Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick Story

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple." Oscar Wilde

Teddy's back in the tabloids. According to the New York Daily News, among others, The National Inquirer is reporting Kennedy fathered a son 21 years ago with a Cape Cod woman half his age. The Kennedy camp denies everything.

Of course the tabs have resurrected the June 1969 scandal of Chappaquiddick -- déjà vu all over again.

And I guess it's time to tell the version I heard, supposedly from a horse's mouth, of what really happened there almost 37 years ago.

First a recap. Ted Kennedy's car went off a bridge and into a pond after a party for Bobby Kennedy's campaign staff on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard. A passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne (Ko-peck-nee) was subsequently found drowned in the car.

Kennedy claimed he dove repeatedly into the dark water but couldn't find her. Then, disoriented and hurt, he gave up. On it's face, a routine if terrible tragedy. But Kennedy and his handlers inexplicably waited 9 hours before reporting the accident.

The media frenzy was ferocious. There were claims Kennedy was drunk and that he and his staff engaged in a massive cover-up of the accident and the cause of Ms. Kopechne's death.

Kennedy eventually pled guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident and the case was closed. Justice may not have been served for Mary Jo Kopechne, but many felt partial justice was achieved in the destruction of Ted Kennedy's chances to mount his own presidential campaign.

I was a carefree college student that summer of 1969, doing the European tour. When the scandal broke we were in Italy. A sidebar: it wasn't until we returned to the states that I learned the young woman's name was not Mary Jo "Co-pa-chine-eh" as had been widely reported in the Italian media.

Fast forward a few years to my post college life in the political arenas of Pennsylvania and Washington. I met a woman who was, to say the least, in the thick of things at Chappaquiddick. She told me her story -- one that makes the most sense of the 9-hour lag in reporting the accident, the most critical and damning factor in the whole mess.

It comes down to this. The party was filled with young girls star struck by the older power brokers with whom they were atypically socializing. Mary Jo in particular had a crush on Ted Kennedy. Everybody was drinking heavily.

At some point in the evening, feeling more than a little under the weather, Mary Jo wandered outside, saw Kennedy's car and crawled into the back seat to sleep it off.

At some later point, Kennedy and the woman who told me this story got in his car and headed for a more private party a deux. They were both, shall we say, plastered.

After the car went off the bridge, Kennedy's primary goal was to get his female companion the hell out of the picture. His wife was at home, after all, and pregnant to boot.

Here's the punch line: they didn't know Mary Jo was in the car.

Which provides the most locigal explanation for Kennedy's seemingly evil callousness in not trying to save her. And the troubling time lag as aides scrambled for damage control, not realizing that something far worse than casual infidelity would hit the fan.

My source's anonymity was protected. But her conscience was far from clear. I hope after all these years she's realized she was little more than a naive kid dazzled by a powerful figure with feet of clay. And that she had plenty of company. From those who gravitated to the first Kennedy in power all the way up to Monica.

There are dozens of theories, reams of material, reports, hypotheses and even websites on what really happened at Chappaquiddick.

I didn't make this one up. I wasn't there. So I don't claim this is the Emmes. I'm just reporting the story I was told. We'll never know. After all ... wait for it ... there's too much water under the bridge.

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Blogger David Goldenberg said...

Essentially sounds like the emmes.

10:35 PM  
Blogger MamaQ said...

yowza. And here I always thought the 9-hour delay was so Teddy could sleep it off and sober up a bit before facing the music. Also, what about the rumors that Mary Jo was supposedly pregnant with Ted's baby?
Actually, Sally, I like your source's story better.

11:57 AM  
Blogger longryder said...

If Kennedy wouild have been held accountable for this crime . perhaps his life would have produced a Statesman. As it turns out "Teddy" will be judged not according to his Pedigreeor last name buit according to the truth. I am so sick to death of this foul mouthed sorry excuse for a nan getting nothing but passes from the Press/ He is a leftist and Socialist with a tax yuo the citizens more so we continue the welfare states march to madness.As the inevitable conclusion of his sorry life is hopefully coming soon we can put a truth to the lies that always had poor "Teddy" ASa bvictim instead of as the perp.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds cozy but how do you explain Kennedy talking to mary jo's parents before he talked to the police?

11:24 AM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...


What drivel! For Kennedy and bimbo NOT to have seen Kopechne in the back seat, the car would have to have been as big as firetruck.

