Thursday, 02 March 2017 22:06

Reopening the R.F.K. investigation: Paul Schrade and Congressman Allard Lowenstein (1973)

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Paul Schrade and Allard Lowenstein discuss the 1968 assassination of Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, particularly focusing upon the need to reopen the case to uncover the real events. Broadcast on KPFK, 13 Jan. 1973. Transcription courtesy of David Giglio, Our Hidden History.

rfk assassinationOnce again, we thank David Giglio for his help in unearthing this fascinating interview between Paul Schrade and Allard Lowenstein given over KPFK radio in early 1973.

Paul Schrade needs no introduction. He was a very effective labor leader of that era who was one of the people shot that night with Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Schrade has worked for decades to get the RFK case reopened, and he is still at it today. He even showed up at the latest parole hearing for Sirhan Sirhan and pleaded with the board to release the alleged assassin.

Unlike for Schrade, the modern readers probably does need an introduction to Allard Lowenstein. Lowenstein graduated from Yale Law School in 1954. He worked on Capitol Hill for Hubert Humphrey as a foreign policy advisor and then volunteered for the civil rights movement during Freedom Summer in Mississippi. One of his many other achievements: he toured southwest Africa in 1959 taking testimony about the reach and deeds of the Union of South Africa. He then wrote a book on the subject entitled Brutal Mandate. Because of that experience, he was called on to help Senator Robert Kennedy compose his landmark address given to the National Union of South African Students at the University of Capetown in 1966.

Sickened by the Vietnam War, Lowenstein started his remarkably successful “Dump Johnson” movement in 1967. He attempted to get both Kennedy and Senator George McGovern to run in the primaries against President Lyndon Johnson. When they both refused, he enlisted Senator Eugene McCarthy to run. After McCarthy nearly defeated the president in the New Hampshire primary, Johnson decided to drop out of the race.

After Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles, Lowenstein successfully ran for Congress in New York. After serving one term he was gerrymandered out of his seat by the Republicans in the state. It was about three years later that Lowenstein decided to listen to some of the complaints being first addressed about the questionable evidence in the RFK assassination. These were first surfaced by a small group of people mostly located in the LA area: Floyd Nelson, Lillian Castellano, Ted Charach. The more he listened, the more he became convinced that there really was something wrong with the official verdict in the case. He therefore became a species of a rare bird: an elected official who actually became an outspoken critic of the authorities in one of the major assassinations of the Sixties. When I say outspoken, I mean outspoken. For instance, in a speech he gave at Stanford in 1975, Lowenstein stated: “We have carried the investigation as far as we can without help.” He then named the DA’s office, the Attorney General of California, the Los Angeles Times and the LAPD as being obstructions in the search for the facts.

Lowenstein’s courageous stand helped inspire other young people to get involved in the RFK case, people like the late Greg Stone. Stone helped Lowenstein write one of the earliest essays to appear in a mainstream journal on the Robert Kennedy assassination. This was his essay in the February 19, 1977 issue of The Saturday Review, entitled “The Murder of Robert Kennedy: Suppressed Evidence of More than one Assassin”. It’s hard to believe, but that essay was the cover story for that issue, something that would seem almost unimaginable today. It is even harder to believe the following: in 1975 he appeared on PBS with William F. Buckley to address these questions about the RFK case.

Lowenstein had nothing but admiration for Bobby Kennedy. In 1971 he called him the greatest leader of the era, someone who every one else who followed would have to subconsciously be measured against. But he then sadly concluded, “We’re not going to get anyone of that quality or capacity again…” He later said something even more prescient, something which characterized the entire end of the decade of the Sixties, and all four assassinations:

Robert Kennedy’s death, like the President’s, was mourned as an extension of the evils of senseless violence; events moved on, and the profound alterations that these deaths … brought in the equation of power in America was perceived as random …. What is odd is not that some people thought it was all random, but that so many intelligent people refused to believe that it might be anything else. Nothing can measure more graphically how limited was the general understanding of what is possible in America.

