"FOUR DIED TRYING delves into the wealth of evidence contradicting the official stories of the assassinations. More troublingly, the series asks: Was each of their murders a "'false mystery' all along, aided and abetted by our unwillingness to risk our lives and confront the truth?"—Read the article at Cision PRWeb
Film Review: Four Died Trying (Prologue episode)—Mike Jackman, The Kennedy Beacon
Six Decades On, It’s Time to Disclose the Truth about the JFK Assassination—Aaron Good, The Kennedy Beacon
"Just as this rant was being completed there came news that a long-anticipated documentary was ready for viewing. It will appear on November 22 - the 60th anniversary of the JFK assassination. "Four Died Trying" is a reappraisal of the murders of JFK, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. If that seems an odd coupling, the common thread is the assertion that all four of these crimes in the 1960s bore the fingerprints of the CIA or other government-related groups. Our interest, of course, is primarily the Kennedys. The prologue will be the first of what will be more than 20 installments.
The prologue does a beautiful job of explaining the motivation for the murder of what most people regarded as a popular young president. With the CIA, he was anything but - a traitor who was a threat to national security and to the existence of the CIA itself. It includes some rare film, including a young Congressman Kennedy, after a 1951 visit to what was then French Indochina, explaining that the French could not preserve their colony in the face of the Vietnamese desire for independence. This was a decade before our entrance into Vietnam. It supports claims that President Kennedy wanted to pull out of Vietnam as soon as he could safely do it politically - one of the reasons he was killed.
The team of Libby Handros (producer) and John Kirby (director) has been working on this project for seven and a half years. They interviewed more than 120 people. The producers met with me six years ago, discussing my late partner Gaeton Fonzi' s landmark work. I will likely show up in a future installment devoted to Fonzi's role.
This series should be a must-viewing for anyone wanting to pierce the fog of contradictory reporting on great events of the 1960s. The initial presentation will be streamed on Apple TV, but will then be available various platforms. Kirby says a promotional campaign reaching millions of people through social media will soon be underway. Can’t wait."
Film Review: Four Died Trying—Celia Farber, The Truth Barrier
MIKE ALEWITZ – a mural painter and political activist, witnessed the Kent State killings.
PETER BAILEY - American journalist, author, and lecturer. He was an associate of Malcolm X and a member of the Organization of African American Unity (OAAU).
JOHN BARBOUR – The father of reality TV, host Real People, filmmaker, The Garrison Tapes and The Second Assassination of John Kennedy.
GINA BELAFONTE - Daughter of actor and activist Harry Belafonte, a close friend of both Martin Luther King and President Kennedy.
ROBERT BLAKEY - Chief Counsel House Assassination Committee. Found evidence of conspiracy in RFK and MLK murders.
ABRAHAM BOLDEN - The first black Secret Service Agent assigned to the White House hired directly by JFK. He heard Lyndon Johnson make incriminating and racist comments, author of The Echo from Dealy Plaza.
TONY BOUZZA - New York Police officer from 1953-1979. He initially served as a detective in the undercover unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI), rising to the rank of Assistant Chief and Commander of the Bronx. Author of nine books, including The Decline and Fall of the American Empire: Corruption, Decadence, and the American Dream. (Final interview)
WALTER BOWE - Member of Malcolm X’s organization, OAAU.
BRIGADE 2506 VETERANS - (Anti-Castro Cubans) - CIA-sponsored group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles formed in 1960 to attempt the military overthrow of the Cuban government. They carried out the abortive Bay of Pigs Invasion landings in Cuba on April 17, 1961.
JUDGE JOE BROWN – Judge who was prepared to grant James Earl Ray another trial but was removed. Later ran a televised court.
EARL CALDWELL – a New York Times reporter, chronicled some of the most important civil rights events from the 1960’s onwards. He was the only reporter present when Martin Luther King was assassinated.
CLAYBORNE CARSON - Professor of History at Stanford and former director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Since 1985, he has directed the Martin Luther King Papers Project, which is working on editing and publishing the papers of MLK.
JASON CARTER - Grandson of President Jimmy Carter.
XERNONA CLAYTON - Civil rights leader and broadcasting executive who worked with MLK.
ANDREW COHEN – Journalist and author of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History.
RODNELL COLLINS - Nephew of Malcolm X.
KAREN CROFT – Journalist who was a researcher on Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, as well as The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.
PETER DALESCOTT - Poet, academic, former diplomat, and author of Deep Politics and The Death of JFK.
ROBERT DALLEK – Renowned historian specializing in the study of the presidents.
BRIAN DOMINSKI - Court reporter for the 1999 MLK Civil Court trial that found Dr. King was murdered by agencies of the Federal government, among others.
