CTKAformerly published Probe Magazine.
Most of the articles on this site first appeared in Probe.
If you would like to submit an article to be considered
for publication on this site, please send mail to us at here.
Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
April 13th, Barnes and Noble, Metro Pointe,
901 B South Coast Drive Ste 150, Costa Mesa,
May 4th, Barnes
and Noble, Orange Town & Country
791 South Main Street Suite 100,
NEW DATE! May 18th, Barnes
and Noble Bookstore in Manhattan Gateway Shopping Center 1800 Rosecrans
Avenue Building B, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310-725-7025, 12-4 PM
October 16-19th Passing the Torch
Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November
in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
The French Connection, by
Peter Kross Review
by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
By Vincent Salandria
1: Review of Peter Janney’s "Mary’s Mosaic"
By Lisa Pease
2: Entering Peter Janney’s World of Fantasy
By James DiEugenio
Awful Grace of God, Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy
and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Martin Hay
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
by Vince Palamara
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work
of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy,
including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
Reviews of John McAdams' book JFK
Assassination Logic by:
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
Reviewed by William Davy
a DVD Robert Kennedy documentary produced,
written and directed by Massimo Mazzucco. Reviewed by Jim DiEugenio
Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was
hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
those who were in and around Dealey Plaza that
day and those who made a career of the case afterwards.
Joseph Green on the late Manning
Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus
- and -
and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy: A Coalescence of InterestsSeamus Coogan
on Joseph Farrell's new book
No Evil: Social Constructivism and the Forensic Evidence in the
by Donald Byron Thomas
Comprehensive Review by David Mantik of
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
Part I: The Grand Illusion Part
II: Rubik's Cube by Lisa Pease
is Anton Batey?
CTKA takes a close look at a most curious radio host who is a JFK
denier, Chomskyite, and yet happens to be in league with John McAdams
and David Von Pein. Yep, its all true.
Reviews of Douglas Horne's multi-volume study
of the declassified medical evidence in the JFK case. Reviewed
Jim DiEugenio, David Mantik and Gary Aguilar.
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
the Jim Garrison investigation
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
From the May-June, 1998 issue (Vol. 5 No. 4)
of Probe Magazine
Part II: Rubik's Cube
By Lisa Pease
Part I of this
article, we saw that Sirhan could not have shot Kennedy. Indeed, there is a
great deal of evidence to suggest that Sirhan was firing blanks. If Sirhan did
not shoot Kennedy, who did? Why? And how is it that Sirhan’s own lawyers did not
reveal the evidence that he could not have committed the crime for which he
received a death sentence?
Before one considers the above issues, one larger issue stands out. If Sirhan
did not kill Kennedy, how has the cover-up lasted this long? In the end, that
question will bring us closer to the top of the conspiracy than any other. No
matter who was involved, if there were a will to get to the bottom of this
crime, the evidence has been available. The fact that no official body has ever
made the effort to honestly examine all the evidence in this case is nearly as
chilling as the original crime itself, and points to a high level of what can
only be termed government involvement. In the history of this country and
particularly the sixties, one entity stands out beyond all others as having the
means, the motive, and the opportunity to orchestrate this crime and continue
the cover-up to this very day. But the evidence will point its own fingers; it
remains only for us to follow wherever the evidence leads.
It has often been said that a successful conspiracy requires not artful
planning, but rather control of the investigation that follows. The
investigation was controlled primarily by a few key LAPD officers and the DA.
Despite Congressman Allard Lowenstein’s efforts, no federal investigation of
this case has ever taken place. In other words, a small handful of people were
capable of keeping information that would point to conspirators out of the
public eye. The Warren Commission’s conclusions were subjected to intense
scrutiny when their documentation was published. Evidently the LAPD wanted no
such scrutiny, and simply refused to release their files until ordered to do so
in the late ’80s.
SUS members predominantly came from military backgrounds.1 Charles Higbie, who
controlled a good portion of the investigation, had been in the Marine Corps for
five years and in Intelligence in the Marine Corp. Reserve for eight more. Frank
Patchett, the man who turned the Kennedy "head bullet" over to DeWayne Wolfer
after it had taken a trip to Washington with an FBI man, had spent four years in
the Navy, where his specialty was Cryptography. The Navy and Marines figured
prominently in the background of a good many of the SUS investigators. The
editor of the SUS Final Report, however, had spent eight years of active duty
with the Air Force, as a Squadron Commander and Electronics Officer.
Two SUS members were in a unique position within the LAPD to control the
investigation and the determination of witness credibility: Manuel Pena and Hank
Hernandez. Pena had quite the catbird seat. A chart from the LAPD shows that all
investigations were funneled through a process whereby all reports came at some
point to him. He then had the sole authority for "approving" the interviews, and
for deciding whether or not to do a further interview with each and every
witness. In other words, if you wanted to control the flow of the investigation,
all you would have to do is control Lt. Manuel Pena.
In a similarly powerful position, Sgt. Enrique "Hank" Hernandez was the
sole polygraph operator for the SUS unit. In other words, whether a
witness was lying or telling the truth was left to the sole discretion of
Hernandez. Some people mistakenly think that a polygraph is an objective
determiner of a person’s veracity. But a polygraph operator can alter the
machine’s sensitivity to make a liar look like a truth teller, or a truth teller
look like a liar. In addition, the manner of the polygraph operator will do much
to assuage or create fear and stress in the person being polygraphed. In
addition, no less than William Colby himself said it is possible to beat the
machine with a few tricks. For these and other reasons, no court in America
allows the results of polygraph tests to be used as evidence. But Hernandez’s
polygraph results were given amazing weight in the SUS investigation. Indeed,
his tests became the sole factor in the SUS’s determination of the credibility
Because of their prominent roles in the cover-up, the background of Pena and
Hernandez has always been of special interest. Pena has an odd background
indeed. His official SUS information states he served 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."2 Pena also served the
CIA for a long time. Pena’s brother told the TV newsman Stan Bohrman that Manny
was proud of his service to the CIA. In 1967, Pena "retired" from the LAPD,
leaving to join AID, the agency long since acknowledged as having provided the
CIA cover for political operations in foreign countries. Roger LeJeunesse, an
FBI agent who had been involved in the RFK assassination investigation, told
William Turner that Pena had performed special assignments for the CIA for more
than ten years. LaJeunesse added that Pena had gone to a "special training unit"
of the CIA’s in Virginia. On some assignments Pena worked with Dan Mitrione, the
CIA man assassinated by rebels in Uruguay for his role in teaching torture to
the police forces there. After his retirement from the LAPD (and a very public
farewell dinner) in November of 1967, Pena inexplicably returned to the LAPD in
Hernandez had also worked with AID. During his session with Sandy Serrano, he
told her that he had once been called to Vietnam, South America and Europe to
perform polygraph tests. He also claimed he had been called to administer a
polygraph to the dictator of Venezuela back when President Betancourt came to
One of Hernandez’s neighbors related to Probe how Hernandez used to
live in a modest home in the Monterey Park area, a solidly middle-class
neighborhood. But within a short time after the assassination, Hernandez had
moved to a place that has a higher income per capita then Beverly Hills: San
Marino. He came into possession of a security firm and handled large accounts
for the government.
Another all-important position in the cover-up would necessarily have been
the office of the District Attorney, then occupied by J. Evelle Younger. Evelle
Younger had been one of Hoover’s top agents before he left the FBI to join the
Counterintelligence unit of the Far East branch of the OSS.4
Under these three, credible leads were discarded. Younger wrote off the
problem of Sirhan’s distance as a "discrepancy" of an inch or two, when in fact
the problem was of a foot or more. Truthful witnesses were made to admit to
impossible lies under Hernandez’s pressure-cooker sessions. Pena took a special
interest in getting rid of the story of the girl in the polka dot dress. But no
investigation could be considered fully under control if one did not also have
control over the defense investigators. Sirhan’s defense lawyers could not be
allowed to look too deeply into the contradictory evidence in the case.
The "Defense" Team
Despite the late appearance of the autopsy report (after the trial had
already commenced), its significance was noted and reported to Sirhan’s
lead attorney, Grant Cooper by Robert Kaiser. Why did Cooper not act on this
very important information? Was Cooper truly serving Sirhan, or was Cooper
perhaps beholden to a more powerful client? What of the others on Sirhan’s team?
Just what kind of representation did Sirhan receive?
Several people were key to Sirhan’s original defense. These were—in order of
their appearance in the case—A. L. "Al" Wirin, Robert Kaiser, Grant Cooper,
Russell Parsons, and Michael McCowan. Who were these people?
Upon Sirhan’s arrest, he asked to see an attorney for the ACLU. Al Wirin
showed up. In 1954, Wirin had brought a suit against the LAPD over the legality
of some of the department’s wiretapping methods.5 Most people might
expect that a lawyer for the ACLU would care a great deal about the rights of
the accused; that’s what the American Civil Liberties Union is supposed to be
all about. But that evidently wasn’t Abraham Lincoln Wirin’s style. Consider the
following information from Mark Lane:
On December 4, 1964, when I debated in Southern California with Joseph A.
Ball... [of the Warren Commission and] A. L. Wirin....Wirin made an
impassioned plea for support for the findings of the commission....He said,
his voice rising in an earnest plea:
"I say thank God for Earl Warren. He saved us from a pogrom. He saved our
nation. God bless him for what he has done in establishing that Oswald was the
The audience remained silent. I asked but one question: "If Oswald was
innocent, Mr. Wirin, would you still say, ‘Thank God for Earl Warren’ and
bless him for establishing him as the lone murderer?" Wirin thought for but an
instant. He responded, "Yes. I still would say so."6
Wirin has made a number of claims, including that Sirhan confessed the
assassination to him. Given the evidence, such a confession is of little value,
since no matter what Sirhan thought, he could not have been the shooter. But
more troubling is the fact that an ACLU lawyer would share a comment made by a
prisoner in confidence to what he thought was a legal representative there to
help him. And when Sirhan requested a couple of books relating to the occult
shortly after his arrest, Wirin felt the need to report this to the media.
How Robert Blair Kaiser entered the case is a bit fuzzy. According to
Melanson and Klaber, Wirin commissioned Kaiser to approach Grant Cooper. But
according to Kaiser, he had injected himself into the case right after the
assassination. Upon hearing of the assassination, he claimed he "choked, cried,
cursed, and, instead of sitting there weeping in front of the TV, tried to do
something." His something was to call Life magazine’s LA Bureau, where he
"found that the bureau needed [his] help and tried to get on the track of the
man who shot Kennedy."7
One of Kaiser’s first acts on the case was to interview Sirhan’s brother
Saidallah in his Pasadena apartment on the night of June 5th, less than 24 hours
after RFK had been shot. Kaiser brought along Life photographer Howard
Bingham, who tried to take Saidallah’s picture. Saidallah did not want his
Saidallah later filed a police report detailing an incident later that night
after Kaiser’s visit. The LAPD record states:
At approximately 11:30 p.m. he heard someone kick on his front door. He
answered the door and just as he unlocked the screen, the door was kicked
open. A man rushed through the door and struck [Saidallah] Sirhan in the cheek
with his fist and stated, "Damn it, we’re gonna kill all you Arabs."...The man
stated, "If you don’t give your photograph to Life, we’re going to take it
from you." He took a photograph of Sirhan from a small table and walked out of
the apartment. Another man was with the one who entered Sirhan’s apartment,
but he did not enter.