~ Jim DiEugenio

Transcribed from Pacifica Radio Archives. PRA Archive #BC2125

(Scroll to the bottom for a recent interview of Paul Schade by Len Osanic on BlackOp Radio.)


Paul Schrade and Allard Lowenstein interviewed by Jim Berland


Jim Berland:

Godfrey Issacs, the attorney for Sirhan Sirhan has made a motion for a new trial in the case of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He's not the only one interested in that matter. With me this evening are Paul Schrade, who does labor commentary for KPFK, and Allard Lowenstein, former congressman from New York. They have also taken an interest in the case and, as a matter of fact, have recently issued a statement calling for certain steps to be taken to look into the investigation, which has resulted in a good deal of confusion, perhaps more in the Los Angeles media than in any place else as the assassination took place in Los Angeles.

One of those confusing episodes was the contradictory statements by Thomas Noguchi, the coroner in the case, at one point saying that the bullet that issued from Sirhan's gun could not have killed Robert Kennedy, and then a couple of years later saying that Sirhan was the only one who could have killed Robert Kennedy. What other contradictions are you pointing to, and what would you like to see done about it?

Paul Schrade:

Well, the contradiction that worries me most, because I was directly involved, is that the Los Angeles Police Department has made an inventory of the eight bullets fired by Sirhan, by his gun. And that inventory says that the bullet that wounded me in the head passed through the right shoulder of Robert Kennedy's coat. That bullet didn't wound him, but it passed through from back to front.

I recall that I was standing behind Robert Kennedy observing him shaking hands with the workers in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen, and was to his left behind him. I cannot, in my own mind, reconcile the passage of that bullet from back to front through Kennedy's coat and winding up in my head. He would have had to been completely turned around facing me in a totally different direction. When I was shot and became unconscious as a result of it, at no time had he moved to that position. If that's the case, then, if we can't reconcile that part of the inventory at the Los Angeles Police Department, then we have a ninth bullet. So, that's one of the major contradictions that appears based upon the evidence provided by the Los Angeles Police Department and the prosecution.

Jim Berland:

What other kinds of contradictions? I know that Issacs has said in his motion that he feels that it was physically improbable, if not impossible, for Sirhan to have fired the bullet that killed Robert Kennedy.

Allard Lowenstein:

The central fact, which some how or other gets lost when you listen to Chief Davis or Mr. Busch, is that the bullet that killed Robert Kennedy went in at one inch, and the it is impossible to find any of all those people who were in that kitchen that, in fact, testified that the gun that was supposed to have fired that bullet was anywhere near one inch from Senator Kennedy's head. Now, I find that compelling, not because eyewitness testimony is reliable. It is not and everyone knows that, but it clearly is difficult to say that a bullet that killed Robert Kennedy at a distance of one inch was fired from a gun which is variously placed at anywhere up to six feet away from him.

And when the police and the district attorney try to get past that by saying, "Nobody saw another gun, therefore it's clear that it was Sirhan's gun," what they're doing is taking the position that there are none so blind as those who will not see what the Los Angeles Police want them to see. Because in fact everyone has testified the same central fact that has to be faced, which is that Sirhan was in front of Kennedy, that even if Kennedy had turned, and he had, and had not turned back, and that's in dispute, it is impossible for a gun to fire a bullet point blank into Kennedy's head if that gun was feet away from him.

Now, I think that if that can't be reconciled, if we can't find some way to square that, that we then must go beyond our fantasy, which has always been mine particularly, and I'm talking out of a sense of my own guilt and negligence, not pointing fingers at anyone else. But we ought to get past the fantasy that's gripped us all these years that somehow or another there was nothing here except Sirhan. What there was beyond Sirhan, I don't know, but I'm saying that we mustn't fantasize answers. We must try to find facts and then decide from those facts what, in fact, occurred.

