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John Pilger in the Daily Mirror on fifth anniversary of Dallas


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Daily Mirror, 22 November 1968, pp.17-18

A wreath in Dallas

By John Pilger

Five years ago on this day the first of the crop was harvested: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a true spirit of change, was ambushed and shot to death on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

The world stopped that day and, in unison, we all spewed our grief.

Some did not. Some, like the hate-weaned innocents at a school in Dallas, stood and cheered, while their parents hastily convened parties at which glasses were raised in grotesque salutes to what had happened that day; and if these truths are unimaginable then so, too, is the truth of John Kennedy’s death.

For after five years of cataclysm in America, in which three other men of change have been assassinated and the very idea of America as a civilised country challenged, we still do not know the complete story of Dallas. We have, of course, the Warren Commission’s twenty-six volumes of finely-honed yet patently inconclusive reassurance, compiled, it would seem, only for those who needed reassuring, and perhaps in 1964 when the report was published we were not unlike those citizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World who lined up for their peace of mind.

I came to Dallas because on election day, when front pages were filled with poll predictions of the candidates, I read in the Los Angeles Times the results of the most important poll of all. It was taken by the Louis Harris group and it said in effect that 81 per cent of the American people no longer accepted the findings of the Warren Commission and now believed that there was a conspiracy to kill the President of the United States.

So I am in Dallas, in November and a pale ghost of a sun flits across a sky that is both enormous and hard; and down on Elm Street, on the grassy knoll near the Texas School Book Depository, from where Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have done his work, two young soldiers quizzically study a wreath sent by a student group to await the anniversary. On it is written:

Send him not these flowers,

Send us the truth.

Dallas has not changed. The organised forgetting has not worked; only the city’s mask is new.

A great deal of money has been poured on civic wounds and into prefabricated banks, like gargantuan filing cabinets; and yet the John F. Kennedy memorial, Dallas’s tribute, still lies in the planning room of City Council.

It could have happened anywhere, they still chorus. The Mayor of Dallas, multi-millionaire Erik Jonsson said: “We are not ashamed, sir!” The deposed police chief of Dallas, Jesse Curry, who has these five years carried the public guilt for the murderous circus that tried and killed Oswald in his headquarters basement, said: “Please, ah just want to go mah own way now, and forget.”

It could have happened anywhere, but it did not. Dallas was the chosen place and the world said Dallas killed the President with its air of hate and tradition of death and violence, with its assorted nuts of the paramilitary Right and a daily newspaper that believes civil rights is the Communist line. And in reply Dallas asks to be excused. Big D is a doer, they say with pride; Dallas man was born to act, not to contemplate the past. Or anything. Hamlet would hate it here.

Dallas, it must be emphatically said, is not America. The conscience which was custom-made for comfort here is a time bomb ticking away almost everywhere in the United States. Nor is that conscience being aroused by the sworn enemies of the American establishment. Such pillars as Life Magazine and The New York Times, both of which greeted the Warren Report as “exhaustive,” have long since called for a new inquiry.

Life called for a new inquiry on the basis of the film it bought for $25,000 from Abraham Zapruder who, from the grassy knoll in Elm Street filmed the President’s motorcade as it approached and kept his camera running as the shots were fired. The film, according to Texas Governor John Connally, who was seated directly in front of the President and was critically wounded, shows that he was not hit until after President Kennedy was shot for the first time, which suggests that the two men were struck by separate bullets. No one assassin using a bolt action rifle could have fired two shots that fast.

Since February of last year, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison has been on the stage with his revelation of a conspiracy plot in which, he says, Oswald played only a minor part; and in spite of the guns of scepticism aimed at him, he has gathered enough evidence for three judges to indict a New Orleans businessman called Clay Shaw, of whom the Warren Commission makes no mention, for conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States.

Perhaps it is indicative of all the assassination intrigue that the strongest case for a new inquiry might eventually rest within the bizarre. Since 1963 an estimated thirty-five to forty-seven people connected with the assassination have died in unbelievable situations.

For example two Dallas reporters who were at a meeting with Jack Ruby the night before he killed Oswald, died violently: one when a revolver “went off” in a California police station, the other by a “karate chop” in the shower at his Dallas apartment. Two strippers who worked for Jack Ruby in his Carousel Club have also died violently, one from gunshot wounds and the other, held overnight in a Dallas jail on a petty charge, was found hanged in her cell.

Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was the only journalist to have a private interview with Jack Ruby during his trial, was found dead in her New York apartment after telling friends she was going to Washington “to bust the whole thing open.”

Is it true that a CIA agent who told friends he could no longer keep quiet about the assassination was found shot in the back in his Washington apartment? The verdict was suicide.

Pilot David Ferrie was found dead in his New Orleans home, ostensibly from natural causes, but with two suicide notes beside him. Four days earlier, Ferrie had told reporters that Jim Garrison had him “pegged as the getaway pilot in an elaborate plot to kill Kennedy.” The odds against these and other deaths have been calculated at 100 trillion to one.

Much of the sequence is already known: what is not known are the answers to a melange of questions that haunt both critics and defenders of the Commission. At random: Why should two-thirds of the eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza report that shots came from in front of the President, and not from behind as the Commission says? And why were only a small portion of these witnesses interviewed?

And why were all the investigations not published? I have seen a Secret Service report that supports Governor Connally’s two bullets theory. It was not published in the Warren Report. A similar FBI report also was not published.