See this for a bit of reality:

The State Police Detective-Lieutenant who investigated the accident, said that Senator Kennedy "killed that girl the same as if he put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger."

Of course, he didn't know anywhere as much as you do.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous gene berman said...

The account runs counter to some facts which emerged at the very time.

First, there were statements from several at the party that MJK (and no other person) did, indeed, leave with TK--not some other person. Statements were also made that K had merely offered a ride to anyone--not to anyone in particular. There were other statements that I don't remember
at all.

A deputy sherrif in the area testified that he'd seen K's car pulled over to the side of the road (and later gave a TV synopsis of his statement for a network news show). He parked (discreetly) at some distance back, got out and started walking toward the car. He thought he heard a door open--then shut again. Just before he reached the car, it pulled out onto the roadbed slowly and proceeded onward in the direction it was already headed--toward the bridge. He returned to his vehicle and turned it around and left. It didn't occur to him that the driver of the car he'd stopped for might not know there was a bridge
out ahead. After the occurrence, in retrospect, he said, he believed it likely that Kennedy had exited the car (when he heard the door open and shut) and stepped into the high reeds. After he heard the sounds, he played his flashlight on the car--but saw nothing of note.

From what I could gather, the water where the car went in would have been no higher than K's neck, if that high. Submerging to attempt to get someone out would not have been much of a feat for Kennedy--all of them were experienced swimmers and athletically inclined.

My guess is that he wasn't there at all--had hidden in the high grass to avoid embarrassment and had simply forgotten to warn of the bridge. Whether he then proceeded in that direction and found the scene--can't know for sure. But there are statements about him showing up in a town and getting a couple guys to go back to the bridge with him (and getting in touch with a lawyer).

7:24 PM  
Anonymous said...

Senator Edward Kennedy -- Two Near Fatal "Accidents"

John Dean: ...if they get those bank records between the start of July of 1969 through June of 1971 ... there comes Chappaquiddick with a vengeance....
Richard Nixon: (unintelligible)
John Dean: ...if they get to it -- that is going to come out and this whole thing can turn around on that. If Kennedy knew the bear trap he was walking into....
--Watergate tape, 3/13/73

In July 1969, a year after Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Senator Edward Kennedy's car went off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, killing his woman passenger. The following is a brief account:

"On 18 July 1969, [Mary Jo] Kopechne attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island, a short ferry ride off the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Edward Kennedy and Kopechne left the party together; a short time later, their car plunged off the Dike Bridge into a pond, where it overturned. Kopechne died in the car. Kennedy swam ashore but didn't report the accident until the next morning, later claiming he had been dazed by the crash. Though the details of the incident are not entirely clear, Kennedy's critics suggested he had been driving drunk, had panicked after the accident, or even had tried to arrange a cover-up of his involvement. Nothing was ever proved. Kennedy had been considered a likely candidate for president in 1972; instead he pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and had his driver's license revoked for a year."
--from the Internet site, Who2?

This is a typical chronicle of the Chappaquiddick tragedy. However, given the likelihood of conspiracies in the assassinations of JFK and RFK -- and the right-wing's hatred of the Kennedys in general -- it is conceivable that Edward Kennedy was also the target of conspirators.

In fact, Senator Edward Kennedy was involved in a near fatal "accident" before Chappaquiddick. On June 19, 1964, Kennedy's plane was en route to the State Democratic Convention in Springfield, Massachusetts. However, the plane never reached its destination; it crashed on final approach. Kennedy's aide, Edward Moss was killed in the crash, along with the pilot, Edwin Zimny. Kennedy was critically injured with a broken back, but eventually recovered.

It should be noted that during this period, one bitter rival of the Kennedy brothers was the Republican Richard Nixon. Nixon was a favorite of America's right-wing, having taken a lead role in the Alger Hiss case and the Red Scare congressional hearings that preceded McCarthy. Later, Nixon would endear himself to right-wing Cuban exiles and their CIA sponsors for his hard-line position against Fidel Castro.

Nixon had lost the presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960 and, for a time, it looked as if his political career might be over. However, by 1968, Nixon's fortunes had changed. He managed to win the Republican nomination and, in November 1968, he was elected President. Nixon's road to the White House was paved by the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in June, five months earlier.

