We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Arthur Bremer, one of four sons, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 21 August 1950. His father, William Bremer, was a truck driver. Arthur hated school and later wrote: "No English or History test was ever as hard, no math final exam ever as difficult as waiting in a school lunch line alone, waiting to eat alone... while hundreds huddled& gossiped & roared, & laughed & stared at me." (1)
In 1970 he attended Milwaukee Area Technical College, specializing in photography. Instructors and classmates described him in such terms as "a confident loner" and "wound up like a spring." He expressed hawkish views on the Vietnam War, on one occasion saying "he would go over there and bomb them all to pieces." (1a)
For a time Bremer worked as a busboy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. However, his habit of talking to himself disturbed the customers and some believed he was suffering from paranoia. In October, 1971 it was decided to give him a new job working in the kitchen. Bremer was unhappy with this demotion and the following month obtained a job as a school janitor. (2)
While working as a school janitor he met 15-year-old girl, Joan Pemrich. After three dates Joan refused to see him anymore as she considered him to be "goofy" and "weird". On 13th January, 1972, Joan's mother told Bremer to leave her daughter alone. Bremer was devastated. "He repeatedly phoned her, begging her to see him again but the girl flatly refused. He wracked his brain for a way to communicate the depth of his pain at her rejection. Then he shaved his head 'to show her that inside I felt as empty as my shaved head.' Catching up with her, he pulled off his knit cap and showed her his bald pate. She walked away from him without speaking." (3)
Over the next two days Bremer purchased two handguns, a .38 caliber pistol and a 9-mm Browning automatic. After a incident where he fired bullets into a ceiling he was arrested by the police in Milwaukee. After undergoing a psychiatric evaluation he was charged with and fined for disorderly conduct. On 15th February, 1972, Arthur Bremer left his job at the athletic club, where he had worked full-time or part-time for three years, without saying anything to anyone and never returned. (4)
In March, 1972, Bremer attended a George Wallace campaign meeting at Milwaukee's Red Carpet Airport Inn. At the end of the evening Bremer picked up a bundle of posters, bumper stickers and a Wallace lapel button. Over the next few days he began pasting posters on the lampposts in Milwaukee. Friends later said that he was a consistent admirer of Wallace, who in past campaigns has indicated that he would run over demonstrators who lay down in front of his car. At this time he considered assassinating George McGovern, but decided the candidate who represented hippies, minorities, and anti-war protestors was too marginal of a figure. (5)
The New York Times carried out a detailed investigation of Bremer's movements during this period. It pointed out that Bremer made no effort to be inconspicuous during the 10 weeks in which he frequented political rallies last winter and this spring. "Most times, he was colorfully dressed. 'He looked like a flag,' said a man who watched him at a Michigan Wallace rally. Usually, the 21-year-old former bus boy wore a red, white and blue shirt and red, white and blue socks, a dark blue suit with vest, and silvered sunglasses, and his red, white and blue tie was knotted around his neck, inside the open collar of his shirt. In his more than two months of traveling from political rally to political rally, Mr. Bremer used his correct name when staying at hotels or motels. At the rallies at which he has definitely been placed, he invariably was at the front of the crowd. He drew so much attention to himself that on at least three occasions he was noticed by policemen." (6)
However, on 7th-8th April, 1972, Bremer stayed at the expensive Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Senator Hubert Humphrey, was scheduled to be at the Waldorf on 7th, but the trip was canceled. William W. Turner carried out an investigation into Bremer's finances: "During his travels Bremer ate and drank well and stayed in the finest lodgings, an extravagance that raises the question of his finances. Internal Revenue Service forms found in his apartment show that he earned $3,106.44 during 1971, and his part-time job at the Milwaukee Athletic Club brought him a bit over $300 in early 1972. After taxes, he was left with some $3,100 for a period of more than sixteen months. A form from the Mitchell Street State Bank noted that $20.66 in interest was paid to his account in 1970, indicating a principal sum of approximately $500. This would bring the sum of his funds to about $3,600 - less than $220 a month."
Turner spoke to Bremer's parents and they confirmed that their son did not make enough to support himself and his mother began taking him meals at work. "Bremer's known income was badly out of kilter with his expenditures for the period. In round numbers, he spent some $1,000 for rent, $795 for a 1967 Rambler, and $275 for three guns, a total of $2,070 for these items alone. He owned a tape recorder, portable radio with police band, binoculars and other equipment. Adding the cost of food, sundries, gasoline, repairs, air and ferry fares, hotel and motel accommodations and such miscellaneous outlays as $48 in a New York massage parlor - he offered the masseuse $100 to turn a trick in his Waldorf-Astoria room - one arrives at a conservative figure of $4,200 spent... it appears that he received at least $1,500 and perhaps substantially more from a mysterious source. The Milwaukee police checked on the possibility that he committed a robbery or burglary, but found no indication of it." (6a)
Earl S. Nunnery, trainmaster for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's rail-auto ferry, confirmed that records of names and license plates, which must be given for reservations, show the suspect took his automobile from Milwaukee to Ludington, Mich.on 9th April." Nunnery said that "Bremer had been accompanied to the ferry's ticket window by a well-dressed man about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 225 pounds, with heavily sprayed curly hair that hung down over his ears. He said that the man had talked excitedly in what he took to be a New York accent about moving a political campaign from Wisconsin to Michigan." (7) Bob Woodward had an anonymous call saying that one of the Watergate suspects had gone Milwaukee to meet with Arthur Bremer. (8)
Martin Waldron of the New York Times carried out a detailed investigation into the possibility that Bremer was part of a political conspiracy. "Thus far, newsmen have been unable to find any evidence of a conspiracy. Mr. Bremer does not appear to have traveled with a companion, although at several places he was seen with someone else.... The first report of a companion traveling with Mr. Bremer came from Milwaukee. On April 9, a curly-haired man with bushy moustache was reported to be with Mr. Bremer when he inquired at Milwaukee about taking his blue 1967 Rambler automobile across Lake Michigan by ferry. The man was talking about politics. The manager of the ferry operation, Earl S. Nunnery, positively recalled the April scene about 10 days ago. After it became known that Mr. Bremer had apparently been registered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on the nights of April 7 and April 8, a second check was made with Mr. Nunnery, but he refused to answer questions, slamming the door in a reporter's face." (9)
William W. Turner managed to get an interview with ferrymaster Nunnery: "Shortly before his April 9 trip across Lake Michigan, Bremer showed up at the ticket window with a well-dressed man. The two talked excitedly about moving a political campaign from Wisconsin to Michigan (where Wallace was entered in the primary election set for May 16.)" Nunnery gave Turner a description of Bremer's associate: "He struck me as of Greek extraction. The guy would pass for a football player. He'd go over six feet two and 225 pounds... The fellow talked with a New York accent... a Jersey brougue... He was a mouthy person, had a million questions, talked like he had a computer in his mouth " (9a)
It was later reported that Roger Gordon, a former member of the Secret Army Organization (SAO), a government intelligence agency, identified Bremer's ferry contact as Anthony Ulasewicz, (10) After his election victory in 1968, Richard Nixon appointed Jack Caulfield, as Staff Assistant to the President. In March 1969, Caulfield met with Ulasewicz, a former member of the NYPD's Bureau of Special Service and Investigation. "Caulfield outlined the big secret. He said the White House wanted to set up its own investigative resource which would be quite separate from the FBI, CIA, or Secret Service... The new administration, Caulfield said, was finding government intelligence methods to be deficient... Caulfield claimed that Ehrlichman, Nixon's Counsel at the White House, had assigned him to check out what it would cost to set up an off the books, secret intelligence operation." (11)
In his diary, Bremer claimed he went to Canada on 14th April 1972 in an attempt to assassinate President Nixon who was visiting the country. (12) He lamented that the President's motorcade had passed him six times, and that he had never got to fire the 38-caliber revolver in his pocket. (13) It was reported in The Toronto Star that "federal sources said that Bremer had been positively placed in Ottawa during the President's visit, but they said that there was no evidence that Bremer was 'stalking' Nixon." (14) In his diary Bremer wrote: "I want something to happen. I was supposed to be dead a week & a day ago. Or at least infamous." (15)
On 15th May, 1972, Bremer attended a meeting held by George Wallace in Laurel, Maryland. After he had finished speaking, Wallace shook hands with some of those present, against the advice of his Secret Service guards. Bremer shouted: "Hey, George, let me shake hands with you!" Wallace turned into the direction of the voice and extended his hand. Less than three feet away, Bremer began firing. One bullet ripped through Wallace's forearm and shoulder, another entered his right abdomen and stomach, while a third bullet pierced his right rib cage and lodged in his spine. Bremer was attacked by the crowd and finally three policemen wrestled a bloody Bremer away and dragged him to a waiting squad car. (16)
Richard Nixon feared that he would be in some way associated with the assassination attempt. As Jeb Stuart Magruder pointed out: "I was also involved in a fiasco of my own that winter, one that related to two of our major political preoccupations-winning California, and the electoral threat posed by George Wallace. The Alabama governor was a constant concern to us. If he ran in 1972, would the third-party split help us or hurt us? The equation was a complex one, but the consensus was that he would hurt us, and there were constant discussions and plans on how to keep him out of the race, ranging from preempting him with go-slow school integration policies to our putting several hundred thousand dollars into the campaign of the man who ran against Wallace for governor in 1970. The ongoing White House concern about Wallace was reflected in a constant stream of memos from Haldeman asking us for up-to-the-minute reports on how many state primaries Wallace would be able to enter." (17)
Richard E. Sprague later wrote: "George Wallace was another matter. At the time he was shot, he was drawing 18% of the vote according to the polls, and most of that was in Nixon territory. The conservative states such as Indiana were going for Wallace. He was eating into Nixon's southern strength. In April the polls showed McGovern pulling a 41%, Nixon 41% and Wallace 18%. It was going to be too close for comfort, and it might be thrown into the House - in which case Nixon would surely lose. There was the option available of eliminating George McGovern, but then the Democrats might come up with Hubert Humphrey or someone else even more dangerous than McGovern. Nixon's best chance was a head-on contest with McGovern. Wallace had to go." (18)
Mark Felt of the FBI (later named by Bob Woodward as Deep Throat) immediately took charge of the case. According to the historian Dan T. Carter, Felt had a trusted contact in the White House: Charles Colson, Nixon's main organizer of dirty tricks against the Democratic Party. Felt gave Colson the news. Within 90 minutes of the shooting Richard Nixon and Colson are recorded discussing the case. Nixon told Colson that he was concerned that Bremer “might have ties to the Republican Party or, even worse, the President’s re-election committee”. Nixon also asked Colson to find a way of blaming George McGovern for the shooting. (19)
In his autobiography, E. Howard Hunt, a member of Nixon's Special Investigations Group (SIG), revealed that soon after the shooting he was contacted by Colson: "I was surprised to get a call from Chuck Colson the following morning, asking me to fly to Milwaukee, where Bremer lived, break into his home, and plant leftist literature to connect him to the Democrats." According to Hunt he replied: "Are you nuts? How the hell am I going to get into a sealed apartment that's being watched by the FBI?" Hunt later discovered that while Nixon was commenting publicly on the shooting as something "senseless and tragic," he was also "leaning on Colson to assign a break-in at Bremer's apartment." (20) William W. Turner has suggested that Hunt might have not been telling the whole truth about this telephone conversation. He has suggested that he night have been asking Hunt to remove any literature that linked Bremer to Nixon. (20a)
At 5:00 p.m. Thomas Farrow, head of the Baltimore FBI, passed details of Bremer’s address to the FBI office in Milwaukee. Soon afterwards two FBI agents arrived at Bremer’s apartment block and begin interviewing neighbours. However, they do not have a search warrant and did not go into Bremer’s apartment. At around the same time, James Rowley, head of the Secret Service, ordered one of his Milwaukee agents to enter Bremer’s apartment. It has never been revealed why Rowley took this action. It is while this agent was searching the apartment that the FBI discovered what was happening. (21)
The Secret Service took away documents from Bremer’s apartment. It is not known if they planted anything before they left. Anyway, the FBI discovered material published by the Black Panther Party and the American Civil Liberties Union in the apartment. Both sets of agents now left Bremer’s apartment unsealed. Over the next 80 minutes several reporters enter the apartment and take away documents. Ken Wade Clawson, Nixon's deputy director of communications told journalists that it was clear from literature found in Bremer's "that the assassin was connected to leftist causes, possibility the campaign of Senator George S. McGovern." (22)
Charles Colson also phoned journalists at the Washington Post and Detroit News with the news that evidence had been found that Bremer is a left-winger and was connected to the campaign of George McGovern. The reporters were also told that Bremer is a “dues-paying member of the Young Democrats of Milwaukee”. Bob Woodward was one of several journalists who published the story. However, he added other details that argued against this view: "One White House source said that when President Nixon was informed of the shooting, he became deeply upset and voiced concern that the attempt on Gov. Wallace's life might have been made by someone with ties to the Republican Party or the Nixon campaign. If such a tie existed, the source said, the President indicated it could cost him the election, which was then less than six months away." (23)
The following day that the FBI discovered Bremer’s 137-page written diary in his blue Rambler car. The opening sentence was: "Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace." Nixon was initially suspected of being behind the assassination but the contents of the diary went against this theory. Dan T. Carter argues that "there was no political bombshell in the portion of the diary they recovered from Bremer's car." He added that "as the Bureau began to check and recheck the gunman's background and to correlate their investigation and his diary, it became more and more likely that Bremer was exactly what he appeared to be, a pathetic misfit and loner who followed the classic pattern of the political assassins of the 1960s: Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and James Earl Ray." (24)
Bremer’s trial lasted only five days. His attorney, Benjamin Lipsitz argued that Bremer was a "schizophrenic" who could not be held responsible for his actions. According to Homer Bigart, of the New York Times: "The reading of Bremer's diary by the defense counsel, Mr. Lipsitz, may have insured the guilty verdict. Some of the jurors, instead of finding Bremer's account of his assassination plans bizarre and irrational thought that the document was coherent and not a bit insane." One of the jurors, Jack Goldinher, said: "A lot of guilt ran through that diary. He couldn't get Nixon, so he picked Wallace. I don't think it made much difference to him as long as it was somebody famous. As for sanity - he might have been a little withdrawn, but he wasn't insane or crazy." (25)
The jurors were unanimous on the first poll. Bremer was tried on charges of assault with intent to murder, of using a handgun in a crime of violence, and illegally carrying a handgun. County Judge Ralph W. Powers sentenced him to 43 years in the penitentiary: 33 years for the attack on George Wallace and 10 years each for shooting the other victims. "Bremer's strangely chilling grin (psychiatrists testified it was part of his defense mechanism) vanished when he heard the verdict. The 21-year-old Milwaukee busboy had clowned occasionally during the testimony, turning in his chair to stick out his tongue at the spectators. Now he was subdued." (26)
In December, 1973, Gore Vidal, wrote a long article about the the possible relationship between Arthur Bremer and E. Howard Hunt in The New York Review of Books. "Arthur H. Bremer shot George Wallace, governor of Alabama, at Laural, Maryland, and was easily identified as the gunman and taken into custody. Nearby in a rented car, the police found Bremer's diary… According to the diary, Bremer had tried to kill Nixon in Canada but failed to get close enough. He then decided to kill George Wallace. The absence of any logical motive is now familiar to most Americans, who are quite at home with the batty killer who acts alone in order to be on television, to be forever entwined with the golden legend of the hero he has gunned down. In a nation that worships psychopaths, the Oswald-Bremer-Sirhan-Ray figure is to the general illness what Robin Hood was to a greener, saner world."
Vidal argued that Bremer could not have written the diary: "For someone who is supposed to be nearly illiterate there are startling literary references and flourishes in the Bremer diary. The second entry contains: 'You heard of One Day in the Life of Ivan Dyntsovich . Yesterday was my day.' The misspelling of Denisovich is not bad at all. Considering the fact that the name is a hard one for English-speaking people to get straight, it is something of a miracle that Bremer could sound the four syllables of the name correctly in his head. Perhaps he had the book in front of him but if he had, he would not have got the one letter wrong."
Vidal adds: "Bremer goes to a massage parlor in New York... The scene is nicely done and the author writes correctly and lucidly until, suddenly, a block occurs and he can't spell anything right – as if the author suddenly remembers that he is meant to be illiterate… On this page, as though to emphasizing Bremer's illiteracy, we get 'spair' for 'spare,' 'enphasis' for 'emphasis,' and 'remember'. Yet on the same page the diarist has no trouble spelling 'anticipation,' 'response,' 'advances'... The author of the diary gives us a good many random little facts – seat numbers of airplanes, prices of meals. He does not like 'hairy hippies'. A dislike he 'shares' with HH (Howard Hunt). He also strikes oddly jarring literary notes. On his arrival in New York, he tells us that he forgot his guns which the captain then turned over to him, causing the diarist to remark 'irony abounds'. A phrase one doubts that the actual Arthur Bremer would have used. As word and quality, irony is not part of America's demotic speech or style. Later crossing the Great Lakes he declares 'Call me Ismal'. Had he read Moby Dick? Unlikely… No matter who wrote the diary we are dealing with a true author. One who writes, 'Like a novelist who knows not how his book will end – and I have written this journal – what a shocking surprise that my inner character shall steal the climax and destroy the author and save the anti-hero from assassination!' Only one misspelling in that purple patch is not irony that abounds as much in these pages as literature… If he lives to be re-examined, one wonders if he will tell us what company he kept during the spring of 1972, and whether or not a nice man helped him to write his diary, as a document for the ages like the scrolls in the caves. (Although H.H. is a self-admitted forger of state papers I do not think that he actually had an hand in writing Bremer's diary on the ground that the journal is a brilliant if flawed job of work, and beyond H.H's known literary competences". (27)
Bremer told his brother that others were involved and that he was paid by them. (28) In May, 1974, Martha Mitchell visited George Wallace in Montgomery. She told him that her husband, John N. Mitchell, suggested that Charles Colson was involved in the attempt to kill Wallace. Cornelia Wallace, told The Birmingham News that Mitchell had said to his wife: "What was Charles Colson doing, talking with Arthur Bremer four days before he shot George Wallace." (29)
George Wallace became convinced that he was a victim of a political conspiracy and that Nixon's campaign team had financed Bremer. After his visit from Martha Mitchell, Wallace gave an interview to Chicago Sun-Times. He pointed out that Bremer seldom made more than thirty dollars a week. "How can he buy an automatic, buy two guns? Stay at the Waldorf Astoria, go to massage parlors, rent limousines, go to Canada, follow me all around?" Where did Bremer get the money? His final point was why did this community-college dropout just happen to write a diary which 'proved' that he was acting alone. (30) Wallace was also skeptical of Bremer's diary found in his car after the shooting, pointing out that Bremer had never written one before. Wallace suggested to Nicholas C. Chriss that "the diary was written for him and he copied it." (30a)
Research carried out by William W. Turner supports this theory. "The document (the diary) is laced with misspellings and grammatical errors which seem atypical of Bremer. His father, William Bremer, made available a high school copybook containing fifteen words, three of which were misspelled. Yet his sixty-word letter to Congressman Reuss was flawless, and a composition he wrote in high-school English class in 1968 revealed no such disabilities. In grading him 'A' his English teacher commented: 'An excellent creation of the troubled young man of today's and yesterday's world. You can be very proud of this work!'" (30b)
Most of the media ignored the comments made by Martha Mitchell and George Wallace. However, Donald Freed, an investigative journalist who had published articles and books on politics and civil rights movements, established the Citizens Research and Investigation Committee (CRIC), a Los Angeles based group of journalists active in the 1960s and 1970s, He believed he identified Anthony Ulasewicz as the man who had been identified by Earl S. Nunnery, trainmaster for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway as being with Bremer on 7th April, 1972. (31)
In March 1969, Jack Caulfield, Staff Assistant to the President, had recruited Ulasewicz, a former member of the NYPD's Bureau of Special Service and Investigation. Caulfield claimed that Ehrlichman, Nixon's Counsel at the White House, had assigned him to check out what it would cost to set up an off the books, secret intelligence operation." (32)
Freed claimed: "The full story remains to be told. But during 1972-Z3, our research group, the Citizens Research and Investigation Committee (CRIC), receive several bits of unconfirmed information which are worthy of note: On July 13, 1973 Roger Gordon, fifty-three, a member of the right-wing Secret Army Organization (SAO) fled from a hiding place in Australia to beg asylum in Suva, Fiji. According to the Associated Press, Gordon "had secret information concerning Watergate" and feared for his life. His information: that the heavy-set man with the "Joisey brogue" seen giving orders to Bremer on an Ohio ferry was Anthony Ulasewicz, a White House operative." (33)
Alan Stang, writing in the John Birch Society monthly American Opinion reported that Nunnery had positively identified a picture of Dennis Cossini as Bremer's companion. Cossini was described as a member of the Students for a Democratic Society at Marquette University. (33a) However, Nunnery later denied that he had picked out Cossini, commenting that the picture Stang showed him was of poor quality and only represented "the nearest thing to him I've seen." (33b)
Richard E. Sprague, the author of The Taking of America (1985): argued that Donald Segretti supplied money to Bremer before he attempted to assassinate George Wallace. "Arthur Bremer was selected. The first contacts were made by people who knew both Bremer and Segretti in Milwaukee. They were members of a leftist organization planted there as provocateurs by the intelligence forces within the Power Control Group. One of them was a man named Dennis Cossini. Bremer was programmed over a period of months. He was first set to track Nixon and then Wallace. When his hand held the gun in Laurel, Maryland, it might just as well have been in the hand of Donald Segretti, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Richard Helms, or Richard Nixon. With Wallace's elimination from the race and McGovern's increasing popularity in the primaries, the only question remaining for the Power Control Group was whether McGovern had any real chance of winning. The polls all showed Wallace's vote going to Nixon and a resultant landslide victory. That, of course, is exactly what happened." (34)
George Wallace continued to argue that the assassination attempt was organized by Nixon's team in the White House. According to his son, George Wallace Jr.: "We seek the release of any additional tapes which could possibly shed any light on the actions of Arthur Bremer in relation to his assassination attempt on my father... Since 1972, we have heard on different occasions that Bremer was seen on a ferry in the state of Michigan, where he did stalk my father at one time, with someone who worked directly for President Nixon... I do know that Bremer stalked my father for several weeks, staying in some of the finest hotels in the country... I have always wondered how a 21-year-old man with no visible means of support could enjoy such a comfortable life style." (35)
Arthur Bremer was released from the Maryland Correctional Institution on 9th November, 2007 and went to live in Cumberland. "Officials say Bremer has been living in an apartment on the city's east side since he was released from prison last week. Bremer walked away from the Maryland Correctional Institution after serving 35 years behind bars. He is currently under the supervision of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation until his sentence ends in 2025. Local officials have been assured that Bremer is not a threat." (36)
The following week the Cumberland Times News reported that Bremer was living at "Footer Place off Frederick Street" and was being looked after by the religious organization, Restoration of the Heart. Frances Jones, the director of the organization commented that her goal is to get "him back out there in the world, the same as everyone else." A bicycle and a toaster were two items requested. "It's just a joy to see the person's face in being able to be free, to be normal and to be alone," Jones said. "My heart is overwhelmed, it's overjoyed at how this child is coming out to a new world. He's nothing like what he's been made out to be." The newspaper added: "Bremer has reportedly declined media interviews, including some that included offers of monetary payment." (37)
People know now who Arthur Herman Bremer is. It wasn't always so, even on the streets of his own fading, middle-class neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side. To most he passed unnoticed with his peculiar shuffling gait, head down, feet pointed outward. To those whose lives he did touch, he was an enigma, often to be somehow pitied, more frequently to be shunned.
