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Pilger on RFK 1968 versus 2008


Paul Rigby
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http://www.democracynow.org/2008/6/5/democ...obert_f_kennedy

June 05, 2008

Democracy Now! Special: Robert F. Kennedy’s Life and Legacy 40 Years After His Assassination

The Australian British journalist John Pilger was with Robert F. Kennedy the night he was killed. Pilger had been covering the Kennedy campaign as it traveled across the country. He has written critically of Kennedy’s record as Attorney General and as presidential candidate.

Earlier today, I spoke with John Pilger on the telephone from Italy. He was reporting for the Daily Mirror at the time and had one of the last interviews with Robert F. Kennedy, which he described as a long, languorous interview, in which Robert Kennedy took out some beer, was relaxed, was in a small plane, his campaign plane, speaking with this journalist reporting for the British Daily Mirror. John Pilger is known for scores of documentaries he has done over the decades, more than fifty of them, on everything from Vietnam to Cambodia to East Timor to Iraq. His latest film is called The War on Terror.

I asked John Pilger to describe the day Robert F. Kennedy was shot.

JOHN PILGER: I had been traveling with Robert Kennedy as a correspondent for the London Mirror in the end of May, early June, primarily through California. And this was the primary that Kennedy had to win to show that he could gain the nomination. In fact, by winning in California, which he did, he would almost certainly have gained the nomination.

But I had one of the last interviews with Kennedy. In those days, there was good access to the candidates. There were spin doctors, but the protection around the candidate was fairly minimal, in that you could speak to him and have an interview. And I had a very long interview with Kennedy, in which I asked him about his alleged opposition to the war. You may remember, he was running against Senator Eugene McCarthy then, whose so-called children’s campaign was very much an antiwar campaign, and Kennedy really only came into the campaign after McCarthy had won in New Hampshire and Lyndon Johnson had decided not to seek another term. So Kennedy was really running as the new liberal candidate, antiwar, which he wasn’t, and somebody—he was like Barack Obama of his time, very much for—he was supported by young people, although they were divided then between McCarthy and him, and he was supported by minorities. So the interview I had with Kennedy was about two or three days before he arrived in Los Angeles.

And I went along to the Ambassador Hotel, where Kennedy was due to appear, having won that primary. And in fact I had been invited with a number of other journalists to join him and his entourage at what was then a fairly well-known discotheque in Los Angeles called The Factory. And we had been told to follow the candidate through the kitchen, because they were going out the back way. And as we waited for Kennedy to appear on stage in the ballroom at the Ambassador, one of the Kennedy workers came up to us and said, “There’s a funny-looking guy in the kitchen. He’s giving me the creeps.” Well, that was Sirhan Sirhan. And I have to say that none of us journalists where we were went off and inquired who this funny-looking guy was.

Kennedy arrived, stood on the stage, made a very short speech, which ended famously with now “on to Chicago,” where the Democratic nomination would have happened, the convention there. And then, he and Ethel, his wife, and his two protectors—Bill Barry, former FBI agent, and Rosey Grier, NFL player—followed by a half a dozen journalists, including myself, started to walk towards the kitchen. Kennedy entered the kitchen. Sirhan leapt up on a serving area, pointed a gun at him and fired. He was wrestled. Kennedy fell. He was wrestled to the ground, and then there were other shots.

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.

AMY GOODMAN: John Pilger, what about Robert Kennedy’s views of Vietnam? Also, of course, your view is not the standard one, that there were other assassins.

JOHN PILGER: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite hear the second part. His views of Vietnam and…?

AMY GOODMAN: Your view is not the standard one, that there were other assassins there. But—

JOHN PILGER: Well, I told—the FBI interviewed quite a few of us, and I told the FBI at length just what had happened, the numbers of shots that were fired that I heard—I thought I heard. And I’m pretty sure I did hear them, which Sirhan Sirhan—

AMY GOODMAN: How many?

