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William F. Pepper - An Act of State - The Execution of Martin Luther King
William F. Pepper - An Act of State
The Execution of Martin Luther King
Talk given at Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco, CA
4 February 2003 Links last checked and made current: January 18, 2010

Tonight we have a very special author whose book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr., has just been published by Verso. William Pepper is an English barrister and an American lawyer. He convenes a seminar on International Human Rights at Oxford University. He maintains a practice in the U.S. and the U.K. He is author of three other books and numerous articles. This book is the result of a quarter-century of an investigation. I will let Dr. Pepper give you more information. Let's give a warm welcome to William Pepper.

Thank you. And good evening. This story actually begins with Vietnam in 1966. As a very much younger person I was there as a journalist and didn't publish anything whilst I was there, but waited until I got back to the United States. Then I wrote a number of articles. One of them appeared in a muckraking magazine called Ramparts, that had its home in this city, published by Warren Hinckle in those days. It was called "The Children of Vietnam." That is what started me down the slippery slope of the saga of Martin Luther King; his work during the last year, and his death. And then an investigation which has gone on since 1978.

When Martin King saw the Ramparts piece he was at a -- there are different stories of actually where he was -- but I think he was at Atlanta Airport on his way to the West Indies and he was traveling with Bernard Lee, his bodyguard. They were having a meal and he was going through his mail, according to Bernard, and he came upon this issue of Ramparts, January 1st, 1967. It had in it the piece that I wrote called "The Children of Vietnam." Bernard said as he started to thumb through it he stopped and was visibly moved. He pushed his food away. Bernard said, "What's the matter Martin, aren't you hungry? Is there something wrong with the food?" And he said, "No. I've lost my appetite. I may have lost the ability to appreciate food altogether until we end this wretched war."

Then he asked to meet with me and asked me to open my files to him that went well beyond what was published in the Ramparts piece in terms of photographs. Some of you probably saw, if you're old enough to remember, a number of those photographs. Portions of them used to appear on lampposts and windows of burned and deformed children. That was what gave him pause. He hadn't had a chance to read the text at that point but it was the photographs that stopped him.

The introduction of the article was by Benjamin Spock. It resulted, ultimately, in a Committee of Responsibility bringing over a hundred Vietnamese children, war-injured children to this country and our placing them in hospitals around the nation. This was so that people would have a chance to see first-hand what their tax dollars were purchasing.

He is depicted on King Day as a civil rights leader. And that's the way you're going to see him probably forever. But he was much more than a civil rights leader and that's what no one in official capacity wants you to know. He had moved well beyond the civil rights movement by 1964-65 and he had become effectively a world-figure in terms of human rights people and particularly the poor of this earth. That's where he was going. That's the area you don't really get into safely when you start talking about wealth, redistributing wealth. Taking, diverting huge sums of money into social welfare programs and health programs and educational programs at the grass roots. When you start going into that you begin to tread on toes in this country, in the United Kingdom, and in most of the western world.

On the way to Cambridge to open Vietnam Summer, an anti-war project, we rode from Brown University (where he had delivered a sermon at the chapel there) and I continued the process of showing him these photographs and anecdotes of what I had seen when I was in the country. And he wept, he openly wept. He was so visibly shaken by what was happening that it was difficult for him to retain composure. And of course that passion came out in his speech on April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church [1] where he said that his native land had become the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the earth. Quoting Thoreau he said we have come to a point where we use massively improved means to accomplish unimproved ends and what we should be doing is focusing on not just the neighborhood that we have created but making that old white neighborhood into a brotherhood. And we were going entirely in the opposite direction and this was what he was pledging to fight against.

We spoke very early in the morning following that Riverside address and he said, `Now you know they're all going to turn against me. We're going to lose money. SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] will lose all of its corporate contributions. All the major civil rights leaders are going to turn their back on me and all the major media will start to tarnish and to taint and to attack me. I will be called everything even up to and including a traitor.' So he said, `We must persevere and build a new coalition that can be effective in this course of peace and justice.`

That coalition came to be known as the National Conference for New Politics. It was an umbrella organization and it held its first -- and last -- convention in Chicago over the Labor Day weekend of 1967. It had 5,000 delegates, maybe the largest convention of people ever assembled in the history of this country, at the Palmer House in Chicago. They came from every walk of life, every socio-economic class, every racial group, every ethnic group. The purpose was to form this umbrella coalition that would effectively coordinate a massive third-party political campaign against the Johnson Administration and Johnson's re-election; but at the same time develop grassroots organizing capabilities in the communities across America.

It wasn't to be -- although it continued and struggled for the period of a year -- but it wasn't to be because of government's wiliness and our naïveté. We never appreciated the extent to which government would go to undermine and undercut that kind of movement. They were responsible for the formation of a first black caucus. That black caucus was largely led by agente provocateurs who came from the Blackstone Rangers, organizations of that sort in Chicago. And they corraled each black delegate who came in and brought them into a room and formed this unity of all-black delegates and this commitment to vote as a block and introduce resolutions as a block.

We thought, many of us, that this was a good thing because this was typical and representative of a growing black awareness, particularly urban awareness. Although in the caucus they of course brought in rural black leaders as well. We felt this was healthy and there would be then this block that would vote and introduce the concerns of the black community across America. We didn't know that it was government-induced and government-sponsored and government-paid for and that the leaders were gangsters. Blackstone Rangers would surface again and again in the course of the movement as capable of disrupting and causing havoc on behalf of their employers.

Martin delivered the keynote address at the convention. I introduced him and he delivered this address and the importance of this movement. As he was speaking a note was passed over my shoulder to me and I read it and it said, `Get him out of here after he finishes his speech or we will take him hostage and humiliate him before the world.' They were so afraid that if this man stayed on for the substantive part of the convention that he, as a unifier, might bridge the differences and might overcome the provocation that was designed to disrupt the convention.

But I really felt at that point I had no choice. It was the first tip-off of what was going on. But still [I thought these were] just angry, hostile urban blacks, disaffected with non-violence and who had a different way of looking at things and different tactics that they wanted to follow. I didn't think at all that it was (of course) officially inspired. So we did get Martin out of the Palmer House very quickly after his speech and they went on with the convention.

It was all downhill from there. They forced through resolutions that simply were so antagonistic to sections of the movement and engendered such hostility that all the money dried up for that noble cause. They were successful.

That being the case, nevertheless we struggled and worked in that last year of his life. I remember the last time I saw him alive (I think it was in late February). He had already started to become involved in the sanitation workers strike. In his own mind he thought that this was the basis for the encampment of the poor people in Washington and this was a good launching pad. He sympathized with all the goals of the sanitation workers in Memphis.

We met at John Bennett's study at Union Theological Chamber in New York. There was just four of us: Martin, myself, Benjamin Spock and Andrew Young. Most of the dialogue actually came between Martin and myself in terms of my probing him about ways of briding the gap between his commitment to peace and non-violence and that approach of Malcom[ X]'s which was confrontational and violent in self-defense.

We went away, with no resolution to the issue. And of course, the rest is history. He was assassinated on the fourth of April 1968, one year to the day (it's interesting) from the time he delivered the Riverside speech.

We went to the memorials, Spock and I, and the funeral and then I walked away from political activity. I had had my fill of it.

Ben and Julian Bond and others went up to see Bobby Kennedy who had asked, invited us all to come. I didn't know him in '68. I knew him as a much younger person when I handled the campaign of his as a citizen's chairmen in Westchester County in New York when he ran for the Senate. And I didn't like him at all. I thought he was opportunistic and all those things that you have heard about Bobby Kennedy I thought were true. I saw them, confronted them, directly.

But the Bob Kennedy who was killed in '68, I think was a very different person. I regard it as one of my sadnesses that I did not see him at the end. Because he had made an overture to Martin to run as a Vice-Presidential candidate with him. It was not generally known. But when he made his announcement, March I guess it was 15th or 16th, he made contact with Martin and I'm sure that contact was known.

Eight, nine years later [Ralph] Abernathy called me and asked me to go up to the prison with him. Actually [it was] ten [years], it was in late '77, he asked me to go to the prison with him and interrogate James Earl Ray. I said, `This is a funny request Ralph. Ten years after the fact. Why would you want to do that? Do you have some questions about it? Isn't Ray guilty?' I didn't know anything about the case. I didn't want to know about it at that point.

He said, `I just have some questions. Will you come along with me?' I still don't fully understand why he did that. He said, `But I want you to interrogate him and I want to watch him when you do that.' So I said, `Well, it's going to take me some while to get up to speed on this case. Because I don't know anything about it.'

For the first time under oath in any assassination's case in the history of this country, or perhaps any other, there is the complete picture of how Martin Luther King was killed. There is every answer to every question. There is why the bushes were cut down the next morning. Who cut them down. Who asked to have them cut down. There is every piece of information there. For history more than anything else.

It did take some time. In August of '78, finally, we went and we went through this session of five hours intensive interrogation of James Earl Ray. His lawyer at the time, Mark Lane, was there. A body language specialist from Harvard, [Dr.] Howie Berens came and he sat in a corner, just watched James' movements as I put him really through a rather rigorous, painful time.

He was very different than we expected to find. He was shy, docile, soft-spoken, thoughtful and not at all the kind of racist figure that had been depicted in the media. Not at all. He knew very little about weapons, very clearly had virtually no skill at all with them. He was a petty thief and burglar, hold-up man. But he was totally incompetent in that.

He was known for showing up too late in supermarkets he wanted to stick up, the time-lock would already have been fixed on the safe [laughs]. The staff would say, `Look, there's nothing we can do about this.' [laughing throughout remainder of paragraph] And they said, `We'll give you our money.' He said, `I don't want your money. I don't want to rob working people. I want the money from this corporation.' That type of thing.

