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Manny Pena


John Simkin
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I thought it might be worth starting a thread on Manny Pena. There is virtually nothing on the web about him. Yet he is a very interesting character.

Manny Pena served in the Pacific during the Second World War. He later worked as a counter-intelligence officer in Latin America and France before joining the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1947.

Pena developed the reputation for being an aggressive police officer and is said to have killed eleven suspects "in the line of duty". According to his commanding officer, Pena was a "stocky, intense, proud man of Mexican-American descent."

In November 1967 Pena resigned from the LAPD to work for the Agency for International Development (AID). According to the San Fernando Valley Times: "As a public safety advisor, he will train and advise foreign police forces in investigative and administrative matters. Over the next year he worked with Daniel Mitrione in Latin and South America.

Charles A. O'Brien, California's Chief Deputy Attorney General, told William Turner that AID was being used as an "ultra-secret CIA unit" that was known to insiders as the "Department of Dirty Tricks" and that it was involved in teaching foreign intelligence agents the techniques of assassination.

FBI agent Roger LaJeunesse claimed that Pena had been carrying out CIA special assignments for at least ten years. This was confirmed by Pena's brother, a high school teacher, who told television journalist, Stan Bohrman, a similar story about his CIA activities. In April 1968 Pena surprisingly resigned from AID and returned to the LAPD.

Chief of Detectives Robert Houghton asked Chief of Homicide Detectives Hugh Brown to take charge of the investigation into the death of Robert Kennedy. Code-named Special Unit Senator (SUS). Houghton told Brown to investigate the possibility that there was a link between this death and those of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

As William Turner has pointed out in The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: "Houghton assertedly gave Brown free reign in electing the personnel for SUS - with one exception. He specifically designated Manny Pena, who was put in a position to control the daily flow and direction of the investigation. And his decision on all matters was final."

Robert 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 Sirhan Sirhan 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.”

Manny Pena ignored this evidence and argued that Sirhan Sirhan 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.

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 W. Turner 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.

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. Lockheed and Hughes were two key companies in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex.

Thane Eugene Cesar was a Cuban American who had registered to vote for George Wallace’s American Independent Party. 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.”

Lieutenant Pena was convinced that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone-gunman. He told Marilyn Barrett in an interview on 12th September, 1992: "Sirhan was a self-appointed assassin. He decided that Bobby Kennedy was no good, because he was helping the Jews. And he is going to kill him." He also added: "I did not come back (to the LAPD) as a sneak to be planted. The way they have written it, it sounds like I was brought back and put into the (Kennedy) case as a plant by the CIA, so that I could steer something around to a point where no one would discover a conspiracy. That's not so."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKpena.htm

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Melanson and Klaber argue convincingly that the image of Sirhan as a politicized Palestinian was grafted on during the process of the trial. THeir book Shadow Play is must reading, and differs considerably from the also excellent Turner Christian book; Shadow Play is entirely focussed on the tiral itself.

It is very very difficult to avoid the impression that the "defense" was not playing offense and coordinating their work with the Prosecution if one reads this book. If anything, that conclusion is pressed soft-peddled by the authors, given all the evidence that they present. If there was not collaboration with the prosecution, then all I can say is that Oswald had a better defense lawyer!

This horrible defense was not due to unskilled lawyers.

I found this paragraph interesting:

(Judge Herbert V.) Walker graduated from the USC Law school in 1928. Fifteen years later he would succeed Grant

Cooper as chief deputy distric attorne for hte Los Angeles County. Thus the chief prosecutor (Lynn Cmpton), the lead

defense attorney, and the judge had all held the same high psoition of chief deputy of the Los Angeles DA's office.

Qualified lawyers... no doubt. Qualified for what? I cannot begin here to cover the extreme legalistic incompetence that the authors describe. It is

contortionism of such a high degree that any Keystone Cop would be herniated during jury selection.

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I thought it might be worth starting a thread on Manny Pena. There is virtually nothing on the web about him. Yet he is a very interesting character.

Manny Pena served in the Pacific during the Second World War. He later worked as a counter-intelligence officer in Latin America and France before joining the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1947.

Pena developed the reputation for being an aggressive police officer and is said to have killed eleven suspects "in the line of duty". According to his commanding officer, Pena was a "stocky, intense, proud man of Mexican-American descent."

In November 1967 Pena resigned from the LAPD to work for the Agency for International Development (AID). According to the San Fernando Valley Times: "As a public safety advisor, he will train and advise foreign police forces in investigative and administrative matters. Over the next year he worked with Daniel Mitrione in Latin and South America.

