Monday, June 18, 2018

Who Killed RFK? - RFK,Jr. in Washington Post

WASHINGTON POST – May 26, 2018

Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy lies wounded on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. His wife, Ethel, is at lower left. (Bettman Archive/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Just before Christmas, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pulled up to the massive Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a California state prison complex in the desert outside San Diego that holds nearly 4,000 inmates. Kennedy was there to visit Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man convicted of killing his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years ago.

While his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, waited in the car, Kennedy met with Sirhan for three hours, he revealed to The Washington Post last week. It was the culmination of months of research by Kennedy into the assassination, including speaking with witnesses and reading the autopsy and police reports.

“I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,” Kennedy said. He would not discuss the specifics of their conversation. But when it was over, Kennedy had joined those who believe there was a second gunman, and that it was not Sirhan who killed his father.

“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and the third oldest of his father’s 11 children. “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.”

Kennedy, 64, said he doesn’t know if his involvement in the case will change anything. But he now supports the call for a reinvestigation of the assassination — which is led by Paul Schrade, who also was shot in the head as he walked behind Kennedy in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles but survived.

His sister. former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is now expressing doubts, too. “Bobby makes a compelling case,” she told The Post. “I think [the investigation] should be reopened.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was just 14 when he lost his father. Even now, people tell him how much Bobby Kennedy meant to them.

RFK’s death — five years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was gunned down in Dallas and two months after civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis — devastated a country already beset by chaos.

In 1968, the Vietnam War raged, American cities had erupted in riots after MLK’s assassination and tensions between war protesters and supporters were growing uglier. Robert F. Kennedy’s newly launched presidential bid had raised hopes that the New York Democrat and former attorney general could somehow unite a divided nation. The gunshots fired that June night changed all that.

Though Sirhan admitted at his trial in 1969 that he shot Kennedy, he claimed from the start that he had no memory of doing so. And midway through Sirhan’s trial, prosecutors provided his lawyers with an autopsy report that launched five decades of controversy: Kennedy was shot at point-blank range from behind, including a fatal shot behind his ear. But Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant, was standing in front of him.

Was there a second gunman? The debate rages to this day.

But the legal system has not entertained doubts. A jury convicted Sirhan of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death in 1969, which was commuted to a life term in 1972. Sirhan’s appeals have been rejected at every level, as recently as 2016, even with the courts considering new evidence that has emerged over the years that as many as 13 shots were fired — Sirhan’s gun held only eight bullets — and that Sirhan may have been subjected to coercive hypnosis, in a real-life version of “The Manchurian Candidate.”]

His case is closed. His lawyers are now launching a long-shot bid to have the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hold an evidentiary hearing, while Schrade is hoping for a group such as the Innocence Project to take on the case. A spokesman for the Innocence Project said that the organization does not discuss cases at the consideration stage.

In the final court rejection of Sirhan’s appeals, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich ruled, “Even if the second shooter’s bullet was the one that killed Senator Kennedy, [Sirhan] would be liable [for murder] as an aider and abettor.” And if Sirhan was unaware of the second shooter, Wistrich wrote that the scenario of a second gunman who shot Kennedy “at close range with the same type of gun and ammunition as [Sirhan] was using, but managed to escape the crowded room without notice of almost any of the roomful of witnesses, lacks any evidentiary support.”

‘Is everybody okay?’

On June 5, 1968, Kennedy had just won the California Democratic presidential primary and delivered a victory speech to a delirious crowd.

t 12:15 a.m., the 42-year-old candidate and Schrade left the celebration, walking through the hotel pantry en route to a news conference. Schrade was a regional director of the United Auto Workers who had helped Kennedy round up labor support, and Kennedy had singled him out for thanks in his victory speech moments earlier.

Schrade, now 93, still recalls the scene in the pantry vividly.

“He immediately started shaking hands” with kitchen workers, Schrade said of Kennedy. “The TV lights went on. I got hit. I didn’t know I was hit. I was shaking violently, and I fell. Then Bob fell. I saw flashes and heard crackling. The crackling actually was all the other bullets being fired.”

Witnesses reported that Kennedy said, “Is everybody okay? Is Paul all right?”

Kennedy was still conscious as his wife, Ethel, pregnant with their 11th child, rushed to his side. He lived for another day and died at 1:44 a.m. June 6, 1968.

Schrade was shot above the forehead but the bullet bounced off his skull. Four other people, including ABC News producer William Weisel, were also wounded. All survived.

Sirhan was captured immediately; he had a .22-caliber revolver in his hand. Karl Uecker, an Ambassador Hotel maitre d’ who was escorting Kennedy through the pantry, testified that he grabbed Sirhan’s wrist and pinned it down after two shots and that Sirhan continued to fire wildly while being held down, never getting close to Kennedy. An Ambassador waiter and a Kennedy aide also said they tackled Sirhan after two or three shots.

Several other witnesses also said he was not close enough to place the gun against Kennedy’s back, where famed Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi found powder burns on the senator’s jacket and on his hair, indicating shots fired at close contact. These witnesses provided more proof for those who insist a second gunman was involved.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department declined interviews on what both consider a closed case.

Schrade believes that Sirhan shot him and the others who were wounded but that he did not kill Kennedy. Since 1974, Schrade has led the crusade to try to persuade authorities — the police, prosecutors, the feds, anyone — to reinvestigate the case and identify the second gunman.
“Yes, he did shoot me. Yes, he shot four other people and aimed at Kennedy,” Schrade said in an interview at his Laurel Canyon home. “The important thing is he did not shoot Robert Kennedy. Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was. They wanted a quickie.”

‘He never got near my father’
At trial, defense lawyer Grant Cooper made the decision not to contest the charge that Sirhan fired the fatal shot and instead tried to persuade the jury not to impose the death penalty by arguing Sirhan had “diminished capacity” and didn’t know what he was doing. It is a standard tactic by attorneys in death-penalty cases, but Cooper, who died in 1990, was widely criticized for not investigating the case before conceding guilt.

Sirhan is now 74 and approaching 50 years behind bars. After California’s courts abolished the death penalty in 1972, he was first made eligible for parole in 1986 but has been rejected repeatedly.