Kaiser claims this event never happened. But how could he know? On a strange
note, Kaiser gave Sirhan a copy of Witness, the book detailing Whittaker
Chambers’ account of "exposing" Alger Hiss.9
Kaiser initiated contact with Sirhan by calling Wirin to ask if he could get
him in to see Sirhan. During the call, Kaiser mentioned that he had discussed
the case with Grant Cooper, a well-known Los Angeles criminal attorney. When
Wirin heard Kaiser knew Cooper, Wirin asked Kaiser to urge Cooper to help
Sirhan. Curiously, Sirhan had also picked out Cooper’s name when shown a list of
lawyers. It seemed everyone wanted Cooper in this case, including Cooper
Cooper had an interesting background. He had, but a year earlier, gone all
the way to Da Nang, Vietnam to defend a Marine corporal on a murder charge
before a military court. Why would a Los Angeles lawyer fly all the way to
Vietnam to defend a man in military court? Answered Cooper, "I’d never been
asked to defend a man before a military court before."10 This highly paid
lawyer with no reported proclivities for lost causes nonetheless agreed to take
on Sirhan’s case, even though the family had virtually no money to offer for
Sirhan’s defense. He couldn’t do so immediately, however, as he was busy
defending an associate of Johnny Roselli in the Friar’s Club card cheating
scandal. Roselli was hired by Robert Maheu to head up the CIA’s assassination
plots against Castro. Roselli spent time at JMWAVE, the CIA’s enormous station
in Miami, training snipers among other activities.11 Cooper’s client was
also accused by another associate of Roselli’s, of having passed him money to
pay for a murder.12
As Probe readers saw in Jim DiEugenio’s landmark piece about how the
CIA worked hand in hand with Clay Shaw’s attorneys to undermine New Orleans
District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of John Kennedy’s murder, the CIA
maintained a "Cleared Attorneys’ Panel" from which they could draw trustworthy,
closemouthed representation as needed.13 When someone as
knowledgeable as Roselli of the CIA’s innermost secrets is being defended, one
would assume that the CIA would go to great lengths to provide him legal
assistance. Cooper was in direct and extensive contact with Roselli’s lawyer
James Cantillion. In connection with this case, Cooper himself obtained stolen
grand jury transcripts by bribing a court clerk, a very serious (not to mention
illegal) offense. In addition, Cooper had twice lied to a federal judge.
Frankly, Cooper sounded more like a candidate for the CIA’s Cleared Attorneys’
Panel than for the role of a justice crusader. The notion that he would
volunteer to defend Sirhan at a time when his own legal troubles were raging
around him is preposterous. Something besides pity for a penniless,
guilty-looking client was likely motivating Cooper.
While Cooper was waiting to finish the Friar’s Club case, Wirin showed Cooper
a list of attorneys that included the names of Joseph Ball and Herman Selvin.
Curiously, it was Ball and Selvin who had participated with Wirin in the debate
with Mark Lane (all three defending the Warren Report against the attacks of
Mark Lane). Ball and Selvin were Cooper’s first choices, but they turned him
down.14 Two others
on the list included Russell E. Parsons and Luke McKissack. Cooper chose
Parsons, saying he did not know McKissack, but that he had " worked with Russ
(McKissack was later to become a lawyer for Sirhan.16) Parsons immediately
accepted defending this "poor devil in trouble," as he characterized Sirhan.17 For whatever strange
reason, LAPD files record Russell Parsons as having an alias: Lester Harris.18 Perhaps that was a
remnant from his days as a Mob lawyer.19
Parsons, in turn, brought Michael McCowan into the case as a private
investigator. McCowan was an ex-Marine, an ex-cop and an ex-law student.20 Michael McCowan had
been expelled from the LAPD in the wake of his dealings with David Kassab and
others who were running a land scam deal in the San Fernando Valley in 1962. In
the SUS files, there are continual references to the "Kassab Report", a report
of an investigation into "alleged ties between the J.F.K. and the R.F.K.
assassinations." The report itself is nowhere to be found. Listed as being in
the report are names such as Clay Shaw, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Jim
Braden, Russell Parsons, and many others of interest to assassination
researchers. The report is over 900 pages long, according to page references
scattered among these files. Why was such a massive report compiled? Why do so
many references to it appear in the SUS files? And why has the full Kassab
report been suppressed to this day?
McCowan had other problems to bring to the table beyond the Kassab deal. A
former girlfriend of his notified the police that he kept a large stash of
weapons in his residence. The police issued an order to investigate whether the
weapons represented "loot" from other crimes, but asked that the investigation
be kept quiet. At the time McCowan entered the Sirhan case, he was on a
three-year probation, having appealed a five-year sentence he received in
conjunction with theft and tampering with U.S. mail.
Following his involvement in the Sirhan case, McCowan worked as a defense
investigator for peace activists Donald Freed and Shirley Sutherland. Freed and
Sutherland had been set up by a self-proclaimed former CIA Green Beret named
James Jarrett. In March of 1969, Freed and Sutherland helped organize "Friends
of the Black Panthers." Jarrett had infiltrated the group by offering training
in the area of self-defense, as members of the group had experienced assaults
and even rape. Freed asked Jarrett to buy him a mace-like spray to use for
defensive purposes. Jarrett instead presented Freed a brown-paper wrapped box of
explosives while wearing a wire and attempting to get Freed to say that the
"stuff" was for the Panthers. Minutes after the exchange, agents of the FBI,
LAPD and Treasury raided Freed’s home. Freed was charged with illegal possession
of explosives. McCowan was hired by the defense as an investigator. McCowan in
turn hired Sam Bluth to assist the defense. But Bluth worked instead as a police
informant, stealing defense files and witness lists and proffering them to the
Cooper had originally secured an initial agreement from yet another lawyer to
participate in the case: the famous Edward Bennett Williams. Williams had
represented the Washington Post during its Watergate coverage while also
representing the target of the break-in, the Democratic National Committee. He
had defended CIA Director Richard Helms when he was charged with perjury in the
wake of the revelations about the CIA’s participation in the events surrounding
the assassination of Allende in Chile. Williams in fact defended a number of CIA
Williams had also defended Jimmy Hoffa when Robert Kennedy was aggressively
pursuing him. And he had the gall to ask Robert Kennedy’s personal secretary
Angie Novello, recipient of the John Kennedy autopsy materials, to work for him
after Robert was killed. Novello refused until Williams convinced her
(rightfully or wrongly) that he and Bobby had made up in the wake of the Hoffa
pursuit. In addition, Williams had defended Joseph McCarthy when he was under
attack from the Senate. (Perhaps that is why Kaiser gave Sirhan Witness
to read!) Lastly, and perhaps importantly, Williams had become good friends
with Robert Maheu, the man who had hired Roselli to kill Castro on behalf of the
CIA. Maheu himself appears to play a larger and more interesting role in the
story of the RFK assassination, a point to which we’ll return. All in all,
Williams was a most curious choice of Cooper’s, and one wonders what moved
Williams to make even a tentative agreement to represent Sirhan.
When Williams bowed out, Cooper turned to Emile "Zuke" Berman. Berman’s
biggest case had involved defending a Marine drill instructor who had led his
troop into a fast-rising estuary. Six drowned in this incident. Berman was able
to get the man’s sentence reduced to six months, and then obtained a full
reversal from the Secretary of the Navy. Berman was later accused by Cooper of
leaking the story of a proposed plea bargain (in which Cooper would plead Sirhan
guilty to 1st degree murder in the hopes of avoiding a death sentence) to the
press during the trial. (Judge Walker claimed he had been told the source was
was distressed that the Israeli/Palestinian battles were being given focus by
the defense team during the case, and Kaiser was later to say Berman was "there
in name and body only; his spirit wasn’t there."23
Now if you temporarily throw out any questions raised by the evidence that
has just been presented, and focus solely on how well these people served
Sirhan, the picture is grim indeed. On the key point of the lack of a clear
chain of possession of the bullets, Cooper met with the prosecuting attorneys in
Judge Walker’s chamber on February 21, 1969. The way Cooper gives in on an issue
he has every reason to fight goes to the heart of the credibility of how well he
defended his client. Here is the relevant section:
Fitts (Deputy DA): Now, there is another problem that I’d like to get to
with respect to the medical. It is our intention to call DeWayne Wolfer to
testify with respect to his ballistics comparison. Some of the objects or
exhibits that he will need illustrative of his testimony will...not have
adequate foundation, as I will concede at this time.
Cooper: You mean the surgeon took it from the body and this sort of
Fitts: Well, with respect to the bullets or bullet fragments that came from
the alleged victims, it is our understanding that there will be a
stipulation that these objects came from the persons whom I say they came
from. Is that right?
Cooper: So long as you make that avowal, there will be no question about
Fitts: Fine. Well, we have discussed the matter with Mr. Wolfer as to those
envelopes containing those bullets or bullet fragments; he knows where they
came from; the envelope will be marked with the names of the victims....24 [Emphasis
Cooper would make many strange moves, allegedly in "defense" of Sirhan. He
kept the autopsy photos from being presented in court under the notion that they
would cause sympathy for Kennedy and arouse even more ire against his client.
But that was the evidence that could have been used to absolve Sirhan of guilt
in the case. But Cooper wasn’t looking for evidence of Sirhan’s innocence. In
addition, Sirhan’s notebooks were found during an illegal search (a search
authorized by Adel, but Adel had no legal authority to give such authorization)
of Mary Sirhan’s house, where Sirhan was living at the time. Cooper had every
reason to bar these notebooks from being admitted into evidence, but he chose
not only to admit them into evidence, but even had Sirhan read portions of them
from the stand. And it was Cooper who supplied Sirhan the motive he lacked,
claiming that Sirhan was angry that RFK was willing to provide jets to Israel.
Sirhan, lacking any memory of the crime or why he was there with a gun, readily
accepted this in lieu of the only other explanation suggested to him, that he
was utterly insane.
Kaiser involved himself with Sirhan’s defense team by negotiating a book
contract, claiming that a portion of the proceeds could be used to pay the
lawyers. In return for his access, he would work as an investigator for Sirhan.
It was Kaiser who brought the distance problem regarding Sirhan’s position
relative to Robert Kennedy’s powder burns to the attention of Sirhan’s defense
team, albeit late in the game. Yet Kaiser believes that Sirhan and Sirhan alone
fired all the bullets in the pantry. Kaiser was also the first to bring
attention to the strange behavior of Sirhan during the crime that so strongly
suggested to Kaiser that he was under some sort of hypnotic influence.
This issue is all-important to the question of Sirhan’s guilt. The ballistics
and forensic evidence indicates clearly that there was a conspiracy. So wasn’t
Sirhan a conspirator? Not necessarily. The question has always been this: did
Sirhan play a witting, complicit role; or was he guided in some manner by others
to the point where he was not in control of his actions and their consequences?
This most serious issue was never brought up during Sirhan’s only trial.
The Question of Hypnosis
The defense team hired Dr. Bernard Diamond to examine Sirhan to ascertain his
mental state, and to find out if Sirhan could be made to remember what happened
under hypnosis. As soon as Diamond hypnotized Sirhan, he found that Sirhan was
an exceedingly simple subject. In fact, Sirhan "went under" so quickly and so
deeply that Diamond had to work to keep him conscious enough to respond. Kaiser
recorded that the very first words that Sirhan spoke to Diamond when put under
hypnosis were "I don’t know any people."25 Such rapid induction
generally indicates prior hypnosis.
The tapes of Diamond’s hypnosis sessions reveal a man that sounds like he is
more interested in implanting memories than recovering them. This has been well
detailed in the literature elsewhere so I will not focus on it here. Diamond,
however, argued against Kaiser’s notion that Sirhan had been somehow
hypnotically in the control of another, and claimed Sirhan had hypnotized
himself. But self-hypnosis rarely (if ever) results in complete amnesia. In
addition, Sirhan "blocked" when asked key questions under hypnosis, such as "Did
you think this up all by yourself?" (five second pause), and "Are you the only
person involved in Kennedy’s shooting?" (three second pause).26 In hypnosis, blocks
are as important as answers, in that they can indicate some prior work in that
area. Skilled hypnotists can place blocks into the subject’s mind that prevent
memory of actions undertaken and associations made while under hypnosis.