So, I start with a very real concern that we not let the continual misstatement of the eyewitness testimony confuse us. The eyewitness testimony is the main basis on which Davis and Busch and these other people insist that the case is closed. They say, "Everyone saw Sirhan shooting Kennedy." Well, everyone saw Sirhan shooting. The issue of whether they saw them shooting Kennedy has to do with where the bullet entered Kennedy, or bullets entered Kennedy, and where the people put the gun that was shooting. And so they quite intentionally turn around what the eyewitness testimony is to try to make it say what they want it to say, and it says the opposite.

So, while I have problems about the number of bullets, I think that's the central question. Paul mentioned one of the explanations that the authorities have given for the fact that there are so many mores holes than there are bullets. They give others, of course, when they find these don't stand up. I have problems about that, and I have problems about the fact that the bullet in Senator Kennedy's neck appears not to be from the same gun as the bullet in the walls of his stomach. I say "appears" because we're not making any definitive statements about that either. But what troubles me the most is when you take everyone's view of what they saw, and you take the statistics that have been compiled about those bullets and you take the autopsy report and you add it together you have a probability factor that says, "Something is rotten in the way this thing was explained to the public."

It's at that point that we say, "Answer these questions," and what we get when we raise these questions is even more troublesome because what we get is a combination of suppressing our position so that, in fact, it's impossible to find out what it is. As for instance the Los Angeles Times, which has twice declined to report extensive statements that Paul and I have made about the facts and about our questions. Never have those questions that we've raised appeared, but instead of that they have taken out of context and distorted what we said and then attacked us for saying things we didn't say.

And the same has been done now to Mr. Harper, the ballistics man in Pasadena whose affidavit has been, I think, as careful and thorough as any man's could be on the basis of what he's been allowed to study. And yet the papers that have reported what he has said have alleged that he has repudiated what he said without ever reporting what he said, and, in fact, what he said was that the evidence is not definitive, that the questions are serious and can be determined if we will go through certain procedures so that we have some idea of what the facts are. That, they say, is repudiation of something without ever reporting what it is he said they say he's now repudiating.

So I get troubled about the effort to distort what we're saying and then to discredit us. I heard poor Chief Davis saying the other day that the people on lecture tours are doing all this. That's a sad thing for the man to say. He knows perfectly well that not only am I not on a lecture tour and not only is Paul not on a lecture tour, but beyond that all the expenses that are involved, considerable expenses, have been paid out of my rather limited pocket and out of Paul's. We don't get subsidized, we don't want to get subsidized.

For a man in Chief Davis' position to be that careless about his statements about people who are earnestly trying to get to the facts, who have met with him, never questioned his motives, never imputed Mr. Busch's motives, we've tried very hard to work with them cooperatively, is disturbing because if they're that careless about this how do I know that they can be trusted in what they say about anything else? So there's a whole pattern that I believe has emerged since our pubic statement of distortion and of an effort to discredit, of a failure to deal with the questions we've raised, which has intensified our sense that there has to be an investigation.

Jim Berland:

What are the ballistic things that Mr. Harper has referred to that should be tested in order to clarify what he calls, now, an unclear situation?

Paul Schrade:

Well, one of the most important things that he discovered was the question of the cannelure. A cannelure is a neuraled ring on the bullet itself, and the reason this becomes significant is that on the whole bullet that's in evidence that was pulled from the stomach of Billy Weisel, who was the ABC Television producer wounded that night, that bullet in comparison with the bullet that was fired into Kennedy's back that was recovered and is still in evidence, those two bullets differ in the number of cannelures they have. Those on the Weisel bullet, there are two stripes or cannelures. On the Kennedy bullet there's only one. That becomes important because the manufacturer of the bullets in the Sirhan gun never made more than a two-cannelure bullet, so the one-cannelure bullet coming out of Kennedy then becomes important in raising doubts that Sirhan was the only person firing a gun in there that night.

