Dan E. Moldea: On the continuing false charges by Rose Lynn Mangan, "Sirhan's researcher"
January 7, 2007
Summary: In the aftermath of the May 1995 publication of my book, The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy: An Investigation of Motive, Means, and Opportunity (W.W. Norton)--in which I concluded that Sirhan Sirhan had committed the murder and acted alone--Team Sirhan launched a personal assault on me, mostly based on my supposed use of a hearsay quote.
Indeed, after Sirhan's apologists complained about the quote prior to publication, I removed it from my manuscript--because I agreed that it was based on hearsay. However, shortly thereafter, I found and interviewed the source of the quote, who also signed a statement confirming what I had initially reported. My publisher and I then returned to the manuscript and replaced the quote--which was no longer mere hearsay.
Now, after all of their other attacks against me since 1995 have failed, Team Sirhan--led by "Sirhan's researcher," Rose Lynn Mangan of Nevada--has suddenly resurrected this issue on Mangan's personal website, as well as in a January 1 letter to me, even though the facts haven't changed during the past twelve years.
In short, I acted responsibly as a journalist and author, as the August 26, 1995, letter below to my editor at W.W. Norton proves.
Dan E. Moldea
Washington, D.C. 20007
August 26, 1995
[W.W. Norton's address]
New York, New York 10110
Today I received a copy of an August 13 memorandum Rose Lynn Mangan, Sirhan Sirhan's most-trusted handler, sent to W. W. Norton & Company, alleging that I have published a hearsay quote. According to Mangan, this statement was based on nothing more than information I had received from Bob Kaiser, an investigator for Sirhan's defense team during the 1969 trial. Kaiser told me that the now-contested quote had been given to him by Michael McCowan, another investigator for Sirhan's defense team.
In documents attached to Mangan's memorandum, both Sirhan and his older brother, Adel Sirhan, have joined in this complaint with their own written statements. Also, they have alleged that I did not ask Sirhan about McCowan's statement during my [three] interviews with him.
In short, these charges are without merit. Here is why:
On January 23, 1995, Mangan called and told me that she had obtained the bound galleys of my book. I later learned that she had received the book from her friend, Harry Kruk, who had obtained the galleys from Kaiser, whom I had originally asked to review the book. (I wrote a letter about this matter to you on January 24. You instructed me to communicate with Norton's attorney. . . . On January 26, after receiving additional information, I sent her a letter, as you directed.)
On January 28, Mangan called and complained about the final quote in the last chapter of the bound galleys, which stated:Michael McCowan--who, like Kaiser, had been an investigator for Sirhan's defense team--privately tells another story, indicating Sirhan's clear knowledge of his crime. During a prison visitation, McCowan tried to reconstruct the murder with Sirhan.Prior to my third interview with Sirhan Sirhan in June 1994 and Mangan's January 1995 complaint, I had not yet spoken to McCowan, whom I had aggressively attempted but failed to reach. Thus, I based the statement solely on Kaiser's recollection.
Suddenly, in the midst of their conversation, Sirhan started to explain the moment when his eyes met Kennedy's just before he shot him.
Shocked by what Sirhan had just admitted, McCowan asked, "Then why, Sirhan, didn't you shoot him between the eyes?"
With no hesitation and no apparent remorse, Sirhan replied, "Because that son of a bitch turned his head at the last second."
During that final interview with Sirhan, I specifically asked him whether he had ever told anyone about the moment his eyes met Kennedy's just before he shot him. Sirhan denied making any such statement. This was consistent with the version of events he had maintained during my three interviews with him--that he had no memory of entering the crime scene and shooting Kennedy.
Sirhan's refusal to admit that he remembered anything about the murder is thoroughly discussed in my book, especially in Chapter 29. His quoted words are clearly on the record. Consequently, I saw no need to note Sirhan's specific denial for McCowan's statement at the end of Chapter 30. As is now widely known, I used that final chapter to dismiss and debunk Sirhan's version. The evidence is clear that from the outset Sirhan has lied about what he does and does not remember.
As a further indication of Sirhan Sirhan's character and memory, I have attached an undated handwritten letter from Sirhan to his attorney, whom he addressed as "Hey Punk," threatening to have Kaiser murdered. Sirhan wrote: "If [Kaiser] get his brains spattered he will have asked for it like Bobby Kennedy did. Kennedy didn't scare me, don't think that you, or Kaiser will."
I cite this letter on pages 325-326 of my book. It appears just before the McCowan quote. Predictably, during my final interview with Sirhan, he said that he did not remember writing this letter.
Discussions among Mangan, Adel Sirhan, and me about the McCowan quote continued from January 28-31, 1995, culminating with a two-hour conference call during the early morning hours of January 31. During this lengthy conversation, I conceded that the quote Kaiser had attributed to McCowan was hearsay; and I agreed to remove it from my book. However, I made it clear that I would resubmit the quote if I ever did reach McCowan, and he confirmed it. After the conference call, I redoubled my efforts to locate McCowan.
I memorialized my decision in a January 31 letter to Mangan and Adel Sirhan. I also called your fine assistant . . . . and informed her of this correction. I asked her to take the entire quote out of the bound galleys, which she did.
On Saturday, February 19, McCowan finally called me after learning that I had been looking for him. During our conversation, I asked McCowan about the alleged conversation he had with Sirhan. McCowan gave me the details, confirming exactly what Kaiser had told me.
I then asked McCowan if he would sign a statement. He agreed to do so. McCowan signed the statement [on February 25] and returned it to me. It is attached.
On Monday, February 27, I faxed a copy of McCowan's signed statement to you and asked that his quote be returned to the final page of the text of my book. (McCowan's quote appears on page 326.)
The day before, I notified Mangan by telephone of McCowan's confirmation of the quote--an act of good faith on my part, which Mangan conveniently omitted from her complaint.
As we have already seen, Sirhan's supporters will stop at nothing to discredit anyone who disagrees with them, which is consistent with what I wrote on page 325: Sirhan has expressed "a willingness to say and do whatever it will take to get out of prison." Mangan's complaint against me clearly demonstrates that they are even willing to conjure up a fabricated issue through the use of imaginary evidence.
Sirhan's team is currently preparing for an evidentiary hearing in an attempt to gain a new trial for this convicted murderer. McCowan's statement, left unchallenged, annihilates the driving theory behind Sirhan's defense--that Sirhan was programmed by persons unknown to kill Kennedy and then programmed to forget about it.
With the publication of my book--which has been nationally recognized as well researched, accurate, and balanced--I had hoped to get this case behind me. I have no inclination to get involved any further.
However, if Sirhan's defense team makes any more of these irresponsible charges against me and my work, I will launch a personal crusade to keep Sirhan in jail where he belongs. In other words, I will seriously consider cooperating with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and testifying against Sirhan at his next parole hearing in 1996.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Dan E. Moldea