JAMES DONOVAN'S FAMILY – Mary Ellen Fuller, John Donovan. James Donovan negotiated the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners and the return of Francis Gary Powers.
JAMES DOUGLASS - Catholic peace activist and author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters.
PETER EDELMAN - Legislative Aide to RFK.
KARL EVANZZ – a Washington Post researcher and author of The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X.
WALTER FAUNTROY- Friend of MLK who helped coordinate the March on Washington. Fauntroy played a key role after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., meeting both with President Johnson and with activist Stokely Carmichael during the immediate aftermath. He went on to play a leading role in the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
FERNANDO FAURA – Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter who discovered evidence of multiple assassins at the Ambassador Hotel the night Senator Robert Kennedy was killed. (Final interview)
VINCENT FELDMAN – son Harold Feldman, early JFK assassination researcher and brother-in-law of Vince Salandria.
ISAAC FARRIS - Nephew of MLK.
MARIE FONZI - Widow of Gaeton Fonzi, the HSCA investigator who discovered Antonia Vecciana, the anti-Castro Cuban leader who once saw Oswald with his own CIA handler.
DONALD FREED – Co-screen writer with Dalton Trumbo and Mark Lane of Executive Action, the first major Hollywood film to examine the Kennedy assassination.
JAMES GALBRAITH – son of Kennedy's confidant, John Kenneth Galbraith.
NEIL GALLAGHER – New Jersey Congressman, Chaired the Subcommittee on the Invasion of Privacy, an early critic of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Final interview.
LEWIS GARRISON - A Memphis attorney who represented Lloyd Jowers, who, while alive, admitted a role in the assassination of MLK – and through attorney Garrison admitted to being the shooter after death. (Final interview)
DONALD GIBSON – Professor of sociology; his doctoral research on social power and U.S. economic problems during the 1970s and 80s led him to write Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy Presidency. He also investigated the assassination of Kennedy.
MAX GOOD – Director, The Assassination & Mrs. Paine.
DICK GREGORY – Legendary comedian and political activist, friend of MLK and Malcolm X, spearheaded efforts to get new investigations into the murders of JFK and MLK; instrumental in the first national broadcast of the Zapruder film. (Final interview)
ROBERT GRODEN - Author who has written extensively about the assassination of JFK. His books include The Killing of a President: The Complete Photographic Record of the JFK Assassination. Groden is a photo-optics technician who served as a photographic consultant for the House Select Committee on Assassinations and helped broadcast the Zapruder film on national television.
ARTHUR HANES, JR. - Attorney and son of former Birmingham Mayor and attorney Art Hanes, Sr. Father and son briefly represented James Earl Ray after the assassination of MLK. He believed the government could not prove Ray guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
DAN HARDWAY– Investigator for the HSCA in charge of examining CIA involvement in the JFK assassination.
SAINT JOHN HUNT - Son of E. Howard Hunt, CIA officer.
JESSE JACKSON – advisor to Martin Luther King, was at the Lorraine Motel when King was assassinated.
STEVE JAFFE - Assassination investigator for New Orleans DA Jim Garrison. Brought a purloined copy of the Zapruder film to Garrison as well as a manuscript about the assassination penned by French intelligence. Jaffe testified as a forensic expert before the Rockefeller Commission and aided in the production of Executive Action.
PETE JANNEY - Son of CIA officer Wistar Janney, a friend of JFK’s mistress Mary Meyer, and author of Mary's Mosaic.
CLARENCE JONES - Lawyer and confidant to MLK, liaison to Malcolm X; smuggled Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out to the public.
ROBERT F.KENNEDY, JR. - Son of Attorney General and murdered presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, Sr.
KATHLEEN KENNEDY-TOWNEND - Daughter of Attorney General RFK.
BERNICE KING - Daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.
MARTIN LUTHER KING III - Son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
JOHN J. KIRBY, JR. – Member Civil Rights Division, Kennedy and Johnson Justice Departments, 1961-68. As a summer intern in 1961, he discovered the mechanism by which black Americans were being denied the vote in Mississippi. (First and final interview)
WILLIAM KLABER – RFK Investigator and co-author of Shadow Play.
ZAK KONDO - Scholar and author, Conspiracies: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X.
LEWIS LAPHAM - Former Editor and Chief of Harper’s Magazine and current Editor of Lapham's Quarterly.
REVEREND JAMES LAWSON – Board Member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founder of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a key advisor to Martin Luther King, who called him “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”
GERALD LEFCOURT – Renowned radical attorney for the “Panther 21,” Fred Hampton, and Abbie Hoffman.
JAMES LESAR – President, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, instrumental in the release of the Kennedy files.