He kept five bullets, typically, in his pistol. When he was arrested at Heathrow Airport he had five bullets in his pistol. He always kept the firing pin chamber empty. When I pressed him on that, a long time, he wouldn't answer that question. Finally he admitted, with some embarrassment, that he kept the firing pin chamber empty because he shot himself in the foot once [laughs]. And he just didn't want to do that again.

He was incompetent when it came to rifles. He had a virtually non-existent marksmanship score when he took his test in the Army. He didn't know much about guns. When he was instructed to buy a weapon that became the throw-down gun in the assassination he bought a .243 Winchester rather than a thirty-ott-six [.3006] that he was told to get. He didn't know the difference between them. When he showed the weapon he had bought to Raul, who was controlling him, he sent him back to exchange it. It was a matter of record. He went back and exchanged this one rifle for another the next day. That's not something he thought of himself. It just was the wrong gun. The guy wanted a .3006 caliber rifle so they had a .3006 rifle as the throw-down gun. So he had to go back and exchange it.

After the interview we became convinced, Abernathy and I became convinced that he was not the shooter. We didn't know what other role he might have played. But it was clear he was not the assassin of Martin Luther King. This guy couldn't have done that. But he raised so many questions that I had never heard raised before, that had never been answered, that I decided I would begin to go into Memphis and talk to some people, become familiar with the terrain and the crime scene and see if I could get some answers to those questions.

And I did. The more I began to probe around the more concerned I got about new questions that were unanswered. I had hoped that the Select Committee on Assassinations would solve that problem. Because they were in session at the time and I hoped they would solve it.

Their report came out in 1979 [2] and they didn't solve it. All they did was to continue the official history of the state's case which was that James Earl Ray was the lone assassin and that he was guilty. I kept going back-and-forth visiting him and asking him questions and then going off-and-on into Memphis and then occasionally into New Orleans.

Slowly things started to come together to the point where ten years on in this process I became convinced that not only was Ray was not the shooter but that he was an unknowing patsy.

It was at that point in 1988 that I agreed to represent him. So I became his lawyer and was his lawyer for the last ten years of his life, trying very hard to get him a trial. He never had a trial. It's amazing -- of course most people in the United States if not the world never understood that James Earl Ray never had a trial; that he was coerced into copping a guilty plea by Percy Foreman who was his second lawyer.

People would say, `Well why would he plead guilty? Goodness me.' When you put that question to James his answer was always the same: "Look, he told me all kinds of things. I always wanted this trial. Right down to the end I was trying to get this trial. But Percy said to me, `You know, your Dad's a parole violator. He's going to be sent back to jail fifty years after violating that parole. They'll make sure he's locked up. Your whole family will be harassed forever. They convicted you anyway because the media has got you wiped out as the killer. You haven't got a chance. They're going to fry you Jimmy.'"

But the thing that really convinced him to get rid of Foreman by pleading, was Percy's statement that "I'm not in good health, James. I cannot give you the best defense because I'm not in good health." And he said to me, "That was it. When my lawyer said to me `I'm not in good health and I can't give you the best defense,' that really started to worry me. Foreman said `What you should do is plead guilty, then make a motion for a new trial, get a new lawyer and you overturn the guilty plea and then you're off and away.'" James said, `But I don't have any money for a new lawyer.' So Foreman said, `Don't worry about that James. I'll give your brother Jerry $500 and he can go hire you a new lawyer. But you have got to make an agreement that you will not cause any problems at the guilty plea hearing. You'll just take that guilty plea.'

Percy not only said that. He put it in writing. We got a copy of Percy's letter to James where he said, `Dear James, I'm going to give this $500 to your brother on the condition that you plead guilty and you do not cause any undue disturbances at this guilty plea hearing.' He actually put that in writing. A remarkable admission.

So James certainly, he plead. He did cause a little problem at the guilty plea hearing, but nevertheless he plead. And Jerry got the $500 and James didn't wait for a lawyer to be retained but he filed himself pro se (by himself) a petition for a new trial. He plead on March 10th, that was when he was guilty and convicted and sentenced to 99 years. And on March 13th, three days later, he filed. From March 13th until the day that he died, James Earl Ray was trying to get a trial.

On March 31st the Judge, who had sentenced him and who had overseen the guilty plea hearings was reviewing the petition for a new trial, had told some people that he was concerned about certain aspects of the case (whether that is serious or not one doesn't know) and he was found in his office dead of a heart attack, with his head on James' motion papers. You can speculate what that means. It may mean nothing. It just may mean that man was under a lot of stress for a lot of different reasons, he had a heart attack and he happened to be reviewing those papers and when he collapsed and the head down it was on James' papers.

But there is a law in Tennessee that says if a judge dies and you make a motion for a new trial and in the course of that motion before ruling on it the judge dies, you get a new trial automatically. There were two people who had filed those motions before [Judge] Preston Battle. One was James Earl Ray and the other person was the one who got the trial. James didn't, of course. So he went on, all of those years, trying to get that trial and was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile the state's case was articulated in a number of books, by Gerold Frank, a chap called [George] McMillan, eventually commentaries by David Garrow and ultimately a fellow called Gerald Posner. Always the same line, always the same story, unyieldingly: lone assassin, no conspiracy, no deviation at all. That's been the case from beginning to end.

I tried to get James a trial for many years. But in the initial stages we lost all the way up through the Supreme Court. We were denied. I guess we finished that process around 1990, . . . '89, '90, '91 it was certainly completed.

In 1992 I got the idea: Why don't we try to do this trial on television? So HBO in this country and Thames Television in the U.K. sponsored a television trial called "The Trial of James Earl Ray." The trial was prepared in 1992 and it began and was tried in 1993, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Martin King.

The Judge was a former federal Judge, Marvin Frankel out of New York, a very tough judge. We fought all the time, particularly in chambers. Eventually we became friends. But it was very hostile during the trial.

The Prosecutor was Hickman Ewing Jr., a former U.S. attorney who had won 200 straight prosecution cases as a U.S. attorney. Some of you may know him and know the name. He was Ken Starr's Number 2 in the Whitewater investigations for a number of months if not years.

The jury came from all over the country and very strictly adhered to were the rules, Criminal Procedure of the State of Tennessee. It was a serious trial. Even though it had no script or anything. The witnesses were not scripted in any way.

It took the jury about seven hours after that television trial to come back with a verdict of Not Guilty, James Earl Ray. You probably never heard of that. Because it was not reported anywhere and if it was it was mentioned once or twice in a couple of media entities. It was called "entertainment." It wasn't really serious you see. It was a form of entertainment.

But what it did do was to bring to the fore, witnesses and information that had not been possible to get before that. So in that way it was very helpful. And in one instance, we had four witnesses whose testimony would have caused the indictment of a man called Lyod Jowers who owned Jim's Grill which was a café on the ground floor of the rooming house from which the shot supposedly was fired from the bathroom window. Behind Jim's Grill there's a big vacant lot, bushy area, heavily overgrown at the time and it backed onto the Lorraine Motel where Martin King stayed.

These people gave me enough evidence as a result of the trial and my discovering them and the investigation (we had over 22 investigators working for me in the course of that preparation) to indict Jowers. Jowers knew about it. I'd known Loyd Jowers since 1978. He's one of the first people I'd talked to. I'd known this guy for 14 years already and he (of course) never admitted anything and he lied about everything. But as these witnesses now started to assemble, it was powerful testimony against him.

HBO in this country and Thames Television in the U.K. sponsored a television trial called "The Trial of James Earl Ray." The trial was prepared in 1992 and it began and was tried in 1993, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Martin King. . . .
It took the jury about seven hours after that television trial to come back with a verdict of Not Guilty, James Earl Ray. You probably never heard of that. Because it was not reported anywhere and if it was it was mentioned once or twice in a couple of media entities. It was called "entertainment." It wasn't really serious you see. It was a form of entertainment. . . .
The consolidation of the control of the media is a major problem in this democracy as it is in most democracies today. I don't know how democracy can function when people are not allowed information that's essential for the decision-making process. But rather they get propaganda continually.

One of them was his former -- and she was still active as his girl friend and lover at the time -- she became former by 1992, but back in '68 she and Loyd had a thing going. Her story was that she came into the Grill on the afternoon of April 4th. She didn't see Loyd around anywhere. He was the manager and the short order cook and he helped do everything. And she saw the kitchen door closed which was unusual so she opened the kitchen door thinking that `Well maybe he's out in the back fooling around with some of those local ladies.' Because she never trusted him really.

As she got into the kitchen she saw the kitchen door was open leading to the outside. As she approached that open kitchen door she heard a gunshot. She was startled but she still went on. As she got into the doorway, here comes Loyd running through the bushes carrying a still-smoking rifle. He brushes past her quickly, comes inside, bends down to take the shell out and break it down and says to her plaintively, `Betty, you wouldn't do anything to hurt me would you?' And she said, `No Loyd of course not. Of course I wouldn't.' So he throws the shell down the commode, the toilet back of the kitchen and stuffed it up in doing it. Then he covered the rifle with cloth and brought it down and put it under a shelf.

Betty [Jean Spates] had known about this (of course) since 1968. It was only in 1992, I think December of 1992 where she finally agreed to tell me this story. I'd known her for a lot of years. Loyd tried to keep me from even finding out where she lived but she told me this story then.

There were three others with similar incriminating pieces of information -- a taxi driver who saw the murder weapon, whom Loyd asked to get rid of the murder weapon, or hold onto it -- a whole series of different witnesses. So Loyd was in trouble and he knew it. He said to his lawyer, `You go and get me immunity from prosecution and I'll tell everything I know about this killing.'

