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“Mr Transparency” Obama Refuses New Kent State Investigation

New evidence remains ignored by Justice Dept.

Mr Transparency Obama Refuses New Kent State Investigation 080507KentState2

Steve Watson
May 19, 2011

The Obama administration has blocked fresh attempts to bring important new evidence to light in the case of the National Guard Kent State shootings, a harrowing national tragedy during which four protesting students were killed on May 4th 1970.

The president that promised renewed transparency from government has refused to follow up on bombshell revelations presented by one of the students injured during the shooting who met with U.S. Justice Department officials last Fall.

Alan Canfora requested a new federal investigation based on analysis, conducted early last year, of a newly discovered audio tape which revealed what two forensic audio experts say is a military-style order to open fire on student protesters.

Amplified audio from the tape reveals a Guard officer issuing the command, “Guard! All right, prepare to fire!”  Another voice cries “Get down!”, then, the original speaker shouts “Guard, fi-.” The remainder of the word “fire” is obliterated by the fusillade.

The following is a video shot by KSU student Chris Abell from Tri-Towers dormitory, 1/2 mile from Taylor Hall where the massacre occurred. The enhanced audio has been matched to the video.

The word “Guard!” can be heard around 11 seconds. “All right, prepare to fire” begins at around 20.5 seconds. “Get down!” is spoken at 23 seconds. The final “Guard!” is at about 25 seconds, and the gunshots begin at 27.5 seconds.

The order to fire directly contradicts claims from guard commanders who testified that there was no order to fire and that troops unloaded their weapons only after receiving incoming sniper fire.

The tape was given to Yale in 1979 for its Kent State archives by an attorney who represented students in a lawsuit filed against the state over the shooting. It was originally recorded by a student named Terry Strubbe who put a microphone at the window of his dorm, which overlooked the rally.

Canfora discovered the existence of the tape in late 2006 and obtained possession of it in 2007 via a Freedom of Information Act Request.

Subsequent analysis of the tape also uncovered an altercation and four pistol shots a little over one minute prior to the Guard gunfire. It is believed that the shots came from a student called Terry Norman, who was at the time believed to have been an FBI informant.

Despite attempts by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich to pave the way for a new investigation, the evidence has remained largely ignored.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which commissioned the forensic analysis of the tape, recently reported that a “lack of communication since the meeting and a seeming dearth of paperwork documenting its review has raised some doubts about the Justice Department’s level of interest.”

In addition, an author writing a new book about the incident has confirmed that Justice Department officials have produced no reports, memos, legal analyses or other documents concerning the new audio tape evidence.

“They said they were going to be looking at it and I’ve never heard back,” said Cleveland civil rights attorney Terry Gilbert, one of Canfora’s legal advisors. Gilbert attended the October meeting with Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the Justice Department’s civil rights division, and U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

So much for increased transparency then.

For those unfamiliar with the Kent State shootings, here is a brief contextual re-cap courtesy of Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman:

It is difficult to overstate the political and cultural impact of the killing of the four Kent State students and wounding of nine more on May 4, 1970. The nation’s campuses were on fire over Richard Nixon’s illegal invasion of Cambodia. Scores of universities were ripped apart by mass demonstrations and student strikes. The ROTC building at Kent burned down. The vast majority of American college campuses were closed in the aftermath, either by student strikes or official edicts.

Nixon was elected president in 1968 claiming to have a “secret plan” to end the war in Southeast Asia. But the revelation that he was in fact escalating it with the illegal bombing of what had been a peaceful non-combatant nation was more than Americans could bear.

As the ferocity of the opposition spread deep into the grassroots, Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, shot back in a series of speeches. He referred to student demonstrators as Nazi “brownshirts” and suggested that college administrators and law enforcement should “act accordingly.”

On May 3, 1970—the day before National Guardsmen under his purview opened fire at Kent State–Ohio Governor James Rhodes echoed Agnew’s remarks by referring to student demonstrators as “the strongest, well-trained militant revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America They’re worse than the brownshirts and the Communist element and the night riders and the vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America.”

Rhodes told a reporter that the Ohio National Guard would remain at Kent State “until we get rid of them” referring to a demographic group that was overwhelmingly white, middle class and in college.

The next day, Rhodes, the administration and the FBI sent those students a lethal message.

After an initial investigation, the case was reopened in 1973 when a grand jury indicted eight Guardsmen. They were acquitted of federal civil rights charges the next year.

A further civil lawsuit by the victims and families against the Guardsmen and other parties was concluded in 1979 with a $675,000 settlement and a “statement of regret”. None of the lawsuits ever provided for a satisfactory explanation for why the Guard fired.

For 41 years the official line has been that a mysterious shot rang out and the young Guardsmen panicked, firing directly into the “mob” of students. This despite the fact that not one of the numerous investigations and court proceedings has ever contended any of the students were armed, or that the Guard was under threat of physical harm at the time of the shooting.

