Tuesday, November 21, 2006

David Sanchez Morales and Gordon Campbell and George Joannides killed RFK

Did the CIA kill Bobby Kennedy?

In 1968, Robert Kennedy seemed likely to follow his brother, John, into
the White House. Then, on June 6, he was assassinated - apparently by a
lone gunman. But Shane O'Sullivan says he has evidence implicating three
CIA agents in the murder

Shane O'Sullivan London Guardian Monday, November 20, 2006

At first, it seems an open-and-shut case. On June 5 1968, Robert Kennedy
wins the California Democratic primary and is set to challenge Richard
Nixon for the White House. After midnight, he finishes his victory speech
at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles and is shaking hands with kitchen
staff in a crowded pantry when 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan steps
down from a tray-stacker with a "sick, villainous smile" on his face and
starts firing at Kennedy with an eight-shot revolver.

As Kennedy lies dying on the pantry floor, Sirhan is arrested as the lone
assassin. He carries the motive in his shirt-pocket (a clipping about
Kennedy's plans to sell bombers to Israel) and notebooks at his house seem
to incriminate him. But the autopsy report suggests Sirhan could not have
fired the shots that killed Kennedy. Witnesses place Sirhan's gun several
feet in front of Kennedy, but the fatal bullet is fired from one inch
behind. And more bullet-holes are found in the pantry than Sirhan's gun
can hold, suggesting a second gunman is involved. Sirhan's notebooks show
a bizarre series of "automatic writing" - "RFK must die RFK must be killed
- Robert F Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 68" - and even under
hypnosis, he has never been able to remember shooting Kennedy. He recalls
"being led into a dark place by a girl who wanted coffee", then being
choked by an angry mob. Defence psychiatrists conclude he was in a trance
at the time of the shooting and leading psychiatrists suggest he may have
be a hypnotically programmed assassin.
Three years ago, I started writing a screenplay about the assassination
of Robert Kennedy, caught up in a strange tale of second guns and
"Manchurian candidates" (as the movie termed brainwashed assassins). As I
researched the case, I uncovered new video and photographic evidence
suggesting that three senior CIA operatives were behind the killing. I did
not buy the official ending that Sirhan acted alone, and started dipping
into the nether-world of "assassination research", crossing paths with
David Sanchez Morales, a fearsome Yaqui Indian.

Morales was a legendary figure in CIA covert operations. According to
close associate Tom Clines, if you saw Morales walking down the street in
a Latin American capital, you knew a coup was about to happen. When the
subject of the Kennedys came up in a late-night session with friends in
1973, Morales launched into a tirade that finished: "I was in Dallas when
we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little
bastard." From this line grew my odyssey into the spook world of the 60s
and the secrets behind the death of Bobby Kennedy.

Working from a Cuban photograph of Morales from 1959, I viewed news
coverage of the assassination to see if I could spot the man the Cubans
called El Gordo - The Fat One. Fifteen minutes in, there he was, standing
at the back of the ballroom, in the moments between the end of Kennedy's
speech and the shooting. Thirty minutes later, there he was again,
casually floating around the darkened ballroom while an associate with a
pencil moustache took notes.

The source of early research on Morales was Bradley Ayers, a retired US
army captain who had been seconded to JM-Wave, the CIA's Miami base in
1963, to work closely with chief of operations Morales on training Cuban
exiles to run sabotage raids on Castro. I tracked Ayers down to a small
town in Wisconsin and emailed him stills of Morales and another guy I
found suspicious - a man who is pictured entering the ballroom from the
direction of the pantry moments after the shooting, clutching a small
container to his body, and being waved towards an exit by a Latin

Ayers' response was instant. He was 95% sure that the first figure was
Morales and equally sure that the other man was Gordon Campbell, who
worked alongside Morales at JM-Wave in 1963 and was Ayers' case officer
shortly before the JFK assassination.

I put my script aside and flew to the US to interview key witnesses for a
documentary on the unfolding story. In person, Ayers positively identified
Morales and Campbell and introduced me to David Rabern, a freelance
operative who was part of the Bay of Pigs invasion force in 1961 and was
at the Ambassador hotel that night. He did not know Morales and Campbell
by name but saw them talking to each other out in the lobby before the
shooting and assumed they were Kennedy's security people. He also saw
Campbell around police stations three or four times in the year before
Robert Kennedy was shot.

This was odd. The CIA had no domestic jurisdiction and Morales was
stationed in Laos in 1968. With no secret service protection for
presidential candidates in those days, Kennedy was guarded by unarmed
Olympic decathlete champion Rafer Johnson and football tackler Rosey Grier
- no match for an expert assassination team.

Trawling through microfilm of the police investigation, I found further
photographs of Campbell with a third figure, standing centre-stage in the
Ambassador hotel hours before the shooting. He looked Greek, and I
suspected he might be George Joannides, chief of psychological warfare
operations at JM-Wave. Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to
act as the CIA liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassinations
(HSCA) investigating the death of John F Kennedy.

Ed Lopez, now a respected lawyer at Cornell University, came into close
contact with Joannides when he was a young law student working for the
committee. We visit him and show him the photograph and he is 99% sure it
is Joannides. When I tell him where it was taken, he is not surprised: "If
these guys decided you were bad, they acted on it.

We move to Washington to meet Wayne Smith, a state department official for
25 years who knew Morales well at the US embassy in Havana in 1959-60.
When we show him the video in the ballroom, his response is instant:
"That's him, that's Morales." He remembers Morales at a cocktail party in
Buenos Aires in 1975, saying Kennedy got what was coming to him. Is there
a benign explanation for his presence? For Kennedy's security, maybe?
Smith laughs. Morales is the last person you would want to protect Bobby
Kennedy, he says. He hated the Kennedys, blaming their lack of air support
for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

We meet Clines in a hotel room near CIA headquarters. He does not want to
go on camera and brings a friend, which is a little unnerving. Clines
remembers "Dave" fondly. The guy in the video looks like Morales but it is
not him, he says: "This guy is fatter and Morales walked with more of a
slouch and his tie down." To me, the guy in the video does walk with a
slouch and his tie is down.

Clines says he knew Joannides and Campbell and it is not them either, but
he fondly remembers Ayers bringing snakes into JM-Wave to scare the
secretaries and seems disturbed at Smith's identification of Morales. He
does not discourage our investigation and suggests others who might be
able to help. A seasoned journalist cautions that he would expect Clines
"to blow smoke", and yet it seems his honest opinion.

As we leave Los Angeles, I tell the immigration officer that I am doing a
story on Bobby Kennedy. She has seen the advertisements for the new Emilio
Estevez movie about the assassination, Bobby. "Who do you think did it? I
think it was the Mob," she says before I can answer.

"I definitely think it was more than one man," I say, discreetly.

Morales died of a heart attack in 1978, weeks before he was to be called
before the HSCA. Joannides died in 1990. Campbell may still be out there
somewhere, in his early 80s. Given the positive identifications we have
gathered on these three, the CIA and the Los Angeles Police Department
need to explain what they were doing there. Lopez believes the CIA should
call in and interview everybody who knew them, disclose whether they were
on a CIA operation and, if not, why they were there that night.

Today would have been Robert Kennedy's 81st birthday. The world is crying
out for a compassionate leader like him. If dark forces were behind his
elimination, it needs to be investigated

Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 6:09 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home