Dr. Eduard Simson-Kallas, the chief psychologist when Sirhan was at San
Quentin Prison, remains convinced that Sirhan was hypnoprogrammed. He spent
hours getting to know Sirhan, and when Sirhan talked about the case
Simson-Kallas said it was as if he was "reciting from a book", without any of
the little details most people tell when they are recounting a real event.
Sirhan came to trust the psychologist, and asked him to hypnotize him. At this
point, the psychologist was stopped by prison authorities who claimed he was
spending too much time on Sirhan. Simson-Kallas resigned from his job over the
Sirhan case. Simson-Kallas also said he had no respect for Diamond, who claimed
both that Sirhan was schizophrenic, and that he was self-hypnotized.
Schizophrenics cannot hypnotize themselves.27
The evidence that Sirhan was in some mentally altered state on the night of
the assassination is plentiful. By his own account he had about four Tom
Collinses. But not one person reported him as appearing drunk. Sandy Serrano,
who had seen him walk up the back steps into the Ambassador had described him as
"Boracho" but specifically explained that by that she didn’t mean drunk, but
somehow out of place. Yosio Niwa, Vincent DiPierro and Martin Patrusky all saw
Sirhan smiling a "stupid" or "sickly" smile while he was firing. Mary Grohs, a
Teletype operator, remembered him standing and staring at the Teletype machine,
nonresponsive, saying nothing, and eventually walking away. And then there was
the issue of his incredible strength. Sirhan was a fairly small man, and he was
able to hold his own against a football tackle and several other much larger men
in the pantry. George Plimpton recalled that Sirhan’s eyes were "enormously
peaceful". Plimpton’s wife said Sirhan’s "eyes were narrow, the lines on his
face were heavy and set and he was completely concentrated on what he was
doing." Joseph Lahaiv reported Sirhan was strangely "very tranquil" during the
fight for the gun. Some have claimed Sirhan was simply tranquil because he was
fulfilling his quest to kill Kennedy. But he didn’t kill Kennedy, and even if he
did, such a premise would have required at least a recollection of having
finally completed successfully the planned act, if not an exclamation of "Sic
Semper Tyrannus". Sirhan, like the other "lone nut assassins" of the sixties,
was neither jubilant nor remorseful. But he could not claim that he hadn’t shot
Kennedy, because he truly didn’t remember anything from that moment.
Even at the police station, Sirhan’s conversation could only be termed
bizarre. He would not tell his name, didn’t talk about the assassination, and
was interested only in engaging in small talk with the frustrated officers
around him. These trained officers tried every tactic they knew to get him to
talk, but Sirhan remained silent on anything relating to his identity. When he
was arraigned before the judge, he was booked only as "John Doe" until his
identity was eventually discovered. This point worried the police; usually when
a subject didn’t divulge his identity, it was a ruse to protect confederates,
giving them a chance to get away.
An Arab doctor spoke Arabic to Sirhan, but obtained no response in
recognition. Sheriff Pitchess would say of Sirhan that he was a "very unusual
prisoner...a young man of apparently complete self-possession, totally
unemotional. He wants to see what the papers have to say about him."28 At the station in
the middle of a hot Los Angeles June night, Sirhan got the chills. He exhibited
a similar reaction every time he came out of hypnosis from Diamond.
Sirhan’s family and friends insisted that Sirhan had changed after a fall
from a horse at a racetrack where he was working as an exercise jockey. One of
his friends from the racetrack, Terry Welch, told the LAPD that Sirhan underwent
a complete personality change; that he suddenly resented people with wealth,
that he had become a loner. After the fall, Sirhan was treated by a series of
doctors. It’s possible that one of these doctors saw Sirhan as a potential
hypnosis subject, and started him down a path that would end at the Ambassador
hotel. Curiously, renowned expert hypnotist Dr. George Estabrooks, used by the
War Department after Pearl Harbor, suggested planting a "doctor" in a hospital
who could employ hypnotism on patients.29
The strange notebook entries, if they were indeed written by Sirhan, show
certain phrases repeated over and over, including "RFK must die" and "Pay to the
order of". Other words that pop up with no explanation, scattered throughout the
writing, are "drugs" and "mind control". Diamond once hypnotized Sirhan and
asked him to write about Robert Kennedy. Out came "RFK must die RFK must die RFK
must die" and "Robert Kennedy is going to die Robert Kennedy is going to die
Robert is going to die." When asked who killed Kennedy, Sirhan wrote "I don’t
know I don’t know I don’t know."
Just hours after the assassination, famed hypnotist Dr. William Joseph Bryan
was on the Ray Briem show for KABC radio, and mentioned offhandedly that Sirhan
was likely operating under some form of posthypnotic suggestion. Curiously, in
the SUS files there is an interview summary of Joan Simmons in which the
following is listed:
Miss Simmons was program planner for a show on KABC radio and was contacted
regarding allegations of Sirhan belonging to a secret hypnotic group. She
stated that she knew nothing of a Doctor Bryant [sic] of the American
Institute of Hypnosis or Hortence Farrchild. She was acquainted with Herb
Elsman [the next few words are blacked out but appear to say "and
considered him some right-wing extremist."]
Dr. Bryan was the President of the American Institute of Hypnosis, the
headquarters of which were located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Bryan was
famous for having hypnotized Albert De Salvo, the "Boston Strangler" and claimed
to have discovered De Salvo’s motive under hypnosis. There is good reason to
doubt that De Salvo was in fact the killer, according to Susan Kelly in her
recent, heavily documented book The Boston Stranglers.30 And if he was not,
that throws a more sinister light on Bryan’s overtly coercive involvement with
De Salvo. Curiously, De Salvo was the topic of one of Sirhan’s disjointed
post-assassination ramblings at LAPD headquarters, and references to "Di Salvo"
and appear in Sirhan’s notebook.
Bryan, by his own account, had been the "chief of all medical survival
training for the United States Air Force, which meant the brainwashing
section."31 He also
claimed to have been a consultant for the film The Manchurian Candidate,
based on Richard Condon’s famous novel about a man who is captured by Communists
and hypnotically programmed to return to the United States to kill a political
leader. Condon’s novel was itself based upon the CIA’s ARTICHOKE program, which
sought to find a way to create a programmed, amnesiac assassin. ARTICHOKE became
Bryan bragged to prostitutes that he had performed "special projects" for the
CIA, and that he had programmed Sirhan. Publicly, Bryan denied any involvement
with Sirhan. Bryan was a brilliant but sometimes insufferable egotist who seems
to have had a ready opinion on nearly any subject. But whenever Sirhan came up,
with the exception of that first night, he uncharacteristically shut down and
refused to discuss the case. It would appear that if Bryan was not himself
directly responsible, he had some inside knowledge perhaps as to who was, and
chose not to reveal it. Ultimately, the case for hypnosis does not rest on
Bryan, and whether or not he worked on Sirhan has no bearing on the overall
issue of Sirhan having been hypnotized.
After seeing the movie Conspiracy Theory, many people wondered if
MKULTRA was indeed a real government program. Yes, Virginia, there was a
sinister mind control program in which people were made to undergo hideous,
obscene mental and physical tortures in the CIA’s quest for a way to create a
Manchurian Candidate. It should be noted that Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, and
surprisingly, the Rockefeller Foundation were instrumental in developing,
supporting and funding the CIA’s various mind control programs.32
Most CIA doctors and hypnotists will claim that they never found success,
that they could never program someone to do something against their will. Not
true, argue others. On the latter point, the simple way to get someone to do
something against their will is to alter their reality. Estabrooks had salient
comments in relation to this point:
There seems to be a tradition that, with hypnotism in crime we hypnotize
our victim, hand him a club, and say, "Go murder Mr. Jones." If he refuses,
then we have disproven the possibility of so using hypnotism. Such a procedure
would be silly in the extreme. The skillful operator would do everything in
his power to avoid an open clash with such moral scruples as his subject might
Will the subject commit murder in hypnotism? Highly doubtful—at least
without long preparation, and then only in certain cases of very good
subjects....Yet, strange to say, most good subjects will commit murder....For
example, we hypnotize a subject and tell him to murder you with a gun. In all
probability, he will refuse....But a hypnotist who really wished a murder
could almost certainly get it with a different technique....he hypnotizes the
subject, tells the subject to go to [the victim’s place], point the gun...and
pull the trigger. Then he remarks to his assistant that, of course, the gun is
loaded with dummy ammunition [even though it is not].34
Under such a scenario, Estabrooks and other hypnotists are certain that
creating a murderer is possible.
But even more to the point is a note John Marks makes in his book The
Search for the Manchurian Candidate, which details the CIA’s efforts in this
regard. He quotes a veteran CIA officer who says that while it would be highly
impractical to program an assassin, due to the unpredictable number of
independent decisions the subject might encounter which could lead to exposure
before the deed was done, creating an assassin in this manner is also
unnecessary, as mercenaries have been available since the dawn of time
for this heinous act. Marks then adds the following:
The veteran admits that none of the arguments he uses against a conditioned
assassin would apply to a programmed "patsy" whom a hypnotist could
walk through a series of seemingly unrelated events—a visit to a store, a
conversation with a mailman, picking a fight at a political rally. The subject
would remember everything that happened to him and be amnesic only for the
fact the hypnotist ordered him to do these things. There would be no gaping
inconsistency in his life of the sort that can ruin an attempt by a hypnotist
to create a second personality. The purpose of this exercise is to leave a
circumstantial trail that will make the authorities think the patsy committed
a particular crime. The weakness might well be that the amnesia would not
hold up under police interrogation, but that would not matter if the police
did not believe his preposterous story about being hypnotized or if he were
shot resisting arrest. Hypnosis expert Milton Kline says he could create a
patsy in three months; an assassin would take him six.35 [Emphasis
Sirhan exhibited behavior during the trial that also appeared to indicate
post-hypnotic suggestion. One day, two girls showed up in court that Sirhan
identified as Peggy Osterkamp (a name that appeared frequently in the notebook)
and Gwen Gumm. Sirhan became enraged at their presence and demanded a recess,
asking to talk to the judge in chambers. The judge refused to hear Sirhan in
chambers, and Sirhan, visibly fighting for self-control, said "I, at this time,
sir, withdraw my original please of not guilty and submit the plea of guilty as
charged on all counts." Asked what kind of penalty he wanted, Sirhan answered "I
will ask to be executed," Asked why he was doing this, Sirhan replied, "I killed
Robert Kennedy willfully, premeditatedly, with twenty years of malice
aforethought, that is why." This ridiculous "confession" that a four-year old
Sirhan was contemplating the murder of a man not yet famous almost half a world
away strains credulity past the breaking point.
Making this even more bizarre is the fact that the two girls were not
the two girls Sirhan said they were, but in fact two other people, identified by
Kaiser as Sharon Karaalajich and Karen Adams. Sirhan’s extreme reaction to two
people who were not the people he thought they were forced Kaiser to conclude
that "Sirhan was in a kind of paranoid, dissociated state there and then...."36 It follows that if
someone programmed Sirhan to be the perfect patsy, they would likely also have
programmed a seemingly spontaneous "confession" that could be spouted at the
appropriate time, triggered by some person or event.
In an interesting little book named 254 Questions and Answers on Practical
Hypnosis and Autosuggestion, author Emile Franchel put forth some very
interesting and relevant information on hypnosis. For example, asked how long a
person could be held in a hypnotic state, Franchel replied: "With sufficient
knowledge and skill on the part of the hypnotist, indefinitely." Asked whether
the hypnotic state could always be detected, Franchel said no, not in all cases.
