“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence…I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
– Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (quoted in the Washington Post, May 26, 2018)
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On June 6th 1968, one more flame illuminating a social landscape darkened by war, poverty, and civil unrest was snuffed out, and along with it, any optimism of a peaceful transition to a brighter future.
The shooting death of Senator and Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, apparently at the hands of a lone assassin marked the third such murder of high profile political leader in the United States in a five year period, and the second in a little over two months.
As with the killings of his brother President John F. Kennedy, and of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, suspicions have emerged that Bobby’s murder following a resounding victory during the Democratic Primaries for President of the United States may have been the result of a conspiracy involving elements of government and law enforcement.
RFK was opposed to the war in Vietnam and had been campaigning on promises to alleviate poverty and heal the racial divide within America. These positions helped endear him to desperate and hopeful public while potentially making him a target for those literally invested in the state of affairs at the time.
This week’s broadcast of the Global Research News Hour marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Robert F. Kennedy with a show focused on a re-examination of the case, and evidence that accused assassin Sirhan Sirhan, currently serving a life sentence, was not the primary culprit.
We first speak with repeat guest Mark Robinowitz. Robinowitz has reviewed available research on suspected Deep Political events from the JFK assassination to 9/11. He helps address the question of possible motives for RFK’s assassination, the option of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for getting to the bottom of this and other State Crimes Against Democracy, and the significance of RFK Jr.’s recent admission to the Washington Post newspaper that he does not believe Sirhan Sirhan murdered his father.
We follow up that conversation with another repeat guest – William Pepper. A skeptic of the official stories behind both Robert Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King’s assassinations, Dr. Pepper has acted as counsel for Sirhan Sirhan in the Kennedy assassination case, and is seeking an official judicial review of the evidence. We’ll go over some of the forensic details of the crime in our second half hour.
Mark Robinowitz is a writer, political activist and ecological campaigner. He manages the site JFKMLKRFK.com which looks into the political assassinations of the 1960s and connects them to political and economic realities of that time. He is based in Eugene, Oregon.
William Pepper is a barrister in the United Kingdom and admitted to the bar in numerous jurisdictions in the United States of America. He is the author of three books on the assassination of Martin Luther King. He has acted as counsel for Robert F Kennedy’s accused murderer Sirhan Sirhan. His website is williampepper.com.
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Transcript- Interview with William Pepper, May 30, 2018
Global Research: We’re joined once again by Dr. William Pepper. He’s a barrister in the United Kingdom and admitted to the bar in numerous jurisdictions in the United States of America. He’s the author of three books on the assassination of Martin Luther King. He’s also acted as counsel for Robert F Kennedy’s accused murderer, Sirhan Sirhan. He joins us now from New York, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, to help us explore that case welcome back Dr. Pepper.
William Pepper: Thanks, it’s good to hear you Michael.
GR: Now I understand you met Bobby Kennedy and person. What were your impressions of the man?
WP: Well, I knew Bobby Kennedy back in 1964. I was quite young, but I was his citizens’ chairman in Westchester County, New York, when he ran for the Senate, so I had basically control of that aspect of his senatorial campaign. At that point in time, I didn’t like him personally. I thought he was arrogant. I thought that he was out of touch with the needs of poor people in America and that his views were quite restricted in that respect.
But the Bob Kennedy they killed in 1968 was really quite a different person. He had traveled into Appalachia and he had seen things he never saw before in terms of how people were forced to live. And he developed a degree of empathy that was remarkable, so he was really quite a different person and …considering those experiences over the four-year period.
GR: How did you come to be convinced of the innocence of his accused murderer, Sirhan Sirhan?
WP: Well, by examining the evidence. I was asked to look at the evidence of the case, and the number one piece of evidence was Tom Noguchi, the medical examiner, Tom Noguchi’s autopsy report of the senator. And it showed that the senator was hit with three bullets at powder burn range in the rear, fired from the rear, slightly upward, with the final shot entering his head right by the right ear, about an inch, inch-and-a-half from behind the right ear. A fourth bullet went through a shoulder pad. There was testimony of upwards of 40 people available, witnesses, all of whom put Sirhan in front of the senator, between three and five feet in front of him.
