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Tue

21

Nov

2006

Who Killed RFK? New BBC Documentary Points to CIA
Tuesday, 21 November 2006 02:45

By Chris Floyd

Robert F. Kennedy would have been 81 today. Tonight, the BBC will air a documentary about his 1968 assassination detailing the strong, credible evidence of a CIA role in the killing. The autopsy and ballistic evidence have long discredited the idea that the usual "lone nut" Sirhan Sirhan was responsible, or solely responsible for the murder. The Guardian has more in this article by the film's director, Shane O'Sullivan: Did the CIA kill Bobby Kennedy?

Again, as we mentioned the other day in a piece about Jim Webb, there is no point in hero-worshipping any politician. RFK spent his career as a ruthless, ball-breaking operative. He began as a happy camper in Joe McCarthy's brutal band of hard-right thugs; and later, as Attorney General (an appointment of mind-boggling, unprecedented nepotism, perhaps the most flagrant conflict-of-interest in American political history, at least until Dick Cheney's wartime pocketing of fat checks from Halliburton), Kennedy shredded civil liberties and constitutional safeguards with a reckless, savage glee that John Ashcroft could only dream of. (Again, Alberto Gonzales, the willing enabler of aggressive war and torture, has probably outstripped RFK in this regard.) He played the same role in his brother's administration that George W. Bush played in his father's: draconian enforcer of loyalty to the family's political fortunes, which trumped any and all other values.



And yet there is no denying he was in many respects a remarkable man, with an intelligence and learning unheard of in our piping times. His extraordinary speech on the death of Martin Luther King Jr. was an act of moral courage that did much to redeem past transgressions. (Which included, of course, the vicious campaign of smearing and spying that the Kennedy brothers and the man who held blackmail power over them, J. Edgar Hoover, launched against King.) Kennedy was in the ghetto of Indianapolis, just hours after King was murdered, facing a crowd enraged by news of the slaying. Kennedy improvised an eloquent speech acknowledging the anger but calling for reconciliation, citing King's own life and teaching as an example.

There was hubris in this, especially considering how the Kennedys had sought to undermine, dampen, contain and divert King's message, while exploiting it as far as possible for their own political purposes. In effect, RFK openly and deliberately took King's mantle upon himself that night: borrowed robes, full of nemesis, which extracted its full measure just a few weeks later in Los Angeles. Kennedy himself seemed to sense the tragedy crackling in the air, as he quoted Aeschylus in the speech. Yet he ended with ancient Greek dream of transcendence over the intractable violence of human nature: "Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

No one knows how Robert Kennedy would have governed as president, if he had indeed gone on to win the election. No doubt he would have sown bitter disappointment among many people, as he had already done by his splitting of the anti-war movement, jumping on the bandwagon only after Sen. Eugene McCarthy had proven its political worth with his courageous stand against LBJ. There is no indication that RFK had lost his sense of politics as bloodsport. Yet many say that after his brother's murder, he was a changed man, that his championing of the poor and opposition to America's ruinous, murderous foreign policy was genuine. But whatever the unknowable truth of what might have been, the fact remains that his murder was a foul act that thwarted the democratic process, an act that, whatever its provenance, redounded greatly to the advantage of elitist factions glutted on war profits and fiercely determined to protect their power and privilege from any diminishment by the "consent of the governed."

We still live in the shadow of these elites and their unquenchable lust for dominion.

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