The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: The Acoustics Evidence

tags: RFK, Kennedys, RFK assassination



Mr. Barber’s work was seminal in proving that the dictabelt recorded by the Dallas Police Department that allegedly contains sounds of the shots in the JFK assassination was actually recorded elsewhere. He worked directly with a panel of the Committee on Ballistic Acoustics (CBA), which included two Nobel prize-winning physicists, Norman F. Ramsey, chairman of the committee, and the late Luis Alvarez, who were hired by the Justice Department to reexamine earlier findings of the acoustics experts hired by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who had concluded that the dictabelt contained the gunshots that killed President Kennedy. Most recently, Barber assisted several members of the CBA panel who regrouped for the purpose of examining a 2001 acoustics paper by Donald Thomas, published in the journal ‘Science and Justice’ (2001:41 p21-32). Thomas criticized the CBA's findings.

Some years following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel on the night of June 4/5 1968 critics of the official version of the assassination said there were audio recordings of more than 8 shots fired when RFK was shot. Such conclusions, if correct, would have established that more than one gunman had been firing because the assassin’s gun could not hold more than 8 bullets. These claims of extra shots fired originated from television recording equipment located in the rear of the Embassy Ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel, the scene of Robert Kennedy’s California Primary election victory speech.

In his important book about the RFK assassination, The Killing Of Robert F. Kennedy (1995), veteran crime reporter Dan Moldea identified ABC News as the only television network broadcasting when the shooting began. Both Andrew West of Mutual Broadcasting and Jeff Brent of Continental Broadcasting were also recording but switched on their microphones after the shooting began.

Moldea wrote, “In November and December 1982, these three audio sound recordings were subjected to scientific, but controversial, acoustical analysis, in an attempt to determine if a distinctive gunshot ‘audio signature’ can be identified and the number of gunshots counted. According to Dr Michael H.L. Hecker – an electrical engineer with the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California – who conducted the tests, ‘On the basis of auditory, oscillographic and spectrographic analyses of these three recordings, it is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that no fewer than 10 gunshots are ascertainable following the conclusion of the Senator’s victory speech until after the time Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was disarmed.’ ”

In the 1980s I was given an opportunity to examine an audio copy of the ABC tape. A writer by the name of Robert Cutler had sent me the tape and I was asked to determine if any shots were audible. At that time I believe I was told I might hear balloons popping, and not to confuse this with gunshots. After examining the tape I wrote Cutler back and told him that I couldn’t hear anything except what could possibly be balloons being popped and that I could hear where the recorder was turned off and then back on in spots, but that I couldn’t determine whether or not with certainty that there were gunshots.

In 2006, British author Mel Ayton, who has written books on the JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, sent me an audio tape recording of live broadcasts made at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel which had been compiled by JFK researcher and author Larry Sneed. The tape is a collection of the live news broadcasts on the night RFK was shot; none of the recordings were made in the pantry. Part of the compilation contains the broadcast made by ABC News, which was stationed in the Embassy Ballroom. After making a more thorough examination of the ABC tape I concluded that the recording was obviously made AFTER the shooting. The vocal contents of the pandemonium going on during the segment of the tape proves this. The screaming and shouting of people are those of panic stricken individuals who were reacting to the apparent gunshots. The sounds that I heard which suggested gunfire were nothing more than the sounds of the microphones held by the person recording the pandemonium, bumping either into things with it, or fumbling around with it, or something of that nature. They do not resemble gunfire at all. I concluded that the ABC tape was absolutely worthless.

In order to carry out further research on these recordings Mel Ayton asked if I would work with Michael O’Dell who also had experience in acoustics research. I first became acquainted with O'Dell in 2001. O’Dell was a technical analyst who, from 2001 through 2005, worked with a committee of leading scientists when it reexamined the acoustics evidence in the JFK assassination. The committee included Norman F. Ramsey of the original CBA committee that I had worked with, during the period 1980-1982. O’Dell stated, “…I don’t believe any shots were captured on the ABC tape.... I think (the ABC tape) is worthless....”

In early 2006 Ayton, who had been writing a book on the controversy over the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, discovered from one of his sources in the United States that there was a tape recording located at the California State Archives (CSA) that supposedly captured the actual gunshots as they were fired at Kennedy and that the recording was the only one in existence that captured the shooting from beginning to end. The recording was made by a freelance reporter, Stanislaw Pruszynski, on the night of June 4th 1968. Pruszynski told the Los Angeles Police Department his cassette recorder was running all through the shooting.

The CSA records describe the tape as : “Pruszynski, Stus - At Ambassador Hotel on June 4th; tape is his recording of events at the hotel. Includes end of RFK’s speech, possible shots being fired, post-shooting hysteria in kitchen, and interviews with a man who claims Sirhan was not alone. Pruszynski narrates what he is seeing.” The tape was eventually lodged with the California State Archives. (The tape is mentioned in the California State Archives lists of the Investigation Records Audio Tapes, Appendix E.CSA-K123 I-4837 June 4-5 1968.)

Mel Ayton asked me if I had knowledge of the tape recording and I replied in the negative. My initial reaction was that the “Pruszynski Tape” was probably not going to reveal anything more than the CBS and ABC tapes, which as stated before, revealed nothing but a lot of crowd noise, and what sounded like microphones banging into objects, and/or balloons popping here and there.

Ayton asked the California State Archives to send me a copy of the tape recording. Later he was able to obtain a digitized copy of the recording and it was mailed to me. As I was working on the CSA Pruszynski audio cassette tape and the Pruszynski Tape digitized version, Moldea told Ayton that he had earlier been approached by a CNN journalist, Brad Johnson, who had told Moldea about the Pruszynski Tape.

Among his hundreds of interviews about this case, Moldea had spent fourteen hours with Sirhan Sirhan and believed that the convicted assassin had murdered Senator Kennedy and acted alone. Despite Johnson’s enthusiasm for this new discovery, Moldea was skeptical, insisting that only eight shots had been fired and that Sirhan had fired all of them.

During the Spring of 2006, I worked on the Pruszynski Tape with the assistance of Dr. Chad Zimmerman, a researcher who had some experience in examining the scientific aspects of the JFK assassination, and Michael O’Dell. After months spent examining the tape I concluded that I could not be certain that I hear more than seven shots. I heard what might have been the eighth shot, but couldn’t be absolutely certain at that point. The sound that may be the eighth shot appears just a millisecond before the sound of a very high pitched scream made by a female in or near the pantry.

Michael O’Dell was in agreement with my findings but stated, “I still have a lot of uncertainty about how many shots are clearly identifiable on the Pruszynski Tape. Right now I’m willing to identify six for certain. But of course the real question is whether there is solid evidence for more than eight. I certainly don’t see how anyone can use it to claim more than eight and that’s the main point.”

Chad Zimmerman examined the tape using computer software. Zimmerman stated, “I ran the audio through an analysis program, which provided [an] audio analysis. I took two different graphs and split them apart, enhanced the second to a different color then overlayed them with 50% opacity.