Why did the doctor who received the President at Parkland Hospital say the bullet entered his throat from the front, only to change his mind to agree with the autopsy performed later in Washington which contended that the bullet entered the back? Why did the chief pathologist at the autopsy burn the draft of his first report? How could the bullet – the only bullet linked to Oswald’s gun – emerge virtually unscathed after a journey through two bodies causing extensive wounds, smashing bones and a wrist?

What of the film that shows a policeman holding a rifle which he had just carried from the School Book Depository before the “Oswald rifle” was found?

The answers to these questions are not proof on their own, but together they mean something, perhaps even the beginning of a way out of the monstrous whodunnit into which the Kennedy assassination has been allowed to sink.

But the whodunnit is real. This year I have spoken to many of its authors and critics and of those I met in Dallas, I should mention here two who most impressed me.

One of them is Penn Jones, Jr., editor of the Midlothian Mirror, in the town of Midlothian, south of Dallas – a crusading small-town editor.

Years before the assassination Penn Jones exposed the John Birch Society in his columns and, for this, his office and printing presses were fire-bombed. He, like almost all the critics, believes in the political conspiracy theory.

“Anyone who has read all twenty-six volumes of the Warren Report knows by his basic common sense that it reeks of whitewash.” He said: “The report is its worst enemy; those who defend it usually haven’t read it; they just can’t conceive something that doesn’t agree with what is thought to be the respectable viewpoint. And those of us who have read all of it – and we’re few – know damn well what’s happening…”

Penn Jones sent me to Roger Craig, whose testimony to the Commission, on page 160 of the report, he repeated for me in a Dallas restaurant.

Now the City Judge and Justice of the Peace of Midlothian, Craig was a deputy sheriff in Dallas five years ago and was on duty in Dealey Plaza on November 22. He saw the President shot. He also saw a man he identified as Oswald running from the School Book Depository building fifteen minutes after the shooting.

He said Oswald got into a station wagon which had been cruising along Elm Street and he later identified him at Dallas police headquarters. He said that Oswald remarked: “Everybody will know who I am now.” What is important here is that Oswald, according to the Commission Report, should have been well on his way home when Craig saw him. The Commission dismissed Craig’s testimony on the basis that his superior officer, Captain Fritz, a man who said he “never took notes,” did not remember the Oswald identification.

Roger Craig is a gaunt, erect man who speaks almost at a whisper. “I have spent my life in law enforcement and I know what I saw. I looked at Oswald’s eyes. It was him.”

Last November, Craig was shot at in a Dallas parking lot, three days after giving evidence to District Attorney Garrison, and today his family live in a virtual state of siege. Molly, his wife, has been followed by the same car for months and their phone is monitored.

The road from Dallas invariably leads to New Orleans and to District Attorney Garrison. He is the only public official in the United States inquiring full-time into the assassination. For all his intriguing without him there would be no public dissent.

“Oswald,” he said, “was a decoy who became a patsy. He never knew the true nature of his job. He never expected to die. There were about seven men involved in an old-fashioned ambush of the President. Shots came from the grassy knoll area, from the Depository building and another building in the Plaza.

“They probably did not leave the scene until well after they did the job.

“The assassination team were fanatical Anti-Castro Cubans and Right Wing paramilitary types and we are investigating connections with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency. Don’t raise your eyebrows: just consider their record outside this country, the Bay of Pigs, the U-2 incidents…

“John Kennedy was working for a peaceful détente with Castro and with all the Communist world. And he was thinking ahead to an American withdrawal from Vietnam. He wanted everything changed. He had to go.”

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Daily Mirror, 22 November 1968, pp.17-18

A wreath in Dallas

By John Pilger

Five years ago on this day the first of the crop was harvested: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a true spirit of change, was ambushed and shot to death on Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.

The world stopped that day and, in unison, we all spewed our grief.

Some did not. Some, like the hate-weaned innocents at a school in Dallas, stood and cheered, while their parents hastily convened parties at which glasses were raised in grotesque salutes to what had happened that day; and if these truths are unimaginable then so, too, is the truth of John Kennedy’s death.

For after five years of cataclysm in America, in which three other men of change have been assassinated and the very idea of America as a civilised country challenged, we still do not know the complete story of Dallas. We have, of course, the Warren Commission’s twenty-six volumes of finely-honed yet patently inconclusive reassurance, compiled, it would seem, only for those who needed reassuring, and perhaps in 1964 when the report was published we were not unlike those citizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World who lined up for their peace of mind.

I came to Dallas because on election day, when front pages were filled with poll predictions of the candidates, I read in the Los Angeles Times the results of the most important poll of all. It was taken by the Louis Harris group and it said in effect that 81 per cent of the American people no longer accepted the findings of the Warren Commission and now believed that there was a conspiracy to kill the President of the United States.

So I am in Dallas, in November and a pale ghost of a sun flits across a sky that is both enormous and hard; and down on Elm Street, on the grassy knoll near the Texas School Book Depository, from where Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have done his work, two young soldiers quizzically study a wreath sent by a student group to await the anniversary. On it is written:

Send him not these flowers,

Send us the truth.

Dallas has not changed. The organised forgetting has not worked; only the city’s mask is new.

A great deal of money has been poured on civic wounds and into prefabricated banks, like gargantuan filing cabinets; and yet the John F. Kennedy memorial, Dallas’s tribute, still lies in the planning room of City Council.

It could have happened anywhere, they still chorus. The Mayor of Dallas, multi-millionaire Erik Jonsson said: “We are not ashamed, sir!” The deposed police chief of Dallas, Jesse Curry, who has these five years carried the public guilt for the murderous circus that tried and killed Oswald in his headquarters basement, said: “Please, ah just want to go mah own way now, and forget.”