MARITA LORENZ – Fidel Castro’s lover who was later recruited by the CIA to assassinate him. She testified before the HSCA about the JFK assassination, stating that she was involved with a group of anti-Cuban militants, including Frank Sturgis and E. Howard Hunt of CIA and Watergate infamy shortly before the assassination. (Final interview)
JENNY LOWENSTEIN - Wife of Congressman Allard Lowenstein, the peace activist who conceived of the “Dump Johnson” movement; later was among the first to research the murder of Senator Kennedy, himself later the victim of assassination.
GRAEME MacQUEEN - Founding director of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. (Final interview)
BAR McCLELLAN – Texas lawyer in the firm that represented Lyndon Johnson.
BERNARD McCORMICK – Friend and publisher of Gaeton Fonzi, the HSCA investigator who broke the Antonio Veciana story.
MARK CRISPIN MILLER - Professor of Media Studies at NYU.
JEFFERSON MORLEY – Former investigative reporter for The Washington Post, CIA expert. Books include Our Man in Mexico, The Ghost, and Scorpion’s Dance.
MICHAEL MORRISEY – author, Correspondence with Vincent Salandria.
PHILLIP NELSON – JFK assassination researcher, author.
AHMED OSMAN – Sudanese economist, spiritual advisor to Malcolm X. While a student at Dartmouth, began Malcolm's journey to orthodox Islam; one of a handful who spoke at his funeral. (First major interview)
RUTH PAINE – Patron of Marina Oswald. Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle was found in her garage.
WILLIAM PEPPER - Attorney who represented James Earl Ray in the assassination of MLK and Sirhan Sirhan in the assassination of RFK. Author of An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
JERRY POLICOFF – Executive Director, Assassination Archives Research Center, a major critic of the media’s handling of the Kennedy assassination. (Final interview)
DUNCAN RAGSDALE - Attorney for Grace Walden, who was committed to a state mental hospital after she witnessed a man other than James Earl Ray fleeing the scene on the day Martin Luther King was assassinated.
ED REDDIT (CHILDREN) - Kelvin Redditt and Charlotte Brooks, son and daughter of Ed Redditt of the Memphis Police Department. Reddit was pulled off MLK's security detail on the day of the assassination.
MORT SAHL – Comedian, wrote jokes for President Kennedy; investigator for Jim Garrison. (Final interview)
VINCE SALANDRIA - Attorney, Warren Commission critic, and author of False Mystery: Essays on the Assassination of JFK. Salandria was the first to challenge Arlen Specter about the “magic bullet” and was the godfather of assassination researchers. (Final interview)
KHALEED SAYYED - OAAU member who was supposed to act as security for Malcolm X the day he died but was removed because he was accused of trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty.
STEPHEN SCHLESINGER – son Arthur Schlesinger, Special Assistant to JFK. Stephen is the author of Bitter Fruit, the story of the CIA coup in Guatemala.
MARTIN SCHOTZ – Friend of original JFK researcher Vincent Salandria, author of History Will Not Absolve Us, a book about the JFK assassination.
PAUL SCHRADE - RFK’s labor advisor, was shot in the head during the RFK assassination. He was a major advocate for the release of convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan, who he argued could not have shot Kennedy from behind. (Final Interview)
SANDY SERRANO - Witness to RFK assassination. (Final interview)
ILYASAH SHABAZZ - Daughter of Malcolm X.
CHRISTOPHER SHARETT - JFK researcher who helped lobby for the creation of the 1976-79 House Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. Congress.
ROLAND SHEPPARD - Witness to the assassination of Malcolm X; saw one of his killers roaming freely in an NYPD precinct office immediately afterward.
ZACHARY SKLAR – Book editor and screenwriter who co-wrote the Oliver Stone film JFK.
JAMES SMALL – succeeded Malcolm X as Imam for Muslim Mosque, Inc.
COBY SMITH - A member of the Invaders, a group that provided security for MLK in Memphis, claims the organization was penetrated by Federal agencies.
STEPHEN KENNEDY SMITH - Nephew of JFK, author of JFK: A Vision for America, and Kennedy family historian.
MAX STANFORD, AKA DR. MOHAMMED AHMED - Founder of RAM (Revolutionary Action Movement), Worked with Malcolm X.
WILLIE STARKS - Witness at Malcolm X's assassination and security officer for the Organization for African American Unity; claims to have wounded one of the shooters.
OLIVER STONE - Filmmaker who directed the movie JFK, which led directly to an act of Congress mandating the release of all remaining classified documents pertaining to the President’s murder. The government remains in violation of the act.
ROGER STONE - Political operative and author of The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.