In 2016, Schrade spoke on Sirhan’s behalf at his parole hearing and apologized for not coming forward sooner to advocate for Sirhan’s release and exoneration.

California inmates are not permitted to give media interviews, and Sirhan did not respond to a letter from The Post. But his brother, Munir Sirhan, said Sirhan still hopes to be released and that his defense team probably hurt his case more than helped it.

There’s plenty of damning evidence against Sirhan. He confessed to the killing at trial, although he claims this was done on his attorney’s instruction. He took hours of target practice with his pistol earlier in the day, and he took the gun into the Ambassador Hotel that night. He had been seen at a Kennedy speech at the Ambassador two days earlier. He had a newspaper clipping critical of Kennedy in his pocket and had written “RFK must die” in notebooks at home, although he said he didn’t remember doing that. And he waited in the pantry for about 30 minutes, according to witnesses who said he asked if Kennedy would be coming through there.

But questions about the case arose almost immediately in Los Angeles, resulting in hearings and reinvestigations as early as 1971 by the district attorney, the police chief, the county board of supervisors and the county superior court. Many of them focused on the ballistics of the case, starting with Noguchi’s finding that Kennedy had been shot from behind, which Sirhan’s lawyer didn’t raise in his defense.

In addition, lead crime scene investigator DeWayne Wolfer testified at trial that a bullet taken from Kennedy’s body and bullets from two of the wounded victims all matched Sirhan’s gun.

But other experts who examined the three bullets said they had markings from different guns and different bullet manufacturers. An internal police document concluded that “Kennedy and Weisel bullets not fired from same gun” — Weisel was the wounded ABC News producer — and “Kennedy bullet not fired from Sirhan’s revolver.”

This prompted a Los Angeles judge in 1975 to convene a panel of seven forensic experts, who examined the three bullets and refired Sirhan’s gun. The panel said no match could be made between the three bullets, which appeared to be fired from the same gun, and Sirhan’s revolver. They found Wolfer had done a sloppy job with the ballistics evidence and urged further investigation.

In addition, witnesses said bullet holes were found in the door frames of the Ambassador’s pantry, and photos showed investigators examining the holes in the hours after the shooting. Between the three bullets that hit Kennedy and the bullets that hit the five wounded victims, Wolfer had accounted for all eight of Sirhan’s shots. Bullets in the doors would indicate a second gun. Wolfer later said the holes and the metal inside were not bullets, and the door frames were destroyed after the trial.

Though Los Angeles authorities had promised transparency in the case, the police and prosecutors refused to release their files until 1988, when they produced a flood of new evidence for researchers.
Among the material was an audiotape, first unearthed by CNN journalist Brad Johnson, which had been inadvertently made by Polish journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski in the Ambassador Hotel’s ballroom, and turned over to police in 1969.

Pruszynski’s microphone had been on the podium where Kennedy spoke, and TV footage shows him detaching it and moving toward the pantry as the shooting happens.

In 2005, audio engineer Philip Van Praag said the tape revealed that about 13 shots had been fired. He said he used technology similar to that of the ShotSpotter used by police to alert them to gunshots, and which differentiates gunshots from firecrackers or other loud bangs.

Van Praag said recently that different guns create different resonances and that he was able to establish that two guns were fired, that they fired in different directions, and that some of the shot “impulses” were so close together they couldn’t have been fired by the same gun. He said he could not say “precisely” 13 shots but certainly more than the eight contained by Sirhan’s gun.

“There were too many bullets,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”

British author Mel Ayton wrote “The Forgotten Terrorist,” which posits that Sirhan killed Kennedy because he supported sending military firepower to Israel — the Sirhans were Christian Palestinians forced from their Jerusalem home by the Arab-Israeli War in 1948. He said Van Praag had misinterpreted the Pruszynski tape and that other experts who examined it show only eight “spikes,” one for each gunshot. Ayton also cited numerous eyewitnesses who said they heard at most eight shots.

Ayton and investigative reporter Dan Moldea, who also wrote a book about the assassination, argue that Sirhan’s gun could have reached Kennedy’s back. No witnesses saw the actual shots fired in the chaos of the pantry, and Moldea noted that Kennedy almost certainly turned and tried to protect himself after the first shot, which some said was preceded by Sirhan yelling, “Kennedy, you son of a bitch!”

“What were Kennedy’s last words?” Moldea asked during an interview. “‘How’s Paul?’ How would Kennedy know Paul had been injured if he had not been turned around. He turned around when Sirhan rushes towards him, yelling ‘you son of a bitch Kennedy.’ Kennedy’s not going to just stand there. He turns his back defensively.”

Moldea theorized that Schrade fell forward into Kennedy, pinning him against a table and pushing him into the muzzle of Sirhan’s gun, enabling him to fire four contact shots into Kennedy. One shot went through his jacket without hitting Kennedy, one went into his back and stopped below his neck, one went through his armpit and one went into his brain.

But Robert F. Kennedy Jr. doesn’t find those theories persuasive. “It’s not only that nobody saw that,” he said. “The people that were closest to [Sirhan], the people that disarmed him all said he never got near my father.”

Schrade used an expletive to describe Moldea’s explanation and said he fell backward when he was shot above his forehead.

Both Ayton and Moldea assisted the California attorney general’s office in contesting Sirhan’s final appeal, and the government’s legal briefs cited the investigative work of both men.

Moldea had initially been a believer in the second-gunman theory, but after interviewing numerous police officers, witnesses and Sirhan, he concluded in his 1995 book, “The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy,” that Sirhan acted alone. He cited as additional proof a comment Sirhan reportedly made to a defense investigator about Kennedy turning his head before Sirhan shot him, a comment Sirhan strongly denied making.

More recently, Sirhan’s lawyers have explored whether he was hypnotized to begin shooting his gun when given a certain cue, even hiring a renowned expert in hypnosis from Harvard University to meet with Sirhan.

Wistrich, the judge, was completely dismissive of any suggestion of hypnosis. Schrade said the various theories of conspiracy and hypnotic programming are of little interest to him.

“I’m interested in finding out how the prosecutor convicted Sirhan with no evidence, knowing there was a second gunman,” Schrade said.

