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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Manny Pena

Manny Pena served in the Pacific during the Second World War. He later worked as a counter-intelligence officer in Latin America and France before joining the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1947.

Pena developed the reputation for being an aggressive police officer and is said to have killed eleven suspects "in the line of duty". According to his commanding officer, Pena was a "stocky, intense, proud man of Mexican-American descent."

In November 1967 Pena resigned from the LAPD to work for the Agency for International Development (AID). According to the San Fernando Valley Times: "As a public safety advisor, he will train and advise foreign police forces in investigative and administrative matters. Over the next year he worked with Daniel Mitrione in Latin and South America.

Charles A. O'Brien, California's Chief Deputy Attorney General, told William Turner that AID was being used as an "ultra-secret CIA unit" that was known to insiders as the "Department of Dirty Tricks" and that it was involved in teaching foreign intelligence agents the techniques of assassination.

FBI agent Roger LaJeunesse claimed that Pena had been carrying out CIA special assignments for at least ten years. This was confirmed by Pena's brother, a high school teacher, who told television journalist, Stan Bohrman, a similar story about his CIA activities. In April 1968 Pena surprisingly resigned from AID and returned to the LAPD.

On 6th June, 1968, Robert Kennedy won the Democratic Party primary in California obtaining 46.3% (Eugene McCarthy received 41.8%). On hearing the result Kennedy went down to the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel to speak to his supporters. He commented on “the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society; the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups or on the war in Vietnam”. Kennedy claimed that the United States was “a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country” and that he had the ability to get people to work together to create a better society.

Robert Kennedy now began his journey to the Colonial Room where he was to hold a press conference. Someone suggested that Kennedy should take a short cut through the kitchen. Security guard Thane Eugene Cesar took hold of Kennedy’s right elbow to escort him through the room when Sirhan Sirhan opened fire. According to Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi, who performed the autopsy, all three bullets striking Kennedy entered from the rear, in a flight path from down to up, right to left. “Moreover, powder burns around the entry wound indicated that the fatal bullet was fired at less than one inch from the head and no more than two or three inches behind the right ear.”

Chief of Detectives Robert Houghton asked Chief of Homicide Detectives Hugh Brown to take charge of the investigation into the death of Robert Kennedy. Code-named Special Unit Senator (SUS). Houghton told Brown to investigate the possibility that there was a link between this death and those of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

As William Turner has pointed out in The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: "Houghton assertedly gave Brown free reign in electing the personnel for SUS - with one exception. He specifically designated Manny Pena, who was put in a position to control the daily flow and direction of the investigation. And his decision on all matters was final."

According to Dan E. Moldea (The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy), Houghton told the SUS team working on the case: "We're not going to have another Dallas here. I want you to act as if there was a conspiracy until we can prove that there wasn't one."

An eyewitness, Donald Schulman, went on CBS News to say that Sirhan “stepped out and fired three times; the security guard hit Kennedy three times.” As Dan E. Moldea pointed out: “The autopsy showed that three bullets had struck Kennedy from the right rear side, traveling at upward angles – shots that Shiran was never in a position to fire.”

Robert Kennedy had been shot at point-blank range from behind. Two shots entered his back and a third shot entered directly behind RFK’s right ear. None of the eyewitness claim that Sirhan Sirhan was able to fire his gun from close-range. One witness, Karl Uecker, who struggled with Shiran when he was firing his gun, provided a written statement in 1975 about what he saw: “There was a distance of at least one and one-half feet between the muzzle of Shiran’s gun and Senator Kennedy’s head. The revolver was directly in front of my nose. After Shiran’s second shot, I pushed the hand that held the revolver down, and pushed him onto the steam table. There is no way that the shots described in the autopsy could have come from Shiran’s gun. When I told this to the authorities, they told me that I was wrong. But I repeat now what I told them then: Shiran never got close enough for a point-blank shot.”

Manuel Pena ignored this evidence and argued that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone gunman. Shiran’s lead attorney, Grant Cooper, went along with this theory. As he explained to William Turner, “a conspiracy defence would make his client look like a contract killer”. Cooper’s main strategy was to portray his client as a lone-gunman in an attempt to spare Sirhan the death penalty by proving “diminished capacity”. Sirhan was convicted and sentenced before William W. Harper, an independent ballistics expert, proved that the bullets removed from Kennedy and newsman William Weisel, were fired from two different guns.

After Harper published his report, Joseph P. Busch, the Los Angeles District Attorney, announced he would look into the matter. Thane Eugene Cesar was interviewed and he admitted he pulled a gun but insisted it was a Rohm .38, not a .22 (the caliber of the bullets found in Kennedy). He also claimed that he got knocked down after the first shot and did not get the opportunity to fire his gun. The LAPD decided to believe Cesar rather than Donald Schulman, Karl Uecker and William W. Harper and the case was closed.