Franchel referred to hypno-espionage without further explanation, and when asked
what official government agencies he worked for, Franchel declined to answer. He
stated that he felt he was a bit of a "black sheep" among associates,
explaining, "I help the innocent as well as convict the guilty."
The following question and answer pair seemed particularly relevant to
Sirhan’s case. Recall that Sirhan kept firing his gun, even while six big men
were pounding him, causing a sprained foot and a broken finger.
Q: Reading about an assassination attempt recently, the report described
how it took six or more bullets to stop each assassin. Could these assassins
have been "conditioned" with hypnosis not to feel any pain?
A: Well, I am not sure who is going to like or dislike my answer to your
question, but I read the same reports that you did. Unfortunately, I do not
have access to any more official information. From what I read, I would
conclude that they not only had been hypnotically conditioned to feel no pain,
but in all probability were working, perhaps partly of their own free desires,
but also under hypnotic compulsion, to complete a given mission.
The reports seem to clearly indicate that the assassins had to have a
bullet placed in a vital organ to stop them. Bullets that hit anywhere else
did not apparently deter them in any way.
For whatever reason, in this 1957 book, Franchel felt compelled to offer a
warning regarding hypnosis and its usage:
[A:] The hypnotic techniques being employed at present make the hypnotic
technicians of the ex-Nazi regime look like well meaning psychiatrists....
Q: Do I understand correctly, that you are saying that hypnotism is being
abused, completely without regard to human rights?
A: You understand correctly. I am fully satisfied that hypnotic techniques
are being used on a vast scale, both criminally and for other terrible
reasons. Perhaps one day I might be permitted to tell you.
Q: I have heard you say many times during your television programs
[Adventures in Hypnosis] that a subject under hypnosis "cannot be made to do
anything that is against his moral or religious beliefs." How can you say that
A: I am afraid you have not been listening too closely to what I was
saying. The only similar remark I have made is, "IT IS SAID that a person
under hypnosis cannot be made to do anything that is against their religious
or moral beliefs." I trust that the implication is clear.
It should be noted that hypnosis is considered dangerous enough that it is
illegal to broadcast a hypnotic induction on television.
If Sirhan was indeed programmed, then his statements at the trial, his
appearance at the shooting range hours before the assassination and his firing
of a gun in the pantry may all have been actions carried out without the
intervention of will. There is a strong possibility that Sirhan was not only
hypnotized but additionally drugged by alcohol or some stronger substance.
Frankel warned that drugs could shut down the conscious mind, preventing it from
filtering what reaches the subconscious, adding:
With the conscious filter action removed, anything can be forced into the
subconscious mind, which must obey it in one way or another, as the
subconscious cannot argue but must believe all information reaching it, and
Had Sirhan had a real trial, the possibility of his having been hypnotized
may have provided reasonable doubt on the question of his guilt. But if Sirhan
wasn’t guilty, then who was?
The Polka Dot Girl and Company
One of the most intriguing figures in this case has been "The Girl in the
Polka Dot Dress" who was seen with Sirhan immediately prior to the shooting, and
who was subsequently witnessed running from the scene crying "We shot him! We
shot him!" The LAPD tried to shut down this story by getting the two most public
witnesses to retract their stories. But there were so many credible
sightings of this girl that the police were forced to take a different tack.
They identified first one, then a second woman as "the" girl, despite the fact
that neither bore much of a resemblance to the girl described. Meanwhile,
languishing unnoticed in the LAPD’s own files is the name of a far more likely
candidate, someone who leads to a host of suspicious characters.
Over a dozen witnesses gave similar descriptions of a girl in a polka-dot
dress who for varying reasons drew their attention. The two most famous of these
were Vincent DiPierro, a waiter at the Ambassador Hotel, and Sandy Serrano, a
Kennedy volunteer. DiPierro first noticed Sirhan in the pantry because of the
woman he saw "following" him. The LAPD interviewed him the morning of the
shooting (Kennedy was shot at 12:15 A.M. the morning of June 5th). During one
interview, DiPierro gave the following information about the girl:
A (DiPierro): The only reason that he [Sirhan] was noticeable was because
there was this good-looking girl in the crowd there.
Q: All right, was the girl with him?
A: It looked as though, yes.
Q: What makes you say that?
A: Well, she was following him.
Q: Where did she follow him from?
A: From—she was standing behind the tray stand because she was up next to
him on—behind, and she was holding on to the other end of the tray table and
she—like—it looked as if she was almost holding him.
DiPierro reported that he saw Sirhan turn to her and say something, to which
she didn’t reply, but smiled. He said Sirhan had a sickly smile, and said "When
she first entered, she looked as though she was sick also." He described her as
Caucasian and as about 20 or 21 years old, definitely no older than 24. She was
"very shapely" and was wearing a "white dress with—it looked like either black
or dark violet polka dots on it and kind of a [bib-like] collar." He said her
hair color was "Brown. I would say brunette," "puffed up a little" and that it
came to just above her shoulders. DiPierro told the FBI that she had a
That same morning, Sandy Serrano had described to the LAPD a "girl in a white
dress, a Caucasian, dark brown hair, about five-six, medium height...Black polka
dots on the dress" in the company of a man she later recognized as Sirhan and
another man in a gold sweater. She had seen this trio walk up the back stairs to
the Ambassador earlier in the night. Sometime later, the girl and the guy in the
gold sweater came running down the back stairs. Serrano recalled to the LAPD
She practically stepped on me, and she said "We’ve shot him. We’ve shot
him." Then I said, "Who did you shoot?" And she said, "We shot Senator
She described the girl’s attitude in this manner:
"We finally did it," like "Good going."
Serrano thought the girl was between the ages of 23 and 27, with her hair not
quite coming to her shoulders, done in a "bouffant" style, wearing a polka dot
dress with a bib collar and ? length sleeves. She also recalled that the girl
had a "funny" nose.
Ultimately, the LAPD pressured Serrano and DiPierro into backing down on
these stories, getting each to admit they had first heard of the girl from the
other, an impossibility the LAPD hoped would go unnoticed. Across page after
page of witness testimony cover sheets Pena scrawled "Polka Dot Story Serrano
Phoney", "Girl in Kitchen I.D. Settled", "Wit[ness] can offer nothing of further
value" or "No further Int[erview]." But the interviews behind these sheets tell
a different and compelling story.
Dr. Marcus McBroom was in the pantry behind Elizabeth Evans, one of the
shooting victims. He exited the kitchen through the double doors at the West end
and noticed a brunette woman aged 20-26, medium build, "wearing a white dress
with silver dollar size polka dots, either black or dark blue in color." The
report of his LAPD interview records what drew McBroom’s attention to the
This young lady showed no signs of shock or disbelief in comparison to
other persons in the room and she seemed intent only on one thing—to get out
of the ballroom.
George Green was also in the pantry during the shooting, and reported seeing
a girl in a polka dot dress (early 20s, blond hair) and a young, thin, taller
male with dark hair. He saw this couple earlier in the night and after the
shooting. Afterwards, Green stated, "They seemed to be the only ones who were
trying to get out of the kitchen...Everyone else was trying to get in."37
Ronald Johnson Panda told the LAPD that a good-looking girl, about 5’6", in a
polka dot dress ran by him in the Embassy room immediately after the shooting
yelling "They shot him." He had seen her earlier that night carrying some
Eve Hansen had talked to a girl in a "white dress with black or navy blue
polka dots approximately the size of a quarter" who had dark brown hair that
hung just above the shoulders, who had a "turned-up nose." The girl gave Hansen
money for a drink and Hansen ordered the drink. When she brought it back to her,
the girl made a toast "To our next President" and shortly thereafter left the
Earnest Ruiz reported something he thought was odd to the police. He had
watched a man and a girl in a polka dot dress run out of the hotel, but said the
man later came back as Sirhan was being removed and was the first to yell,
"Let’s kill the bastard."
Darnell Johnson, another pantry witness, told the police the following:
While I was waiting [for Kennedy], I saw four guys and a girl about halfway
between Kennedy and where I was standing. The girl had a white dress with
black polka dots. During the time that a lady yelled, "Oh, my God," they
walked out. All except the one...this is the guy they grabbed [Sirhan]. The
others that walked out seemed unconcerned at the events which were taking
Johnson also told the police that he had received threatening phone calls and
that his car brakes had been tampered with, causing a near-accident.
Roy Mills also observed a group of five people, one of which was female,
standing outside the Embassy Room as Kennedy was speaking. He claimed that
Sirhan was one of the four males in the group, remembering him distinctly for
his baggy pants. He thought one of the other men was a hotel employee. He
couldn’t remember anything about the girl except that she was wearing a press
pass. Curiously, Conrad Seim—who, like Serrano, DiPierro and Hanson, had noticed
the girl’s "funny nose"—reported being asked by a girl in a white dress with
black or navy polka dots for his press pass. He refused her request, but she
came back about 15 minutes later. "She was very persistent," he told the police.
He thought the girl’s nose might have been broken at one time, and described her
as Caucasian but with an olive complexion.
Bill White saw a female Latin and two male Latins near the door of the
embassy room. Their dress looked out of place. He also noticed a busboy wearing
a white button-down jacket in the Anchor Desk area sweeping up cigarette butts
where there were no butts to be swept up. He wasn’t sure this was really a
Earnest Vallero was a job dispatcher for the Southern California Waiters
Alliance. He reported that a man resembling Sirhan appeared at the union office
two or three weeks prior to the assassination and requested placement as a
waiter at the Ambassador Hotel. Vallero said the man got upset when he was
refused, and flashed an Israeli passport.
A Hungarian refugee "with absolutely no credentials at all"38 named Gabor Kadar
had been turned away from the Embassy Room during the night, but found a
waiter’s uniform, and donned it. Kadar later involved himself directly in the
struggle to wrest the gun from Sirhan.
Booker Griffin, another pantry witness who had reported seeing a woman in a
polka dot dress,39
asked Richard Aubry, a friend of his who was also in the pantry during the
shooting, "Did they get the other two guys?"40
At about 9pm the night of the 4th, Irene Gizzi noticed a group of three
people who "just didn’t seem to be dressed properly for the occasion." Her LAPD
interview report summarizes the events as follows:
[Gizzi] saw a group of people talking who did not seem to fit with the
exuberant crowd. Observed the female to be wearing a white dress with black
polka dots; approximately the girl was standing with a male, possible Latin,
dark sun bleached hair gold colored shirt, and possible light colored pants,
possibly jeans. Possibly with suspect [Sirhan] as a third
A friend of Gizzi’s who was also present, Katherine Keir, gave a very similar
description of this group, describing a male in a "gold colored sport shirt" and
blue jeans, another man of medium build with a T-shirt and jeans, both with dark
brown hair, and a girl in a black and white polka dot dress. Keir was standing
at a stairway when the polka dot dress girl ran down yelling, "We shot Kennedy."
The police were able to persuade Keir to consider that she had heard the girl
say instead, "Someone shot Kennedy."
Jeanette Prudhomme also saw two men, one of which looked like Sirhan and the
other of which was wearing a gold shirt, in the company of a woman who appeared
to be 28-30, with brown, shoulder length hair, wearing a white dress with black
A couple of people even recalled seeing this girl on the CBS broadcast. A Mr.
Plumley, first name unrecorded, claimed he had seen a polka dot dress girl in
the CBS broadcast the night of June 4th. Duncan Grant, a Canadian citizen, wrote
the LAPD when he heard they were canceling their search for the polka dot dress
girl, stating that he had seen her on the CBS broadcast. He wrote:
We could hear two shots fired and then another burst of shots. At this
moment someone shouted that the Senator had been shot. There was more
confusion and at this moment a young lady burst in on the picture and she
shouted We have shot Kennedy then shouted again We have shot Senator Kennedy.