DAVID TALBOT - Journalist and author, co-founder of Salon.com, wrote two seminal books on the Kennedy Assassination, Brothers: The Hidden Story of the Kennedy Years and The Devil’s Chessboard.
DOUG VALENTINE – Author of The Phoenix Program and The CIA as Organized Crime.
CYRUS VANCE, JR. - Former Manhattan D.A. who fought to exonerate two of the men who served time for killing Malcolm X.
ANTONIO VECIANA - Cuban exile who became the founder and leader of the anti-Castro group Alpha 66. He told the House Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that a representative for the CIA he knew as Maurice Bishop directed him to organize Alpha 66 and helped plan many of the group's operations, including two assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. He also claimed that he met a man he later recognized to be Lee Harvey Oswald during a meeting with Bishop about two to three months prior to the JFK assassination. (Final interview)
JAMES WAGENVOORD – Editorial Business Manager for Life and assistant to the Executive Editor. In 1963, he was handed ready-made visual materials of Lee Harvey Oswald by a Federal Agent on assassination weekend. (Final interview)
ADAM WALINSKY – Robert F. Kennedy's aide and speechwriter, wrote the famous “GNP speech” for RFK, which asked if GNP was an adequate measure of freedom, health, and happiness.
CYRIL WECHT – World renowned coroner who reviewed JFK autopsy materials and advised on the RFK autopsy, was the lone voice testifying before the HSCA that the so-called “magic bullet” could not have inflicted the seven wounds discovered on President Kennedy and Governor Connolly.
MONIKA WIESAK - Author of the book America’s Last President: What the World Lost When it Lost John F. Kennedy.
HOWARD WILLENS – Assistant Counsel, Warren Commission, author, History Will Prove Us Right.
DON WILSON - FBI agent who found handwritten notes by the killers of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the car of James Earl Ray. Author of the The 1960s: The Assassination Decade.
REGGIE WOODS - Nephew of NYPD BOSSI Agent Raymond Wood.
ANDREW YOUNG – Close personal friend and confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr. Witnessed his assassination. Later Mayor of Atlanta and Ambassador to the UN.
Q & A
What inspired you to consider the legacies and assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy all in one film project?
This has been a topic we have been engaged with all our adult lives in one form or another. The assassinations of the 1960s marked a major turning point in American history. We have long felt that the world we live in today flows directly out of those cataclysmic murders. The massive escalation of US involvement in Vietnam and the continuation of the Cold War was a direct result of the assassination of President Kennedy; the murders that followed removed the last hopes of an earlier end to those mad endeavors. Civil rights, economic justice, and democracy suffered near-fatal wounds from these killings and their brazenly fraudulent cover-ups.
Over seven years ago, our executive producer Mark Gorton asked the question: “What do the children of the major assassinated figures of the 1960s think about what happened to their fathers?”
As we set out to film the answer, the scope of the project expanded greatly.
The series contains over 120 interviews, with more in the offing. What is your process of selecting interview subjects?
As the project took flight, not only did we seek out the children of the assassinated, but their surviving colleagues, friends, witnesses to their murders…and even their enemies. While we wanted to keep the focus on people who had a personal connection, we also spoke with many of the surviving first-generation citizen-researchers who took it upon themselves to find the truth. To round out the epic story that has emerged, we interviewed a select group of writers and historians.
To find important characters, we looked to authors like Jim Douglass and David Talbot for guidance, and often, one interview would lead us to the next. To prepare for the interviews, we read anything and everything by or about our subject, with the result that we have read hundreds of books and articles for this project.
But we have more interviews from all these categories to go!
What’s new or noteworthy about your approach to this material?
We are the first major film project to consider all four assassinations together. In doing so, the connections between them begin to emerge, starting with the populist concerns the four men shared in common. The question quickly arises: What were these men doing in the months and years before they were killed that might have enraged and frightened people in power?
It turns out, though this has been hidden by mainstream histories and the press, that each of them was engaged in a pitched battle with the American establishment to give “power to the people.” There is abundant evidence that they were all killed in state-sponsored assassinations due to the threat they posed. Many of the same individual suspects show up in each murder.
To approach these cases, we borrowed two concepts from Vince Salandria, the godfather of Kennedy assassination researchers: the “honest government” test and the idea of a “false mystery.”
The honest government test is simple. We ask a straightforward question about the government’s behavior: Would an honest government lose or destroy evidence, ignore eyewitness testimony that didn’t fit its hastily constructed narrative, announce that the crime had been solved before any real investigation had begun, or allow as is the case in President Kennedy’s assassination, the alleged perpetrator to be killed while in police custody, thus destroying the possibility of a trial in the most important murder case of the 20th century?
