The Assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK
Posted 03 April 2006 - 02:08 PM
I also believe that the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were also linked to the Vietnam War.
On 3rd April, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. made a speech where he outlined the reasons why he was opposed to the war. It is worth quoting in full:
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have several reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor - both black and white - through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demoniacal destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years - especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my convictions that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But they asked - and rightly so - what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government.
They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least 20 casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.
What of the National Liberation Front - that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem, and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.
How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than 25 per cent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them - the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?
Here is the true meaning of value and compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition. (1)
King had decided to take this stand after reading an article on the Vietnam War in Ramparts Magazine. (2) King later wrote: “After reading that article, I said to myself, never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation”. (3)
After making his speech on Vietnam, the editor of the Nation, Carey McWilliams and the Socialist Party leader, Norman Thomas, urged King to run as a third-party presidential candidate in 1968. (4)
William F. Pepper, the author of the Ramparts article, suggested that King should challenge Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. King rejected this idea but instead joined with Pepper to establish the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP). “From this platform, Dr King planned to move into mainstream politics as a potential candidate on a presidential ticket with Dr Benjamin Spock in order to highlight the anti-poverty, anti-war agenda.” (5)
In his autobiography, William C. Sullivan, Deputy Director of the FBI, admitted that this decision created a great deal of concern to the ruling elite. “The Civil Rights Movement which began in the late 1950s gave organization and impetus to the antiwar movement of the late 1960s. The tactics of direct action against authority that proved successful in the earlier struggle were used as a model for the students of the New Left.” (6)
Pepper was later to discover that the wiretaps of the conversations that took place about King becoming a third-party candidate “were relayed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and, through him, to Lyndon Johnson.” (7) According to Anthony Summers, Hoover suggested to Lyndon Johnson that the best way of dealing with King and Malcolm X would be to “get those two guys fighting”. He added the problem could be solved “if we could get them to kill one another off.” (8)
Hoover told Sullivan when he became head of the Intelligence Division in 1961 that “King was an instrument of the Communist Party” and posed “a serious threat to the security of the country.” Hoover instructed Sullivan to get evidence that “King had a relationship with the Soviet bloc”. Despite an intensive surveillance campaign, Sullivan was unable to find a clear link between King and the Communist Party. When told this by Sullivan, Hoover replied: “I kept saying that Castro was a Communist and you people wouldn’t believe me. Now they are saying that King is not a Communist and you’re just as wrong this time as you were with Castro.” (9)
Sullivan continued in his campaign to discredit King. In a memo to Hoover in December, 1963, Sullivan wrote: “When the true facts concerning his (King’s) activities are presented, such should be enough, if handled properly, to take him off his pedestal… When that is done… the Negroes will be left without a national leader of sufficiently compelling personality to steer them in the proper direction.” (10)
In June, 1967, Hoover had a meeting with fellow gambler, close friend, and Texas oil billionaire, H. L. Hunt in Chicago. Hunt was very concerned that the activities of King might unseat Lyndon Johnson. This could be an expensive defeat as Johnson doing a good job protecting the oil depletion allowance. According to William Pepper: “Hoover said he thought a final solution was necessary. Only that action would stop King.” (11)
It was King’s opposition to the Vietnam War that really upset Hoover. According to Richard Goodwin, Hoover told Johnson that “Bobby Kennedy was hiring or paying King off to stir up trouble over the Vietnam War.” (12)
It is true that Robert Kennedy, like King, was growing increasingly concerned about the situation in Vietnam. Johnson became convinced that Kennedy was leaking information to the press about his feelings on the war. At a meeting on 6th February, 1967, Johnson told Kennedy: “I’ll destroy you and everyone one of your dove friends. You’ll be dead politically in six months.” (13)