Then, shortly after 4 P.M. last Monday Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama was felled at a campaign rally at a nearby Laurel, Md., shopping center by a burst of shots fired at point-blank range from a snub-nosed Charter Arms.38-caliber revolver.
Stunned policemen guarding the Governor pounced on a short man with close cropped blond hair who had worked his way close to the hand-shaking candidate.
The man, who has been charged with the shooting, was Arthur Herman Bremer, the morose 21-year-old unemployed and largely unnoticed bus boy and janitor from Milwaukee...
He had in recent weeks been giving some attention to tales of assassination. In the car were copies of R.F.K. Must Die by Robert Kaiser and Sirhan by Aziz Shabab. Both books about Sirhart Bishara Sirhan, the convicted killer of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, were checked out of the Milwaukee Public Library on May 5...
The picture painstakingly pieced together in the week since Governor Wallace and three other persons were wounded by five revolver shots is often murky. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who are also retracing that puzzling path, have told many potential sources not to talk with newsmen...
The only friend of Arthur Bremer's that neighbors could recall was Thomas Neuman, who shot and killed himself in front of his sister on May 22, 1971, while playing Russian roulette...
Although he is described as frugal by his brother Roger and some who worked with him, on Sept. 14 he paid $795 in cash for the blue Rambler...
Probably no one but he knows when or why he developed an interest in Governor Wallace. He was not political, according to those who knew him. His father, who favors Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, has said that in the past he thought his son had been a Humphrey supporter, it anything.
Nevertheless, earlier this year he pasted Wallace stickers on his car and on the door of his apartment. There were also references to Governor Wallace in his writings, such as: "Happiness is hearing George Wallace sing the National Anthem, or having him arrested for a hit-and-run accident."
While some persons have read that as ambivalent, others have noted that it could be consistent for an admirer of the Governor, who in past campaigns has indicated that he would run over demonstrators who lay down in front of his car.
A Milwaukee Sentinel reporter has said that he thinks he remembers having seen Arthur Bremer at a meeting of Wallace supporters on March. 1. Some members of the Wallace campaign staff who were in Wisconsin for the April 4 Democratic Presidential primary have also said that they thought they recalled a man of his description at a Milwaukee rally.
Still, no one could be found who seemed to know for sure what Arthur Bremer was doing in March. Although his neighbors said that they had never known him to make long trips, he did take some in April.
On April 7 and 8, he stayed at the expensive Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The F.B.I. has seized the hotel records and told employees not to discuss the matter, so how much his bill was or how he paid it was not available. Senator Humphrey was scheduled to be at the Waldorf April 7, but the trip was canceled.
Earl S. Nunnery, trainmaster for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's rail-auto ferry, confirmed today an Associated Press report that records of names and license plates, which must be given for reservations, show the suspect took his automobile from Milwaukee to Ludington, Mich., on April 9 and May 9. The news agency also said that he made a return trip from Ludington on April 28.
The records show that Mr. Bremer was alone in his car for the 8:15 P.M. departure on April 9. The time of his departure led to speculation that he must have flown to and from New York if he stayed in the Waldorf the night of AprIl 8.
Mr. Nunnery said that Mr. Bremer, in an earlier visit to try to make reservations, had been accompanied to the ferry's ticket window by a well-dressed man about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 225 pounds, with heavily sprayed curly hair that hung down over his ears.
He said that the man had talked excitedly in what he took to be a New York accent about moving a political campaign from Wisconsin to Michigan.
Mr. Nunnery said that the visit would have been a day or two after, the April 4 Wisconsin primary, but that neither the other man nor Mr. Bremer, whom he identified from photographs, had mentioned the name of the candidate they seemed to be working for.
He said that he had been curious enough to look at their car as they left to see if it had a political bumper sticker, but it had none. He added that he had seen a third person with long hair, who could have been man or a woman. He said that the car was not the one registered to Mr. Bremer, which he apparently took on the ferry trips to Michigan.
The next concrete evidence of Mr. Bremer's whereabouts that The New York Times was able to uncover came when on April 15 he received a speeding ticket for driving 75 miles an hour in a 65-mile an hour zone as he headed south at 6:40 P.M. on Route 81 about 15 miles from Binghamton, N. Y.
During that period, Governor Wallace was doing most of his campaigning in Indiana, Louisiana and Texas, far from any place that Route 81, which runs from Canada to Tennessee, would logically have taken Arthur Bremer...
In the latter part of April, neighbors recalled having seen Mr. Bremer in Milwaukee. And sometime during the first week of that month he joined the Milwaukee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, paying $10 for a basic membership. When he was arrested, he asked for an A.C.L.U. lawyer, but after investigating, the. Baltimore chapter decided there were no indications of violations of constitutional rights on which to represent him.
Jerry Stone, an attendant at Aldo's Standard Service, a filling station near Arthur Bremer's apartment where Mr. Bremer used to buy gasoline and occasionally fuss with his car, recalled that late in April or early in May he had seen the suspect.
Then on May 5, Mr. Bremer checked out the two books on the Robert F. Kennedy assassination from the public library.
Except for one neighbor who thinks she may have seen him May 8 or 9, most people do not recall his having been in Milwaukee after May 5.
If he did leave the city then, he apparently spent most of the next 10 days driving his old Rambler Rebel, which he had fitted out with blankets, pillows and most of his belongings, over the highways between Michigan and Maryland.
In the days since the shooting, a number of persons have said they thought they saw Arthur Bremer at Wallace rallies in Maryland or Michigan during that period.
While most of the sightings have not been confirmed, he was in Kalamazoo, Mich., for the rally there May 13...
How did the former bus boy and janitor, who earned $3,016 last year, according to a Federal income tax form found in his apartment, support himself during his unemployment and manage to buy the guns, tape recorder, portable radio with police band, binoculars and other equipment he was carrying, as well as finance his travels?
His father has told the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a source said, that his thrifty son, who had a savings account at the Mitchell Street State Bank in Milwaukee, had withdrawn substantial sums in recent months and had been living off the money. Bank officials declined to discuss the account.
Police immediately arrested a blond young man identified as Arthur Herman Bremer, a 21-year-old busboy and janitor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was charged by state authorities with four counts of assault with intent to murder and was arraigned in Baltimore on two federal charges. One of the federal charges was interfering with the civil rights of a candidate for federal office, a provision of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. The Wallace second charge was for assaulting a federal officer; one of the four people shot at the rally was a Secret Service officer.
In Washington, federal sources said that Bremer had been positively placed in Ottawa during the President's visit, but they said that there was no evidence that Bremer was "stalking" Nixon.... Overall security for Nixon's visit was generally considered to be the tightest in Canadian history.... In addition, federal sources said that some of the notes later found in Bremer's car indicated that he had recently been in Canada.... A reliable federal source close to the investigation termed "incredible" the picture of Bremer's travels being assembled by federal investigators.
Arthur Herman Bremer, the Milwaukee resident accused of shooting Gov. Wallace of Alabama, made no effort to be inconspicuous during the 10 weeks in which he frequented political rallies last winter and this spring.
Most times, he was colorfully dressed. "He looked like a flag," said a man who watched him at a Michigan Wallace rally.
Usually, the 21-year-old former bus boy wore a red, white and blue shirt and red, white and blue socks, a dark blue suit with vest, and silvered sunglasses, and his red, white and blue tie was knotted around his neck, inside the open collar of his shirt.
In his more than two months of traveling from political rally to political rally, Mr. Bremer used his correct name when staying at hotels or motels.
At the rallies at which he has definitely been placed, he invariably was at the front of the crowd.
He drew so much attention to himself that on at least three occasions he was noticed by policemen.
In trying to assess Mr. Bremer's motives, Federal investigators have assumed the following:
That after some personal rebuffs in Milwaukee last winter, he decided on a political assassination as a means of drawing attention to himself.
Or, that he was part of conspiracy to assassinate one of the major Presidential candidates for some reason as yet unknown.
Thus far, newsmen have been unable to find any evidence of a conspiracy. Bremer does not appear to have traveled with a companion, although at several places he was seen with someone else. He appears to have spent no more than $700 to $800 from Feb. 15, when he quit his job, until he was arrested on May 15. He had only $2 when taken into custody in Laurel where Governor Wallace was shot.
The first report of a companion traveling with Mr. The man was talking about politics.
The manager of the ferry operation, Earl S. Nunnery, positively recalled the April scene about 10 days ago.
After it became known that Mr. Nunnery, but he refused to answer questions, slamming the door in a reporter's face.
If Mr. Bremer did cross Lake Michigan on April 9 or April 10, he may have been headed for Ottawa, the Canadian capital, where President Nixon was to visit from April 13 to April 15. It was about 850 miles from Milwaukee to Ottawa, including the six-hour ferry trip across Lake Michigan.
The shortest and easiest highway route from Milwaukee to Ottawa is through Detroit, entering Canada at Windsor, Ontario.
Canadian officials said late last week that Mr. Bremer spent the nights of April 13 and 14 at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa, which sits in faded elegance about a quarter of a mile from the Canadian Parliament building. A single room at the hotel costs $15 to $18 a night.
Donald Blakslee, the hotel manager, said the hotel policy barred comment on any guest and thus he could not say if the suspect had stayed at the hotel. However, two bellhops said that Mr. Bremer did stay there, as did 44 members of President Nixon's staff, apparently Secret Service agents and communications personnel.
On Friday, April 14, the day after President Nixon's arrival, the President addressed the Canadian Parliament and a crowd of spectators, which included Mr. Bremer, pushed onto the Parliament grounds. Photographs taken at the front of the crowd show Mr. Bremer with his sunglasses on. He was wearing a light-colored raincoat. A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was standing near him.
A police sergeant was reported to have noticed Mr. Bremer. He was among a group, that had got to the front of the crowd waiting to see President Nixon, and the police had to push the crowd back.
Security on President Nixon's Canadian visit was very tight, by Canadian standards, because of the attack on Soviet Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin on Oct. 18, 1971, on his visit to Ottawa.
After Mr. Bremer left Ottawa in the early afternoon of April 15, he drove down through New York and was arrested for speeding at 6:40 P.M. near the Pennsylvania border on the Interstate Route 81, which leads to Scranton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Hagerstown, Md.
Senator Humphrey was scheduled to spend the week beginning April 16 in Pennsylvania. In that week, he made 26 appearances in the state.
Federal sources reported that after Mr. Bremer was given a speeding ticket near Binghamton, N. Y., on April 15, he drove across Pennsylvania to New Carrollton, Md., near Washington, where he stayed until April 18.
Governor Wallace was campaigning in Indiana on April 18 and 19 and was in Washington on April 20.
The Governor was scheduled to be at rallies in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Williamsport and Altoona, Pa., on April 22, but the weather was so bad that his plane was grounded and the rallies were canceled.
Arthur H. Bremer was found guilty and sentenced to 63 years in prison today for the shooting of Gov. Wallace of Alabama and three other persons at a political rally Laurel, Md., May 15.
The jury of six men and six women took only 90 minutes to decide that Bremer was sane when he fired the bullets that paralyzed Governor Wallace and forced him to end his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
The defense had raised the question of Bremer's sanity, and that was the main issue of this speedy five-day state trial.
Bremer, a 21-year-old bus boy and odd-job worker from Milwaukee who had stalked President Nixon before making Mr. Wallace his prime target, heard without emotion the jury's verdict and - 30 minutes later - the sentence imposed by Judge Ralph W. Powers.
His father, William Bremer, a truck driver Oho lost an eye at the age of 9, was standing against the wall in the rear of the courtroom. He had been coldly ignored by his son, but he flushed with anger over the verdict.
"The boy was sick," he said, and he added bitterly, "Probably if he was a black, or some Communist agitator, he'd be free."
Judge Powers gave Bremer the maximum sentence of 33 years on three counts in the shooting of Governor Wallace - 15 years for assault with intent to murder; 15 years for use of handgun in a crime of violence, and three years for illegally carrying a handgun.
He also gave him 10 years each for assault with intent to murder the three other victims: Nicholas Zarvos, a Secret Service man; Mrs. Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign worker, and Capt. Eldred Cole Dothard of the Alabama State police, Wallace's bodyguard. That gave a total of 63 years.
In addition, the judge sentenced Bremer to 10 years each for the use of a handgun on Mr. Zarvos, Captain Dothard and Mrs. Thompson, but he said that these sentences would run concurrently with the 10-year sentence for assault with intent to murder those victims.
State's Attorney Marshall said at a news conference that Bremer could apply for parole after serving one-fourth of his sentence - 15 years and nine months.
Mr. Marshall discounted the possibility that Bremer had conspirators in his stalking of Mr. Nixon during the President's three-day state visit to Ottawa in April.
In his diary, Bremer lamented hat the President's motorcade had passed him six times, and that he had never got to fire the 38-caliber revolver in his pocket. Nowhere in the diary was there any hint of an accomplice.
"l'm convinced that no one acted with him," the State's Attorney said.
The reading of Bremer's diary by the defense counsel, Mr. Some of the jurors, instead of finding Bremer's account of his assassination plans bizarre and irrational thought that the document was coherent and not a bit insane.
"The diary was one of the factors that swayed me toward the opinion that Bremer was sane," said the jury foreman, Vincent M. Telli, a civilian employed at the Washington Navy Yard. "If he can write some thing like that, he must be coherent."
Another juror, Jack Goldinher, a maintenance man at the Library of Congress, was similarly impressed.
"A lot of guilt ran through that diary," Mr. Goldinher said. "He couldn't get Nixon, so he picked Wallace. As for sanity - he might have been a little withdrawn, but he wasn't insane or crazy."
Mr. Telli, the jury foreman, said that he polled the jurors at lunch (the jury received the case at 12:42 P.M.) and found instant unanimity...
The defense counsel, Mr. Lipsitz, besides arguing that Bremer was insane at the time of the shooting had also tried to raise doubts in the jurors' minds as to whether his client had actually shot Governor Wallace.
He stressed that the ballistic tests had been unable to prove that the bullets had come from Bremer's gun. Bremer's finger prints were not on the gun, and a paraffin test of Bremer's hands disclosed no gunpowder residue.
But the jury had been shown a television film of the shooting, and there was Bremer pointing a gun and Governor Wallace falling to the pavement of the Laurel shopping center. The jurors had the film in the jury room, but they did not ask for a rerun.
And, finally, there was crushing evidence of guilt in Bremer's own written narrative. His vivid account of his failure to kill President Nixon in Ottawa and of his decision to stalk Governor Wallace apparently removed any lingering doubts about his guilt in the minds of the jurors.
Both sides had called psychiatrists to testify to the sanity or insanity of Bremer, but the testimony seemed to carry little weight with the jurors.
"Canadians make the lousiest apple pie, so dry, you ever tasted," Arthur Herman Bremer told his frequently misspelled diary as he drove to Ottawa last April with the intention of shooting President Nixon.
But "vandalism and graffiti do not exist there" he noted approvingly of an Ottawa art gallery he toured in search of relaxation after missing his chance to terminate with a bullet the President's state visit to Canada.
It was the sprinkling of these mundane and touristy observations - "had a big Manhattan, straight & an $11 meal at the Chauteu (Chateau Laurier hotel) that night. One dollar for pea soup alone" - in an otherwise bizarre narrative of stalking Mr. Nixon, that may have persuaded the jury that Arthur Bremer was no more insane than Holden Caulfield or any other mixed-up, rejected adolescent.
In any event, the diary was the clincher as jurors briefly pondered the issue of Bremer's sanity in coming to their verdict last Friday that he was sane and guilty when he shot his secondary target, Alabama Gov. Wallace, and three other persons in a shopping mall at Laurel, Maryland, on May 15.
"If he can write something like this he must be coherent," said the jury foreman, Vincent M. Telli. The jury was out only 90 minutes, including lunch break. The jurors were unanimous on the first poll, Mr. Telli said. Powers sentenced him to 43 years in the penitentiary: 33 years for the attack on Mr. Wallace and 10 years each for shooting the other victims: Alabama State Trooper Capt. Fred Dothard, Secret Service Agent Nick Zarvos and Mrs. Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign worker. Wallace probably will be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life, the jury was told, but the other victims were able to take the witness stand...
Bremer's strangely chilling grin (psychiatrists testified it was part of his defense mechanism) vanished when he heard the verdict. The 21-year-old Milwaukee busboy had clowned occasion ally during the testimony, turning in his chair to stick out his tongue at the spectators. Now he was subdued.
The available portion of young Bremer's diary ran to 129 pages and took him from April 4 through May 13, two days before the Wallace shooting... In recounting the frustrations of his Canadian trip - the Nixon motorcade sped past him six times before he could draw his .38-caliber revolver from his pocket - Bremer tells of his first glimpse of Mr. Nixon.
The man who attempted to assassinate Governor George Wallace has been sentenced to 63 years in jail by a court in Maryland, USA.
Arthur Bremer, 21, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shot White House hopeful Mr Wallace at a political rally in Laurel, Maryland on 15 May.
Mr Wallace, the governor of Alabama who gained notoriety in the 1960s for his segregational politics, was paralysed by the shots and three other people were injured in the incident.
A jury of six men and six women took just over an hour and a half to reach their verdict at the end of a five-day trial in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The defence had argued that Bremer was legally insane at the time of the shooting and that he had "no emotional capacity to understand anything".
But the court rejected this argument after the prosecution argued that he was perfectly sane.
Arthur Marshall, for the prosecution, told the court that Bremer had been seeking glory and was still sorry that Mr Wallace had not died.
Mr Marshall said: "He knew he would be arrested...he knew he would be on trial."
After the trial, Bremer's father, William Bremer, said: "I never saw anything like this.
"If this is Maryland justice, I cannot understand it.
"If 12 people heard all that testimony and cannot make up their minds that they were dealing with a sick boy, I just can't see it."
Bremer was taken from the court in a reinforced police van, and guarded by 15 officers, to begin his sentence.
It is not yet known whether Governor Wallace will be well enough to continue his bid for presidency.
Within hours of the Wallace assassination attempt, a White House official was asked by the Washington Post about the identity of the governor's attacker. During a subsequent conversation that evening, the official raised the possibility of Bremer's connection to leftist causes and the campaign of Sen. George McGovern, through literature found in his apartment....
One White House source said that when President Nixon was informed of the shooting, he became deeply upset and voiced concern that the attempt on Gov. Wallace's life might have been made by someone with ties to the Republican Party or the Nixon campaign.
If such a tie existed, the source said, the President indicated it could cost him the election, which was then less than six months away.
"The President was agitated and wanted the political background on Bremer," the source said.
H. R. Haldeman gave the approval for $400,000 to "defeat" George Wallace. Supposedly it went to a Democratic candidate for Governor, but Haldeman didn't know his name. Couldn't it also go to part of an assassination team? He only allocated the cash from a special, secret White House safe but didn't inquire the use when it was handed over? Hardly possible! Only an intelligence operation, working on a need-to-know basis, behaves in such a manner...
Mrs. Dorothy Hunt, at the time of her death on the sabotaged flight to Chicago on December 8, 1972, had the name of two neurosurgeons with her. An accomplished CIA agent on her own, would these persons perform for the accused a service that would save paying blackmail money the rest of their lives?
