There was no Kent State conspiracy or cover up. I'm telling you, I know.
May 23, 2007 10:01 PM
But first, a little context:
The Cincinnati Beacon is up with a post on the Kent State shootings, which happened 37 years ago, in a time of angst and uncertainty about a foreign war. And when a good many people became extremely exercised about the motives of people in power, and were inclined to believe the worst.
The Beacon links to an article by Bob Fitrakis (a former Green Party candidate for Ohio Gov.) and Harvey Wasserman (a very well known left-wing academic and commentator). Their article contends that there is "new proof" that shows the Ohio National Guard intentionally opened fire on the students at Kent State, killing four of them. They write:
For 37 years the official cover story has been that a mysterious shot rang out and the young Guardsmen panicked, firing directly into the “mob” of students.
This week, that cover story was definitively proven to be a lie.
Prior to the shooting, a student named Terry Strubbe put a microphone at the window of his dorm, which overlooked the rally. According to the Associated Press, the 20-second tape is filled with “screaming anti-war protectors followed by the sound of gunfire.”
But in an amplified version of the tape, a Guard officer is also heard shouting “Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!”
The sound of gunshots follow the word “Point.” Four students soon lay dead.
The article contends that this tape was recently discovered, and that it proves what conspiracy theorists had long suspected--that the Government killed these students. In fact, Fitrakis and Wasserman go so far as to directly accuse then-Governor Rhodes of ordering the National Guard to open fire. They call it a "premeditated and unprovoked order" to fire live ammunition at the students, and that it came from the Governor:
For we now know that a premeditated, unprovoked order was indeed given to National Guardsmen to fire live ammunition at peaceful, unarmed American students, killing four of them. The illegal order to arm the Guard with live ammunition in the first place could only have come from the governor of Ohio.
It is a scathing claim. They are accusing Governor Rhodes and the Ohio National Guardsmen of murder. It is a claim that is not worthy of two people who are, though to the left, well-within the confines of customary Ohio political discourse.
And they are wrong. How do I know this? Seven years ago was the 30th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. At that time, I was a newly-minted law school grad, and was working for the government. And I was given an extraordinary assignment: review the Kent State files, and determine what the media could and could not see in response to FOIA and Ohio Public Records Act requests (they were writing their thirtieth anniversary retrospectives).* And I got to see everything, and determine what the press and the public would be allowed to see. There were boxes and boxes of materials--including all the records pertaining to the numerous investigations after the shootings. The records were so voluminous, it took weeks to review all of them. It was a brutal assignment--there are photos from the scene that day which are so graphic and disturbing that the press will not publish them. And, I quickly became an expert in all things related to Kent State.
I cannot comment on the contents of the non-public records, but I can say that very, very few fall in the non-public category, and the press got to see every thing pertinent. And the important thing is this: There is absolutely no evidence to support Fitrakis's and Wasserman's outrageous claims. None. All of the evidence supports the conclusions of the official investigations from thirty-seven years ago. There was no conspiracy, and neither the Ohio National Guard, nor Governor Rhodes, murdered anyone. It is disgraceful that Fitrakis and Wasserman would level the allegations that they have. There is no evidence to back up their claims of intentional and premeditated murder. None.
*If you're wondering why all the records are not available to the press or the public, the reason is that law enforcement investigatory records--especially those pertaining to uncharged suspects--cannot be produced under FOIA or the Ohio Public Records Act.