So his lawyer, Lewis Garrison goes off to meet with the District Attorney General and tries to get immunity for Loyd. He said, `Loyd will tell you everything. This is the case of the century. You can be the most famous prosecutor in America. You can break this case.' Not only does Loyd not get immunity from prosecution. But the District Attorney General never interviewed him. Never even spoke to him.

Nobody wanted to prosecute Loyd. But he still was worried because I sat a colleague of mine outside of the Grand Jury room for two weeks trying to get the foreman of the Grand Jury to let him in (he was a lawyer) to give evidence and provide the foundation for the giving of evidence of these witnesses so that the Grand Jury independently of the Prosecutor (if we could get them to run away) would issue an indictment.

He never got in. But Loyd didn't know that. So Loyd conjures up with his lawyer and some others the idea that he'll try to get this story out publically. They contact Sam Donaldson. (I don't know if you know who he is.) He was an ABC journalist who ran a program called Prime Time Live. Donaldson agreed to put Jowers on and let him tell this story. So Jowers goes on television and tells his story on Prime Time Live and it seems like it's a big news story.

I actually got it covered in The Observer in England. I had been living all this time (by the way) in England. Not in the United States. I had moved to England in 1980-81. I had moved my family there and I was a visiting scholar at Cambridge at the time. And that was a much nicer place to raise children considering some of the things I was getting myself in to. But I had to come back and forth continually to commute on this, to do this work.

The next morning, after the Prime Time Live program, there is no coverage at all of this. Not even ABC News treated their own program as a news-worthy event. There was no coverage at all and no mention in the press. It just goes by-the-by.

So the investigation continues. In March, about March 20th or 21st, after the trial was over, a journalist named Steve Tompkins wrote an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was to have been the first of eight installments. It became the only piece, but it was a very lengthy piece. It dealt with the infiltration of the civil rights movement and black leaders throughout America by military intelligence going back to the second decade of the 20th century.

He traced the history of military intelligence's concern and surveillance of black community leaders and brought it all the way down (of course) to the COINTELPRO operations [3] in the '50s and '60s, particularly against Martin King. [4]

But the article showed that what happened in the '50s and '60s was just a continuation of what had been going on since around the time of the Russian Revolution. Because blacks were regarded as prime candidates for recruitment to the Communist Party after the Russian Revolution. So they had to be watched and surveilled.

Hoover's Number 2 of course, [Clyde] Tolson was an officer of military intelligence and Hoover himself was given a rank of Colonel which he only discarded after the Second World War.

In this article there was one little paragraph that caught my eye. It said, in Memphis on the day of the assassination of Martin King there was an [Special Forces] Alpha 184 Team there. And nobody understood why that team was there. Alpha 184 six-man unit was a sniper team. No one understood why they were there.

I was curious about that and I went to see Steve and I said, `This is a whole other dimension to the case.' I was beginning to form the opinion pretty clearly that Martin King had been killed as the result of a Mafia contract. There were any number of bounties on him in those periods of time and a fair amount of money had been raised to try to get him killed. None of the occurrences were successful and I figured ultimately one was and this was a Mafia hit. And that was it.

But now, all of a sudden, into this picture comes one of the most secretive aspects of the government of the United States: the role of the Army and the Army and military intelligence on American soil. That bounded and intrigued me so I said to Steve, `Will you arrange for these guys' -- whom he knew, he knew two members of this sniper team -- `will you ask them if they'll answer questions for me?' It took awhile and he said No, he wouldn't. He refused for the longest time. He didn't want anything to do with these people again because he said they were nasty, they'd kill you where you stand, they'd kill your family, your kids, anyone else. These are just trained killers and that was the way it was. He didn't want anything more to do with them.

So I kept going back and again [saying] `Look, we got this guy in jail and we believe he is innocent. Any information I can get I need to have.' Finally he said he would help. They would not however meet with me. They would trust him because he had never betrayed them. He was a former Naval Intelligence officer himself. So he agreed to take questions from me and they agreed to take those questions and answer them. For a long, extended period of time I would give Steve questions. He would go and he would come back with answers. He'd go again, come back. This was all in his spare time and only his expenses were paid.

As he got the answers to the questions -- he knew nothing really about the details of the assassination -- he didn't even know why I was asking certain things. But as he got those answers back to me -- these people were in Mexico by the way; they fled the United States in the '70s because they thought there was a clean-up operation underway so he had to make the trip to Mexico -- the picture started to become clearer and clearer to me as I got the answers to these questions.

It became evident that the military did not kill Martin King but that they were there in Memphis as what I've come to believe was a backup operation. Because King was never going to be allowed to leave Memphis. If the contract that was given didn't work these guys were going to do it. The story they told was that the six of them were briefed at 4:30 in the morning at Camp Shelby. The started out around 5 o'clock. They came to Memphis. They were briefed there. They took up their positions.

At the briefing at 4:30 they were shown two photographs who were their targets. One was Martin King and the other was Andrew Young. That was the first time I'd heard that Andrew Young might even conceivably be a target. But that's what he was. The main informant who told us most of the information in fact was the sniper who had Young in his crosshairs.

Now as far as they knew they were going to kill these people. They had no regrets about it at all because they considered them as traitors and they used very unkind words about them. So they were going to kill them and they were prepared to do that. But they never got the order. Instead they heard a shot. And each thought the other one had fired too quickly. Then they had an order to disengage. It was only later that they learned that, as they call it, `some wacko civilian' had actually shot King and that their services were not required. But that's how they worked.

This was not a one-off for these guys. They were trained snipers. You remember a hundred cities burned in America in 1967. These guys were sent around the country, teams of them, into different cities. These particular fellows had been in Detroit, Newark and Tampa and possibly L.A. They were given mugbooks. Those mugbooks were the photographs of community leaders and people who were to be their targets. And they would be put in positions and they would take out community leaders who would somehow be killed in the course of the rioting that was going on in various cities.

The assassination of Martin King was a part of what amounted to an on-going covert program in which they tried to suppress dissent and disruption in America.

He was shot from the bushes behind Jim's Grill, not from the bathroom window. And he was shot as a result of a conspiracy that brought a man called Frank Liberto -- who was a [Carlos] Marcello operative in Memphis, he ran a wholesale food place -- in to see Loyd Jowers whom he knew. Jowers owed him a very big favor. And in addition to that he paid Jowers $100,000 and that was to take complete use of that Grill facility for planning and staging of the assassination and the room upstairs that Raul (who was controlling James Earl Ray) would have James rent and then keep out of most of the afternoon.

The final stages of the assassination logistically were planned in Jim's Grill itself and there were a number of Memphis Police Department officers -- some of them were senior officers -- who were there. One of them was a black officer called Marrell McCollough.

Marrell McCollough is still alive and well today in Memphis, Tennessee. He went from the Memphis Police Department to the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked for a number of years [in the 1970s]. Before he became an undercover Memphis Police Officer, he was brought back to active duty by the [Army] 111th Military Intelligence Group [MIG] on June 16 1967.

So he was seconded from military intelligence to become a policeman to go undercover with a black group called the Invaders, a local group. So McCollough was very much in the frame, in terms of all of these that were happening. He participated in the planning. And Jowers named the other people who were involved in the planning as well.

It became evident that the military did not kill Martin King but that they were there in Memphis as what I've come to believe was a backup operation. Because King was never going to be allowed to leave Memphis. If the contract that was given didn't work these guys were going to do it. . . .
This was not a one-off for these guys. They were trained snipers. You remember a hundred cities burned in America in 1967. These guys were sent around the country, teams of them, into different cities. These particular fellows had been in Detroit, Newark and Tampa and possibly L.A. They were given mugbooks. Those mugbooks were the photographs of community leaders and people who were to be their targets. And they would be put in positions and they would take out community leaders who would somehow be killed in the course of the rioting that was going on in various cities. The assassination of Martin King was a part of what amounted to an on-going covert program in which they tried to suppress dissent and disruption in America.

Each of these groups of people only knew what they had to know about this overall assassination scenario. There were two photographers on the roof of the Fire Station and they filmed everything. They were still cameramen and they filmed the balcony, the shot hitting Martin King, the parking lot, up into the bushes and they got the sniper just lowering his rifle.

So the whole assassination of Martin King is on film. We negotiated for a year-and-a-half with those guys -- who were psychological operations Army officers -- to try to get it. They didn't know there was going to be an assassination. They were there to take photographs of everybody and everything around the Lorraine Motel at that point in time. The guy just happened, when he heard the shot, to spin his camera up into the bushes. That's why they got the photographs that they did.

We came close to getting an agreement with them. Then my contact made a mistake and used his own name on a flight into Miami. The FBI field office sent a team to track him. When he was meeting with them in an open park area one of the FBI guys put a big long lens camera out the passenger side of the car and the Army officer saw it and spooked him. He thought we were trying to set him up and he split. That broke down the negotiations.

But they didn't know what was going on. The guy who shot King was a police officer and he would only be told what he needed to know. The Alpha 184 team knew nothing about the Mafia operation that preceded them. The Memphis Police Department knew of the Mafia contract and they covered that up. The FBI's role was to take control of the total investigation and to cover it up.

There isn't enough time to go into the details of the evidence. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you have. I try to cover all of the evidence that we have -- and that we eventually put before the court -- in the book.

Needless to say all of this started to flesh out in 1993 and '94. I did a work-in-progress up to that time called Orders To Kill. That book was never reviewed in America. This book will never be reviewed in America. Most masses of people here will never know anything about this story because the book will receive no attention whatsoever.