Dennis Salvatore Cassini - Contact man from CIA with Arthur Bremer. Could have provided the money, like Mrs. Hunt, be the cut-off.
The full story remains to be told. But during 1972-Z3, our research group, the Citizens Research and Investigation Committee CRIC), receive several bits of unconfirmed information which are worthy of note:
(1) On July 13, 1973 Roger Gordon, fifty-three, a member of the right-wing Secret Army Organization (SAO) fled from a hiding place in Australia to beg asylum in Suva, Fiji. His information: that the heavy-set man with the "Joisey brogue" seen giving orders to Bremer on an Ohio ferry was Anthony Ulasewicz, a White House operative.
(2) Secret Army Organization (SAO) and FBI sources in the San Diego area reported that White House agent Donald Segretti gave money to Bremer.
(3) During 1970 Tom Huston, a Nixon aide, prepared a series of memoranda which attempted to tighten White House control of the FBI, CIA, etc., and intensify the use of electronic surveillance, "penetration agents," and illegal break-ins. According to a staff member of the Ervin Committee, White House files contain a still undivulged memo in which Huston justifies selective assassination.
(4) On May 18, 1972, three days after the Wallace shooting, Charles Colson staged a "Victory in Vietnam" march and rally in Washington, under the auspices of the right-wing preacher Carl McIntire. and Mrs. Calvin Fox of the Secret Army Organization drove from San Diego to attend, passing en route near the site of the Wallace shooting. Sources in San Diego reported that while the Foxes were away, FBI Special Agent Steve Christianson entered Mr. Fox's office files and planted documents which could implicate him in the assassination attempt. A group of Washington-based former intelligence agents have since confirmed this.
On May 15, 1972, hours after George Wallace was shot in a Laurel, Maryland, shopping center just sixteen miles from the center of the District of Columbia, we at the Post still had not learned the name of the man who shot the Alabama governor. Woodward mentioned to me that he had "a friend" who might be able to help. It was the first time I remember hearing Woodward speak of his "friend" (this friend was "Deep Throat").
I suspect that whoever planned the murder must have been astonished at the reaction of the American establishment. The most vengeful of all the Kennedys made no move to discover who really killed his brother. In this, Bobby was a true American; close ranks, pretend there was no conspiracy, do not rock the boat – particularly when both Moscow and Havana seemed close to nervous breakdowns at the thought that they might be implicated in the death of the Great Prince. The Warren Report than answered the nation that the lone killer who haunts the American psyche had struck again. The fact that Bobby Kennedy accepted the Warren Report was proof to most people (myself among them) that Oswald acted alone. It was not until several years later that I learned from a member of the family that although Bobby was head of the Department of Justice at the time, he refused to look at any of the FBI reports or even speculate on what might have happened at Dallas.
May 15, 1972, Arthur H. In a nation that worships psychopaths, the Oswald-Bremer-Sirhan-Ray figure is to the general illness what Robin Hood was to a greener, saner world.
Bremer's diary is a fascinating work of art. From what we know of the twenty-two-year-old author he did not have a literary turn of mind (among his effects were comic books, some porno). He was a television baby and a dull one. Politics had no interest for him. Yet suddenly – for reasons he never gives us – he decides to kill the President and starts to keep a diary on April 4, 1972…
For someone who is supposed to be nearly illiterate there are startling literary references and flourishes in the Bremer diary. The second entry contains: "You heard of One Day in the Life of Ivan Dyntsovich. Yesterday was my day." The misspelling of Denisovich is not bad at all. Perhaps he had the book in front of him but if he had, he would not have got the one letter wrong.
The same entry produces more mysteries. "Wallace got his big votes from Republicans who didn't have any choice of candidates on their own ballot. Had only about $1,055 when I left." This is the first and only mention of politics until page 45 when he describes his square clothes and haircut as "just a disguise to get close to Nixon."
One reference to Wallace at the beginning, then another one to Nixon a dozen pages later. Also, where did the &1,055 come from? Finally, a minor psychological point Bremer refers to some weeds as "taller than me 5' 6". I doubt if a neurotic twenty-two-year-old would want to remind himself on the page that he is only 5' 6" tall. When people talk to themselves they seldom say anything so obvious. On the other hand, authors like that sort of detail…
Bremer goes to a massage parlor in New York (he has told the diary that he is a virgin – would he? Perhaps). Where he is given an unsatisfying hand-job. The scene is nicely done and the author writes correctly and lucidly until, suddenly, a block occurs and he can't spell anything right – as if the author suddenly remembers that he is meant to be illiterate…
On this page, as though to emphasizing Bremer's illiteracy, we get "spair" for "spare," "enphasis" for "emphasis," and "remember". Yet on the same page the diarist has no trouble spelling "anticipation," "response," "advances"...
The author of the diary gives us a good many random little facts – seat numbers of airplanes, prices of meals. He does not like "hairy hippies". A dislike he "shares" with HH (Howard Hunt). On his arrival in New York, he tells us that he forgot his guns which the captain then turned over to him, causing the diarist to remark "irony abounds". Later crossing the Great Lakes he declares "Call me Ismal". Had he read Moby Dick? Unlikely. Had he seen the movie on the Late Show? Possibly. But I doubt that the phrase on the sound track would have been in his head… No matter who wrote the diary we are dealing with a true author. One who writes, "Like a novelist who knows not how his book will end – and I have written this journal – what a shocking surprise that my inner character shall steal the climax and destroy the author and save the anti-hero from assassination!" Only one misspelling in that purple patch is not irony that abounds as much in these pages as literature…
He (Bremer) did not die. He is now at a prison in Baltimore, awaiting a second trial. If he lives to be re-examined, one wonders if he will tell us what company he kept during the spring of 1972, and whether or not a nice man helped him to write his diary, as a document for the ages like the scrolls in the caves. is a self-admitted forger of state papers I do not think that he actually had an hand in writing Bremer's diary on the ground that the journal is a brilliant if flawed job of work, and beyond H.H's known literary competences...
I suspect that whoever planned the murder of John F. Kennedy must have been astonished at the reaction of the American establishment. It was not until several years later that I learned from a member of the family that although Bobby was head of the Department of Justice at the time, he refused to look at any of the FBI reports or even speculate on what might have happened at Dallas.
I was also involved in a fiasco of my own that winter, one that related to two of our major political preoccupations-winning California, and the electoral threat posed by George Wallace. The ongoing White House concern about Wallace was reflected in a constant stream of memos from Haldeman asking us for up-to-the-minute reports on how many state primaries Wallace would be able to enter.
Henry Bremer was described time and again as a "loner." Despite that description by certain of his acquaintances and by Life magazine, Bremer was constantly in the company of several individuals just prior to the assassination attempt.
One of these individuals has been identified as Mr. Dennis Cassini. Before any officials could question Cassini after the murder attempt on Wallace, he was found dead of a heroin overdose, his body locked in the trunk of his automobile. The Milwaukee officials reported this incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No attempt was made by the Federal authorities, then under the direction of L. Patrick Gray, to investigate this matter further.
Bremer was also seen with an older, heavyset gentleman in the waiting room of the Chesapeake and Ohio Ferry in Ludington, Mich. He was described by the attendant as having a "New Joisey brogue." Mr. Roger Gordon, a former member of the Secret Army Organization (SAO), a government intelligence agency, identified Bremer's ferry contact as a Mr. Anthony Ulasewicz, a White House operative who would become well-known in the Watergate hearings. Gordon has since left this country.
It has been reported that Charles W. Colson ordered E. Howard Hunt (both also of Watergate fame) to break into Bremer's apartment within an hour of the shooting, and plant Black Panther party newspapers and Angela Davis literature there. A small news service employee carried out the Colson assignment.
In 1972 the Power Control Group was faced with another set of problems. Again the objective was to insure Nixon's election at all costs and to continue the cover-ups. Nixon might have made it on his own. We'll never know because the Group guaranteed his election by eliminating two strong candidates and completely swamping another with tainted leftist images and a psychiatric case for the vice presidential nominee. The impression that Nixon had in early 1972 was that he stood a good chance of losing. He imagined enemies everywhere and a press he was sure was out to get him.
The Power Control Group realized this too. They began laying out a strategy that would encourage the real nuts in the Nixon administration like E. Gordon Liddy and Donald Segretti to eliminate any serious opposition. The dirty tricks campaign worked perfectly against the strongest early Democratic candidate, Edmund Muskie. He withdrew in tears, later to discover he had been sabotaged by Nixon, Liddy and company.
George Wallace was another matter. Wallace had to go. Once the group made that decision, the Liddy team seemed to be the obvious group to carry it out. But how could it be done this time and still fool the people? Another patsy this time? O.K., but how about having him actually kill the Governor? The answer to that was an even deeper programming job than that done on Sirhan. This time they selected a man with a lower I.Q. level who could be hypnotized to really shoot someone, realize it later, and not know that he had been programmed. He would have to be a little wacky, unlike Oswald, Ruby or Ray.
Arthur Bremer was selected. One of them was a man named Dennis Cassini.
Bremer was programmed over a period of months. Gordon Liddy, Richard Helms, or Richard Nixon.
With Wallace's elimination from the race and McGovern's increasing popularity in the primaries, the only question remaining for the Power Control Group was whether McGovern had any real chance of winning. That, of course, is exactly what happened. It was never close enough to worry the Group very much. McGovern, on the other hand, was worried. By the time of the California primary he and his staff had learned enough about the conspiracies in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King that they asked for increased Secret Service protection in Los Angeles.
If the Power Control Group had decided to kill Mr. McGovern the Secret Service would not have been able to stop it. However, they did not, because the election was a sure thing. They did try one more dirty trick. They revealed Thomas Eagleton's psychiatric problems, which reduced McGovern's odds considerably.
What evidence is there that Bremer's attempt on Wallace was a directed attempt by a conspiratorial group? Bremer himself has told his brother that others were involved and that he was paid by them. Researcher William Turner has turned up evidence in Milwaukee and surrounding towns in Wisconsin that Bremer received money from a group associated with Dennis Cassini, Donald Segretti and J. Timothy Gratz. Several other young "leftists" were seen with Bremer on several occasions in Milwaukee and on the ferry crossing at Lake Michigan.
The evidence shows that Bremer had a hidden source of income. He spent several times more than he earned or saved in the year before he shot at Wallace. Bremer's appearance on TV, in court and before witnesses resembled those of a man under hypnosis.
There is some evidence that more than one gun may have been fired with the second gun being located in the direction opposite to Bremer. Eleven wounds in the four victims that day exceeds the number that could have been caused by the five bullets Bremer fired. There is a problem in identifying all of the bullets found as having been fired from Bremer's gun. The trajectories of the wounds seem to be from two opposite directions. All of this - the hypnotic-like trance, the possibility of two guns being fired from in front and from behind, and the immediate conclusion that Bremer acted alone - sounds very much like the arrangement made for the Robert Kennedy assassination.
Another part of the evidence sounds like the King case. A lone blue Cadillac was seen speeding away from the scene of the shooting immediately afterward. It was reported on the police band radio and the police unsuccessfully chased it. The car had two men in it. The police and the FBI immediately shut off all accounts of that incident.
E. Howard Hunt testified before the Ervin Committee that Charles Colson had asked him to go to Bremer's apartment in Milwaukee as soon as the news about Bremer was available at the White House. Hunt never did say why he was supposed to go. Colson then said that he didn't tell Hunt to go, but that Hunt told him he was going. Colson's theory is that Hunt was part of a CIA conspiracy to get rid of Nixon and to do other dirty tricks.
Could Hunt and the Power Control Group have had in mind placing something in Bremer's apartment rather than taking something out? The "something" could have been Bremer's diary, which was later found in his car parked near the Laurel, Maryland parking lot. Hunt did not go to Milwaukee, because the FBI already had agents at the apartment. Perhaps Hunt or someone else went instead to Maryland and planted the diary in Bremer's car. One thing seems certain after a careful analysis of Bremer's diary in comparison to his grammar, spelling, etc., in his high school performances in English. Bremer didn't write the diary. Someone forged it, trying to make it sound like they thought Bremer would sound given his low IQ
One last item would clinch the conspiracy case if it were true. A rumor spread among researchers and the media that CBS-TV had discovered Bremer and G. Gordon Liddy together on two separate occasions in TV footage of Wallace rallies. In one TV sequence they were said to be walking together toward a camera in the background. CBS completely closed the lid on the subject.
The best source is obviously Bremer himself. However, no private citizen can get anywhere near him. Even if they could he might not talk if he had been programmed. Unless an expert deprogrammed him, his secret could be locked away in his brain, just like Sirhan's secret is locked within his mind.
Arthur H. Bremer sporting a twisted grin gunned down Alabama Governor George Wallace, wounding him severely enough to take him out of the presidential race. Wallace was posing a serious threat to the "Southern Strategy" that had been credited with Nixon's narrow win in 1968. The polls showed that if Wallace were to run as a third-party candidate in November, he would siphon off enough votes from Nixon to create a virtual deadlock between the President and either Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern, who were then running neck and neck for the Democratic nomination.
Charles Colson instructed Hunt to fly at once to Milwaukee, Bremer's hometown, and plant evidence in his apartment that he was associated with the left. Hunt balked on the ground that the FBI would already have sealed off the apartment. When this intriguing bit of information surfaced after Watergate, Colson claimed that he told Hunt to clean up evidence, not to plant any. Colson said when Nixon heard of the shooting, he became agitated and "voiced immediate concern that the assassin (sic) might have ties to the Republican Party, or even worse, the President's re-election committee."
The explanation is fascinating not for what it settles but what it raises about Nixon's qualms about his Gemstone operatives going too far. The all-encompassing "Bay of Pigs thing" was to haunt him. It might not have been a false fear. Bremer's older sister, Gail Aiken, and brother, William, lived in Miami. (As mentioned earlier, in 1968 Aiken, then living in Los Angeles, was exceedingly close to Oliver Owen, a fundamentalist preacher. Owen had had an association with Sirhan Sirhan prior to the RFK assassination, which had the effect of clearing Nixon's path to the White House.) Two months before the Wallace shooting William Bremer was indicted in a $36,000 swindle (he was subsequently convicted) that had all the earmarks of an organized crime caper. (William Bremer was represented by Ellis Rubin, a respectable, if offbeat, attorney, who later represented the Miami Four in the Watergate break-in.)
The son of former Gov. Wallace of Alabama, citing new claims that the 1972 assassination attempt on his father was discussed in the Nixon White House, wants the F.B.I. to reinvestigate the shooting.
George Wallace Jr. said Saturday that he had asked President-elect Bill Clinton to reopen the investigation. He also wants a Congressional inquiry.
A Clinton spokesman said there would be no comment on the request until it had been received.
Mr. Wallace and his father had also sent letters to Alabama's Congressional delegation and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation requesting a copy of the report on the assassination attempt. Based on New Yorker Article
Governor Wallace was seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination when he was shot on May 15, 1972, during a campaign stop in Laurel, Md. The shooting left his legs paralyzed.
The call for a new investigation was prompted by an article in The New Yorker magazine reporting that former President Richard M. Nixon and an aide discussed planting the campaign literature of Mr. Nixon's Democratic opponent, George McGovern, in the apartment of Mr. Wallace's attacker, Arthur Bremer.
The plan had to be dropped because the F.B.I. quickly sealed the apartment, according to the article.
"We seek the release of any additional tapes which could possibly shed any light on the actions of Arthur Bremer in relation to his assassination attempt on my father," the younger Mr. Wallace said in a statement.
"Since 1972, we have heard on different occasions that Bremer was seen on a ferry in the state of Michigan, where he did stalk my father at one time, with someone who worked directly for President Nixon," the younger Mr. Wallace said. He said that until now the family had dismissed that report as an unsubstantiated rumor. Who Had Prior Knowledge?
"I do know that Bremer stalked my father for several weeks, staying in some of the finest hotels in the country," he said. "I have always wondered how a 21-year-old man with no visible means of support could enjoy such a comfortable life style."
Mr. Bremer is serving a 53-year sentence for the shooting.
The younger Mr. Wallace said he does not believe Mr. Nixon had any knowledge of Mr. Bremer's intentions before the assassination attempt.
"My question is: did anyone else involved in Nixon's campaign have prior knowledge?" he said.
The former Governor, who is recuperating at home from a near fatal bout with septic shock in the fall, has made no public comment on the magazine article.
But his former chief aide, Elvin Stanton, said last week that Mr. Wallace, 73, believed that top Government officials were involved in a conspiracy in 1972 to eliminate him from the Presidential race.
The son of former Gov. Wallace and his father had also sent letters to Alabama's Congressional delegation and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation requesting a copy of the report on the assassination attempt.
Governor Wallace was seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination when he was shot on May 15, 1972, during a campaign stop in Laurel, Md. The shooting left his legs paralyzed.
The call for a new investigation was prompted by an article in The New Yorker magazine reporting that former President Richard M. He said that until now the family had dismissed that report as an unsubstantiated rumor.
"I do know that Bremer stalked my father for several weeks, staying in some of the finest hotels in the country," he said. Wallace, 73, believed that top Government officials were involved in a conspiracy in 1972 to eliminate him from the Presidential race.
Sherman Skolnick: At the time Wallace was shot - so to speak into a wheelchair and not into the cemetery - he was running for President and pulling about 21 percent of the vote.
Aguay Banar: Which comes to 26 million popular votes.
Sherman Skolnick: But because of the different states that it was into, he could have had the whole thing thrown into the House of Representatives, where it would have been a turmoil. Recently we did a show with spokespersons for some third-party candidates, including those for Perot. And I raised the same question. (Perot had 19 percent in the 1992 election.) And when I raised this question, they said, "Oh, so if Perot had 21 percent, like Wallace, they'd have to shoot him?" I said, "In my opinion, yes." Why is that? I mean, some of us believe that the ultra-rich believe in the bullet, not the ballot. Is that the bottom line?
Aguay Banar: The bottom line is money, the almighty dollar: who can best serve the interests of the Northeastern Atlantic elite and the Southwestern Pacific elite.
Sherman Skolnick: Just prior to Wallace being shot, he had made a statement. He said, "There's not a dimes worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties." (He was a third-party candidate, very populist.) He said, "If I'm elected, one of the first things I'm going to do is tax the Rockefeller Foundation." When I heard that, I said, "Wallace, you haven't got enough life insurance." So you weren't able to get Wallace on video, but you still got pictures.
Aguay Banar: One of the questions that I asked the Governor in writing was, "Was there a conspiracy behind the shooting of your person?" He said, "Yes. Definitely a conspiracy." And then he looked up, on the page, to where a previous question had been asked regarding Richard Nixon. And with the stub of his cigar he poked at the name of Richard Nixon. He said, "Conspiracy! Conspiracy!" And he jabbed at the name of Nixon on the page.
Sherman Skolnick: What else leads you to believe that there was a conspiracy?
Aguay Banar: There was no way that Richard Nixon was ever going to be re-elected with Wallace in the campaign. To get back into the Oval Office, you had to do away with Wallace so that most of those 26 million votes -- which were center, or right of center - would come over to the side of Nixon.
Sherman Skolnick: What do you make of the fact that 6 weeks after they took Wallace out of the campaign by almost killing him, the Watergate break-in occurred?
Aguay Banar: The Watergate break-in was nothing more than a contrivance: a poorly executed mission that had, at its very bottom, a very sharp hatchet. And the hatchet was aimed at Nixon's head. The Watergate break-in was designed to be found, and to point the blame at Nixon and bring him down.
Sherman Skolnick: E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, and others, were involved in the break-in at the Watergate. And there's reason to believe that the White House sent E. Howard Hunt to Arthur Bremer's apartment in Milwaukee...
Aguay Banar: ...on orders from Charles Colson.
Sherman Skolnick: Bremer's apartment, after the shooting of Wallace, was not sealed off; stuff could have been planted there, such as fake diaries. In other words, Arthur Bremer's diary showed up.
Aguay Banar: Yes, but the diary showed up in the car. But when Bremer shot Wallace, the first people that went physically into the apartment were from a bogus news organization known as "TIPS" - Transcontinental International Press Services. Now they are a creature of the Guardians, which are the militant wing of the Church of Scientology. And I'm talking about the branch in Los Angeles.
Sherman Skolnick: The Secret Service allowed Bremer to penetrate Nixon's security. In other words, if you create a vacuum where a would-be assassin can penetrate Secret Service security, then it becomes easy to kill somebody. Like they did with Dr. King: withdraw the security.
Aguay Banar: Bremer was in the city of Ottawa, Capital of Canada, when Nixon was visiting Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister at the time. Bremer and Frank Sturgis stayed at the Lord Elgin Hotel, in Ottawa. They stayed in the same section of the Hotel. Frank Sturgis was the control officer of Arthur Bremer on the road. It was he who was passing on money and information to Bremer. Sturgis and Bremer stayed in the same section of the Lord Elgin Hotel that the Secret Service detail of Richard Nixon was staying in.
Sherman Skolnick: Could Bremer, at one point, have targeted Nixon for assassination?
Aguay Banar: You will recall that the same mythology was created in the assassination of John Kennedy: that Oswald was after Nixon and then, because security was so tight, he instead trained the crosshairs of his weapon on Jack Kennedy. The same thing here: they want you to believe that Bremer was after Nixon and because security was so tight, again, the "lone assassin" trained his gun on someone else - Wallace.
After a five-day state trial Bremer was convicted and, in 1973, sentenced to 53 years in prison. A year later federal charges were dropped after Maryland appeals courts upheld Bremer's state conviction.