So there was no way that he could have fired the fatal shot at Senator Kennedy. It’s just, it’s just, it was impossible. As I looked further, I found out that his own defense counsel really joined the prosecution team. Grant Cooper was his name, and he was under, himself, he was under a pending indictment at that time for the illegal possession of grand jury minutes in another case. So he was really effectively working under the control of the prosecution when he addressed the jury for the first time he said, “We are not here to prove our client innocent of this crime. He is guilty of it. We are only here to save this life from the very, from an order of capital punishment.”
So the evidence was just so powerful that it, to me, it was inconceivable, that if an evidentiary hearing was allowed or a jury trial was allowed where the evidence would be put into play, there’s no question that he would have to be found not guilty of that crime.
GR: Now, you just mentioned Grant Cooper, and he clearly, there was an irregularity there, and at least in theory everyone is entitled to a fair trial. How is it that, that aspect of it… Even if you believe that Sirhan Sirhan was guilty, he didn’t get a fair trial. So how do you explain the inability for this to be addressed through a formal process and appeal?
WP: Well they… There’s never been an evidentiary hearing. They blocked us every step of the way. I’ve been involved in the case since 2007, and we’ve been unsuccessful, and you are asking a very good question. How does that happen? We have filed very strong briefs of appeal. I don’t believe they’ve been read, or if they’ve been read, they just have been dismissed out of hand, and that’s a sign of the weakness and the failure of the criminal justice system in the United States.
It’s a political case, it’s a high-profile case, and there was just no deliberate intention to grant our appellant briefs. So they have denied us all the way to the Supreme Court, and we are at this point, we’ve exhausted our domestic remedies, and we are at this point filing a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. And we’re hopeful that we may get a hearing before that commission, which is a part of the requirements of the undertaking of the United States in the Organization of the American States Treaty.
It’s a devastating situation, and I’m sure that this occurs again and again in cases where verdicts are simply effectively locked in all the way up the appellant structure.
GR: Do you, do you have any further comments… I mean you just mentioned in the evidence of powder burns, the idea that Bobby Kennedy was shot from behind when Mr Sirhan was clearly in front of him as confirmed by multiple witnesses, but there were ballistics reports, were there not, that… Well there were some… more recent indications that there were far more bullets fired than were actually, could have been in Mr. Sirhan’s gun. Do you want to maybe speak a little bit more to these sorts of …well, the ballistics evidence?
WP: Yes, yes. Philip Van Praag, who’s an audiologist and an audio specialist, using highly sophisticated equipment was able to ascertain, on the basis of a tape recording that was made at the time, that 13 bullets were fired. Sirhan’s gun, of course, only had eight, but that’s beside the point because Sirhan was cued to stand up by his controller. He was very heavily under chemical and orthodox hypnosis, and on the cue, he stepped up and was fulfilling the role of distracting everyone by firing at what he saw was a target that he had recently fired at, they…at a pistol range where he had been that afternoon.
He discharged two bullets. After he fired the two bullets his arm was pinned to the surrounding table, and he was, had no control over the gun hand when he pulled… kept pulling the trigger and bullets went flying all over the place.
But he shot two bullets only, only two bullets, and there were a total of 13 bullets which of course included the total of four bullets fired at Senator Kennedy by the real assassin. So Philip Van Praag was able to put the number fired at that amount, but in addition to that, he was able to show with his equipment that the bullets were fired in two different directions. The ones into the senator were fired in a direc…in the opposite direction of the two bullets that were fired by Sirhan in front. So the audiological evidence – ballistic evidence that was not introduced, not put forward at the trial, is another indication of the existence of a second shooter who fired the fatal bullet.
GR: Now, you alluded to the idea that Sirhan Sirhan had been under heavy influence, chemically, and hypnotic suggestion, and what not, and that’s probably one of the more contentious aspects of the case, at least to the casual observer, because you’re invoking the whole idea of MK Ultra and the Manchurian Candidate, like a real life Manchurian Candidate, somebody weaponized to fulfill some sort of a role.
I was wondering if you could maybe help put some meat to that, something that… can we independently confirm that he was under that kind of influence given that he himself admits no memory of what happened that day. That’s his story anyway.