She was what I would call half-running and she crossed right in front of the
camera from left to right and disappeared from view.
Sirhan himself remembered talking to a girl shortly before he blacked out
that night. According to Kaiser, one of Sirhan’s last memories is of giving
coffee to a girl of "Armenian" or "Spanish" descent in the pantry:
"This girl kept talking about coffee. She wanted cream. Spanish, Mexican,
dark-skinned. When people talked about the girl in the polka-dot dress," he
figured, "maybe they were thinking of the girl I was having coffee with."41
Sirhan had been at the Ambassador the Sunday before election night. A girl
matching the description of the polka dot dress girl was also seen there Sunday.
Karen Ross described her to the LAPD as having a nose that had been "maybe
fixed", a white dress with black polka dots, ? length sleeves, dark blond hair
worn in a "puff" and with a round face. Sirhan and a girl were also recorded as
behaving suspiciously at a previous Robert Kennedy appearance in Pomona on May
One man may have spent the last day of Kennedy’s life with this girl. While
his tale is extraordinary, it is eerily credible for the nuances and details
which matched other evidence of which he could not possibly have been aware.
Kaiser and Houghton referred to this man by the pseudonym of "Robert Duane." His
real name is John Henry Fahey.42
June 4th with the Mystery Girl
At 9:15 A.M. on June 4th, Fahey entered the back of the Ambassador Hotel. He
had planned to meet another salesman there 45 minutes earlier, but had left late
and been held up in traffic. On his way up the back stairs, he noticed two men
he thought looked Spanish. When they spoke, however, he realized it wasn’t
Spanish because he knew Spanish. He presumed they were kitchen workers.
While in the lobby area, he spotted a pretty girl and made a flirtatious
comment to her. She asked him where the Post Office was, and he couldn’t help
her, and she left. About ten minutes later, she returned. He invited her to join
him for breakfast in the coffee shop at the hotel. She spoke "very good English"
but also had a "slight accent" that he couldn’t place. He asked her where she
was from. She said she had only been there three days, and that she was from
Virginia. Fahey had a relative in Virginia, and asked her if she knew Richmond,
whereupon the girl said she really had come from New York, and before that a
middle-eastern country ("Iran" or "Iraq", Fahey thought). She mentioned
specifically Beirut. (Fahey had to ask his interviewer if there was a place
named "Beirut".) She also mentioned "Akaba". When he asked her name, she gave
him one, and soon another, and another. He didn’t know what her real name was.
She, meanwhile, pumped him for as much information as she could get, asking his
name, his occupation, and his business at the hotel. When he asked her about her
own business, she said "I don’t want to get you involved...I don’t know if I can
trust you to tell you the whole thing."
She told him that they were being watched, and indicated a man near the door
of the coffee shop. Fahey saw a man he thought might be Spanish or Greek,
resembling one of the men he had seen on the back stairs when entering the
hotel. He thought the man resembled Sirhan, except that this man was taller and
had sideburns. When later shown pictures of Sirhan’s family, Fahey said the man
was not one of the Sirhan brothers.
The girl wanted Fahey to help her get a passport. Fahey said he had no idea
how to do that, at which point she explained to him that you just find a
deceased person, use their Social Security Number and write to the place where
he was born to get a passport. He said she seemed shaken, and very nervous, with
clammy hands, and that she seemed to be genuinely in some sort of trouble.
He described her as "Caucasian" but with an "Arab complexion, very light." He
called her hair "dirty-blond" and guessed her age might be 27-28. He said her
clothes, shoes and purse were all tan. In addition, he felt the purse and
stockings looked foreign. He also said "Her nose was of—on the hooked fashion
where you can realize that she was from the Arabic world." Asked if the nose was
what one might call prominent, Fahey answered affirmatively.
Fahey had business calls to make in Oxnard, and invited the girl to come
along for the ride with him, since she seemed so troubled. When they got up to
leave, she wanted to pay the bill, and opened a purse where he saw a fistful of
money in her wallet—"big stuff—50 dollar bills—hundred dollar bills."
They drove up the coastal route through Malibu. Two different tails followed
them for part of the way. At one point, Fahey was so nervous he pulled off the
road, thinking the tail would leave him. As he started to get out of the car, he
noticed the girl eyeing his keys, and thinking she might run off with his car,
decided not to get out after all. During the ride, she said the people tailing
them were "out to get Mr. Kennedy tonight at the winning reception." He thought
they should call the police to get rid of the tail but she insisted they should
not call the police, and asked to be taken back to Los Angeles. In the end,
although they drove to Oxnard, Fahey opted out of his sales calls and returned
with the girl to the Ambassador Hotel. After driving and eating meals, they
returned at around 7pm, where he dropped her off. She wanted him to come into
the hotel with her. When he refused, she got angry.
Fahey might not have thought of this incident again had it not been for the
assassination and the story of the strange woman who ran out into the dark
afterwards. A frightened Fahey called the FBI and told them he thought he might
have spent the day with that woman. After talking to the FBI, Fahey read a story
by journalist Fernando Faura in the Valley Times about the polka dot
girl. He called Faura and told him he might know something about the girl. Faura
was hot on the trail of the mystery girl, and took Fahey’s detailed description
of the girl to a police artist. Fahey tweaked the image with the artist until he
saw a match.
Faura then showed the drawing to Vincent DiPierro. "That’s her," DiPierro
responded. "She’s the girl in the polka-dot dress. The girl’s face is a little
fuller than this sketch has it, but this is the girl."43 Faura then brought
in Chris Gugas, a top Los Angeles polygraph operator, who put Fahey and his
story through a lie detector. Faura told Fahey he passed the test "like a
Jordan Bonfante, the Los Angeles Bureau Chief of Life magazine, was
interested in publishing Faura’s account. Hank Hernandez of SUS, however, was
busy trying to crack Fahey under his own polygraph test. Under pressure from
Hernandez, Fahey told an untruth, saying it was Faura who had persuaded him to
connect the girl he was with to the polka dot girl. But Fahey had made the
connection to the FBI long before he ever spoke with Faura. But this lie was
pronounced "true" by Hank Hernandez, proving again that a polygraph’s value
depends a great deal upon the integrity of the operator. Sgt. Phil Alexander
tried to persuade Bonfante that Fahey was not credible, and that Life shouldn’t
run the story on the girl. Kaiser amusingly recounts this incident:
"I don’t think you’ve really proved that [Fahey] was mistaken," said
Bonfante. He was right. It was practically impossible to do so. But if the
police didn’t do so, the implications were that there was a girl who knew
something about the Kennedy assassination and that the police couldn’t find
her. That was a black eye for the department.
To Bonfante, this sounded too much like Catch 22 to be true. He
decided to discover how important this was to the LAPD and let Alexander talk.
Six hours later, Alexander was still talking, and had not yet managed to
persuaded Bonfante there was no "girl in the polka dot dress."45
So then the final question is this. Was the LAPD really so deficient? Could
they really not find the girl? Amazingly, the LAPD evidence log itself contains
a plausible name that may well lead to the heart of the conspiracy.
The Girl Revealed?
A former New York Police Department detective named Sid Shepard, then working
at CBS-TV in New York as Chris Borgen, happened upon Sander Vanocur’s 5:00 A.M.
(Eastern time) interview of Sandy Serrano. He recalled a couple of people who
seemed to fit the description of the polka dot dress girl. In fact, he had
observed them at a protest demonstration in New York at the United Nations
building which had been captured on 16mm film. He felt so strongly about the
match that he put the film, along with a couple of blowups made from the film,
onto a TWA flight for Martin Steadman of the WCBS-TV affiliate in Los Angeles.
Steadman brought the film and two photos made to Rampart detectives L. J.
Patterson and C. J. Hughes. These items were booked into evidence as items #69
and 70 in the evidence log for the case as follows:
#69 1 Film — 16mm roll on gry plast reel
#70 1 Photo — 8" x 10" of female (1) protest demo (taken from abv
Photo — 3" x 4" of female "Shirin Khan" with writing on back "Shirin
Khan DOB 4/22/50 daughter of Khaibar Khan Goodarzian, presented flowers
& court order to Shah of Iran in NY
That Shepard/Borgen would identify Shirin Khan as a likely candidate for the
girl was positively uncanny. He could hardly have known at that point that her
father had reportedly been seen with Sirhan at Kennedy headquarters just two
days before the assassination, and that some campaign workers had identified
Khan as a suspicious person in the Kennedy camp.
Khaibar Khan at Kennedy Headquarters
Bernard Isackson, a Kennedy campaign volunteer, had been at the Ambassador in
the Embassy room at the time of the shooting. His interview summary contains
this interesting tidbit:
Mr. Isackson was asked if anything or anyone acted strange or out of place
around the headquarters. He stated the only thing that stood out as being
unusal [sic] was the actions and statements of Khaibar Khan (I216). He stated
Khan would never fill out cards or write on anything from which the
handwriting could be positively ID as Khan. He also stated to Mr. Isackson he
was from Istanbul, Turkey and currently living in England. Mr. Isackson stated
Khan was very overbearing when it came to the point of trying to impress
Mr. Isackson recalled one incident when Khan asked one of the office girls
if she had seen a [sic] unidentified volunteer, when the office girl started
to page the volunteer Khan became very nervous and told the girl to never
mind. Khan would often meet volunteers entering the headquarters and escort
them to the information desk to register them as if they were personal friends
of his; this was evidence[d] by many of them using his address and phone
Khan was from Iran, not Turkey, and had been living in New York before he
came to Los Angeles. He filled out over 20 volunteer cards (present in the SUS
files) with names of "friends", always using his own address as their contact
information. For this, and a more sinister reason, Isackson was not the only one
suspicious of Khan. Several campaign workers said they had seen him with
Eleanor Severson was a campaign worker for RFK. She told the LAPD that on May
30, 1968, a man named Khaibar Khan came into Headquarters to register for
campaign work. Khan claimed to have come to California from back East to help
the campaign. From that day, Khan came into Headquarters every day until the
election. The Sunday before the election, June 2, he brought four other
foreigners (of Middle Eastern extraction) in to work as volunteers. Severson and
her husband both said that Sirhan was one of these men. She remembered this
group in particular because while she was registering the men, Kennedy’s
election day itinerary was taken from her desk. Her husband thought Sirhan may
have taken it. Severson reported seeing Sirhan again early in the afternoon of
June 3, standing near the coffee machine.
Larry Strick, another Kennedy worker, confirmed this account. He said he had
spoken to Sirhan in the company of Khan. When Sirhan’s picture was finally shown
on TV, he and Mrs. Severson called each other nearly at the same instant to talk
about the fact that this was the man they both remembered from Headquarters.
Strick positively ID’d Sirhan from photos as the same man he had seen on June
2nd to both the LAPD and the FBI in the days immediately following the
Estelle Sterns, yet another Kennedy volunteer, claimed to have seen Sirhan at
Headquarters on Election Day itself. He was with three other men of Middle
Eastern extraction and a female who was wearing a white coat or dress and who
had dark hair that was nearly shoulder length. Sterns said Sirhan offered to buy
her a cup of coffee (a typical Sirhan act), which Sterns declined. Sterns said
that Sirhan and another of the men were carrying guns. The day after the
assassination, Sterns claimed to have received a phone call from a man who
sounded muffled, as though he was speaking through a towel, telling her "Under
no circumstances give out any information to anybody as to the number of people
or their activities at your desk on Tuesday."