 The gunshot ‘signatures’ from the ‘Pruszynski Tape’ – spectogram by Dr Chad Zimmerman. Each spike on the graph represents a gunshot by a .22 caliber weapon. The ninth spike has been identified by Steve Barber as a woman (possibly Ethel Kennedy) screaming ‘Aahhhhhhhhhh! I think my husband’s been shot!’.

You can see eight spikes that correlate to the audio gunshots. The last occurs just before the scream. However, I don’t think one can necessarily say that more shots couldn’t have existed after that point, but that they would have been drowned out by the scream. However, in my opinion, there are only eight, .22 caliber gunshots heard on that tape. Now, preceding these eight, I hear one deeper audible ‘pop’ just prior to the eight shots in rapid succession. However, this is a bit longer and deeper, which sounds more like a balloon pop than a gunshot….My only real contribution here is the spectrographic run that I did, which showed 8 spikes. [My conclusion is] 8 or fewer shots are heard and none would be a .38.” With regard to the possibility that RFK could have been shot by security guard Thane Cesar, who carried a .38 caliber pistol, Zimmerman said, “…there certainly isn’t a .38 shot on [the] tape.” Both Chad Zimmerman and I also agree that the conspiracy writers’ No. 1 suspect as the ‘second gunman,’ Thane Cesar, could not possibly have fired his .38 revolver. (Moldea, who had also interviewed Cesar dozens of times, had concluded in his book that Cesar, who passed a lie-detector test that Moldea had arranged, was an innocent man who had been wrongly accused.)

There are three sounds which take place approximately 1 second before the string of shots fired from Sirhan’s weapon. Chad Zimmerman and myself identified one of them as a “deeper toned pop,” meaning that it doesn’t have the same popping sound as the string of 7 or 8 shots fired from Sirhan’s weapon. The sound which precedes the “deeper toned pop” is very difficult to reach a conclusion as to what, exactly, it is. I believe that the two sounds are connected to each other, physically, but that neither of them are gunshot sounds.

Brad Johnson’s chronology of events of the Pruszynski tape, refers to one of these sounds as a “mysterious thump.’’ I will refer to the Johnson “mysterious thump” as sound #1, and the “deeper toned pop” as sound #3. I do not know which of the two sounds he considers the “mysterious thump,” but will assume that it is sound # 1. There is also a peculiar sound that occurs between sounds 1 and 3, which I refer to as “sound #2.”

Sound #1 bears the resemblance of a microphone bumping into something solid, producing a tone that resonates briefly. There is the sound of an audible bassy-type “click," when the digital version of the Pruszynski recording is played. One can actually feel a “thump” emanating from the speakers. I noticed that the “thump” is not as pronounced on the cassette copy.

Sound # 2 is a sound akin to someone running their finger up the lowest (or thickest) of the guitar strings on a guitar, which makes a sound such as “zzzziiip." Simultaneous with the “zzziiip" sound, a female voice can be heard saying something indecipherable, that rhymes with the word “Tuesday." These sounds are joined together, and one is left with the impression that the sound may be an appliance in the pantry turning on. There was a very large ice machine in the area where the shooting took place, which Sirhan was hiding behind, before he began shooting. It could have been an exhaust fan, or ventilator turning on.

Sound # 3. This section of the recording peaked my interest, because I am reasonably certain that some will try to claim that sound #3 could be gunfire from a different weapon and not fired by Sirhan.

Soon after I began studying the Pruszynski tape, I decided that I would be able to obtain more accurate results using my computer. I transferred the tape onto my computer hard drive, and used a tool on my computer which allows me to slow down a recording to a crawl without changing the pitch of the of the recording. When I slowed sound #3 I noticed that it didn’t make a singular sound, rather, it contained a double sound giving the impression that it contained echo. When played at true speed, however, the double sound cannot be detected by the human ear. None of the shots fired from Sirhan’s gun produced an echo-type sound, nor did the voices of the people in the pantry who were shouting. I can’t rule out echo altogether, but, it seems odd that this sound alone produced a double sound that can only be detected when the recording is slowed, but none of the voices or string of shots produced an echo.

My first instinct was that since there were two swinging doors that led to the kitchen where Senator Kennedy was shot, it is possible that sound #3 is one of the two doors being pushed open and banging into the wall. Sometimes, when someone is pushing a door open, they keep their hand on the door all the while pushing on it while it hit’s the wall. Once it hit’s the wall, and with the hand still pushing on the door, the door bounces off the surface of the wall, then back again, causing a second “thump’’ when it hits the wall a second time. This is something that can easily be demonstrated. The sound does not sound like a gunshot to me.

I would like to add that, after listening to the sounds very carefully, it is my conclusion that these sounds are not in the same location as Sirhan, who fired the 7or 8 gunshots. They seem to have slightly less volume than the string of 7 or 8 gunshots heard on the tape. This, to me, lends more support to the conclusion that if a .38 caliber weapon was fired from within the same location as Sirhan, the sound of the shot would be much louder since it was suggested it was a .38 caliber weapon, which would create a higher level of sound, than that of a .22 caliber.

Furthermore while listening to a gentleman talking with Pruszynski, he actually stated that the shots ‘weren't very loud,’ and he thought the sounds were a 'Chinese type of fireworks.' This, to me, certainly adds to the fact that no .38 caliber weapon was fired.

Whatever sound numbers 1 and 2 are, they do not bear any resemblance to a .38 caliber hand gun.

In 2006, Mel Ayton asked a British acoustics firm, JP French Associates, to examine the Pruszynski Tape. Using state-of-the-art acoustics computer-based technology Philip Harrison, a JP French Associates acoustics expert, who was given the task of examining the tape, wrote a report for Ayton (appended to his book The Forgotten Terrorist). I worked closely with Philip Harrison and forwarded to him my analysis of the tape. Harrison looked at what information I had discovered and listened to those things I pointed out, before compiling his own analysis. Harrison’s report decisively concluded that only eight shots were fired in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. Harrison’s findings were examined and verified by Professor Peter French, visiting professor at the University of York. Professor French is an expert in the analysis of digital and magnetic recordings.


The "High Pitched Scream

Within a millisecond of what appears to be the final gunshot, there is a high-pitched female scream coming from within, or near the pantry.

After the blood curdling scream “AHHHHH!” the woman continues, saying, “I think my husband's been shot!” I believe that this may have been Ethel Kennedy, the Senator’s wife, who was not in the room when the shooting occurred. As the crowd reacts to the shooting, the woman is screaming "Back…No! “Get back...get back!’ These are the last words picked up by Pruszynski’s microphone of the woman at this point, probably due to her rushing to aid her husband.

We do not know where Pruszynski was located when he captured the shooting. If the woman is Mrs. Kennedy, I believe that she holds the key as to just where Pruszynski was standing with his recorder In order for her voice to be so distorted, she had to be standing within inches of the microphone.

Interestingly, immediately after the woman whom I believe to be Mrs. Kennedy, screams, “AHHHHHH! I think my husband's been shot!“ a distinct male voice utters the word “How?” I determined the voice to be that of Mr. Pruszynski by comparing this voice with Pruszynski's as he is interviewing witnesses about 20-25 minutes after the shooting on the tape.