Cesar admitted that he did own a .22 H & R pistol. However, he claimed that he had sold the gun before the assassination to a man named Jim Yoder. William W. Turner tracked down Yoder in October, 1972. He still had the receipt for the H & R pistol. It was dated 6th September, 1968. Cesar therefore sold the pistol to Yoder three months after the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

Cesar had been employed by Ace Guard Service to protect Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. This was not his full-time job. During the day he worked at the Lockheed Aircraft plant in Burbank. According to Lisa Pease, Cesar had formerly worked at the Hughes Aircraft Corporation. Lockheed and Hughes were two key companies in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Intelligence Complex.

Thane Eugene Cesar was a Cuban American who had registered to vote for George Wallace’s American Independent Party. Jim Yoder claimed that Cesar appeared to have no specific job at Lockheed and had “floating” assignments and often worked in off-limits areas which only special personnel had access to. According to Yoder, these areas were under the control of the CIA.

Yoder also gave Turner and Christian details about the selling of the gun. Although he did not mention the assassination of Robert Kennedy he did say “something about going to the assistance of an officer and firing his gun.” He added that “there might be a little problem over that.”

Lieutenant Pena was convinced that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone-gunman. He told Marilyn Barrett in an interview on 12th September, 1992: "Sirhan was a self-appointed assassin. He decided that Bobby Kennedy was no good, because he was helping the Jews. And he is going to kill him." He also added: "I did not come back (to the LAPD) as a sneak to be planted. The way they have written it, it sounds like I was brought back and put into the (Kennedy) case as a plant by the CIA, so that I could steer something around to a point where no one would discover a conspiracy. That's not so."

Friday, 7 December 2007

Who Killed Buster Crabb?

Lionel (Buster) Crabb was born in 1909. He worked in a variety of jobs until the outbreak of the Second World War when he became a gunner in the army.

In 1941 Crabbe joined the Royal Navy. The following year he was sent to Gibraltar where he became a member of the navy's mine and bomb disposal unit. Crabb had the dangerous task of located and removing Italian limpet mines from the hulls of Allied ships. He was such a success he was awarded the George Medal.

In 1943 Crabb was sent to clear the mines left in the ports of Leghorn and Venice. For this courageous work he was awarded the OBE.

After the war Crabb explored the wreck of a Spanish galleon and investigated a suitable discharge site for a pipe from the atomic weapons station at Aldermaston. Crabbe later returned to the Royal Navy and after helping rescue men trapped in a submarine, he was promoted to the rank of commander. However, in March 1955 he was forced to leave the navy on age grounds.

In March 1956 Crabb received an urgent message to meet privately with Lord Mountbatten, the First Sea Lord. Crabb was told that he was needed for a secret mission and that the results were to be shared with MI6 and the CIA. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. The mission involved spying on the Russian cruiser Ordkhonikidze. A ship that was going to bring Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a goodwill mission to Britain. Mountbatten warned Crabbe that it was a dangerous mission as the Soviets had discovered earlier secret dives on the Sverdlov when the cruiser visited England in 1955.

On 19th April 1956 Crabb dived into Portsmouth Harbour. He did not return to Teddy Davies, his MI6 minder, and it was assumed that he had been either captured or killed by the Russians. With the help of the intelligence services, the Admiralty attempted to cover up the attempt to spy on the Russian ship. On 29th April the Admiralty announced that Crabb went missing after taking part in trials of underwater apparatus in Stokes Bay (a place five kilometres from Portsmouth).

The Soviet government now issued a statement announcing that a frogman was seen near the cruiser Ordkhonikidze on 19th April. This resulted in British newspapers publishing stories claiming that Crabb had been captured and taken to the Soviet Union.

Sir Anthony Eden, the British prime minister was furious when he discovered about the MI6 operation that had taken place without his permission. Eden forced the Diretor-General of MI6, Major-General John Sinclair, to resign. He was replaced by Sir Dick White, the head of MI5. As MI5 was considered by MI6 to be an inferior intelligence service, this was the severest punishment that could be inflicted on the organization.

On 9th June 1957, a headless body in a frogman suit was discovered floating off Pilsey Island. As the hands were also missing it was impossible to identify it as being that of Lionel Crabb. His former wife inspected the body and was unsure if it was Crabb. Pat Rose, his girlfriend, claimed it was not him but another friend, Sydney Knowles, said that Crabb, like the dead body, had a scar on the left knee. The coroner recorded an open verdict but announced that he was satisfied the remains were those of Crabb.

