for his depression. After this and the next three injections, Blauer told medical staff that he did not want any more treatment because of the negative reactions he was experiencing. However, he was convinced after each injection to continue treatment after being threatened with commitment to a mental asylum.In reality, Blauer’s treatment was administered as a part of the top-secret army-funded Project Pelican, a part of Project MKULTRA. It was overseen by Dr. Paul H. Hoch, the director of experimental psychiatry at the NYSPI. Hoch secretly was collaborating with Dr. Amadeo Marrazzi, the chief of clinical research at the Army Chemical Corps. Fort Detrick’s Special Operations Division had made secret contacts with the NYSPI in order to develop biological weapons that could cause a range of effects from minor disablement to longer incapacitation and death. Blauer was unwittingly chosen as a test subject for one of these biological weapons.Blauer’s fifth injection was 16 times stronger than any of the previous ones. After receiving it, his body stiffened, his eyes rolled, and he frothed at the mouth while his teeth clenched for two hours. Finally, he collapsed in a coma and died. His death certificate cited his death as “coronary arteriosclerosis; sudden death after intravenous injection of a mescaline derivative,” caused by a preexisting heart condition.— Harold Blauer, by the full wiki


While some of Sirhan’s evasions give him pause, Bob Kaiser still holds it “a 95 percent certainty” that Sirhan was a programmed assassin. “Not completely, because of certain things that Sirhan told me that implied that he knew more than he was telling us, but the fact that so many years have passed and he’s stuck to that story lead me to think that he really didn’t remember shooting Robert Kennedy, that he probably killed Kennedy in a trance and was programmed to forget that he’d done it and programmed to forget the names and identities of others who might have helped him do it.”

***

Kaiser’s position is similar to my own. I also can’t say with one hundred percent certainty that I believe Sirhan. I still have qualms about the notebook; I find it hard to believe that Sirhan did not read back through it at some point in a conscious state unless his writing was controlled completely by programmers. He has also been evasive regarding his movements on June 3, and occasionally a voice in the back of my head tells me Sirhan acted alone and has been tricking us all along (the seed of doubt that grew and eventually swayed Dan Moldea).

But what made Moldea’s attempted ambush so unconvincing was the unblinking response of Sirhan, so consistent in his story over forty years. For all the outbursts during his trial, no evidence has emerged to indicate that he does remember the shooting.

I don’t believe Sirhan made the incriminating comment to McCowan and, even if he did, it could just as easily be dismissed as braggadocio. Kaiser, Diamond, and Simson are more reliable witnesses, and they all believe Sirhan regarding his memory block. Diamond and Spiegel described Sirhan’s behavior in custody as typical of a dissociated state and felt his post-rationalization regarding the bombers had a “canned” feel, providing a heroic rationale for actions Sirhan clearly couldn’t understand.

***

Now that the fortieth anniversary of the RFK assassination is upon us, the overriding question we’re left with is: Is Sirhan’s conviction just? Is he guilty of first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt? To me, the answer is a resounding “no,” and, in light of the new audio evidence, this case should be reopened. This is not ancient history. Sirhan is still in prison and will stay there until he dies, unless changes in public opinion alter political perceptions of this case. I hope the evidence presented here gives you everything you need to make up your own mind.

***

We must also ask if Sirhan got a fair trial. I don’t believe he did. Grant Cooper did a terrible job as his defense attorney, while reminding Sirhan throughout the trial how much his time was worth on the open market. “I had the best criminal lawyer in California,” Sirhan later told author William Klaber. “He knew all the tricks of the trade. Unfortunately, he used them all on me.”

While Sirhan’s late attorney Larry Teeter connected Cooper to a convoluted plot involving the FBI, Johnny Rosselli, the CIA, and U.S. Attorney Matt Byrne, I would charge negligence of a more mundane nature — utterly inadequate preparation; misguided arrogance in his power to sway the jury; a near-criminal neglect of the ballistics evidence; worrying complicity with the prosecution and a naive trust in the LAPD; and a betrayal of his own esteemed psychiatrists in a long-winded and confused closing statement. Cooper’s strategy failed miserably.