Now, the prosecution, again, raised questions about this. They say the bullets in evidence have been tampered with or damaged, yet two sets of photographs of those two bullets, one was made in 1970 under the auspices of William Harper. The other set was made through a court order received by county supervisor Baxter Ward. That second set was made April of '74. Those two photographs, when you look at them, show no damage to the bullets, and no deterioration as Busch and Davis charge, or at least they raise that question.

Allard Lowenstein:


Paul Schrade:

They hint that that's the case, yet they never say, "Let's take a look at them to find out if they've been damaged or there is deterioration." So, the cannelure question becomes important because if these are two different manufacturers then Sirhan could not have fired that one bullet into the back because that bullet would have had to come from a different manufacturer. Now, the Los Angeles Police Department and the prosecution confirm that Sirhan's gun carried the bullets of only one manufacturer, Cascade Cartridge Company. So, that's one part of the ballistics on it.

The other is that both Harper and McDonald and, by the way, a third ballistics expert or forensic expert as they're called, have checked out the photographs and have determined that the rifling angle and the barrel markings are significantly different. This could, then, be the basis of finding another gun involved rather than just the Sirhan gun. So, we're asking that the gun be re-fired, these comparisons be made, that all of the bullets in evidence, seven of the eight, portions of which, or all of which, were collected by the Los Angeles Police Department. That the ballistics experts have a chance to take a look at those barrel markings and riflings and check out the manufacturer.

There's one very good test that was canceled by coroner Noguchi on the basis of advice from the LAPD's expert, DeWayne Wolfer. That test was called a neutron activation test. That test can determine the content of the bullets or the bullet fragments still in evidence and go a long way in determining the manufacturer. Again, if variations in manufacture show up in those tests, then we're on the road to determining there was a second gun. So, all of these tests can be made and should be made.

It's really very difficult to understand why Chief Davis and District Attorney Busch refuse to do this. We know that Sirhan's moving to get a new trial. We think the issues and the questions in this case are much more compelling than anything Sirhan wants to do, and this is why we're carrying on our independent investigation and presentation of information to the pubic because there are broader issues involved than just Sirhan's welfare, and this is why we're so concerned and why we raised these questions in our statement last December 15th.

Jim Berland:

I noticed that you talk about the nature of Sirhan's trial and explain the fact that it was not a trial of fact. Could you explain that to our listeners? What actually happened at Sirhan's trial the first time around?

Allard Lowenstein:

The defense position was that Sirhan had, in fact, killed Kennedy, but that he was of diminished mental capacity and, therefore, should not get the gas chamber. His lawyer then, his chief counsel, Grant Cooper, who's a very distinguished member of the Los Angeles bar says now that if he'd known then what he knows now he would have had a different defense. And, in fact, one of the questions that's disturbing is why some of the information that is clearly pertinent wasn't available to the defense at that time, and that's a question that, I believe, may account for some of the nervousness of the authorities.

The authorities acted at that time, I want to give the most generous interpretation I can to what's happened on their side, they acted on the knowledge, which appeared total, and which I shared, which that is to say all of us shared. I think very few people questioned the certainty that Sirhan had killed Robert Kennedy, and acting on that certainty as it appeared then, the trial was not a trial as it would have normally been in determining the facts of what occurred. But, giving that generous interpretation of what happened, and I think it's a fair assumption that the authorities could have believed that and therefore have assumed that anything to the contrary was confusion, giving that interpretation to it would require them now to say, "Look, in view of what has become clear we want to cooperate in finding out what did happen because this is not a matter of intentional deception or anything at the time of the murder. What this is is a question of what occurred at one of the turning points in recent American history." Robert Kennedy was a person so potential, so beloved, really so unique for this country at that time that his demise, then, scooped out the country from its chin to its knees. It left us with a sense that almost has gotten worse with time, which is unusual with a death of a person. That that should be treated as something where it is only a historical footnote to know how it came about, understanding the impact of that death and understanding the potential lesson for the future that may or not lurk in it as to how that happened and what it portends, there is no way that a person who loves the United States and cares about what happens now can say that this has to be considered closed.