The idea of a “false mystery” in a nutshell is this: anyone who looks at the facts of these assassinations with an open mind quickly realizes that the official stories are bogus, that the government and its allies in the media, big business, and organized crime are actually to blame, and that taking the seemingly neutral position of calling the killings a “mystery” is a way to evade responsibility for doing anything about it.
We soon learned that the real mystery isn’t who did it. It’s what are we going to do now?
Can you share any surprises or revelations during the interviews that you did not expect?
Despite having been well-steeped in this material for years before we began this project, we have been continuously amazed and often shocked by the things we are learning. Who knew that Dr. King had a brother who was also the victim of a probable assassination?
How many people realize that the renowned L.A. coroner, Thomas Noguchi, was fired for refusing to retract what he knew to be true: that Robert Kennedy was shot from behind at point-blank range? That inarguable scientific fact exonerates the man sitting to this very day in prison for his murder.
Who knew Malcolm X spoke publicly about the Texas oil billionaire who not only funded Malcolm’s former black separatist group but was also intimately connected to the Kennedy assassination?
We were amazed to discover that Life Magazine released four separate editions of the same issue, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop the presses and reset the type to get the government’s story of JFK’s assassination to match the frames of the Zapruder film. This is a “scoop” for the project; prior researchers had found three versions, which was crazy enough; we found another one.
Most amazing of all, however, has been to discover the brilliant words and truly heroic deeds of these four great Americans. They each knew they were likely candidates for assassination, but that didn’t stop them from following the dictates of their conscience. In previews, people have been blown away by the moral force and erudition of their rhetoric, which has gone missing from today’s political discourse.
What does the future hold for the series? What can we expect to see in future episodes?
The series is organized like a book, in parts and chapters, but in another sense, it’s really a collection of short films.
Season One, Part One will begin with a “Prologue,” an overview of some of—but nowhere near all—the themes and revelations ahead. The Prologue will premiere on November 22nd to mark the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s murder.
After that will come Chapter One, which sets up the “world as it was,” describing the climate of fear that preceded the election of John Kennedy. Cold War paranoia, McCarthyism, red-baiting, the rise of the military-industrial complex, and the ever-present fear of nuclear annihilation. This is the atmosphere John Kennedy faced as he became president.
Chapter Two will touch briefly on the 1960 campaign (the way Lyndon Johnson left his powerful position in the Senate to force his way onto the Kennedy ticket) and look at the early Kennedy presidency—the plans and promise of the New Frontier, the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress, the deeply felt anti-colonial convictions of the new Irish-American president, and the other populist policies enacted and proposed, taking a side trip to study the rise, after World War II, of the Central Intelligence Agency as America’s neo-colonial enforcement arm.
The remaining chapters in Part One will present, in what many have already said is a startling new light, the amazing drama of Kennedy’s battles with the National Security State, Big Business, and the Mafia; his misremembered commitment to Civil Rights, which included sending a recalcitrant National Guard to Mississippi; his refusal to invade Cuba twice, (including the moment only he and his brother stood between the generals and the nuclear button); Kennedy’s refusal to invade Laos and his dogged resistance to sending ground troops to Vietnam; his directive to begin withdrawal from that country, win or lose; his back-channel negotiations with Soviet Premier Khrushchev to end the Cold War. Through it all, the growing ire of the Defense establishment is palpable. Following the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy fired CIA director Allen Dulles and both his lieutenants, including General Charles Cabell, brother of the mayor of Dallas, and threatened to “break the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s investigation of defense contract kickback schemes involving Lyndon Johnson threatened the defense establishment’s key contact in government.
Part One ends with the death of the President in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, just as the United States Senate was conducting hearings into Lyndon Johnson’s graft in the Bobby Baker and TFX fighter scandal.
Part Two focuses on Malcolm X, who, after leaving the Nation of Islam, enlisted the leaders of newly independent states in Africa and elsewhere to bring human rights charges against the United States. If the U.S. were condemned on the floor of the UN as a human rights violator in the same league as South Africa, "it would have been a tremendous blow" to U.S. prestige during the Cold War, as Malcolm's colleague Peter Bailey puts it in his interview.
In addition, Malcolm and Dr. King were in talks to join forces, a prospect described by Clarence Jones, an adviser to both men, as the FBI's "worst nightmare." On the verge of attending an international conference in Asia to realize his plans, Malcolm X was murdered in front of his wife and small children.
Part Three looks at the last years of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who broke with his advisers to oppose U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He was taking Bobby Kennedy up on his idea of organizing a multi-racial "Poor People's Campaign" to occupy Washington when he was shot, a year to the day after his devastating speech in Harlem's Riverside Church condemning the Vietnam War.
