Thursday, November 22, 2007

Arthur Bremer Released from Prison

Excerpt from my book, The Covert War Against Rock (2000):

" ... Wallace was campaigning at a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland, an
appearance that drew a crowd of some 2,000 supporters. Two critical primaries were a couple of days off and the polls predicted that Wallace would take Michigan and Maryland by a landslide. If he survived the primaries, there was every chance that he could walk away with a sizable share of conservative votes that otherwise would have gone to Nixon.

"Wallace was therefore perceived as a threat.

"'Remember one thing,' Wallace exhorted all in his last campaign speech, 'there's not a dime's difference between Nixon and McGovern, or Nixon and Humphrey. It's up to you to send them a message in Washington, a message they won't forget!'

"But it was Wallace who received the message when, after stepping down from the podium, a short, plump, smiling 21 -year old man in sunglasses pushed through the crowd. "Hey, George. Over here!" Governor Wallace turned toward the voice of a grinning Arthur Bremer, an unemployed busboy from Milwaukee, who produced a snub-nosed .38 caliber revolver and fired four rounds into the candidate from Alabama. Three of the governor's entourage were also wounded before the gun was pried from Bremer's hand.

"Wallace survived but spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, his
legs paralyzed. He took potent anti -depressants for years after the
shooting. Bremer was summarily convicted on four counts of assault with
intent to kill and was led away to serve a 53-year prison sentence. It was
quickly determined that he had acted alone. Subsequent events suggest

"A few minutes after the shots were fired, Nixon aide Charles Colson directed E. Howard Hunt to fly to Milwaukee, break into Bremer's apartment and recover all 'embarrassing evidence,' according to Woodward and Bernstein in All the President's Men. Gore Vidal, novelist and literary critic, opined that Hunt actually penned Bremer's diaries. Wallace himself stated openly, 'my attempted assassination was part of a conspiracy.'"

"All told, the four victims suffered 18 bullet wounds—but Bremer's gun was a five-shooter. Arthur told his brother that he had accomplices who had paid him handsomely to shoot George Wallace. Bremer was out of work, so who picked up the tab for his repeated stays at the opulent Waldorf-Astoria in New York?

"Milwaukee police files on Bremer portrayed him as a 'subversive' with ties to
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).' These were seized after the shooting and classified secret by the ATF acting under the highest authority.

"Tim Heinan, a Marquette University student who moonlighted as an undercover agent for the Milwaukee Police Department's Special Assignment Squad, learned= that Arthur Bremer had ties to a CIA operative named Dennis Salvatore Cossini, a federal 'counter terrorist's who specialized in the infiltration and control of radical organizations including the local SDS chapter the gunman had joined. The agent was fired after Heinan confessed his links to Bremer. Cossini headed for Toronto and was next seen dead, slouching in a parked car with an overdose of heroin in his veins. One of the police investigating the death mused: 'Somebody gave him a hot shot.'"

"Heroin 'overdoses" would recur in the coming hit parade, and the Nixonites
would dance on the graves of the casualties in a covert war that ultimately
altered the political course of the country. ... "
Man who shot Alabama governor freed early for good behaviour
Richard Serrrano, Washington
November 11, 2007

ARTHUR Bremer, who as a young loner 35 years ago made a bold grab for notoriety by shooting four people — including Alabama governor George Wallace — was released from prison yesterday after officials said he had turned himself into a "model prisoner".

Now 57, the man who put Mr Wallace in a wheelchair was set free by a Maryland state law mandating his supervised release because he had amassed many credits for good behaviour. But authorities cautioned that Bremer must adhere to strict guidelines, never leave the state and "stay away from any local, state, federal or foreign official or office holder, as well as a current candidate".

Mr Wallace, known for his racist policies and statements, was a four-time Alabama governor and ran unsuccessfully for US president four times. He later became a born-again Christian and repudiated his racist views. He died in 1998. Bremer's release appears to mark the first return to freedom for any of the perpetrators from a string of successful or attempted assassinations of US public figures from the 1960s to the early 1980s.

Lee Harvey Oswald was killed in custody soon after shooting president John Kennedy. Martin Luther King's assassin, James Earl Ray, died of natural causes in prison. Others have been denied parole, including Sirhan Sirhan, who shot Robert Kennedy, Mark David Chapman, killer of John Lennon, and Sara Jane Moore and Lynette Fromme, who made separate failed attempts on president Gerald Ford in 1975.

The only one close to getting out appears to be John Hinckley, who shot president Ronald Reagan in 1981.

He has been allowed to leave a Washington DC mental institution for brief visits with his family.

"I would describe Arthur Bremer as a model prisoner," said Rick Binetti, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

"He kept to himself. He stayed out of trouble."

Mr Wallace, whose cry of "segregation forever" catapulted him to national attention, was running a racially charged campaign for president when he was confronted by Bremer in a shopping centre car park on May 15, 1972. He was shaking hands as Bremer jammed the barrel of a .38-calibre revolver into his stomach.

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