It isn't closed, it will not be closed. It will be closed only when these tests have been conducted, and if these tests are not decisive, then so be it. Let's at least find that out, but don't say we won't conduct tests because the results of those tests may not be decisive. That's simply using an excuse to prevent trying to find out something which we have a right to try to find out. If in the end we can't find it out, at least let it be not that we never tried, but that having tried we failed and then we have to live with it. I believe we can find out a great deal by these tests, and that what the authorities ought to be doing is to move quickly to cooperate in bringing those tests about in order that we know all that we possibly can know, and then develop from there the kind of investigation that that may dictate.

If it turns out those bullets match, if it turns out the eyewitness testimony can be reconciled, if it turns out that when the gun is test fired there is no problem of matching that with the bullet from Senator Kennedy's neck, if the neutron activation analysis supports the theory that Sirhan's gun did in fact, then I would say, "All right, the trajectory problem remains, but let's accept the fact that the preponderance of evidence is that, even though it's hard to understand, that those eight bullets did inflict those bullet holes."

Do you see what I'm saying? Is that if any major chunk of these doubts can be allayed, as I believe they can, if they're allayable, then the other questions, some of which we haven't even mentioned today because they're so numerous that they could take hours to list, we would, I think both of us, be prepared to say, "Well, we will accept as nearly definitive we can these answers." But it's the concealment and the dishonesty and the effort to discredit the questions. It's the fact that when people give information from official positions they've told me repeatedly things which were not true, which doesn't make me feel that they're interested in getting to the bottom of the case. These kinds of things make what are doubts become more persistent doubts, not less.

Jim Berland:

Now, you've called for the release of a 10-volume report of the official investigation and of the official trajectory study. Does that include the information from the coroner's office, and what kind of things do you expect there, or what are you hoping for? Is it common for this kind of material to be released?

Allard Lowenstein:

Well, it's difficult to know what's in it since we haven't had access to it. It's also difficult to know why we can't have access to it since there seems to be no reason why if the information there sustains the verdict it should be kept secret. There's no rule that requires that information of an investigation of this kind be, in effect, classified. There's no suggestion that the national security is involved or that the foreign policy of the United States would be compromised or any of the things that would may be be used as a justification for preventing the public from having access to information which is of public concern. So, I don't know why it's not made available.

The kinds of information that I would like to see available to the public include, for instance, the issue of what happened to Senator Kennedy's clothes. The reason I'm pausing is I'm trying to take examples which are not so complicated that it takes longer to explain why it's crucial than it's worth. Take this, one of the bullets that Paul referred to the peculiar course of the bullet that was supposed to have hit him. There was another bullet that was supposed to have gone through Senator Kennedy's chest, hit a ceiling panel, which was an inch thick, gone through that to the ceiling above, that is the floor above, bounced off that, come back through another ceiling panel, also approximately an inch thick, and then taken off down the pantry 20 feet to hit Mrs. Evans in the head. Mrs. Evans was, at the time, troubling over her shoe, which had fallen off, and she was hit in a direction that went up, not down in her head.

One of the things that I would like to find out is what the evidence is on those ceiling panels. I'd like to see, as I'm told it can be done, which bullet holes in those ceiling panels are entry holes, where the bullets went up and where they came down. Then you understand, you find something out. If the bullet didn't go up through one panel and down through the next, then we have to have another bullet. Furthermore, I'd like to find out whether firing a bullet through someone's simulated chest and then through two ceiling panels that are almost an inch thick each, and then having it go 20 feet and hit a lady in another simulated head, whether there would be 31 grains left of that bullet out of the 39 that it had when it started. If so, I'd like to know that, but if not I think the police ought to want to know that because that means that their explanation of that bullet doesn't stand up.