The LAPD loved this. They "discredited" the whole Sirhan-at-headquarters
sighting by focusing solely on Sterns’ account. They even used Severson to
discredit this story, although the LAPD buried Severson’s interview where she
stated she too had seen Sirhan at Headquarters. The LAPD also claimed Strick had
retracted his identification of Sirhan.
Surprisingly, Khan himself, as well as his "sister" (who was really his
personal secretary/consort) Maryam Koucham both claimed they saw Sirhan at
Headquarters. Khan claimed to have seen Sirhan standing in Headquarters on June
4th at around 5:00 p.m. in the company of a girl in a polka dot dress. The
question is, did he really see a girl with Sirhan and was he trying to help, or
was he instead helping to muddy the waters about a girl who may have been his
own daughter? Khan also claimed to have seen Sirhan with the woman on June 3rd,
the same day he brought his daughter Shirin Khan into headquarters. (On this
day, he also met Walter Sheridan and Pierre Salinger at the Ambassador Hotel.)
But did he bring his daughter Shirin into Headquarters, or his other
daughter Rose, or some other woman, or no woman at all? Did he see a girl
with Sirhan, or did Khan just say he did to deflect suspicion away from
both himself and his daughter? How are we to know which statements of his
are to be believed?
He refused to take a polygraph or to attend a showup to identify Sirhan more
positively. He was illegally in the country, having overstayed his visa. He told
the police he was on the run from the Shah of Iran’s goons. But Khan had
previously had a working relationship with the Shah. Khan wasn’t using his real
name, but was going by the alias of Goodarzian, as was his ex-wife and daughter
Shirin. He had a prior arrest recorded with the LAPD (1/13/67), at which time he
had been using the alias of Mohammad Ali. And when the LAPD checked the names of
the volunteers whom he had registered under a single address, the LAPD stated
that "Records show that none of these persons entered the U.S. between the
period of June 1968 through December 1968."46 (As an aside,
thirteen Iranians suspected of participating in a political assassination in
1990 came under suspicion when it was found that they had all listed the same
personal address. The address in that case turned out to be an
The address Khan used belonged to Khan’s ex-wife and Shirin’s mother, Talat
Khan. Talat had lived there with sons Mike and Todd and daughter "Sherry".
(After the assassination, "Shirin Goodarzian" went by the name of "Sherry
Khan".) Although housing three children and herself, according to the LAPD
records Talat had no source of employment. Her son Mike was working as a manager
at a small pizza outlet in Santa Monica. Her daughter Shirin showed two
different places of employment for the same dates. She had only just graduated
from University High and allegedly worked for either or both "University Ins.
Co." and "Pacific Western Mtg. Co." in Los Angeles. Despite her working status,
Sherry had no social security number.
Talat told the LAPD that she was divorced from Khan. She initially told them
she did not know his whereabouts, but then was able to contact him to tell him
the police wanted to talk to him. The LAPD recorded that Talat was not involved
in politics. She may have been involved with Khan and Koucham in a bank fraud
scheme in 1963, after having divorced Khan in 1961, but the evidence in that
regard is far from clear.48 Khaibar Khan, Maryam
Koucham and Talat Khan became political targets when Khaibar Khan brought some
astounding information to the attention of Senator McClellan’s Committee on
Government Operations in May of 1963. Khan had accused several prominent
Americans, including David Rockefeller and Allen Dulles, of receiving payoff
money from the Shah of Iran from funds received through an American aid program.
In short, Khan was no ordinary Iranian. He was master over a powerful
intelligence network that had worked for and against the Shah of Iran at various
points in time.
Khaibar Khan’s father had been executed by the Shah when he was only a boy of
eight. Khan might have been killed as well, but a British couple named Smiley,
who worked for oil interests, had taken pity on him and removed him from the
country. Khan was educated in Scotland, and in 1944 joined British military
intelligence. In 1948 his Iranian title was restored, and he ran a fleet of
taxicabs, trucks and operated a repair shop. He also worked for the
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and maintained ties with British and American missions
there. Fred Cook, who wrote about Khan’s life in detail in The Nation
(4/12/65 & 5/24/65), dropped this interesting piece of information:
The Khaibar Khan’s role in the counter-coup that toppled Mossadegh is not
quite clear, but indications are that he helped.
Was Khan working with the CIA in that operation?
Despite the Shah’s role in his father’s death, Khan and the Shah became
friends. The Shah even provided Khan a villa on the palace grounds. Their
friendship took a turn for the worse, however, when Khan wanted to use some of
the plentiful American foreign aid coming into the country for a sports arena.
The Shah and his family, however, had other plans for the land and the money,
leading to a falling out between Khan and the Shah. One day, the Shah discovered
that Khan’s large and lavishly equipped Cadillac El Dorado was wiretapped to the
hilt, and realized that he had a major spy in his midst. Khan was warned of the
Shah’s discovery, and fled the country. But Khan had spent years building up a
powerful spy network. As Khan later told the Supreme Court:
...we put engineers, doctors, gardeners and as servants and as storemen;
all educated people working in several different places. And we put a lot of
secretaries; a lot of people who was educated in England. And we put them as
Through this network, Khan noticed something interesting. Some $7 million of
the sports arena’s funds had been redirected to the Pahlavi Foundation, the
Shah’s family’s personal fund. He directed his spies to find out where the money
was going, to whom and what for. What his agents found was rather astonishing,
and led to a most peculiar congressional investigation. He found that just days
before the Shah was to have an audience with President Kennedy in the U.S., six
and seven figure checks had been cut from the Pahlavi Foundation account to a
number of prominent and influential Americans. Kennedy had no great love for the
Shah or his operations, and was not planning on granting the largesse the Shah
was seeking. Was the Shah feathering the nest before his arrival by spreading
money around? Khan’s agents photocopied a batch of checks from the Shah’s safe.
The checks included payments to the following:
Allen Dallas [sic]: $1,000,000
Henry Luce: $500,000
Mrs. Loy Henderson: $1,000,000
Henderson, Allen and Chapin had all served at some point as Ambassador to
Iran, a role Richard Helms would later play when removed from the CIA by Richard
Nixon. (Richard Helms, by the way, had been a childhood friend of the Shah; they
had attended the same Swiss school in their youth.) David Rockefeller, Allen
Dulles and Henry Luce had contributed to Mossadegh’s overthrow, an effort
double-headed by the CIA and British intelligence. The Shah’s family members
also received checks ranging from six to eight figures in length, the highest
being a $15,000,000 check paid to Princess Farah Pahlavi. Princess Ashraf, the
Shah’s twin sister, came in second at $3,000,000. High level British officials
were also on the list.
Needless to say, when this news was given to Congress, the earth began to
rumble. According to Cook:
The Khaibar Khan’s disclosures [of May and June, 1963] were called to the
attention of President Lyndon B. Johnson in late December by one of the
President’s closest advisers, Washington attorney Abe Fortas. Since then,
there have been these seemingly significant developments: the American
Ambassador to Iran has been relieved of his duties; the Iranian Ambassador in
Washington has been recalled—and for the past year there has been a stoppage
on all economic (i.e. non-military) aid to Iran....49
From the look of it, it appeared Khan’s revelations were being taken
seriously. Khan’s credibility was enhanced when a secret Treasury report
provided solely to McClellan’s committee was photocopied from within the Iranian
embassy and given to Khan, who showed the copy to the committee. His copy proved
that 1) someone on McClellan’s committee was providing information to the
Iranian embassy, and 2) Khan had agents so sensitively placed within the embassy
as to be able to intercept this highly sensitive information. Khan’s credibility
became something that needed to be destroyed at all costs. Who in Congress dared
accuse David Rockefeller, Henry Luce and Allen Dulles of receiving payoffs from
a foreign government? Someone had to be taken down, and the spotlight focused on
Khan. An attempt was made to physically assault Khan, but the attempt was
performed in a public arena and was quickly stopped. A more violent attack was
made upon Maryam Koucham in an effort to scare her into revealing Khan’s sources
within the Embassy.
The publication of Cook’s article about these events in The Nation
seems to have been the impetus for a sudden and furious turnaround from
McClellan’s committee. After two years of pursuing evidence of what the
committee had termed "gross corruption" in the use of American aid money to
Iran, the committee suddenly launched an all-out assault on Khan. McClellan
suddenly surfaced a letter (dated a year earlier) from the bank in Geneva from
which the records of payoffs had surfaced. The letter from the bank managers
stated that the records Khan had submitted were false, citing typeface
difference, differing account number systems and so forth. But were this true,
why did McClellan’s committee continue to investigate Khan’s allegations for
a full year? Clearly the committee knew no one would buy the letter, at
least at that point. But once Cook made the issue public, then anything had to
be used, no matter how ill-supported, to discredit Khan. It was at this point
that Khan, his ex-wife and Koucham were accused of bank fraud.
What had started as Khan’s crusade to regain money that was to be used for
Iran turned into an ugly, losing battle. Khan was a very resourceful man, and
knew how to play on a winning team. It seems highly unlikely that he continued
forever his fight against the Shah, and more likely that he gave in to the old
adage of "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em." And a man with Khan’s sources could
not be allowed to become an enemy of American intelligence. He had too powerful
a network. One can’t help but wonder if the CIA took an interest in protecting
the actions of their own (Dulles, Rockefeller, the Shah et. al.) while using
Khan for their own purposes.
Khan appeared out of the blue at RFK Headquarters, was seen with Sirhan, lied
about his background, raised suspicion by his secretiveness, and may have
fathered the girl in the polka dot dress. But perhaps his most suspicious act
was giving a ride on election night to a man who was arrested while running out
of the pantry immediately after the shots had been fired: Michael Wayne.
Mr. Wayne was in the kitchen when Kennedy was shot, and was the subject of
reports by Patti Nelson, Tom Klein and Dennis Weaver of a man running through
the lobby with a long object in his hand, which appeared to be a rifle.— SUS
supplement to Wayne’s interview (I-1096)
Michael Wayne, whose real name was Wien, was a twenty-one year old from
England who the LAPD wrote "professes to be of Jewish background, but not from
Wayne worked at the Pickwick Bookstore on Sunset Boulevard. Wayne had gained
entry to the pantry by obtaining a press button, and even managed to get into
Kennedy’s suite on the 5th floor. When Kennedy went down to the Embassy room to
make his speech, Wayne followed. He was loitering in the kitchen, was asked to
leave, and returned shortly before the shooting took place. Cryptic references
in the extant files on Wayne seem to indicate that Wayne made some comment
indicating foreknowledge of the assassination to a man in the electrician’s
booth shortly before the shooting. In fact, the first question on the proposed
list of questions to be asked of Wayne under a polygraph was this:
Did you have prior knowledge that there might be an attempt on Senator
Curiously, that question does not appear on the actual list of questions
Right after the shots were fired, Wayne, who bore a resemblance to Sirhan,
although taller and with sideburns, ran out of the East end of the Pantry and
then out through the Embassy room. William Singer described this event to the
I was in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel right next to the ballroom.
Senator Kennedy had just walked away from the podium after his victory speech.