It was Schrade who persuaded Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to examine the evidence. “Once Schrade showed me the autopsy report,” Kennedy said, “then I didn’t feel like it was something I could just dismiss. Which is what I wanted to do.”

Kennedy called Sirhan’s trial “really a penalty hearing. It wasn’t a real trial. At a full trial, they would have litigated his guilt or innocence. I think it’s unfortunate that the case never went to a full trial because that would have compelled the press and prosecutors to focus on the glaring discrepancies in the narrative that Sirhan fired the shots that killed my father.”

Kennedy is not afraid to express controversial views. Last year, he and actor Robert De Niro held a news conference to argue that certain vaccines containing mercury are unsafe for some children. He said he is not opposed to all vaccines, but wants to make them safer.

Two of his other siblings — human rights activist Kerry Kennedy and filmmaker Rory Kennedy — declined to discuss the assassination or the case against Sirhan. Kennedy understands why.
“I think that, for most of my family members,” he said, “this is an issue that is still too painful to even talk about.”
It’s painful for him, too. Kennedy was asleep in his dorm at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., on June 5, 1968, when a priest woke him and told there was a car waiting outside to take him to the family home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Va. The priest didn’t say why.

In his new memoir, “American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family,” Kennedy said his mother’s secretary was waiting for him. “Jinx Hack told me my father had been shot, but I was still thinking he’d be okay. He was, after all, indestructible.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his older sister Kathleen and brother Joe flew to Los Angeles on Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey’s plane, Air Force Two.

At Good Samaritan Hospital, Kennedy wrote, his father’s head was bandaged and his face was bruised. A priest had already delivered last rites. His mother was there.

“I sat down across the bed from her and took hold of his big wrestler’s hand,” he wrote. “I prayed and said goodbye to him, listening to the pumps that kept him breathing. Each of us children took turns sitting with him and praying opposite my mom.

“My dad died at 1:44 a.m., a few minutes after doctors removed his life support. My brother Joe came into the ward where all the children were lying down and told us, ‘He’s gone.’ ”

BOSTON GLOBE: RFK's Children Divided

RFK’s children divided over calls for a fresh investigation of his assassination

By Michael Levenson GLOBE STAFF  MAY 31, 2018

Two of Robert F. Kennedy’s children are calling for a new investigation into their father’s assassination, opening a rift in the famous family as it prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death next Wednesday.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, told the Globe this week that she supports a new investigation, joining her brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who revealed last weekend that he visited convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan in prison and believes someone else killed RFK.

But two other children of Robert F. Kennedy said this week that they would not support a re-investigation, underscoring how divisive the second-gunman theory continues to be, a half-century after the presidential candidate, former attorney general, and senator from New York was killed in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

“As we approachthe 50th anniversary of my father’s passing, I think what is most important is that our country and my family reflect on what my father stood for and fought for — a legacy promoting global peace, social justice, and civil rights,” Joseph P. Kennedy II, the former congressman from Massachusetts, said in a statement.

Kerry Kennedy, the president of a human rights organization named for her father, also indicated that she opposes a fresh examination of the evidence that, critics say, shows Sirhan could not have acted alone.

“The reason that people are interested in the circumstances of my father’s death is because of what he did with his life,” she said. “And I think we should focus on his life and not so much on his death — his moral imagination, his capacity for empathy, his quest to heal divisions, and his belief that one person can make a difference.”

At the center of the emotional debate is Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s 90-year-old wife, who is preparing to join the family next week for a ceremony honoring her husband’s legacy at Arlington National Cemetery. Former president Bill Clinton is expected to speak, along with RFK’s grandson, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts.

But Ethel Kennedy “will not comment” on the call by two of her children for a new investigation into the assassination, said Kerry Kennedy. Joseph P. Kennedy III also declined to comment, as did Rory Kennedy, a filmmaker and the youngest of RFK’s children, whose assistant pointed to “the sensitive nature of this topic” when declining the request.

Kennedy’s shooting on June 5, 1968, shocked the nation, coming just two months after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis and nearly five years after Kennedy’s older brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas.

Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant, was apprehended immediately after the shooting when he was wrestled to the ground with a .22-caliber revolver in his hand. Kennedy, who had been celebrating his victory in the California Democratic primary, died the following day. Five others who were shot survived.

At his trial in 1969, Sirhan admitted that he shot Kennedy and was convicted and sentenced to death. His sentence was changed to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty in 1972. Now 74 and incarcerated in state prison in San Diego, Sirhan has lost all his legal appeals and 15 bids for parole, most recently in 2016.

Though overshadowed by the conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s death, the theory that Sirhan was not responsible for the assassination of RFK has persisted for years, fueled in large part by Paul Schrade, a former United Auto Workers official who was shot in the head as he walked behind Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel.

Schrade believes Sirhan couldn’t have killed his friend because an autopsy report showed RFK was shot from near point-blank range from behind and eyewitnesses saw Sirhan standing in front of Kennedy. Schrade also points to an analysis done about a dozen years ago of a reporter’s audio recording of the assassination that indicated 13 shots were fired. Sirhan’s revolver only held eight bullets.

Schrade shared the evidence with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental advocate and the third oldest of RFK’s 11 children, who found it persuasive. In an article published in The Washington Post on Saturday, RFK Jr. disclosed that, after reading the autopsy report, the police report, and other documents, he visited Sirhan in prison for three hours just before Christmas and emerged convinced Sirhan did not kill his father.

“There were too many bullets,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told the Post. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”

RFK Jr., who declined an interview request from the Globe, added in his interview with the Post that, “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.”

Sirhan has contended that he does not remember the shooting, and his lawyers have argued that he was the victim of a mind-control plot by a mysterious girl in a polka-dot dress, a theory that was based on statements Sirhan made to a Harvard professor while under hypnosis.

Such claims have not held up in federal court.

In a 2012 decision, US Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich found that the acoustic analysis indicating 13 shots were fired “raises doubts as to the number of bullets fired, but it does nothing to diminish the overwhelming evidence of guilt.” He noted that other audio engineers who have analyzed the recording have identified only eight shots.