ALLEGATIONS OF EXTRA SHOTS FOUND ON THE PRUSYNSKI TAPE.

In correspondence with Dan Moldea and me, CNN reporter Brad Johnson alleged that the Pruszynski Tape contains evidence of more than eight shots fired in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel.

Working with Philip Harrison, we had an opportunity to respond to the claims made by Johnson.

The CNN journalist had told Moldea in 2005, “After having listened to this recording many times over a number of months, I believe that I am hearing 10 shots as follows: 2 shots fired in quick succession and then a string of 8 shots fired in quick succession. An acoustics expert here in Atlanta has just issued a confidential report on this recording that concludes there are 9 high-probability gunshots captured in this tape (one less than what I believe I'm hearing, but one more than Sirhan Sirhan could have fired).”

Brad Johnson and his purported acoustics expert had matched the Pruszynski Tape to some CBS footage and counted 11 shots. Johnson provided Moldea a timeline in which he stated:

12:16:00.5 am PDT - The first shot or shots are fired in the kitchen pantry (to my hearing, there are two shots being fired in quick succession at this time but presently an examination of my acoustics expert can confirm the high probability of only one shot).

12:16:01.0 am PDT - A mysterious "thump" sound is heard but at this point in my research it appears unlikely this sound was a gunshot.

12:16:04.0 am PDT - By this time, a string of eight additional shots have been fired (all eight are high probability shots according to my acoustics expert). Our count of high-probability gunshots is now 9.

12:16:05.0 am PDT - A long, very high-pitched female scream is heard in the kitchen pantry.

12:16:18.5 am PDT - Andy West turns his tape recorder back on, upon entering the kitchen pantry (his recorder has been off for the past 66.5 seconds).

12:16:55.0 am PDT - Two more high probability shots are fired as a struggle with Sirhan Sirhan continues for his handgun (since Sirhan emptied his weapon, these could have been the last two bullets discharged as a result of the struggle). Our count of high-probability gunshots is now 11.

12:17:41.0 am PDT - Andy West shouts into his microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, they have the gun away from the man.”

Harrison responded to the timeline by stating:

According to the timeline created by [Brad Johnson] there is a period of 50 seconds between the ‘long, very high-pitched female scream’ and the ‘two more high probability shots … fired as a struggle with Sirhan Sirhan continues’. If his timings are correct then these events have not been captured on the Pruszynski recording. In terms of elapsed time the corresponding point on the Pruszynski recording is approximately 14 seconds into the interview with the man where ‘negroes’ are discussed. However, if [is] timings are wrong and the events he is referring to are those identified by Steve [Barber] that occur at 6:00 and 6:01 on the CD then I cannot agree that they are gun shots. Firstly, the two sounds have very different auditory qualities. The first sound gives the impression that it occurred quite close to the microphone and could be described as a ‘light tap’, whilst the source of the second sound appears to have been further away. Neither of the two sounds shows any significant auditory or spectrographic similarity to either the 7 identified shots or the unknown sounds preceding them. Spectrographic analysis of the second sound at approximately 6:01 shows a clear ‘double impulse’ structure. The two impulses are about 20 milliseconds apart. This configuration is not found in the earlier section of the recording where the shots occur. As stated before it is not possible to accurately identify what these two sounds are but there is no evidence within the recording to support the claim that they are both shots.

My findings are in agreement with Harrison’s. In examining Johnson’s claims I looked at the CBS news coverage and I was able to synchronize the film footage with audio to the Pruszynski tape, of the moment in question after the shooting. I concluded with 100% certainty that there are NO extra gunshots on the Pruszynski recording. They do not appear on the CBS footage, which is being shot just inches from where Senator Kennedy is lying on the floor, which would put the cameraman within only feet from where Sirhan would have been apprehended. I timed the section at the beginning of the Pruszynski Tape, and it adds up to approximately 16 seconds. This is the section during the wrestling with Sirhan, where you can hear a man yelling, ‘Break his hand...break his hand’ and scuffling in the background. Within this 16 seconds of audio, I hear nothing resembling gunfire.

This new acoustics evidence in the RFK case suggests to a high degree of probability that on the night of June 4/5 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel pantry there were no other gunmen who fired shots at Senator Kennedy. Furthermore, this evidence negates to a high degree of probability the allegations by conspiracy advocates that extra bullets were either discovered or retrieved from the pantry’s swinging doors.


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Justin Smith - 8/2/2007

The Brent recording was only mentioned in passing in the article (which was a good read, I must say). Was it determined to be of no value? Was it ascertained at what point during Johnson's time line that Brent began recording?

Also, was NBC rolling videotape at the moment of the shooting? I own some of the NBC coverage and some video is shown on-air but it was quite obviously recorded in the ballroom in the moments after the shooting. However, an NBC technician who is interviewed some time later (his name escapes me at the moment) alludes to the fact that he saw Robert Kennedy fall on a camera monitor. This wasn't recorded obviously, but did NBC record ANYTHING during the moment of the shooting?


Mel Ayton - 7/4/2007

Rowe stated in a previous post "It's the first time I ever saw anyone claim RFK was shot with a .38"
This is proof indeed of the typical conspiracy-mongerer who pretends he knows something about the case in question when in fact he doesn't.

I'm certain HNN readers will be tired of Rowe making a fool of himself time and time again by his ridiculous and uninformative posts.I would suggest Rowe read my book and Dan Moldea's book before he throws himself over the cliff once more.


Mel Ayton - 7/4/2007

Silly, quite silly.
How old are you?


Robert Douglas Rowe - 7/3/2007

Thanks for the link. It's the first time I ever saw anyone claim RFK was shot with a .38. Maybe next you can find a person out there who believes Ethel was the second shooter, and have an expert marriage counselor prove him wrong.


Mel Ayton - 7/1/2007

Robert Douglas Rowe wrote “You people are funny. Which of the 'conspiracy writers' ever claimed Thane Cesar fired a .38? All of the 'conspiracy writers' I've ever heard of have all expressed suspicions of Cesar because of the fact that he owned a .22 he lied about selling before the assassination.”.

Perhaps if Mr Rowe a) read my book ‘The Forgotten Terorist’ or
b) carried out some research before he posted he might have developed some insight into this case. Yes, Mr Rowe, there are some conspiracy writers out there who believe RFK’s mortal wound resulted from a .38. See: http://www.jfklancer.com/hunt/rfk_pt1.htm

This nonsense was successfully rebutted by Larry Sturdivan in an appendix to my book. Larry’s credentials as a wounds ballistics expert are listed below.

The next time you post may I make the suggestion you first of all get your facts right. It may prevent you from looking so foolish.