WP: Yes, yes, Well we use the, probably the world’s leading expert on hypnosis and the MK Ultra experience. MK Ultra was a CIA program, of course, that was in effect in the 1960’s, where hypnosis was used. We had Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard, an associate professor of Harvard psychology, who spent over 70 hours with Sirhan and worked with him both, had him under hypnosis and also in a free state.
And Dan Brown’s reports were a part of our own analysis of the case and our putting forth a defense, and Dan was able to ascertain that Sirhan was in a clinic for a period of two weeks when he dropped out of sight, no one knew who he where he was, he allegedly had fallen off a horse, and he was in the clinic getting a treatment for that, but, in fact, that experience exposed him to both chemical and regular hypnotic procedures.
So he was well-prepared as… to be the patsy distracter. That function on the evening, after being effectively picked up by a woman in a black polka dot dress who guided him through the whole event, and on cue had him stand up and distract by firing those two bullets.
So that was, it was Dan Brown’s analysis after over 70 hours of working with Sirhan that that was what happened. And how he was prepared. So it’s contentious. Of course it’s contentious. No one wants to believe that that is possible, but it certainly is possible, and the CIA developed techniques with great sophistication, that was a part of their MK-Ultra program, and Sirhan fell right into it.
On a 1 to 5, 5 being the highest possibility of being susceptible to hypnosis, on a 1 to 5, Dan put Sirhan at a 5, and there is just no question in our mind that that was what happened, that Dr. Brown is correct.
GR: You mentioned that the involvement of a woman in a black polka dot dress. Now the existence of this person was confirmed by multiple independent eyewitnesses and… Can you comment on who that person was? Did she appear in any official reports?
WP: Well, we don’t know who the person was at this point. She was obviously someone who was sent for and used for that particular purpose, and, as you said, a number of eyewitnesses confirmed her existence and her presence. There are some minor references to her in official reports. They tried to determine that she was another woman who was there and identified her as a member of the Kennedy team even, who was there. But that was a false effort, and, very clearly, the other woman was not involved, was even on crutches at the time, so there is a great deal of speculation as to the woman in the black polka dot dress.
But as she fled the pantry room right after the killing, she ran down a flight of stairs with a couple of her colleagues and ran past a woman named Serrano who was a witness, and said, We shot him. We’ve shot him, and when asked who they shot, she said they shot Senator Kennedy. And as she continued, they continued out on the parking lot and ran past a New York couple called Bernstein, and said the same thing, We’ve shot him. We’ve shot him. This woman then disappeared into the night, and she has not been found located or surfaced. We believe we had an idea who she was, but that is still subject to the investigation.
GR: You mentioned that this young woman Serrano, who heard that admission of We shot him, she’s not, she’s still alive but she’s not willing to speak any further on this whole subject. I think it’s kind of an interesting aspect, because there are indications that she had been, that there’d been efforts to get her to rethink what she said she saw, and she seemed to stick to her story. Can you talk about that, you know, efforts by the official authorities to address her inconvenient testimony.
WP: Yes, they brutally… they brutally interrogated her, did everything they could to get her, to to try to get her to change her story and to make it more, I think you used the word inconvenient, make a more convenient statement that would be compatible with the official account. And it’s unfortunate that she went through that kind of experience, but it’s indicative of the efforts of the local law enforcement officials to cover up what really happened.
In addition to that, they took away ceiling tiles, they took away door panels that had bullet holes in them, anything too that indicated that there were more bullets fired. They removed evidence from the crime scene in an effort to cover up what really happened actually.
GR: That’s very interesting, because if you recall in our last interview about the death of Martin King, you mentioned the corruption within the Memphis Police Department, and not only the failure to get to the truth, but efforts to cover up the crime. Could you comment any further on the LAPD’s investigation of the Kennedy assassination and any parallels between the way the LAPD and the Memphis Police Department investigated these high crimes?
WP: Yeah, I mean, they are similar in the efforts of local law enforcement to cover up the truth and to effectively establish an official account of the assassination which involves a patsy. In the case of Martin King, of course, it was James Earl Ray, who I represented the last 10 years of his life, and that story is so, now so officially destroyed, that the evidence that I put forward — my final book on the King case is called The Plot to Kill King, the evidence set out there is so powerful, so strong, that there’s just no way that the official story can stand.
