November 13, 2010
New forensic evidence from the infamous May 4, 1970, campus shootings
at Kent State University could change history if what sounds like
precipitating gunshots and a possible order to "prepare" to fire can
The findings were reported by Plain Dealer science writer John
Mangels, based on a high-tech analysis earlier this year of a copy of
the original 30-minute reel-to-reel tape of the confrontation. The
analysis was commissioned by The Plain Dealer.
The results bear on the question of what made 28 Ohio National
Guardsmen resort to lethal force and fire a total of 67 shots on the
crowd of students and protesters, killing four people and wounding nine.
Two respected forensic audio scientists in New Jersey carried out the
analysis for The Plain Dealer, using declassified Cold War spy
technology and other sophisticated means to isolate voice commands
and sounds on the tape. The methodology wasn't possible in 1970. On
the other hand, the experts were dealing with a cassette copy, not
That's why a planned congressional inquiry by the U.S. House Domestic
Policy subcommittee should not be derailed -- especially not by Ohio
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, of Urbana, Ohio, who could become
subcommittee chairman next year.
The current Democratic chairman, Cleveland Rep. Dennis Kucinich, is
trying to fast-track his inquiry before he loses his leadership
position at year's end. A spokesperson for Jordan said the
congressman had made no decision yet about whether the subcommittee
would pursue an investigation into the new KSU forensic evidence,
should he take the helm.
Jordan, or whichever Republican becomes the committee chairman,
should delve into this stubborn mystery. The new discoveries about
what might be on the tape have spawned hundreds of questions, but
they'll lead nowhere unless someone looks for more of the answers.