“Grant Cooper conned me to say that I killed Robert Kennedy,” recalled Sirhan. “I went along with him because he had my life in his hands. I was duped into believing he had my best interests in mind. It was a futile defense. Cooper sold me out. … When I got to death row, I started reading the law about diminished capacity and the requirements for premeditation. There was no way that I could have summoned the prerequisite for first-degree murder. That was no part of me. They said that I didn’t understand the magnitude of what I had done. They’re right. I don’t truly appreciate it, because I have no awareness of having aimed the gun at Bobby Kennedy.”

It’s clear that Sirhan did himself no favors during the trial with his outbursts and odd behavior. The jury didn’t like him and didn’t buy his memory blocks. The prosecution and jury also had no time for the psychiatrists, in large part because Cooper tortured them with ridiculously long-winded and laborious testimony. Diamond testified for three and a half days, then Cooper disavowed him.

But how would a jury react today, given what we know now about the CIA’s MKULTRA program? If they knew there were at least ten shots fired in the pantry; that the two men in day-to-day charge of the police investigation were heavily linked to the CIA; and that, forty years after the shooting, Sirhan has never changed his story?

The bottom line is that even if there were no conspirators, the psychiatrists concluded Sirhan suffered from diminished capacity and was entitled to a charge of second-degree murder. In typical cases, he would have been freed after seven years. Forty years later, Sirhan is still inside.

***

When I visited Sirhan’s brother Munir at the family home in Pasadena in December 2006, he was nervous before his first television interview and had a last cigarette on the balcony, recalling “little Sirhan” with great fondness. He is the last remaining family member in a house Sirhan may never see again. Later, he showed me Sirhan’s room at the back of the house, where he had written in his notebooks thirty-eight years earlier.

***

Munir was the closest brother to Sirhan growing up. “He liked to play pool. He liked music. He liked to read a lot …. He and mother would sit and study the Bible. Just a typical, good ole Christian American boy.”

He recalled the time after the assassination: “When we first saw him in jail, I think Mother and I went up [to him] first …. He says, ‘Mother, I don’t remember, I don’t know what happened.’ And he says that to this day when you ask him about the particulars of that night. He doesn’t recall. One thing that has not changed is the fact that he does not remember.”

Munir rejected the idea that Sirhan was the first Arab terrorist, launching into an impassioned defense of his brother. “You know, sitting here, you’re in Sirhan’s home. If we were sitting here and a fly happened to venture in, you know, your reaction or mine would be, grab the flyswatter, you know, grab something, kill that fly, get it out of here. Sirhan would open the door and try to make it go out the door again. Life meant something to him, especially through the things he went through, we all went through — the upheavals in the Middle East and what have you. It’s just not conceivable to me that he would take a gun and actually use it against a person.”

***

I was unable to interview Sirhan for this book. He lives in a climate of fear, and Munir has not been able to visit him since before 9/11. His last interviews took place in the early nineties, when authors William Klaber and Dan Moldea accompanied Adel Sirhan and Rose Lynn Mangan to see him. They met Sirhan twice in 1993, and Moldea returned in June 1994 to taunt Sirhan about his mother and engineer the anticlimax to his book.

Then, as now, Sirhan was living in the Protective Housing Unit, a highsecurity wing reserved for high-risk and high-profile prisoners in danger from other inmates. Sirhan was the only prisoner in the unit to prefer a radio in his cell to a television. He listened to the evening news program All Things Considered on the local NPR affiliate and liked to jog and lift weights in his spare time. When Klaber and Moldea first visited Sirhan in September 1993, he had filled out with age, now weighing 140 pounds, but he looked well as he approached fifty, and savored a Mounds bar during the conversation, regarding it as a “delicacy.”