Larry Sturdivan is an acclaimed and recognized expert on wound ballistics. He has a bachelor of science in physics from Oklahoma State University and a master of science in statistics from the University of Delaware. He worked at the U.S. Army’s Ballistics Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, from 1964 to 1972, and then at the Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, from 1972 through 1995. In 1964 he observed ballistics tests conducted at the Biophysics Laboratory of Edgewood Arsenal in support of the Warren Commission’s investigation into President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He has held positions from bench-level research to management, and he was the associate technical director for technology at Edgewood. He wrote the majority of the casualty criteria for bullets, fragments, etc. used by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and has had contracts to update them. In 1978, as a senior researcher, he was made the U.S. Army’s contact in helping the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) as it reinvestigated the JFK assassination. He is currently a consultant in mathematical and statistical modeling for LMS Scientific Applications. He has written a book entitled The JFK Myths: A Scientific Investigation of the Kennedy Assassination, which was published in 2005.


Robert Douglas Rowe - 6/30/2007

You people are funny. Which of the 'conspiracy writers' ever claimed Thane Cesar fired a .38? All of the 'conspiracy writers' I've ever heard of have all expressed suspicions of Cesar because of the fact that he owned a .22 he lied about selling before the assassination.

Is this your plan for dispelling all these silly conspiracy theories...erecting strawmen and knocking them down? Yeah, that should do it.

Maybe next you can prove Kennedy was actually in the hotel when he was shot, and leave all those 'Kennedy-double' conspiracy writers looking like fools.


Leonard Robinson - 4/25/2007

Mr. Ayton,
Agreed. I look forward to reading your book. Having just co-authored a book on the causes of war in the international system (just published by Rowman and Littlefield) I appreciate the hard work and commitment that such an endeavor requires. In our case, it involved nearly 6 years of blood, sweat and tears (only a slight exageration!).
Peace, Shalom, and Ma Salema.
Len


Mel Ayton - 4/25/2007

Mr Robinson,
I did not conclude that advocating a violent solution to the plight of the Palestinians necessarily led to the conclusion that that is why he killed Kennedy.You would have to take the evidence as a whole concerning Sirhan's motives to understand why it was RFK he chose and what reason he had to assassinate an American leader.

I believe that I have given much of my time in answering your quesitons but they cannot go on ad infinitum - I'm afraid you'll have to read my book as much of what you are positing is addressed in the book and far too long to repeat in a forum like this.

However, I want to thank you for introducing some excellent points in your posts and some sensible and civil arguments which seem to be missing in other forums I have agreed to participate in.


Leonard Robinson - 4/25/2007

Sir,
I am aware that Sirhan offered cookies and juice to Clark, invited people into his house to play board games, etc. The very fact that he befriended the garbage man and spent some considerable time with people with whom his contact was otherwise superficial, and who were not from his own age cohort, might be an indicator of emotional or psychological problems. However, since it is not possible for me to prove that Clark's testimony may not have been 100 percent accurate, I will concede the point (although it could be argued that the very fact of reporting such a conversation and testifying to it in a court of law MIGHT be indicative of a desire to insert himself into this historic event).

As for Dr. McBroom's statement, it is true that when he was interviewed on ABC after the shooting he claimed to have heard Sirhan (or as he described him "A man in working-class clothes") say "I did it for my country." He also insinuated that someone else was involved in the shooting--someone who tried to rush out of the pantry yelling "Let me by, let me through." This turned out to be one of the many false leads and rumors that circulated that night. In addition, as you state (and I appreciate your honesty), Jess Unruh later admitted that he very well may have misheard Sirhan's supposed statement to the effect that he had done for his country.

One of the problems one runs into in attempting to sort through witness statments in such an emotionally-charged case is that often times individuals on the scene get at best a partial, and at worst an incorrect, view of what is happening around them. For example, you can have a reporter (Piers Anderton) who is literally standing right next to another reporter (Andrew West), but Anderton's "reality" (Kennedy laying on the floor after being shot, but Anderton being so oblivious to the shooter that he asked an individual who was attempting to assist Paul Schrade if that individual knew who the shooter was) is different from West's "reality" (being aware that Kennedy was shot, but also being keenly aware of the struggle with Sirhan). Under such circumstances, even if a witness has the best intentions of being honest, his or her view of "reality" is incomplete at best.

Finally, Sirhan may very well have advocated a violent solution to the plight of the Palestinians; again, however that does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that that is why he killed RFK. How would any mentally and emotionally-centered person calculate that by murdering Robert Kennedy he could end the plight of the Palestinians?


Mel Ayton - 4/25/2007

Alvin Clark's integrity has not been seriously challenged apart from the points I raised earlier.His story did not change nor did he try to embellish it.Other members of the family often saw Clark and Sirhan together. It all seemed a little pathetic on Sirhan's behalf as he used to rush out with cookies and juice to greet Clark when he saw the garbage truck in the area.

Additionally, a search of contemporaneous newspaper accounts of the period indicates Clark did not seek publicity following the trial nor did he try to exploit his 'star witness' status for financial reward.

Sirhan did indeed shout out the motive for the crime (Words to the effect, 'I did it for my country') according to two contemporaneous witness accounts - those of Dr Marcus McBroom and Jesse Unruh. Unruh's account may be challenged as he expressed some confusion about what he actually said - but not so McBroom.

Furthermore, there is a wealth of evidence,stemming from statements made by friends, family and PCC students to prove that Sirhan did indeed believe in a violent solution to the Palestinian problem and he voiced those sentiments long before the assassination.


Leonard Robinson - 4/25/2007

Sir,
We can quibble over Alvin Clark's testimony which, while given under oath, has always seemed to me to be a bit too "on the nose" in terms of a future assassin bluntly revealing his plans to someone weeks in advance. I have always suspected that this may have been an instance where an individual wanted to insert himself into the history books by claiming to have such a conversation with the suspect. As you are aware, reviewing the FBI and LAPD files reveals mountains of individuals who contacted authorities with wild stories. Again, I have no way to prove that was the case with Mr. Clark--it's just a hunch.

Actually, in some ways I don't think you and I are all that far apart here in terms of Sirhan's motivations. Again, it is clearly true that he held anti-semitic views, that he resented the United States, and yes, that he was frustrated with RFK because he was a politician who seemed sensitive to the plight of every downtrodden people in the world except the Palestinians.

However, it is also true that probably hundreds of thousands (if not millions)of Americans, including a number of Arab-Americans, held similar views in 1968. I think the core explanation hinges on the fame issue, which you raise. Virtually all US politicians took (and still take) the view espoused by RFK towards the Middle East conflict. Precisely because RFK was so famous, he was the most attractive target; so far you and I are on a very similar track.

However, it is my opinion that it was certain aspects of Sirhan's personality that explain why he is the one person among the millions who held similar political views who chose the route of assassination. As I'm sure you are aware, there are countless antecdotes of Sirhan lashing out at ANYONE who he perceive of as looking down at him, right up to the night of the assassination, when he left the hostess who criticized the way he was dressed a $20 tip. In my opinion, Sirhan was extremely frustrated by the fact that he lived in a society in which many individuals treated him with what he perceived to be a lack of respect, despite the fact that he (Siran) believed himself to be intellectually superior to such individuals. Killing someone of RFK's notoriety gave Sirhan the ultimate revenge against society.