Now, there are a lot of other questions like that. I'm afraid I'm going on at length, and I didn't intend to. What I'm suggesting to you is that that we submitted 23 questions over a year ago to the authorities. They could be expanded probably three or four times as much. But those 23 questions are questions which, presumably, this 10-volume report should be able to answer one way or another. I can't believe that these questions didn't occur to anyone til we came along. That seems to me to assume almost an arrogant attitude about the wisdom and the intelligence of the people dealing with the case. If these questions were dealt with there's got to be some way that we can find out what the answers were to these questions, and so far the authorities have not either been able or have been willing to give us those answers. I'll give you one other example. No, I won't. I've talked too long on that question.

Jim Berland:

Well, the interesting thing is that there has been some investigation done, and the existence of a second gun is not just a matter of conjecture. What of the second gun? How did that come about? How did that discovery take place? Is there, in fact, a real second gun, or is it the figment of some other biased investigator's imagination? Is that [inaudible 00:21:23]?

Paul Schrade:

There's been a lot of private investigation going on over the years. Both Al and I share guilt in not recognizing there were serious questions before this. But those of us who were friends of Robert Kennedy felt very deeply about his death and it was very painful for us to even consider there was anything else involved than the one-gun, lone assassin theory because that's what obvious was before the public. It was presented in the trial and so forth. But there were people who were diligently working at finding out more information because there were questions in people's minds right from the beginning. One film I've seen on the second gun, I'm displeased with the film itself because I think that it's not well-done. It does raise very important information, and should be seen. Although, my criticisms, I believe, are valid of that film.

Ted Chirac, who did the film, did discover something that the Los Angeles Police Department with all of their investigators and the tens of thousands of hours of investigations they claim they made, and probably did, they were not able to discover, that an armed guard in that room was carrying a gun, had pulled that gun during the assassination, although he himself said that he didn't fire it. I'm not charging he fired it or is even a suspect in this case, but there's some other things about him that were discovered by a private investigation. One is that he owned a 22 caliber pistol that he claimed he sold in February of '68, months before the assassination. Well, private investigator, Ted Chirac, found out that that gun actually had been purchased by a person in September of '68, after the assassination. So, most likely it was in the possession of this guard during the period of the assassination. Now, on the record he said he sold it beforehand.

So, that question was never explored by the Los Angeles Police. They never confiscated the gun that he said he had in the room that night, which he claims was his 38 pistol that he carried as a guard. So, the police didn't get into this question. The police did say that they checked out everybody in the kitchen area that night who might possibly have been present during the assassination to check political background. They said nobody of extremist views or antagonistic to Kennedy was in that room that night. Yet, this same guard testified that he raised money, a small amount, for George Wallace and distributed leaflets for him. The same guard considered both Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy enemies who were selling out the country to the commies and to the blacks, and so here is a man of very extreme political views present there. Yet, the LA Police Department investigation did not discover that, or discovered it and didn't say anything about it. So, that man ought to be checked out.

There's one other thing that the police didn't discover, and that is that there was a man working for the Ambassador Hotel in the kitchen who was listed by the Secret Service, according to Metro Media, listed by the Secret Service as a man dangerous to presidents. Now, I would think that man had some extreme views, and, yet, the Los Angeles Police Department never mentioned that in the investigation.

Allard Lowenstein:

Nor the fact that in Sirhan's pocket the night he was arrested was found the key to a car and that when Sirhan refused to reveal his name and the police dispatched two detectives to the Ambassador Hotel with instructions to find a car that that key fitted so they could find out who they had at Rampart, the key fitted the car of this individual that Paul is talking about. The explanation given is that this man's ignition was lose, and that's why Sirhan had a key in his pocket that fitted that car. Now, one of the questions I asked a year ago, to which there may be a simple answer, is did the key that was found in Sirhan's pocket fit Sirhan's car?

