by Lisa Pease | 3/26/2008 12:06:00 PM
[Crossposted from my Real History Blog]

I woke to find to my astonishment coverage of new evidence in the RFK case on MSNBC this morning. The MSNBC coverage was cursory, so allow me to fill in the bigger picture here.

I was the first person to make public the fact that a new audiotape had surfaced in this case when I testifed to the Los Angeles Unified School District at a hearing regarding the tearing down of the Ambassador Hotel. I begged them not to do that, in light of this new tape. I brought with me statements of support from nearly 40 people from multiple countries begging the LAUSD not to destroy the hotel. Sadly, this pitted me against Max Kennedy, one of the many sons of Robert Kennedy, as he and the family thought RFK would be better served by the building of a school on that lot.

A newsman at a mainstream media organization who has a personal fascination with the case first alerted me to this tape, and I confirmed with Phil Melanson that indeed, such a tape was a completely new find. It had languished unheard in the California State Archives, which houses the evidence the Los Angeles Police Department collected during their "Special Unit Senator" investigation of the Robert Kennedy case. A freelance reporter named Stanislaw Pruszynski had accidentally left his audio recorder on after Robert Kennedy finished his acceptance speech, having just won the California primary. Pruszynski followed Kennedy into the pantry while his recorder was still running.

Phillip Van Praag, a man with over 35 years of forensic experience analyzing magnetic media and over 45 years in the audio field, got a copy of this tape and studied it. He concluded that at least 13 shots appear on the tape, which would, of course, prove that at least two guns were fired in the pantry, since Sirhan's gun could hold, at most, eight bullets.

Separately, Robert Joling, a lawyer and former President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, had also come to a conclusion, through his analysis of the physical evidence in the case, that the truth is not as has been presented. While neither would welcome the label of conspiracy advocate, if two shots were fired, there are only two possible conclusions: either there was a conspiracy to kill RFK, or a conspiracy to cover-up the accidental firing of a second gun. I think the latter scenario is laughable, and I don't know what Joling and Van Praag advocate, because I am still awaiting my copy of their book An Open and Shut Case.

Van Praag and Joling submitted a paper on their findings to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. I'm awaiting the results of that peer review.

I have not been as excited about the discovery of the audio tape as others because I know what happened when similar audio evidence surfaced in the JFK case. A policeman's Dictabelt recorder had been stuck on in Dealey Plaza, capturing the shots on tape. This evidence was analyzed by two separate professional acoustical firms for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and both concluded there were at least four shots fired from at least two different places. It was that evidence that led the HSCA, against the will of its leaders, to conclude a "probable conspiracy" in the assassination of John Kennedy.

Fast forward to 2005. I'll quote the relevant part from a longer piece I wrote on a JFK conference in DC in which numerous issues relating to the JFK case were discussed:
Richard Garwin, whose program biography did not include his work for the CIA (which he acknowledged during the Q&A), presented an opaque argument that the sounds on the Dictabelt tape came a minute too late to have been any of the shots in Dealey Plaza. Presenting charts and graphs that confused most people in the audience, and fumbling over his sound files, Garwin was not well received.

Garwin was followed by Donald Thomas, who had written an article on the acoustical evidence for the well-respected British publication Science & Justice (2001 – see

Dr. Thomas presented a stark contrast to Garwin. Thomas began by asserting that the number on the tape Garwin tested was not the number of the tape the House assassination committee tested. He also pointed out that there is a difference in recording speed and playback speed, and that Garwin’s team had applied one which made the shot sounds no longer line up with the House committee analysis.

Thomas provided slides that made clear the points he was making. One could feel the change in the room. People now felt they could follow along as Thomas lined up each sound with the motorcycle’s probable position, and then showed us pictures from the Zapruder film and others that confirmed that the motorcycle cop, Officer H.B. McLain, was indeed in those positions at those times.
I believe strongly that the CIA was deeply involved in both Kennedy assassinations, based on the more than 15 years of evidence I've read on those cases. (Robert Kennedy himself suspected the CIA's involvement, and called the duty officer at CIA HQ right after the assassination asking if their people were involved.)