It could have happened anywhere, but it did not. Dallas was the chosen place and the world said Dallas killed the President with its air of hate and tradition of death and violence, with its assorted nuts of the paramilitary Right and a daily newspaper that believes civil rights is the Communist line. And in reply Dallas asks to be excused. Big D is a doer, they say with pride; Dallas man was born to act, not to contemplate the past. Or anything. Hamlet would hate it here.

Dallas, it must be emphatically said, is not America. The conscience which was custom-made for comfort here is a time bomb ticking away almost everywhere in the United States. Nor is that conscience being aroused by the sworn enemies of the American establishment. Such pillars as Life Magazine and The New York Times, both of which greeted the Warren Report as “exhaustive,” have long since called for a new inquiry.

Life called for a new inquiry on the basis of the film it bought for $25,000 from Abraham Zapruder who, from the grassy knoll in Elm Street filmed the President’s motorcade as it approached and kept his camera running as the shots were fired. The film, according to Texas Governor John Connally, who was seated directly in front of the President and was critically wounded, shows that he was not hit until after President Kennedy was shot for the first time, which suggests that the two men were struck by separate bullets. No one assassin using a bolt action rifle could have fired two shots that fast.

Since February of last year, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison has been on the stage with his revelation of a conspiracy plot in which, he says, Oswald played only a minor part; and in spite of the guns of scepticism aimed at him, he has gathered enough evidence for three judges to indict a New Orleans businessman called Clay Shaw, of whom the Warren Commission makes no mention, for conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States.

Perhaps it is indicative of all the assassination intrigue that the strongest case for a new inquiry might eventually rest within the bizarre. Since 1963 an estimated thirty-five to forty-seven people connected with the assassination have died in unbelievable situations.

For example two Dallas reporters who were at a meeting with Jack Ruby the night before he killed Oswald, died violently: one when a revolver “went off” in a California police station, the other by a “karate chop” in the shower at his Dallas apartment. Two strippers who worked for Jack Ruby in his Carousel Club have also died violently, one from gunshot wounds and the other, held overnight in a Dallas jail on a petty charge, was found hanged in her cell.

Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was the only journalist to have a private interview with Jack Ruby during his trial, was found dead in her New York apartment after telling friends she was going to Washington “to bust the whole thing open.”

Is it true that a CIA agent who told friends he could no longer keep quiet about the assassination was found shot in the back in his Washington apartment? The verdict was suicide.

Pilot David Ferrie was found dead in his New Orleans home, ostensibly from natural causes, but with two suicide notes beside him. Four days earlier, Ferrie had told reporters that Jim Garrison had him “pegged as the getaway pilot in an elaborate plot to kill Kennedy.” The odds against these and other deaths have been calculated at 100 trillion to one.

Much of the sequence is already known: what is not known are the answers to a melange of questions that haunt both critics and defenders of the Commission. At random: Why should two-thirds of the eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza report that shots came from in front of the President, and not from behind as the Commission says? And why were only a small portion of these witnesses interviewed?

And why were all the investigations not published? I have seen a Secret Service report that supports Governor Connally’s two bullets theory. It was not published in the Warren Report. A similar FBI report also was not published.

Why did the doctor who received the President at Parkland Hospital say the bullet entered his throat from the front, only to change his mind to agree with the autopsy performed later in Washington which contended that the bullet entered the back? Why did the chief pathologist at the autopsy burn the draft of his first report? How could the bullet – the only bullet linked to Oswald’s gun – emerge virtually unscathed after a journey through two bodies causing extensive wounds, smashing bones and a wrist?

What of the film that shows a policeman holding a rifle which he had just carried from the School Book Depository before the “Oswald rifle” was found?

The answers to these questions are not proof on their own, but together they mean something, perhaps even the beginning of a way out of the monstrous whodunnit into which the Kennedy assassination has been allowed to sink.

But the whodunnit is real. This year I have spoken to many of its authors and critics and of those I met in Dallas, I should mention here two who most impressed me.

One of them is Penn Jones, Jr., editor of the Midlothian Mirror, in the town of Midlothian, south of Dallas – a crusading small-town editor.

Years before the assassination Penn Jones exposed the John Birch Society in his columns and, for this, his office and printing presses were fire-bombed. He, like almost all the critics, believes in the political conspiracy theory.

“Anyone who has read all twenty-six volumes of the Warren Report knows by his basic common sense that it reeks of whitewash.” He said: “The report is its worst enemy; those who defend it usually haven’t read it; they just can’t conceive something that doesn’t agree with what is thought to be the respectable viewpoint. And those of us who have read all of it – and we’re few – know damn well what’s happening…”

Penn Jones sent me to Roger Craig, whose testimony to the Commission, on page 160 of the report, he repeated for me in a Dallas restaurant.

Now the City Judge and Justice of the Peace of Midlothian, Craig was a deputy sheriff in Dallas five years ago and was on duty in Dealey Plaza on November 22. He saw the President shot. He also saw a man he identified as Oswald running from the School Book Depository building fifteen minutes after the shooting.

He said Oswald got into a station wagon which had been cruising along Elm Street and he later identified him at Dallas police headquarters. He said that Oswald remarked: “Everybody will know who I am now.” What is important here is that Oswald, according to the Commission Report, should have been well on his way home when Craig saw him. The Commission dismissed Craig’s testimony on the basis that his superior officer, Captain Fritz, a man who said he “never took notes,” did not remember the Oswald identification.