I have friends in a lot of media organizations, sometimes fairly senior journalists and reporters and they say, `Bill it's just not worth our jobs. Don't expect us to have you on in terms of this book. It's not worth our jobs.'

The consolidation of the control of the media is a major problem in this democracy as it is in most democracies today. I don't know how democracy can function when people are not allowed information that's essential for the decision-making process. But rather they get propaganda continually.

Orders To Kill came out. It was unnoticed except by the King family whom I kept in touch with over time and they knew about the work. At one point it became evident that James Earl Ray was dying and he needed a trial, desperately or he would be dead and there would be no possibility. He was dying of hepatitis, a liver disease.

We put extra pressure to try to get this trial based upon a lot of the evidence we had. We had a sympathetic judge, Judge Joe Brown. Joe was very much inclined to give us a trial. Then at the midnight hour, I think just within the week before I think he would have ruled in our favor, he was removed from the case. The state made a motion that he was prejudicial, he was behaving improperly as a judge, and he was removed. There went the possibility of that trial.

The family came very strongly in support of a trial for James and the family suffered as a result of that. They lost millions of dollars of contributions to The King Center and they knew it would happen. I didn't have to tell them but I did. I said, `Remember what happened to Martin when he opposed the war. You know what is going to happen to you. Once you take this one on, and you align yourself now with the accused assassin of your loved one, you know what's going to happen to you. You know you're going to be called fools. They're going to start finding reasons to attack you. You're going to lose corporate contributions.' And all of that happened. But they struggled on.

We had an arrangement for James to get a liver transplant at University of Pittsburgh Hospital. Dr. John Fung agreed to do that, put him on the list and he had the criteria to move forward. I made a motion to the court for that permission to have him taken to Pittsburgh for that operation. We had him evaluated in Tennessee. And we were denied, the motion was denied. Even though it wasn't going to cost the state anything it was denied.

He died in 1998. I always wondered if there was anything more that I could have done and was I not attentive enough. Any lawyer would go through that when you have a person who has spent most of his life in prison and you know he's innocent. You want to get him out. I'm not a criminal lawyer by trade. It's not what I do. But nevertheless I wasn't hardened to it, I guess you could say, and I took it pretty badly that this guy eventually died without a trial.

The family and I met and made a decision. Or rather, Mrs. King made the decision. I just laid out what options were left in terms of getting the truth out. And the one option that was left was a civil suit, a civil action. It was a wrongful death civil action that I proposed against Loyd Jowers and other known and unknown conspirators.

There were members of the family that wondered if it was worthwhile. `We'd been hit and beaten down so much,' they said, `is this really worth it? Why are we doing this? We're just going to get hit more. Nobody is even going to hear about this.' This debate went around for a long time.

Finally Mrs. King stopped the debate and she said, `I always have to think about two things when we have these difficult decisions to make. One is, what would Martin have done in these circumstances? And two, what would he want us, his heirs, to do in these circumstances?' Then she looked at me and she said, `Bill, we're going to trial.'

So we filed that lawsuit in 1998 against Mr. Jowers in the Circuit Court in Tennessee and we waited a year until we were sure we were going to get the judge we wanted to get who was a black judge named [James] Swearingen. He had a reputation of being an independent guy. He'd been on the bench for a long time. He'd been involved in the movement in his youth. He was also going to retire. He didn't have much longer to go. As it turned out this was his last case.

So we got this case before Judge Swearingen, who was not in good health. We tried the case in 1999 for 30 days: 70 witnesses, 4,000 pages of transcript that today is up on the website of the King Center -- has all of the testimony of this. [5] And for the first time under oath in any assassination's case in the history of this country, or perhaps any other, there is the complete picture of how Martin Luther King was killed. There is every answer to every question. There is why the bushes were cut down the next morning. Who cut them down. Who asked to have them cut down. There is every piece of information there. For history more than anything else.

It took this jury 59 minutes to come back with an award and with a verdict on behalf of the family against Jowers and known and unknown conspirators in the government of the United States, the state of Tennessee, and the city of Memphis.

The family felt and feels vindicated. They feel comfortable that they know now how it happened and why it happened. The reasons were all laid out.

Martin King was killed because he had become intolerable. It's not just that he opposed the war and now was going to the bottom line of a number of the major corporations in the United States; those forces that effectively rule the world at this point in time, the transnational entities. But more importantly, I think the reason was because he was going to bring a mass of people to Washington in the spring of '68. And that was very troubling. He wanted to cap the numbers. But the military knew that once he started bringing the wretched of America to camp there in the shadow of the Washington Memorial, and go every day up to see their Senators and Congressman and try to get social program monies put back in that were taken out because of the war -- and once they did that, and they got rebuffed again and again they would increasingly get angry.

It was the assessment of the Army that he would lose control of that group. And the more violent and radical amongst the forces would take control and they would have a revolution on their hands in the nation's capital. And they couldn't put down that revolution. They didn't have enough troops. Westmoreland wanted 200,000 for Vietnam. They didn't have those. They simply didn't have enough troops to put down what they thought was going to be the revolution that would result from that encampment. [6]

So because of that I think, more than anything else, Martin King was never going to be allowed to bring that mass of angry, disaffected humanity to Washington. He was never going to leave Memphis. And that was the reason for the elaborate preparations that they had.

That trial (of course) was not covered, with very few exceptions. You probably never even heard of the trial. General Counsel of Court TV is a friend of mine. He said, `Bill we're going to cover this live because this is the most important trial in terms of the history of democracy in this country; these issues that are being raised of any I can think of.' Court TV's camera stayed in the hallway with the rest of them except when Mrs. King testified or Andrew Young or Dexter [King] or somebody. They never came in and they certainly didn't cover it live. All the other media people came and stayed in the hallway and came in at selected points and came and went. None of this was ever reported.

There was one ABC local anchorman [Wendell Stacey] who came in, very cynical in his outlook, and he started to film for his local station. As he started to listen to the evidence he was fascinated and intrigued. He decided he was going to stay and he was going to film this thing. He was told by his producer, `Don't do that. Get yourself out of there.' He ignored that, under threat of being fired and eventually he was fired. But he tried -- and he did film it -- and finally got his job back, ultimately through wrongful dismissal. But it was a chastening event for him to sit there and to listen to this evidence and to realize that he was being told to suppress it. To his credit he tried to hang on.

But there was a narrow window of about 12 hours where there was some minor reporting. And then it just all went away and has never been heard of again. [A member of the audience interjects: "Page 15 of the Washington Post, five paragraphs."] Yeah. The New York Times did a bit of it too. But then it just disappeared and it was never again reported or commented upon.

Except wherever it was raised, critics would start attacking. None of them had ever been there [laughs] at the trial. They started attacking the Judge. They attacked the defense counsel. They attacked the jury. They attacked the King family. There were various shots of that sort to try to say that this trial was a farce, it didn't make any sense, and made no difference anyway.

It was the assessment of the Army that [King] would lose control of [the Poor People's Campaign in Washington D.C.]. And the more violent and radical amongst the forces would take control and they would have a revolution on their hands in the nation's capital. And they couldn't put down that revolution. They didn't have enough troops. Westmoreland wanted 200,000 for Vietnam. They didn't have those. They simply didn't have enough troops to put down what they thought was going to be the revolution that would result from that encampment.

The family decided that was basically it for them. They had the answers. The answers were on the record. But at least they would take it one step further and see if on the basis of all of that evidence now, there could be an independent evaluation. So they asked for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They visited with President Clinton and asked for that. He refused that request. Instead he turned it over to Janet Reno and she appointed her Civil Rights division to put together a task force to do the investigation. They did and they came away with a whitewash which was predictable and which was the reason why we had wanted an independent commission to look at this that had subpoena power and the power to grant immunity from prosecution to get at the truth. But nobody was going to go that route.

I deal in detail in the book, almost line-by-line, with the report of the Department of Justice in terms of the investigation and deal also with the state's case as it has been articulated by various writers over the years. Because I think it is important that people have a look at what the state has said and what the facts are about that and also what the Attorney General's report said. To see that in the context of the evidence that came out at the trial.

That I suppose really is the end of the story at this point in time. This work is probably the last that can be done in terms of bringing everything out. Although, twenty-five years later people still come forward. And there are a couple of loose ends that just have to be tied up (and I'll probably try to do that for the paperback version). But I don't think we really have much hope of going anywhere legally with it. James is dead. The family has won a civil action against one of the few people who could be sued. There are still some others. But I don't think we can go very much further with the case.

It is important for Americans to look at this case history in terms of the health of democracy. Particularly during these times which are more troubling than ever before. One chapter of the book deals with Martin King. That's why it's a little different kind of assassination book because I think in many ways that's the most important chapter. Yes it's important to have the details and the evidence of how this whole thing took place and how he was taken from us.

But what's more important is to understand how such a leader comes forward. What his roots are. What makes him so special in terms of all of the co-opting pressures that are on people who emerge in leadership capacities? Why has there been no one to replace him ever since? And why is there a strange inaction in terms of the involvement of people in leadership and organizations with respect to the major problems of the economic situations of vast numbers of Americans in terms of the unequal distribution of wealth in America and the quality of life of at least 30 million Americans and their children?

These movement issues are as much with us today as ever before and yet there is silence. What was there about King and his roots? I trace Martin King back to John Ruskin. Not to Gandhi but to Ruskin. John Ruskin is the true father political economist in Victorian times in England, the true father of Martin King's political and economic philosophy and commitment to the poor of this world. He is depicted on King Day as a civil rights leader. And that's the way you're going to see him probably forever.