In 1960 J. Bernard Hutton published his book Frogman Spy. Hutton argues that his sources claim that Crabb had been captured alive during his espionage activities and had been smuggled back to Soviet Union for torture and interrogation. According to Russian documents that Hutton had seen, Crabb later served as a diving officer in the Russian Navy. To help conceal the fate of Crabb, the Soviets dropped a headless and handless body wearing Crabb's equipment in the water near where he was lost a year earlier.

Tim Binding wrote a fictionalised account of Crabb's life, Man Overboard. Published in 2005, Binding novel is based on the story that appeared in Frogman Spy. Soon afterwards Binding was contacted by Sydney Knowles, the man who had originally identified Crabb's body. Knowles told Binding that Crabb was murdered by MI5 when it was discovered that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union. According to Knowles, Crabb was instructed to carry out a spying operation on the Ordkhonikidze. Crabb was supplied with a new diving partner who killed him during the mission. Knowles alleges that he was ordered by MI5 to identify the body, when he knew it was definitely not Crabb. Binding published this information in an article in The Mail on Sunday on 26th March, 2006.

In November, 2007, Eduard Koltsov, a former Soviet agent, gave an interview where he claimed that he cut Crabb’s throat after finding him attaching a limpet mine to the hull of the Ordkhonikidze.

David Kelly

In 1984, David Kelly joined the civil service as head of the Defence Microbiology Division at Porton Down. He also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office. Kelly was involved in investigating possible Soviet violations of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and was a key member of the inspection team that visited the Russia between 1991 and 1994.

David Kelly also became a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq following the end of the Gulf War. Kelly's work as a member of the UNSCOM team led him to visit Iraq thirty-seven times and his success in uncovering Iraq's biological weapons programme resulted in him being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kelly's specialism meant he was frequently seconded to other departments. In 2002 he was working for the Defence Intelligence Staff at the time of the compilation of a dossier by the Joint Intelligence Committee on the weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraq. The government had commissioned the dossier as part of the preparation for what later became the invasion of Iraq. Kelly was asked to proof-read sections of the draft dossier on the history of inspections. Kelly was unhappy with some of the claims in the draft, particularly a claim, originating from August 2002, that Iraq was capable of firing battlefield biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes of an order to use them.

In June 2003 Kelly visited Iraq to view and photograph the two mobile weapons laboratories as a part of an inspection team. Kelly was unhappy with the description of the trailers and spoke off the record to The Observer, which, on 15th June 2003, quoted "a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq". The article quoted Kelly as saying: "They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons." This point of view made Kelly unpopular with Tony Blair and George W. Bush who were determined to order the invasion of Iraq.

Kelly had a meeting with Andrew Gilligan, a BBC journalist, on 22nd May, 2003. They agreed to talk on an unattributable basis, which allowed the BBC to report what was said, but not to identify the source. Kelly told Gilligan of his concerns over the 45-minute claim and ascribed its inclusion in the dossier to Alastair Campbell, who worked as the director of communications for Tony Blair. Gilligan broadcast his report on May 29, 2003 on the Today Programme, in which he said that the 45-minute claim had been placed in the dossier by the government, even though it knew the claim was dubious. The government rejected this version of events and demanded that the BBC reveal the name of the source.

Kelly was interviewed twice by senior officials at the Ministry of Defence (MoD). He admitted that he had provided this information to Andrew Gilligan. He was given a formal warning by the Ministry of Defence for having an unauthorised meeting with a journalist and he was told that further action might be taken against him.

It was eventually decided by the MoD and the government to release information to the media about the case. The announcement contained sufficient clues for the journalists to guess Kelly's identity and the MoD confirmed the name when it was put to them.

On 15th July, 2003, Kelly appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. His evidence to the committee was that he had not said the things Andrew Gilligan had reported his source as saying. He was also questioned about several quotes given to Susan Watts, a BBC journalist working on Newsnight, who had reported a similar story. Members of the committee came to the conclusion that Kelly was not been the main source of the stories reported by Watts and Gilligan.

On 17th July, Kelly was working from his home in Oxfordshire. He spent the morning answering supportive emails from friends. One of the e-mails he sent that day was to New York Times journalist Judith Miller. He told her that he was having to deal with "many dark actors playing games." At about 3.00 in the afternoon, he told his wife that he was going for his daily 30 minute walk. He did not return and his wife did not contact the police until shortly after midnight. His body was found the next morning at Harrowdown Hill about a mile away from his home. Later the police reported that Kelly had swallowed up to 29 tablets of co-proxamol and then cut his left wrist with a knife he had owned since his youth.

Tony Blair immediately announced that Lord Hutton would lead a judicial inquiry into the events leading up to Kelly's death. During the Hutton inquiry, David Broucher, the former British ambassador to the Czech Republic (1997-2001), reported a conversation with Kelly at a Geneva meeting in February 2003. Broucher related that Kelly said he had assured his Iraqi sources that there would be no war if they co-operated, and that a war would put him in an "ambiguous" moral position. Broucher had asked Kelly what would happen if Iraq were invaded, and Kelly had replied, "I will probably be found dead in the woods."