One other point: there is some evidence that the notion that the assassination was driven by Sirhan's commitment to the Arab cause was not something which he seems to have emphasized in the immediate aftermath of his arrest. Rather, there is some evidence that once he learned that others in the Arab-American community were trying to spin the shooting in that direction, and once his lawyers latched on to that explanation, Sirhan himself bought into it because at THAT point he began to see that it might make him a heroic figure in the eyes of some.


Mel Ayton - 4/25/2007

Mr Robinson,
I really don't think the airing of the documentary is crucial in determining whether or not Sirhan had an extreme animus towards RFK or why he eventually chose RFK as his target.

Sirhan was an avid reader of political periodicals and could not have failed to notice that RFK met with the Israeli Premier, Levi Eshkol, in January 1968 and expressed his support for Israel. In January and February of 1968 RFK made at least three statements recommending arms aid to Israel.

In April 1968 Sirhan expressed his hatred for RFK to an African-American garbage worker he befriended. Alvin Clark testified under oath at the trial about Sirhan’s desire to shoot Kennedy.

Following the television broadcast Sirhan continued to express his hatred for Robert Kennedy.During the two well-publicised primary contests in Oregon and California RFK expressed his views of total commitment to Israel. In two comments during the primaries RFK expressed an appeal that was anti-Arab and pro-Jewish.

Sirhan also stated he heard a radio broadcast in which “[the] hot news was when the announcer said Robert Kennedy was at some Jewish Club or Zionist Club in Beverly Hills.” At the Neveh Shalom Synagogue Kennedy said, “In Israel—unlike so many other places in the world—our commitment is clear and compelling. We are committed to Israel’s survival. We are committed to defying any attempt to destroy Israel, whatever the source. And we cannot and must not let that commitment waver.” Sirhan’s brother, Sharif, told Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Abel-Hadi that, following the broadcast of the speech, “he [Sirhan] left the room putting his hands on his ears and almost weeping.”

Sirhan was upset that his brothers and mother did not see Robert Kennedy as a malevolent force and they argued about it. According to one of his lawyers at the trial, “[Sirhan] was disturbed that both his mother and his brothers did not see Senator Kennedy as the same destructive and malevolent and dangerous person as Sirhan perceived him to be; and I gather that he and his family . . . had some arguments about this.”

Sirhan believed he was an important revolutionary; he was in the vanguard of the third world as he expressed it. He thought RFK would be “like his brother,” the president, and help the Arabs but, “Hell, he fucked up. That’s all he did. . . . He asked for it. He should have been smarter than that. You know, the Arabs had emotions. He knew how they felt about it. But, hell, he didn’t have to come out right at the fucking time when the Arab-Israeli war erupted. Oh! I couldn’t take it! I couldn’t take it!”

Sirhan could have targeted any of the leading presidential candidates that year to publicize, through a violent act, the cause of the Palestinians. Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Richard Nixon, and Nelson Rockefeller all supported military aid to Israel and believed in the continuing American/Israeli alliance. So why did Sirhan choose RFK?

Initially, Sirhan would likely have been satisfied with any opportunity to kill a leading American politician. At one point, he even had UN Ambassador Goldberg in his sights. Sirhan said he considered killing Vice President Humphrey.

However, in the years between 1963 and 1968, American political culture had been dominated by the idea of a Kennedy Dynasty and myths surrounding JFK's assassination. Year after year books, movies, television documentaries, and political news stories gave a cult-like status to JFK's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Sirhan, too, desired fame. Killing any of the other candidates would certainly have given him status throughout the Arab world. But his true target had an even greater symbolism attached to it. Sirhan would become the "Second Kennedy Assassin." He knew that killing RFK would give him greater world exposure the other candidates could not provide. It was no accident that Sirhan set his sights on the candidate who was the brother of the martyred president. It was no accident that Sirhan chose the candidate who was most likely to become the next president.




Leonard Robinson - 4/25/2007

Sir,
Thank you for your reply to my previous message. Indeed, I am aware of Sirhan's connections with the campus groups you mentioned. Furthermore, I am aware of some anti-semitic statements he made prior to the assassination, and of his underlying resentment towards the United States. I do not deny that these sentiments had something to do with the shooting. On the other hand, it is undoubtedly true that any number of public figures in 1968 were professing their support for Israel. This then begs the question--why choose RFK as a target? I know there is some discrepency over the date on which the RFK documentary that supposedly set Sirhan off actually aired. It is my opinion that this is may be a potentially crucial issue--if the documentary was aired BEFORE the May 18th entry in his notebook "RFK Must BE Assassinated," etc. then it may lend credence to the angle you suggest. If, however, it aired AFTER the infamous entry in his notebook of May 18, then it seems to me that it is highly unlikely that RFK's support for Israel was the final tipping point in driving Sirhan to choose assassination.


Mel Ayton - 4/17/2007

Mr Robinson,
Thank you for your eminently sensible comments.

I am not tying Sirhan in with any Palestinian terrorist group - in fact there is no evidence to suggest any connection despite author Peter Evans' attempts to prove otherwise. Please see - http://hnn.us/articles/10781.html However, there is a wealth of evidence, especially in his conversations with his friends, that he agreed that violence was the only way Palestinians could achieve anything positive.

There is no evidence that Sirhan met with any terrorist group representatives, but the Arab community in the Los Angeles area gave its wholehearted support to a violent solution the Palestinian problem.

Sirhan was a student at Pasadena City College from September 1963 until May 1965. During this period two Arab groups were active on campus — the International Club and the Organization of Arab Students in the United States and Canada (OAS) — but they were not recognized by the college. According to the OAS’s president, Kanan Abdul Latif Hamzeh, Sirhan had intense feelings against the Israelis.According to writer James H. Sheldon, in a contemporary article titled “Anti-Israeli Forces on Campus”, the OAS was dangerously active in spreading extremist and violent ideas during this period.

Based on my research into the groups and individuals he conversed with, I have no doubt Sirhan saw himself as an ‘avenger’ for perceived wrongs against the Palestinian people.

These facts, however, do not eliminate Sirhan’s personal motive as you describe it. Sirhan was no different from many assassins of the past who had multiple motives for their crimes. He was virulently anti-American and anti-semitic. He was resentful and envious of American wealth and power, had an obsession with previous US assassinations and harbored an intense desire to be a ‘somebody’.

Mel Ayton




Mel Ayton - 4/17/2007

Mr Moore,
I really don't think there is anything 'curious' about Steve's research at all.

I had two 'teams' of researchers carrying out the research into the 'Pruszynski Tape'.The examination of the California State Archives audio cassette tape was carried out in the United States by Steve Barber, Dr Chad Zimmerman and Michael O'Dell. They also had an opportunity to examine the digitized version of the tape. Everything they learnt about the tape will be published in my book 'The Forgotten Terrorist'. Their 'report' consists of letters to each other and to me. There isn't anything relevant in the correspondence that is omitted from Steve's article or my book.

During Steve's research, which lasted over a period of many months, he was in touch with JP French Associates, a British acoustics independent laboratory in England.Their conclusions are mutually supportive. JP French’s report is published as an appendix to my book.

As to your comments that Barber, Zimmerman and O'Dell carried out their work for 'very little return' - HNN is quoted extensively around the world and referred to as an 'academic history website'. I can assure you Steve's work has been widely disseminated and has attracted the interest of the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel and two independent documentary makers in the UK who work with Channel 4.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity.