***

Sirhan had no memory of getting his gun from the car on the night of the shooting. “At that point, I blacked out…. I only know that my goal was to get some coffee.” He remembered a girl with brown hair by the coffee urn — “she was very pretty, with brown hair [but] forget about polka dots. I don’t remember what she was wearing.”

“I don’t remember being in the kitchen pantry. I don’t remember seeing Robert Kennedy, and I don’t remember shooting him. All I remember is being choked and getting my ass kicked.”

“You don’t remember the shooting at all?” asked Moldea.

“No, nothing. It just isn’t in my mind …. I don’t remember aiming the gun and saying to myself I’m going to kill Robert Kennedy. I don’t remember any adrenaline rush …. I just remember being choked.”

Sirhan couldn’t remember the notebooks either. “I believe the notebook is mine. I just don’t remember writing those things. I must have known about the jets,” he said, but his words lacked conviction.

Moldea asked if he thought Dr. Simson, his psychiatrist at San Quentin, was right. Had he been programmed? Perhaps, said Sirhan, but your guess is as good as mine. Simson may have been dismissed because “he might have been getting too close to what really happened.”

Discussing the ballistics evidence, Sirhan suddenly stopped. “You must understand, you know much more about this than I do. I don’t spend my time thinking about these things. If I did, I would surely go crazy.”

After twenty-five years, there was a resignation to his answers.

“Whether I was drunk, programmed or outmaneuvered, what has happened has happened.”

***

Sirhan still couldn’t understand his random fate. “If the horses were running that night, I would have been down at the track…. I wish I had just gone up and shaken his hand. If I could bring him back to life, of course, I would do it. If I could go back and trade my life for his, I would do that too — he was the father of eleven children. But none of us have that power.”

Klaber asked what he would do if he was released.

“Live a quiet life somewhere. Help people if I could …. I’d like to walk down a street, say hello to someone, go into a store, buy a quart of milk.”

***

That seems unlikely to happen. Fifteen years after that interview, Sirhan is still in prison, with no imminent prospect of parole.

“He’s been turned down thirteen times, and always on the same grounds,” recalled Larry Teeter before he died — “he lacks remorse. But it’s circular, because how can you lack remorse if the basis for that finding of lack of remorse is that you don’t remember and, if, in fact, you’re telling the truth when you say you don’t remember? Of course, he’s telling the truth, that’s why he’s requested hypnosis in order for him to be able to recall.”

***

Sirhan finally came up for parole in 1985. Prison psychiatrist Phillip Hicks gave him a glowing review in a psychiatric report he presented to the three-member Parole Board: “Sirhan is an exemplary inmate … a man who is in good contact with reality … a pleasant, cooperative person who demonstrates maturity and good judgement concerning his situation. He is of average intelligence, intellectually curious with a remarkably good memory for detail. There appears to be no psychiatric contra-indication to parole consideration. He has no demonstrable predilection toward violence at this time.”

Sirhan’s attorney Luke McKissack argued that Sirhan had paid his debt to society and was no longer a threat to the public.

“A message must be sent that political assassination will not be tolerated in California,” countered Deputy DA Lawrence Trapp. Parole was denied.

***

For his first parole hearing at Corcoran in 1992, an escort officer told Sirhan he would have to be led into the hearing room in manacles and chains. Sirhan refused and was led away, to wait another two years for his next hearing. “What board,” he asked, “is going to believe that I’m ready for the outside if I’m brought in tied up like an animal?”

Sirhan told Klaber about the hoops he was asked to jump through at the parole hearings. “I come before the board. I have done well in school, my record is good, but they say I need more psychological tests. Two years later, I have the tests, the tests say I’m fine, but then the board wants me to go through the AA program. I haven’t had a drink in twenty-six years, but I go through the AA program and I come back two years later, but now they say they want to see my job offers. Job offers? Just what’s supposed to be on my resume?”

***

Unlike his fellow prisoners, Sirhan prefers a radio in his cell to a television. On death row in San Quentin, he used to play the great Arabic alto Umm Kulthum on his record player — rich, slow, two-hour laments of religious fervor and unrequited love.