Charles A. O'Brien, California's Chief Deputy Attorney General, told William Turner that AID was being used as an "ultra-secret CIA unit" that was known to insiders as the "Department of Dirty Tricks" and that it was involved in teaching foreign intelligence agents the techniques of assassination.

FBI agent Roger LaJeunesse claimed that Pena had been carrying out CIA special assignments for at least ten years. This was confirmed by Pena's brother, a high school teacher, who told television journalist, Stan Bohrman, a similar story about his CIA activities. In April 1968 Pena surprisingly resigned from AID and returned to the LAPD.

Chief of Detectives Robert Houghton asked Chief of Homicide Detectives Hugh Brown to take charge of the investigation into the death of Robert Kennedy. Code-named Special Unit Senator (SUS). Houghton told Brown to investigate the possibility that there was a link between this death and those of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

As William Turner has pointed out in The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: "Houghton assertedly gave Brown free reign in electing the personnel for SUS - with one exception. He specifically designated Manny Pena, who was put in a position to control the daily flow and direction of the investigation. And his decision on all matters was final."

Robert 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 Sirhan Sirhan 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.”

Manny Pena ignored this evidence and argued that Sirhan Sirhan 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.

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 W. Turner 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.

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. Lockheed and Hughes were two key companies in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex.

Thane Eugene Cesar was a Cuban American who had registered to vote for George Wallace’s American Independent Party. 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.”

Lieutenant Pena was convinced that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone-gunman. He told Marilyn Barrett in an interview on 12th September, 1992: "Sirhan was a self-appointed assassin. He decided that Bobby Kennedy was no good, because he was helping the Jews. And he is going to kill him." He also added: "I did not come back (to the LAPD) as a sneak to be planted. The way they have written it, it sounds like I was brought back and put into the (Kennedy) case as a plant by the CIA, so that I could steer something around to a point where no one would discover a conspiracy. That's not so."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKpena.htm

John, this is extremely interesting information. In your searches, did you find out if Manny Pena is still living? Any idea if he retired locally to the Los Angeles area? What about Thane Cesar? If Manny is close to the end of his life he may change his story, or have something to add regarding his past. I have long suspected that Thane Cesar was the gunman who murdered Robert Kennedy as he was directly behind him, and the fatal bullet entered Kennedy's brain from behind. I just never read about the fact that he had sold his .22 caliber pistol 3 months after the assassination. If either of these two men are still in the Los Angeles area it might be of interest to try to interview them.

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John, this is extremely interesting information. In your searches, did you find out if Manny Pena is still living? Any idea if he retired locally to the Los Angeles area? What about Thane Cesar?

Thane Cesar is living in the Philippines. I will ask Shane O'Sullivan, William Turner and Dan Moldea about Pena. I know that Sirhan's new attorney is interested in Pena.

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Shane O'Sullivan tells me that Manny Pena is still alive but claims he was too ill to be interviewed, even by phone. Pena was close to Byron Engle, ex-CIA and head of the Office of Public Safety, a cover regularly used by Morales and, of course, home to Dan Mitrione.

Shane also tells me that Sergeant Enrique Hernandez died a few years ago. Hernandez played an important role in the cover-up. After the LAPD, he ran a multi-million dollar security company, whose first contract was with NASA.

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"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"

I am curious to know how the ballistics test was received. Did the govt. say it was flawed? This is the first that I have heard of it. Evidently it was not accepted by the investigating panel as proof positive there was two guns. If this were the case, no one could have stopped an independent investigation, the people (public) would have demanded it.

Terry

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I am curious to know how the ballistics test was received. Did the govt. say it was flawed? This is the first that I have heard of it. Evidently it was not accepted by the investigating panel as proof positive there was two guns. If this were the case, no one could have stopped an independent investigation, the people (public) would have demanded it.

I doubt that the people would have demanded anything. When the HSCA concluded that there was probably a conspiracy in the JFK murder, did the people demand that the Justice Department continue to investigate as the HSCA desired? As I recall, the HSCA conclusion was met with a big yawn across this great land.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Richard Bartholomew and Walter Graff, in their article The Gun That Didn't Smoke --part three, conect Manny Pena to Sen. Thomas Dodd's Senate subccommittee investigating the sale of firearms through the mail:

.... One of the investigators looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles

police lieutenant who was later one of the pivotal officers invsestigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was

Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop.(163) And one of the primary culprits, robbing

domestic manufactures of profits, was the Mannlicher-Carcano.

Dodd was ostensiby undertakng the investigation-- which may have used Oswald as an undercover agent-- on behalf of gun-manufacturers like Colt in

his home state of Connecticut. First I'd heard of a connection between Pena and the Dodd investigation.