JOHN PILGER: —couldn’t have fired. There were two people seen running from the Ambassador Hotel, including one famous woman in a polka dot dress. A number of us thought we saw those. We can’t be absolutely sure about that. There is a new documentary out, which I haven’t seen, which I understand goes into this in depth. But—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, John, on the issue of Vietnam, where you feel Robert Kennedy stood—today, forty years later, remembered as being the antiwar candidate, as Eugene McCarthy was—your view?

JOHN PILGER: He wasn’t, no. He wasn’t an antiwar candidate. Kennedy was essentially a carpetbagger. He had no intention actually of running that year, and it was only McCarthy’s win in New Hampshire and the tremendous outpouring of support around him and also around Martin Luther King. You may remember that Martin Luther King had drawn together both the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement, which then had command of many of the streets in the United States. And he had made the connection between the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam, so it was building now into 1968 pretty quickly. And Kennedy rode this wave.

But Kennedy himself had actually supported the war and, even when he was running as a candidate, had made it quite clear—and here, there is a definite echo of Barack Obama—where he said, well, yes, I’m going to withdraw the troops, but when? And just as Obama is now saying—reserving his right not to withdraw troops next year. Kennedy was saying pretty much the same thing. And the impression I got traveling with him was that he was quite uncomfortable with being an antiwar candidate.

AMY GOODMAN: In what way?

JOHN PILGER: Well, he was equivocal. And again, I draw the comparison. I see so many echoes in Barack Obama of Robert Kennedy. He was equivocating. And when you’re equivocating at that stage, in an atmosphere—a charged antiwar atmosphere—by then, most Americans were against the war in Vietnam. There was a momentum to get out of Vietnam. It had really begun in earnest then. Kennedy was hedging. He was hedging his bets. And he was never saying outright that he was getting the troops out. And I think he provides a very good lesson for those whose hopes are pinned on one candidate at the moment.

AMY GOODMAN: His relationship with Dr. King? It had actually just come out a few weeks before Robert Kennedy was assassinated that he had been involved as Attorney General with the wiretapping of Dr. King. That information, though it had been years before, came out just before he himself was assassinated.

JOHN PILGER: I’m sorry. I missed the beginning of that, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: His relationship with Dr. King. It had just come out, right before Robert Kennedy was assassinated, that he had authorized the wiretapping of Martin Luther King years before, when he was Attorney General.

JOHN PILGER: Yes. Yes, that’s right. Yes, I understand. Yes, that’s right. Kennedy had a very checkered past. He—it seemed to me that he was—I mean, his relationship with the other McCarthy is known. He was very much—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking Joe McCarthy? What was his relationship?

JOHN PILGER: Joe McCarthy, when he was—he did work as a junior lawyer around that time and was involved with the committee. His relationship in—I mean, his relationship with black people in the United States, I thought, was always compromised. He once described them, for which he later apologized, as immigrants.

And I thought all the contradictions and confusion that are often invested in the Kennedy name were really very vividly expressed in Robert Kennedy himself. He was very hard to pin down. He spoke in a rhetoric. I was looking back on my notes recently of the interview I did with Kennedy, and, you know, there was just a stream of consciousness of rhetoric, really refusing to be pinned down on the major issues. He was an image candidate, bar none. He used the memory of his martyred brother, President John Kennedy, to—a lot. He spoke with different rhetoric to different audiences. All politicians do that, of course, but I was struck to hear Kennedy speak to, let’s say, a blue-collar audience, white blue-collar audience, in a very conservative way and use the code for race, which was law and order then, and then he would go into the vineyards of California among Mexican Americans and really be received almost like as a Christ-like figure.

AMY GOODMAN: John Pilger, investigative journalist, documentary filmmaker, covered Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign in the last months, was one of the last extended interviews he did with Robert F. Kennedy. He was there, back in the kitchen, when Robert F. Kennedy was shot and assassinated.

Not quite Pilger's take in 1968, from this piece:

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.”

