The Manchurian Candidate: Assassins and the CIA
Sirhan, Chapman and Ray: Real-Life Manchurian Candidates
Sirhan Sirhan was born in Jerusalem, to a Palestinian Christian family, on March 19, 1944. The family moved to America in 1956, first to New York, then eventually settling in California.
On June 5, 1968, Sirhan attended a rally at Los Angeless Ambassador Hotel for Robert F. Kennedy, who had just won the California primary for the Democratic nomination for president. Sirhan approached Kennedy and emptied his .22-caliber revolverfive bystanders were hit and Kennedy was shot three times. He was pronounced dead a day later.
Sirhan was an anti-Zionist, who fixated on Kennedy's promise to give Israel 20 military fighter jets. His mental state was called into question as investigators found Sirhan's journals, which had the phrase RFK Must Die written over and over, along with various nonsensical scribbling. Sirhan himself would veer wildly from admitting his guilt in the assassination, saying it was done with 20 years of malice aforethought, to claiming he had absolutely no memory of the event. Sirhan was convicted in 1969 and sentenced to death in the gas chamber, a sentence later commuted to life in prison.
Was Sirhan Sirhan one of these unlucky patsies of the rich and powerful? That he claimed no memory of the assassination would certainly fit the pattern. In addition, years after his conviction, he was examined by the leading American authority on hypnotism, Dr. Herbert Spiegel, a New York psychologist and instructor of hypnotism at Columbia University Medical School. Dr. Spiegel's findings were remarkable. Based on the ease with which he was able to induce Sirhan into a hypnotic state, Dr. Spiegel stated that Sirhan had clearly been hypnotized countless times before and that his mental malleability put him in the rarefied 10% of human beings who are cataloged as extraordinarily receptive to hypnotic suggestion. Further, Dr. Spiegel found that, even under intense hypnosis, Sirhan had absolutely no recollection of his assassination of Kennedy. Indeed, his whole three months prior to RFK's death was a white fog that neither Sirhan nor the Los Angeles Police Task Force could penetrate in attempting to pinpoint his whereabouts or activities. Was it during these lost three months that Sirhan received his hypnotic training and orders to gun down RFK?
Then there was Mark David Chapman, an ideal lone nut. Moving from Decatur, GA, to Chicago to Arkansas to Lebanon to Lookout Mountain, GA, to Hawaii in the span of a few years, Chapman became obsessed with The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salingers novel about teenage angst. Distraught over a messy break-up, Chapman attempted suicide and was hospitalized in a mental-health clinic. He became more withdrawn and violent, picking fights with coworkers and supervisors. Chapman also became fixated on John Lennon, incensed over the blasphemy that Lennon had declared The Beatles bigger than Jesus. In a turn of phrase borrowed from The Catcher in the Rye, Chapman became convinced that Lennon was a phony. Chapman allegedly would chant to himself over and over, The phony must die, says the catcher in the rye, an eerie parallel to Sirhans constantly rewritten mantra of RFK Must Die!
After shooting Lennon, rather than flee, Chapman sat calmly on the ground and read from The Catcher in the Rye, waiting for authorities to arrive. Is it possible that once the programmed Chapman completed his mission, his instruction were then to allow himself to be easily captured?
James Earl Ray was another drifter who moved from place to place, never really establishing roots and passing in and out of the criminal justice system. But this three-time convicted thief suddenly developed the skills to assassinate the preeminent civil-rights leader of the century and avoid capture in a worldwide manhunt, only to be ensnared in London over a simple passport snafu.
Ray first confessed to the murder, but recanted three days later, saying that he was only a pawn in a larger conspiracy. Ray had proven experiences with hypnotismwhen captured, one of the three books in his bag was titled Self-Hypnotism: The Technique and Its Use in Daily Living. Ray also spoke of being subdued by drugs and hypnotism during one of his previous stints in jail. Could it be that he was hypnotized into participating in the King assassination and then discarded to serve as a convenient scapegoat?