Russ Baker is an interesting guy. He was a hardworking, respected mainstream investigative reporter, believing in the power of bringing truth to the public's attention. Then, when he wrote this book, he went overnight from being a respected journalist to a marginalized kook. (If you've read the book, you know why. He connects the Bush family to a lot of very shocking things.)
He was stunned. But once he got over it, he started WhoWhatWhy.com. an independent website that specializes in investigative journalism. Recently, he's been covering the attempts by William Pepper, attorney for Sirhan Sirhan, to get him a new trial. (I'll admit here that I assume when a public figure is assassinated, we're never going to know the real story. We have a need for closure, and an official explanation is supplied, but is the case really closed?)
Pepper and his experts believe that Sirhan was selected to be the patsy in RFK’s death, distracting everyone while a professional assassin fired the fatal shots unobtrusively from inches behind Kennedy—from a crouched position in the crush of people so his actions would not be noticed, milliseconds after Sirhan shot and missed and was immobilized.
Pepper’s key argument is that Sirhan, by all accounts, was positioned several feet in front of Kennedy (who was moving toward him), while forensic evidence and extensive eyewitness testimony shows that Kennedy was actually hit in the back from just inches away.
In his filing, Pepper writes:
Inadvertantly [sic], the Report begins by actually supporting Petitioner’s claim of actual innocence. It states: “As Senator Kennedy stopped to shake hands with hotel employees, Petitioner walked toward him extending his arm. Instead of shaking Senator Kennedy’s hand, Petitioner shot him.”(CD 199 at p.1)
This recitation of the activity leading up to the shooting is a virtual admission of Petitioner’s innocence since Senator Kennedy was hit by three bullets, fired in an upward angle (indicating that the shooter may have been kneeling behind the Senator) from behind him, by a weapon pressed up against his back with the fatal shot fired about an inch behind his right ear. All shots left powder burns on the back of his jacket and on his skin behind his right ear.
The Report explicitly acknowledges, along with the statements of twelve eyewitnesses, that Petitioner was, at all times, in front of the Senator, where, as the Report confirms, the Petitioner could have shaken hands with him.
Petitioner questions whether further comment is necessary in light of this embarrassingly absurd factual foundation for the recommendation that the Petition be dismissed.
Pepper contends that the magistrate, in arguing against a new trial, totally ignored the factual material while focusing on procedural issues. In essence, the dispute comes down to whether those procedural issues can or should trump the notion of “actual innocence.”
This rang a bell, and I went digging for this:
Los Angeles (CNN) -- As a federal court prepares to rule on a challenge to Sirhan Sirhan's conviction in the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, a long overlooked witness to the murder is telling her story: She heard two guns firing during the 1968 shooting and authorities altered her account of the crime.
Nina Rhodes-Hughes wants the world to know that, despite what history says, Sirhan was not the only gunman firing shots when Kennedy was murdered a few feet away from her at a Los Angeles hotel.
"What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right," Rhodes-Hughes said in an exclusive interview with CNN. "The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups."
[...] Prosecutors under the attorney general are contending that Rhodes-Hughes heard no more than eight gunshots during the assassination. In court papers filed in February, Harris and prosecutors argue that Rhodes-Hughes was among several witnesses reporting "that only eight shots were fired and that all these shots came from the same direction."
Sirhan's lawyers are challenging those assertions.
In a response also filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the defense team led by New York attorney William Pepper contends that the FBI misrepresented Rhodes-Hughes' eyewitness account and that she actually had heard a total of 12 to 14 shots fired.
"She identified fifteen errors including the FBI alteration which quoted her as hearing only eight shots, which she explicitly denied was what she had told them," Sirhan's lawyers argued in February, citing a previously published statement from Rhodes-Hughes.
So what does it all mean? We have a witness who insists there were more shots than Sirhan's gun could shoot. All the evidence indicates RFK was shot from the back, yet multiple witnesses place Sirhan at his front. Would the Fibbies change evidence? Why? Is democracy an illusion? You tell me. I'm tired of thinking about it.