In the late seventies, a departing prisoner at Soledad gave him a portable black-and-white TV, and he watched a lot of public television — especially English dramas such as I, Claudius, Upstairs, Downstairs, and The Forsyte Saga — until it broke eight months later.

In 2001, a couple of days before 9/11 a departing prisoner again gave him his television. Munir picked up the story.

“Right after 9/11, he had just gotten out of the shower; a day or two prior, he had gotten a haircut and because the air-conditioning was a little high in his immediate area and due to the fact that he had just gotten a haircut, he had wrapped a towel around his head and he was watching TV; and one of the guards came, saw him sitting there with a towel around his head, watching TV, and said … something to the effect that he had prior knowledge to 9/11 … which is hideous. The poor guy’s been up there for thirty-five years. Every letter goes through their hands. Every visitor is scrutinized and searched when they see him. There’s no way any of us would have known 9/11 is coming.”

But the guard saw a towel on his head, saw him watching the round-the-clock news coverage of 9/11, and jumped to this absurd conclusion. A month later, prison authorities leaked the story to the Washington Post:

The Post’s Petula Dvorak reports that prison authorities in California wonder why Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan shaved his head and requested a television on Sunday, Sept. 9, two days before the terrorist attacks. “These are unusual requests for him; he is usually pretty much isolated and reclusive,” prison spokesman Lt. Johnny Castro told Dvorak. The 57-year-old Palestinian immigrant … frequently mails letters to outsiders, and the FBI is probing whether Sirhan’s letters were not monitored because they were written in Arabic. But Sirhan lawyer Lawrence Teeter said his client “was outraged at the terrorist attacks and remarked spontaneously in a letter to his brother he hopes that the people who did this are burning in Hell.”

Prison spokesperson Sabrina Johnson later confirmed they had “documentation” to show that Sirhan was a threat, and he was disciplined accordingly. According to Munir, this meant “he was thrown into solitary confinement for the next year until we were finally able to prove he was innocent of their claims and get him out. He was allowed out of his cell, I think it was seven minutes twice a week to shower, and he was shackled, hands and legs.”

This outrageous treatment was founded solely on the crass assumption that wearing a towel on your head makes you a Muslim terrorist.

“Sirhan is a Christian,” said Munir. “The whole family’s Christian …. In every letter he tells me, at the end of it, ‘If God is with us, who is against us?’ — Mom always used to say that — and I understand they believe he’s a Moslem.”

After his year in solitary, Sirhan reverted to his previous status, but according to Munir, “now the guards have poisoned the thoughts of other prisoners against him, and they still think he is a Moslem and he’s afraid they’ll try to kill him. He’s afraid to leave for anything except a shower twice a week, because he believes the guards either won’t protect him or will be out for him themselves for filing complaints about this situation. He wants to transfer to another prison, but they won’t let him.”

Munir hasn’t seen Sirhan since, partly because Sirhan is afraid to make the walk from his cell to the visiting room. “Where he’s at is very dangerous. There are killings that go on there quite frequently. In fact, a couple of months ago, he wrote to me and said there was some sort of a stabbing that occurred [on the trip] from his particular housing cell to the visiting area. And he was fearful of making that trek. Something might happen to him. He’s more fearful of the guards than the inmates.”

In the years since 9/11, Sirhan’s mother and two of his brothers have passed away, as well as his extremely dedicated lawyer for eleven years, Larry Teeter.

In March 2006, Sirhan was again denied parole. He was given just three days’ notice of his hearing, was awaiting a new attorney, and was unprepared, so he didn’t attend. The board’s denial came as no surprise. His next hearing is scheduled for 2011.

***

When I wrote to Sirhan in prison, he responded through Munir, expressing support for my investigation and comparing himself to a character in a Kafka novel, a man locked away for forty years for a crime he doesn’t remember committing, as confused by the mystery as everyone else.

