Is it finally over for Kent State? – New revelations ignored by government officials
Ohio State quietly declined a new investigation into the May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings. This despite a front-page article in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer (May 9, 2010) reporting that two audio forensics experts, using today’s advanced technology, concluded that they heard someone give the order “Prepare to shoot ” on a tape recording made by a student.
Amanda Wurst, the press secretary for Ohio Gov. George Strickland, emailed me saying, “We don’t have the resource [sic] to conduct such an analysis.” There has been no official announcement, and there may not be, but Wurst’s statement appeared to rule out any further investigation of the record by Ohio State.
It also looks like the US Department of Justice will join the state in pretending this new evidence doesn’t exist. Joe Bendo, a friend and business partner of Terry Strube, the Kent State graduate who recorded the shooting from a bedroom window, told me that no one at the Justice Department has contacted Strube or asked to review the original tape. More than two months have passed since the Justice Department was also asked to conduct additional testing. The ministry also has not made a public announcement, which comes as no surprise to longtime May 4 watchers.
The closings leave the Kent State case still unsolved. No more light will be shed on the most important unsolved mysteries: What happened in those final moments before four students were killed, and who gave that order to “prepare to fire” and why?
The tape controversy began more than three years ago when one of the injured students, Alan Canfora, who survived the shooting, claimed Strubbe’s tape had been enhanced by a rock ‘n’ roll friend. Canfora claims he can hear an order: “Right here. Set up. Point. Fire.” However, none of the eyewitnesses who testified before the FBI and other investigative bodies heard those words. The authenticity of his claim was also questioned by ex-servicemen who insisted that no officer would have issued such an unconventional command.
Last spring, a reporter for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer asked two nationally known forensic audio experts, Tom Owens and Stuart Allen, to review the tape separately. As the Plain Dealer reported, experts could not hear the words “Right here. Set up. Point. Shoot.” But experts said they heard something else no one expected: a “prepare to fire” order six seconds before the Ohio National Guard did just that.
Significantly, the two audio experts’ conclusions directly contradict the sworn testimony of more than 30 Guardsmen who testified in the 1975 civil trial that examined wrongful death and personal injury claims brought by the parents of the four slain students and the nine injured survivors . Almost to a man the guardsmen denied that there was such an order. If Owens and Allen are correct, it means that the guards committed extensive perjury during the trials. Such a cover-up would be one of the largest in modern history.
It now appears that if there is any further development in the case, it will not come from any official government body. Strube and Bendo have hired their own experts and plan to produce a documentary based on their findings. There is no way of knowing whether further analysis will confirm or cast doubt on the latest findings.
Meanwhile, the surviving victims are left with new suspicions as to why the Guardsmen resorted to lethal force. We are just a little closer to learning what happened when the Vietnam War was brought home.
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