The autopsy that found Kennedy was shot from behind while eyewitnesses saw Sirhan in front of the senator “fails to address the chaos that ensued once [Sirhan] began shooting and the subsequent movements of the senator and [Sirhan] in reaction to the shooting,” Wistrich wrote. And the claim that Sirhan was manipulated into the shooting by a mind-control plot is a “diverting — albeit farfetched — theory. But it is no more than that,” Wistrich wrote.

Ultimately, even if a second shooter’s bullet killed Kennedy, Sirhan would still be liable for the murder “as an aider and abettor,” Wistrich wrote. And the idea that someone other than Sirhan shot Kennedy “at close range with the same type of gun and ammunition as Sirhan was using, but managed to escape the crowded room without notice of almost any of the roomful of witnesses, lacks any evidentiary support,” the judge wrote.

Such rejections have made Schrade, 93, skeptical that a new investigation will ever be launched.
“At this point, the prosecutors are frozen in their position and have been for many years. and it’s going to take a lot of leverage for them to do anything,” he said.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s involvement could also prompt some to dismiss the issue as a conspiracy theory because he has for years promoted a link between vaccines and autism — a claim debunked by medical experts.

But Schrade said the support of two of RFK’s children could help the second-gunman theory gain new traction. 

“The fact that Robert Kennedy Jr. would say, ‘Sirhan did not kill my father,’ I think that’s very effective,” Schrade said. As for Townsend’s support, he said: “I found it not only surprising but wonderful she would do this because I’ve talked to her over the years and she said she did not want to get involved.”

Dan Moldea on RFK, Jr.

[ BK: In this Boston Globe response to RFK, Jr.'s interview in the Washington Post - 
Dan Moldea is interviewed extensively, and says RFK, Jr. has been "misled" by the "conspiracy crowd," when in fact, Modea himself wrote a book blaming the Mafia for the murder of President Kennedy. In this article, Nik DeCosta-Klipa should have fully disclosed the fact that Dan Moldea is a close personal friend of Eugene Thane Cesar, the security guard hired the day before who was in the pantry, and who liked about owning a 22 revolver, similar to Siran's, and that Moldea is the godfather to Cesar's son, which does not make Moldea an objective and honest observer. ]

[BK: In addition, Boston Globe reporter Brian Bender, who has reported accurately on the release of the JFK assassination records, has said that "RFK,Jr.'s name carries no weight," when in fact it is Dan Moldea's name that carries no weight and RFK, Jr. is well recognized and respected as an environmental attorney.] 

BOSTON GLOBE - May 31, 2018 

Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it?
Or has RFK Jr. "launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts" 50 years later.

May 31, 2018

Another alternative Kennedy assassination theory?

Conspiracies surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s death may be most widely circulated. However, one theory questioning our understanding of Robert F. Kennedy’s murder in 1968 has arguably gained more recent traction, including from those closest to the assassination and even one immediate member of Kennedy’s family.

“My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently told The Washington Post. “I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”

According to the Post, Kennedy’s second oldest son now believes, after months of research, that his father was killed by a second gunman.

RFK Jr. even visited Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of shooting and killing his father, because he was “curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence.” He isn’t the only one. But others who’ve deeply investigated the case say the second-shooter explanation is a shallow theory that irresponsibly lets Sirhan off the hook.

“If you believe the LAPD reports about this case, there is no way that Sirhan did it and did it alone,” Dan Moldea, an investigative journalist and author of The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, told

“But if you assume that the LAPD f—ed up — not crimes of commission, but crimes of omission,” Moldea says the theory begins to unravel.

“What Bobby Kennedy Jr. has done, he’s launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts who are going to believe that Sirhan didn’t do it and that somebody else did,” he said.

Here’s what we know happened

Kennedy was assassinated almost exactly 50 years ago, on June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy awaits medical assistance as he lies on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles moments after he was shot.

The 42-year-old Brookline native had just finished speaking to supporters in the hotel ballroom after winning California’s Democratic presidential primary. After finishing his address, Kennedy was walking through the hotel kitchen pantry amid a crowd of people when Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant, began shooting his .22-caliber revolver.

Kennedy, who was hit three times, and five others were shot. However, the ascendant candidate was the only one for whom the gunshot wounds would prove fatal. He died the following day at a nearby hospital.

Sirhan was almost immediately tackled at the scene by witnesses and arrested on several charges, including murder. Police found an article in his pocket critical of Kennedy’s support for Israel, which appeared to be his motive. A Christian Palestinian, Sirhan was forced to flee Jerusalem with his family in 1948, after their home was seized by Jewish insurgents. A notebook was also found in Sirhan’s apartment with an entry, just two weeks earlier, asserting that Kennedy “must” soon be assassinated.

Sirhan has long maintained that he has no recollection of the assassination, though he did go to a shooting range earlier in the day of the assassination. During his trial, he actually admitted to the assassination, but later recanted and now says the confession was part of his defense lawyer’s strategy to spare him from the death penalty, rather than argue his innocence.

“I went along with him because he had my life in his hands,” Sirhan told Moldea in 1993. “I was duped into believing that he had my best interests in mind. It was a futile defense. ”

Sirhan was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death. However, his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 when California abolished the death penalty.

“Everyone agrees Sirhan was a gunman, with the dispute being whether he was the only one,” Larry Tye, an RFK biographer, told in an email.

Why do people think there could have been a second gunman?

Skeptics of the accepted narrative of what happened in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen pantry center around the ballistic evidence.

First, Kennedy was shot from behind at point-blank range, according to the autopsy report. The fatal shot entered behind his right ear, the report said. But witnesses say that Sirhan approached from the front, on Kennedy’s right, and that his gun never got closer than about a foot-and-a-half away.

Second, according to the official reports, eight total shots were fired. Kennedy was hit three times and five others were also shot. After all, Sirhan’s .22-caliber revolver carried a maximum of just eight bullets. And yet, there’s evidence that suggests more than eight shots were fired.

According to the FBI’s crime scene report, there were four bullet holes in the wall and door frame in the direction Sirhan was shooting. Photos of the door frame, which were reportedly destroyed after the trial, showed each of the holes circled by Los Angeles police.

Additionally, a low-quality audiotape of the shooting revealed up to 13 shots, according to electrical engineer Philip Van Praag.