Mel Ayton
http://www.potomacbooksinc.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=146341


Tom Willis - 4/14/2007

Melvin,

You are still taking the coward's way out by not citing proof for your ridiculous claim that it is an established fact Thane Eugene Cesar was carrying a .38 on the night of Bobby Kennedy's murder despite my repeated requests.

It would appear that you are some kind of unbalanced individual who has an inability to understand the simplest and established facts about this case. If your arguments are so strong concerning Cesar and his alleged .38 then I suggest you lay them out for us right here and now.

You have reduced your arguments to the level of schoolyard taunts in your attempts to lure me into your pathetic world of titles and so-called prequalifications before being allowed to speak out (how very British of you); a world that propagandists who fear those who disagree with them (and dismiss all of them as conspiracy forum members) love so much; a world in which logic, reason and truth is abandoned in favor of protecting one's staked out public position and business interests. I believe the opportunity for rational debate within this forum has been abused by your posts.

No doubt you will, at some point, attempt to have the last ridiculous comment on this matter (perhaps by coming back to this page in a few weeks when it's safe because I might not be hanging around it anymore then) but I, for one, have had enough of debating fools like you...

Blowhard!


Mel Ayton - 4/14/2007

Willis,
You are still taking the coward's way out by not revealing anything about yourself and who you are despite my repeated requests.

It would appear that you are some kind of unbalanced individual who has an inability to understand the simplest and established facts about this case.If your arguments are so strong I suggest you find a reputable media outlet who will accept your 'research'.

You have reduced your arguments to the level of schoolyard taunts in your attempts to lure Steve Barber into your pathetic and rather silly juvenile world; a world that conspiracy forum members love so much; a world in which logic and reason is abandoned in favor of fantasy, speculation, and rumor.I believe the opportunity for rational debate within this forum has been abused by your posts.

No doubt you will have the last ridiculous comment on this matter but I,for one, have had enough of debating fools like you.


Tom Willis - 4/14/2007

Ayton,

I've read Moldea's book. It offers not one shred of conclusive evidence that Cesar was carrying a .38 on the night of the RFK shooting.

Not a shred.

Moldea's book is a love poem to Gene Cesar (just as most of your posts are love notes to Moldea). All Moldea's book does on this particular subject is quote Cesar's claims and then blindly believes in them. Does it really need to be explained to you and Moldea that merely quoting back Cesar's claims is NOT conclusive evidence?

Apparently so. Which of course is itself thundering evidence that spending any money on a book you write about this case is surely money wasted.

It is as I have said, Mel. No one on this planet has ever been - or ever will be - able to provide conclusive evidence that Cesar was carrying a .38 on the night of the Kennedy shooting.

Because no such conclusive evidence exists.

You're not even bothering to lift a finger to try to provide such conclusive evidence. Simply because you know you can't. Instead, you're taking refuge in bosom buddy Dan's book, hoping that no one will actually make the effort to check on this matter (but I have checked on it, my friend, and as I've already said, Moldea's book also does not provide such conclusive evidence).

So you are copping out, of course. Just as I predicted you would, Blowhard.

And therefore my point stands: Steve Barber's article is absolutely dead wrong in suggesting that it is an established fact that Thane Eugene Cesar was carrying a .38 on the night of the RFK killing.

Rather than having you answer for him, Barber ought to answer this one himself (instead of hiding behind you).


Mel Ayton - 4/14/2007

Willis,
You have again not established exactly who you are, nor have you provided readers with any information which would persuade them you have some kind of superior knowledge to Steve Barber, Dan Moldea or I. This is why you feel you are on safe ground - you are an anonymous entity who feels safe to post any comments he likes without fear of exposure.

Readers will judge for themselves.They will also recognize you have not answered my questions pertaining to your background, especially those questions about your 'authoritative' crededentials.

The proof in the matter, as you harp on about, of Thane Cesar's participation in the purported conspiracy to assassinate Robert Kennedy, rests with Dan Moldea's excellent research - read Moldea's book and you will realize that Cesar was telling the truth.It is now an established fact, at least for those historians who have some kind of training in recognizing the difference between speculation, innuendo, guesswork as opposed to concrete, hard facts.

You appear in your posts to be a person who refuses to engage in rational and adult debate. You have adopted child-like expressions which ultimately detract from any valid arguments you think you may be making.
Your attempts to be witty don't seem to work.


Tom Willis - 4/14/2007

Ayton,

So now you have swung 180 degrees to the opposite end by suddenly claiming that it IS an established fact Cesar was carrying a .38 that night. Very sad.

Established, you claim. Okay, prove it.

You heard me old chap. Prove it right now. Reply to this post with actual proof. Reply with unquestionable facts that prove to us that it is indeed an established fact that Cesar was carrying a .38 that night.

I'll wager anyone any amount of money that not only will you not be able to do this, but that you won't even try. Instead, you will try to change the subject. And of course it will work because we - non-experts among the Great Unwashed - who do not breathe your rarefied air or sip your delicious teas are so easily thrown off course and fooled, now aren't we?

No, not this time, Mel. This time, we will make sure you stay on point and either support what you're claiming with unquestioned facts or expose yourself as the blowhard you really are.

When you respond in your next post, Mel, don't just simply report to us that such-and-so is what Cesar claimed. We're not stupid. We know that just because Cesar claimed he had a .38 does not establish that as a fact. So you must do better than simply report what Cesar said in 1968 or 1969 or 1994 or 2001. You must cite proof.

Don't just go on about how the guards always carried .38's with them. Again, we're not stupid. Even if it were standard practice for the guards to carry .38's, this does NOT prove that Cesar did NOT break from standard practice on the night of the RFK shooting by carrying something other than a .38, whether it was a .22 (as Sirhan had) or a .45 or whatever weapon he could have put into his holster. The simple fact is, we don't know whether Cesar followed standard practice on that night or broke from it.

So prove to us it has been established as actual fact that Cesar was indeed carrying a .38 that night.

Proof, Mel, proof.

We eagerly await your next post and, more importantly, we await - hmmm, what's that word again? - oh, yes, that's right... your proof.

If you fail to provide such proof (beyond statements made by Cesar and beyond standard weapons practice of the guards), then you will be unwittingly proving all of my points.

Love & kisses,
Tom (not Dick, Harry or anyone else but just little old me... Tom)


Mel Ayton - 4/14/2007

Willis,
If that's your real name, which I suspect it isn't because people like you tend to hide behind a mask of anonymity, your bluster confirms one thing to readers of HNN - you, like other conspiracy mongerers post nonsense like this to sow seeds of doubt on every piece of evidence then run away from it when the truths are established.
In your obviously childish, anti-English and pompous rant you have proven also that you neither have the intellect nor qualifications to post rational arguments on sites such as these. You may be better suited to the looney conspiracy sites which I'm sure you get most of your information from.
You even try and hide the motive for your post - a motive which centers around the need to spread doubt where non exists and use it as an opportunity to attack anyone who dares to challenge your pet conspiracy theories.
And who is Tom Willis? A non-entity who calls Steve Barber a joker because he dares to mention an establshed fact - Cesar was carrying his .38 pistol on the night of the assassination.
Again, I challenge you to give readers your credentials.