The good news is that he has a new lawyer. Highly respected civil rights attorney Dr. William Pepper has recently filed papers to represent Sirhan. Pepper famously represented James Earl Ray — convicted assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. — for ten years until Ray’s death in 1998. The following year, Pepper prosecuted a wrongful death civil suit brought by the King family against Lloyd Jowers and other unknown coconspirators. At the end of the thirty-day trial, the jury took an hour and a half to conclude that a conspiracy existed in the murder of Dr. King that included agents of the city of Memphis, the state of Tennessee, and the government of the United States.

The King family spoke publicly of their relief “that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed …. The overwhelming weight of evidence also indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was an unknowing patsy.”

***

Larry Teeter filed two petitions for writ of habeas corpus (unlawful detention), the second of which is still pending in the Central District of California. Pepper will continue to pursue this petition, but “the ultimate goal is to have a new trial … and to bring before the court evidence that has begun to surface that was not available before.”

Pepper is particularly fond of a quote of Dr. King’s — “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” I hope this book and my accompanying documentary will help provide a platform for that, leading to a reopening of the investigation into the death of Robert Kennedy, and acting as a “smoke-out” to generate new leads and witnesses and further corroborate material presented here.

The Ambassador Hotel closed in 1989 and was demolished in 2006, and the Kennedy family is supporting the building of a new school project on the site as a “living memorial” to Bobby Kennedy. The contents of the pantry sit in a container on a lot somewhere in Los Angeles, but forty years after the assassination, the mystery around this case still remains. Paul Schrade leads the planning for the new school while renewing calls for a new investigation: “I was standing with Robert Kennedy that night and was wounded, but I will never give up trying to solve this case.”

The most likely breakthrough seems to lie with Sirhan himself and efforts to get past his memory block and uncover what happened that night.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Baxter Ward tried unsuccessfully to bring Sirhan back to the Ambassador in 1977 to jog his memory, but the courts wouldn’t allow it, and more recent attempts by Larry Teeter and Dr. Herbert Spiegel to deprogram Sirhan have also run into legal obstacles.

“With a proper, well-designed regression technique, it’s possible to uncover that memory,” said Dr. Spiegel. “With his permission, it’s possible to regress him and take him back in time to his childhood and come up, year by year, to the time this happened; and it’s quite possible when we bring him up to the time he was being programmed by whoever did this, we could uncover his memory of what was going on. He could possibly reveal how he was programmed and where he was going and what he was going to do about it, but the Court would not give me permission to do it.”

At the time of this writing, William Pepper is set to begin new psychological evaluations of Sirhan with a psychiatrist recommended by Dr. Spiegel who is a leading specialist in regression therapy. Prison authorities seem receptive, so it may still be possible to recover Sirhan’s memory of what happened that night. But time is running out. Regression is possible only while Sirhan’s brain is still healthy and active. As he ages, it will become more difficult.

Bob Kaiser, who sat in on Dr. Diamond’s sessions with Sirhan and first outlined the “Manchurian candidate” theory of the assassination in his book, is accustomed to the many twists and turns of the case over the last forty years. “See, this is not an Agatha Christie mystery story,” he told me, “where everything is neatly tied up in a bow in Chapter 23 at the end of the book. It’s one of our most enduring murder mysteries and it will probably continue to be such. That’s the way life is. Nothing is ever quite resolved, is it?”

***

“What can be done with the case now?” I asked Munir.

“To find the truth; to find the truth. As I’ve grown up with this case, there are just things that boggle the mind that should be looked into, for the love of humanity. If all of this leads to where we suspect it’s gonna lead, we don’t want it to ever happen again.”

 You Elect the Murder and his Son President that’s What can be done. That’s what has been done!

It is No wonder the events after the Kennedy killings happened the way it has just look what happens when you turn the keys over to the very people who run the world the way it has been.

Rothschilds through Bush’s and their goons killed not just Kennedy but our Nation and our very souls.

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