“You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun,” RFK Jr. told the Post.

However, there’s disagreement among the the audio analysts who have studied the tape. A group of five experts who studied the tape after Van Praag’s claim could find no more than eight shot signatures. As CNN reported in 2012, several witnesses said they heard between five and 12 shots.

And lastly, in 1975, a Los Angeles court appointed a firearms panel to re-fire Sirhan’s gun and match the bullets to the three that hit Kennedy. Even though the original investigation (which was highly criticized for its handling of the evidence) seven years earlier said the bullets found had matched Sirhan’s .22-caliber revolver, the reinvestigation was unable to do the same.

So what are the holes in this theory?

Moldea — who interviewed Sirhan three times, talked to more than 100 police officers involved in the investigation, and scoured countless pages of official reports for his 1995 book — also used to believe in the second-shooter theory. He even sold his book proposal on that premise.

“I was wrong,” he said in a recent interview.

According to Moldea, all the evidence for a second shooter can be explained away by shoddy police work and conspiratorial thinking.

On the first point, Moldea says everyone agrees with the autopsy report’s conclusion that Kennedy was shot at close range and from behind. But just because Sirhan approaches him from the front doesn’t mean there was a second shooter.

“As he’s attacking Kennedy, he’s lunging and going, ‘Kennedy, you son of a bitch,'” said Moldea, citing eyewitness accounts of the shooting. Moldea says Kennedy’s natural reaction would have been to turn away from Sirhan, which would explain the angle of his gunshot wounds.

“The conspiracy people will have you believe that Kennedy is standing there, putting his chest out,” he said. “If you see someone running at you, shouting ‘You son of a bitch,’ he’s got a gun in his hand, what are you going to do? You’re going to turn defensively.”

In his reconstruction, Moldea says Paul Schrade, a labor activist who was walking on Kennedy’s left, was hit with the first bullet and collapsed into the senator, incidentally pushing him back toward Sirhan, who was then able to reach him at point-blank range.

But what about the four bullet holes in the wall and door frame? Moldea says it doesn’t take a ballistics expert to know the suggestion of additional bullets was problematic.

“An eight-shot revolver can’t fire more than eight bullets,” he said. “That I know. Now you got the FBI identifying four extra bullets in the walls and door frame in Sirhan’s line of fire. That’s a problem.”

In the process of researching his book, Moldea said he was able to identify the Los Angeles officer who marked the bullet holes, Walter Tew, who was a deputy patrolman with no expertise in firearms identification.

Furthermore, Moldea found a report in the state archives from Alfred Greiner, the FBI agent who included the holes in the bureau’s report, that said a hotel clerk had given him a tour of the pantry. According to Greiner, it was the clerk who originally identified the bullet holes.

“This is a hotel clerk, who I’m sure knows how to take a great reservation, but know absolutely nothing about bullet holes,” Moldea said.

Moldea says the holes were likely the result of any number the kitchen’s carts banging into the wall and said the pantry was “full of holes” when he visited the hotel years later. DeWayne Wolfer, the original lead investigator of the shooting, has also said the holes weren’t caused by bullets and that no extra bullets were ever found.

And as for the bullets not matching Sirhan’s gun when it was re-fired in 1975, Moldea says he visited the crime lab to ask why they couldn’t replicate what they had done several years later. Moldea said employees at the lab told him that they had taken Sirhan’s gun following the 1969 trial and, figuring the case was over, shot it hundreds of times for fun.

“The problem is that when you shoot a gun, the barrel changes,” he said. “The lands and grooves change. And when you fire the gun a hundred times, you change the barrel of the gun. Therefore, a match with bullets that were fired a hundred shots earlier, you’re not going to be able to make a match.”

Who would the second gunman have been?

The man conspiracy theorists most commonly point to is Thane Eugene Cesar. Cesar was a security guard who hated the Kennedys and supported George Wallace, the former Alabama governor and segregationist presidential candidate in 1968.

Cesar was also walking with Kennedy when the shooting occurred and was carrying a .38-caliber revolver, which he says he never fired. However, he also owned a .22-caliber similar to Sirhan’s gun, which he initially told police he sold before the assassination, but had actually, it was later found, sold three months after the shooting. There’s no evidence he had the gun with him when the shooting took place.

Moldea, who at the time was pursuing the second-shooter theory, confronted Cesar about the inconsistencies in his story in 1987. Cesar categorically denied shooting his gun, no less the fatal bullet.

“I got caught in a situation I can’t get out of,” he told Moldea. “But no matter what anybody says or any report they come up with, I know I didn’t do it. The police department knows I didn’t do it. There’re just a few people out there who want to make something out of something that isn’t there—even though I know that some of the evidence makes me look bad.”

Cesar later even agreed to be polygraphed by a professional expert and “passed with flying colors.”
So why has this theory resurfaced?

Sirhan, who continues to serve his life sentence in a San Diego prison, has repeatedly been denied parole, most recently in 2016. The convicted murderer and his lawyers have embraced other assassination conspiracy theories — from the mysterious “girl in the polka-dot dress” to a supposed mind control plot — as they try to argue his case. According to the Post, Sirhan’s defense team is launching “a long-shot bid” to get a hearing with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Schrade, the labor activist who was shot during the assassination, also now believes there was a second shooter, after long having been critical of law enforcement’s handling of the case, which both sides agree was sloppy.

“Yes, [Sirhan] shot four other people and aimed at Kennedy,” the 93-year-old told the Post. “The important thing is he did not shoot Robert Kennedy. Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? 

They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was. They wanted a quickie.”

Moldea says the second-shooter theory persists because authoritatively making the case that Sirhan was the sole shooter isn’t a clean and easy task. The 68-year-old journalist says he talked to RFK Jr. earlier in the year after he visited Sirhan and tried to explain that Sirhan’s team was promoting the theory to increase the odds he might get released from prison.

“I would not want to take the blame for this crime as long as there is exculpatory evidence that I didn’t do the crime,” Sirhan admitted to Moldea in 1993.

Moldea said he is “livid” with how the Post treated the recent story and imagines Sirhan is “in his jail cell right now spiking the football.” Quoting from his book, he reiterated his point that nearly every murder can be made to look like a conspiracy if “occasional official mistakes and incompetence” are not taken into account.