The Hutton Inquiry reported in January, 2004 that Kelly had committed suicide. Lord Hutton argued: "I am satisfied that none of the persons whose decisions and actions I later describe ever contemplated that Kelly might take his own life. I am further satisfied that none of those persons was at fault in not contemplating that Kelly might take his own life."

The Hutton Inquiry took priority over an inquest, which would normally be required into a suspicious death. The Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, considered the issue again in March 2004. After reviewing evidence that had not been presented to the Hutton Inquiry, Gardiner decided that there was no need for further investigation.

Some medical experts argued that it was highly unlikely that Kelly committed suicide. On 27th January, 2004, The Guardian published a letter written by three doctors: David Halpin (specialist in trauma and orthopaedic surgery), C Stephen Frost (specialist in diagnostic radiology) and Searle Sennett (specialist in anaesthesiology): "As specialist medical professionals, we do not consider the evidence given at the Hutton inquiry has demonstrated that Dr David Kelly committed suicide. Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist at the Hutton inquiry, concluded that Dr Kelly bled to death from a self-inflicted wound to his left wrist. We view this as highly improbable. Arteries in the wrist are of matchstick thickness and severing them does not lead to life-threatening blood loss. Dr Hunt stated that the only artery that had been cut - the ulnar artery - had been completely transected. Complete transection causes the artery to quickly retract and close down, and this promotes clotting of the blood. The ambulance team reported that the quantity of blood at the scene was minimal and surprisingly small. It is extremely difficult to lose significant amounts of blood at a pressure below 50-60 systolic in a subject who is compensating by vasoconstricting. To have died from haemorrhage, Dr Kelly would have had to lose about five pints of blood - it is unlikely that he would have lost more than a pint."

The letter then went onto to look at the possiblity that Kelly died as a result of taking the Co-Proxamol tablets: "Alexander Allan, the forensic toxicologist at the inquiry, considered the amount ingested of Co-Proxamol insufficient to have caused death. Allan could not show that Dr Kelly had ingested the 29 tablets said to be missing from the packets found. Only a fifth of one tablet was found in his stomach. Although levels of Co-Proxamol in the blood were higher than therapeutic levels, Allan conceded that the blood level of each of the drug's two components was less than a third of what would normally be found in a fatal overdose. We dispute that Dr Kelly could have died from haemorrhage or from Co-Proxamol ingestion or from both. The coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, has spoken recently of resuming the inquest into his death. If it re-opens, as in our opinion it should, a clear need exists to scrutinise more closely Dr Hunt's conclusions as to the cause of death."

On 19th May, 2006, Norman Baker the Member of Parliament for Lewes, resigned as the Liberal Democrat spokesman for the Environment, in order to investigate the death of David Kelly. Baker claimed that he had received information that suggested that Kelly did not die from natural causes. A couple of months later Baker announced that his computer hard drive had been wiped remotely.

It was discovered in October 2007, through a Freedom of Information request made by Norman Baker, that the knife that Kelly allegedly committed suicide with had no fingerprints on it. Baker told The Daily Mirror: "Someone who wanted to kill themselves wouldn't go to the lengths of wiping the knife clean of fingerprints. It is just very suspicious. It is one of the things that makes me think Dr Kelly was murdered. The case should be re-opened."

Baker's book, The Strange Death of David Kelly, was published in November, 2007. Baker looks in detail at the motives for the unlawful killing of Dr Kelly and the various possibilities of who could have been involved, before concluding with the most likely scenario, that Kelly was murdered by Iraqi agents.

Monday, 3 December 2007

West Ham United Ratings After 16 Games

I have been using the ratings out of ten from twelve newspapers and websites. This is the average ratings over the first 14 games.

Rob Green (14 games) 6.9

Dean Ashton (8 games) 6.5

Craig Bellamy (7 games) 6.5

Kieron Dyer (2 games) 6.5

Matthew Upson (14 games) 6.4

Matthew Etherington (13 games) 6.4

Mark Noble (11 games) 6.4

Lee Bowyer (10 games) 6.4

Danny Gabbidon (8 games) 6.4

Carlton Cole (10 games) 6.3

Hayden Mullins (13 games) 6.3

Nolberto Solano (6 games) 6.3

George McCartney (14 games) 6.2

James Collins (2 games) 6.2

Lucas Neill (11 games) 6.1

Scott Parker (3 games) 6.1

Anton Ferdinand (7 games) 5.8

Jonathan Spector (6 games) 5.8

Fredrik Ljungberg (5 games) 5.8

Luis Boa Morte (10 games) 5.8

Henri Camara (4 games) 4.9