Part Four tells the story of the man many regarded as America’s last hope. Senator Robert Kennedy reluctantly entered the race for president in 1968 against a sitting president of his party, the man he had feuded with for years…the man who had taken his brother's place as President, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Compelled by disaster in Vietnam and the dissolution of the U.S. since his brother's death and encouraged by the challenge mounted by Senator Eugene McCarthy, Kennedy entered the race on the promise of ending the war and reunifying the country. But known only to his closest colleagues and confidants was another compelling reason to take the presidency: to bring his brother's killers to justice. The night of his electrifying win in the California primary, Robert Kennedy was murdered.
In addition to examining what the four men were doing before they died, each includes sections on the escalation of war and covert action both at home and abroad that followed in the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy.
Season Two delves into the citizen investigations and official coverups that began upon the deaths of each man, as well as examining the capture of the press by intelligence agencies and the massive psychological operations they conducted against ordinary citizens, like COINTELPRO and CHAOS.
What do you hope to accomplish with the release of this series as far as the American media and public are concerned?
The public has long had a sense of the truth of these horrific crimes against democracy. A majority has always felt there was much more to President Kennedy’s murder than a “lone nut” without an apparent motive. The captured mainstream media, however, pretends that there’s “nothing to see here” and that the skeptics are unhinged “conspiracy theorists.” While there are good people within the media who want to tell the truth, the reality is that for sixty long years, doing so was discouraged, if not forbidden, by editors and publishers.
We hope that the plain truths presented in this series will be impossible to deny, that they will fortify the public in what they already know in their hearts and give them the courage to demand accountability.
Not only in these, the most consequential murders in living memory, but in a myriad of other crimes against democracy, past, present, and future.
We are convinced that confronting these horrors is the only way for America to save itself.
(Daughter of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy)
Because I've worked a lot in crime, I've seen it often is the case, that when somebody dies, people want revenge.. And my father could have had that reaction, and it would have changed the life of our family…And it would have changed the life of the country…
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.
(Son of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy)
During the three years that he was in office, he never sent a combat unit to fight in any foreign war… He was under tremendous pressure by the Joints Chiefs, by everybody who's around him, McGeorge Bundy, to Maxwell Taylor, Lyndon Johnson, everybody, to send combat troops to Vietnam. They said that the Vietnam government would collapse without 250,000 combat troops. He said, “I'm not going to do it.” In fact, he signed a National Security Order. He did end up sending 16,000 advisors, which, incidentally, is fewer people than he sent to the University of Mississippi to get one black man, James Meredith, admitted into that college.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.
I also think that it's important to actually investigate the murder of Robert Kennedy. It was a critical turning point in American history the same as John Kennedy's murder. We actually ought to have a real investigation and not a kangaroo court like the Warren commission, which was run by [former CIA director, fired by John Kennedy] Allen Dulles and it should have
been called the Dulles Commission. Allen Dulles was a suspect or at least a party of interest, at minimum, a party of interest in the murder. He was somebody that did not like my family, did not like my uncle and the fact that he was put in charge of the investigation… we know that he shielded the CIA. That they were not only talking to each other and making sure that the investigation did not look at the CIA, but he was guiding it away from the CIA and lying to the rest of the commissioners.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.
My father's first instinct when his brother died was that the CIA had done it. He immediately made a call to the CIA and asked the desk officer that day…whether your outfit is responsible for this horror… The day that his brother died, he lost all control over the FBI, which was the investigatory arm of the Justice Department…J. Edgar Hoover went right to Johnson…He knew that the assassination involved a conspiracy. He talked to other people like Frank Mankiewicz about it, but he never talked publicly about it. It would have hurt him a lot if he had because it would have marginalized him. It would have made it so that he would be much less effective.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.
I think this country was at a turning point in 1960 and that turning point was described better than anybody by Eisenhower who said: we are now at a crossroads where we can depart from our values and go down this trail towards a military industrial complex…we're going to lose everything that makes this country a great nation.
…I don't think that it's really possible for us to reverse that course unless we go back and find what actually happened in these murders because if our government agencies were involved (and the evidence suggested they were)…then we need to look at those agencies and say “what do we need to do to reclaim our role in the world as an exemplary nation? What do we need to do to reclaim our democracy, our sovereignty, which these agencies and which the military industrial complex has subverted?
ROBERT KENNEDY, JR.
What happened in 1963 was a coup d'etat against democracy. And if you look at the people who were involved in that coup, some of them and their direct progeny remain embedded in our government. And if you want to give a description of them, they are the military industrial complex. My uncle died trying to keep us out of Vietnam. As soon as my uncle died, the military industrial complex reasserted itself with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, and Vietnam became an American war.