Once in office, Nixon would use his position to wage a clandestine smear campaign against the Kennedys. The top field operatives in the White House campaign of dirty tricks were Watergate burglars E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.

Before joining the Nixon administration, E. Howard Hunt was a political officer in the CIA, helping to stage coups in several foreign countries. Hunt also helped plan the Bay of Pigs invasion against Fidel Castro, developing close ties to many CIA-trained Cubans. On a more ominous note, Hunt has been accused of involvement in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a charge which he has denied. (see Dirty Politics -- Nixon, Watergate, and the JFK Assassination) G. Gordon Liddy was an FBI agent from 1957 to 1962 and was part of COINTELPRO, a program of surveillance and sabotage against domestic political dissidents.

One of Nixon's first attempts to tarnish the Kennedy family was aimed at the deceased President, John F. Kennedy. In 1971, the White House requested that E. Howard Hunt forge "...some [diplomatic] cables in order to blame John F. Kennedy for the death of the leader of South Vietnam [Ngo Dinh Diem] ... for the purpose of publishing them in Time and Life." (Source: Plausible Denial, Mark Lane)

However, most of Nixon's smear attempts were aimed at Senator Edward Kennedy. Edward Kennedy had survived the ordeal of Chappaquiddick and Nixon wanted to make sure that he was not left unscathed. The White House asked "retired" CIA officer E. Howard Hunt to obtain "...cartoons that had been prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency, political cartoons attacking Senator Kennedy, for use should Senator Kennedy at that time run for president of the United States." (Source: Plausible Denial) Also, on a White House tape, Nixon can be heard telling his aides to place spies among a Secret Service detail assigned to protect Senator Kennedy in the hope of uncovering damaging information on Kennedy. Nixon says, "we might just get lucky and catch this son of a bitch -- ruining him." Nixon also directed two of his most ruthless aides, H. R. Haldeman and Charles Colson, to plant a false news story linking Arthur Bremer -- the man who tried to assassinate George Wallace -- to Edward Kennedy.

Along with the Kennedy's, the Nixon administration targeted other individuals it didn't like -- "enemies" as the White House called them. Among these were Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press; newspaper columnist Jack Anderson who Hunt and Liddy, at one point, marked for death; and the Brookings Institution, scheduled for a firebombing and break-in. (see box below)

The following quotes are from the book, Will by G. Gordon Liddy:

"[E. Howard] Hunt enlisted the aid of Bernard Barker and we traveled to Miami to interview [about a dozen] men.... The men were exactly what I was looking for: tough, experienced, and loyal. Afterward Howard told me that between them they had killed twenty-two men, including two hanged from a beam in a garage." (p.191-192)

"We devised a plan that entailed buying a used but late-model fire engine of the kind used by the District of Columbia fire department and marking it appropriately; uniforms for a squad of [right-wing] Cubans and their training so their performance would be believable. Thereafter, Brookings would be firebombed by use of a delay mechanism.... The Cubans in the authentic-looking fire engine would "respond" minutes after the timer went off, enter, get anybody in there out, hit the vault, and get themselves out in the confusion...." (p.171-172)

"In September of 1971 ... Howard Hunt approached me on the next Ellsberg neutralization proposal. According to Hunt, Daniel Ellsberg was scheduled to speak at a fund-raising dinner ... and Chuck Colson thought it an opportunity to discredit him. Could [we] drug Ellsberg enough to befuddle him, make him appear a near burnt-out drug case? Hunt and I studied the matter and developed a plan to infiltrate enough Cuban waiters into the group serving the banquet to be able to ensure that one of our people would serve Ellsberg at the dais." (p.170)

"Howard Hunt and I had lunch with a man he introduced to me as Dr. Edward Gunn, a physician retired from the CIA and an expert on 'the unorthodox application of medical and chemical knowledge....' The purpose of the luncheon, Hunt had explained to me previously, was to take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Gunn in preparing ... a plan to stop columnist Jack Anderson.... Dr. Gunn [suggested] a technique used successfully abroad. It involved catching the target's moving automobile in a turn or sharp curve and hitting it with another car on the outside rear quarter. According to Dr. Gunn, if the angle of the blow and the relative speeds of the two vehicles were correct, the target vehicle would flip over, crash, and, usually, burn." (p.207-208) [Note: Before his retirement, Dr. Edward Gunn was the CIA's Deputy Director of Medical Services. In 1962, his CIA superiors requested that he produce a poison for use against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. As can be inferred, Dr. Gunn's expertise was utilized in both foreign and domestic assassinations.]