So who changed in the intervening 40 years - Pilger, or RFK?

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http://www.democracynow.org/2008/6/5/democ...obert_f_kennedy

June 05, 2008

Democracy Now! Special: Robert F. Kennedy’s Life and Legacy 40 Years After His Assassination

The Australian British journalist John Pilger was with Robert F. Kennedy the night he was killed. Pilger had been covering the Kennedy campaign as it traveled across the country. He has written critically of Kennedy’s record as Attorney General and as presidential candidate.

Earlier today, I spoke with John Pilger on the telephone from Italy. He was reporting for the Daily Mirror at the time and had one of the last interviews with Robert F. Kennedy, which he described as a long, languorous interview, in which Robert Kennedy took out some beer, was relaxed, was in a small plane, his campaign plane, speaking with this journalist reporting for the British Daily Mirror. John Pilger is known for scores of documentaries he has done over the decades, more than fifty of them, on everything from Vietnam to Cambodia to East Timor to Iraq. His latest film is called The War on Terror.

I asked John Pilger to describe the day Robert F. Kennedy was shot.

JOHN PILGER: I had been traveling with Robert Kennedy as a correspondent for the London Mirror in the end of May, early June, primarily through California. And this was the primary that Kennedy had to win to show that he could gain the nomination. In fact, by winning in California, which he did, he would almost certainly have gained the nomination.

But I had one of the last interviews with Kennedy. In those days, there was good access to the candidates. There were spin doctors, but the protection around the candidate was fairly minimal, in that you could speak to him and have an interview. And I had a very long interview with Kennedy, in which I asked him about his alleged opposition to the war. You may remember, he was running against Senator Eugene McCarthy then, whose so-called children’s campaign was very much an antiwar campaign, and Kennedy really only came into the campaign after McCarthy had won in New Hampshire and Lyndon Johnson had decided not to seek another term. So Kennedy was really running as the new liberal candidate, antiwar, which he wasn’t, and somebody—he was like Barack Obama of his time, very much for—he was supported by young people, although they were divided then between McCarthy and him, and he was supported by minorities. So the interview I had with Kennedy was about two or three days before he arrived in Los Angeles.

And I went along to the Ambassador Hotel, where Kennedy was due to appear, having won that primary. And in fact I had been invited with a number of other journalists to join him and his entourage at what was then a fairly well-known discotheque in Los Angeles called The Factory. And we had been told to follow the candidate through the kitchen, because they were going out the back way. And as we waited for Kennedy to appear on stage in the ballroom at the Ambassador, one of the Kennedy workers came up to us and said, “There’s a funny-looking guy in the kitchen. He’s giving me the creeps.” Well, that was Sirhan Sirhan. And I have to say that none of us journalists where we were went off and inquired who this funny-looking guy was.

Kennedy arrived, stood on the stage, made a very short speech, which ended famously with now “on to Chicago,” where the Democratic nomination would have happened, the convention there. And then, he and Ethel, his wife, and his two protectors—Bill Barry, former FBI agent, and Rosey Grier, NFL player—followed by a half a dozen journalists, including myself, started to walk towards the kitchen. Kennedy entered the kitchen. Sirhan leapt up on a serving area, pointed a gun at him and fired. He was wrestled. Kennedy fell. He was wrestled to the ground, and then there were other shots.

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.

AMY GOODMAN: John Pilger, what about Robert Kennedy’s views of Vietnam? Also, of course, your view is not the standard one, that there were other assassins.

JOHN PILGER: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite hear the second part. His views of Vietnam and…?

AMY GOODMAN: Your view is not the standard one, that there were other assassins there. But—

JOHN PILGER: Well, I told—the FBI interviewed quite a few of us, and I told the FBI at length just what had happened, the numbers of shots that were fired that I heard—I thought I heard. And I’m pretty sure I did hear them, which Sirhan Sirhan—

AMY GOODMAN: How many?