So we have a similar situation with respect to the assassination of Bob Kennedy two months later. The evidence is so overwhelming, despite the really hard, heavy efforts of the Los Angeles police to cover up, that if a hearing or trial were ever allowed where the evidence could be put forward, there’s no doubt in my mind that Sirhan would be found not guilty. But that, of course, is a struggle. You have an official story, and you have official efforts to make sure that that story stands up as best as they can, and they do everything possible to effect that result.
GR: You mentioned earlier that you want to, you’re presenting the evidence to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Now that’s under the umbrella of the organization of American states which is seen by some as a construct furthering US Colonial dominance of the Americas. I discussed that in a previous show, a report they put together that seems skewed in its examination of the unrest currently in Nicaragua, so I’m wondering, is it reasonable to assume that this construct would be any more accommodating of a new trial or a new hearing of the evidence than traditional US-based courts have been?
WP: Well, I think your analysis is apt. It may be suited to a different time, and that’s a hope that we have. There is now increasing amounts of skepticism, cynicism, and even open hostility toward the United States for it efforts in Latin and South America in support of oligarchic or dictatorial regimes that are more sympathetic to American effective colonization of the region.
The United States used to have a great deal of influence over the Inter-American Commission, as well as the Inter-American Court. I think that has waned considerably, and… at this point in time. So we do have, and perhaps naively, but we do have hope that the Inter-American Commission will give us an opportunity to put evidence on the record and effectively for the world to see, and for the American criminal justice system to see, with respect to this case.
But I think you’re quite right, it is, in many ways it’s a difficult task that we’ve undertaken, so I don’t know how it will come out. But we do expect a ruling within the next 60 days. They have had this 213-page petition now for ten months, and we understand we will get some kind of ruling within that period of time.
GR: Now, William Pepper, I’m sure you were aware that Robert F, Robert Kennedy Jr, has been reported as not believing the official story of the Kennedy assassination in the Washington Post, of all places, and of course Robert Kennedy Jr is a pretty prominent personality in his own right. I just wanted to ask what you make of that admission and if that may change the playing field in any way?
WP: Well, I think it’s certainly supportive of the truth. And the search for truth. And I think that Bob Kennedy Jr., along with Paul Schrade, who was a victim of the shooting on the night, I think both of them have provided a basis for an effort to bring the truth forward. So I think yes, I think to the extent that after a long period of time, Bobby Kennedy Jr. has had the opportunity to evaluate all the evidence and in good conscience is now come out and made this statement of support.
I think it’s not immediately known, but his sister, Kathleen Kennedy, who is the eldest of the Kennedy children, and a former lieutenant governor of the state of Maryland, has also come out now in support of this search for the truth and in support of her brother. She has made that quite clear.
GR: Just as a final thought, I was wondering if you have any intuitions about how history might have played out differently if Bobby Kennedy had not been killed that fateful evening.
WP: Oh, yes, I think there would have been an effort, at least, to dramatically change the socio-economic and international position of the United States in the world, and at home, if Bob Kennedy had been elected president. The war in Vietnam would have ended much more quickly, the oil depletion allowance, the 27 and a half percent tax credit on oil that’s removed from American soil, would have been ended, I think the Federal Reserve System would have undergone a serious examination and probably would have been replaced as well.
So, we would have had a different position in the world as well as in the United States. And the oligarchic forces in this country, in the United States, the powerful and the wealthy, would have been impacted greatly by a Kennedy Administration. And that, of course, is the reason why he was killed, why he was taken out of the picture.
GR: William Pepper, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks again for making yourself available to address this important topic.
WP: You’re welcome. I hope you can distribute these thoughts as widely as possible so that we have a more informed people that a democracy requires.
GR: We’ve been speaking with New York City-based lawyer and author William Pepper. His publications on the topics of the Martin King and Kennedy assassinations can be found at the site williampepper.com
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1) Tom Jackman (May 26, 2018), ‘Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan’, Washington Post; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/05/26/who-killed-bobby-kennedy-his-son-rfk-jr-doesnt-believe-it-was-sirhan-sirhan/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a4828031c707