I'm not interested in the excuse or the fact that the ignition was lose. What I'm interested in was he carrying the key to another man's car, and if so what connection does that indicate existed between these people? These questions are among that sea or that web that I mentioned earlier on, are answerable questions, and may not indicate anything at all. But, because of the central circumstance there have to be some concern about the failure to investigate thoroughly or to answer accurately these kinds of questions.

There's an extraordinary woman that lives in Los Angeles called Lillian Castellano who has a whole, literally an attic filled with documentation of inconsistencies in official positions. Most of those inconsistencies, if you could square the central facts, one could accept is the result of haste or bungling or human failure. But, failing to get those kinds of central questions answered, when you find that the police are saying that witnesses said things which are literally the reverse of what they said, you get troubled. I think what we're suggesting today, as we've been suggesting for some time, is that if these questions can be answered, so much the better. But, if they can't isn't it urgently needed to find out some facts from which we can then try to understand what damaged us so much that night?

Paul Schrade:

And here the authorities have a very important responsibility in getting to the truth in this matter because there are serious doubts about the case now, and I'm sure many people agree with us on it. Yet, we find the authorities most reluctant to do anything but slam the door on us and not answer any questions. The authorities are really responsible, in great part, for the doubt, for the gaps in the evidence that we've discussed here this evening, and are doing nothing to allay those doubts, and therefore they have some responsibility in this. And this is why I get very, very concerned when the authorities tell us, "Well, let Sirhan take the initiative. Let Sirhan go to court. Join Sirhan in what he's trying to do."

Well, I'm unwilling to do that. First of all, my own personal feelings are most likely evident to most people why I wouldn't want to do that. But just on the more serious question of the truth in this case, it's more important that the authorities and concerned citizens get involved and try to solve these problems rather than leaving it to a person who, obviously, was there intending to kill Robert Kennedy, who said on the witness stand that he did kill Kennedy. I don't see why the authorities allow the initiative to remain in Sirhan's hands. And this is why we're going to continue to insist that the authorities who, in great part, are responsible for the doubts, for the lack of a competent investigation, or their keeping information from the public, that they have an initiative in this one, too, and have a greater responsibility than anyone to get to the bottom of these questions.

Allard Lowenstein:

And since we're recording in Los Angeles may I just say that I would hope that the citizens of this city, if nothing more came of listening to us, would insist that the Los Angeles Times, which has pretenses of being a national newspaper of quality, and has prospects of that, which I've admired for years as a paper that one can rely on ahead of so many other papers because of its thoroughness and fairness, that the Los Angeles Times explain to the citizens of Los Angeles what conceivable circumstance justifies refusing to report accurately questions raised by responsible people about a murder that occurred in this city. And then distorting those questions and attacking the people who raised them in a way which makes it impossible for the people of this city even to know what the issues are. I think that question ought to be put to the Los Angeles Times by the citizens of this community until an answer is obtained.

Jim Berland:

Have you received any positive response from public officials, anyone associated with the City of Los Angeles, with the congressional or senatorial delegation in California, with other public figures in the United States?

Allard Lowenstein:

Yes, I would say that there is overwhelming support, sympathy, interest from public people and that if it gets to the point to where we have to join in this kind of public, I hate even to contemplate it, of a public argument going on, that that will be marshaled. We have not asked, nor do we now want, to try to get into that situation. We still hope that there will be through the channels that are appropriate and without a political battle that there will be cooperation. But if that doesn't happen, I can assure you that the information that is necessary to bring about major support from political and other influential people around the country will occur.

Jim Berland:

One last question, how is it that not only this assassination, but the assassination of John Kennedy should become embroiled in this kind of confusion? What is it about assassination, do you think, that leads the local authorities to apparently fix on a target as the criminal involved and be so reluctant to expand their investigation?