“I think [RFK Jr.] has been misled, conned, and corrupted by the conspiracy crowd to believe this garbage that the man that murdered his father is innocent,” Moldea said.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"We now know" - Bill Turner

We Now Know - Bill Turner

At one of the COPA Conferencces in Dallas, former FBI agent and original JFK assassination investigator Bill Turner said:

"We now know to a fairly good degree of certainty what happened at Dealey Plaza. The motives were piling up - the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the backchannel to Cuba, - the motives were piling up to the point they had to assassinate him. I think its' pretty obvious, with the compilation of the information we have today, that the mechanizm of the crime came out of the alligence between the CIA and the Mafia. They already had an assassination apparatus set up for killing Castro, and they just switched targets and killed Kennedy instead."

So of all the theories about the assassination, the one that holds water is the one that looks closely at the CIA - Mafia plots to kill Castro.

As we have seen and others have detailed, the CIA first began to consort with the Mafia dons - John Rosselli and Sam Giancana during the Eisenhower administration, and with the sanction of CIA director Allen Dulles, himself no stranger to assassination plots.

That began the first part of the CIA - Mafia association, and included a number of plots to poison Castro, none of which came to frutation.

Then the CIA-Mafia plots reaached as second stage, when William Harvey returned to the US from Germany, where he ran the Berlin tunnel operation, and was promoted to head the special Cuban Task Force set up in the basemen of the CIA HQ and called Task Force W.

Giancana was dumped from these plans - as the plottings were replaced by contingincy plans - and Harvey himself replaced Jim O'Donnell as Rosselli's case officer and good friend.

From poinson, the Castro plans moved on to more reliable means of execution, including shooting Castro with a high powered rifle as he rode around in an open jeep, as he often did.

In developing a contingency plan you must review previous, similar plans that have been used and serve as historical models - and two such examples exist - the British MI6 assassination of Nazi official Reinhard Hydrich in Check on June 4, 1942 in Prague, Czech Rep., and the failed August 22, 1962 attack on French President Charles deGaulle by French military disenchanged with plan to free colonial French Algeria.

The attack on Hydrich was orchestrated by Czech agents trained by MI6, and utilized a tight turn in the road that required the motorcade and car he was riding in to slow down when the attack from multiple assailants succedeed, as caan be seen in the popular movie, Anthropoid.

The name Anthropoid comes from the MI6 code name for the operation, as one thing that distinguishes a plot from a planned covert operation is an operation is given a code name that is only  know among the perpetuators.

But the backlash against the successful Anthropoid operation was so great in the ruthless Nazis taking of human life against everyone who knew or associated with assailants, thousands of innocent civilians were tortured and killed, that the British MI6 declined the later opportunity to have a sniper kill Hitler as he daily walked through a rose garden.

The French affair is also a significant role model for what happened at Dealey Plaza, though it failed, as there were lessens to be learned.

President Kennedy had urged President deGaulle to free Algeria as a colony, and he was inclined to do so, but the French generals balked at the idea, as they had developed the French Foreign Legion from an army of misfits to  one of the most famous fighting forces in the world, and they didn't want to lose their sandbox battlefield.

The Organisation armee secrete or OAS - Secret Army Organization that staged an attack on deGaul's motorcade in Paris on August 22, 1962.

In one of documents released under the JFK Act, a State Department report from the Paris office of Security, refers to a meeting with M. Andre Ducret, the Commissaire divisionnaire de Police concerning the attempted assassination of deGaul. Ducret  "disclosed that the ambush had been organized and directed by a person of military experience and this was immediately noticed. The tactics employed were similar to those used by the infantry in attacking convoys...."

Like the attack on Heidrich, this OAS attack on deGaulle was at an intersection where the motorcade of cars and motorcycles had to slow down to almost a complete stop, much like Dealey Plaza.

And sure enough, Jean-Marie Bastien, a French Air Force aeronautical engineer, was apprehended and admitted having organized the attempt. President deGaulle pardoned a few of those convicted for their participation in the attempted assassination - but Bastien was executed in March 1963, a week after the trial. 2,000 policeman were posted along the route used to take him to his execution. Bastein may have been the last person to be executed in France.

The attempt to kill deGaulle was made into a movie, The Day of the Jackel, though the shooting of deGaulle as he gave a speech replaced the "military style attack on a motorcade," that included 187 spent shell casings and 15 bulletl holes in deGaulle's car (a Citroen DS) Two other bullets hit the tires (Michelin), yet the car was able to escape at nearlly full speed.

President deGaulle and the security chief credited the endurance of the car and the tires for saving his life.

The OAS assassination attempts on deGaulle are connected to what happened at Dealey Plaza by the Houma Bunker Raid on Jean deMeniel's Schulumberger munitions bunker at an old Louisiana Navy base that included a number of New Orleans characters who associated with Oswald. Those munitions were taken to Guy Bannister's office and David Ferrie's apartment and were said to be set for use by the anti-Castro Cubans at the Bay of Pigs or the OAS in France.

While these two historical examples were known and studied by the CIA, just as it studied in detail the July 20, 1944 German military plot to kill Hitler, the one CIA contingency plan to kill Castro that interests me the most was code named PATHFINDER.

PATHFINDER, according to the records of it that have survived, was a CIA contingency plan presented to the National Security Council (NSC) for approval, but was "disapproved by higher authority."

We know that JFK himself, or RFK in his place, reviewed most if not all of the proposed covert operations against Cuba, as JFK was asked to approve a relatively harmless propaganda leaflet drop, a psychological warfare operation, that he "disapproved" after consulting with William Morrow, the head of the US Information Agency. So if he reviewed and disapproved that minor operation, he must have been asked to approve the PATHFINDER plan to kill Castro, and disapproved that one too.

We only know about PATHFINDER because of the reports of National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) technicians who were stationed at JMWAVE told the Assassinations Records Review Board (ARRB) that the CIA kept the PATHFINDER files in their files section of the station rather than where it should have been.

PATHFINDER was a plan to kill Castro with a high power rifle while he rode past in an open jeep near "Xandau," the exquisite DuPont estate that Castro confiscated, and where he  was known to frequent.

