CNN aired a major story last night about Terry Strubbe tape, and it provided the clearest enhanced version of the tape I have heard so far. The segment clearly did one thing: it made the FBI's analysis of the tape look absurd. The sounds that preceded the shootings--which Stuart Allen identified as gunshots believed to have been fired by FBI informant Terry Norman--do not sound anything like doors slamming (the FBI's conclusion). The sounds resemble gunfire, which is why Allen dubbed the FBI's explanation "beyond ludicrous."
70 seconds later, some of the words that preceded the gunfire were sometimes difficult to make out, but they certainly were not unintelligible, as the FBI's experts had claimed. You can distinctly make out a voice with an apparent accent telling the soldiers to "prepare to fire," followed by the words: "Get down," and then "Guard . . . " Although CNN accepted Allen's analysis that the words were "Guard, fire," there was too much noise to convince me that there was a second, follow-up order to fire, as Allen told me. Those words would have to isolated and magnified several times before I would accept that explanation.
In any event, it is hard to believe that the FBI listened to the same version of the tape that Allen did, and we cannot say for sure if the bureau actually did. That the FBI came to these conclusions only raises additional questions about its own objectivity. It makes me wonder if the FBI agents were simply looking for ammunition to provide the Justice Department with a reason to close the case forever.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich has already asked Justice to provide him with the FBI report, and today I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the entire Justice Department and FBI review. As might be expected at this late date, the public is simply tired of hearing about it (as evidenced in the letters to the editor to the Cleveland and Akron newspapers mostly condemning any further investigations.) There is talk that some of the surviving wounded students might appeal to the governor of Ohio (a conservative Republican who is highly unlikely to do anything) or appeal an international court to further investigate the matter. (The Hague only settles international disputes.) As far as I am concerned, the wounded students are grasping at straws. The best they can hope for is additional testing by the National Academy of Sciences, which investigated the tapes of the JFK assassination. Even then, there is no guarantee that another study would result in a scientific consensus.
The Plain Dealer published another front-page story today, and this one threw cold water on the audio experts' claim that they could discern an order to fire on the tape of the Kent State shootings. Apparently the Justice Department quietly asked the FBI to re-examine the Terry Strubbe tape, even though it already closed the case almost two years earlier. The FBI's experts supported Justice's decision by referrng to the previous evaluation of the tape conducted 38 years ago. That earlier analysis concluded that rather than demonstrating a clear order to fire, the voices on the tape were unintelligible. The FBI's analysis also conveniently exonerated FBI informant Terry Norman by claiming the sounds that Stuart Allen concluded were gunfire were actually the closing of doors in Strubbe's dorm room.
Almost immediately after the story hit the papers, Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich asked the Justice Department to release the FBI's complete report on the tape so it could be determined whether the FBI used the same advanced technology that Stuart Allen and Tom Owen used when it reached completely opposite conclusions. Allen denounced the FBI's conclusion as beyond ludicrous and there seems to be some question as to whether or not the FBI, in analyzing the tape, relied on the outdated 1974 study. In other words, we do not know whether the FBI compared apples to apples or apples to oranges.
I will have more on this latest development once the details of this FBI analysis is released. In the meantime, John Mangels' story in the Plain Dealer can be found at:
A Plain Dealer editorial arguing for the need for "a full and proper investigation of the tape's contents" can be found at:
This blog is written by William A. Gordon, a Kent State alumnus and the author of "Four Dead in Ohio" and three other books. It offers commentary on the still unfolding developments in the Kent State shooting case.