Allard Lowenstein:

I wouldn't want to say something about that that I'm not sure Paul would agree with. We haven't really talked this through, and I'm not speaking for anyone but myself. I am not now prepared to generalize about the assassinations. I am only prepared now to generalize about questions about assassinations. I'm no longer prepared to believe automatically, as I did for many years, that the Warren Commission was correct. Obviously, that seems to me now to be subject to reexamination also. But it may very well be that there were in each of these assassinations separate circumstances that produced these assassinations. They may not be at all interlocked. The circumstances attending the investigations may all be separate, even though there were similar difficulties, so that I would say first that it's possible that the bedlam that's caused and the horror that's caused induces a kind of momentary incompetence among people who then cover up their own incompetence out of human concerns for their careers. That's very possible.

I would want to expressly state that it seems to me as injudicious to go from where we are now to a conclusion that there is a pattern in these assassinations that interlocks them in either investigation or in cause, as it was as injudicious before to conclude that only loose nuts could have done these things. The one thing that I most want to do, and pledge that I will try for myself to do, is to come to no conclusions until we have facts on which we can make reasonable conclusions.

But, obviously, if we now let Los Angeles sit in its present state without understanding what the evidence is that we can get, then we are going to, I believe as Paul said before, multiply the doubts about everything because people are going to say, "Well, my goodness, if they won't even take, the authorities, that is, won't even take these simple steps. Why can't they test-fire a gun? Is there a rational person who can understand why a gun can't be test-fired? Why it should take a court fight to test-fire a gun?" There isn't anyone who can understand that once you understand that we don't even know if the gun was ever test-fired because the authorities say that when they test-fired it last time and they introduced the bullets into evidence they put on the exhibit, exhibit 55, the number of a different gun. We didn't do it, they did it, and why they don't want to clarify what may have been a clerical error by test-firing that gun and answering that question is baffling.

And so, we come back to your question, why these things occur? Maybe because there were separate circumstances that overlapped by coincidence, maybe not. But, if we don't start to get answers to these questions, the sense that there's something more that leads people to stonewall, which is the thing most Americans learned most clearly in the last two years, is that when authorities stonewall there's something they don't to have people know, and people are not accepting that any longer, I believe, in the United States. Now, if Paul wants to separate his view on that I'd be glad to yield to that.

Paul Schrade:

Well, it's similar to that, and it raises a question of why the men who've been assassinated in this country are those who are in some way dealing with very serious problems Americans have, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King. You can even include the contract out on Cesar Chavez's life that was discovered a couple of years ago. Why are these persons the targets of assassins? That question comes in very strongly in this case and has to be dealt with.

One of the convincing things that has come, to me, is that even though I knew Richard Nixon when he first began running for office and knew how corrupt he was, I still had a very difficult time believing that he would do the kinds of things and abusing the power of the presidency that he did while he was in office. And when you take that into account, plus the revelations now about the CIA being involved in domestic activities, the FBI and the military being involved in the campuses during the periods of demonstrations in the last several years, are totally corrupting the democratic system. And, using burglary and surveillance and murder as tactics in maintaining their particular form of control over the population, those things strongly motivate me in getting to the bottom of these questions.

But, this is why we also have to exercise a great deal of discipline and self control. We've got to get at the bottom of these kinds of questions on the basis of the evidence, and we've got to do it based upon what we think is a system of justice so that we get to the bottom of these questions based upon the questions we've raised and the answers to them. I'm willing to back away from this whole thing if the serious questions we've raised with the authorities are reconciled in some intelligent, rational way. And, yet, all we're getting is stonewalling, suppressing of information, questioning of people's motives and no real objective consideration of these questions, and this is what we're demanding of the authorities. And, we're going to continue demanding answers to those questions, and I'm sure the public will support us on those.

Jim Berland:

Paul Schrade and Allard Lowenstein, thank you very much. For KPFK in Los Angeles this is Jim Berland.

Written by OurHiddenHistory on Monday February 20, 2017

Interview of Paul Schrade by Len Osanic, BlackOp Radio, March 2, 2017

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 March 2017 21:30

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