JOHN PILGER: —couldn’t have fired. There were two people seen running from the Ambassador Hotel, including one famous woman in a polka dot dress. A number of us thought we saw those. We can’t be absolutely sure about that. There is a new documentary out, which I haven’t seen, which I understand goes into this in depth. But—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, John, on the issue of Vietnam, where you feel Robert Kennedy stood—today, forty years later, remembered as being the antiwar candidate, as Eugene McCarthy was—your view?

JOHN PILGER: He wasn’t, no. He wasn’t an antiwar candidate. Kennedy was essentially a carpetbagger. He had no intention actually of running that year, and it was only McCarthy’s win in New Hampshire and the tremendous outpouring of support around him and also around Martin Luther King. You may remember that Martin Luther King had drawn together both the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement, which then had command of many of the streets in the United States. And he had made the connection between the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam, so it was building now into 1968 pretty quickly. And Kennedy rode this wave.

But Kennedy himself had actually supported the war and, even when he was running as a candidate, had made it quite clear—and here, there is a definite echo of Barack Obama—where he said, well, yes, I’m going to withdraw the troops, but when? And just as Obama is now saying—reserving his right not to withdraw troops next year. Kennedy was saying pretty much the same thing. And the impression I got traveling with him was that he was quite uncomfortable with being an antiwar candidate.

AMY GOODMAN: In what way?

JOHN PILGER: Well, he was equivocal. And again, I draw the comparison. I see so many echoes in Barack Obama of Robert Kennedy. He was equivocating. And when you’re equivocating at that stage, in an atmosphere—a charged antiwar atmosphere—by then, most Americans were against the war in Vietnam. There was a momentum to get out of Vietnam. It had really begun in earnest then. Kennedy was hedging. He was hedging his bets. And he was never saying outright that he was getting the troops out. And I think he provides a very good lesson for those whose hopes are pinned on one candidate at the moment.

AMY GOODMAN: His relationship with Dr. King? It had actually just come out a few weeks before Robert Kennedy was assassinated that he had been involved as Attorney General with the wiretapping of Dr. King. That information, though it had been years before, came out just before he himself was assassinated.

JOHN PILGER: I’m sorry. I missed the beginning of that, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: His relationship with Dr. King. It had just come out, right before Robert Kennedy was assassinated, that he had authorized the wiretapping of Martin Luther King years before, when he was Attorney General.

JOHN PILGER: Yes. Yes, that’s right. Yes, I understand. Yes, that’s right. Kennedy had a very checkered past. He—it seemed to me that he was—I mean, his relationship with the other McCarthy is known. He was very much—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking Joe McCarthy? What was his relationship?

JOHN PILGER: Joe McCarthy, when he was—he did work as a junior lawyer around that time and was involved with the committee. His relationship in—I mean, his relationship with black people in the United States, I thought, was always compromised. He once described them, for which he later apologized, as immigrants.

And I thought all the contradictions and confusion that are often invested in the Kennedy name were really very vividly expressed in Robert Kennedy himself. He was very hard to pin down. He spoke in a rhetoric. I was looking back on my notes recently of the interview I did with Kennedy, and, you know, there was just a stream of consciousness of rhetoric, really refusing to be pinned down on the major issues. He was an image candidate, bar none. He used the memory of his martyred brother, President John Kennedy, to—a lot. He spoke with different rhetoric to different audiences. All politicians do that, of course, but I was struck to hear Kennedy speak to, let’s say, a blue-collar audience, white blue-collar audience, in a very conservative way and use the code for race, which was law and order then, and then he would go into the vineyards of California among Mexican Americans and really be received almost like as a Christ-like figure.

AMY GOODMAN: John Pilger, investigative journalist, documentary filmmaker, covered Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign in the last months, was one of the last extended interviews he did with Robert F. Kennedy. He was there, back in the kitchen, when Robert F. Kennedy was shot and assassinated.

In his 1986 book, Heroes, Pilger was an assiduous propagator of the official lone assassin guff:

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.

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