I believe that, in light of the publicity Joling and Van Praag are receiving, that some CIA guy like Garwin (and perhaps Garwin himself) will step up next and tell us that the Pruszynski tape has been incorrectly analyzed, that no more than eight shots can be heard on the tape. I believe this because I've seen how this works for too many years now. Honest evidence of conspiracy is constantly supplanted with dishonest "proof" of nonconspiracy.

But maybe. The fact that Obama has gotten this far in a process from the outset somewhat rigged against him gives me hope. The fact that the media coverage is so obsessively watched and detailed by people involved in politics means that for once, the media is being held more accountable than usual. And more people are seeking their own information, no longer trusting that the mainstream media will give them "all the news that's fit to print." Maybe this time, the truth will out. I'm not holding my breath. But I'll allow an ounce of hope in that regard.

If you're interested in the real history of the RFK assassination, please read the two pieces below.

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination: Part 1 – The Grand Illusion

Sirhan and the RFK Assassination: Part 2 – Rubik’s Cube




Blogger Unknown on 3/26/2008 12:15 PM:

Amazing. So what is it that made MSNBC "discover" this tape after so many years of the MSM ignoring it?


Blogger Ahistoricality on 3/26/2008 12:50 PM:

If you're really paranoid, then bringing up the RFK assassination is a warning to the most RFK-like of candidates, or worse, an attempt to debunk conspiracy theories entirely by making them look ridiculous so that the active conspiracy against the RFK-like candidate can proceed without widespread suspicion.

If you're just cynical, then the lag in the RFK-like candidate's campaign gave them a chance to bring up some old news that people might still find relevant in the presidential campaign season; it's just a marketing/production decision.

If you're really jaded, it's because the information finally percolated up through the ranks and they really just noticed it, because they honestly don't pay that much attention to historians and conspiracy theorists (except right-wing ones).


Blogger Lisa Pease on 3/26/2008 1:36 PM:

The tape is not news, as it was featured on a Discovery Times special a few months ago. But clearly someone in the American Academy of Forensic Sciencies was impressed enough to pass the info to MSNBC. The introduction of that paper came mid-March, so MSNBC is still moving slowly here. But truly, I'm amazed that it was addressed at all. That's not typical for the mainstream with any new evidence in these cases.

And Ahistoricality - that thought has crossed my mind more than once - the cynical one. But I think in this case it's just that so far, this is credible science, and MSNBC is the lone station paying the news its due. But as I said, I fully expect a rebuttal, and it would not surprise me if Garwin is involved in such.


Blogger Lisa Pease on 3/26/2008 7:01 PM:

More news stories on this today:

and (which may have been the original source for this story.


Anonymous Anonymous on 3/26/2008 8:13 PM:

Thank you Ms. Pease. Your article (I've only read Part 1) is extremely
interesting and fascinating. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks also to Mr. Young, for having the interest and courage to bring this provocative information to our attention.

I hope that Part 2 examines possible scenarios for why Sirhan's gun would have been loaded with blanks. One reason I can think of is to make sure he didn't shoot the
actual perps.

I also hope that it examines whether or not any effort was ever made to determine if it was common for a Security Officer from Ace Security to be issued a .38, whether there is any evidence of him having a .38 at the Ambassador, and whether or not he ever owned or had temporary possession of a .22 pistol.

Again, congratulations and many thanks for a very lucid and illuminating study of the RFK assassination. Superior work, indeed.


Blogger Unknown on 3/26/2008 8:57 PM:

Anonymous, thanks for your thanks, but I'm not sure what I did. This article is all Lisa's doing, and a great article it is.


Blogger Sherman De Brosse on 3/26/2008 9:01 PM:


Your two articles are excellent. I enclose a link to an article about a panel at Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Sciences. Two forensic experts, Dr. Robert Joling and Philip Van Praag met for the first time at the conference and had reached the same conclusions. They had studied the Pruszynski recording.They were sure the fatal shot came from behind and that there was a second shooter. Thirteen shots were fired. The second shooters shots matched those from a gun in the possession of the security guard.