Roger Craig is a gaunt, erect man who speaks almost at a whisper. “I have spent my life in law enforcement and I know what I saw. I looked at Oswald’s eyes. It was him.”

Last November, Craig was shot at in a Dallas parking lot, three days after giving evidence to District Attorney Garrison, and today his family live in a virtual state of siege. Molly, his wife, has been followed by the same car for months and their phone is monitored.

The road from Dallas invariably leads to New Orleans and to District Attorney Garrison. He is the only public official in the United States inquiring full-time into the assassination. For all his intriguing without him there would be no public dissent.

“Oswald,” he said, “was a decoy who became a patsy. He never knew the true nature of his job. He never expected to die. There were about seven men involved in an old-fashioned ambush of the President. Shots came from the grassy knoll area, from the Depository building and another building in the Plaza.

“They probably did not leave the scene until well after they did the job.

“The assassination team were fanatical Anti-Castro Cubans and Right Wing paramilitary types and we are investigating connections with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency. Don’t raise your eyebrows: just consider their record outside this country, the Bay of Pigs, the U-2 incidents…

“John Kennedy was working for a peaceful détente with Castro and with all the Communist world. And he was thinking ahead to an American withdrawal from Vietnam. He wanted everything changed. He had to go.”

**************

Thank you Paul, may this be copied and reposted?? A very thoughful and informative article of the times...

Another witness to whom Penn Jones gave much credit , for his bravery, was Richard Carr.....who was hounded , threatened, stabbed etc....

a great similarity to Roger Craig....He and his information is still downed ,as they say to this day, as some also still attempt to do so,to Roger...

His statments were also confirmed as was Rogers by other witnesses......

As Pilger writes, ""Much of the sequence is already known: what is not known are the answers to a melange of questions that haunt both critics and defenders of the Commission. At random: Why should two-thirds of the eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza report that shots came from in front of the President, and not from behind as the Commission says? And why were only a small portion of these witnesses interviewed?""

Amazing is it not, that so many of the witnesses information is and has been "interpreted" by others, as meaning, exactly the opposite in some cases , or with a slight twist, as to what they did state....they have been downed, insulted, called liars, etc etc..

No not amazing, simply put, disinformation, and that still continues on a daily basis.....by the manipulators..

Thanks again, well worth a read....

B......

Edited by Bernice Moore
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Thanks for posting this. It is one of the few examples of a left-wing journalists taking interest in the case. Robin Ramsay looks at this issue in his latest book, Politics & Paranoia.

Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Possibly more so re RFK since if memory serves he was there and swore more than one gun was blasting away.

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Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Never researched Pilger's journalism, John, but there is at least one other piece I have, this from the tenth anniversary. Highlights, italics etc., as in the original, save for the bit about Chaney:

Daily Mirror, 22 November 1973, pp. 14-15

Assassination City Ten Years On

By John Pilger

It’s ten years today since John F. Kennedy was murdered in this antheap of banks in the Texas desert and some remembrance is planned.

An 82-channel readout computer will assist.

“Ah was just putting mah baby to sleep when ah heard the news on the radio,” says a voice out of the computer, supported by a medley of Greensleaves, the Last Post and a heavenly choir of sighs. “Why, ah almost dropped the child.”

The computer is currently playing to tourists in a former warehouse just across Elm Street from Dealey Plaza where the President was shot.

For a 65p entrance fee it will emit “actual” gunfire and screams along with the “full incredible story of how Lee Harvey Oswald stole our leader from us.” And at the end of every session there is a monologue by a man who says, with the sincerity of a funeral director, that he feels a deep and personal loss each and every day…”all will y’awl please write your appreciation on the small white cards provided.”

Killed

“Fantastic! A must when in Dallas!” wrote Mrs. Lilly Seaford of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

HORSExxxx!” wrote Mr. William Danbury of Philadelphia, in block letters.

“I don’t mind anybody laying it on about JFK or even making a dollar or two, but surely it’s time for Americans to stop being so damned gullible about how he died and who killed him. We’ve come a long way since then.”

One block away Big Henry Wade, the Dallas District Attorney, swivels in his leather chair and says: “Now ah never really believed that Oswald got up one morning and went out and killed the President on his own.”

“Of course ah don’t doubt that the Warren Report (the official enquiry into the assassination) was well intentioned. Folks in this country wanted to be reassured that a madman had done it and no more, but folks like me know that two bullets from that old rifle could not have done what it done. He must have had back up people.”

Why didn’t Big Henry say this at the time?

“On the day Kennedy was shot I got a call from the White House saying they didn’t want any talk of a conspiracy. So we left it to them. The climate’s different now. People are talking easier.”

In Dealey Plaza the Cadillacs, big hats and geriatric blue rinses glide past the assassination point beside the Texas School Book Depository where Oswald’s rifle was found. A tourist attraction.

But in reality, on the eve of the anniversary, Big D is unmoved.

In ten years the murder rate here has doubled and is almost the highest in the world.

Across the street from the police headquarters where Jack Ruby shot Oswald with most of the world watching, former Dallas police chief, Jesse Curry, now works at the Security Officer of a bank.

Riding

Ten years ago Chief Curry said: “We’ve got this case wrapped up. There is no question in my mind that Oswald was the only killer.

Now, he says: “Ah guess ah’ve done some revaluating since.”

“Hell, no. Oswald wasn’t the only assassin. Patrolman Chaney, who was riding right by the President, saw him hit in the face and I don’t believe the Warren Commissioners ever talked to him. You’ll remember that Oswald shot from the rear.