Tom Willis - 4/14/2007

Hey Ayton,

Can't you follow a simple line of thought?

Sit down, pour yourself a spot of tea, calm your nerves and read my note again.

Even you will do that in a calmer state, even you should see that I was making only one point in my note:

That Barber incorrectly presented it as an established fact that Cesar was carrying a .38 that night. Clearly this is not an established fact as you yourself admit. So why yell at me about it? We are not in disagreement over this one basic point I made.

You've been over this territory enough times. You know the drill. Cesar claimed he had a .38 that night. That claim alone doesn't prove he had a .38. His weapon was never examined that night. Therefore you, Barber, Moldea, me, the LAPD and the Man in the Moon cannot state with any certainty what caliber of weapon Cesar had. For Barber to state it as an established, unquestioned fact that Cesar had a .38 that night is to lie or to guess. Lies or guesswork (especially on an issue that is so easily researched) are immediate signs of a person who is NOT to be taken seriously. Thus my point about Barber being a fool -- my one and only point in my note -- stands.

Your response reveals various points to now be made about you, Ayton. Chief among them, that you do not think very clearly.

If you had a clear and rational mind, you would have understood I was making only the one point and no other points. Instead, your rampant imagination got the better of you and you spewed several untruths concerning my post:

You addressed me directly on the matter of Cesar keeping his .22 for three months after the RFK assassination as if I'd made any comment on that subject, which I did not.

You suggested I had some interest in doing some kind of conspiracy mongerer shuffle by going on about polygraphs, when my note mentions nothing about polygraphs or anything close.

You said I accused Cesar of being guilty for the RFK assassination, which I clearly never did. Lay down your tea. Go back. Read my note again. Where in my note do I accuse Cesar of anything. Whether I personally believe in Cesar's guilt or innocence is an opinion I have not expressed. I only make one single point, and that is that it is not an established fact that he was carrying a .38 on the night of the shooting.

For a so-called expert, as you proudly claim to be, you are quite a muddled-minded piece of work. You establish that very thing as fact by your own response to my note. It takes no special qualification on my part or that of any HNN member to see this clearly.


Mel Ayton - 4/14/2007

In an interview with Dan Moldea Thane Cesar said he remained in the Embassy Room for more than an hour after the shooting. Cesar said, "I was getting ready to go home and I thought to myself 'I wonder why nobody's questioned me'...I went to a police officer. I said 'Don't you really think you need my statement?' He said, 'Why?' I said, 'Well, I was standing right by Kennedy when he got shot.'....And from there they took me down to Rampart [Division]. I thought it was a necessary thing. What a mistake that was! If I hadn't said anything to that one particular police officer, nobody would have known to this day that I was even there."

Cesar bought his .22 H&R revolver in or around 1962. He admitted that, unintentionally, his remarks to the police about when he had sold the gun had been false. However, Cesar insisted the proof of his good intentions was when he told the police to whom he sold the gun and where he lived. Now what kind of conspirator would have done that?

Furthermore, Cesar sold the gun in September 1968 - three months after the assassination. If Cesar had shot RFK with this weapon do you really think he would have held on to it for 3 months? If you do, you are delusional.

Cesar was tested by one of the most respected polygraph experts in America - Cesar passed with flying colors.Please don’t do the conspiracy mongerer shuffle and go on about polygraphs. Dan Moldea spent a considerable amount of time over a number of years researching Cesar’s background and finances. Cesar isn’t guilty - therefore you are accusing an innocent man.

Steve Barber has made a remarkable contribution to this case and doesn’t deserve to be criticised by a non-expert like you. Perhaps you would like to inform HNN readers of your qualifications as an historian, forensic scientist or acoustics expert. You may also like to inform HNN readers which magazines, newspapers or publishers have accepted your work. If you don’t, then we have to conclude you are yet another uninformed blowhard who thinks he knows the truth when, in fact, he doesn’t.


Leonard Robinson - 4/11/2007

Mr. Barber,
Don't sweat the confusion over identities. At any rate, I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis and findings. It is too bad that LAPD did such an uneven job in its investigation (e.g., not preserving evidence, not confiscating Cesar's gun, etc.). The very fact that reporters and other had what amounted to a free run of the pantry for at least two hours after the shooting made for compelling TV, but in and of itself is reflective of LAPD's mishandling of the case, right from the outset. Many of these questions could have--and should have--been put to rest a long time ago, save for the bungling by the police.
I will be interested to read Mr. Ayton's forthcoming book. I agree with his argument that Sirhan was the lone gunman in the pantry, but have always been much less persuaded of some sort of PLO connection. To me, that argument smacks of a writer trying to force-fit a supposedly objective analysis of the case to fit their own (i.e., the writer's) political agenda (further discrediting the Palestinians by hanging another act of terror on them as a nation). Anyway, that's just my opinion.
Regards,
Len Robinson


Jim Moore - 4/11/2007

Mr. Barber,
There's something else about this that I don't understand. This author you keep mentioning, Mr. Ayton, asks you to conduct this audio research. You not only conduct the research but Mr. O'Dell and Mr. Zimmerman are recruited to assist you with it. You (or the three of you, I guess) reach your conclusions but, after all that work you put into this, you don't issue an actual report (this article is it, you say). Even Mr. Ayton, although he asked you to do this work in the first place, is apparently not planning to reference your work in his book (or is he? I am gathering from your comments that he probably is not planning to do so). Instead, Mr. Ayton will be publishing a report by JP French and Associates. And so the only venue for your work (and that of Mr. O'Dell and Mr. Zimmerman) is this HNN article, which probably will get very little attention? Unless there's something else you haven't told us, this would seem to be a lot of work and effort on your part (and those of your two colleagues) for very little return. Please understand I'm not meaning to put you down here. This just struck me and it seemed rather curious to me. Best regards, Jim.


Steve Neil Barber - 4/10/2007

Dear Mr. Robinson,

Please forgive me for attributing the post made by Mr. Moore, to you.

Mr. Moore, please excuse me for not addressing you by name, in my response to yours of this morning, at 10:08 a.m. and incorrectly addressing Mr. Robinson instead.

I am deeply sorry for the error.

Sincerely,
Steve Barber


Steve Neil Barber - 4/10/2007

Dear Mr. Robinson,

Thank you for pointing out my massive typo.

That was supposed to read as follows:

Comparison of the Pruszynski recording and the CBS footage--alone--disproves any claim that extra gunshots were picked up by Pruszynski's recorder, by synchronizing the two recordings.

My sincere apologies for throwing you off, and leaving out the word "extra". "Extra" meaning more than 8 gunshots.

As for my statement that "...no one is holding anything back pertaining to results shown on the graph"...

All I can tell you is to please wait until Mr. Ayton's book is released next moth, to book stores. The full "JP French and Associates" report will be included as an Appendix to his book. I am not at liberty to release the the report, since it is part of Mr. Ayton's book.