When the Watergate story first broke, G. Gordon Liddy wondered if he himself might be a target of covert operatives out to protect higher-ups in the Nixon administration. Liddy said, "It occurred to me that people who would seriously consider the use of drugs against Ellsberg and the killing of Jack Anderson might well decide to go ahead with an assassination in my case." (p.257)

The public might also wonder whether such people would have decided to go ahead with an assassination in another case: that of Senator Edward Kennedy, which brings us back to Chappaquiddick. (see box below)

"[At the Watergate hearings] E. Howard Hunt told of a strange trip to Hyannisport to see a local citizen there about the Chappaquiddick incident. Hunt's cover story on this trip was that he was digging up dirt on Ted Kennedy for use in the 1972 campaign. The story does not make much sense if one questions why Hunt would have to wear a disguise, including his famous red wig, and to use a voice-alteration device to make himself sound like someone else. If, on the other hand, Hunt's purpose was to return to the scene of his crime just to make sure that no one who might have seen his group at the bridge or elsewhere would talk, then the disguise and the voice box make sense.

"The other important testimony came from [White House spy] Tony Ulasewicz who said he was ordered by the Plumbers to fly immediately to Chappaquiddick and dig up dirt on Ted. The only problem Tony has is that, according to his testimony, he arrived early on the morning of the "accident", before the whole incident had been made public."
--from The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her is the truth, told to me by a CIA agent. Mary Jo was pregnant with Ted baby, or some other Kennedy baby.
The County coroner did an autopsy on a body and found her pregnant. To keep this from the public Kennedy gave the coroner a former Miss Budweiser off shore racing boat. I cant say he murdered her but check out the coroners racing team, and boat purchase. The Miss Budweiser racing boat was kept in Ortona locks in Florida before the trip up.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

I read a book that was printed way back then called "Teddy Bear" on the Chappaquiddick tragedy . I have been searching for a copy of this book if anyone remembers the author . If I remember correctly it was written by or for the Coroner . Does anybody remember his name ??

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its' time for Ted Kennedy to make way for the young folks, his time has come and gone.

1969 Chappaquiddick

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your source wouldn't be Rosemary Keough would it? I believe it was her handbag that was later found in the car.

Of all the explanations I've heard over the years, this sounds the most plausible. It would explain why Deputy Sheriff Look thought he saw someone lying down in the back seat and why witnesses at the Shiretown Inn said Kennedy was calm and gave no indication of any knowledge that a scandalous accident that could ruin his career had just taken place.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll bet it was Susan Tannenbaum, actually. She was considered the best looking of the group.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of BOLOGNA. If there was evidence of this type, I am sure that Kennedy would have cleared his name.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like more of a kennedy can anyone trust the children of a bootlegger, after all that is how joe kennedy made his fortune in the 20s and 30s

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an intriguing theory. But having just walked Dike Road yesterday, it's a little hard to see how he could have been going down that very bumpy dirt road at 20 mph (and it's a lonnnng road) without ever noticing her lying in the back seat. Possible, but hard to believe.

But it does account for the inconsistencies in his story, especially walking right past the Malm residence where he could have called for help.

I tend to think that Ted wasn't even in the car, that he had gotten out somewhere along Dike Road, and he told Mary Jo to skeedaddle. She was drunk, couldn't handle the big car, and went over.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Nothing this drunken sot does would surprise. Like most of the men in his family, he is completely without character or morals. One of them convicted of murder 20 or so years after the fact, another few are rapists, one had sex with his 14 year old baby sitter, and then of course there is the family patriarch Uncle Teddy. What a group of scumbags.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

I've received a group of suspicious comments lately, some in foreign languages, some containing links.

I'm not displaying any of those comments, as they might compromise the computer safety of other readers.

If you want to make a legitimate comment, please do so in English. If you want to post a legitimate link, please state your source and include the URL.

Your opinions are your own, I don't cherry-pick only those who agree with me. But I also don't allow spam.