“The truth of the matter is that I didn’t have men up front near the bridge and Lee Bowers, a railroad signalman, said he saw three men making a getaway from there. He’s dead now.”

In the last few years, and especially since Watergate, the defections from the official version of the assassination have increased from a trickle to a cataract. They include two members of the Warren Commission itself and even Lyndon Johnson, who shortly before his death, told a TV interviewer that he didn’t believe Oswald acted alone.

“Watergate has completely changed the atmosphere in this country. It’s made people doubt and talk,” says Penn Jones, Jr., editor of the Midlothian Mirror near Dallas.

For ten years the paper has campaigned for a reopening of the assassination inquiry. Penn Jones still combs Dealey Plaza for clues and still asks in his editorials why dozens of people connected with the assassination have died violently and against odds calculated at millions to one.

Witnesses like Lee Bowers, the railroad signalman, strippers at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club and two reporters who interviewed Ruby the night before he shot Oswald.

And why several hundred documents and ballistic reports were withheld from the Warren Commission because of “national security.” Why the chief pathologist at the President’s autopsy burned his first report, which he changed.

Why Kennedy’s preserved brain is “missing” from the national archives.

Angry

“Ten years ago,” says Penn Jones, “if I’d asked these questions my readers would only write angry letters, telling me to let the President rest in peace.

“Now it’s a whole new ball game. Since the Watergate cover-up they want to know more about Dallas.

“I tell yer, you dig into any honest American and ask him where all our traumas of the last decade began, and he’ll tell you ‘in Dallas’.”

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Thanks for posting this. It is one of the few examples of a left-wing journalists taking interest in the case. Robin Ramsay looks at this issue in his latest book, Politics & Paranoia.

Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Possibly more so re RFK since if memory serves he was there and swore more than one gun was blasting away.

But not, Greg, in his 1986 book (reprinted in paperback in 1989), Heroes, in which there is no mention whatever of a second gunman in the relevant passage on RFK's murder (Pan paperback, 1989, pp.128-9). Odd, no?

Paul

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Thanks for posting this. It is one of the few examples of a left-wing journalists taking interest in the case. Robin Ramsay looks at this issue in his latest book, Politics & Paranoia.

Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Possibly more so re RFK since if memory serves he was there and swore more than one gun was blasting away.

But not, Greg, in his 1986 book (reprinted in paperback in 1989), Heroes, in which there is no mention whatever of a second gunman in the relevant passage on RFK's murder (Pan paperback, 1989, pp.128-9). Odd, no?

Paul

Maybe Paul. I haven't read it, so I can only speculate that perhaps a diversion into assassination conspiracy didn't fit the parameters of the book. There have, I'm sure been a number of books and articles which touch on JFK where no opinion on the assassination is rendered, even though the author believes it to have been the result of a conspiracy.

Here's what he told Ms Goodman at Democracy Now:

There’s no question that there was another gunman, because one of the people who was hit, just grazed, was standing next to me, and that happened when Sirhan Sirhan had been wrestled to the ground. So that’s the interesting thing. There was another assassin or another several assassins. And then it was bedlam. And as you know, Kennedy died about twenty-four hours later.

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Thanks for posting this. It is one of the few examples of a left-wing journalists taking interest in the case. Robin Ramsay looks at this issue in his latest book, Politics & Paranoia.

Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Possibly more so re RFK since if memory serves he was there and swore more than one gun was blasting away.

But not, Greg, in his 1986 book (reprinted in paperback in 1989), Heroes, in which there is no mention whatever of a second gunman in the relevant passage on RFK's murder (Pan paperback, 1989, pp.128-9). Odd, no?

Paul

Maybe Paul. I haven't read it, so I can only speculate that perhaps a diversion into assassination conspiracy didn't fit the parameters of the book. There have, I'm sure been a number of books and articles which touch on JFK where no opinion on the assassination is rendered, even though the author believes it to have been the result of a conspiracy.

Here's what he told Ms Goodman at Democracy Now:

There’s no question that there was another gunman, because one of the people who was hit, just grazed, was standing next to me, and that happened when Sirhan Sirhan had been wrestled to the ground. So that’s the interesting thing. There was another assassin or another several assassins. And then it was bedlam. And as you know, Kennedy died about twenty-four hours later.

And here's Pilger working as an assiduous salesman for the official lone-nut nonsense:

Kennedy jumped down from the podium, shook more hands and, with Rosie Greer cutting a swathe through the crush, headed for the kitchen. Inside the pantry serving-area, he shook hands with a chef in his big white hat and with others of the kitchen staff, who were mostly blacks and chicanos; and then, before thought and sound could be synchronised, there were reports like balloons bursting or flash bulbs popping; they were not shots, I thought, because surely it could not happen again. The unreality persisted, until a woman collapsed at my side with blood trickling from her head. She had been shot. Several had been shot, including Senator Kennedy.

The staring little man in the kitchen had taken a .22 revolver from underneath his yellow jacket, jumped on to a table and taken aim; Kennedy had seen him, screamed, ‘No!’ and half-glanced for a space against the wall, anywhere, to escape. He had been shot still smiling that rabbit smile of his, and he lay beside a refrigerator with a chicano dishwasher kneeling over him. Ethel flailed out with her fists, her lips sucked in with the horror and shock, and for a brief time she prevented anybody, even friends, from touching her husband. ‘Where’s the doctor?’ she shouted; and when a brooch fell from her dress on to Kennedy’s chin, she put her face close to his and said, ‘I’m sorry, my darling, please forgive me…’

From somewhere a priest appeared and said, ‘I must be with Senator Kennedy. You know that!’ Rosie Greer, tears flowing with rage, lifted Sirhan Sirhan off his feet, smashed his hand and disarmed him. Others attempted to beat their fists on his small body, but Greer protected him in a stranglehold that might have dispatched him there and then had four policeman not arrived and run with him from the hotel…

Robert Kennedy died the next day…And the assassin said in a television interview, ‘I loved him…he was the hope of all the poor people in this country. I’m not rich, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here on this programme. I had no identity, no hope, no goal to strive for. Everyone in America loves a winner, and I was a loser,’

John Pilger. Heroes (London: Pan Books, paperback edition,1989), pp.128-130.