The following month Kennedy made a speech where he raised the issue of morality and the Vietnam War: “Although the world’s imperfection may call forth the act of war, righteousness cannot obscure the agony and pain those acts bring to a single child. It is we who live in abundance and send our young men out to die. It is our chemicals that scorch the children and our bombs that level the villages. We are all participants.” (14)
In an television interview later that year Kennedy again returned to the morality of the war: “We’re going in there and we’re killing South Vietnamese, we’re killing children, we’re killing women, we’re killing innocent people because we don’t want a war fought on American soil, or because (the Viet Cong are) 12,000 miles away and they might get 11,000 miles away. Do we have the right, here in the United States, to say we’re going to kill tens of thousands, make millions of people, as we have, millions of people refugees, killing women and children, as we have.” (15)
Martin Luther King continued his campaign against the Vietnam War. This upset the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. In October, 1961, McNamara established the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). This took over the U.S. Army’s Strategic Intelligence Unit. However, following the racial riots at Oxford, Mississippi, the on-scene commander, Major General Creighton V. Abrahams, wrote a report on the performance of army intelligence at Oxford. It included the following: “We in the Army should launch a major intelligence project, without delay, to identify personalities, both black and white, and develop analyses of the various civil rights situations in which they became involved.” Abrahams’ advice was accepted and in 1967 the Military Intelligence Branch (MIB) was formed as part of the U.S. Army Intelligence Command (USAINTC) based at Fort Holabird, Maryland. It was the MIB that now began to take a close look at the activities of Martin Luther King. (16)
On 19th February, 1968, Cesar Chavez, the trade union leader, began a hunger strike in protest against the violence being used against his members in California. Robert Kennedy went to the San Joaquin Valley to give Chavez his support and told waiting reporters: “I am here out of respect for one of the heroic figures of our time – Cesar Chavez. I congratulate all of you who are locked with Cesar in the struggle for justice for the farm worker and in the struggle for justice for Spanish-speaking Americans.” (17)
Chavez was also a strong opponent of the Vietnam War. Kennedy had begun to link the campaign against the war with the plight of the disadvantaged. Martin Luther King was following a similar path with his involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign. As William Pepper has pointed out: “If the wealthy, powerful interests across the nation would find Dr King’s escalating activity against the war intolerable, his planned mobilization of half a million poor people with the intention of laying siege to Congress could only engender outrage – and fear.” (18)
On 16th March, 1968, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. “I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies.” (19) As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book, Sons & Brothers: “If there was one reason why Bobby was running, it was to end America’s war in Vietnam…. Politically, however, this looked self-destructive. A substantial majority of Americans supported the president’s policy. The antiwar movement, though a significant new factor in American politics, was not yet a defining factor.” (20) That was true, but that now had the potential to change. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King joining forces against the Vietnam War posed serious problems for Lyndon Johnson.
This decision by Robert Kennedy to take on Lyndon Johnson caused Jackie Kennedy great concern. A few days after Kennedy announced his candidacy, Jackie said to Schlesinger at a dinner party in New York: “Do you know what I think will happen to Bobby?” When Arthur Schlesinger replied that he didn’t, she said: “The same thing that happened to Jack.” (21)
It is the view of William Turner that Robert Kennedy intended to reopen the investigation into the death of his brother once he had been elected president: “Throughout the primary (in California), Bobby Kennedy was asked by audiences whether he would reopen the investigation of his brother’s death if elected. He hedged, saying he would not reopen the Warren Report, but remained silent on the question of whether he would take action on his own. RFK was a pragmatist, if anything, knowing that he had to control the Justice Department to launch a new probe.” (22)
In February, 1968, Memphis clergyman James Lawson, informed Martin Luther King about the sanitation workers’ dispute in the city. Over 90% of the 13,000 sanitation workers in Memphis were black. Men were often sent home by management during working hours and this resulted in them losing pay. Much of the equipment they used was old and in a bad state of repair. The dispute began when two sanitation workers, Echole Cole and Robert Walker were killed by a malfunctioning “garbage packer” truck. There was no company insurance scheme and the men’s families did not receive any compensation except for a month’s pay and a contribution towards funeral expenses.