The central unresolved question has been why several dozen Guardsmen pivoted in unison and fired on students and protestors, shooting rifles, sidearms and shotguns 67 times during a 13-second barrage. One student was killed as far as 900 feet away from the rally.

The day has been immortalized in the history books and even in musical history via Neil Young’s impassioned song Ohio. The lyrics “Four dead in Ohio” became an anthem to a generation. The single was released with the Bill of Rights on the cover yet in some parts of the country the song was banned from playlists because of it’s “anti-war” and “anti-Nixon” sentiments.

Now Alan Canfora and others are hoping that new investigations will be conducted and that the truth will finally be brought to bear in order that history be re-written and we never again see soldiers gunning down innocent and peaceful Americans on US soil just because they disagree with their government’s war agenda.

Inconsistencies and evidence of a conspiracy

Inconsistencies and flaws in the official explanation of the shootings and mysterious circumstances surrounding the deployment of the Guard have long pointed towards a government conspiracy.

Some writers and activists have suggested that authorities colluded to allow the campus ROTC building to be burned on the night of May 2 in a “Reichstag fire” strategy to justify calling in the National Guard, pointing to the fact that numerous student attempts to set the building ablaze failed and how local authorities didn’t seem to put much effort into stopping the students. The fire then suddenly erupted later in the day and was attributed to a mysterious “biker” who appeared with a canister of gasoline.

Mr Transparency Obama Refuses New Kent State Investigation 080507KentState Furthermore, Kent State Police Detective Tom Kelley gave an interview to the Akron Beacon Journal, published on August 8, 1973, in which Kelley admitted speaking with an NBC camera crew on the afternoon of May 2 as they were preparing to leave campus. “Don’t pack your cameras,” Kelley told them, “we are going to have a fire tonight.”

Alan Canfora has also pointed out that many students suspected that the government had undercover agents on campus attempting to infiltrate and monitor Kent State’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) activities. Canfora has made specific mention of part-time Kent State student Terry Norman, stating that Norman would attempt to come to SDS meetings and, “some people in the group would invariably stand up and say, ‘we’re not gonna start this meeting until that (MFer) gets out of here.’”

In his book on the event, William Gordon notes that Norman came to be known as an undercover informant for both campus police and the Akron office of the FBI. Gordon notes speculation by some that Norman may have acted as an agent provocateur on the day of May 4 and possibly on the night of May 2.

Some believe that it was Ohio Governor James Rhodes that gave the order to shoot prior to the protest and that his close connections to Hoover and Nixon indicates he was acting under orders from the very top. The fact that the Guard were, contrary to law, supplied with live ammunition also suggests that the action was premeditated and that the order came from the Governor’s office.

Rhodes initially denied that he made contact with the White House during the week preceding May 4. But in 1975 trial testimony, Rhodes admitting that he did have two private conversations with the White House in the week preceding May 4, 1970.

Public records have also revealed that Rhodes was a virtual stooge for the FBI because of the agency’s files tying Rhodes directly to organized crime.

Weeks after the shooting the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification concluded that “As the Guardsmen reached the crest of Blanket Hill…the Guard was ordered to turn and face…Commands…such as, ‘if they charge, shoot them’ had previously been given…A number of Guardsmen stated they heard an order to fire and began firing.”

In a May 18, 1970 story in Time magazine Kent State journalism professor Charles Brill said that contrary to repots of Troop G, the guardsmen, being young, panicked and inexperienced, “the Guard looked like a firing squad”. An Army veteran who saw action in Korea, Brill was “certain that the Guardsmen had not fired randomly out of individual panic,” said the Time article. “They were organized,” he said. “It was not scattered. They all waited and they all pointed their rifles at the same time. It looked like a firing squad.”

Mr Transparency Obama Refuses New Kent State Investigation 080507kent state1 This was corroborated by two other sources, a former member of Troop G, who was kicked out of the Guard in 1969 who described them as “experienced killers.” and also by U.S. Senator Stephen Young in the Akron-Beacon Journal on July 27, 1966 where he referred to the Guardsmen involved as being, “trigger happy.” It was also confirmed by both that Troop G had controversial involvement in quelling the Cleveland riots where many were killed.

Evidence of a subsequent cover up was also found by Charles A. Thomas, who worked for twelve years at the National Archives and was selected to study films of the Kent State shootings.

In “Kent State/May 4″, edited by Scott L. Bills (KSU Press), Thomas reported that, “it looked very much as if someone had doctored the evidence to minimize any impression of the Guard’s brutality and to plant the spurious notion that the soldiers had been confronted with a raging student mob.”

The US Justice Department summary of FBI investigation in 1970 concluded:

“…we [the FBI] have some reason to believe that the claim by the National Guard that their lives were endangered by the students was fabricated subsequent to the event…[a Guardsman] admitted that his life was not in danger and that he fired indiscriminately into the crowd. He further stated that the Guardsmen had gotten together after the shooting and decided to fabricate the story that they were in danger of serious bodily harm or death from the students…”

Many many more inconsistencies have been uncovered along with evidence of a direct cover up. More research can be found at


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

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