But he was much more than a civil rights leader and that's what no one in official capacity wants you to know. He had moved well beyond the civil rights movement by 1964-65 and he had become effectively a world-figure in terms of human rights people and particularly the poor of this earth. That's where he was going. That's the area you don't really get into safely when you start talking about wealth, redistributing wealth. Taking, diverting huge sums of money into social welfare programs and health programs and educational programs at the grass roots.

It's important to have the details and the evidence of how this whole thing took place and how he was taken from us. But what's more important is to understand how such a leader comes forward. What his roots are. What makes him so special in terms of all of the co-opting pressures that are on people who emerge in leadership capacities? Why has there been no one to replace him ever since? And why is there a strange inaction in terms of the involvement of people in leadership and organizations with respect to the major problems of the economic situations of vast numbers of Americans in terms of the unequal distribution of wealth in America and the quality of life of at least 30 million Americans and their children.

When you start going into that you begin to tread on toes in this country, in the United Kingdom, and in most of the western world. When you start associating with the poor of this planet and the exploitation of what's happened to whole cultures and tribal cultures in Africa in particular, and you see the results of the exploitation of western colonial powers and when you want to see a movement to not only arrest that process which still goes forward today under different guises but to actually reverse it and to give an opportunity for people to control their destinies and their own natural wealth, that's dangerous ground to get on. So you have to deal with that another way.

King was committed, increasingly, to that kind of political view which you will not hear about in terms of the `I have a dream' speech which is typically what he is associated with. He wept in India as early as '60, '61 when he was there. He had never seen such poverty in such a massive scale. `How can people live like this?'

I sympathize with that because when I was a 12-year-old I couldn't get my middle-class kids in my neighborhood to play baseball with me in the summer heat. So the only way I could do it was to go across to the ghetto which was quite a distance from where I lived, with a little brown bag, and played ball with black kids all day. I did that all summer long just because I loved the game. But it taught me a valuable lesson of how people were forced to live. Because I would be a guest in their homes and I'd see the rats running across the floor, Herbie Fields throwing his shoe at the rats. Things like that.

There's a lot of people live that like this. Why do people live like this? Most of America doesn't see that. We are residentially segregated society forever. King saw that, wanted to bridge it and the solutions were too radical, too potentially dangerous. Jefferson was an idol of his. With all of Jefferson's foibles, remember he said, `You need a revolution every 20 years. You need to sweep the room clean every 20 years,' said Mr. Jefferson. You need that revolution. King believed that as well.

How wise was Jefferson? Jack Kennedy once said, when he had a dinner for all the living nobel prize winners of the United States and they were all gathered around the table, he lifted a toast and said `I'm going to toast you this evening because never before has so much brilliance, so much wisdom, eaten in this room, except when Mr. Jefferson dined alone.' That's the impact of that perception, that political perception that Kennedy appreciated so much.

That's the background and the overview, I suppose, the summary of the case as it is contained in the book and of my history of involvement with it. In many ways I had put it behind me when this book was finished and now I've had to come around and it's a pleasure to come and see folks like you and talk to you. But there's a whole part of me that's now in a whole other world.

I convene a seminar on International Human Rights at Oxford with the motto of our seminars being Non nobis solum nati sumas, which means We exist not for ourselves alone. That's in honor of Martin Luther King, whose son, Martin the 3rd opened the series last year. So I've gone away from this and I spend a lot of time in Caracas with Hugo Chavez who was at Oxford as a guest of my seminar [7] and whose Bolivarian revolution I've come to believe in very much as a continuation of the legacy of Martin King.

But I'm back in the throes of this as a result of the book tour. I'm happy to be with you. Thank you for coming and I hope it has been useful for you. I'll try to answer any questions that you have.

Question: I don't know if I heard correctly. Did you say that a police officer shot Martin King?

William Pepper:Yes.

Q: And where does Loyd Jowers come in?

WP: He was out there in the brush area with him. When Betty saw him coming in she said he was white as a sheet and his knees were all covered in mud. He had obviously been kneeling. It had rained the night before and it was pretty muddy out there. Which is why they cleaned the area up thoroughly the next morning.

Q: What is it thought that he did? Did he fire too?

WP: No he didn't. He just was there to retrieve the gun and bring it inside. That was his only role. At that point in time. He didn't do it.

Q: Is the policeman known? Who he is?

WP: I know who the policeman is, yes.

Q: It's mentioned in the book isn't it?

WP: Sorry -

Q: His name is mentioned in Orders To Kill . . . Earl -

WP: That's a very interesting story. I thought that Earl Clark was the killer of Martin Luther King. He was a sharp-shooter, brilliant shooter, hated King, racist guy who ran the rifle range for the Memphis Police Department. I thought as early as 1988-89 that Clark was the killer, the shooter. He died in, I believe it was '82, '83. I visited with his first wife and interviewed her for a period of several hours with his son sitting there, a young boy, I think he was about 15.

She gave him an alibi. She said `He came home that afternoon and he was tired. He'd been on duty around-the-clock. He went to sleep. He asked me to listen to the radio. If they called him, wake him up, and then run and get his uniform from the cleaners and he would take a shower and get ready to go back in.' She said that's what happened.

She got this call right after the assassination. She'd heard it on the radio, on the dining room table. She went and she woke him up. He was asleep on the sofa. He went to take his shower and she went off to get his uniform. And she gave him that alibi.

I thought, Why would she do this? There was a lot of animosity. He divorced her. Why would she protect him? I believed her and went away from Earl Clark for quite a period of time.

Then when Jowers came on the scene and he decided he would tell the whole truth in pre-trial interviews and depositions; when he, to Andy Young and Dexter King, separately, and then to Dexter and myself, told the whole story, he implicated Earl Clark. And he said, `Clark was out there in the bushes.' I remember saying to him, `Are you sure that Clark was the shooter? Clark was the one that gave you gun?' He said, `Yeah I'm pretty sure. I'm pretty sure.' I wondered why he would even say it that way. And Clark was in on all the planning sessions. So I came back to believe that that was the case and put Mrs. Clark on the stand in the trial and she told the same story and she stuck to it. She held up well under cross-examination.

And then I found the young man who was the son of the owner of the cleaning establishment. He was, and is, on the island of Guam, a school teacher. I found this guy (his name is [Thomas] Dent) and I said to him, `Let me ask you a question: Where were you on the 4th of April when Martin King was killed?' He said, `I was working in the store.' `How late were you opened?' He said, `Dad shut the store at about 6:15 or 6:20, shortly after the killing. I had gone about ten to or five to six. It took about 20 minutes to get home, something like that. Dad was home for dinner at about 6:35, 6:40.' I said, `Did you see Mrs. Clark come in and get Earl Clark's uniform? Did you know who Earl Clark is?' `Oh yes, of course I know who Earl Clark is. He was a buddy of my father's. We knew him well.' I said, `Did you see Mrs. Clark?' He said, `Well I never saw Mrs. Clark. In fact I don't think I ever even seen her at all.' `You mean she didn't come into the shop that afternoon?' He said, `On no, no.'

And then I tried to put two and two together. King was killed at 6:01. She woke him up and then she went to the store. We drove the route and even asked her how long does it take to get there? She said about 20-25 minutes. So she clearly could not have gotten there when the store was open anyway. It was already shut on the basis of what young Mr. Dent said. I questioned him further and finally he said to me, `She definitely didn't come in to pick up his uniform and I don't even remember that she ever did that. He used to pick up his own uniforms and drop by and have a word with my father. And in fact, that afternoon he came into the store at about ten past five, quarter past five. He went in the back with my father and he was there for about fifteen or twenty minutes.' I asked, `You're sure of that?' He said, `I'm sure of that.'

So Clark was in the store, talking to the father. I said `So why would he talk to your father?' He said `They were hunting buddies. Dad used to provide him with specially packed cartridges. I don't know if that's what they did that day but he went back there.' So that broke her alibi entirely. She was clearly lying. He was not there. That doesn't mean he was the shooter. But the alibi was gone, he was somewhere else.

So I went back to him and came away with the conclusion, based on what Jowers had said that he probably was the killer. Then there have been some developments since then which lead me to believe that yes he was out in the back there with Jowers. But there was another man there as well. And the other man was the actual killer of Martin Luther King.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Peter, thank you for posting this fascinating talk by William F. Pepper.

The imperative to terminate King exactly a year from his declared opposition to the war, days after Johnson pleaded, "No mas," two months before Sirhan did not shoot Bobby was without doubt an Act of State.

That Frank Holloman police commissioner was a Hoover insider at FBI, that King was mysteriously moved to the vulnerable balcony location, the creation of Raul and the provision of aliases for Ray, the presence of Marrell McCollough, all these and more are part and parcel of one more black op of the deep security state.

Pepper was working on Sirhan's behalf. Would it be likely for the DSS to release their project before his death: didn't happen with Oswald, Ruby, Ray.

The conspiracy to remove King was not Marcello, nor Army intelligence. Such a decision is made at a higher level and a redundant plan is emplaced.

As there is no release of the Joannides file by this transparent administration there shall be no release of the photography by the spooks on the firehouse roof.