If you haven't read this guy Bartholomew's articles before, do yourself a favor. This is the second long one of his I have read. They are VERY VERY interesting!!

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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Richard Bartholomew and Walter Graff, in their article The Gun That Didn't Smoke --part three, conect Manny Pena to Sen. Thomas Dodd's Sneate subccommittee investigating the sale of firearms through the mail:

.... One of the investigators looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles

police lieutenant who was later one of the pivotal officers invsestigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was

Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop.(163) And one of the primary culprits, robbing

domestic manufactures of profits, was the Mannlicher-Carcano.

Dodd was ostensiby undertakng the investigation-- which may have used Oswald as an undercover agent-- on behalf of gun-manufacturers like Colt in

his home state of Connecticut. First I'd heard of a connection between Pena and the Dodd investigation.

If you haven't read this guy Bartholomew's articles before, do yourself a favor. This is the second long one of his I have read. They are VERY VERY interesting!!

Richard Bartholomew is a member of the forum:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=6255

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If you haven't read this guy Bartholomew's articles before, do yourself a favor. This is the second long one of his I have read. They are VERY VERY interesting!!

Richard Bartholomew is a member of the forum:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=6255

Here are some more current links to Richard Bartholomew's editorial cartoons:

http://zone.artizans.com/browse.htm?artist=145

http://76.163.138.191/links.html

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoonist...le.cfm/BarthR1/

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  • 1 month later...

"Pena has an odd backgroud indeed. His official SUS information states he seved in the Navy during WWII and in the Army during the

Korean War, and was a Counterintelligence officer in France. According to Robert Houghton, he "Spoke French" and Spanish, and had

connections with various intelligence agencies in several countries" (p. 572 The Assassinations, ed. Lisa Pease and James DiEugenio)

Anyone have any info on who Pena worked with in the Navy and the Army. Also does anyone have anything more specific on foreign intelligence

agencies? Did these include Venezuela? I know that he worked with the CIA in Latin America in between his involvement IN BOTH THE JFK AND RFK

ASSASSINATIONS/INVSITIGATIONS and am curious about how this work may have lead to liasons with other countiries' intelligence agencies.

For More on Pena's involvement with the LEIU, the liason relationship that existed between the CIA and the LAPD, see this thread in the RFK section:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=10268

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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  • 3 months later...
Richard Bartholomew and Walter Graff, in their article The Gun That Didn't Smoke --part three, conect Manny Pena to Sen. Thomas Dodd's Senate subccommittee investigating the sale of firearms through the mail:

.... One of the investigators looking into interstate firearms sales at this time was Manuel Pena, the Los Angeles

police lieutenant who was later one of the pivotal officers invsestigating Robert Kennedy's assassination. It was

Pena who traced Oswald's telescopic sight to a California gun shop.(163) And one of the primary culprits, robbing

domestic manufactures of profits, was the Mannlicher-Carcano.

Dodd was ostensiby undertakng the investigation-- which may have used Oswald as an undercover agent-- on behalf of gun-manufacturers like Colt in

his home state of Connecticut. First I'd heard of a connection between Pena and the Dodd investigation.

If you haven't read this guy Bartholomew's articles before, do yourself a favor. This is the second long one of his I have read. They are VERY VERY interesting!!

----------------

In light of the above claim about Pena and the telescopic sight in 1963 Los Angeles for Dodd's committee, I found this paragraph about Pena from Shane

O'Sullivan's new book Who Killed Bobby interesting:

Pena was happy to discuss his 'intelligence background' outside the LAPD. During his two years in France, he worked closely with

the army's Counter-Intelligence Corps and made lots of friends in the intelligence community. He also built up strong connections with

Interpol: a senior official in in the Mexican government was his 'number one connection into Latin America,' and he'd make frequent

trips down there. (Who Killed Bobby, p. 407)

Jefferson Morley, in his new book Our Man In Mexico, writes of three very high Mexican officials involved in CIA spy opperations from the US Embassy in

Mexico City. One of them was the President of Mexico, and, if I am not mistaken his successor John Simkin sums up these operations:"Information on Oswald was collected by four different CIA operations: LEINVOY, LIEMPTY, AMSPELL and LIERODE. Scott ran the first two whereas Phillips controlled the last two."

Pena is probably not referring to these operations, but given his previous involvement with the January 1963 paperwork on the telescopic sight for the Dodd Committee, I found it interesting that he claimed connections so high up in the Mexican government.

This sounds considerably higher up than the Office of Public Safety work that I had previously associated with Pena in Latin America.

Pena is among the strongest of ties between the assassination of RFK and JFK. Could it be stronger than we now know?

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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