The local branch of the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) threatened strike action unless working conditions improved in Memphis. When negotiations failed to achieve an acceptable solution to this problem, the sanitation workers went on strike. A protest march on 23rd February, ended in violence when the local police used Mace on the marchers. At this point, Rev. James Lawson, one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), became chairman of the strike strategy committee. The Community on the Move for Equality (COME), a coalition of labour and civil rights groups, also gave its support to the sanitation workers. Roy Wilkins of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Bayard Rustin of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), agreed to speak at a strike meeting on 14th March. Martin Luther King also agreed to help and it was announced he would speak at a public meeting in Memphis on 18th March. (23)
At the meeting King expressed his solidarity with the sanitation workers and called for a general strike to take place in Memphis. This caused create concern amongst the ruling elite. Many people interpreted the idea of a general strike as a tactic that had been employed by revolutionaries in several European countries.
The strategy of King seemed to be an attempt to link the campaign against poverty with the civil rights struggle and the protests against the war in Vietnam. In his speeches King argued that the money being spent on the war was making it more difficult for Lyndon Johnson to fulfil the promises he had made about improving America’s welfare system.
James Lawson later claimed that King “saw the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike as the beginning of a non-violent revolution that would redistribute income.” He argued his long term plan was to “shut down the nation’s capital in the spring of 1968 through massive civil disobedience until the government agreed to abolish poverty.” He added that the government became especially upset after he began making speeches against the Vietnam War. (24)
King’s strategy of linking poverty, civil rights and the Vietnam War seemed to be mirroring the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy. Both men appeared to be seriously threatening the status quo and in that sense were acting as revolutionaries. Recently released FBI files show that during this period J. Edgar Hoover reported to Lyndon Johnson that Kennedy and King were working together in order to undermine his presidency. (25)
On 20th March a Gallup poll placed Kennedy ahead of Johnson in the race to get the Democratic Party nomination. Johnson now decided not to stand in the forthcoming election. However, this was not to be announced until the end of the month.
Despite his good poll ratings, senior staff members such as Ted Sorensen and Milton Gwirtzman warned Kennedy about his “win in the streets” strategy. They argued that his campaign looked like a “mobile riot” to people watching on TV. As Richard D. Mahoney pointed out: “Many of Kennedy’s advisors… thought his message needed to be broadened beyond Vietnam and the poor and targeted more toward the white middle class.” (26)
On 28th March, 1968, King led a march from Clayborn Temple to the Memphis city hall. Although the organizers had ordered the marchers to refrain from any acts of violence, groups of young people ignored the marshals’ instructions and created a great deal of damage to shops on the way to the city hall. A sixteen-year-old boy, Larry Payne, was shot dead by the police who claimed he was a looter. An eyewitness said that Payne had his hands up when shot.
King was convinced that the violence on the march had been caused by government provocateurs. According to Coretta Scott King, her husband returned to Memphis on 3rd April to prepare for a truly non-violent march and to prove SCLC could still carry out a pacifist campaign in Washington. That night King made a speech at the Mason Temple. It ended with the following words:
I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane - there were six of us - the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night."
And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out, or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life - longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight , that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. (27)
After the meeting King and his party were taken to the Lorraine Motel. The following day King was shot and killed as he stood on the balcony of the motel. Two months later, James Earl Ray was arrested in London and extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty to King’s murder and was sent to jail for ninety-nine years.