End of story? Not yet. During a months-long review, Insight obtained Bremer's parole records and the once highly secret 5,413-page FBI report known as the WalShot Files - a 26-volume package spanning eight years from the day of the shooting to 1980. Here too, for the first time, is not only a comprehensive review straight from the FBI archives but details from exclusive interviews with the lead prosecutor and defense attorney who, after 26 years, break their silence about the shooting of Wallace.
"I still have reservations about the case, and I'm not one for conspiracy theories," says former Prince George's County State's Attorney Arthur "Bud" Marshall, who prosecuted Bremer. "But it's worth taking a look at."
It is indeed. What follows is the story of how the FBI, led by Acting Director L. Patrick Gray, dug relentlessly into Bremer's background. And how Gray, who later admitted destroying Watergate records, prevented the Bremer case from being explored during the Watergate hearings. The most feasible rationale for this might be protection of the president from further wild rumor-mongering, but it also might be what Silent Coup author Len Colodny calls "Nixon's second operation."
"You know, of all the people who wanted Wallace dead, Nixon was on top of the list," says Colodny, who is working on a book about the Wallace/Nixon relationship. "But we have not found the smoking gun to support it. We're still looking."
What is known is that Nixon stepped in to control the Bremer investigation shortly after the shots were fired, according to Femia. At the hospital, an FBI agent hung up a hospital phone, turned to Femia and barked, "That was the president. We're taking over. The president says, `We're not going to have another Dallas here.'" Femia, who already had prepared an indictment, objected fiercely, but the agents pushed him aside and grabbed Bremer in the gurney.
Femia threatened to file assault charges against the FBI, but cooler heads prevailed. Bremer went to Baltimore with the FBI.
While the story of Nixon's crude seizure of the case remained buried for a quarter-century, it exemplifies his obsession with the Wallace shooting. Historian Dan T. Carter in The Politics of Rage traces this obsession to 1968 when Wallace captured 10 million votes on the American Party ticket. Pollsters Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg noted that four of five Wallace voters in the South would have voted for Nixon if Wallace had bowed out.
Using the Nixon papers, Carter showed how the president tried to forestall another Wallace presidential bid by pumping $400,000 from a secret slush fund into then Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer's unsuccessful attempt to defeat Wallace in 1970. Nixon's efforts continued with the "Alabama Project" which, according to Carter, consisted of more than 75 IRS officers digging "over the past tax returns of Wallace, his brothers and virtually every financial supporter who had done business with the state." The IRS probe found nothing, but the private war continued...
Angered by the prosecution's portrayal of him as an unemployed busboy living in his car, Bremer snapped at his arraignment, "Why would I be living in my car when I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel? The press is going to - up this case." He was right about the press. In what the Chicago Tribune called a "circus atmosphere," reporters stampeded Bremer's apartment after the FBI inexplicably failed to seal it. Bullets and a personal notebook were removed by journalists and curiosity seekers.
And Bremer's silence after his court appearance bothered prosecutor Marshall. "We had concern that someone else was involved," Marshall says. "The question I always had is how the Secret Service found out who he was as quick as they did. They were in his apartment within an hour."
Forty-five minutes after the shooting, the WalShot Files show, a Baltimore FBI agent called the Milwaukee FBI office identifying Bremer as the shooter based on personal identification found on Bremer. The Secret Service identified Bremer's address at 5:35 p.m., it claims, after tracing his .38-caliber handgun. But 25 minutes earlier, at 5:10 p.m., when two FBI agents entered Bremer's apartment, a Secret Service agent already was there. How the Secret Service managed that remains a mystery, inspiring conspiracy aficionados to speculate that the White House knew about Bremer before the shots were fired. The Secret Service agent told the FBI he was on an "intelligence-gathering mission."
All three agents left the apartment, but returned with another Secret Service agent after reports that the press had managed to get inside. At this point the Secret Service removed items from the apartment, setting off a turf war between the agencies that ignited when the Secret Service refused to turn over to the FBI the original of Bremer's "diary" manuscript, found in his car, until Nixon ordered them to do so...
In 1974 Wallace told United Press International that "he hoped the Watergate investigation would turn up the man who paid the money to have him shot." Wallace later said he mis-spoke but privately told reporters he believed the White House plumbers unit might have been involved.
The WalShot Files say Wallace had received a letter from Bernard Barker, one of the men caught in the Watergate break-in. The alleged letter is said to have claimed Bremer was paid by G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt for shooting Wallace. All deny the allegation. According to the WalShot Files, the FBI and Barker claim the letter is a fraud, and agents charged the ailing Wallace was after sympathy to support a third run at the presidency.
In 1975, Wallace's wife, Cornelia, told McCall's magazine that the FBI urged Wallace not to press the issue. The FBI briefed Wallace on Aug. 20, 1974, for the second time after denying his request to see the WalShot Files. But Cornelia says agents "didn't review any new developments. All they wanted to do was assure my husband that Bremer was not involved in a conspiracy."
When the New York Times reported Watergate hush-money operative Hunt testified in a Senate Watergate hearing that White House aide Charles Colson, upon hearing the news of the shooting, immediately ordered him to "bribe the janitor" or pick Bremer's lock to find out what type of literature Bremer read, the FBI faced public pressure to reopen the case. The G-men created a memo citing Hunt's story as unlikely because Colson called the Hunt statement "utterly preposterous." The FBI records state: "The allegation that the plumbers might be involved with Bremer appears to be far-fetched in that both Bremer's diary and our investigation indicate Bremer was actively stalking President Nixon up to a short time prior to his decision to shoot Governor Wallace."
In the midst of this a CBS News crew provided the FBI with a film clip depicting a man resembling Liddy whom CBS alleged "led Wallace into Bremer's line of fire." Could this mystery man be the same person who chased down a photographer and paid $10,000 for pictures unseen and undeveloped that were strictly of the crowd? FBI records show those pictures were never pursued because they weren't considered important.
Regardless, the FBI told CBS in 1973 that the mystery man was not Liddy. Although they admitted they had no idea who it was, they claimed the mystery man was just shaking Wallace's hand.
The file shows the FBI hauled both Hunt and Colson in for secret questioning in 1974. Both acknowledge that a conversation about Bremer's apartment took place but deny Liddy or the White House had any role in the assassination attempt. Hunt also told the FBI he never spoke to Liddy about Bremer -- although Hunt says in his Watergate book that he did talk to Liddy about it.
In 1974, the FBI concluded Colson's "explanation is directly opposite" Hunt's but recommended no further probe. The FBI chose not to interview Bremer about the story as "it would not appear logical to expose Bremer to such a weak theory." Likewise they did not try to interview Liddy, who tells Insight, "You got to remember, I wasn't talking to anyone at that time." Asked if he had any role in the Wallace assassination attempt, Liddy replies, "No." Told there were pages about the claim in the FBI's WalShot Files, he is dumfounded. "It sounds to me like these are wild allegations," he says.
Asked where he was when Wallace was shot, Liddy replies, "I don't remember. What's it say in my book?" His book, Will, says only that Liddy was reading the Miami Herald the next day. Two decades later Colson's story changes. He publicly has admitted to ordering the Bremer break-in but told Seymour Hersch in 1993 that he called it off.
Even as Nixon was publicly describing the shooting as "senseless and tragic," he was privately encouraging a Bremer break-in. "Is he a left-winger, right-winger?" Nixon asks about five hours after the shooting, according to a recently released Nixon "abuse of power" tape reviewed by Insight. Colson responds: "Well, he's going to be a left-winger by the time we get through, I think." Nixon laughs and says, "Good. Keep at that, keep at that"
"Yeah, I just wish that, God, that I'd thought sooner about planting a little literature out there. It may be a little late, although I've got one source that maybe ...," Colson says on the tape. "Good," Nixon responds. And Colson replies, "You could think about that. I mean, if they found it near his apartment. That would be helpful."
All of this may refer to just another third-rate burglary that never materialized. Or did it? A Black Panther publication was found in Bremer's apartment, according to the WalShot inventory record. But when in 1974 the Los Angeles Times asked if the FBI found a Black Panther publication, the FBI lied and said it had not.
Nixon might have laughed at that. But Wallace got the last laugh. The Watergate tapes show that on July 23, 1974, after learning he would lose all three Dixiecrats on the Judiciary Committee, Nixon asked Wallace to exert political pressure on his behalf. When Wallace refused, Nixon turned to White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig and said, "Well, Al, there goes the presidency."
1972 is most famous, however, for the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to Nixon’s self-removal from office. The CIA played a heavy and interesting role in both the break-in and the subsequent revelations that led to Nixon’s removal. As Probe has written about in past issues, it appears the CIA operatives deliberately got themselves caught in the Watergate hotel so as not to blow other operations. Then, when Helms was removed, removing Nixon was seen as payback. Those who most contributed to exposing Nixon’s activities, such as Alexander Butterfield, James McCord, and Howard Hunt, all had relationships with the CIA. If the cumulative weight of the evidence is to be believed, it appears that the CIA ran the country’s election process in 1972, deciding which candidates would survive or fail, and participating in acts of sabotage.
Is it too far fetched to suggest they may have had an interest in controlling the political fortunes of others that year, even by such drastic means as assassination? From what we know of their presence in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, such as suggestion can hardly be called far-fetched. Therefore, we must ask that most ugly of questions: is there evidence of CIA involvement in the Wallace shooting?
According to newspaperwoman Sybil Leek and lawyer-turned-investigative-reporter Bert Sugar, the answer is yes. According to Leek and Sugar, while Bremer was at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa, he met with a Dennis Cassini. Famed conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell and Alan Stang identified Cassini as a CIA operative. Cassini was found dead from a massive heroin overdose in July, 1972, just two months after the Wallace shooting. Cassini had no history of drug use.
Cassini’s address book contained the phone number of a John J. McCleary. McCleary lived in Sacramento, California, and was employed by V & T International, an import-export firm. McCleary drowned in the Pacific ocean in the fall of 1972. His father, amazingly, drowned around the same time in Reno, Nevada.
If the CIA was somehow involved, that could explain both E. Howard Hunt’s immediate interest in the case, as well as the role of CBS in filming Bremer in the act of shooting. CBS and the CIA shared a particularly close relationship. CIA involvement might go far in explaining the following connections as well.
Bremer’s brother, William Bremer, was arrested shortly after the Wallace shooting for having bilked over 2,000 Miami matrons out of over $80,000 by signing them up for non-existant weight-loss sessions. Curiously, Bremer’s lawyer was none other than Ellis Rubin, the man who had defended many anti-Castro activists and who defended the CIA men who participated in the Watergate break-in.
Even more curious is Bremer’s half-sister Gail’s relationship with the Reverend Jerry Owen (ne Oliver Brindley Owen), who figures prominently in the RFK case. Owen’s bible-thumping show was cancelled from KCOP in Los Angeles when evidence surfaced showing he had a possibly sinister relationship with Sirhan Sirhan just prior to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. After the assassination, Owen had gone to the police with a strange tale of having picked Sirhan up as a hitchhiker. But other witnesses claimed Owen had given Sirhan cash, and had more of a relationship with Sirhan that he had admitted.
He suffered a searing humiliation in October 1971. Bremer worked as a busboy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. (Hinckley would also work busing tables.) As Bremer wheeled his tray around, taking up dirty dishes and cups along with soiled napkins, he often mumbled to himself. Patrons complained of the distraction and he was demoted from that humble job to kitchen help. Bremer filed a discrimination complaint. The investigator called it unjustified and suggested psychiatric help for the complainant. An outraged Bremer refused such assistance.
In November 1971, Bremer was a janitor in an elementary school where he met, and was attracted to, a 15-year-old hall monitor. She was freckled and pretty. Like Bremer, she was also blonde and wore glasses. The two of them flirted until he was finally able to make himself ask her out. Flattered that an older man was paying attention to her, she agreed. Bremer’s spirits soared. Now that he was 21 and finally dating, he moved out of his family home and got his own apartment. His desire to leave the family nest may also have been triggered by a fierce argument with William Bremer that had ended with the son hitting his father.
Bremer’s mother visited him at his new place regularly, often calling at night to see if he was there. Her son thought she was continually checking up on him. It was as if she feared the possibility that her son might have a sexual relationship and wanted to make sure there was no "other woman" in his life. Bremer desperately wanted there to be an "other woman." He was sick of being a mama’s boy....
Repulsed by his crudity, the 15-year-old broke off the relationship after their third date. The janitor was devastated. He repeatedly phoned her, begging her to see him again but the girl flatly refused. Then he shaved his head "to show her that inside I felt as empty as my shaved head." Catching up with her, he pulled off his knit cap and showed her his bald pate. She walked away from him without speaking.
A few years back, I had dinner with my best friends' relatives from Maryland, including his cousin and her husband. Over random discussion, I discovered that the husband worked at the State hospital where Bremer was kept, and that Bremer had been considered sane for years and had been elevated to the position of trustee, whereby he was basically an un-paid orderly. He told me that Bremer was only kept locked up for political purposes. Since Bremer didn't actually kill anyone, this seemed a bit strange. The thought occurred: was Bremer kept locked up to keep him away from the U.S. public, or to keep the US public away from what Bremer might have to say? I'm still wondering more of a relationship with Sirhan that he had admitted.
On May 15, less than two weeks after Hoover's death, a lone gunman shot Alabama Governor George C Wallace, then campaigning for president, at a shopping centre. The wounds were serious, but Wallace survived. Wallace had a strong following in the deep South, an increasing source of Nixon's support. Wallace's spoiler candidacy four years earlier in 1968 could have cost Nixon the election that year, and Nixon monitored Wallace's every move closely as the 1972 presidential contest continued.
That evening, Nixon called Felt - not Gray, who was out of town - at home for an update. It was the first time Felt had spoken directly with Nixon. Felt reported that Arthur H Bremer, the would-be assassin, was in custody but in the hospital because he had been roughed up and given a few bruises by those who subdued and captured him after he shot Wallace.
"Well, it's too bad they didn't really rough up the son of a bitch!" Nixon told Felt.
Felt was offended that the president would make such a remark. Nixon was so agitated, attaching such urgency to the shooting, that he said he wanted full updates every 30 minutes from Felt on any new information that was being discovered in the investigation of Bremer.
In the following days I called Felt several times and he very carefully gave me leads as we tried to find out more about Bremer. It turned out that he had stalked some of the other candidates, and I went to New York to pick up the trail. This led to several front-page stories about Bremer's travels, completing a portrait of a madman not singling out Wallace but rather looking for any presidential candidate to shoot. On May 18, I did a page-one article that said, "High federal officials who have reviewed investigative reports on the Wallace shooting said yesterday that there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Bremer was a hired killer."
It was rather brazen of me. Though I was technically protecting my source and talked to others besides Felt, I did not do a good job of concealing where the information was coming from. Felt chastised me mildly. But the story that Bremer acted alone was a story that both the White House and the FBI wanted out.
After 35 years in prison, the man who shot and paralyzed Alabama Gov. George Wallace during his racially charged 1972 presidential campaign is scheduled to be released Friday into a society more diverse and more restrictive on guns.
The state's automated victim-notification system sent e-mails announcing the impending release of Arthur H. Bremer, 57.
Wallace, a fiery segregationist during the 1960s, was wounded on May 15, 1972, during a campaign stop in Laurel, Md. He abandoned his bid for the Democratic nomination, spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair and died in 1998.
Bremer, a former Milwaukee busboy and janitor, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 53 years. He has been held at the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown, about 70 miles from Baltimore, since 1979, earning his mandatory release through good behavior and by working in prison.
Bremer's diary, found in a landfill in 1980, made it clear he was motivated by a desire for attention, not a political agenda. He had also stalked President Nixon.
A prison system spokesman declined to say where Bremer would go once he got out. The head of the state's parole commission has said there will be restrictions on Bremer's activities, including a requirement to avoid political candidates and events.
"My father forgave him and my family has forgiven him. That's consistent with God's law," George Wallace Jr. said in Montgomery, Ala. But he added: "Then there is man's law. I doubt the punishment has fit the crime."
Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the governor's daughter, said of Bremer: "I think he's getting out 17 1/2 years too early."
The Alabama governor made his famous "stand in the schoolhouse door" in 1963, decrying the enrollment of two black students at the all-white University of Alabama in a standoff against the Justice Department and the National Guard.
By 1972, he had tempered his racist rhetoric and adopted a more subtle approach, denouncing federal courts over the forced busing of children to integrate schools orders and pledging to restore "law and order," a phase sometimes regarded as a coded appeal to white racists.
But Wallace recanted his segregationist stand later in his career and won his final term with the help of black votes. The kind of fiery racial rhetoric he employed is history. And a black man is one of the leading candidates for the presidential nomination in 2008.
In another measure of how things have changed, the 1993 Brady Bill, named for the White House press secretary wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, requires background checks to prevent felons and mentally ill people from buying guns.
Four months before the attempt on Wallace's life, Bremer was arrested and underwent a psychiatric evaluation after firing bullets into a ceiling at a shooting range, and was fined for disorderly conduct.
Had the Brady Bill been in place, "it might have been something to stop him from buying a gun," said Paul Helmke, president of the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Helmke said that the law has stopped 1.4 million people from buying guns, but that the national database is missing 90 percent of the mental health records and 20 percent of the felony records because states are not required to supply them.
Bremer was partly the inspiration for the deranged Travis Bickle character in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver." The movie, in turn, fascinated John Hinckley, who tried to kill Reagan in a twisted attempt to impress the film's co-star, Jodie Foster.
New information on the man convicted of shooting and paralyzing former Governor George Wallace. Arthur Bremer is now living in Cumberland, Maryland.
Officials say Bremer has been living in an apartment on the city's east side since he was released from prison last week.
Bremer walked away from the Maryland Correctional Institution after serving 35 years behind bars.
He is currently under the supervision of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation until his sentence ends in 2025.
Local officials have been assured that Bremer is not a threat.
It doesn't matter who you are, or were, when you reach Restoration of the Heart. All that matters is you want to change and become part of a community.
For Arthur Bremer, the nonprofit agency with housing at Footer Place off Frederick Street may just be the place he needs.
Bremer, 57, served 35 years for the attempted murder of Alabama Gov. George Wallace on May 15, 1972. Wallace was at a presidential campaign stop at a Laurel shopping center when he and three others were shot. Bremer was 21 at the time.
Released Friday from the Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown, Bremer's condition of release includes electronic monitoring and staying away from elected officials and candidates. He must undergo a mental health evaluation and receive treatment if the state deems necessary. Bremer may not leave the state without written permission from the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, the agency that will supervise him until his probation ends in 2025.
Bremer has reportedly declined media interviews, including some that included offers of monetary payment.
While Restoration's director, Frances Jones, wouldn't mention Bremer by name or give much information about him, when asked specific questions Wednesday she said she'd been in contact with him prior to his release.
Her goal is to get "him back out there in the world, the same as everyone else," she said. A bicycle and a toaster were two items requested.
"It's just a joy to see the person's face in being able to be free, to be normal and to be alone," Jones said. He's nothing like what he's been made out to be."
Wade Clark, an advocate with The Leadership Group International, has been right alongside Jones since August. His role, he said, is to help Jones build "capacity," which is to set up such things as a Web site and accounting system and to help define the mission.
At Restoration, it's like a family between the all-volunteer group and those who are seeking help.
Jones' "family" is referred to her from a number of agencies, including the Department of Social Services, Allegany County Health Department and the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation. With room only for three, her homes often are full but she tries to help even if she doesn't have housing.
"The people respond to love and those who show them God's love," Clark said. "Some confuse kindness with weakness and try to take advantage of us. We give them all a chance."
That's the same with Bremer, whose gratitude and appreciation are evident to Jones.
"The one I have is working perfectly," she said.
Residents stay an average six months but sometimes a little longer. Jones said people are ready to move on when they have kept a job long enough that they're stable.
People are free to leave any time, Clark said. Those who show up at the door often don't have any support system at all and have fallen through the cracks for some reason.
Jones said she didn't start out helping people recently released from prison but "that seems like God is sort of leading me" in that direction.
"I love doing what I'm doing and I love people," she said. "I know through God and us we can help change a lot of things right here in the community as well as those coming out of the prisons and jails."
She said she's also "thankful for who I have" and grateful that God chose Restoration to bring such a person.
"There is a gratefulness, there is a change (in him) that started way before now," she said.
Restoration of the Heart, a ministry named because all hearts go through a healing and restoration, provides short-term transitional housing. It also puts people who arrive without any money get in touch with the resources they need, from jobs to medical care to schooling.
Established April 4, 2004, Restoration relies solely on individual and church donations and fundraisers. The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (301) 722-1881.
