CONCLUSIONS AND NEW INFORMATION
IN WILLIAM A. GORDON'S BOOK
What author William A. Gordon discovered while investigating the Kent State killings.
Mr. Gordon was able to penetrate secret federal grand jury testimony and learn that in 1974, the Justice Department asked a federal grand jury to indict eight Guardsmen on conspiracy charges. The grand jury balked and instead indicted eight soldiers on charges they violated the due process rights of the four slain and nine wounded students.
Previously undisclosed FBI files reveal that:
1. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover felt the victims deserved to be shot;
2. Hoover eagerly followed Nixon's instructions to "knock down" (that is, discredit) accurate news reports that the shootings were not necessary and that the Guardsmen could be prosecuted; and
3. After Hoover relayed that order, one of his top aides boasting of "scotching" those accurate news accounts.
Both the FBI and campus police covered up of an incident involving an armed undercover photographer who was seen brandishing a .38 caliber pistol at students shortly after the Guard fired. Because the photographer, Terry Norman, was the only civilian with a weapon, he was initially suspected of being the man who fired the first shot.
The author discovered that 13 Kent State police statements mysteriously disappeared from the desk from an officer when the FBI asked to see them; that Norman's sponsors in the KSU police department attempted to influence the statements of at least two eyewitnesses who thought Norman fired; that Norman positioned himself between the students and the Guardsmen and threw as many as a dozen rocks at the students; and that both the FBI and campus police, in "Mission Impossible"-style tried to disavow any knowledge of the actions of their undercover informant.
Stuart Allen, one of the audio experts who examined the tape of the shootings, was convinced he heard Norman fire four shots 70 seconds before the Guard's 67-shot barrage. However, the likelihood that the Guardsmen would have heard those shots, twiddled their rifles for a minute and 10 seconds before firing into the crowd, seems pretty far-fetched.
Kent State administrators prevented the public from discovering that six KSU police officers alleged that KSU's police chief, Donald Schwartzmiller, was drunk during the burning of the University R.O.T.C. building on May 2, 1970, and could not take command.
This is important because KSU police never attempted to stop the arsonists, and the burning of the R.O.T.C. building was the one act of violence which resulted in the calling-out of the National Guard.
Had the arson attempts failed (and the university's own investigation concluded: "The persons involved in the actual incendiarism were few, were separated from the main crowd, and could easily have been apprehended by the police"), the Guard never would have been called to campus, and no one would have been killed on May 4.
In an extensive and exclusive interview for the book, President Richard Nixon's chief domestic adviser John Ehrlichman claimed that Nixon initially secretly nixed the federal prosecution of the Guardsmen at the request of Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes. Ehrlichman also said it was fair to say that Nixon "calculatingly exploited" antiwar protestors for political gain.
Mr. Gordon also raises questions about why:
- No student or Guardsman indicted by the state and federal grand juries ever spent a day in jail as a result of the criminal proceedings;
- A high school student named George Walter Harrington, who gave an extraordinary confession to the FBI in which he admitted that he facilitated the burning of Kent's R.O.T.C. building (a confession that was mentioned prominently in memos circulated among top FBI officials) was never prosecuted or publicly identified before now;
- The KSU police made no attempt to prevent the R.O.T.C. fire when their own intelligence warned them of the impending arson. One detective even admitted telling a camera crew: "Don't pack your cameras. We are going to have a fire tonight";
- Alan Canfora, one of the surviving wounded students, lied to the FBI and a civil jury not only about how close he was to the soldiers when he was shot, but about his involvement in the three nights of violent protests that preceded the tragedy on May 4, 1970. Canfora, who tried to convince a civil jury that he was never an activist and a member of the infamous SDS (something he now proudly proclaims) and was just merely an innocent bystander, has since admitted to a reporter he was "in the thick of things" and was surprised that he the only indictment brought against him was for second degree rioting.