People close to King were convinced that the government was behind the assassination. Ralph Abernathy, who replaced King as head of the SCLC, claimed that he had been killed “by someone trained or hired by the FBI and acting under the orders from J. Edgar Hoover”. (28) Whereas James Lawson, the leader of the strike in Memphis remarked that: “I have no doubt that the government viewed all this (the Poor People’s Campaign and the anti-Vietnam War speeches) seriously enough to plan his assassination.” (29)
William Pepper, who was to spend the next forty years investigating the death of Martin Luther King, discovered evidence that Military Intelligence was involved in the assassination. In his book, Orders to Kill, Pepper names members of the 20th Special Forces Group (SFG) as being part of the conspiracy. (30)
Even the Deputy Director of the FBI, William Sullivan, who led the investigation into the assassination, believed that there was a conspiracy to kill King. In his autobiography published after his death, Sullivan wrote: “I was convinced that James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, but I doubt if he acted alone… Someone, I feel sure, taught Ray how to get a false Canadian passport, how to get out of the country, and how to travel to Europe because he would never have managed it alone. And how did Ray pay for the passport and the airline tickets?” Sullivan also admits that it was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and not the FBI who successfully tracked Ray down to London. (31)
In a television interview from prison that took place in 1988, Ray claimed the FBI agents threatened to jail his father and one of his brothers if he did not confess to King’s murder. Ray added that he had been framed to cover up an FBI plot to kill King. (32)
However, there is evidence that it was another organization that was involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King. According to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, military intelligence became very interested in the activities of King after he began making speeches against the Vietnam War. In a report published in 1972, the committee claimed that in the spring of 1968 King’s organization was “infiltrated by the 109th, 111th and 116th Military Intelligence Groups.” (33) In his book, An Act of State, William Pepper points out that the committee was surprised when it discovered that military intelligence appeared to be very interested in where King was “staying in various cities, as well as details concerning housing facilities, offices, bases of operations, churches and private homes.” (34) The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee commented: “Why such information was sought has never been explained.” (35)
Kennedy was deeply shocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King. Later that day he spoke in Indianapolis about the killing. He referred to the assassination of John Kennedy. When that happened he was “filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act” but pleaded with the black community not to desire revenge but to “make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.” (36)
The assassination of Martin Luther King further radicalized Robert Kennedy. During a speech at the Indiana University Medical Center, one of the students called out: “Where are we going to get the money to pay for all these new programs you’re proposing?” Kennedy replied: “From you. I look around this room and I don’t see many black faces who will become doctors. Part of a civilized society is to let people go to medical school who come from ghettos. I don’t see many people coming here from the slums, or off of Indian reservations. You are the privileged ones here. It’s easy for you to sit back and say it’s the fault of the Federal Government. But it’s our responsibility too. It’s our society too… It’s the poor who carry the major burden of the struggle in Vietnam. You sit here as white medical students, while black people carry the burden of the fighting in Vietnam.” (37)
The students reacted by hissing and booing Kennedy. His advisors warned him that if he was perceived as an extremist he would never win the election. However, Kennedy was no longer thinking like a politician trying to maximize his vote. Instead he was determined to say what he believed. Kennedy told Jack Newfield that he would probably not win the nomination but “somebody has to speak up for the Negroes and Indians and Mexicans and poor whites.” Despite this pessimism, Kennedy won the Indiana primary with 42% of the vote.
In an attempt to prevent Kennedy from being elected, J. Edgar Hoover leaked a report to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson that when Kennedy was attorney general he had authorized the FBI to wiretap Martin Luther King. (38) Despite this news, Kennedy continued to get the vote of the black community and his campaign went well in California.
However, rumours were already spreading that Kennedy would die during the campaign. The FBI had picked up reports of an overheard conversation between Jimmy Hoffa and a fellow prisoner in the Lewisburg penitentiary about a contract to kill Kennedy. (39)
One of the more chilling stories appeared in “American Journey”. Jimmy Breslin asked several reporters around a table whether they thought Kennedy had “the stuff to go all the way”. One of the men at the meeting, John J. Lindsay replied: “Yes, of course, he has the stuff to go all the way, but he’s not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it, just as sure as we’re sitting here. He’s out there waiting for him.” (40)