(1) Portrait of an Assassin (2000)
(1a) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) page 59
(2) New York Times (21st May, 1972)
(3) Denise Noe, The Attempted Assassination of George Wallace (14th September, 2003)
(4) New York Times (21st May, 1972)
(5) Denise Noe, The Attempted Assassination of George Wallace (14th September, 2003)
(6) Martin Waldron, New York Times (29th May, 1972)
(6a) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) page 63
(7) New York Times (21st May, 1972)
(8) Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, All the President's Men (1974) page 326
(9) Martin Waldron, New York Times (29th May, 1972)
(9a) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) page 63
(10) David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace, The People's Almanac (1985)
(11) Anthony Ulasewicz, The President's Private Eye (1990) page 177
(12) New York Times (14th April, 1972)
(13) New York Times (21st May, 1972)
(14) The Toronto Star (24th May, 1972)
(15) Arthur Bremer, diary entry (24th April, 1972)
(16) Dan T. Carter, Politics of Rage (2000) page 437
(17) Jeb Stuart Magruder, An American Life: One Man's Road to Watergate (1974) page 310
(18) Richard E. Sprague, The Taking of America (1985) page 41
(19) The Washington Post (21 June, 1973)
(20) E.Howard Hunt, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond (2007) pages 206-207
(20a) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) page 58
(21) Dan T. Carter, Politics of Rage (2000) page 440
(22) Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, All the President's Men (1974) page 326
(23) Bob Woodward, Washington Post (21st June, 1973)
(24) Dan T. Carter, Politics of Rage (2000) page 444
(25) Homer Bigart, New York Times (5th August, 1972)
(26) New York Times (6th August, 1972)
(27) Gore Vidal, The New York Review of Books (13th December 1973)
(28) Richard E. Sprague, The Taking of America (1985) page 42
(29) Cornelia Wallace, The Birmingham News (16th May, 1974)
(30) Chicago Sun-Times (29th May, 1974)
(30a) Nicholas C. Chriss, New York Times (29th March, 1974)
(30b) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) pages 59-60
(31) New York Times (21st May, 1972)
(32) Anthony Ulasewicz, The President's Private Eye (1990) page 177
(33) Donald Freed, Operation Gemstone (1974)
(33a) Alan Stang, American Opinion (October, 1972)
(33b) William W. Turner, The Shooting of George Wallace, included in Government By Gunplay (1976) page 63
(34) Richard E. Sprague, The Taking of America (1985) page 42
(35) The New York Times (14th December 1992)
(36) WSFA News (14th November, 2007)
(37) Cumberland Times News (15th November, 2007)
Police files offer profile of Wallace shooter Arthur Bremer
The Prince George's County police investigation reports of Arthur Bremer's 1972 assassination attempt of Gov. George Wallace in Laurel are a mish-mash of forms and interviews, mostly about Bremer's background. A background report filed by the Secret Service indicated the Bremer had a previous arrest in Milwaukee for carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was reduced and he was fined $35.
Bremer's parents, William and Sylvia Bremer, were interviewed. His father offered basic information about his son but not much more. He did say that his son was a member of the Young Democrats Club and that he had not been in contact with his son since he left home seven months ago.
His mother, on the other hand, was a chatterbox. She explained that their son had left home after getting in an argument with and striking his father. She had been in occasional contact with him, but sometimes he wouldn't open his door when she arrived. The FBI agent who interviewed her noted on the report that "Mrs. Bremer throughout the interview exhibited signs of emotional stress and at times spoke irrationally." According the police report, Sylvia Bremer told the agent that her son "may have been motivated in his assault on Governor Wallace due to his frustrations in failing to achieve what he felt was his just status in society. Mrs. Bremer asserted that bodyguards of Presidential candidates should not allow people to get so close to the individuals."
Perhaps the most revealing interview was with a 16-year-old girl in Milwaukee who dated Bremer for a few months until January 1972. "She terminated the relationship with Bremer as she became frightened of him and as he caused her mental anguish." Bremer told her "he was attracted to her as she did not fit into the world and neither did he," but he constantly harassed her on the phone and in person. The girl said "she became more and more frightened of Bremer because of his weird interest in her supposed problems with her friends, his unnerving stares, and the intensity of his temper." When Bremer became angry "his face would become red and he would seem to smolder within himself." Bremer told her "his mother beat him and he was frequently required to accompany his father to local taverns where his father became drunk. …Bremer said his father was abusive to him." He also confided some peculiar sexual problems to the 16-year-old.
Uncanny links to and similarities with the RFK case, which appears to be awash in CIA involvement, are laid bare in this analysis by Lisa Pease.
From the May-June 1999 issue (Vol. 6 No. 4) of Probe
The story was both familiar and devastating. Another crazy gunman, portrayed as a withdrawn loner, had taken down another leading political figure in our country. On May 15, 1972, Arthur Herman Bremer pulled a gun and fired upon Governor George Corley Wallace during his campaign rally at a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland.
CBS photographer Laurens Pierce caught part of the shooting on film. A clip from this piece is included in the film Forrest Gump. Wallace is seen with his right side exposed as Bremer reaches forward through the crowd, plants the gun near Wallace's stomach, and fires. Bremer continues firing four more shots, all in essentially the same forward direction, roughly parallel to the ground. Due largely to what was shown on the film, and to the apparent premeditation exhibited in his alleged diary, Bremer was arrested, tried and convicted.
To most people, this case was truly incontestable. This time, a deranged (though not legally insane) gunman had taken out a presidential hopeful. But as with the assassinations of the two Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, there appears to be more to the story.
Wallace alone was wounded in nine different places. Three other people were wounded by a bullet apiece. That makes twelve wounds. The gun found at the scene and presumed to be the only weapon used could only hold five bullets. Looks like someone brought magic bullets to Laurel that day.
Doctors who treated Wallace said he was hit by a minimum of four bullets, and possibly five. Yet three other victims were hit by bullets, and bullets were recovered from two of them. The New York Times reported that there was "broad speculation on how four persons had suffered at least seven separate wounds from a maximum of five shots," adding that although various law enforcement agencies had personnel on the scene, these agencies claimed that "none of their officers or agents had discharged their weapons." 1 Curiously absent is the logical deduction: perhaps a second shooter was present.
Bear in mind that shots 1 and 2 in the above picture represent two wounds each since they were through-and-through wounds, bringing Wallace's total wound count to nine. In addition, three other people were wounded, bringing the total wound count to 12.
Note too the low placement of the upper chest wound (4). Watch where this wound appears in the other two bullet scenarios which follow.
(Picture from the Washington Post, 5/17/72)
Note that in the scenario described above, bullets would have had to enter Wallace from three directions: his right side, his front and from behind his left shoulder. How could one man, firing straight ahead, do that?
(Picture from Newsweek, 5/29/72)
Note the odd trajectories posited by Newsweek. The bullet paths do not trace to a single firing position, and instead require the shooter to be both behind and somewhat above Wallace.
There were policemen on the roof of the shopping center, looking for snipers. Did they miss one? Did they include one?
And if the shoulder wound entered the chest first and then exited the shoulder, then there is the problem of the wound across the back of Wallace's left shoulder blade. The CBS film of the shooting shows Bremer firing a gun, but does not show us how Wallace's body was positioned following the initial shot. Wallace ultimately fell on his back. If he turned his back to the gun, allowing the bullet to graze his back left shoulder blade, how did a bullet enter his chest to exit his right shoulder?
Curious Bullet Trails
Two bullets were removed from Wallace. Wallace's right arm was shot through in two places, leaving four wounds. Doctors speculated that the two bullets that caused these wounds continued on into Wallace's chest and abdomen. The two bullets were recovered from the chest and abdomen wounds. But three wounds remained unaccounted for on Wallace at that point. The second chest wound was connected, perhaps by necessity, to the wound in the shoulder. In addition, Wallace took a grazing wound in the left shoulder blade.
One bullet was removed from Secret Service agent Nicholas Zarvos. He was shot in the right side of his throat the bullet lodged in his left jaw. Another bullet was removed from the knee of campaign worker Dorothy Thompson. Curiously, the fact that a bullet was removed from Ms. Thompson was not made public until Bremer's trial. Capt. Eldred C. Dothard of the Alabama State Patrol was wounded by a bullet grazing his abdomen. And one bullet was recovered from the pavement. If four bullets wounded Wallace, and two others had bullets in them, at least one of the bullets that wounded Wallace went on into one of the other victims. And if only one of them went into another victim, Dothard's grazing bullet must have ended in Thompson's knee or Zarvos's throat. No single scenario seems to satisfy all wounds.
But the wounds are only the start of the curiousities in this case.
Ballistic Evidence (or Lack Thereof)
At Bremer's trial, his court-appointed lawyer, Benjamin Lipsitz, got Robert Frazier of the FBI to admit to the following facts:
- Bremer's fingerprints were not found on the gun recovered at the scene.
- The gun could not be matched to the victim bullets.
- The bullets were too damaged to make such a comparison possible. 2
In the CBS film, Bremer is clearly shown holding a gun without gloves. How is it that he failed to leave fingerprints? And matches between guns and bullets are routinely made. How is it that the bullets were so damaged in this case, and not damaged beyond identifiability in so many others? As for Frazier's comment that the bullets were too damaged to be able to make comparisons, note that the day after the shooting, the Washington Post had reported that Zavros' doctor stated that the bullet from Zavros' jaw "was removed intact."
In addition, Frazier admitted that Bremer had been given paraffin casts, but tested negative for nitrates (found in gunpowder, among other substances), as had Lee Harvey Oswald in similar tests nine years earlier. However, a doctor who treated Bremer for his own wounds shortly after the shooting claimed he had washed Bremer's hands with surgical soap, which would have removed all traces of gunpowder residue. It seems odd, however, that the authorities holding Bremer would allow evidence to be washed away.
The gun itself was not wrested from Bremer's hand, but was found on the pavement by Secret Service agent Robert A. Innamorati. He picked it up from the pavement, and then "kept it secure until 9:00pm that evening," 3 at which point he turned it over to the FBI.
The gun was traced to Bremer because his car license was recorded in the files. But the owner of the shop did not remember Bremer. That may seem normal in most cases, but by nearly all other recorded accounts, Bremer was hard to miss. People described him as having a sickly, incessant smile, and a pasty white color that made him stick out from the crowd.
There were other guns at the plaza that day. The Washington Post reported that "At least two Prince George's policemen were stationed on the shopping center rooftop, surveying for potential snipers, when Governor Wallace's caravan arrived. " 4 Many other policemen and Secret Service agents were in the crowd near Wallace during his appearance there.
Because of the numerous discrepancies and lack of hard physical evidence linking Bremer to the actual bullets that wounded the victims, at the opening of his trial, Bremer's lawyer said, "I'm not trying to kid you. I don't know whether he [Bremer] shot Wallace or not. I think some doctors will tell you even Arthur Bremer doesn't know if shot Wallace." Lipsitz suggested instead that the bullets may have been fired by any of the dozens of policemen at the scene.
During the trial, Bremer was placed in the audience portion of the courtroom. Several witnesses could not identify him in the crowd as having been the gunman they claimed to have seen or tackled.
Second Suspect Rumors
The Maryland police originally issued a bulletin regarding a second suspect in the shooting. An all-points bulletin described the man as a white male, six feet three inches, 220 pounds, with silver gray hair, driving a 1971 light blue Cadillac. 5 The bulletin was retracted soon after, however, and the police disavowed later that the bulletin had anything to do with the assassination attempt. Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward, wrote several of the pieces relating to the Wallace shooting, authored an article claiming to refute this and other rumors surrounding the case. According to Bernstein, a man had been seen changing his auto license tags from Georgia to Maryland plates. The car, a light blue Cadillac, was later found abandoned. The police reported that the incident was unconnected with the shooting.
There had been an earlier incident that bears noting. According to Dothard, two men with guns appeared at a Wallace rally nine days before the attempted assassination. One man apprehended was, without explanation, released. The other man escaped. Curiously, there is no record of the man's arrest, or of anything about his companion. 6
CBS and the Wallace Shooting
As mentioned earlier, CBS cameraman Laurens Pierce made a now famous film of the attempt on Wallace's life. What's odd is that this was the third time Pierce had caught Bremer on tape. Pierce had seen Bremer twice before shooting day&mdashonce at an earlier rally in Wheaton, Maryland, and once sometime before that. According to the New York Times (5/17/72),
Mr. Pierce, who has been traveling with the Governor since April 30, said in an interview that he was convinced he had seen the suspect before he encountered him Monday in Wheaton, because "the previous time I saw him he was fanatic almost in appearance, so I did a close-up shot."
Pierce dould not remember where this earlier occurance took place. At Wheaton, however, Pierce related that he went up to Bremer and told him he had filmed him at a previous ralley. Pierce claimed, "he shied away from me, as if to say, &lsquoNo, no!'" 7
Catching a would-be assassin on film before the shooting happened most recently in the Rabin assassination case. The alleged assassin was filmed for several minutes by himself, before the assassination took place.
What is especially odd is that, while Pierce picked Bremer out of the crowd, filmed him and talked to him, the Secret Service did not, despite his having crossed places with them before. During a Nixon appearance in Canada, Bremer stayed at a hotel that housed about three dozen Secret Service agents. In his diary, Bremer talks about watching them with his binoculars, and being caught by one of them on camera. In addition, according to William Gullett, the chief executive of Prince George's County, Maryland, Bremer had been arrested previously in Milwaukee and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was later reduced to disorderly conduct. Milwaukee police, however, were unable to find any record of his arrest. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, at a previous Wallace appearance, a parking lot attendant had called the police because he saw Bremer sitting in a car, outside the place Wallace was later to appear, for the better part of the day. The police questioned Bremer, but when Bremer told them he simply wanted to get a good seat, they believed him and left him alone. Bremer had also walked away from his life a few months earlier, disappearing from two jobs without any word. Wallace campaign workers noticed Wallace and mentioned that he seemed strange. Lastly, Bremer's family was listed as a problem family with social service agencies in Wisconsin. Despite all of the above, the Secret Service data bank had no record of Wallace.
Bremer spent at least two months traveling between Milwaukee, Canada, New York and Maryland before the Laurel incident. Yet Bremer never had any significant source of income. His last two jobs before he disappeared from Milwaukee mid-February of 1972 were as a busboy and a janitor. As the New York Times put it,
How did the former bus boy and janitor, who earned $3,016 last year, according to a Federal income tax form found in his apartment, support himself and manage to buy guns, tape recorder, portable radio with police band, binoculars and other equipment he was carrying, as well as finance his travels? 8
Curiously, the New York Times appeared to have inflated the income figure. Both the Washington Post and Time magazine had previously reported that the Federal income tax form found in Bremer's apartment showed a much lower figure: $1,611. The lower figure is likely the accurate one, given that Bremer made only $9.45 a day. And even then, he would have had to put in for overtime to reach that figure. Bremer could not have had that full sum available, as he had to pay rent and eat during that year. Assuming he spent money on little else, there is still an enormous problem here. Bremer was able to purchase a car for $795 in cash, fly to and from New York City, stay at the exclusive Waldorf Astoria hotel, drive to and from Ottawa, Canada, where he stayed at another exclusive hotel, the Lord Elgin (where the Secret Service were staying during Nixon's visit), buy three guns, all of which cost upwards of $80, take a helicopter ride in NYC, obtain a ride in a chauffered limousine, tip a girl at a massage parlor $30, and so forth. As with the cases of Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, this "loner" clearly had financial support from an outside source.
One person may have provided a key to this part of the puzzle. Earl S. Nunnery, trainmaster for the Chesapeak & Ohio Railway's rail-auto ferry service through the Great Lakes region, told the Associated Press and confirmed to the New York Times that Bremer had taken his automobile from Milwaukee to Ludington, Michigan in April and again in May. But more importantly, Nunnery recalled the Bremer was not alone. He described Bremer's companion as a well-dressed man, about 6' 2" tall, weighing 225 pounds, with curled hair that appeared heavily sprayed, that hung down over his ears. The companion appeared to have a New York accent. Nunnery said the man talked excitedly about moving some political campaign from Wisconsin to Michigan. Nunnery was so curious about which political candidate these two were discussing that he ventured a look at the car, hoping a bumper sticker might provide an answer. In the car of Bremer's companion, he saw a third person with long hair, who could have been male or female. 9 Interestingly, at the Wallace rally in Kalamazoo, Bremer had been seen talking to a slim, attractive woman accompanied by some "hippie types" who were distributing anti-Wallace literature. 10
Despite this evidence, the FBI, police and media were busily painting Bremer as a loner, without accomplices.
Curiously, Bremer was not simply following Wallace. His Ottawa trip coincided with Nixon's appearance there, and his diary is full of references to his wanting to kill Nixon. His stay at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC corresponded to a night candidate Hubert Humphrey had planned to stay there. But Humphrey cancelled, and Wallace went back to Milwaukee, only to leave the next day on the auto-rail ferry for Michigan.
The FBI's Strange Behavior
In a move reminiscent of the treatment of witnesses to the Kennedy assassination, the FBI busily instructed witnesses not to talk to the press. 11 The FBI took possession of hotel records and instructed Waldorf-Astoria hotel employees not to divulge how much Bremer paid to stay there. 12 They told Representative Henry Reuss and his aides not to divulge Bremer's responses to a questionnaire he had responded to and returned to them. 13
E. Howard Hunt and Bremer?
The belated desire for secrecy does not jibe with other actions taken by the Bureau. For example, right after the shooting, FBI people entered Bremer's apartment in Milwaukee. But then, the FBI left for an hour and a half. Upon their return, they sealed off the apartment to all visitors. But why was the apartment left open for press and other visitors in the interim? Anyone could have walked off with, or more interestingly, planted incriminating evidence there. In fact, Gore Vidal, in the New York Review of Books, wrote a long essay in which he postulated that Watergate figure, expert forger and longtime Kennedy assassination suspect Everett Howard Hunt had penned Bremer's infamous diary. He cited literary allusions and devices combined with misspellings that looked so phony as to have been made deliberately as reasons to disbelieve that Bremer was the original author. Hunt had claimed that Charles Colson had asked him to fly to Milwaukee after the assassination attempt to see what Bremer's political leanings were. 14 Colson maintained, however, that no such conversation took place, and claimed he had instead asked the FBI to look closely into the matter and to keep him posted on what they found. Colson argued that it would make no sense for him to ask the FBI to investigate, and then to send Hunt into the waiting arms of the FBI at Bremer's apartment. Given Hunt's proclivity to tell untruths, and given the plausibility of Colson's position, it seems likely Hunt's story emerged to cover his own interest in the case. In his autobiography, Hunt claims he went so far as to call airlines in an attempt to book a flight to Milwaukee that night. Hunt wrote,
Reluctantly, I began to pack a bag, adding to it the shaving kit that held my CIA-issue physical disguise and documents. I called several airlines and found that the only available flight would put me in Milwaukee about 11 o'clock that night. 15
In the end, however, Hunt claims he decided not to go when he realized the place would be crawling with FBI by the time he got there. Was Hunt afraid that a flight he had booked, and perhaps taken, would be discovered, hence the cover story? In the end, we do not know whether Hunt flew there or not, and whether or not Colson or Hunt suggested the trip in the first place. But there is a curious footnote to this. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post received an anonymous tip that one of the Watergate suspects had gone to meet with Bremer in Milwaukee. 16 While no evidence emerged to support that tip, it remains an intriguing item. Even Howard Simons, the Post's managing editor, made the following comment to Woodward, Bernstein and other editors he had summoned. "There's one thing we've got to think about," he said, regarding the Wallace shooting. "The ultimate dirty trick." 17
Dirty Tricks in '72
The suggestion of something more sinister in the shooting of Governor Wallace needs to be placed against the backdrop of all that was happening in 1972. Donald Segretti pulled off many dirty tricks on the Democrats during this year. For example, at a Muskie fundraiser, liquor, flowers, pizza and entertainers suddenly appeared, unrequested, cash on delivery. A reprint of an article dealing unfavorably with Edward Kennedy's role in the Chappaquidick incident was distributed to members of Congress on facsimiles of Muskie's stationery. Interestingly, the FBI found numerous phone calls from E. Howard Hunt to Segretti, implying that Hunt was perhaps directing Segretti's efforts.
1972 was truly a low point in American democracy. This was the year of the "Canuck Letter," a letter supposedly written by an aide to presidential hopeful Edmund Muskie, in which the aide claimed Muskie condoned the use of the perjorative term "Canuck" regarding the many French-Americans living in New Hampshire. This letter was published by right-winger William Loeb before the New Hampshire primary. The following day, the same publication displayed a scathing personal attack on Muskie's wife. On the next day, when Muskie abandoned his prepared speech and uncharacteristically took off after Loeb for these pieces, Muskie inexplicably lost his famous composure and broke down into tears. According to Bob Woodward, his famous source "Deep Throat" told him the Canuck Letter came right out of the White House. According to another source, Ken Clawson, the man who originally provided Bremer's identity to the Post's editors when no one was talking, admitted to having written the Canuck letter. Clawson was then employed by the White House. But even more intriguing is what Miles Copeland, longtime CIA heavyweight, had to say about Muskie's subsequent breakdown and Hunt's possible role therein:
On one occasion, Jojo's [a pseudonym for a high-level CIA officer] office was asked for an LSD-type drug that could be slipped into the lemonade of Democratic orators, thus causing them to say sillier things than they would say anyhow. To this day, some of my friends at the Agency are convinced that Howard Hunt or Gordon Liddy or somebody got hold of a variety of that drug and slipped it into Senator Muskie's lemonade before he played that famous weeping scene. 18
Dirty tricks were used against George McGovern's campaign as well. In All the President's Men, Woodward claimed his source Deep Throat told him the following:
[Hunt's] operation was not only to check leaks to the papers but often to manufacture items for the press. It was a Colson-Hunt operation. Recipients include all you guys&mdashJack Andersen, Evans & Novak, the Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune. The business of [McGovern's choice for Vice President, Senator Thomas] Eagleton's drunk-driving record or his health records, I understand, involves the White House and Hunt somehow. 19
On a more sinister note, Lou Russell was on James McCord's payroll while employed to provide security for McGovern's campaign headquarters. McCord paid Russell through Bud Fensterwald's Committee to Investigate Assassinations (CIA). 20 Another plant inside the McGovern campaign, Tom Gregory, was being run by Howard Hunt. 21
1972 is most famous, however, for the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to Nixon's self-removal from office. The CIA played a heavy and interesting role in both the break-in and the subsequent revelations that led to Nixon's removal. As Probe has written about in past issues, it appears the CIA operatives deliberately got themselves caught in the Watergate hotel so as not to blow other operations. Then, when Helms was removed, removing Nixon was seen as payback. Those who most contributed to exposing Nixon's activities, such as Alexander Butterfield, James McCord, and Howard Hunt, all had relationships with the CIA. If the cumulative weight of the evidence is to be believed, it appears that the CIA ran the country's election process in 1972, deciding which candidates would survive or fail, and participating in acts of sabotage.