Several moments before the commotion started a man came running and pushing
his way out of the ballroom past where I was standing. I would describe this
man as having Hebrew or some type mid-eastern features, he was approx 18/22
5-10 thin face, slim, drk swtr or jkt, drk slacks, no tie, firy [sic] neat in
appearance, nice teeth, curly arab or hebrew type hair. He may have been
wearing glasses, I’m not sure. I can ID him. He isn’t one of the men in the
pictures you showed me (Saidallah B. Sirhan or Sirhan Sirhan) this man was in
a big hurry and was saying, "Pardon me Please" as he pushed his way out of the
crowded ballroom. He was carrying a rolled piece of cardboard, maybe a
placard. This placard was approx 1? yards long and 4-6" in diameter. I think I
saw something black inside. Just as he got pst [sic] me I heard screaming and
shouting and I knew something bad had happened. Two men were shouting to "Stop
that man." these two men were chasing the first man. I don’t know if they
Gregory Ross Clayton also reported this incident to the LAPD, adding that it
was a newsman who yelled "Stop him." Clayton then tackled the man and held him
while a hotel security guard handcuffed and removed the man. Clayton reported
having seen this man standing with a girl and three other men, one of which
resembled Sirhan, earlier that night at the hotel.53 Clayton identified
Michael Wayne as the man he had seen. The LAPD confirmed that Ace Security guard
Augustus Mallard had arrested and handcuffed Wayne because of his suspicious
behavior running from the scene of the shooting.
The press man was evidently Steve Fontanini, a photographer for the Los
Angeles Times. Thinking Wayne was a suspect, he ran after him. Fontanini
didn’t buy Wayne’s explanation that he was running to a telephone because he was
running out of the press room (adjacent to the pantry), a room full of
phones. That fact bothered neither the LAPD nor Robert Kaiser, who accepted
Wayne’s explanation as the truth.
Joseph Thomas Klein, Patti Nelson and Dennis Weaver had seen Wayne run by
with something rolled up in his hand. Klein originally described the roll as
larger at one end than at the other. Weaver remembered Patti had yelled "He’s
got a gun," although Weaver did not see a gun. Weaver said he only saw Wayne for
several seconds. A month later, when questioned again, the LAPD recorded the
following interesting comments, begging the question of what had given rise to
The man was carrying a blue poster, rolled up in his left hand. It could
have been a cardboard tube, or rolled up posters. Mr. Weaver states he had a
clear view of the object and states that there was no gun sticking out of the
This investigator questioned Mr. Weaver additionally concerning the object
being carried by the man crossing the lobby. Weaver states he is absolutely
sure there was no gun protruding from the object. He states the object was
blue, but was not wood colored at the one end, or even resembling a gun
Patti Nelson’s interview appears to no longer exist. Joseph Klein’s, however,
contained the interesting notation:
Klein states that as he pursued Wayne, he passed Nelson and Weaver and
said, to them; "my God, he had a gun, and we let him get by." (Klein states
this is the first time since the incident he can recall making the
What happened after Wayne was arrested and handcuffed by Ace Security Guard
Mallard is unclear, and troubling. An LAPD supplemental report to Michael
Wayne’s interview states:
This investigator received information that the business card of Keith
Duane Gilbert was in the possession of Wayne, at the time of his apprehension
after Sen. Kennedy was shot. Gilbert is reported to be an extremist and
militant who has been involved in a dynamite theft, previously.
Wayne, however, denied any knowledge of Gilbert, and did not remember ever
having his card. But in the SUS files, yet another problem cropped up. Gilbert’s
file, when checked, contained a business card as well. The card belonged to
Sgt. Manual Gutierrez of SUS spent a great deal of time trying to find out
whether there was some sinister association between Wayne and Gilbert, a radical
Minuteman activist. Gutierrez did not believe Wayne’s denials of a relationship,
and ultimately pushed to have Wayne polygraphed. Unfortunately, the polygraph
was operated by Hernandez, whose record of truth in this case is so poor as to
make his tests worthless. Not surprisingly, Hernandez determined Wayne was
"truthful" about not knowing Gilbert. Gutierrez, a fitness buff, died in 1972 at
the young age of forty. Turner and Christian wrote, "It was said that he
[Gutierrez] had privately voiced doubts about the police conclusion [that Sirhan
alone had killed Kennedy]." SUS ended up claiming that that the Michael Wayne
card in Gilbert’s file referred to a different Michael Wayne. They never did
explain the reverse possession.
Wayne is an interesting person. He was seen in a group that allegedly
included Sirhan. He obtained a ride from the suspicious Khaibar Khan. A couple
of people thought he had a gun as he ran out of the pantry. And he was
apprehended by a guard from the service that employed one of the most famous
alternate suspects in this case, Thane Eugene Cesar.
Thane Eugene Cesar
Thane Eugene Cesar was just behind and to the right of Kennedy at the time
the shots were fired. If Cesar is telling the truth about his position, then
either he was the shooter, or the shooter had to be between himself and Kennedy.
Cesar denies that he shot Kennedy, and denies that anyone else in that position
shot him either. Cesar’s proximity to Kennedy is graphically demonstrated by the
presence of his clip-on tie just beyond Kennedy’s outstretched hand as he lay on
the floor. Cesar has made many statements that he has later contradicted, adding
to the suspicion of sinister involvement. For example, he told police he had
sold his.22 before the assassination, and that he had lost the receipt. But the
police found the receipt, and found that he had sold the gun after the
Cesar was also one of the first to accurately pinpoint where Kennedy was
shot. Most people thought Kennedy was shot in the head. Cesar, on the other
hand, in an interview immediately following the shooting, reported that Kennedy
was shot in the head, the chest and the shoulder. He also said he was holding
Kennedy’s arm when "they" shot him. Asked if Sirhan alone did all the shooting
he said, "No, yeah. One man."54 Paul Hope of the
Evening Star also obtained early comments from Cesar. Hope recorded
Cesar’s comments as follows:
I fell back and pulled the Senator with me. He slumped to the floor on his
back. I was off balance and fell down and when I looked up about 10 people
already had grabbed the assailant.55
Cesar told the LAPD that he ducked and was knocked down at the first shot,
hardly the same report he gave the press. Richard Drew witnessed something
similar to Cesar’s original version, as he reported in a separate article in the
Evening Star that same day (6/5/68):
As I looked up, Sen. Kennedy started to fall back and then was lowered to
the floor by his aides.
In Drew’s LAPD interview, he reduced the plural to the singular, saying
"Someone" had lowered Kennedy to the floor. Since Kennedy was shot in the back
at a range of 1-2 inches, anyone lowering him to the floor should have been an
Equally important was Eara Marchman’s report to the LAPD of what she
witnessed prior to the assassination. Thane Eugene Cesar had been assigned to
guard the pantry area that night. The LAPD recorded the following information
She walked out towards the kitchen area and observed a man in a blue coat,
dark complexion, possibly about 5-3/6 wearing lt. colored pants, standing
talking to, and possibly arguing with, a uniformed guard who was standing by
swinging kitchen doors (after showing mugs susp Sirhan was pointed out,
although she only saw the man from the side position).
Was Cesar arguing with Sirhan earlier that night? Cesar claims he never saw
Sirhan in the pantry before the shooting, despite his having been sighted there
by several other witnesses. But is Cesar to be believed?
Anyone wishing to look into the involvement of Cesar eventually runs into Dan
Moldea. (See DiEugenio’s
article on Moldea in this issue.) It’s almost as if Moldea has become
Cesar’s handler, deciding who will get access to his prize.
Moldea spends a great deal of his book on the case discussing Cesar. Cesar
was standing immediately behind and to the right of Kennedy—exactly the spot
from which the gun had to have been fired, according to the autopsy report.
While many researchers have felt (and continue to feel) that Cesar was the top
suspect for the actual assassin of RFK, Moldea has not. Moldea, curiously, has
been a defender. In his first published article on the case in
Regardie’s, Moldea concluded with the following statement about
Gene Cesar may be the classic example of a man caught at the wrong time in
the wrong place with a gun in his hand and powder burns on his face—an
innocent bystander caught in the cross fire of history.
Whatever Moldea’s motives may have been in 1987, when the above quotes were
published, by 1997 he was singing an even more disturbing tune:
To sum up, Gene Cesar proved to be an innocent man who since 1969 has been
wrongly accused of being involved in the murder of Senator
What would cause a man to state such a thing, in the face of overwhelming
evidence to the contrary, some of which he dug up himself?
Moldea tells us that Cesar had secret clearance to work on projects at
Lockheed’s Burbank facility, and at Hughes Aircraft. Note that Robert Maheu,
Roselli’s partner in assassination plots, was overseeing a great deal of Hughes’
operations in 1968. Note too that the CIA has had a long and admitted
relationship with Hughes. A CIA document dated 1974 but not released until 1994
relates the following:
DCD [Domestic Contacts Division] has had close and continuing relationships
with the Hughes Tool Company and Hughes Aircraft Company since 1948. Both
companies have been completely cooperative and have provided a wealth of
information over the years....It should be noted...that in the case of Hughes
Aircraft, DCD has contacted over 250 individuals in the company since the
start of our association and about 100 in Hughes Tool over the same period.
The substance of the contacts ranged from FPI collection to sensitive
operational proposals. In addition, there is some evidence in DCD files that
both companies may have had contractual relationships with the Agency. In the
context of such a broad range in Hughes/CIA relationships, it is difficult to
state with certainty that the surfacing of the substance of a given action
would not cause Congressional and/or media interest.56
He also reveals that at a lunch with Cesar, Cesar casually mentioned that he
had purchased some diamonds from a businessman who was a Mafia associate.
Despite these points, Moldea writes:
For years, numerous conspiracy theories have alleged that Cesar worked for
the Mafia, the CIA, Howard Hughes, or even as a freelance bodyguard, leg
breaker, and hit man.
There is no evidence to support any of these allegations.
While one could argue that there is no proof, there is plenty of
evidence to support such allegations. Moldea even provided some of it,
but did so in a sneaky fashion. For example, the Burbank Lockheed facility is
the famous "Skunkworks" facility that housed the CIA’s U-2 program. And Howard
Hughes owned Hughes Aircraft. The CIA also had a stake in Hughes
Aircraft (and the entire Hughes operation), a non-secret at this point. Why did
Moldea leave out such salient points?
The denouement of Moldea’s exploration of Cesar comes in the form of a
much-touted polygraph test, which Cesar passed. Cesar had offered to take a
polygraph in the past, but LAPD consistently avoided all opportunities to do so.
Moldea claims that had Cesar failed his test, he would have pursued him to the
ends of the earth. But since he passed, he concludes that Cesar is credible. He
could have passed some of the questions he was asked whether he was the shooter
or not. Consider the following:
Between the ages of twenty-eight and forty-five, other than your kids, did
you ever hurt anyone?
One can’t help but wonder, from the wording, just what Cesar did do to
his kids between those ages! But worse, Cesar was twenty-six at the time
of RFK’s assassination, not twenty-eight! That question and a similar one
had no relevance to June 5th at all!
Examine the semantic trick in the next question:
Did you fire a weapon the night Robert Kennedy was shot?
Kennedy was shot at about 12:15 AM in the morning, so "the night" he
was shot would have been the night of the 5th, long past the point at which the
shooting took place. No assassin fired a gun that "night".
The wording of this next question was interesting.
Were you involved in a plan to shoot Robert Kennedy?
Note how the question was limited specifically to shooting, and not to any
other broader kind of involvement in a plan to kill Robert Kennedy. What if
Cesar was not the shooter, but was protecting the shooter’s identity by
saying he was the only one in the shooter’s position? He might do this if he
knew it could never be proved that he was the shooter. And if he didn’t fire any
shots into the Senator, it would be difficult, despite circumstantial evidence,
to link him in a court of law to the crime. But by saying he was there and that
no one was between them, possibly he could be lying to protect someone else. If
that were true, his next answer could very well be true:
Robert Kennedy, did you fire any of the shots that hit him in June of ’68?
The following question and answer either supports this theory, or proves
Cesar to be inaccurate or lying about his position relative to Kennedy:
Could you have fired at Kennedy if you wanted to?
By his own account, he had been practically touching Kennedy, and did have a
gun with him that night. So it would seem that his answer is inaccurate, unless
someone was physically between him and Kennedy.