On 4th June, 1968, Harold Weisberg appeared on television in Washington where he discussed the possibility of Robert Kennedy being assassinated. Weisberg recalled a meeting with a Kennedy aide. Weisberg asked why Kennedy had supported the conclusions of the Warren Commission Report. He replied: “it is simple, Bobby wants to live.” Kennedy’s friend added that there were “too many guns between Bobby and the White House”. Weisberg asked who controlled these guns. The friend replied in such a way that Weisberg got the impression that he meant the CIA. (41)
Kennedy won the primary in California obtaining 46.3% to McCarthy’s 41.8%. On hearing the result Kennedy went down to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to speak to his supporters. He commented on “the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society; the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups or on the war in Vietnam”. Kennedy claimed that the United States was “a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country” and that he had the ability to get people to work together to create a better society. (42)
Kennedy now began his journey to the Colonial Room where he was to hold a press conference. Someone suggested that Kennedy should take a short cut through the kitchen. Security guard Thane Eugene Cesar took hold of Kennedy’s right elbow to escort him through the room when Sirhan Sirhan opened fire. According to Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi, who performed the autopsy, all three bullets striking Kennedy entered from the rear, in a flight path from down to up, right to left. “Moreover, powder burns around the entry wound indicated that the fatal bullet was fired at less than one inch from the head and no more than two or three inches behind the right ear.” (43)
An eyewitness, Donald Schulman, went on CBS News to say that Sirhan “stepped out and fired three times; the security guard hit Kennedy three times.” As Dan Moldea pointed out: “The autopsy showed that three bullets had struck Kennedy from the right rear side, traveling at upward angles – shots that Shiran was never in a position to fire.” (44)
Kennedy had been shot at point-blank range from behind. Two shots entered his back and a third shot entered directly behind RFK’s right ear. None of the eyewitness claim that Shiran was able to fire his gun from close-range. One witness, Karl Uecker, who struggled with Shiran when he was firing his gun, provided a written statement in 1975 about what he saw: “There was a distance of at least one and one-half feet between the muzzle of Shiran’s gun and Senator Kennedy’s head. The revolver was directly in front of my nose. After Shiran’s second shot, I pushed the hand that held the revolver down, and pushed him onto the steam table. There is no way that the shots described in the autopsy could have come from Shiran’s gun. When I told this to the authorities, they told me that I was wrong. But I repeat now what I told them then: Shiran never got close enough for a point-blank shot.” (45)
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) ignored this evidence and argued that Sirhan Shiran was a lone gunman. Shiran’s lead attorney, Grant Cooper, went along with this theory. As he explained to William Turner, “a conspiracy defence would make his client look like a contract killer”. Cooper’s main strategy was to portray his client as a lone-gunman in an attempt to spare Sirhan the death penalty by proving “diminished capacity”. Sirhan was convicted and sentenced before William W. Harper, an independent ballistics expert, proved that the bullets removed from Kennedy and newsman William Weisel, were fired from two different guns. (46)
After Harper published his report, Joseph P. Busch, the Los Angeles District Attorney, announced he would look into the matter. Thane Eugene Cesar was interviewed and he admitted he pulled a gun but insisted it was a Rohm .38, not a .22 (the caliber of the bullets found in Kennedy). He also claimed that he got knocked down after the first shot and did not get the opportunity to fire his gun. The LAPD decided to believe Cesar rather than Donald Schulman, Karl Uecker and William W. Harper and the case was closed.
Cesar admitted that he did own a .22 H & R pistol. However, he claimed that he had sold the gun before the assassination to a man named Jim Yoder. William Turner and Jonn Christian tracked down Yoder in October, 1972. He still had the receipt for the H & R pistol. It was dated 6th September, 1968. Cesar therefore sold the pistol to Yoder three months after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. (47)
Cesar had been employed by Ace Guard Service to protect Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. This was not his full-time job. During the day he worked at the Lockheed Aircraft plant in Burbank. According to Lisa Pease, Cesar had formerly worked at the Hughes Aircraft Corporation. (48) Lockheed and Hughes were two key companies in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex.
Cesar was a Cuban American who had registered to vote for George Wallace’s American Independent Party. (49) Jim Yoder claimed that Cesar appeared to have no specific job at Lockheed and had “floating” assignments and often worked in off-limits areas which only special personnel had access to. According to Yoder, these areas were under the control of the CIA.