We've had a number of crossroads in American history where we've had the opportunity to choose a different future, to choose the idealistic future that would make America an exemplary nation, or to choose the dark future that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about. And my father's death, Martin Luther King's death, Malcolm X's death, and my uncle's death, were all markers where we chose a different future for America. And in each case, that future took us further down the road of the military industrial complex.
(Son of Kennedy Advisor John Kenneth Galbraith)
A man by the name of William Walton, who was the head of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, a Kennedy confidant, a friend of Jacqueline Kennedy's, was scheduled to go to Leningrad just about the time of the assassination. Didn't go. But he did go ten days later, and he carried a message from Bobby Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy to contacts in the Soviet Union explaining their belief that President Kennedy was the victim essentially of a coup d’état and recognizing that this was going to put Soviet-US relations into a deep freeze for a period of time.
QUESTION: Looking back and drawing on your memories from the time, what would you say the impact of the assassination was on the country or on the world?
JAMES GALBRAITH: Well, I think it's fair to say it defined the psychology of my generation in a particularly difficult way. In part because of the violence of the act itself, and in part because it set the stage for this long period which is now going on for many decades when people know what they cannot acknowledge. And people who look at it and who think about it in a clear-headed and rational way are treated as though they're speaking something that's taboo…You cannot speak it. You cannot talk about it, or you are excluding yourself from a sphere of, let's call it “leading dialogue” in the United States. A very difficult, very disabling condition for the country as a whole. Lots of countries have ugly traumas in their past. The Germans do…the French had to deal with it. The Russians had to deal with the Soviet period in all of its contradictions. But we refuse to deal with this. And that is something that's going to continue to haunt us. Has haunted us all along. And then there's a larger historical context as well. If Kennedy had not been assassinated, if he had full control of his government in 1964-65, he would have brought the Cold War to an end, assuming that there was a corresponding leadership in the Soviet Union, which, with Nikita Khrushchev, there was.
(Son of Kennedy Special Assistant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion led to the Cuban missile crisis, because the Russians put in missiles to defend Fidel Castro against U.S. attacks. And that in turn, in my view, led to the assassination of JFK…
When Kennedy was killed, I was at Harvard University. I was a junior and I was absolutely shocked, flabbergasted, outraged, didn't know what to do with myself. I
remember calling my father and he said, “Please come down to Washington right away.” And I remember flying down that day. And we were just all so stricken that night and we as a family all gathered in our house in Georgetown and we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves. It was just so shocking and so terrible. And terrible in the sense that my father had devoted his life to helping JFK and to see that torn away from him, this feeling that he adored this man so much and had felt that the country was in the hands of a great figure and a great President, to have that absolutely destroyed— it was devastating.
(Joke Writer for JFK, Later Deputized Investigator for D.A. Jim Garrison)
In other words, murder became legal that day… When I went to see [Senator George] McGovern, I said, "It's a set-up. The President was executed." And he said to me, "Well, you know, Mort, Kennedy wasn't that good a President." And I said, "Is that punishable by death?
He could not be allowed to live. I'm sure that if he'd gotten as far as the underpass, there was somebody else on the other side of the underpass who would have taken care of him.
(Aide to Former President Richard Nixon)
After Nixon had a couple cocktails, he would get positively loquacious. I summoned up courage to ask him: “Mr. President, who really killed Kennedy?" And he sat there, and he looked in his martini for a while, and he said, "Well, the Warren Commission report is the biggest goddamn hoax in American history.
And I said, "Yeah, but who really killed Kennedy?" He again stared for a moment into his drink, and he said, "It was Dallas." And he visibly shivered. And I said, "I don't think I understand?" He said, "Let me put it to you this way. Lyndon and I both wanted to be President, but I wasn't willing to kill for it.
DR. ILYASAH SHABAZZ
(Daughter of Malcolm X)
My mother lived through her home being firebombed. A firebomb thrown in the nursery where her baby slept. She witnessed, while she was pregnant with her twins and had four babies, she witnessed this horrific assassination of her husband, right? She was very clear that it wasn’t the Nation of Islam that killed her husband. That there were organizations that orchestrated his assassination, to make it look as though, “Oh, Malcolm. He got killed by his own people because he was advocating all this violence...
(Nephew of Malcolm X)
Malcolm’s plan for the Vietnam vets, was to get them organized to go and fight for liberation in African nations, those that were struggling for independence. That was his plan. To fight with the African freedom fighters.
QUESTION: Do you think that The FBI and The CIA knew about that plan?
RODNELL COLLINS: Oh, they knew about that plan because Congress was against it. Congress had already been looking at previous situations like that, when Black people went over to fight in Ethiopia, for their independence. They didn’t want that to happen again.