The Castle is not responsive.
Yes, it really is a great speech he gave...sums it all up. His book by the same title is very good reading, as well. Leaves NO doubt as to the official version and points to who actually did it, with only minor details yet to be discovered...minor. I also think VERY interesting and important for the reason behind killing them both and almost one after the other was Bobby's plans to ask [and I'm sure he would have accepted] MLK to be his vice Presidential running mate! The powers that were and still are would never have had either of them, let alone both of those two together, both knowing the truth behind such things as who killed Malcolm and JFK would have blown the whole ship/shit-load of the bastards behind the curtain right out of the water...but they got them [and SO many others!] first. We are led by lying thieving amoral killer bastards of the lowest order. Dante would have had to construct an even lower level of Hell for that crowd. We are stuck with them still....and they still keep on lying, killing, stealing and covering-up.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

It's tempting to write off the LAPD's bullying, incompetence, omission, and destruction and manipulation of evidence as simply the cover-up of a botched investigation -- the avoidance of another Dallas, by any means necessary -- until you see the connections fanning out from the department to other government agencies, specifically the CIA.

By late 1967, LBJ was besieged by the antiwar movement. From his bunker at the White House, he looked out at the student dissent and disgust with government and could not believe it was the work of true Americans. Foreign influence must be at play, corrupting American youth, and he encouraged the CIA to root it out with the launch of Operation Chaos, a domestic surveillance operation on the protest movement and the Black Panthers. Through a network of informants and agent provocateurs, Chaos would determine if foreign powers were funding and fomenting this domestic unrest.

The program was tightly held, known only to director Richard Helms and his top lieutenants, Richard Ober and Cord Meyer, who helped establish and run it. One of the main cities targeted was Los Angeles, and links were established with the intelligence division of the LAPD, which was also responsible for the security of VIPs visiting Los Angeles. In sync with this effort, the CIA provided training to police departments in guerrilla techniques and tools of urban warfare. Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti told researcher Betsy Langman that while he was with the agency in 1967, the Chicago and Los Angeles police departments received several days of "training" from the Clandestine Services Division. When Marchetti asked why a dozen or so LAPD officers were at CIA headquarters, he was told it was a "special," "sensitive" activity that had been directly approved by the CIA director.

In 1982, author Philip Melanson obtained a three-hundred-page "Domestic Police Training" file from the CIA through the Freedom of Information Act. These documents confirmed that during the sixties and seventies, the CIA had secret ties to police departments across the country, providing training and equipment in exchange for surveillance, break-ins, and the provision of police credentials to CIA operatives. Los Angeles was one of the cities that received this special training.

The two men who had effective day-to-day control of the RFK investigation also had CIA connections. As day watch supervisor, Lieutenant Manuel Pena had to sign off and approve every report and decide who to reinterview and who to dismiss as the case was prepared for trial. This was the same Manny Pena who scrawled across several blank interview summaries relating to Sandra Serrano, "Polka-dot story of Serrano phony," "Polka dot story Serrano N.G."

Sergeant Enrique "Hank" Hernandez was Pena's chief interrogator, called on to administer polygraph tests to troublesome witnesses to determine if they were telling the truth. Without fail, whenever claims of conspiracy were sent to Hernandez, he bullied witnesses into retractions. Luckily, many of these tapes survive, so we can still hear the mockery Hernandez's bullying tactics make of this supposedly objective discipline. Hernandez also led the investigation probing possible conspiracy and oversaw the background checks on Sirhan and his family.

Manuel Pena joined the LAPD in 1941 and served in the Pacific with the Naval Air Corps during World War II. He spent two years in Verdun, France, as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and spoke fluent French and Spanish. He went on to spend sixteen years of his police career working in Robbery-Homicide, reaching the rank of lieutenant. Robert Kaiser recalls his nickname at LAPD was "Shoot 'em up Manny Pena" -- "he killed several people in the line of duty, which wasn't very normal."

In November 1967, Pena retired from the department with a surprise testimonial dinner at the Sportsman's Club attended by Chief Reddin and top department brass. He was to accept a position with the Agency for International Development (AID), a State Department aid agency that among other roles served as a regular cover identity for CIA operatives abroad. He would serve as a "public safety adviser" and train the police forces of friendly dictatorships in sophisticated interrogation techniques to use on leftist insurgents and political dissidents.

FBI agent Roger LaJeunesse had known Pena for years and was the FBI liaison to the LAPD during the RFK case. LaJeunesse said Pena left the LAPD for a "special training unit" at CIA's Camp Peary base in Virginia. After nine weeks' training, he would be posted to Latin America, where he could use his Spanish. Pena had been doing special assignments for the CIA for a decade, mostly under AID cover. On some of these, he worked with CIA operative Dan Mitrione, a "US police adviser" who taught interrogation and torture techniques to the ruling junta in Uruguay and was killed by the Tupamaro guerrillas in 1970 as a result.

Please have a seat. Sorry I'm late.
I know how long you've had to wait.
I did not forget your documents
No time to waste, why not begin?
Here's how it works, I've got these faces
You give them names, I won't deport you
Make sure you face my tape recorder

Make no mistake, this fountain pen
Could put you on a plane by ten
And by the way, your next of kin
I know which house she's hiding in
So now that you know whose skin you're saving
In this photograph, who's this one waving?
I think you know, so speak up, amigo

It says here by trade you were a fisherman
Well I'll bet you Indians can really reel them in
If you get the chance
You should try to get up to Lake Michigan
Well maybe, but then again, anyway...

Where were we then? Is he your friend?
Well I recommend that you look again
Where does he stay? What is his name?
There is no shame. He'd do the same
So what do you say? I don't have all day
It's up to you. Which will it be
Good citizen, or poor campesino?

My dad used to rent us this place in Ontario
He showed us how to cast the line and tie the flies
He used to say God rewards us for letting the small ones go
Maybe, but I don't know
Anyway, it's easy to bite. You can't snap a line.
You just take the bait, you can't fight the hook
Hurts less if you don't try to dive

Senor, as you know I was a fisherman
How full the nets came in
We hauled them up by hand
But when we fled, I left them just out past the coral reefs
They're waiting there for me
Running deep

-- Fishing, by Joan Baez

Pena's new career didn't last long. Robert Kennedy announced that he would run for president on March 16, 1968 and Pena was back in Los Angeles by April. Investigative reporter Fernando Faura was walking along a corridor in Parker Center one day when he noticed a familiar figure behind heavy horn-rim glasses and a black handlebar mustache.

"Hey, Manny, I damn near didn't recognize you with that disguise!"

Pena stopped and explained the AID job wasn't what he expected, so he quit and came back to Los Angeles.

When the LAPD subsequently unveiled Special Unit Senator (SUS), a special task force to investigate the assassination, the man put in charge of preparing the case for trial and supervising the day watch investigators was Manny Pena.

In his 1970 book on the case, SUS Chief Robert Houghton wrote that Pena had "connections with intelligence agencies in several countries." In 1975, Pena's brother, a school principal, was interviewed for a local television show by host Stan Bohrman. During the commercial break, he mentioned how proud he was of his brother's service with the CIA. "Nobody's supposed to know about that. It's supposed to be secret."

In 1977, researcher Betsy Langman interviewed Pena -- then retired from the LAPD, presumably for good -- and asked about his intelligence ties.

"I worked with the AID program out of the Office of Public Safety," said Pena. (The AID program had been unmasked in the mid-1970s as one of the CIA's main covers for clandestine activity abroad.)

"Is AID not CIA?" asked Langman.

"Ah, not to my knowledge," said Pena.

"Was your work away from LAPD in 1967 going to be for AID?"


"What type of work was it?"

"Ah, that I can't ah ... I don't think that's anybody's business."


In 1992, while attorney Marilyn Barrett was working with Paul Schrade on a new petition to reopen the Sirhan case, she discovered that the uncle of a good friend of hers was none other than Manny Pena. Barrett kindly sent me CD copies of a four-hour interview she subsequently conducted with Pena, in which he attempted to correct misconceptions in what he calls "these novels" about the assassination.

Pena was, by that time, seventy-three years old and comes across as a disarming figure, a charming uncle seemingly open about all aspects of his career, and a world away from his sinister-looking LAPD ID photo taken in the late sixties.

Pena was happy to discuss his "intelligence background" outside the LAPD. During his two years in France, he worked closely with the army's Counter-Intelligence Corps and made lots of friends in the intelligence community. He also built up strong connections with Interpol: a senior official in the Mexican government was his "number one connection into Latin America," and he'd make frequent trips down there.

"Our own Internal Revenue used to use me to trace assets in Latin America when they wanted to keep away from diplomatic problems with the State Department. I could get information out of Latin America better than the government through personal friends ... and [LAPD] Chief Parker allowed them to use me providing I never [talked about it] .... If you want to call that an intelligence background, there's nothing mysterious about it.

"In 1967, I decided to retire and go in the Aid for International Development part of the State Department; we call it AID. I was sent to Washington, DC, for orientation at the Foreign Service Institute. I went through their orientation and I was told I was going to be sent to Latin America. Some of the instructors that talk to you there are from CIA, and I was made privy to how to read secret materials and stuff like that, which I can't discuss with you for obvious reasons."

At the time, Pena was recently divorced and had left his car and furniture in Los Angeles. ''After I finished the orientation school, the chief of the AID Program, Byron Engle, told me they couldn't send me to Latin America; they wanted to keep me in Washington, DC, at their International Police Academy," where they trained a lot of Latin American officials.

Engle told him it was a permanent assignment, so he got his car sent to Washington by government transportation. "When the car arrived, they told me I owed them $965. I said, well, that couldn't be -- the State Department said they were paying." But he was told his posting didn't qualify as a permanent change of station, so the government couldn't pay for it. Engle refused to pay, so Pena called Chief Reddin, who was a close friend, and Reddin said, "Tell them to go to hell and come home."

When he'd left the LAPD, Pena still had four months time-in-lieu on the books, so there were still a couple of weeks left before his official retirement date. So he got his car back and drove back to Los Angeles, "and this is what has caused this confusion that these writers write about ... that I was retired with a great deal of fanfare, ... and then all of a sudden, in two months, I'm back on the job over here and mysteriously returned."