The JMWAVE NPIC technicians provided the contingency planners with U2 photos of the area and architect drawings of the estate. Nearby was a residence of Rolando Cubella (AMLASH), who was to be provided with a rifle with a scope, but the job required a trained and reliable first class sniper, one trained by the CIA at their JMWAVE sniper training base at Point Mary, near Key Largo, Florida.

The teams that were trained there by a US Army Ranger major (Roderick), who was transferred to the CIA for the job by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were infiltrated into Cuba by the JMWAVE Maritime ships.

Some of the anti-Castro Cuban commandos trained at the CIA's JMWAVE station bases were also supported financially and fanatically by a number of wealthy Americans - William Paley, Clare Booth Luce and John Rosselli.

While Luce's "boys," as she called them were led by a team leader - Julio  Fernandez, and trained by US Ranger Capt. Bradley Ayers, Rosselli's team was trained at Point Mary, and included the snipers, whose names should be among the JMWAVE records inspected by the Church and HSCA and released by the JFK Act.

Rosselli later said, and as he reports to Jack Anderson in the Rosselli Chronology file that was recently released by the NARA, that one of his teams was infiltrated into Cuba, but never returned or reported back, and he assumed they were among those captured by Castro forces.

What became of the PATHFINDER file from JMWAVE's NPIC section?

In 1996 two AARC staff talked to Velma Reumann, who worked at the NPIC from 1963-1966. According to their report, "She has a strong, independent recollection of NPC personnel boxing-up all photographic materials related to the assassination on the orders of Robert Kennedy and sending them to the Smithsonian Museum for permanent storage sometime within 6 months or so after the assassination."

"She cannot remember whether the orders from Robert Kennedy were in writing, or oral, but she was quite firmly of the impression in 1996 that the direction had come from Robert Kennedy.

"In order to test the strength of her Smithsonian recollection (she) was asked whtehr she may have been confusing the Smithsonian and the National Archives or some other government body; she replied emplatically that she knew the difference between the National Archives and the Smithsonian, and reiterat that the boxed material (from NPIC) went to the Smithsonian. She said that she was certain of this because she, herself, was required to call an offical at the Smithsonian to discuss the imminent transfer, and recalls that the individual to whom she spoke was surprised by the selection of the Smithsonian as she was."

In any case, we now know, to a fairly good degree of certainty, that the Dealey Plaza Operation was originally devised as a contingency plan to kill Castro, it involved the Cuban military as it was strategically based on the German VALKYRIE plan to  kill Hitler, and the tactically the PATHFINDER plan to shoot Castro with a high powered rifle as he rode in an open vehicle, or a similar plan. And as with both VALKYRIE and PATHFINDER included the psychwar disinformation twist to blame the murder on Communists.

As Bill Turner put it, the mechanism was in place to kill Castro, and they just switched targets.



Theory - The analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another; a belief, policy or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action - a plausible or scientifically accepted general principle or body of principles offered to explain a phenomena - a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation - an unproven assumption.

    There are many theories that spring from the assassination President Kennedy, but only one of them can be true.

  Determining that truth is the difficult part.

    We can begin by eleminating a number of those theories that have been proven false - or cannot possibly or plausibly be true, starting with the original cover-story that Cuban Castro Communists were behind the blatent covert-action conspiracy that Peter Dale Scott refrrs to as the Phase One part of the cover-up.

   After a careful analysis of the evidence at the scene of the crime, we can also eleminate the Phase Two aspect of the cover-up, that a deranged loner was soly responsible for the crime.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Final Release

As I predicted, the mainstream media headline on the day after President Trump's deadline for the release or continued withholding of JFK assassination records is: Cleveland Browns draft a Quarterback as the first pick in the NFL Draft.

And that's what it is.

There's also the response to Trump's decision to release 19,045 assassination records, 
15,584 with redactions, and withhold in full 520 records under sections 10-11 and 6103 of the IRS tax code. 

Sections 10-11 deal with grand jury records, that are supposed to remain secret forever, but in reality we already have the New Orleans grand jury records that are open in full, and deeds of gift - such as Jackie Kennedy's oral history and William Manchester's papers. 
The key paragraph in the official announcement appears to be an oxymoron, but not if you read it carefully. 

"All documents subject to section 5 (National) of the JFK Act have been released in full or in part. No document subject to section 5 of the JFK Act remain withheld in full. The President has determined that all information that remains withheld under section 5 must be reviewed again before October 26, 2021 to determine whether continued withholding from disclosure is necessary."

The key words here are "have been released in full or in part." In part - refers to the 15,584 records that have been released with redactions. 

In my first quick perusal of these records I found every one significant in some way, and not like the other batches that were previously released that contained many records NBR - Not Believed Relevant. 

Of the dozen documents I reviewed so far, every

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Two Ace of Spies

TWO ACE OF SPIES - James Bond - Henry Pleasants

I have come to meet more than a few interesting characters in the course of my reserach into the assassination of President Kennedy, and a few stand out as exceptionally eccentric or notorious, especially James Bond - the world's most famous spy, and music critic spy Henry Pleasants - who debriefed Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen.

It was the summer of 1976 when I first came across a published reference to the real James Bond in a 1948 Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper article about millionaire philantropist Cummins Catherwood, who I had just learned had served as a secret CIA bursar for covert activities.

Catherwood's CIA connection was exposed by David Ross and Thomas Wise in their groundbreaking book "The Invisible Government," and I was at the Bulletin clipping morgue, reading dozens of newspaper clips that mentioned Catherwood. His CIA activities were readily transparent in the news coverage of his activities, including the support of the anti-Castro Cuban Aid Relief (CAR), providing cover for CIA agent Joseph Smith in the Philllipines, tourist travels behind the Iron Curtain, including the Soviet Union, and the construction of the Vigilant, a yacht that he had built to his personal specifications and as a tax write off - used for scientific and research explorations under the auspicies of the Catherwood Foundation.

In the course of reading the news clips about Catherwood, there was one report of his expedition to some Caribbean out-islands that included a number of scientists, one of whom was identified as "James Bond - whose main interest is birds."