Yoder also gave Turner and Christian details about the selling of the gun. Although he did not mention the assassination of Robert Kennedy he did say “something about going to the assistance of an officer and firing his gun.” He added that “there might be a little problem over that.” (50)
Cesar was afraid that the assassination had been captured on film. It was. Scott Enyart, a high-school student, was taking photographs of Robert Kennedy as he was walking from the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to the Colonial Room where the press conference was due to take place. Enyart was standing slightly behind Kennedy when the shooting began and snapped as fast as he could. As Enyart was leaving the pantry, two LAPD officers accosted him at gunpoint and seized his film. Later, he was told by Detective Dudley Varney that the photographs were needed as evidence in the Sirhan trial. The photographs were not presented as evidence but the court ordered that all evidential materials had to be sealed for twenty years.
In 1988 Enyart requested that his photographs should be returned. At first the State Archives claimed they could not find them and that they must have been destroyed by mistake. Enyart filed a lawsuit which finally came to trial in 1996. During the trial the Los Angeles city attorney announced that the photos had been found in its Sacramento office and would be brought to the courthouse by the courier retained by the State Archives. The following day it was announced that the courier’s briefcase, that contained the photographs, had been stolen from the car he rented at the airport. The photographs have never been recovered and the jury subsequently awarded Scott Enyart $450,000 in damages. (51)
One possible connection between the deaths of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy is that they were all involved in a campaign to bring an end to the Vietnam War. One man who does believe there is a connection is Edward Kennedy. NBC television correspondent Sander Vanocur, travelled with Edward Kennedy on the aircraft that brought back his Robert’s body to New York. Vanocur reported Kennedy as saying that “faceless men” (Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan) had been charged with the killing of his brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King. Kennedy added: “Always faceless men with no apparent motive. There has to be more to it.” (52)
1. Martin Luther King, speech in New York (4th April, 1967)
2. William F. Pepper, The Children of Vietnam, Ramparts Magazine (January, 1967)
3. Clayborne Carson (editor), Autobiography of Martin Luther King (1998)
4. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 4)
5. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 4)
6. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (page 147)
7. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 4)
8. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 352)
9. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (pages 135-137)
10. William C. Sullivan, memo ‘King’ (December, 1963)
11. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 464)
12. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 355)
13. Jeff Shesol, Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud That Defined a Decade, 1997 (page 351)
14. Robert Kennedy, speech in the Senate (2nd March, 1967)
15. Robert Kennedy, interview with Tom Wicker, Face the Nation (26th November, 1967)
16. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 412-413)
17. Edwin O. Guthman, We Band of Brothers: A Memoir of Robert F. Kennedy, 1971 (page 326)
18. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 7)
19. Robert Kennedy, speech, Washington (16th March, 1968)
20. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 342)
21. Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and His Times, 1980 (page 921)
22. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 233)
23. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 11-16)
24. James W. Douglass, The King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 494-95)
25. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (page 21)
26. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 357)
27. Martin Luther King, speech at the Mason Temple, Memphis (3rd April, 1964)
28. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 363)
29. James W. Douglass, The King Conspiracy Exposed in Memphis, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 495)
30. William F. Pepper, Orders to Kill, 1995 (pages 311-492)
31. William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI, 1979 (pages 145)
32. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993 (page 363)
33. Senate Report, Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1972 (page 21)
34. William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003 (page 205-06)
35. Senate Report, Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1972 (page 111)
36. Robert F. Kennedy, speech in Indianapolis (4th April, 1968)
37. Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the Indiana University Medical Center (26th April, 1968)
38. Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 368)
39. Robert Blair Kaiser, RFK Must Die! A History of the Robert Kennedy Association and Its Aftermath, 1970 (page 469)
40. Jean Stein and George Plimpton, American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy, 1970 (page 334)
41. Lisa Pease, Sirhan Says “I Am Innocent”, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 535)
42. Robert F. Kennedy, speech at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles (4th June, 1968)
43. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 162)
44. Dan Moldea, Regardie’s Magazine, June, 1987
45. William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson, Shadow Play: The Murder of Robert F. Kennedy, the Trial of Sirhan Sirhan, and the Failure of American Justice, 1997 (page 96)
46. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 244)
47. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 166)
48. Lisa Pease, Sirhan Says “I Am Innocent”, included in The Assassinations, 2003 (page 534)
49. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 244)
50. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page 166)
51. William Turner, Rearview Mirror, 2001 (page 246)
52. William Turner and Jonn Christian, The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, 1993 (page xxxiii)
Posted 03 April 2006 - 06:18 PM
Thanks for this excellent work.