There are, of course, other possibilities to the postulations I have just
suggested. He might have truly had no involvement, and genuinely told the truth.
Another possibility is that he faked his way through the test. No less than
former CIA Director William Colby said this was doable if you knew the tricks of
the trade. A third possibility is that the operator, Edward Gelb, altered the
machine and/or results to achieve the desired results. And these suggestions are
not mutually exclusive.
Whatever the results, Moldea was not justified in basing his sole conclusion
as to the question of Cesar’s guilt or innocence upon a test that is not even
admissible in court. Moldea’s unquestioning credence casts as many doubts about
Moldea as Cesar’s conflicting statements continue to cast upon himself.
Lastly, there is the question of Ace Guard Services. Ace was only formed in
the beginning of 1968 by Frank J. and Loretta M. Hendrix. And Cesar was only
hired in May of 1968, just days before the assassination. Years after the
assassination, DeWayne Wolfer, the criminalist in Sirhan’s case, became
president of Ace under its newer name of Ace Security Services. Is this all just
Lining Up the Squares
Like a Rubik’s cube, this case seems to involve many small, separate players.
But as you get closer to solving the puzzle, you find there are really only a
few planes, all of which connect in a single, logical fashion. The conspiracy is
obvious; the players semi-obvious; but the motive is considerably less obvious.
The question of Cui Bono remains all-important: Who Benefits?
Once a supporter of Red hunter Joe McCarthy, Bobby had grown a great deal
since his brother’s death. He became the champion of the disenfranchised. He
marched for civil rights, and lashed out at the inefficiencies in our social
system. He was not a supporter of welfare handouts but of jobs for all. He was
often accused of being "angry", and retorted "I am impatient. I would hope
everyone would be impatient." "I think people should be angry enough to speak
out." Another favorite: "It is not enough to allow dissent. We must demand it."
As Richard Goodwin has written, it was the very qualities that people most
appreciated that caused the establishment to loathe and fear him. The people
loved a Senator who would stand up and tell it like it was, without fear,
without softening rhetoric. The establishment wanted him to go away.
Bobby Kennedy had more enemies it would seem then his brother. Where John
Kennedy played the politician, Bobby Kennedy played the populist. A famous
episode recounted by Richard Goodwin shows how radical Bobby had become. The
State Department had threatened to cut off aid to Peru over a dispute Peru had
with the International Petroleum Company, a Standard Oil subsidiary. Kennedy had
been outraged at the State Department, saying, "Peru has a democratic
government. We ought to be helping them succeed, not tearing them down just
because some oil company doesn’t like their policies." But when Kennedy was
confronted with what he considered excessive anti-Americanism from a Peruvian
audience, Kennedy turned the tables on them. Goodwin recounts what transpired as
Irritated by the attacks, Kennedy turned on his audience. "Well, if it’s so
important to you, why don’t you just go ahead and nationalize the damn oil
company? It’s your country. You can’t be both cursing the U.S., and then
looking to it for permission to do what you want to do. The U.S. government
isn’t going to send destroyers or anything like that. So if you want to assert
your nationhood, why don’t you just do it?"
The Peruvians were stunned at the boldness of Kennedy’s suggestion. "Why,
David Rockefeller has just been down here," they said, "and he told us there
wouldn’t be any aid if anyone acted against International Petroleum."
"Oh, come on," said Kennedy, "David Rockefeller isn’t the government. We
Kennedys eat Rockefellers for breakfast."
Bobby had outraged the CIA by exercising heavy oversight after the Bay of
Pigs fiasco. Richard Helms, the friend of the Shah and a key MKULTRA backer,
held a special animosity for Bobby Kennedy. And Bobby was the one who asked,
immediately after the assassination, if the CIA had killed his brother. What
might Bobby have uncovered had he been allowed to reach the office of the
Presidency? Powerful factions hoped they’d never have to find out.
Kennedy himself expected tragedy for his efforts. "I play Russian roulette
every time I get up in the morning," he told friends. "But I just don’t care.
There’s nothing I could do about it anyway," the fatalist explained, adding,
"This isn’t really such a happy existence, is it?"58
The assassination of both Kennedys guaranteed the elongation of our
involvement in Vietnam, a war that personally brought Howard Hughes and everyone
involved in defense contracts loads of money. Killing Bobby prevented any
effective return to the policies started under John Kennedy, and prevented Bobby
from opening any doors to the truth about the murder of his brother. And killing
Bobby removed a thorn in the side of many in the CIA who felt he had treated
them unkindly and unfairly.
Who killed Bobby? One man gave me an answer to that. I interviewed John
Meier, a former bagman for Hughes and by association the CIA. Meier was one of
the tiny handful of people in direct contact with Howard Hughes himself. His
position gave him entr饠to circles most people will never see.
Meier had worked for Hughes during the assassination, and saw enough dealings
before and after the assassination to cause him to approach J. Edgar Hoover with
what he knew. For example, he knew that Thane Eugene Cesar had an association
with Maheu. (Maheu also had an extensive working relationship with the LAPD.
This partnership produced a porno film pretending to show Indonesian president
Sukarno in a compromising position with a Soviet agent.59) According to Meier,
Hoover expressed his frustration, saying words to the effect of "Yes, we know
this was a Maheu operation. People think I’m so powerful, but when it comes to
the CIA, there’s nothing I can do."
People will choose what they will believe. But the evidence is still present,
waiting to be followed, if any entity has the fortitude to pursue the truth in
this case to wherever it leads. And so long as Sirhan remains in jail,
the real assassins will never be sought. ?
1. The SUS files begin with biographies of all the SUS
members, including military service information.
2. Robert A. Houghton with Theodore Taylor, Special Unit
Senator (New York: Random House, 1970), pp. 102-3.
3. Jonn Christian and William Turner, The Assassination of
Robert F. Kennedy (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1978), pp. 64-66.
4. Richard Harris Smith, OSS: The Secret History of
America’s First Central Intelligence Agency (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1972), p. 20.
5. Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege, p. 249. For
his efforts, Wirin, a native-born Russian, was branded a Communist. One can only
wonder at the effect that had on his career or his subsequent actions.
6. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial (New York: Thunder’s
Mouth Press), p. 52.
7. Robert Blair Kaiser, R. F. K. Must Die (New York: E.
P. Dutton & Co., 1970) p. 102.
8. Kaiser, pp. 103-104.
9. In Kaiser’s own book, he writes that he had been the one to
recommend the book to Sirhan (p. 239). But in his January 17, 1969 article for
Life magazine, Kaiser writes that Sirhan "requested" the book
Witness. Similarly, in RFK Must Die Kaiser writes that Eason
Monroe, the president of the ACLU, had called A. L. Wirin after the
assassination with the suggestion that Wirin approach Sirhan (p. 60). But in the
Life article, Kaiser implies that Adel Sirhan brought Wirin into the
10. Kaiser, p. 124.
11. Brad Ayers, The War That Never Was (Indianapolis:
Bobs-Merrill, 1976) and private correspondence.
12. Klaber and Melanson, Shadow Play: The Murder of Robert
F. Kennedy, the Trial of Sirhan Sirhan, and the Failure of American Justice
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997) p. 43.
13. CIA document dated 3/18/68 referencing the "cleared
attorneys’ panel", quoted in Probe(7/22/97), p. 18.
14. Kaiser, p. 128.
15. Kaiser, p. 129.
16. McKissack was later removed from the Sirhan defense team
and replaced with Godfrey Isaac.
17. Klaber and Melanson, p. 26.
18. SUS Files, Index Card under Russell E. Parsons.
19. Kaiser, p. 245. "In the forties...Russell Parsons was
defending some well-known members of what is sometimes called The Mob...." See
also the SUS final report (unredacted version), p.1430.
20. Kaiser, p. 152.
21. Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1990), pp. 261-263.
22. Klaber and Melanson, p. 72.
23. Klaber and Melanson, p. 72.
24. A copy of this transcript is provided by Lynn Mangan in
her monograph on the case on p. 214 (p. 3967 of the original trial
transcript). Sirhan was not present in chambers when this agreement was
25. Kaiser, p. 296.
26. Kaiser, pp. 302-303.
27. Alan W. Scheflin and Edward M. Opton, Jr. The Mind
Manipulators (New York: Paddington Press Ltd., 1978), p. 439.
28. Kaiser, p. 86.
29. Walter H. Bowart, Operation Mind Control (New
York: Dell Publishing Co., 1978), p. 58.
30. Kelly makes a good case for De Salvo’s innocence, and the
guilt of his closest associate, George Nasser. The lawyer in that case was F.
Lee Bailey, a friend of Bryan’s. Bryan helped Bailey on two other famous cases.
F. Lee Bailey was later to defend a mind control victim named Patty Hearst.
(Curiously, her father’s first two choices for a lawyer for her defense were
Edward Bennett Williams and Percy Foreman, the notorious lawyer who coerced
James Earl Ray into pleading guilty, an act Ray forever after regretted.)
31. Turner & Christian, p. 226, quoting Bryan’s KNX Radio
Interview of February 12, 1972.
32. Allen Dulles’ and Richard Helms’ participation in these
programs is well documented. Lesser known has been the role the Rockefeller
family funds played in developing these horrific programs. The Rockefeller
Foundation, for example, set up the infamous Allen Memorial Institute at McGill
University in Montreal. See Thy Will be Done by Gerard Colby (New York:
HarperCollins Publishers, 1995), p. 265.
33. George H. Estabrooks, Hypnotism (New York: Dutton,
1948), p. 172.
34. Estabrooks, p. 199.
35. John Marks, The Search for the "Manchurian
Candidate" (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1979), 1991 paperback
edition, p. 204.
36. Kaiser, p. 407.
37. Kaiser, p. 114 and SUS I-613.
38. Kaiser, p. 19.
39. Noted in the interview of Samuel Strain, SUS I-62.
40. Kaiser, p. 46.
41. Kaiser, p. 305.
42. The following account is taken from the SUS file on John
Henry Fahey. This document is marked S.F.P.D. which presumably stands for the
San Fernando Police Department. The interviewer is listed as "Fernando" and
"Fdo", and is likely Fernando Faura, a journalist who was hot on the trail of
the polka dot girl.
43. Kaiser, p. 174. This drawing is shown in Ted Charach’s
video The Second Gun.
44. Kaiser, p. 175. Gugas is a past president of the American
45. Kaiser, p. 225.
46. Supplemental Report Khaibar Khan Investigation, SUS
Files, prepared by R. J. Poteete.
47. "The Tehran Connection", Time 3/21/94.
48. Fred Cook, "Iranian Aid Story: New Twists to the
Mystery", The Nation (5/24/65), pp. 553-4.
49. Cook, The Nation (4/12/65), p. 384.
50. SUS Interview of Michael Wayne (I-1096).
51. SUS files contain both proposed questions and actual
questions/responses. There are several differences between sets of
52. SUS Interview of William Singer (I-58-A).
53. SUS Interview of Gregory Ross Clayton (I-4611).
54. Turner and Christian, pp. 167-168, sourcing a KFWB
55. "Senator Felled in Los Angeles; 5 Others Shot", The
Evening Star (6/5/68).
56. CIA memo to the Inspector General regarding DCD’s
response to the Agency-Watergate File Review. Dated 24 April 1974; released
1994, CIA Historical Review Program.
57. "Regarding" may also have been used in the sense of
"While looking at". In other words, Cesar may have shot Kennedy while not
58. "Kennedy Expected Tragedy to Strike", Dallas Times
59. William Blum, Killing Hope (Monroe, ME: Common
Courage Press, 1995), p. 102.
Back to Part 1 of this article: Sirhan and the RFK Assassination: The Grand
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© 1998 Lisa Pease
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