Now that jumped out at me, and I looked at the date of the paper - 1948 - years before Ian Fleming began writing his 007 novels, but the year Philadelphia ornithologist James Bond published his classic work "Birds of the West Indies."

Those familiar with the official and deceptive biographies of Ian Fleming know that the author of the Double-Oh-Seven spy novels appropriated the name for his hero from James Bond - the American author of "The Birds of the West Indies," a copy of which Fleming kept on his breakfast table at Goldeneye, his Jamaican beach house where he wrote all of his 007 stories while on his annual winter vacations. 

So - as opposed to those who claim similiar adventurous exploits, or another person named James Bond, there is only one real James Bond - the American ornithologist and author of the book "Birds of the West Indies."

Readers of Ian Fleming's original fiction know that he appropriated names and characters from real people he knew - as in Dr. No where 007 poses as a bird watcher using the alias Ivor Bryce, Fleming's OSS and NANA associate.

But besides James Bond himself, I was surprised to see Fleming portray a character Milton Krest, who closely resembles Cummins Catherwood, - the rich sportsman whose yacht and expeditions are tax deductable research missions just as Catherwood bankrolled the Vigilant.

While Fleming and his man Krest don't expose the supposedly secret CIA connections to such millionaires and their foundations, the Ruskies knew about it all along, as Kim Philby revealed in his autobiography "My Silent War.``

In his book written from Russia Philiby recalls the CIA's Frank Wisner explaining to him (and his KGB masters) how the "Foundation System" worked - ostensibly philanthropic non-profit organizations were to be used to fund secret CIA covert operations worldwide.

So Ian Fleming based two ostensibly fictional characters on real people from Philadelphia - ornithologist James Bond and philantropic CIA bursar Cummins Catherwood, that made it easier to find another, as when things happen twice they usually happen a third time.

In the course of reading Ian Fleming's New York adventure in which 007 and his CIA sidekick Felix Leiter go to Harlem jazz joints, Leiter is described as being a music critic and writing about jazz and classical music as a cover for his covert CIA shennigans. That got a WOW out of me, as I still had David Wise and Thoms Ross' "The Invisible Government" right there next to me.

And there it was: Henry Pleasants, former OSS interrogator and CIA agent, who debriefed Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, also wrote classic and jazz music. Besides writing reviews and critiques of classical performances, he wrote a book that declared classical music dead and jazz the future of serious music.

It just so happened that before Henry Pleasants moved to London, he was the chief music critic of the Philadelphia Bulletin, whose clipping morgue I routinely mined, and his wife Virginia played the cello in the Philadelphia Orchestra.

While attending a concert at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, the former home of the orchestra, I asked an old black usher if he remembered Henry Pleasants and got a positive response.

Wearing a uniform, and in a very proper English voice, the usher snapped to attention, almost clicked his heals, saying, "Yes. Mr. Pleasants the writer and critic, and his wife Virginia, are now living in London, sir."

And so it was, a few years later, enroute home from Berlin after the collapse of The Wall in 1990, I just happened to be in London in a pub with a phone directory that listed Henry and Virginia Pleasants, and called them on a whim.

Mrs. Pleasants, very polite, said that Henry was at a music festival in Vienna, but as I was an American from Philadelphia, she said that Henry would be in New York in a few weeks, and she arranged for me to meet him there.

It was in the basement of an old church where Pleasants had scheduled a lecture, a well attended talk on the earliest recordings of opera singers - as they could be heard on old player piano type rolls, and a fascinating class it was. After which, I approched him, introduced myself and asked if I could have an interview. Sure he said, but back at his hotel, a few blocks away a little later. 

There, he poured us each of us a drink of whiskey over ice, and sat down and asked what I wanted.

Well, I said I read many of his Philadelphia Bulletin music reviews, and wrote about a weekly music column myself, but I was really more interested in Gehlen and Ian Fleming, to which he bristled a bit and sat back.

It was no secret that he had debriefed Gehlen, but he said, standing up and walking across the room, opening the door - he said he was expecting someone else. - But it just wasn't a subject that he could talk about. It was all still classified and he just shrugged and said he couldn't talk about it.

What about Fleming?

Well, I showed him the reference to him in "The Invisible Government," and then quoted the lines from Ian Fleming's Harlem adventure.

"That's me all right," he acknowledged with a smile, as I asked him how he knew Fleming, or how Fleming knew him?

Pleasants thought about it for awhile and then he said, almost to himself in wonder, "My wife Virginia played the cello in a chamber group with Ian Fleming's sister, who also played the cello," but otherwise he couldn't explain it.

Then I found another character in one of Fleming's short stories - "The Living Daylights," in which 007 is assigned a sniper's rifle and assigned to kill a Soviet sniper who will attempt to shoot someone escaping East Berlin.

It turns out the Soviet sniper is a women, a beautiful women, who kept her rifle in the cello case, so instead of killing her Bond only wounds her in the hand so she can't fire.

It should also be noted that President Kennedy was in the audience when Leonard Bernstein introduced a teenage cellest Yo Yo Mass to the world at a Washington concert, so the cello comes into play a number of times in this story. 

So Ian Fleming took the name for his secret agent from an American ornithologist, and based two other characters on Philadelphia personages - Cummins Catherwood and Henry Pleasants, and adapted his sister and Virginia Pleasants for the cello playing sniper.

But what did all this have to do with the assassination?

Well there was Michael Straight - an ex-patriate American at Cambridge where he was recruited into a communist spy ring by Guy Burgess, one of the bevy of KGB spies - the others being Kim Philby, Donald MacClean and Sir Anthony Blunt, the surveyor of the Queen's pictures.

When JFK nominted Straight for appointment as the head of the national federation of the Arts, the FBI background investigation led to the Cambridge ties, and Straight confessed. The problem was that while Burgess and MacClean had fled to Moscow, Philby and Blunt were still on the loose.

Straight was a close friend of Fleming, and it was Fleming's primary liason to MI5 who was given the responsiblity of informing Kim Pilby of Straight's confession and his implication.

Of course when J. E. Hoover found out about the Cambridge spy ring he ordered an investigation of every American who attended Cambridge - and that would include American ornithologist James Bond, who was also a member of the Cambridge Pitt Club, Guy Burgess' fraturnity.

The plot thickens.