The night of the shooting, Pena was home alone in an apartment in Van Nuys, and a friend called and said, "Switch on the TV; they just shot Kennedy." Two or three days later, Chief Houghton handpicked Pena as lead supervisor for the investigation. They picked "just about the forty sharpest guys in the department in every category" and set up SUS:

I was assigned to supervise the case preparation for trial, the conspiracy allegation investigation, [and] I arranged to have the backgrounds of the entire Sirhan family investigated in Jordan because the main defense attorney Grant Cooper was pushing diminished capacity -- that Sirhan had suffered so much as a child and had gone through all kinds of horrible bombings in his home town in Jordan.... Well, I contacted the very same guy I fought with in the State Department, Byron Engle in Washington, DC, and I told him I need his help and I wanted the agents to conduct this portion of the investigation for me, and he says, "Good to hear from you," and he had agents -- some of them from the CIA and some of them from the State Department -- look into it, and they did a beautiful job.

And they established that Sirhan was never within 130 miles of any bombing in his youth ... this was a fairy tale that Grant Cooper made up, and we busted him real wide with that in the trial. He was flabbergasted and a little angry that we had gotten the government to do that. But they did it for me, at my request. So we still had a friendship going there, even though I quit them.

It's ludicrous to state that Jerusalem, where Sirhan grew up, was never within 130 miles of bombing during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This illustrates how deluded Pena was during the original investigation, and how far the prosecution went to distort Sirhan's upbringing. The interview was yielding intriguing information on Pena's CIA links, and Barrett kept him talking.

"And these are the same people that I went to Latin America for later on."

"What was that trip about?" asked Barrett.

In late 1969 or early 1970, the State Department sent a three-man team to Colombia -- the assistant attorney general of California, Howard Jewel, one of the counsels for a Supreme Court justice, and Pena as their investigative consultant.

"We were asked to make a survey of their criminal justice system," recalled Pena, "because there were complaints that people were disappearing in the justice system. They'd go in, be arrested, be arraigned, and go to court, and nobody'd ever hear of them again." The State Department asked him to stay on in Latin America for three-year stints in three different countries, to help reorganize their investigative systems, but, with the drug lords and corruption, Pena thought, "I don't want to stay down here, this is too damn dangerous."

When Pena got the check for the job, "it was paid from the International Legal Center, based in New York. I said, 'This isn't from the State Department,' and I had a detective friend in New York PD check out who it was. International Legal Center was a mail drop; it never existed and yet I got paid and the IRS accepted my tax report, so I had a suspicion it was probably a CIA operation down there. But I've never been told. That's just the policy in government work. If you don't need to know, they don't tell you .... I have never told ... or admitted to anybody that I have been or am a CIA agent because no one has ever told me, 'Manny, you're actually a CIA agent."

"Do you think AID is a front for the CIA?" asked Barrett.

"It's been rumored very highly." Pena laughed.

Barrett also asked Pena about Hernandez's intelligence background.

''I'd rather let Hank explain for himself. He's never been with the CI ... AID, that I know of ... he was on the Sirhan case with us; he was a darned good polygraph man -- the best -- we used him a lot; he did a lot of the background investigation, too, on the conspiracy things. But I've never worked an intelligence assignment with him, so I don't know." Pena said he had never worked with Hernandez outside of the LAPD.

"The main thing I wanted to get straight," concluded Pena, "and I'm surprised that this latest novel didn't cover it correctly, was how I happened to retire twice, you know. The way they've written it, it sounds like I was brought back and put into the case as a plant by the CIA, so that I could steer something around and ... guide the investigation to a point where no-one would ever discover a conspiracy or something ... that's not so. Sirhan himself will tell you that nobody operated with him; he operated by himself. And, quite frankly -- I say this kind of jokingly -- but I wouldn't recognize somebody that was programmed hypnotically to commit an assassination if I was talking to one, you know? I don't know enough about it."

After her four-hour interview, Marilyn Barrett believed that Pena was not directly involved in any nefarious activity but had been given orders from the top to "shut this case down" to give the public closure, and to convey a sense that the police got their man, that the case had been solved quickly and definitively.

She thinks the LAPD did a very bad job, but doesn't think they were actively involved in any wrongdoing. When she brought her petition in 1992, somebody in the DA's office told her the case would never be reopened; they'd had orders from the top to shut it down. She also found memos by DA staff, saying they needed to shut this petition down.

Barrett tried to arrange a short telephone interview for me with Pena, but he was reported to be too old and ill to take my call.

Like Pena, Enrique Hernandez had served with the army in Korea and spoke fluent Spanish. He was thirty-seven years old and had been with the LAPD for fifteen years at the time of Bobby Kennedy's assassination. He was the sole polygraph examiner for SUS, and he talked up his credentials to Sandra Serrano before her test began: "I have been called to South America, to Vietnam and Europe and I have administered tests. The last test that I administered was to the dictator in Caracas, Venezuela. He was a big man, a dictator. Perez Jimenez was the last name. And this is when there was a transition in the government of Venezuela and President Betancourt came in ... there was a great thing involved over there and I tested the gentleman."

So what had an LAPD polygraph officer been doing in South America? Hernandez himself provided the answer for Now It Can Be Told in 1992, when reporter Alexander Johnson confronted him and Hernandez granted his only television interview:

"I conducted an interrogation of Sandra Serrano and my objective was to determine the truth and I think I accomplished that."

"And what was the truth at that point?" asked a determined Johnson.

Hernandez smiled awkwardly and paused, searching for the right words.

"That the statements she made to the police investigators soon after the shooting were made up, and not true."

Hernandez did admit training Venezuelan police officers in the early sixties.

"I was loaned from the Los Angeles Police Department to the Department of State for a mission in Caracas, Venezuela."

"Did you work in any capacity for the CIA?"

"No, sir."

"As a contract agent?"

"In any capacity whatsoever, no ... I know people who have been and are with the CIA, but I've never worked with them."

Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez was overthrown in a military coup in January 1958 and fled via the Dominican Republic to Miami Beach, where he lived comfortably from February 1958 to 1963, when he was extradited by the Venezuelan government to stand trial, accused of having embezzled two hundred million dollars. He was tried and convicted by the Venezuelan Supreme Court and placed under house arrest until 1968, when he was released and fled to Spain. From this timeline, it seems most likely that Hernandez was training Venezuela police in 1963 when he was called in to help with the trial. Johnson did not ask when and why Hernandez went to Europe or Vietnam.

During the interview with Serrano, Hernandez also stated: "I know the layout of the hotel, and after I arrived in Los Angeles it's the first place they took me" [emphasis added]. This suggests that Hernandez was out of Los Angeles at the time of the assassination, perhaps on another foreign assignment.

Shortly after the assassination, Hernandez was rumored to have swapped his solid middle-class neighborhood for a new home in upscale San Marino. But it wasn't until Hernandez died of cancer on December 18, 2005, at the age of seventy-four, that obituaries sourced by his son Enrique Junior would throw light on his extraordinary career.

Hernandez was born in Jerome, Arizona, in 1931 and moved to Los Angeles with his parents and eight siblings in 1941. After dropping out of high school, he joined the army at seventeen, initially stationed in Japan. He returned to Los Angeles after the Korean War and joined the LAPD in 1953, rising to lieutenant in the detective bureau and ending up in the department's "exclusive Scientific Investigation Department."

"In the early sixties," read the notice, "the Justice Department developed an initiative to send bilingual U.S. law enforcement experts to Latin American nations to offer training on policing techniques. Hernandez was part of the program."

After twenty years with the LAPD, Hernandez retired in 1973.

"From the kitchen table at his Monterey Park home, Hernandez and his wife developed a plan to go into the private security business .... His son said the firm's first major contract was with NASA at Edwards Air Force Base. Other NASA installations quickly followed. The firm now has wholly owned subsidiaries in nineteen countries and employs more than 30,000 people. Although its earnings are not public, some estimates put them at more than $1 billion annually."

There may be some truth in the romantic tale of a billion-dollar company hatched at the Hernandez family kitchen table, but it's a little hard to swallow. It would be a lucky start-up, indeed, that lands its first major contract with NASA. Hernandez's son Enrique Junior is now CEO of Inter-Con and sits on the board of McDonald's, Wells Fargo, and the Tribune Company (owners of the Los Angeles Times).

In interviews, Pena and Hernandez both referred to the Office of Public Safety (OPS), a police assistance program set up during the Kennedy administration in November 1962. Until its demise in 1975, the program trained seventy-five hundred senior officers in U.S. facilities, and more than half a million foreign police overseas.

The program was an aggressive Cold War effort to enhance domestic security among third world allies, and CIA Deputy Director Robert Amory sat on a White House Special Group with Robert Kennedy overseeing its creation. He described OPS as a joint project of the CIA and AID; it was decided AID would be its home, "but the brains are in CIA, so we'll move those brains over to AID.... So we just took the CIA men ... and gave them the mission of training [foreign] police forces using American police forces occasionally as sort of sponsors ... which is dangerous ground because you can get into Gestapo-type tactics and so on ... but essentially bringing to bear good police methods, good filing systems, good fingerprinting systems, good systems of riot control."

The public safety program was expanded within U.S. AID and placed under the control of CIA veteran Byron Engle, who reported directly to the director and deputy director of the CIA. (Engle later personally recruited Pena from the LAPD.)

During his decade as OPS chief, Engle took advantage of early police retirements and started hiring ex-chiefs and technical specialists from police forces across America, attracted by good salaries and exotic climes. He also recruited CIA personnel and supplied cover for agency officers operating abroad.

