The anniversary of the RFK assassination is bringing forth a host of articles related to Sirhan Sirhan and a great many of them are revisiting a conspiracy theme that has been present for some decades – a theme based in Sirhan’s claim that he had no memory at all of events around the time of the shooting in the Ambassador Hotel. It was a claim which led to a rather strange legal defense, not terribly unlike that which at one point was offered for Jack Ruby in the shooting of Lee Oswald. Of course when you are captured at the scene of the crime with a gun in your hand and numerous witnesses to your firing it, legal defenses do have to get creative.
Sirhan’s initial court room defense did not introduce the idea of conspiracy at all – which it certainly would have had to if he had been positioned as some sort of patsy. However in more recent years Sirhan himself has moved to towards that position, speculating that he might have somehow been manipulated by the infamous (and indeed very suspicious) “polka dot dress girl”, who he now suspects might have put something in his drink.
The view taken in most of the conspiracy writing related to that girl connects to something far more complex and far darker, the possibility that Sirhan was under some sort of mind control, functioning as a totally automated assassin. To a large extent, that view has been fostered by the fact that Sirhan himself has been shown to be easily hypnotized, giving every sign that at some point before the shooting he had previously been the subject of hypnotic practices.
That fact has led to wide ranging speculation that Sirhan was not simply conditioned though hypnosis but indeed had been developed as the type of mind controlled assassin envisioned in one aspect of the CIA’s MK/ULTRA project. Of course MK/ULTRA had many elements, including the use of drugs for interrogation, assassination and in support of psychiatric conditioning. Indeed drugs, extensive psychiatric conditioning in controlled environments and hypnosis were all elements of the program over a period of years. Good overviews of the total program may be found at these links:
A more in depth, contemporary article related to the subject of mind control may be found here:
I explored the issue of the polka dot dress girl and Sirhan’s own history with hypnosis – including his self-practice of auto-suggestion – in my essays on the RFK assassination which are available on the Mary Ferrell Foundation web site:
My conclusions were that there is extensive evidence that the polka dot dress girl and her associates were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate RFK and the attack at the Ambassador was simply the final effort in a series of attempts which had gone on for some weeks. Beyond that there is every reason to feel that hypnosis was involved in conditioning Sirhan, but very likely not in the form of a sophisticated mind control program. Given Sirhan’s own political views targeting him on RFK was rather easy. There is also considerable reason, based in extensive taped interviews following his arrest, to be skeptical about Sirhan’s own claims to have no recollection of the events at the hotel or during the immediate period after the shooting.
That’s all in the essays and I’m always happy to discuss those. In terms of the RFK conspiracy itself I remain very much interested and involved in investigating it – more on that in a following post.