I remember reading or hearing years ago that Johnson, around the time he announced that he would not be a candidate in 1968, told someone that he didn't know who the next president would be, but that "it won't be a Kennedy."
However, I don't remember the source nor have I been able to find any reference to the alleged statement. So I don't know that Johnson ever actually said it, though I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I mention it in case someone else here might remember something about it too.
Posted 03 April 2006 - 06:28 PM
I see you're reprising your 6/11/05 posting and with good reason. I, too, have seen that quote and am digging like a...groundhog.
Posted 03 April 2006 - 07:50 PM
Excellent post. I think that in order to understand any one of these assassinations, all three must be presented together, as you have done. This way it becomes very hard for someone to advance the old disinformation chestnut: "Castro did it".
Opposing the Viet Nam war was dangerous for any politican. If you were not killed like JFK, MLK and RFK you were branded a "Communist dupe", like they did with George McGovern four years later.
"Peace with honor" was Nixon's pledge. We got neither.
War is good business for the powers that be and when a politican thinks he or she can stand up to these militant hawks this person had better be certain his/her security guards are on high alert.
I have often wondered what might have happened if Bobby had said something publicly the night of 6/5 after winning the California primary. He had to know his life was in the balance. They had killed Dr King just weeks before. How powerful they must have felt in 68. How very evil.
Posted 04 April 2006 - 01:19 AM
Here's a link to an article by Sirhan's present attorney Lawrence Teeter. According to Teeter, even good old Johnny Rosselli was involved, specifically in the blackmail of Sirhan attorney Grant Cooper:
Ron, Larry Teeter died last year. Which raises the question... does anyone know who Sirhan's new attorney is?
Posted 04 April 2006 - 01:40 AM
Sirhan's last parole hearing was on March 15, 2006. He did not attend nor did he appoint a new attorney to represent him. Sirhan was denied of course.
Posted 04 April 2006 - 05:32 AM
I would also like to talk to Scott Enyart. For example, does he remember what was in those photographs of the assassination of RFK. As William Turner has pointed out, the Enyart photographs are the "RFK version of the Zapruder film" (Rearview Mirror).
Posted 04 April 2006 - 03:11 PM
According to Dan Moldea Eugene Thane Cesar now lives in the Philippines.
Posted 10 April 2006 - 03:03 PM
Does anyone know what happened to Thane Eugene Cesar? The fact that he was a Cuban-American, a member of extreme right-wing political groups and linked to the CIA via Lockheed makes him a very interesting character.
I don't know that Cesar worked with any of the anti-Castro groups. At the time of the assassination he was moonlighting at Ace Security and working at the CIA's Skunk Works (the U-2 facility) at Lockheed in Burbank.I have no knowledge that he worked for Hughes Aircraft. As of a year ago, one Thane Cesar had an address of 3825 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake Village CA 91362. As you may know, Dan Muldea was once his agent.
Posted 10 April 2006 - 04:00 PM
As you may know, Dan Muldea was once his agent.
Please explain. Agent for what? And I assume this is the same person who wrote the book saying Sirhan did it (and clearing his client)?
Posted 10 April 2006 - 04:11 PM
As you may know, Dan Muldea was once his agent.
Please explain. Agent for what? And I assume this is the same person who wrote the book saying Sirhan did it (and clearing his client)?
Dan Moldea began his carreer allegedly on the side of conspiracy. Then he "decided" that Sirhan pulled off the same impossibility attributed to LHO. So yes, "agent for what"? Since many of us believe that Cesar might have been a MC like Sirhan and may have actually fired the kill shot. After all he was right there, behind RFK, gun in hand....That people all remember seeing Sirhan shooting took minds off the real murder.
I hope that Sirhan gets some good legal counsel, tho with the seizure of Larry Teeter's files after his death last summer, one becomes mighty suspicious that any justice can ever be accomplished.
Posted 10 April 2006 - 04:20 PM
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