PROFESSOR JAMES SMALL
(Former Imam, Mosque No. 7, Head of Secutiry for Malcolm X's Sister)
Ella felt that Malcolm was killed by the government of The United States. That’s what we in The OAAU were told. We felt that J. Edgar Hoover was the person that made the calls, to pull the trigger. She felt that The CIA wanted him dead, rather than wanting him to leave this country for sanctuary in another country or ending up in Africa.
MAXWELL STANFORD, JR.
(Malcolm X Aide)
Within 15 days of his assassination, [just after the firebombing of his house] we meet in the evening, at Twenty-Two West Restaurant. I wanted to cry. He was physically shaken. He said he wanted me to leave the country. I said I don’t have any money. He had tears in his eyes for me. And I had tears in my eyes for him. It was happening at a level that we couldn’t control. When the government does something… and it was verified through my class. One of the guys who was not old enough to be part of the assassination but joined the NOI afterwards, became one of the hitmen inside security. He said the FBI had given the money for the assassination. There were several hit teams.
He said he was awakened one night, at the time his father was killed. In a dream he saw himself assassinated. And I said, can’t you do anything about it? And he said, "It's fixed!"
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
(Daughter of Dr. King)
We were kind of taught that our father, because of the way he lived his teachings, his way of really exposing some things in the nation, that he was gonna lose his life this way.
In the early 80’s is when I started wondering without anything to pinpoint…That’s when it really became, for me, a question mark and so, from that time on, I just knew that the
story that’s been told is not the real story.
As you study Daddy, as you look at history, you know there were a lot of forces involved. That it was a conspiracy. We’re not crazy.
For me, that’s where I land. That there were a lot of entities and people, not just external that were involved in my father’s assassination.
(Advisor to Dr. King)
I would not say that James Earl Ray was the lone assassin to Martin Luther King.
I think it was Hoover. I don’t think it was an FBI decision of the leadership deciding. I think Hoover was threatened by the fact that we could shut down the town and there was nothing he could do about it.
MARTIN LUTHER KING III
(Son of Dr. King)
He had in his mind subconsciously that things that he was doing, at some point were going to cause his life to be taken.
Martin Luther King Jr. was not killed because he was trying to get people to sit at a lunch counter. He was talking about restructuring wealth and resources in the nation. Economics. That’s what got him killed.
(Nephew of Dr. King)
By 1970 the question was heavy on our hearts of how this happened and who was responsible. We never, from day one, believed that James Earl Ray alone killed my uncle M.L.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY
ROBERT F.KENNEDY, JR.
(Son of Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy)
If you are somebody, who was involved in his brother's assassination, you now have a figure who is not just a political figure, a man running for president, but this is the man who knows more about federal investigations than any living man in the country at that time. He had run the racketeering committee, he had run the biggest committees in Congress and he had been the Mueller of his time. He knew more than anybody how to do a national investigation. He also knew how these agencies worked. They couldn't hide anything from him. He knew what was happening at the agencies, at the FBI and the CIA, and he would not have been bamboozled by them. So anybody— if they were at the agencies, or anywhere else— in the Mafia, which he had already investigated—it would be a frightening prospect that Robert Kennedy would be elected President.
ROBERT F.KENNEDY, JR.
Sirhan did not kill my dad. Sirhan fired two shots at my dad. One of them hit Paul Schrade and the other one hit the door jamb behind my father, where it was later extracted by police…Sirhan was always about five feet in front of my father. He never got behind my father, but my father according to Thomas Noguchi's autopsy, was shot four times from behind. Each one of those was a contact shot, meaning it left a carbon tattoo in his flesh, which means that the barrel of the gun could have been no more than one inch from his body. Sirhan never got that close to my father. The audio tapes that night show that there were indications there were 13 shots fired. Sirhan had only had eight chambers in his gone, and he never had a chance to reload.
(Labor Advisor to Robert F. Kennedy, Shot at the Same Moment)
Generally, the media has not done a good job with this. There are some good documentaries, there are some good articles, there are some really good books by, mostly, scholars, but the general media has not been - they don't really penetrate the case, they don't go to the facts of the case. The facts are all out there, in the California State Archives. Or in some of the books that have been written, but...
But, generally, the media - ABC, NBC, CBS, television media, newspapers, magazines, they went along with the story.
(Speechwriter to Robert F. Kennedy)
I think there is no question that the Vietnam War and its aftermath were made possible by the assassination of President Kennedy. I also think and believe that that war and its effects are still with us. That they live on in the whole secret government. The government that conducts war without telling us. A government that spies on every word that we say to each other. That, in fact, doesn't even bother to conceal those facts anymore because it begins to look like they're more interested in proving to us that we are helpless than in maintaining a pretense that we are free.