Is it too far fetched to suggest they may have had an interest in controlling the political fortunes of others that year, even by such drastic means as assassination? From what we know of their presence in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, such as suggestion can hardly be called far-fetched. Therefore, we must ask that most ugly of questions: is there evidence of CIA involvement in the Wallace shooting?
According to newspaperwoman Sybil Leek and lawyer-turned-investigative-reporter Bert Sugar, the answer is yes.
According to Leek and Sugar, while Bremer was at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa, he met with a Dennis Cossini. Famed conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell and Alan Stang identified Cossini as a CIA operative. Cossini was found dead from a massive heroin overdose in July, 1972, just two months after the Wallace shooting. Cossini had no history of drug use.
Cossini's address book contained the phone number of a John J. McCleary. McCleary lived in Sacramento, California, and was employed by V & T International, an import-export firm. McCleary drowned in the Pacific ocean in the fall of 1972. His father, amazingly, drowned around the same time in Reno, Nevada. 22
If the CIA was somehow involved, that could explain both E. Howard Hunt's immediate interest in the case, as well as the role of CBS in filming Bremer in the act of shooting. CBS and the CIA shared a particularly close relationship. CIA involvement might go far in explaining the following connections as well.
Bremer's brother, William Bremer, was arrested shortly after the Wallace shooting for having bilked over 2,000 Miami matrons out of over $80,000 by signing them up for non-existant weight-loss sessions. Curiously, Bremer's lawyer was none other than Ellis Rubin, the man who had defended many anti-Castro activists and who defended the CIA men who participated in the Watergate break-in. 23
Even more curious is Bremer's half-sister Gail's relationship with the Reverend Jerry Owen (ne Oliver Brindley Owen), who figures prominently in the RFK case. Owen's bible-thumping show was cancelled from KCOP in Los Angeles when evidence surfaced showing he had a possibly sinister relationship with Sirhan Sirhan just prior to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. After the assassination, Owen had gone to the police with a strange tale of having picked Sirhan up as a hitchhiker. But other witnesses claimed Owen had given Sirhan cash, and had more of a relationship with Sirhan that he had admitted. Los Angeles County Supervisor Baxter Ward wrote a letter to his colleagues detailing an interesting experience he had with Owen:
In the summer of 1971 as a broadcaster, I attempted unsuccessfully to contact Owen for an interview. In the spring of 1972, while I was campaigning for political office, Jerry Owen left word at my campaign headquarters that he would like to see me the following day. The call was placed just hours after Governor Wallace had been shot. Owen did not keep the appointment the following day.
A short time after the hearing I conducted last May  into the Senator Kennedy ballistics evidence, Jerry Owen called again, saying he would like to see me to disclose the full story behind the conspiracy.
He came the following day, and I obtained his permission to tape record his conversation. In my opinion, he provided no information beyond what he had stated in 1968 to the authorities and to the press. However, there was one addition: when I questioned him as to why he did not keep our appointment the day after Governor Wallace had been shot, Owen volunteered that he was personal friends with the sister of Arthur Bremmer [sic]. Owen stated that Gale Bremmer [sic - his half sister was Gail Aiken] was employed by his brother here in Los Angeles for several years and had then just left Los Angeles for Florida because she was continually harassed by the FBI. 24
Links to the RFK case, which appears to be awash in CIA involvement, do not end here. In fact, Bremer had checked out two books on Sirhan from the Milwaukee Public Library in 1972 and had made comments about them in his journal. But perhaps the most interesting connection yet is the one discovered by Betsy Langman. Langman flew from her New York home to Los Angeles to talk to Dr. William Bryan, suspected hypnotist of Sirhan in the RFK assassination saga. On the pretext of doing an article on hypnosis, she encouraged the egotistical Bryan to elaborate at length on his ventures with "Boston Strangler" Albert Di Salvo, "Hollywood Strangler" Henry Bush, and about hypnosis in general. But when she brought up the subject of Sirhan, Bryan became suddenly curt and short-winded, charging out of the office declaring "This interview is over!"
A sympathetic secretary of Bryan's joined Langman for coffee across the street, and dropped an interesting item. As Bill Turner and Jonn Christian recounted it in their book on the RFK case,
According to the secretary, Bryan had received an emergency call from Laurel, Marlyand, only minutes after George Wallace was shot. The call somehow concerned the shooting. 25
Could Bremer have been hypnotized to shoot Wallace?
The Specter of Hypnosis
Bremer's behavior both before and after the shooting was strange, to say the least. The media shared only tantalizing clues:
According to one Federal officer, who asked not to be identified, Mr. Bremer "seemed incredibly indifferent to what was going on around him, even the things that affected him. He was blasÈ, almost oblivious to what was going on. He seems like a shallow, mixed-up man, but not an ideologue." 26
Some witnesses commented, as others had about Sirhan, of Bremer's "spine-tingling" smirk, 27 or "silly grin." 28 In November of the previous year, Bremer had been questioned by the police while parked alone in a no-parking zone in Fox Point, a wealthy Milwaukee suburb. On the seat, he had several boxes of bullets. When the policeman asked why he had a gun, Bremer turned it over. According to a Newsweek account, the policeman later testified that Bremer was "completely incoherent" although the terms "drunk" or "drugged" are nowhere to be found. 29 This was the incident referred to earlier, where Bremer was originally arrested for having a concealed weapon, but later released after paying the fine for the lesser charge of "disorderly conduct."
Finally, there is the report from Leek and Sugar that Bremer had a friend named Michael Cullen who was a hypnotist and a master of behavior modification and psychological programming. In light of the evidence, the hypothesis of mental manipulations cannot be dismissed out of hand.
The question of conspiracy goes hand in hand with the old one of Cui Bono? Who benefits? 1972 was a year in which the Vietnam war was dividing the country. On the one hand, George McGovern was pulling votes from the more moderate Hubert Humphrey in large part because he was willing to speak out against the carnage there. McGovern could never have won in a direct fight with Nixon, as history proved. But with Wallace splitting the conservative vote, McGovern had a chance of becoming president. Clearly, those who supported the Vietnam engagement gained when Wallace was taken out of the running by the bullets in Laurel, Maryland.
Wallace lived to be 79. Bremer is still alive and incarcerated. He is not yet 50. According to Patricia Cushwa, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission, "There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what he [Bremer] does." Not surprising, considered the defense and prosecution pyschiatrists had portrayed Bremer as a schizophrenic. What was surprising was how the jury could find this man, who could not even answer whether he had shot Wallace or not, legally sane. His original crime, it seems, was being born defenseless into a family that was unable to care for him. He grew up in a dysfunctional environment. He was given neither love nor guidance growing up. Either he grew into a criminal, or was twisted into one by forces as yet unknown. What does Bremer think now, after all this time? "Everyone is mean nowadays. [We've] got teenagers running around with drugs and machine guns, they never heard of me. They never heard of the public figure in my case, and they could care less. I was in prison when they were born. The country kind of went to hell in the last 24 years." 30 Make that 36.
5. Sybil Leek and Bert R. Sugar, The Assassination Chain (New York: Corwin Books, 1976), p. 251.
9. The fullest account of Nunnery's comments appears to be the New York Times of 5/22/72.
15. E. Howard Hunt, Undercover (New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1974), p. 217.
16. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, All the President's Men (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974), p. 326.
17. Bernstein and Woodward, p. 326.
18. Miles Copeland, The Real Spy World (London: Sphere Books Limited, 1978), p. 299.
19. Bernstein and Woodward, p. 133.
20. Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda (New York: Random House, 1984), pp. 255, 304.
22. Sybil Leek and Bert R. Sugar, p. 254.
23. Turner and Christian, p. 267.
24. Memorandum from Baxter Ward to fellow supervisors, 7/29/75, published in the Appendix of The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, by William Turner and Jonn Christian.(New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1978 & 1993, originally published by Random House, 1978), p. 374.
Police investigation reveals details of Wallace assassination attempt
The events of May 15, 1972, when Arthur Bremer shot Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace in the parking lot of the Laurel Shopping Center have been recounted numerous times, especially in the Laurel Leader. But little has been reported about the investigation conducted after the shooting that led to Bremer's conviction.
The Prince George's County Police Department was out in force that day working the event, and Wallace also had 18 Secret Service agents and a few Alabama state troopers at his side. The FBI was not present, but later managed the investigation in conjunction with the Prince George's County Police Department.
The FBI files are housed at the National Archives in College Park, where I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to access them. The files will be available some time in 2016. In contrast, my request to the Prince George's County Police Department Records Division for their investigation files was handled promptly and professionally by Lt. Shawné Waddy and technician Justin Blalock. The extensive files reveal some details of the incident that could be new even to eyewitnesses.
The files reveal a police force exhibiting extraordinary thoroughness and professionalism under extreme circumstances in an era much different than today, without the benefit of modern technology. An example of that was recalled by both Frances Fliss, who was working that day in the Mel-Ron fabric shop at Laurel Shopping Center, and Peggy Mitchell Mertz, who was working in the Fotomat booth in the center's parking lot. Both had reporters demand to use their telephones "to call the story in," according to Fliss. For many days afterward, Mertz also remembers many out-of-town visitors stopping at the Fotomat booth, which was located in the middle of the shopping center parking lot not far from the shooting site, and asking where it happened. After pointing it out, she said one couple even took turns taking pictures of each other lying on the pavement where Wallace fell.
On that day in Laurel, Wallace, then a Democratic governor from Alabama whose views on race and segregation were becoming more out of place in 1972 America, had just finished his campaign speech when he stepped toward the crowd and was shot by Bremer. Wallace was paralyzed in the shooting and three others were also injured.
Immediately following the shooting, Prince George's police established a temporary command post in the basement of the Equitable Trust Bank (now the Bank of America), the site of the shooting. It's unclear how they determined who to interview, but the police files contain dozens of interview reports with civilian eyewitnesses and others.
There are discrepancies in many of the interviews as to details of the incident, such as how many shots were fired, the route Wallace took from the stage to shake hands with the people and even the description of Bremer. William Taaffe, a reporter for the Washington Star, told police he noticed Bremer because he had "a real funny laugh. …He laughed at inappropriate times."
One detail that was not in dispute and was described in many of the interviews is the crowd's reaction to Bremer after it became apparent that he had shot Wallace. According to the investigation files, eyewitness Leon Scovitch told police that "the crowd quickly pounced on the assailant and . were going to kill the assailant." In his police interview, Francis Krug recalled hearing "the governor's been shot, kill the SOB," and according to Ernest Leith's interview, "the crowd was screaming 'kill him, kill him.' " Thomas Foley also told police that he remembered hearing people in the crowd "hollering to get the man who had shot the governor."
David Mitchell, currently the chief of the University of Maryland Police Department, was a rookie cop with the Prince George's police at the time and was off-duty. He was in the crowd with a friend, Steven Watkins, who was a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, and also off-duty. Mitchell and Watkins were both Laurel residents. In a recent interview, Mitchell added a chilling note to this detail. He said some enraged supporters were "attempting to disarm the policemen" so they could shoot Bremer.
The police files include quite a few interviews with students: Larry Walters, Andrew Hansbrough, Emery Gibson, Keith Larson, and Stephen Moe from Laurel Senior High Donna Evans from Hammond Middle and John Stevens, Matthew Holt, Stephen White and Gary Thorpe from Laurel Junior High.
Another Laurel High School student, sophomore Bill Beckelman, recently recalled his terrifying experience that day. Beckelman, currently the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Coastlands in Eatontown, N.J., was standing in the back of the crowd near Peoples Drug Store when the shooting started. Like many in the crowd, Beckelman turned and ran after the shooting. He said that as he ran, a man grabbed the 16-year-old, twisted his arm behind his back and shoved a gun into his ribs. While the man led him away, Beckelman said his mind was racing — he thought he was being taken hostage. In the chaos, no one really knew what was happening.
Beckelman was put in a police wagon with a few other people, including student Gary Thorpe, and the wagon raced down Route 1 to Hyattsville. He was relieved to learn from the others that they had been picked up by the Prince George's police. His relief was short-lived, however. When the wagon stopped and the doors opened, "there must have been 15 officers pointing shotguns and guns at us," he recalled.
Everyone in the wagon was interviewed and released. Beckelman's parents asked a police officer if he could keep their son's interview out of the record. Apparently, the officer complied since it is not in the files.
Someone who was not interviewed was Laurel resident Joe Kundrat, who was attending the rally with his mother and was right up front when the shooting took place. Kundrat took some of the most well-known photos of the day, which were bought by the Associated Press and other media organizations, and appeared in newspapers around the world. Recently, Kundrat recalled aiming his camera under the policemen's arms to get a photo of Bremer being wrestled to the ground. Kundrat's mother went to the aid of the Secret Service agent Nick Zarvos, who was shot in the neck and fell near her.
The thoroughness of the Prince George's police investigation was evident in the follow-up interviews. Eyewitness William Turner, who was the manager of Boulevard Cleaners, told police about a conversation he had with John Kuck, the manager of Suburban Airport on Brock Bridge Road, about a suspicious person at the airport. Police tracked down Kuck in Michigan, who remembered a conversation with someone who fit Bremer's description. The person "asked if Governor Wallace would be landing there."
Brigitte and Walter Hawkins were standing directly behind Bremer and their photo appeared in the Washington Daily News. When Brigitte Hawkins was interviewed by police the day after the shooting, she told them they had been contacted by someone in Delaware to attend a Wallace rally and tell the story of the shooting. Follow-up interviews in Delaware revealed that no rally was planned.
There are dozens of interviews in the files with Secret Service agents and police officers. Wallace's path for the day can be traced through the interviews and interesting details about his security are revealed.
A few hours earlier, Wallace had spoken to a hostile crowd at Wheaton Plaza. His segregationist views ignited the crowd into throwing tomatoes and cursing the candidate. Secret Service agent Lawrence Dominguez was assigned to the Wallace protective detail. In his interview, he recalled the Wheaton rally: "During the governor's speech, he was constantly interrupted by demonstrators who vocally attempted to drown him out. Officer E.C. Dothard [who would be shot later in the day by Bremer] blocked a tomato which was thrown directly at the Governor … an orange was thrown which missed the Governor by one foot … there had been eggs thrown at the platform prior to our arrival."
The Wheaton rally put the security detail on edge. No one knew Bremer had been there stalking Wallace and left afterward for Laurel. It's interesting that even trained police had a difficult time describing the nondescript Bremer. One of the Alabama state troopers told his interviewer that Bremer "looked like an albino."
Wallace arrived in Laurel ahead of schedule, so he rested and lunched in Room 502 at the Howard Johnson hotel on Route 1. After lunch, according to the News Leader, his wife, Cornelia Wallace "had her hair coiffed by Edward at Montgomery Ward beauty salon" in the Laurel Shopping Center.
After the Wheaton rally, police records show that the security detail was on the lookout in Laurel for potential troublemakers, particularly "hippies." Secret Service agent Thomas Stevens, in his police interview, recalled that the detail met "at the Hot Shoppes Restaurant in the Laurel Shopping Plaza [sic]" to arrange "for the manpower we would need" for the Laurel appearance. Hippies were mentioned more than a few times in police interviews as a matter of concern. Agent Roger Warner said he noticed that "two hippie-types were of an usually rough appearance that attracted my interest." Agent James Mitchell "had a conversation … regarding hippies" and "walked around to the other side of the stage and observed some hippies."
Apparently the Secret Service was so concerned that they tried to convince Wallace to cancel his Laurel appearance. In fact, Wallace told the New York Times in 1975 that "he ignored Secret Service advice not to appear at the Maryland shopping center rally where he was shot while campaigning in 1972."
The Prince George's police file contains riveting recollections of the officers who were near Wallace when the shooting started. The coolness under fire and ability to remain professional in such a chaotic and dangerous environment is remarkable.
Agents Mitchell and Ralph Peppers were among the first to get to Bremer. Mitchell recalled that he "turned and saw a hand with a weapon in it. …I lunged and/or hit and pulled the assailant by the back of the neck and pulled him toward me and the ground . I fell or jumped with my knees on his back." Peppers described how he "pushed him down to the ground" and "held his head to the ground, but his face was turned partially to one side. I did this to subdue him."
Laurel Police Lt. Archie Cook and Secret Service agent William Breen both shielded Wallace with their own bodies to prevent any further shooting. In his book "Brass Buttons and Gun Leather, A History of the Laurel Police Department," author and former Laurel police Sgt. Rick McGill interviewed Cook, who died in March. Cook recalled that Laurel police officers Milan Shegan and J.D. Ervin were also on plain clothes duty at the Wallace rally. According to Cook, Shegan also shielded Wallace. McGill described what happened next: "Wallace saw Cook's pistol in his belt holster and thought he was the shooter until he identified himself as a Laurel policeman. Wallace asked Cook how bad he was hit. Cook could see the blood but told him he'd be okay."
Secret Service agent Robert Innamorati was right behind them and recalled "I saw a pistol on the ground within reaching distance of the suspect. I immediately stood on the weapon after several seconds, I decided to secure the weapon to avoid loss of it to the crowd." When he relinquished custody of the gun for safekeeping he noted on the report, "butt of pistol had a pasted-on decal of happy face."
The chaos of the day was described in an interview with Barbara Luber of the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad, which responded to the emergency within two minutes. "We attempted to take the blood pressure but with all the people on the ambulance and all of the noise it was impossible. There were two agents in the front with the driver and there were two more agents, a press secretary, and Mrs. Wallace in the back, as well as myself, Duckworth, and Fiedler [LVRS paramedics]. … It was very crowded. We had a very hard time using our equipment due to the crowded conditions we were working under." When asked if the crowd in the ambulance prevented "effective treatment of Mr. Wallace," Luber responded "Yes, they did not mean to, but they interfered. All they were concerned with was hurrying Mr. Wallace to the hospital."
The files contain hundreds of police photos. Mixed in with the Laurel Shopping Center investigation are a series of photos taken at the Wheaton rally earlier in the day by BeBe Bailey, publisher of the Wheaton News. The crowd scenes from Wheaton and Laurel are in stark contrast. Wheaton had many protesters holding signs, such as "Remember Selma" and "Wallace for President, Hitler for Vice-President." The Laurel crowd looked to be much more supportive and attentive.
The police were meticulous in photographing everything, from the scene before the shooting to every piece of evidence uncovered in the investigation. All of the clothes worn by the four people shot by Bremer — Wallace, Zarvos, Dothard, and Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign worker — and removed for surgery are also in the photos. There is a series of photos showing Bremer's car at the shopping center, being dismantled for searching, and then reassembled.
Bremer was convicted in August 1972 and sentenced to 53 years in prison. He ended up serving 35 years at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown and was released early in 2007 for good behavior. Upon his release, Newsweek quoted forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz as saying "no assassin has ever been freed from custody in the United States." The magazine also described Bremer as he walked out of prison. "Gone were the blond head of hair and eerily cemented smile now 57, Bremer is balding and paunchy, with a long, grey beard. … 'Arthur Bremer is alone,' says a Maryland corrections spokesman. 'He has no one.' "
Arthur Bremer - History
(After spending 35 quiet years behind prison bars in Maryland for trying to assassinate Alabama Gov. George Wallace, ex-Milwaukeean Arthur Bremer is to be released Friday)
Arthur Bremer is a relic of American history.
Thirty-five years ago, he left his three-room apartment at 2433 W. Michigan St. in Milwaukee, left behind a Confederate flag, unmailed love letters, notebooks, school report cards and family photos, left for a journey that would end in gunfire at a presidential campaign rally at a shopping mall in Laurel, Md.
Now, the man who shot and paralyzed Alabama Gov. George Wallace on May 15, 1972, is on the cusp of a new journey, from prison to freedom.
Bremer is expected to leave the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown quietly today and take up residence in Maryland.
After serving 35 years of his 53-year sentence, he is to gain his release through "good conduct credits" and is to be under Maryland state supervision. Officials announced Bremer's anticipated release in August.
At 57, Bremer is to re-enter a society that is changed profoundly from the America of his young adulthood.
And so, too, is his personal world.
His mother, Sylvia, 92, died in February. His father, William, 82, died in 2002. His four siblings are scattered.
"It would be fascinating to see the world from his eyes now," said David Blumberg, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission. "Only he can experience it. It would be interesting if he chose to relate."
But over the decades, Bremer has chosen silence, declining all interview requests, leaving behind only the ramblings of a youthful diary and a statement at a 1996 parole hearing.
"He's just quiet," Blumberg said. "He keeps to himself, and that's fine. In the prison system, inmates like that are usually the ones that are. . . the preferred inmate."
Blumberg said he did not believe that Bremer, who has worked many years as an aide in the prison school, was a danger to society.