Thank you.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, why would a guy that was drinking at a party and had a driver would decide to drive himself ? Well the only reason is because he was taking that girl with the intention of screwing her and he could not do that with the driver present. I'm sure he was drunk and that's what caused the accident, I'm also sure that he never tried to rescue that girl, he knew that if this came public he was in deep s..t and that's why he never had the intentions of notifying the authorities, he thought that by being a powerful and influential man he could get away with it and went back to his friends only with the intentions of getting ideas on how to do it.
Eventually he got away with the help of powerful judges, lawyers, medical examiner and few thousand bucks for the family. I can assure you that if it was me or any other minority in that situation, we would be doing life in prison with a judgment against us of millions of dollars.
God bless america.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other passenger was Rosemary Keough. It all seems to make sense, esp. TMK's efforts to advertise his presence in Edgartown by complaining about the loud party.

On a more cynical note, politicos are probably normally better able to cover up what happened at Chappaquiddick. The fact that Mary Jo's presence in the car wasn't known until much later dovetails with this as well.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Diane said...

She was pregnant with the baby. There was evidence that showed that at the time.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teddy is career polician - thanks to his well connected family and bootlegging money earned from Papa Joe. Teddy is also a murdering coward.
Grow up Sally, you ignorant c*&t.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Hey, why are you mad at me? You made my case for me. I just love cowards who comment anonymously and call me names.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Perry said...


Satan must have run out of coal and sent someone for more...

Mary-Joe can now rest in peace.

God Bless America! Wishes do come true : )

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A BBC documentary on what happened that tragic night in 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island put forward this scenario to explain the known facts. Senator Edward Kennedy was not in the car when it overturned into the creek. His car had been seen slightly earlier by an off-duty sheriff & recognising it as Kennedy's Oldsmobile approached it seeing a man & woman in the front seat. As he got close the car pulled away at fairly high speed possibly because the two people were intimate & he could not risk being seen with Miss Kopechne, having a pregnant wife. For this reason, at some point down the road he got out of the car & asked her to drive herself home & made his own way back to his hotel. Not being familiar with the island roads she took a fatal wrong turn. Trapped in the car investigators found her head was in an air-pocket from which she was probably alive for at least an hour possibly two, & would have been saved if Kennedy had been there. This also explains why he sought no help from the nearest house 150 yards away & did not report the accident for nine hours. He simply did not know what had happened because he wasn't there. The following morning also bears this out because he was chatting happily with hotel guests until around 8:30 a.m. when to two men took him aside to speak to him. Guests said his whole demeanour changed into intense agitation & worry after he was told of the tragedy, which until then he new nothing about. A story was now concocted with his aides that would minimise damage to his political career. That Miss Kopechne was found dead in his car could not be explained away without his being involved in some way or other, & so out came this entirely unbeleivable story which simply did not fit the known facts.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Gemnutz said...

At the least Ted Kennedy was guilty of: manslaughter and infidelity; at the extreme: premeditated murder and rape. He was also an admitted drunkard and was booted from college for cheating. As he lacked imagination his wealth and political connections propelled him into politics and the limelight. He condoned abortion...and for that the Catholic church should be scoffed at their condonning attitude of him. He is not a man to be revered, respected or deified.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmmm, sounds logical.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story doesn't hold water...his story was already told before the body was found in the car !!!!!!!!!!

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard this account of MJK being in the back seat way back in the mid 70's from someone well connected on MV.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are gullible and stupid

10:41 AM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Well, thank you. Seems to me you're a bit of a coward. But hey, who cares.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

Gullible, stupid, coward? All of these descriptions, not to mention drunk fit Ted Kennedy to a tee.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting...I had never heard of this back seat story. However, how do you explain that Teddy said he had made several attempts to get her out of the car, dove back in the pond on numerous occasions? Why would he do that if he didn't know she was in the car? Also interesting that I have already served more time for an alledged DUI than Teddy did for the whole incident! I guess you can't take the breathalyser if you flee from the scene of the crime! Two months suspended sentence?? I should be so lucky! That's truth,justice and the American way! Too bad my last name isn't Kennedy, I guess.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Erika Ford said...

Very plausible. The book Senatorial Priveledge is the most comprehensive about all the key points mentioned above. Rosemarys purse was in the car according to Gargan a host of the party as well as TK cousin allegedly had gone to borrow a radio during the party. According to Gargan Mary Jo left with the Senator. The book is very detailed and written with no political agenda or prejudice.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Just for the record (if you still check this) I heard from the detective who led investigation on this the exact same thing.
How about LA Boby Brown released after only 9 hours for 3rd DUI

6:21 PM  

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