Assassinations / RFK

Melanson, Philip H. The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New Revelations on the Conspiracy and Cover-Up, 1968-1991. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, 1991. 362 pages.

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 difficult subject.

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.

Moldea, Dan E. The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy: An Investigation of Motive, Means, and Opportunity. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. 342 pages.

Dan Moldea, an author whose previous books dealt with organized crime, became interested in the RFK assassination in 1987. He promoted the theory that more bullets were recovered from the scene than could have fit in Sirhan's revolver. Until now, that is. Philip Melanson, another major RFK researcher, refers to this book as a "schizophrenic trip in which, after 300 pages laced with issues and controversies, the author summarily writes them off in twenty pages." Two of the many points made by Melanson are especially strong: 1) Moldea dismisses the issue of Sirhan as a victim of hypnotic manipulation by quoting an LAPD officer in a footnote, and 2) his extensive interviews with Thane Eugene Cesar climax in a lie-detector test which Cesar passes -- but the case for a second gun has never rested solely on Cesar, and certainly not on Cesar's own words, lie-detected or not.

I've been impressed by Moldea's gang-buster muckraking style, while noticing that he lacks interest and familiarity with the history of U.S. intelligence. Several years ago he told me that if he had six months, he could crack the RFK case. I suspect that's also what he told others, and one day W.W. Norton heard him and took out their checkbook. As the deadline approached Moldea needed closure, but "lone nut" was the best he could do to justify a fat advance. -- D.Brandt

Turner, William W. and Christian, Jonn G. The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993. 397 pages. First published in 1978 by Random House.

Not only did the earlier edition fail to make it into paperback, but Random House stopped shipping this book because of one letter from a person with links to organized crime. Twenty thousand copies were printed in 1978, and eleven thousand of these were sent to the incinerator in 1985. Though not named, it's obvious that this person is Eugene Hale Brading (aka Jim Braden), who was detained by sheriff's deputies at Dealey Plaza minutes after the JFK assassination. He was also in Los Angeles when RFK was killed.

But Brading is mentioned on just three pages, so the Random House bonfire probably had more to do with senior editor Robert D. Loomis, who edited a "lone nut" account of the RFK assassination in 1970, as well as Gerald Posner's "Case Closed" in 1993, in which Oswald is also a lone nut. "They do that with books," Loomis replied when asked about the incineration. When contacted by Publishers Weekly about the Posner book, Loomis had this to say: "All the conspiracy theories have undermined the public's belief in government. They believe that everybody's in cahoots, that we have murderers in the CIA. That's what has been accepted, and that, to me, is a crime." Posner himself acknowledged the influence of Loomis: "His effort on this one was beyond the ordinary assistance.... His imprint is evident throughout."

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