Defective memory syndrome, perhaps?

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Thanks for posting this. It is one of the few examples of a left-wing journalists taking interest in the case. Robin Ramsay looks at this issue in his latest book, Politics & Paranoia.

Do you know if Pilger wrote anthing else on this case?

Possibly more so re RFK since if memory serves he was there and swore more than one gun was blasting away.

But not, Greg, in his 1986 book (reprinted in paperback in 1989), Heroes, in which there is no mention whatever of a second gunman in the relevant passage on RFK's murder (Pan paperback, 1989, pp.128-9). Odd, no?

Paul

Maybe Paul. I haven't read it, so I can only speculate that perhaps a diversion into assassination conspiracy didn't fit the parameters of the book. There have, I'm sure been a number of books and articles which touch on JFK where no opinion on the assassination is rendered, even though the author believes it to have been the result of a conspiracy.

Here's what he told Ms Goodman at Democracy Now:

There’s no question that there was another gunman, because one of the people who was hit, just grazed, was standing next to me, and that happened when Sirhan Sirhan had been wrestled to the ground. So that’s the interesting thing. There was another assassin or another several assassins. And then it was bedlam. And as you know, Kennedy died about twenty-four hours later.

And here's Pilger working as an assiduous salesman for the official lone-nut nonsense:

Kennedy jumped down from the podium, shook more hands and, with Rosie Greer cutting a swathe through the crush, headed for the kitchen. Inside the pantry serving-area, he shook hands with a chef in his big white hat and with others of the kitchen staff, who were mostly blacks and chicanos; and then, before thought and sound could be synchronised, there were reports like balloons bursting or flash bulbs popping; they were not shots, I thought, because surely it could not happen again. The unreality persisted, until a woman collapsed at my side with blood trickling from her head. She had been shot. Several had been shot, including Senator Kennedy.

The staring little man in the kitchen had taken a .22 revolver from underneath his yellow jacket, jumped on to a table and taken aim; Kennedy had seen him, screamed, ‘No!’ and half-glanced for a space against the wall, anywhere, to escape. He had been shot still smiling that rabbit smile of his, and he lay beside a refrigerator with a chicano dishwasher kneeling over him. Ethel flailed out with her fists, her lips sucked in with the horror and shock, and for a brief time she prevented anybody, even friends, from touching her husband. ‘Where’s the doctor?’ she shouted; and when a brooch fell from her dress on to Kennedy’s chin, she put her face close to his and said, ‘I’m sorry, my darling, please forgive me…’

From somewhere a priest appeared and said, ‘I must be with Senator Kennedy. You know that!’ Rosie Greer, tears flowing with rage, lifted Sirhan Sirhan off his feet, smashed his hand and disarmed him. Others attempted to beat their fists on his small body, but Greer protected him in a stranglehold that might have dispatched him there and then had four policeman not arrived and run with him from the hotel…

Robert Kennedy died the next day…And the assassin said in a television interview, ‘I loved him…he was the hope of all the poor people in this country. I’m not rich, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here on this programme. I had no identity, no hope, no goal to strive for. Everyone in America loves a winner, and I was a loser,’

John Pilger. Heroes (London: Pan Books, paperback edition,1989), pp.128-130.

Defective memory syndrome, perhaps?

Paul, with due respect, to my mind, what is written only reinforces what I'd guessed previously... it was not the right book to be going off about second shooters and conspiracies. And maybe Pilger did not even have a say in that...

In any case, there is no contradiction between what he said in Heroes and more recent statements because he clearly still believes Sirhan was one of the shooters (a hard one to dispute really).

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Paul, with due respect, to my mind, what is written only reinforces what I'd guessed previously... it was not the right book to be going off about second shooters and conspiracies. And maybe Pilger did not even have a say in that...

In any case, there is no contradiction between what he said in Heroes and more recent statements because he clearly still believes Sirhan was one of the shooters (a hard one to dispute really).

Couldn’t agree more. After all, it’s only another sixty plus pages on before Pilger introduces the CIA’s creation of “a master illusion” (the republic of Vietnam) and one “Ralph W. McGehee,” who “was for twenty five-years a career officer…and one of the creators of such illusions…an expert in ‘black propaganda,’ which is known today as ‘disinformation’” (Ibid., p.185). Not the remotest connection, there, surely, with the creation of the myth of Sirhan Sirhan as RFK’’s lone-nut assassin?

Likewise with your uncritical acceptance of the “fact” that Sirhan fired real bullets in the pantry. I must have missed the independent investigation into the murder. No matter. Readers of a less establishmentarian cast of mind than your own might care to have a look at a fascinating chapter within The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X (LA: Feral House, 2003), the DiEugenio/Pease anthology. The title of the Lisa Pease- authored chapter in question? The RFK Plot Part 1: The Grand Illusion – see pp.566 -570, in particular.

Then there's the interesting quesion of Pilger's contemporaneous reportage of the RFK assassination. Is there any mention within it of a second-shooter? I don't know, but I'm beginning to suspect there wasn't.

