Government Cover-ups: RFK
From the World Affairs Brief:
This is the official version of the assassination
of Robert F. Kennedy, as put forward by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
and the LA District Attourney's office (LADA).
On 5th June 1968, 12.15am, Senator Robert F.
Kennedy was making his way from the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel, Los
Angeles, to give a press conference, after winning the California Primary. The
prearranged route went through a food service pantry. While making his way
through this area, a Palastinian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, stepped forward and fired
a .22 revolver at the Senator. Although Sirhan was quickly subdued, Kennedy and
five others were wounded, although only Kennedy was fatally wounded. Sirhan was
arrested at the scene, charged and convicted of first degree murder. He was to
have been executed, but the U.S. Supreme Court voided the constitutionality of
the death sentence before the sentence could be carried out. Sirhan has been
incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, California, since then. Under Californian
law, he should have been automatically scheduled for release in 1984, but this
was not the case.
The problem with this scenario is that the physical
evidence and eyewitness reports would seem to show that Sirhan was incapable of
inflicting the wounds attributed to him.
The autopsy carried out by Coroner Thomas Noguchi
showed that Senator Kennedy had been shot three times. One shot entered the head
behind the right ear, a second shot near the right armpit and a third roughly
one and a half inches below the second. All shots entered the body at a sharply
upward angle, moving slightly right to left. These shots are incompatible with
eyewitness reports of the shooting. Sirhan had no access to the Senator's rear,
and Kennedy never turned more than sideways to Sirhan. In addition, Sirhan fired
with his arm parallel to the floor, i.e. straight ahead. Maitre d' Karl Uecker,
who had been leading Kennedy forward by the right hand at the time the shooting
started, grappled Sirhan after his second shot and pushed the gun away. All
these points, as well as the fact that the gun was one and a half to six feet
from Kennedy, prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the fatal wounds to the
Sirhan's .22 revolver contained eight bullets and
he had no chance to reload. This caused a problem for the official version of
the assassination as all bullets had been accounted for, except for one which
was lost in the ceiling space. Reports indicated that a wooden door jamb
contained two bullets. This frame and as many as five or six ceiling tiles were
removed from the crime scene for tests. Photographs of the crime scene show at
least this many tiles missing and more besides. Los Angeles Police Department
criminologist DeWayne Wolfer was quoted as saying "it's unbelievable how
many holes there are in the kitchen ceiling." This suggests that LAPD found more
bullets (or traces of bullets) than could be accounted for by Sirhan's eight
shot revolver, at least seven and probably more.
As well as the problems noted above, there are the
reports of suspicious people in the area at the time of the assassination. The
first policeman on the scene, Sergeant Paul Schraga, was approached by a couple
who told him that they had encountered a young man and woman fleeing the
Ambassador Hotel shouting "We shot him! We shot him." When asked who
they had shot, the young woman joyously replied, "Senator Kennedy."
Schraga sent out an All Points Bulletin on the two suspects. This was the start
of the "Polka-dot Dress Girl" controversy. In one of the most intuitive
pieces of police deduction since the JFK assassination, LAPD declared that
Sirhan was the sole assassin within minutes of the crime. Schraga was asked to
cancel his APB, and when he refused, it was canceled by his superiors.
The couple's story was explained by the LAPD as a
case of mishearing, stating that the young woman must have said "They
shot him!" However, a young woman sitting on a staircase outside the Ambassador
Hotel, Sandra Serrano, corroborated the couple's story.
Two witnesses in the pantry also saw armed men,
aside from Sirhan and security guard Thane Eugene Cesar. Lisa Urso noticed a
blond haired man in a grey suit putting a gun into a holster. A second, unnamed,
witness saw a tall, dark-haired man, wearing a black suit, fire two shots and
run out of the pantry.
In 1968 it was not a federal offence to murder a
presidential candidate. The case, therefore, came under LAPD juristriction. The
investigation was based on the wish of Police Chief Ed Davis that it would not
be "another Dallas." Whether this meant an intense, professional
investigation or a tighter cover-up is debatable.
As the case was the responsibility of the LAPD,
there was no pressure to release their findings, the "Summary Report".
Researchers into the RFK Assassination finally forced the Report and the LAPD's
files to be released, in 1988. Compare this to 1964 for the Warren Commission
Report (the year after JFK's assassination) and it becomes obvious why the
official version of the assassination has been unchallenged, despite the obvious
After the release of the files, it became clear to
what extent the cover-up had been carried out. Evidence which contradicted the
official version was destroyed. The more extreme acts of destruction included:
2,400 photographs burned because they were "duplicates." In fact,
there were no lists precise enough to show that all the photos destroyed were
Ceiling tiles and the door frame from the pantry
destroyed, because, according to then Assistant Chief Daryl Gates, they wouldn't
fit into card files.
In addition, LAPD records showed that they had recorded
3,470 interviews during the course of the investigation. Only 301 interviews
were released. Examination by researchers showed that for 51 key
"conspiracy" witnesses, there were no interviews.
The LAPD were not alone in conducting this
cover-up. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office was also involved. The
scope of this involvement was seen in the files released to researchers in 1985,
due mainly to the inclusion of a box of tapes, videos and documents sent from
the LADA branch at Van Nuys. This box contained evidence which went against the
official version. The most graphic examples were the video reconstructions from
1968 and 1977, which prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the wounds on
Senator Kennedy. However, by using selected stills from the reconstructions, the
official version was supported.
The coverup of the RFK assassination has been
maintained because the facts are simply not known. Whereas the Warren Commission
report was released the year following the JFK assassination, LAPD's
"Summary Report" was not released until 1986. The files were released
two years later. Both of these achievements were made despite strong LAPD/LADA
resistance, for obvious reasons.
The RFK assassination was not investigated in by
the House Select Commitee on Assassinations because of the seemingly open and
shut nature of the case. Now that the facts are known, perhaps it is time that
the RFK assassination was investigated. While the JFK assassination has reached
the point where the answer is "Oswald might have done it or he might not
have", there is no possible way that Sirhan could have inflicted the wounds on
Senator Kennedy. All that is required is the official
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Melanson, Philip
H. The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New Revelations on the Conspiracy and
Cover-Up, 1968-1991. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, 1991. 362
There are more than thirty JFK assassination books
for every book on the RFK assassination, but in some respects the implications
of the latter are more alarming. Philip Melanson, a professor of political
science at Southeastern Massachusetts University and director of the Robert F.
Kennedy Assassination Archives, has made an outstanding contribution on this
The problems with the official version can be
summed up in several points: 1) More bullets were recovered than could fit in
Sirhan's gun; 2) Nitrite deposits and powder burns indicate that shots were
fired at point- blank range, but witnesses are consistent that Sirhan's gun was
never closer than two or three feet; 3) Sirhan was seen before the shooting with
an associate or handler who has never been found; 4) Evidence suggests that he
was in a hypnotic trance during the shooting; 5) The LAPD suppressed or
destroyed evidence, and intimidated witnesses who contradicted the official
line. The "robot assassin" angle in this assassination seemed incredible in
1968, but since then we have learned much more about the CIA's long history of
research into mind-control. It's no longer easy to dismiss such a possibility,
nor is it easy to accept it.