"I believe a lot of us were very different 35 years ago from who we are today, particularly somebody doing something as he did," Blumberg said. "And his total about-face about why he did it. I think he cringes at any type of attention, as compared to before, (when) he just relished it."
Blumberg added, "We want to make sure he becomes a productive citizen."
Wallace, paralyzed from the waist down, died in 1998. Three other people were wounded in the attack.
"We feel like he needs to serve out his complete term," said one of Wallace's children, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, who lives in Montgomery, Ala. "He's getting out 17 1/2 years early. After he shot my father, my father suffered for 25 years after that. And he suffered every single day.
"My father wrote him a handwritten letter, telling him he forgave him. My daddy did forgive him. He never heard back from Bremer. He did forgive him. It's hard for us kids to go that route."
She said her father "stood for the little man, of course."
And she said: "I think he changed the course of the Democratic Party. And I think, had he not been shot, I really think he could have been on a ticket."
Wallace, a segregationist governor who mounted a third-party presidential run in 1968, was making another run in 1972, vying in the Democratic primaries.
It was a troubled America. The country was still reeling from the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. military was mired in Vietnam, and Richard Nixon was running for a second presidential term. Nixon would win the White House again but resign later because of the Watergate scandal.
Into this political maelstrom stepped Bremer, a 21-year-old loner with a gun.
A 1969 graduate of South Division High School, Bremer took classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College and studied photography. He also worked for around a year and a half as a bus boy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. One day, he showed up for work with a shaved head, explaining that he wanted to get back in the good graces of a girl.
"I liked to think that I was living with a television family and there was no yelling at home, and no one hit me," Bremer had written in high school.
In the two months leading to the shooting, Bremer traveled frequently. He owned a 1967 blue Rambler sedan, purchased used for $795. He followed Nixon on a trip to Canada and was spotted at numerous Wallace rallies.
He struck in Laurel, lunging from a crowd at a Wallace rally.
His state trial, held in the summer of 1972, lasted five days. Bremer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bremer's rambling diary was read in court. It included his plan to kill Nixon, as well as details of how he stalked Wallace.
A psychiatrist for the defense testified that Bremer's attack on Wallace "was an act to impress" Bremer's mother "and have her look up to him."
The jury quickly found him guilty. After the verdict was announced, Bremer told the court, "Looking back on my life, I would have liked it if society had protected me from myself."
Benjamin Lipsitz, now 88, who was Bremer's court-appointed attorney, said this week that "I pretty much thought he was a normal person."
Asked what kind of life Bremer might have led had he not shot Wallace and the others, Lipsitz paused and said: "I think he probably would have done all right. He was a pretty energetic boy for his time and his age. He did a lot of things that would be typical of the all-American boy. He worked, he went to school, seemed to have a normal amount of interests."
But Bremer followed his own path, one that changed history.
Interesting. The “impress mom” angle is a goldmine, as well as the fact that his mom was 10 years older than his dad. I wonder if there has been a recent psychiatric evaluation?
A psychiatrist for the defense testified that Bremer's attack on Wallace "was an act to impress" Bremer's mother "and have her look up to him."
"MEMO - Vince Fuller, Attorney at Law"
Upgrade reference from "Mom" to "Jody Foster"
"Not guilty by reason of insanity - John Hinckley Jr."
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
Caught on Tape: The White House Reaction to the Shooting of Alabama Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate George Wallace
Mr. Nichter is a Ph.D candidate in History from Bowling Green State University. He is currently co-authoring a book about Nixon foreign policy based on the Nixon tapes.
On May 15, 1972, Arthur H. Bremer shot Alabama Governor and Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace five times at close range with a .38 caliber revolver during a campaign stop in Laurel, Maryland. The shooting in the Washington, D.C. suburb ended Wallace&rsquos political career and he was paralyzed from the waist down for the remainder of his life. In November, thirty-five years later and in the middle of another political season, Bremer was released from the Maryland State Penitentiary in Hagerstown on November 6, 2007. The first political assassin to be paroled in American history, his sentence for the shooting was reduced on good behavior from an original term of 53 years, even though Bremer apparently never expressed any remorse.
American citizens then had a vivid memory of the recent assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. Therefore, the Nixon White House followed the Wallace shooting very closely immediately after it occurred. Caught on tape, the Nixon tapes document the President&rsquos reaction, his assembling a kitchen cabinet in the Oval Office to react to the crisis, and finally, a long session in his private office in the Executive Office Building in which Nixon and his advisors discussed the political effects of the shooting and concerns over the way that the Secret Service and the FBI handled the subsequent investigation. The more than 100 pages of transcripts of conversations that took place in the 24 hours that followed the shooting demonstrate the administration&rsquos highest interest and the direct personal involvement of the President and his top advisors in the matter.
On the afternoon of May 15, 1972, Nixon was working in the Oval Office and had just concluded meetings on the budget and trade when he became aware of the shooting shortly after 4:00 pm. His first reaction was to instruct the White House Operator to reach his wife, as well as Cornelia Wallace, the wife of George Wallace, who had been in Laurel with her husband and had held his slain body before being transported to Prince George&rsquos County Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland.
Speaking first to Mrs. Nixon, the President said, &ldquoWe&rsquove got a problem. Have you heard about Wallace?&rdquo1 The President&rsquos instinct was to cancel a scheduled appearance that evening in order to show respect, adding, &ldquoWhy don&rsquot we just tell the press it&rsquos closed to the press because of this event?&rdquo Nixon then comforted Mrs. Wallace: &ldquoYou tell him to keep his spirit, and tell him that all of us people in politics have got to expect some dangers, and that Mrs. Nixon and I both send our very best wishes, and you can be sure that we&rsquoll remember him in our thoughts and our prayers.&rdquo2
Meanwhile, Nixon, without details yet on the assailant or the motive behind the shooting, ordered Secretary of the Treasury John B. Connally to offer full Secret Service protection to those political figures the President considered most at risk, including Sen. Ted Kennedy. Connally, who as Governor of Texas had been injured by a stray bullet while sitting in the same car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, was polite but firm with the Senator: &ldquoThe President asked me to come over here a minute ago. He said he doesn&rsquot really care what the hell the law provides as far as our counsel is concerned. He thinks that you&rsquore traveling around the country, he thinks that out of all of the people who are susceptible to some nut, you, probably more than anybody except George Wallace, and he would like, this afternoon, to offer you a full Secret Service protection, and I&rsquom calling to tell you that, and it&rsquos available to you, and it&rsquoll be available as of tonight if you want it, Ted.&rdquo3
Moving across the street to the Executive Office Building, the President then brainstormed potential motivations behind the shooting of the former-segregationist Governor during discussions with his closest advisors, including Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, Counsel to the President for Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman, and Counsel to the President Chuck Colson. &ldquoYou know, how long did it have to be said that somebody was going to shoot Wallace?&rdquo Nixon noted. &ldquoDidn&rsquot he ask for it? He stirs up hate.&rdquo However, nearly two hours after the shooting, the President became furious over not knowing even basic details about the shooting or the assailant. As Haldeman said to the head of the Secret Service, James J. Rowley, &ldquothe key thing now is the identity of the assailant and all the particulars on him before they start putting it out to the press.&rdquo4
Nixon demanded to know the details of the assailant before the press had them. (Although the animosity Nixon felt toward the press is well-documented, here Nixon was particularly outraged over recent press reports that lambasted his May 8 decision to mine Haiphong Harbor in an escalation of the Vietnam War, a risky move that came as final preparations were being made for the U.S.-Soviet summit in Moscow that produced the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty on May 26.) To ensure that he stay informed of Wallace&rsquos evolving condition, Nixon had even ordered his own personal physician, Dr. William M. Lukash, to oversee the Alabama Governor, and Nixon had also offered the use of the presidential suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
After conflicting reports to the President from the Secret Service described the assailant as everything from a middle-aged man to three teenagers, either acting alone or with an accomplice, Nixon, wishing to avoid a what seemed to him like a potential government scandal on his watch, ordered Haldeman to instruct Ehrlichman to interfere and take control of the investigation. Nixon noted, &ldquoI&rsquom not going to let them get away with this this time. They are to report to me directly. I don&rsquot want to read it in the press, and I don&rsquot want to hear it on the radio. I want a report, and I don&rsquot want any cover up. You know, this could be like the Kennedy thing. This son of a bitch Rowley is a dumb bastard, you know. He is dumb as hell. We&rsquove got to get somebody over there right away. Get Ehrlichman on him! Get Ehrlichman over there right away, Bob, to work on it. Don&rsquot you agree? Secret Service will fuck this up! They do everything!&rdquo Finally, on the basis that one of Wallace&rsquos body guards&mdashwho included fifty Secret Service agents and a detail of the Alabama State Police&mdashwas injured in the shooting, Nixon ordered the FBI to take jurisdiction of the investigation away from the Secret Service: &ldquoGet the FBI. Order, at my direction, the FBI!&rdquo5
The investigation soon came under control. Within the hour, the FBI traced the gun to a purchase made on January 13, 1972, by an Arthur Herman Bremer, white male, 21 years old, from West Michigan Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bremer had been previously arrested by the FBI for carrying a concealed weapon in November 1971.6 He was described as &ldquoa loner&rdquo and seeking attention. Once these details became known to the President, Nixon&rsquos concerns shifted to how the press would report the shooting. As the President instructed Ehrlichman, &ldquoKeep the heat on them, because don&rsquot let us make the mistake that was made of the Kennedy thing. [&hellip] You don&rsquot realize the forces that could let loose in this, you know. This fellow [Wallace] was a Goddamn demagogue, a hate monger, and he could let loose horrible forces, and we have got to be doing the right thing, John. That&rsquos what you&rsquove got to understand.&rdquo7
Meanwhile, Nixon instructed Haldeman to have Colson put a report out to the press: &ldquoPut a call in immediately to [White House Deputy Director of Communications Kenneth] Clawson, or somebody [&hellip] to the effect that the first reports of the [Bremer] interrogation [are] that a McGovern/Kennedy person did this. Know what I mean? Rumors are going to flow all over the place. Put it on the left right away.&rdquo Later, Nixon further elaborated, &ldquoJust say he was a supporter of McGovern and Kennedy. Now just put that out. Just say you have it on &lsquounmistakable evidence.&rsquo&rdquo When Colson returned to the EOB after meeting with Clawson to execute the President&rsquos order, Nixon asked, &ldquoYou sell it?&rdquo Colson summarized: &ldquoYou don&rsquot have to sell it to this fellow [Clawson]. He says, &lsquoof course, of course he&rsquos a student radical, naturally.&rsquo I said, &lsquoof course, he&rsquos from Wisconsin, that he worked in McGovern&rsquos campaign.&rsquo [&hellip] [laughter] You don&rsquot have to sell him. He&rsquos already convinced.&rdquo8
In the days and weeks that followed, the President&rsquos interest in the shooting waned once the FBI brought the investigation under control. However, in the midst of crisis immediately following the shooting, all of the classic elements of the Nixon persona were in place: having little faith in the appropriate government agencies, he gathered his closest advisors to manage the event. Being fearful of history, rather than learning from it, he demonstrated a fatalistic belief that the investigation into the Wallace shooting would be botched just as he believed that cover-ups were made following the Kennedy assassinations. Finally, wanting to counteract the spin control he expected the press would leverage against his handling of the crisis, he tasked his own spin masters with creating a portrait of Arthur Bremer as a loner who was sympathetic to left-leaning political causes even before the FBI had finished questioning him.
Today, Bremer is a free man at age 57, after spending two-thirds of his life in prison. He is something of a time capsule from a tumultuous era filled with political violence. Now a bygone era, perhaps now we will learn who the real Arthur Bremer is. In the mean time, the Nixon tapes provide a fascinating glimpse into the White House during a time of national crisis.
3 WHT 24-91, 5/15/72, Unknown time between 5:41 pm and 5:45 pm. See also 24-93.
What Bremer family records will you find?
There are 48,000 census records available for the last name Bremer. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Bremer census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.
There are 11,000 immigration records available for the last name Bremer. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.
There are 11,000 military records available for the last name Bremer. For the veterans among your Bremer ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.
There are 48,000 census records available for the last name Bremer. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Bremer census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.
There are 11,000 immigration records available for the last name Bremer. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.
There are 11,000 military records available for the last name Bremer. For the veterans among your Bremer ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.
The book that inspired 'Taxi Driver' is actually a lot closer to 'Ziggy'
A rthur Bremer, now 65, barely qualifies as famous in 2016. Start typing his name into Google, and the search engine will come up with about a dozen other, more popular autocomplete suggestions first: Arthur Bowen, Arthur Blank, Arthur Berzinsh, Arthur Brown, Arthur Boorman, etc., etc.
There is a bitter irony in all of this, since few people have gone to such drastic lengths to become well-known as Bremer did. Way back in 1972, when he was just a 21-year-old ex-busboy from Milwaukee with a high school education, Arthur Bremer shot and permanently paralyzed George Wallace , the notorious segregationist Alabama governor who was then noisily campaigning for the White House. Bremer had originally wanted to assassinate incumbent president Richard Nixon but had settled for Wallace when his preferred target proved unreachable.
None of this was done out of political malice the mildly conservative Bremer simply thought the act would gain him historical immortality. His thinking was not unlike that displayed in Jessica Delfino’s 2006 satirical song, “I Wanna Be Famous.” Like the deluded young lady in that song, Arthur Bremer thought his name would forever be attached to that of a famous person, the way John Wilkes Booth's is to Abraham Lincoln or Lee Harvey Oswald's is to John F. Kennedy. Bremer's writings show him to be fixated on famous assassins, including Sirhan Sirhan.
"Maybe I won't be a star," go the lyrics of Delfino's song, "but I'll at least be famous."
For a few years in the mid-to-late 1970s, it looked like Arthur Bremer's extreme gamble had sort of paid off. His handwritten journal, recovered from his car after his arrest, was published by Harper's Magazine Press in 1973 under the title An Assassin's Diary, complete with a heady, sympathetic introduction by writer Harding Lemay, who largely portrays the young would-be assassin as the redheaded stepchild of our empty American culture.
Pop culture referenced him, too. Bremer was name-checked by Divine in John Waters' Female Trouble in 1974, for instance. Divine's character, Dawn Davenport, claims that she "bought the gun that Bremer used to shoot Wallace." The actual revolver was auctioned off in late 2014 . Peter Gabriel wrote a song about him called "Family Snapshot, " which ended up on the same self-titled album as "Biko" and "Games Without Frontiers" in 1980. And most famously, in 1976, Arthur Bremer and his diary served as the partial inspiration for Taxi Driver, written by Paul Schrader and directed by Martin Scorsese.
But that was all decades ago. The Watergate break-in, which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon from the presidency, proved to be the immortal, history-changing story to emerge from the 1972 election, not the Wallace assassination attempt.
Today, as George Wallace's own name ebbs further into the past, Arthur Bremer has been demoted to a historical footnote. By 1991, when the conversation on Mystery Science Theater 3000 briefly turned to the subject of political assassins during the Cave Dwellers episode, host Joel Hodgson had some genuine difficulty even recalling Bremer’s name, tentatively referring to him as “Arthur Bremmel.” After 35 nearly incident-free years in a Maryland prison, Arthur Herman Bremer was released to minimal fanfare and a near-total lack of outrage in 2007. An Assassin's Diary, once a hot item, has been out of print for years.
Much of this can be attributed to a total lack of charisma on Arthur Bremer's part. Scorsese nerds will be able to find numerous parallels between An Assassin's Diary and Taxi Driver, including some uncomfortable run-ins with Secret Service agents, but Arthur Bremer has very little in common with Travis Bickle, the cabbie-turned-vigilante played by Robert De Niro. Bickle is a dark, tortured anti-hero with strong, albeit misguided, principles. His stint in Vietnam gives him an intriguing backstory. And the diary he keeps during the movie has flashes of poetry within it.
Bremer, on the other hand, is just kind of a clueless, hapless dork, closer in spirit to De Niro’s fame-obsessed Rupert Pupkin character from The King of Comedy. He's an utter nobody trying to become a somebody in the worst way possible.
|Arthur Bremer and Radar O'Reilly.|
More than anything, the deluded young man's diary is highly reminiscent of Tom Wilson's Ziggy, a comic strip that debuted in June 1971, less than a year before the bungled assassination attempt. To put it frankly, Arthur Bremer is the Ziggy of political assassins: a luckless, ineffectual doofus who receives nothing but shabby treatment from the world. That is, when the world bothers to notice him at all.
Like Ziggy, An Assassin's Diary is largely devoted to the title character's poor customer service experiences at various sub-par businesses: hotels, restaurants, and auto mechanics. Because this is a young man's journal and not a family-oriented comic strip, Bremer's misadventures also include an unsatisfying trip to a massage parlor, which he visits after seeing an ad in Screw magazine.
Bremer followed Nixon and Wallace on the campaign trail in the unhappy spring of '72, waiting for his perfect opportunity to strike, and the miserable road trip proved to be a protracted comedy of errors. In his diary entry for April 21, 1972, for instance, Bremer talks about what happened one night when he pulled into one service station and then another to get a tire patched:
Like Tom Wilson's bald-headed cartoon everyman, the aspiring assassin is plenty incompetent all on his own, without any assistance from others. In those pre-Google Maps, pre-GPS days of the early 1970s, Bremer had to find campaign rallies and whistle stops by himself, and An Assassin's Diary shows him to be perhaps the world's crummiest navigator. He spends a lot of his time hopelessly lost, sometimes even having to ask his hated foes, policemen and Secret Service agents (whom he refers to as "the SS"), for help.
And the guy is all thumbs when handling firearms. Once, in preparation for a border crossing into Canada, he secrets a gun so deeply within the bowels of his car that it cannot be retrieved again. And the book's arguable comic high point occurs when, while holed up in his depressing little apartment, he accidentally fires a very noisy shot he then pathetically tries to cover by turning the television to a war movie. Only the apathy of the landlady saves him.
That's one of the great, unintentional lessons of An Assassin's Diary: Arthur Bremer, hopeless though he is, catches America napping on the job. The young man's strange, jittery behavior should have set off alarm bells and possibly gotten him arrested at any number of points along his journey, way before he got close enough to George Wallace to fire a shot. But it seems that nobody was paying this schmuck the least bit of interest.
The book's pathetic postscript reveals that virtually no one had bothered to get to know him. What did Arthur Bremer's few acquaintances recall of the suddenly famous man? "Somebody else remembered," reports the epilogue, "that his mother had refused to let him try out for the high school football team." Apparently, the only way people had to define him was by negation. He was the guy who didn't play football in high school. Some legacy.
Had anyone actually taken a few minutes to get to know Arthur Bremer, they'd have met a young fellow who, while no Rhodes scholar, was capable of some piquant commentary about the emptiness of our culture. At one point in An Assassin's Diary, apropos of nothing, he criticizes Diana Ross for selling out to please white audiences. Elsewhere, he rants about the unfairness of American vending machines not taking Canadian coins. He routinely mocks hippies for the uselessness of their protests and demonstrations. He gives politicians, policemen, and other authority figures no respect either, casually referring to Nixon as "Nixy-boy."
|Poster for ZPG.|
In his humbler moments, Bremer sends a few zingers in his own direction, too. His tone throughout the book swings wildly from self-aggrandizement to self-abasement. Sometimes, he thinks he’s writing a book for the ages other times, he seems to realize that he isn’t. He knows, for instance, that downgrading his target from Richard Nixon to George Wallace means that his story is much less newsworthy and may even be ignored by the foreign press entirely. And although he considers his diary to be an important historical document, he's often unsure what to put in it. "Funny," he writes at one such juncture, "I've got nothing to say. Have I ever said anything?" This from a man who, at an earlier point in his manuscript, expected his words to be as carefully scrutinized as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Arthur Bremer shot Gov. George Wallace to be famous. A search for who he is today
Alabama Gov. George Wallace was shot by Arthur Bremer at a campaign rally in Laurel, Md., in May 1972. He kept a diary of the 10 weeks he spent stalking, first, President Richard Nixon, then Wallace. (Alamy)
The online auction catalogue read like a prank, like a bad flashback, and it upended my morning. Then my year: Arthur Bremer’s gun was for sale.
A year ago this week, the Rock Island Auction Co. in Illinois took bids for the five-shot, snub-nosed .38 revolver that Bremer used to shoot Gov. George Wallace of Alabama on May 15, 1972, during a presidential primary campaign rally at the Laurel Shopping Center in suburban Maryland.
“Very fine . minor edge and high spot wear with some scratches and scrapes on the side of the cylinder where it hit the ground when it was wrestled away from [Bremer]. . A very unique and somewhat ‘infamous’ historic revolver.”
Somewhat? You don’t have to remember the attack that left Wallace paralyzed from the waist down to consider this weapon a startling relic of those tormented years, 1963 to 1981, when assailants opened fire on three presidents, two presidential candidates and two national civil rights leaders.
To prove the weapon was genuine, the gun was accompanied by a macabre scrapbook: pages photocopied from the Prince George’s County Police case file Bremer’s receipt from a gun store in Milwaukee showing he paid $94.48 18 frames of the television footage that captured Bremer lunging with the revolver and the first lady of Alabama throwing herself over the felled governor with a bloody hole in his torso.
The high bidder was an anonymous collector from outside the Washington region who had an idea of how much a piece of Arthur Bremer is worth: He paid $28,750.
County police learned of the auction after it was over. They had no idea the gun had strayed into private hands and are now trying to get it back.