Paul

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Paul, with due respect, to my mind, what is written only reinforces what I'd guessed previously... it was not the right book to be going off about second shooters and conspiracies. And maybe Pilger did not even have a say in that...

In any case, there is no contradiction between what he said in Heroes and more recent statements because he clearly still believes Sirhan was one of the shooters (a hard one to dispute really).

Couldn’t agree more. After all, it’s only another sixty plus pages on before Pilger introduces the CIA’s creation of “a master illusion” (the republic of Vietnam) and one “Ralph W. McGehee,” who “was for twenty five-years a career officer…and one of the creators of such illusions…an expert in ‘black propaganda,’ which is known today as ‘disinformation’” (Ibid., p.185). Not the remotest connection, there, surely, with the creation of the myth of Sirhan Sirhan as RFK’’s lone-nut assassin?

Paul, since Pilger was not pushing a conspiracy or lone nut scenario in the limited space he gave the assassination of RFK in Heroes, your suggestion he should have connected black propaganda ops in Vietnam to the creation of a mythical lone nut assassin re RFK, is asking quite a bit of Pilger - or indeed - anyone who deigns to write a passage or two about such things in a book which does not have conspiracy theories as the main thesis.

Likewise with your uncritical acceptance of the “fact” that Sirhan fired real bullets in the pantry.

Ease up a bit, mate. I never offered any opinion as to what was fired from Sirhan's weapon. By all means, correct me when I get the facts wrong, but don't put words in my mouth and on the basis of those (your) words, accuse me of anything like "uncritical acceptance".

I must have missed the independent investigation into the murder. No matter. Readers of a less establishmentarian cast of mind than your own might care to have a look at a fascinating chapter within The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X (LA: Feral House, 2003), the DiEugenio/Pease anthology. The title of the Lisa Pease- authored chapter in question? The RFK Plot Part 1: The Grand Illusion – see pp.566 -570, in particular.

Establishmentarian? You can call me anything, Paul. That's a new one, though, and tremendously funny.

Readers of the Assassinations might also like to check out Bogota Ripples - which draws many similarities between Juan Roa Sierra and Sirhran Sirhan, and concludes that Sierra was the probably the first mind controlled assassin of the CIA.

Then there's the interesting quesion of Pilger's contemporaneous reportage of the RFK assassination. Is there any mention within it of a second-shooter? I don't know, but I'm beginning to suspect there wasn't.

I agree it would be good to know exactly what he said back then. The earliest "second shooter" account from Pilger I have located is in a 1988 edition of New Statement. He calls shopping malls and homicide the twin symbols of the 20th century in the US, and includes in the latter, "the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, the piled dead of Vietnam, the victim of the assassins bullet."

"The Ambassador Hotel", he goes on, "can provide the latter" before going on to state the impossibility of Sirhan as Lone Nut, his encounter the next day with a witness to the Polka Dot lady etc.

Honestly Paul, before you go lambasting him for what you feel he should have included in Heroes, I think it's up to you to track down exactly what he did say contemporaneously. If he failed to mention in '68 the likelihood of at least one other shooter, I'll be an individual just like you, grab my pitchfork and lamp and join your merry little witch hunt. At least then, I'll know it's warranted.

Paul

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Well, let's start with a positive: Bogota Ripples is excellent stuff, for which commendation. I shall return to it in future and pay you the deserved compliment of citing it as a source.

So, to the negatives:

1) Your attempt to argue that Heroes was an inappropriate place to mention the minor fact that Pilger thought there was a second gunman in the pantry is bizarre, particularly since the book contains both a long, utterly standard New Left attack on RFK, and stuff on a very big CIA conspiracy with regard to Vietnam. If the former was indeed the cynical establishment figure of that NL caricature, what need for an elaborate plot to kill him? In suppressing the information about the presence of a second gunman, Pilger was very obviously protecting the NL party line. Now why would a truly independent - and thoroughly fearless, we are led to believe - investigative journalist do that? Have we run into yet another "left gatekeeper"?

2) Writing that it's hard to argue with the proposition that Sirhan was "one of the shooters" is an opinion, and is very obviously an erroneous one: Had Sirhan fired real bullets, the real assassin, standing right behind the target, might well have had his head blown off. One sees immediately the downside, for the plotters at least, of such an occurrence.

3) Asking questions about the veracity and timing of Pilger's journalism on RFK and his murder is no more a "witchhunt" - good to see that understatement and perspective are alive and well "Down Under" - than any other piece of research. Perhaps I've stepped on a raw Aussie nerve or two? Presumably confirmation that Pilger did suppress all mention of a second gunman in his contemporaneous reportage would transform what you ludicrously style "a witchhunt" into routine research?

4) Why not join in the research on Pilger? Aren't you even a tad curious? I know I am.

Paul

Paul, with due respect, to my mind, what is written only reinforces what I'd guessed previously... it was not the right book to be going off about second shooters and conspiracies. And maybe Pilger did not even have a say in that...

In any case, there is no contradiction between what he said in Heroes and more recent statements because he clearly still believes Sirhan was one of the shooters (a hard one to dispute really).

Couldn’t agree more. After all, it’s only another sixty plus pages on before Pilger introduces the CIA’s creation of “a master illusion” (the republic of Vietnam) and one “Ralph W. McGehee,” who “was for twenty five-years a career officer…and one of the creators of such illusions…an expert in ‘black propaganda,’ which is known today as ‘disinformation’” (Ibid., p.185). Not the remotest connection, there, surely, with the creation of the myth of Sirhan Sirhan as RFK’’s lone-nut assassin?

