THE BBC in London and The Guardian newspaper announced sensational film footage and photos depicting three high-ranking CIA agents at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where the presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
The former attorney general had just won the Democratic Party presidential nomination on June 5, a few months before the election that polls showed he was likely to win.
The high-ranking agents held positions of authority in the CIA’s gigantic secret operations against Cuba during the 1960s, based at of the JMWave station in Miami, the agency’s largest at the time. Those identified include Gordon Campbell, who was chief of maritime operations for that crusade; George Joannides, chief of psychological warfare operations, and David Sanchez Morales, chief of special operations.
The report released is the result of three years of investigations carried out by filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan which revealed that in 1963 those high-ranking agency were assigned to the secret war against the government of Fidel Castro, with one of their objectives being to assassinate the Cuban leader.
The evidence has put the CIA/Cuban-born mafia group back in the limelight, and according to the U.S. Congressional committee investigation, that same group may have been involved in the assassination of the president in Dallas.
The report by Shane O’Sullivan, broadcast on September 20 on the BBC “Newsnight” program, revealed that the agents and four non-identified associates were at the Hotel Ambassador moments before and after the attack. Their presence is suspicious because “the CIA does not have domestic jurisdiction, and some of the agents were based in South East Asia and had no reason to be in Los Angeles.”
Kennedy had just won the Democratic primary elections in California with a platform against the war in Vietnam and was assured as Richard Nixon’s rival in the presidential elections when he was assassinated. The supposed mastermind of the crime, Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, was arrested with a weapon in hand in the kitchen/pantry where Kennedy was killed. During that process, psychiatrists brought in by the defense agreed that Sirhan, 24, was in a trance at that moment and may have been under a state of hypnosis. The sentence “RFK must die,” found in a notebook in Sirhan’s possession, may also have been written in the same hypnotic state.
Doctor Herbert Spiegel, an international authority on hypnosis at the University of Columbia, believes that Sirhan may have been programmed to act as a decoy for the real assassin.
Under interrogation, Sirhan said he recalled that a girl had taken him to a very dark place, where a gang shocked him. He added that he did not remember having shot Kennedy.
In December 1998, his lawyer, Lawrence Teeter, requested a new trial for Sirhan based on several pieces of evidence. One of these was the autopsy, retained by prosecutors during the trial, showing that the fatal bullet came from behind the senator and was shot from a distance of two to three inche. Sirhan was facing Kennedy and the gun in his hand was from one-and-a-half to five feet away from the favorite for the presidency.
Subsequent investigations showed that there were more bullet holes in a doorjamb at the scene of the crime and that the shots were fired by Sirhan’s gun, which led to the suspicion that there was more than one shooter. The doorjamb in question was destroyed, as was a second weapon confiscated by the Los Angeles Police. It was alleged that there was a court order, but the defense was not advised of this step.
In addition, a security guard – who was far from being a Kennedy supporter – admitted that he was standing in direct contact with Kennedy’s back, and that he ducked when the shots rang out and pulled out his revolver. A witness ignored by the police – according to Teeter – stated that he saw the guard shoot. His weapon was never examined, even though the autopsy also revealed that “the perforations in the body describe an upwards angle, as if he had been shot from below.” At that exact moment, photographer Jaime Scott Enyert was brusquely assailed and arrested at gunpoint. His camera containing the photos was confiscated.
The most important of the agents to appear in the photos and videos identified by some witnesses is Morales, a habitual drinker, who once said to his close friends, “I was in Dallas when we got the son-of-a-bitch, and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.”
Morales is described by Tom Clines, another chief at JM Wave, as a legend in almost all of the CIA’s covert operations, always linked to the main actors in that dirty-work crew, particularly Ted Shackley, who was CIA deputy director for special operations when George Bush Sr. was CIA director, and David Atlee Phillips, head of operations against Fidel Castro and against Salvador Allende.
The sinister group had been formed in 1954 to overthrow Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. Morales was in Cuba with Philips from 1958 to 1960, where he supported Batista and fought against Fidel Castro. He also participated in the military coup in Chile in 1973. In Santiago, he helped Pinochet in his campaign to overthrow Allende, and afterwards in the brutal repression.
Along with being one of the leaders of the JM Wave station that organized the Bay of Pigs invasion, according to CIA agent Tom Clines, Morales participated with Félix Rodríguez in the pursuit and assassination of Che Guevara and in Operation Condor, where he was involved in other important assassinations.
Investigator Gaeton Fonzi revealed that Morales may have been the man of Latino appearance who was seen with Lee Harvey Oswald in the home of Silvia Odio in New Orleans, according to testimony by former CIA agent Paul Bethel, who was working for Philips. Fonzi and other investigators also implicate Carl E. Jenkins, Chichi Quintero, William Pawley, Roy Hargraves, Edwin Collins, Herminio Díaz, Tony Cuesta, Eugenio Martínez, Virgilio GonzálezFelipe Vidal Santiago, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch in the assassination of the president.
O’Sullivan was able to identify Morales based on a photo of this individual taken in Cuba in 1959.
One of the CIA agents at the JM Wave station, Bradley D. Ayers, identified Sanchez Morales, Campbell and Joannides in the film footage and charged in a 1994 letter that those three and many others from JM Wave station had “intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances that surrounded the assassination of President Kennedy.”
He also citied Theodore Shackley, Félix Rodríguez, Thomas Clines, Grayston Lynch, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick and Tony Sforza.
Morales, who feared an attempt on his life by “his own agent,” died of a suspicious heart attack days before testifying before a House of Representatives Select Committee that was investigating the Kennedy assassination. The extremely long list of deaths under mysterious circumstances during that process also include mafia capo Sam Giancana, John Rosselli, Rip Robertson businessman and agent William Pawley, either before or after being summoned to testify at the Commission.
Paul Schrade, who was walking behind Robert F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, believes that the fresh evidence is important and should be investigated.
“I find it very strange that those individuals were present at one of Robert’s celebrations. Why were they there? What were they doing?” Schrade asked when interviewed about the revelations in the company of Max, one of Robert Kennedy’s sons, at the old Ambassador Hotel. On that date, the 81st birthday of the assassinated presidential candidate was commemorated, and the two were visiting the work underway to turn the hotel into a high school.
Key CIA documents have yet to be declassified, and according to the 1978 Congressional investigation, they would prove the theory of the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy.
Now the evidence points to the same suspects in the case of Robert Kennedy, 43 years after the president’s assassination. It corroborates that the event was a genuine coup d’état, and that the masterminds are still being protected.
Despite – or perhaps precisely because of – President Bush’s particular myopia with respect to terrorism.