As far as a report of my own...you have my report in front of you, with the HNN article, and, I point you to what I have stated there, and reemaphasize what I said in the HNN paper, as to the conclusions I reached.

Warm Regards,
Steve


Jim Moore - 4/10/2007

Well, Mr. Barber, I don't quite understand this comment of yours:

Comparison of the Pruszynski recording and the CBS footage--alone--disproves any claim that gunshots were picked up by Pruszynski's recorder, by synchronizing the two recordings.

I'm afraid that is as clear as mud. What exactly are you trying to say there? Did the Pruszynski recording pick up any gunshots or didn't it? In reading over that paragraph of yours it almost seems like you're now saying that the recording didn't pick up any shots. Please clarify.

Lastly, Mr. Barber, you are trying to assure us that "no one is holding back anything pertaining to the results shown on the graphs." I'm sorry, Sir, but you must know this simple comment of yours is not going to suffice.

This is science, Mr. Barber. You can't really expect us to take your assurances on faith, now can you? No. I would suggest that you take the next necessary step which is to publish the complete report that you and/or your colleagues (Mr. O'Dell and Dr. Zimmerman) prepared so that we may all see it and evaluate it for ourselves. Just writing an article and then posting a few notes is hardly sufficient.

If you would, Sir, please publish your complete report somewhere on the internet and provide us, right here, with the web link to that report.

If you and your colleagues are not holding anything back, as you say, then you should have no problem fulfilling my request. I thank you. Best regards, Jim.


Steve Neil Barber - 4/9/2007

Dear Mr. Moore, and Mr. Robinson

Thank you both for your comments on my article.

The gunshots are very, very audible.

They are not being drowned out by crowd noise, or distortion. They are very rapidly fired, evenly spaced, except for the tiny gap between the last shot and the high pitched scream.

I might add that the scream is **not** blocking out the sound of a gunshot, if one had occurred at that point. Clearly, people can be heard talking and hollering during the scream, so, had a gunshot been fired at the same time as the scream, A) I would have detected it with my hearing and B) The spike would appear on the graph.

All in all, there is absolutely no evidence of more than 8 shots having been fired at Robert Kennedy, according to this tape recording, and all appear to have come from the same weapon as they all bear the same sound.

Comparing and synchronizing the Pruszynski recording with the CBS footage I mentioned does *not* reveal gunshot sounds of any nature within the moments following the string of 6-8 shots fired.

Pruszynski never shut his recorder off, except for one time, immediately following the speech, where all other major news network reporters did. Comparison of the Pruszynski recording and the CBS footage--alone--disproves any claim that gunshots were picked up by Pruszynski's recorder, by synchronizing the two recordings.

Mr. Moore, I can assure you that no one is holding back anything pertaining to the results shown on the graphs.

I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

Kind Regards,

Steve Barber


Jim Moore - 4/9/2007

Well, I don't know whether or not there's an overwhelming prepoderance of evidence against two shots being fired during the struggle a minute after the initial shots. I respect the fact that you feel there is. I'm just not as sure of that. Witnesses are very unreliable and it's got to be difficult in a situation like a shooting to accurately count the number of shots anyway. If such a situation suddenly erupted while you were there, do you really believe you would be able to give an accurate count of shots past a certain point? I don't think very many people would be able to do that. But let's get off that and turn to some other things I'm troubled by in Mr. Barber's article. This quote, for example, from one of these experts he mentions: "However, I don’t think one can necessarily say that more shots couldn’t have existed after that point, but that they would have been drowned out by the scream. However, in my opinion, there are only eight, .22 caliber gunshots heard on that tape." In reading that, it certainly seems obvious to me that there is considerably less than an overwhelming prepoderance of evidence - and I hope you don't mind my borrowing your words for a moment; I don't mean to be cute, just making a point - that no more than eight shots were fired at the hotel. I don't see how anyone can hang their hat on this analysis when the expert makes such a statement as that. Furthermore, these experts cited in Mr. Barber's article seem to go through all of this scientific state-of-the-art stuff to examine this recording only to reach their final (or apparently not-so-final) conclusions based on what they are "hearing." I don't understand the point of going through all of this expensive analysis and showing a bunch of graphs if all you're going to end up doing is draw your conclusions based on what your ear is hearing (if I'm not mistaken, a truly scientific conclusion here would not be based upon what one's ears are picking up). I feel like these experts are holding something back or not all of their analysis is being reported. Well, I've said my peace. I don't want to get into a long rambling debate about this. You see it your way and I see it my way. Just thought I'd offer a couple more of my cents for what they're worth. Best regards, Jim.


Leonard Robinson - 4/9/2007

I respect your opinion, however, although it is THEORETICALLY possible that two shots could have been fired a minute after the first shot, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence suggests otherwise. Not just from the aforementioned tape, but from eyewitnesses on the scene. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a single witness who has claimed that a full minute passed from the first shot to the last shot. In fact, every witness I've seen interviewed (I own DVDs of the live coverage by CBS, NBC and ABC from that night, as well as other DVDs and tapes in which witnesses are interviewed) has indicated that the shots came rapidly--two shots, then a brief break, then more in rapid succession. Moreover, no witness ever says that there was anything close to 10 or 11 shots--most witnesses when interviewed that night estimated that between 4-6 shots were fired. I only know of one witness who even estimated it as high as 8 shots: Kristy Witner (not sure of the spelling), who worked for American Heritage at the time.


Jim Moore - 4/9/2007

Excuse me, but I believe the following items in Steve Barber's article more than indicated that two shots COULD have been fired a minute after the initial shots went off:

12:16:55.0 am PDT - Two more high probability shots are fired as a struggle with Sirhan Sirhan continues for his handgun (since Sirhan emptied his weapon, these could have been the last two bullets discharged as a result of the struggle). Our count of high-probability gunshots is now 11.

12:17:41.0 am PDT - Andy West shouts into his microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, they have the gun away from the man.”

Obviously, the above indicates Sirhan still had the weapon in his hand a full minute after the initial shots were fired (and may have still had the weapon in hand for another 46 seconds beyond that until it was finally taken away from him). While that alone does not prove the two sounds heard a minute later were shots, it does show that we can't discount the possibility of shots occurring that late in the game. Just my 2 cents.


Leonard Robinson - 4/5/2007

Bravo! I've always considered the argument that acoustic evidence proved there was a second gunman in the pantry to be ridiculous. Most people without access to the audio tape you analyzed have latched on to the ABC video as proof of more than 8 shots, but as you state, it is clear even from a cursory glace and listen that the ABC broadcast proved nothing of the kind. I remember Howard K. Smith asking one of ABC's reporters in LA (perhaps Bob Clark or Carl George?) why the gunshots were stretched out over a full minute, and the reporter responded that he had no explanation for what the ABC tape seemed to indicate, because having been close the scene at the time of the shooting, he (the reporter) knew that the shots had all been squeezed off within a short period of time. It always struck me that the sounds that Howard K. Smith identifed as being shots were really ABC's microphones banging around or balloons popping. Again, job well done.

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