Paul, since Pilger was not pushing a conspiracy or lone nut scenario in the limited space he gave the assassination of RFK in Heroes, your suggestion he should have connected black propaganda ops in Vietnam to the creation of a mythical lone nut assassin re RFK, is asking quite a bit of Pilger - or indeed - anyone who deigns to write a passage or two about such things in a book which does not have conspiracy theories as the main thesis.

Likewise with your uncritical acceptance of the “fact” that Sirhan fired real bullets in the pantry.

Ease up a bit, mate. I never offered any opinion as to what was fired from Sirhan's weapon. By all means, correct me when I get the facts wrong, but don't put words in my mouth and on the basis of those (your) words, accuse me of anything like "uncritical acceptance".

I must have missed the independent investigation into the murder. No matter. Readers of a less establishmentarian cast of mind than your own might care to have a look at a fascinating chapter within The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X (LA: Feral House, 2003), the DiEugenio/Pease anthology. The title of the Lisa Pease- authored chapter in question? The RFK Plot Part 1: The Grand Illusion – see pp.566 -570, in particular.

Establishmentarian? You can call me anything, Paul. That's a new one, though, and tremendously funny.

Readers of the Assassinations might also like to check out Bogota Ripples - which draws many similarities between Juan Roa Sierra and Sirhran Sirhan, and concludes that Sierra was the probably the first mind controlled assassin of the CIA.

Then there's the interesting quesion of Pilger's contemporaneous reportage of the RFK assassination. Is there any mention within it of a second-shooter? I don't know, but I'm beginning to suspect there wasn't.

I agree it would be good to know exactly what he said back then. The earliest "second shooter" account from Pilger I have located is in a 1988 edition of New Statement. He calls shopping malls and homicide the twin symbols of the 20th century in the US, and includes in the latter, "the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, the piled dead of Vietnam, the victim of the assassins bullet."

"The Ambassador Hotel", he goes on, "can provide the latter" before going on to state the impossibility of Sirhan as Lone Nut, his encounter the next day with a witness to the Polka Dot lady etc.

Honestly Paul, before you go lambasting him for what you feel he should have included in Heroes, I think it's up to you to track down exactly what he did say contemporaneously. If he failed to mention in '68 the likelihood of at least one other shooter, I'll be an individual just like you, grab my pitchfork and lamp and join your merry little witch hunt. At least then, I'll know it's warranted.

Paul

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In suppressing the information about the presence of a second gunman, Pilger was very obviously protecting the NL party line. Now why would a truly independent - and thoroughly fearless, we are led to believe - investigative journalist do that? Have we run into yet another "left gatekeeper"?

Mark Twain, from his essay, “On the decay of the Art of Lying”:

Among other common lies, we have the silent lie -- the deception which one conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth. Many obstinate truth-mongers indulge in this dissipation, imagining that if they speak no lie, they lie not at all.

Seems to me that lying by omission staged something of a comeback at the hands of the New Left in the 1960s, not least on the subject of CIA support for Eugene McCarthy. Here, too, Pilger passes the NL test with flying colours.

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In suppressing the information about the presence of a second gunman, Pilger was very obviously protecting the NL party line. Now why would a truly independent - and thoroughly fearless, we are led to believe - investigative journalist do that? Have we run into yet another "left gatekeeper"?

Here's Pilger displaying his profound fear of seeming a member of the tinfoil hat brigade in a 1992 tribute to the director of JFK:

”Like Stone and Garrison, the two reporters who pursued the Watergate affair were often dismissed as ‘paranoid’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’. Watergate was a conspiracy. The Iran-Contra scandal was a conspiracy. The ‘Gulf of Tonkin Incident’ was conspiracy. The secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia was a conspiracy. The overthrow of Salvador Allende was a conspiracy,”

John Pilger. Distant Voices (London: Vintage, 1992), p.272

Curiously, no mention whatever of the RFK assassination conspiracy. What had happened to Pilger’s insistence – to the FBI, in 1968, at least – that there was second gunman in the pantry? On the back-burner in public again? Apparently so. Why?

Nor was this an isolated instance of Pilgerian accommodation with Power. Far from it. Consider this remarkable extract from the same Pilger tribute to Oliver Stone. It contains a weasel formulation to rank with anything produced by the other licensed jesters of the 1960s:

”Thousands of the 1.2 million words attacking Stone have concentrated on his portrayal of Kennedy as a ‘lost leader’. Kennedy was hardly that; but in any case, Stone devotes very little of JFK to his misguided admiration for Kennedy; and it is hardly relevant whether or not Kennedy was actually planning to take America out of Vietnam or to make piece with Fidel Castro. The point is, Kennedy was perceived in those days as a dangerous Catholic liberal who might.

You read that right: Kennedy wasn’t killed because of substantive policy differences, you understand, but purely because the CIA and the Mafia misread him. You read that right: Angleton, the Yale devotee of Eliot and the Modernists, couldn’t see through the dime novella that, if we take Pilger seriously, JFK was. Very plausible.

This absurd nonsense has another function, too - as explanation and alibi for Pilger’s failure to do anything of real substance on the coup-cum-assassination of November 1963; and is thus, at root, in perfect accord with Noam Chomsky’s CIA-serving caricature of Kennedy as a warhawk, and, of those who continue to mourn his murder and seek the truth of it, as “cargo cultists.”

We now have an answer as to how and why a journalist such as Pilger flourished in the reign of Cecil King at the Mirror – they were really on the same side.

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