“This item of evidence has historic significance not only to the police department but to our nation’s history,” says Capt. Marc Alexander, an investigator for police Inspector General Carlos Acosta.
I had thought we were all done with Bremer. His attempted escape into oblivion began the moment he was tackled by bystanders and police in the shopping plaza. He would speak just three sentences in public, at his 1972 trial in Upper Marlboro, and that would be it for more than 40 years.
After serving 35 1 / 2 years of a 53-year sentence, with 17 1 / 2 years knocked off for good behavior, he was released from prison in 2007. The news caused hardly a stir, even though he was one of few national attempted assassins in modern times to be set free.
A church-supported group helped Bremer settle in Cumberland, tucked in the mountains of Western Maryland, where he has lived in law-abiding obscurity ever since. He is 65.
Yet there’s something about Bremer — and us — that won’t let him slip away completely. He dwells at the blurry edge of memory, summoned back into focus whenever a turn in history or culture reminds us of his relevance.
I’ve had trouble accepting his silence for some time, ever since I read his journal, “An Assassin’s Diary,” which included about half of the 261 fevered pages he wrote in the 10 weeks leading up to the shooting. It was a long, loquacious cry for attention and legacy. The book made a small splash when it came out in 1973. Then it, too, disappeared for years, until, incredibly, the missing half of the diary was coughed up by the earth itself — like the revolver popping out of nowhere onto the auction block.
How could the voice of that diary just switch off? I wanted to hear how Bremer, now approaching old age, would reflect on his dark journey. Perhaps he could tell us about remorse and redemption. The price of infamy. And he might fill the blank pages of his life after he pulled the trigger.
I took the auction as a license — an excuse — to search for Bremer.
Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace. . How will the news associations describe me? An unemployed painter? An unemployed part-time busboy? A colledge (still can’t spell it) drop-out? . I have it. “An unemployed malcontent who fancys himself a writer.”
— Arthur Bremer’s diary, March/early April 1972
A photo of Bremer’s .38 revolver from Prince George’s County Police files. The gun was auctioned in Illinois last December. Notice the smiley face decal on the butt of the gun. (Prince George’s County Police Department)
Bremer was born into a quarrelsome household in Milwaukee, the son of a truck driver and a homemaker. He grew up socially awkward and lonely. He took photography classes at a technical college and worked as a busboy at an athletic club.
When he finally got a girlfriend, she was 16, he was 21. Soon his quirky, intense behavior became too much for her. She later told reporters she was embarrassed by the way he yelled and stamped his feet at a Blood, Sweat & Tears concert. She broke up with him.
Bremer was devastated. He shaved his head to get her attention and considered suicide, he wrote in his diary.
A couple of months later he hit the road in his 1967 Rebel Rambler with a .38 special and a Browning 9mm. Nixon, a Republican, was in the White House, plotting his reelection, and the Democratic presidential primary campaign was in full swing. What the candidates stood for seemed of little importance to Bremer. He briefly considered shooting Democrat George McGovern, who was vying with Wallace and others for the nomination.
For weeks Bremer stalked Nixon, following him to Ottawa. He finally gave up after being foiled by “hippie” demonstrators drawing extra security. He moved on to Wallace, fearing only that a Wallace assassination wouldn’t be important enough to create a historic sensation. Wallace was a populist best known for demanding “segregation forever” in the early 1960s and for trying to block the integration of the University of Alabama.
On the afternoon of May 15, Bremer listened to the candidate speak at Wheaton Plaza before heading to the rally in Laurel, where, on the spur of the moment, Wallace stepped off the platform to shake hands. Witnesses said Bremer called, “Over here, Mr. Wallace!” A moment later, he fired five rounds. In addition to Wallace, three others were shot, suffering less-serious wounds.
Bremer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury took 95 minutes to find him sane and guilty.
Invited by the judge to make a statement, Bremer recalled the prosecutor saying that “he’d like society to be protected from someone like me. Looking back on my life, I would have liked it if society had protected me from myself.
I can’t hit any thing at a 50 foot target range. I remember firing over 100 bullets, 99 missed the paper, some of those hit the cieling & downed plaster & dust, & one 10 ring hit. Still can’t believe it. How does anybody hit with one of those things? . I have a date with history. But I can’t hit a thing more than 10 feet away.
Bremer is escorted from Federal District Court in Baltimore after being held on $200,000 bail. Ultimately he was tried in a state court, and a jury took 95 minutes to find him guilty. (© Bettmann/CORBIS)
Bremer — or the idea of Bremer — started ricocheting almost immediately.
Paul Schrader was a young writer wrestling with alienation that summer after the shooting as he banged out the script for what would become the Martin Scorsese film “Taxi Driver” (1976), starring Robert De Niro as an existential loner who plans to shoot a candidate. It is not the Arthur Bremer story, Schrader emphasizes, but there are points in common, including a diaristic narration.
He wrote the script after Bremer’s deed, but “the diary had not yet been published, so I just kind of imagined it,” Schrader says. “And when the diary actually came out, I was surprised at the number of places where it lined up with what I imagined.”
A free-associative line connects Bremer to John Hinckley Jr. through “Taxi Driver.” Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to impress actress Jodie Foster, who starred in “Taxi Driver.” A copy of Bremer’s diary was found among Hinckley’s possessions.
Bremer became scriptwriters’ shorthand to sound a note of smart, slightly daft black humor.
“Neighbors” (1981), starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd: “We might have had a wonderful relationship. But then, as Arthur Bremer once said: ‘How many things go right in this crazy world?’ ”
In “Assassins,” the 1990 musical by Stephen Sondheim, the John Wilkes Booth character calls to the audience: “Is Artie Bremer here tonight? Where’s Artie Bremer?!”
Bremer also turned up on a Nixon White House tape released in 1997. The president wanted to cast suspicion for the crime on McGovern supporters.
“Is he [Bremer] a left-winger or a right-winger?” Nixon asked White House hatchet man and special counsel Charles Colson on the night of the shooting.
“Well, he’s going to be a left-winger by the time we get through, I think,” Colson said.
“Good,” Nixon said, chuckling. “Keep at that. Keep at that.”
Bremer’s disembodied presence over the years gave him a Forrest Gump-like quality — then he appeared in “Forrest Gump.” The makers of the 1994 movie inserted the television clip of Bremer shooting Wallace as part of Forrest’s journey through chaotic times.
A woman, middle age gave me an anti-war/anti-Nixon leaflet. I glanced it over & handed it back to her, politely. . The hippie-types also tryed to give me this stuff. . Were the cops really afraid of these people?! Was Nixon afraid, really scared, of them?! They’re nothing. They’re the new establishement. To be a rebel today you have to keep a job, wear a suit & stay apolitical. Now T H A T ’S R E B E L L I O N !
Bremer is accompanied by a federal officer following his arraignment. He was sentenced to 53 years, but was released after 35, in 2007, with time off for good behavior. He has since lived in Cumberland, Md. (Weyman Swagger)
I first read Bremer’s diary a few years ago when I became aware that he lived about two hours from my house. The cover has a Day-Glo portrait modeled on the chilling news photo of the grinning face in the crowd, ready to strike.
Bremer is a temperamental narrator of picaresque misadventures. He forgets the bag with his guns on an airplane, and — hearing his name over a loudspeaker in an airport restroom — retrieves the bag from the pilot himself. He loses the Browning 9mm for good when it falls deep into the chassis of his Rambler as he’s concealing it from Canadian border guards.
In many ways, he ventriloquizes the Great American Unhinged Voice that also howls through the works of doomed road-trip writers such as Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Hunter Thompson. Bremer can’t control the voice, though. His observations are entertaining but seldom penetrating. Yet the work is still riveting, even given our repugnance, because the reader knows that, in the end, the narrator will break the frame of the page and come to lethal life.
Today the diary has an additional resonance: Bremer the diarist was a media-obsessed meta-assassin whose journal we could mistake as a treatment for a reality TV show that might be called “Going After the Governor.” The porous relationship between the screens of our devices and our identities is a media landscape that Bremer explored before there was anything personal about a computer.
The diary also reads like a series of over-sharing Facebook posts. Self-deprecating confessions and humble-bragging, laced with hyper-awareness over how his words will be read and “shared,” make it clear: Arthur Bremer wanted us to “like” him.
After a month on the road, he buried the first 148 pages under a viaduct in Milwaukee. Wrapped in foil and tape inside a plastic briefcase, they chronicled March 2 to April 3, 1972, and, for a time, were lost.
The final 113 pages, April 4 to May 13, were found in Bremer’s car, parked at the Laurel Shopping Center. Bremer’s attorney, the late Benjamin Lipsitz, read them aloud at trial, thinking the diary might convince the jury that Bremer was insane.
Lawrence Freundlich, editor in chief of Harper’s Magazine Press, visited the jail to make a publishing deal for this section of the diary to cover legal expenses. He doesn’t recall specific sums but says his offer was in the range of a $10,000 advance and 10 percent royalties. He wrote the figures on a yellow legal pad and held it up to the visitors window so Bremer could see. Bremer countered with something like $12,000, 12 percent, Freundlich recalls.
“Bremer looked nutty as a fruitcake to me,” Freundlich tells me. “Then he comes up with this utterly sensible proposal.”
The book was published in 1973.
“Bremer’s brief vivid diary . takes us, with no effort, inside a killer’s mind — and we find ourselves at home there,” Garry Wills wrote in his review for the New York Times. “His is the voice, not of evil’s banality, but of its plausibility. One fears with and for him in his scrapes.”
Fiction writer Ann Beattie told the Times that she counted Bremer’s diary among books that influenced her as a young writer. Gore Vidal paid Bremer the compliment of declaring that the diary could not have been written by a mere “busboy.” In the New York Review of Books, he spun out a conspiracy theory that E. Howard Hunt — who helped plan the Watergate break-in and was a thriller writer himself — wrote the diary.
“Bremer’s diary is a fascinating work — of art? . There are startling literary references and flourishes,” Vidal wrote. “No matter who wrote the diary we are dealing with a true author.”
Sales were disappointingly modest, given all the publicity, Freundlich says. The book is long out of print.
Then, in 1980, a construction worker found the first half of Bremer’s diary under the Milwaukee viaduct. Bremer went to court to get it back, but a judge ruled it was finders keepers. The dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine and some faculty members bought it for $5,350 because of its psychiatric interest and connection to Wallace.
Now the mud-spattered manuscript sits in a dark acid-free box, unread. But not quite forgotten.
This will be one of the most closely read pages since the Scrolls in those caves. And I couldn’t find a pen for 40 seconds & went mad. My fuse is about burnt. There’s gona be an explosion soon. I had it. I want something to happen. I was sopposed to be Dead a week & a day ago. Or at least infamous.
Cumberland is a city of about 20,000 in western Maryland. A church-based organization helped Bremer find a place to live and search for a job upon his release from prison. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
In prison Bremer kept to himself and proved to be reliable in jobs including teacher’s aide. According to an account published in the Baltimore Sun, “during a riot that left the penitentiary filled with smoke, only one machine was still working, banging out license plates.” That was the machine run by Bremer.
He was denied parole in 1997, but by the fall of 2007, he had earned early release through good behavior, racking up “one of the largest totals of credits [for reduced time] that I’ve ever seen,” says David Blumberg, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission.
Cumberland was a destination of last resort.
“They said no one would take him from Frederick or Hagerstown, and he couldn’t go near D.C.,” says Frances Jones, founder of the Restoration of the Heart ministry, which assists former prisoners’ transition to society. When she visited Bremer before his release, something about the laconic inmate with no place to go “caught my heart right from the beginning.”
After 35 years in prison, Bremer told Jones one of the things he wanted most: the ability to make toast.
He wouldn’t talk about the past.
“There’s going to come a day when you’re going to sit down and tell me the whole story,” Jones says she has told him.
That conversation has yet to take place.
S---! I won’t even rate a T.V. enteroption in Russia or Europe when the news breaks — they never heard of Wallace. If something big in Nam flares up I’ll end up at the bottom of the 1st page in America. The editors will say — “Wallace dead? Who cares.” He won’t get more than 3 minutes on network T.V. news.
In Cumberland, the glory of its manufacturing past has faded in recent decades, but a civic pride persists as the community forges a new identity as a hub for arts and recreation. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
I started looking for Bremer three years ago after a friend gave me his address. My friend was mysterious about his source. I thought Bremer might open up to a journalist who was fascinated by his diary, with an angle about putting his life back together.
He didn’t answer a letter I sent, so I eventually knocked on his door. When he opened, his face was elfin, retaining a faint impression of the notorious, grinning visage. He had white hair and a beard and wore a heavy plaid shirt. He looked like a dazed camper.
I introduced myself and said I had been trying to find him.
The word “reporter” made him recoil. His shaking hands could hardly slam the door fast enough.
“I’m not trying to bother you,” I pleaded through the door. “I just wanted to ask if you’d let me tell your story.”
I put another letter in his mailbox.
After that, I figured I would just let him continue his drift toward oblivion — until the business about the gun auction made me realize he can never escape history.
Like a novelist who knows not how his book will end — I have written this journal — what a shocking surprise that my inner character shall steal the climax and destroy the author and save the anti-hero from assasination!!
Bremer found the perfect place to start over in Cumberland, a picturesque post-industrialcity conjured amid the great outdoors. Freight cars laden with molten sulfur and new autos rumble through town while cyclists adorned as brightly as the fall foliage pedal under the riverfront arch that marks the terminus of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath, 185 miles northwest of Georgetown.
I walk the brick sidewalks, asking people if they know of him.
When I fill in the blanks, the story is so remote and distasteful that people flinch and eye me strangely. Yet Bremer is visible to those looking with a certain compassion and curiosity: a bearded ghost of another era walking among them, silent and wary.
“You’ll see him every once in a while going in a store,” says Tina Lee, a photographer. “I believe he deserves a second chance. That’s what the people of Cumberland are doing for him.”
A few years ago he visited the Allegany Museum to learn about this corner of Maryland in which he may live out the rest of his days. At first museum director Gary Bartik didn’t know who the intelligent-sounding stranger was. Bartik started mentioning historic highlights: George Washington’s visits, Cumberland’s vital role as the “gateway to the West.”
“We got halfway through it, and he said, ‘I’m Arthur Bremer. Do you know who I am?’ ” Bartik recalls.
“I said, ‘Well, if you’re really Mr. Bremer, you are the person who shot Gov. Wallace.’
“He said, ‘I regretted that happened.’ He didn’t elaborate on it.”
Hey world! Come here! I wanna talk to ya!
The people who know Bremer best are ambivalent protectors of his silence because they think his story is worth telling. Forty-three years — 35 behind bars, eight in freedom — of patiently, painstakingly, peacefully moving forward is notable, we all agree.
“A person shouldn’t be defined by the worst thing he ever did,” says Christopher Moore, chairman of Restoration of the Heart.
The Restoration board members are unfamiliar with Bremer’s diary. If he stands for anything to them, it is the possibility of redemption, and the unglamorous and underfunded challenge of supporting the return to society of people who were in prison.
The work exercises “the capacity of religion to instill love, compassion and forgiveness,” Moore says. “The more notorious the crime, the more this capacity is tested. . Perhaps some, like Arthur, are sent to teach such values.”
At a social gathering organized by Restoration of the Heart several months after he was released, Bremer was introduced to Michael McKay, a Cumberland businessman known for his religiously motivated social conscience. McKay offered Bremer a job at his cleaners and home restoration business.
“He’s been a blessing to us,” McKay says. “I think what has made it work is not anything Mike McKay has done. I think, honestly, it has to do with his willingness to hit the reset button and really work on that.”
McKay picks up Bremer every day at 5 a.m. for work, since the buses don’t run that early.
“He has a good attitude and works well with the other employees,” McKay says. “He’s as loyal as they come.”
McKay showed how far he would go to repay Bremer’s loyalty several years ago when he was contemplating a run for county commissioner. Conditions of Bremer’s release — which he must follow until 2025, when the full 53 years are up — include staying away from elected officials.
“I said to the Secret Service, ‘If that’s a problem, I’m not interested in running,” McKay says.
Permission was granted, and McKay won the election. His political career blossomed, and last year, McKay was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates (R-Allegany). Once again Bremer was granted permission to continue his relationship with the public official.
My cry upon firing will be, “A penny for your thoughts.”
— final words in the diary, May 13, 1972
A favorite eatery in the historic downtown, Curtis’ Famous Weiners has been serving Cumberland residents and visitors for nearly a century. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
The day after the shooting, Wallace handily won the Maryland Democratic primary. He went on to experience a remarkable personal and political transformation, serving two more terms as governor while renouncing segregation and winning the support of many African American voters. He died in 1998 at the age of 79.
He spent the last 26 years of his life not just partially paralyzed but in pain from nerve damage. Yet he spoke often of his forgiveness of Bremer.
“I am a born-again Christian. I love you,” Wallace wrote to Bremer in 1995. “I hope that we can get to know each other better. We have heard of each other a long time.”
Now George Wallace Jr., the son of the governor, thinks about what he would say if he could meet Bremer.
He last tried in the early 1990s. The son wrote a letter, heard nothing back, then dispatched two FBI agents to the prison to inquire about setting up a meeting. Bremer greeted the agents by making sounds like a monkey, according to Wallace.
Even now, all these years later, “I would like to meet with him and talk with him,” says the son, who is about Bremer’s age and served as Alabama state treasurer and public service commissioner.
He wonders if Bremer feels remorse. He would like to learn if there was any more to Bremer’s motive — was his father simply the second-choice target of a busboy yearning to go down in history?
“I would ask him if he had read my father’s letters, and I would relate to him that, ‘Before my father died, he loved you, Arthur, and he wanted the best for you and wanted you to find the Lord, and I just wanted you to know that about him.’ ”
But even in imaginary conversations Bremer holds his silence.
You read in the paper, [you look] at news reports thinking that everything is beautiful just the way Walter Cronkite said. But then when he’s talking about you, you don’t recognize yourself there. When that print reporter’s writing about you, you think, um, well, he missed it.
— Bremer speaking about publicity at his 1996 parole hearing
A collage of news coverage. Bremer is seen here at a Wallace campaign rally in Wheaton hours before the assassination attempt in Laurel. (WTOP TV/vis UPI)
“Some people know who he is, most don’t,” says one Cumberland merchant. “He’s another guy who lives here. I think it’s good he’s out and lives an anonymous life and goes to work and does what he does — and nobody points him out.”
Almost nobody points him out. The businessman says it was his barber, during a haircut, who first pointed Bremer out to him as Bremer walked past the window. But he doesn’t tell me who his barber is.
So I start visiting barbers. There are half a dozen in Cumberland. No luck at Ned’s Barber Shop. Next I try Fred’s Barber Shop.
“I’ve cut his hair for four or five years,” says Fred Willison.
The barber says I shouldn’t get my hopes up about having a long exchange of ideas with Bremer.
“As far as a conversation, he doesn’t talk,” Willison says. “He’s just different. You’ll know what I mean when you meet him.”
We are about to be interrupted, so I will have to pick up the conversation later, at which point I will ask Willison if Bremer is like any other customer, and he will say: “No, he’s not like any other customer. He shot a man.”
Here’s what interrupts us: Willison spies a figure walking past the window.
“There’s Arthur coming this way!”
A figure in a windbreaker strides past with a brisk side-to-side gait. We study his trajectory as if he were an exotic creature in a special habitat on the other side of the glass.
After a long hesitation, I bolt out of the barber shop and pick up his trail.
I quickly discover I’m an incompetent stalker. I’m conflicted about following a man who wants to be forgotten. But we both keep walking.
After several blocks, the trail ends at a store. Bremer, it appears, plays the lottery.
What if he won the jackpot?
I duck out without waiting to see.
As Bremer asked at the end of his diary: Is there any thing else to say?
He went from busboy to failed assassin in the seconds it took to squeeze off five shots. He paid his debt to society and was forgiven by his chief victim. Does he ever get to be more than a would-be assassin? I’m not sure. But his reluctance to resume the role of narrator for the rest of his story doesn’t help the transition of his image.
He got what he told his diary he wanted: our attention. Did he ever imagine that the penalty of that attention might be life, and afterlife, without parole?
Now, as the rest of us flirt with selfie-enabled notoriety, it’s as if Bremer were making his way back from the bitter extreme of that obsession, with the opposite lesson for a culture more spellbound by media than ever. It may just be too late for him to “unfriend” us all.
I watch him trudge over a hill, getting farther and farther away, until he rounds a corner out of sight.
The drive home is a couple of hours, and when I get there I start typing.
1 The Wall Street Putsch
The months between the election and inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a time when American democracy hung in the balance. This was the Great Depression, and President Roosevelt&rsquos plan to minimize its effects angered legislators on both the left and the right. The left argued that he hadn&rsquot gone far enough, while the right believed that the new president&rsquos policies were evidence that he was a socialist or communist, with some even going so far as to say that due to his Dutch descent, Roosevelt was a Jew and a part of a larger Jewish plot. This led to many calling for an end to American democracy and the institution of a communist or fascist regime.
These calls were taken a step further by a group of right-wing financiers. They hoped to convince President Roosevelt to step down and leave a military-led fascist government in his place. This group was able to gather millions in funds and also stockpile weapons in preparation for their new government. Their plan was derailed when they approached former Marine general Smedley Darlington Butler to lead their forces. Instead of joining the conspiracy, Butler reported the conspirators to Congress, recognizing them as traitors, thus putting an end to their plot.