According to McClintock, OPS "became best known as a conduit for CIA training, assistance, and operational advice to foreign political police, and for linking the United States to the jailers, torturers, and murderers of the most repressive of 'free world' regimes [through] instruction in torture ... the fabrication and use of terrorist devices and assassination weapons ... as well as its key role in the best-known assassination program of them all, Vietnam's Operation PHOENIX," in which at least twenty thousand Vietnamese were killed.

In 1962, President Romulo Betancourt's police force in Venezuela was struggling to control a militant group of Castro-inspired leftists, who had bombed a luxury hotel and attacked the U.S. embassy. According to A. J. Langguth, "under pressure from the Kennedys, Engle borrowed four Spanish-speaking officers from the LAPD and quietly sent them to Caracas to give intensive classes in police work." I think it highly likely Hernandez was one of these four LAPD officers; he later boasted to Sandy Serrano that he had received a personal commendation from Robert Kennedy, presumably after this secret mission.

In 1963, Kennedy helped set up the principal training establishment for the OPS, the International Police Academy (IPA). The basic course ran fifteen weeks and included modules on VIP protection and "Criminal Violence Control," dealing with airline security, bomb threats, kidnapping, extortion, and assassination.

By 1968, its peak year, OPS fielded 458 advisers in thirty-four countries, with a budget of $55.1 million. By 1971, the program had trained more than a million policemen in forty-seven nations, including eighty-five thousand in South Vietnam and a hundred thousand in Brazil.

But the program was by then highly controversial, and had become synonymous with human rights abuse and torture. CIA field operatives had used OPS as an ideal cover to train police forces in the agency's interrogation techniques.

The agency coached military and police interrogators throughout Latin America, promoting methods of torture that became the hallmark of the continent's military dictatorships. AID police advisers tortured political dissidents, and through its field offices in Panama and Buenos Aires, the agency's Technical Services Division shipped polygraph and electroshock machines in diplomatic pouches to public safety offices across Latin America. When embassy staff complained about these abuses, they were reminded that U.S. policy precluded interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Ironically, it took the murder of an American -- Dan Mitrione, a police adviser in Uruguay -- to expose this involvement in torture and hasten the program's demise.

In 1969, Mitrione, the former police chief of Richmond, Indiana, was appointed head of the OPS mission in Montevideo. His deputy, William Cantrell, was a CIA operations officer. The country was beset by strikes, student demonstrations, and a band of urban revolutionaries calling themselves Tupamaros, who captured the public's imagination with outrageous actions and a Robin Hood philosophy. They kidnapped and tried prominent figures before "people's courts" and ransacked an exclusive nightclub, scrawling their slogan on the walls: "Either everyone dances or no one dances."

Mitrione intensified the use of torture as the government fought back. He built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house and demonstrated torture techniques to selected Uruguayan police officers, using beggars taken off the streets, some of whom died during the sessions.

On July 31, 1970, Mitrione was kidnapped by the Tupamaros, who demanded the release of 150 prisoners in exchange for his return. Nixon dug his heels in, and the Uruguayan government refused. Ten days later, Mitrione's dead body was found on the backseat of a stolen car. "Mr. Mitrione's devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere," said the White House, as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis visited Richmond, Indiana, to stage a benefit show for the family.

Days later, the real story began to emerge. Alejandro Otero, the former Uruguayan chief of police intelligence, confirmed that Mitrione had used "violent techniques of torture ... and a psychology to create despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and telling the prisoner that it was his family being tortured."

Otero was a CIA agent and had been trained at the IPA in Washington. What finally drove him to speak out was the torture of a female friend of his who was a Tupamaro sympathizer. When Otero complained, he was demoted.

In Uruguay and elsewhere in Latin America, OPS continued to train and serve as cover for death squads composed primarily of police officers, who bombed the homes of suspected Tupamaro sympathizers with material supplied by the Technical Services Division and engaged in assassination and kidnapping.

In July 1975, finally aroused by persistent allegations of torture and police brutality, Congress cut all funds for "training or advice to police, prisons, or other law enforcement" -- in effect, abolishing OPS.

While the foreign service of Pena and Hernandez may have been innocuous, the Office of Public Safety to which they were attached was implicated in human rights abuses and assassination from the late sixties through the early seventies. As we will see, a legendary CIA operative named David Morales took his own murderous revenge on the Tupamaros while working under OPS cover.


Bill Jordan, the Rampart sergeant who interviewed Sirhan in custody, also had an intriguing CV. He joined the U.S. Marines at the age of fifteen in 1941 and served three years in combat in the Pacific. He graduated from the police academy in 1954 and, while with the Intelligence Division, provided security for Senator John Kennedy during the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles and was later assigned to protect Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., when they were in town.

According to his resume, Jordan also attended "special schools" in antiterrorist techniques, special weapons, and riot control "conducted by the Federal Government and the military."

After he retired from the LAPD, Jordan put some of this knowledge to work in 1978 when Costa Gratsos, a close associate of the recently deceased Aristotle Onassis, resurrected a plan to stage a coup d'etat against "Papa Doc" Duvalier in Haiti, with the help of exiled Haitian banker Clemard Charles. Jordan told author Peter Evans that his security company had been hired to handle the policing of the island after the takeover.

But the closer Jordan looked at the plan, the less he liked it. "Clemard Charles was the problem. First, he gave me this short list. These are very bad people, they must be eliminated," he said. "Every time I saw him, he'd hand me another list. It was beginning to look like the Haitian phone book. Once a guy like Clemard Charles got in you might be looking back and thinking what a wonderful guy Baby Doc was compared with this butcher."

The invasion never happened, but Jordan's involvement in this world of coups and assassinations must be noted. Jordan died in September 2005, at age eighty-two.


There are also a number of intelligence connections to Sirhan's defense investigators, Michael McCowan and Robert Kaiser. During the trial, Kaiser discovered he was under surveillance:

In the middle of the trial, more or less, I was living in a rented house in Hollywood and I had practically nightly conversations with Dr. Diamond about the progress of the trial. Anybody who was eavesdropping on those conversations would have been able to tip off the prosecutors on the strategy of the defense.

So my suspicions were aroused when one day, I realized there was a lot of interference on the line, and I called the phone company and they said they'd send someone out to check the line. And a man came out wearing the denim clothes of a telephone repairman. He spent a bunch of time, maybe a half an hour there, and he said, "Well, things should be okay now," and then he left. Several weeks later, I was in the offices of the prosecuting attorneys, and I saw the same man coming out of one of the offices, and all of a sudden, a light went on over my head. I thought, "Wow, this guy is probably working for the DA's office and if he's tapping my phone, then the DA's office is privy to everything the defense is trying to do." I did not tell Cooper about it. I didn't tell anybody about it, I didn't know what to do.

In retrospect, I probably have to blame myself for at least not telling Cooper about it. It could have led to a mistrial if we'd been able to prove that, but then what? A mistrial, so then we retry him, you know? Cooper, at that point, didn't want to hear it; that's probably why I didn't tell Cooper.... He was tired of this trial.... I could just see him throwing up his hands."


In 1999, while preparing an updated edition of his book, Kaiser tried to find out who the telephone repairman may have been. He remembered the fifteen-man investigative unit in the DA's office under the direction of George Stoner and interviewed Clay Anderson, who was part of that team. Anderson said the likeliest candidate for the repairman was their sound technician, Fred East, now deceased. "If East was doing anything illegal, I couldn't admit it [but] I never heard a whisper about [East] doing a wire tap [of anyone working on the Sirhan defense team]. I literally cannot imagine anyone having done that."

"Fred East, Los Angeles County district attorney's investigator," was quoted in a 1964 Time magazine article on bugging devices, and it seems East was, indeed, the wire-tapping specialist at the DA's Bureau of Investigation and quite possibly the man who came to "fix" Kaiser's phone. East was also present when investigators from the DA's office asked Sandra Serrano to reconstruct her story at the Ambassador. He presumably recorded the interview and advised on the impossibility of Serrano having heard gunshots.

Kaiser later gave Sirhan's attorney Larry Teeter a written declaration, professing his belief that the prosecution had had him wiretapped.


Michael McCowan was still working on the Sirhan case in September 1970, when Sirhan's release was allegedly one of the conditions -- later denied -- for freeing the "Black September" hostages held by Palestinian guerrillas on two hijacked airliners in the Jordanian desert.

Sirhan's mother, Mary, accompanied by her son's new attorney Luke McKissack and "his investigator Michael McCowan," tried to travel to Jordan to discuss the guerrilla demands, but at Kennedy airport in New York, the State Department revoked the passports of the two men and denied Mary Sirhan permission to travel, as the trip "would be prejudicial to the foreign policy of the United States government."

McKissack was preparing Sirhan's appeal at the time, but why was McCowan still working as a pro bono investigator more than a year after the trial? McCowan's partner, Ronald Allen, put it simply: "Mike had been involved all along. You get into something and you don't want to let it down." But others accused McCowan of babysitting Sirhan for the CIA.

By September 1974, McCowan was president of the guard and patrol division of American Protection Industries, supplying the Century Plaza and LA Hilton (and good friends with Frank Hendrix of Ace Guard Services). But he was in trouble again, convicted of giving a federal receiver eleven thousand dollars in return for the security guard service contract for a federally financed housing project. He was placed on five years' probation.

In 1977, McCowan was characterized as "a private eye who specializes in tough insurance claims" in Desmond Wilcox's book, Americans. McCowan recounted a recent mission to Switzerland to retrieve stolen diamonds for an insurance company. "The wrong kind of people" knew about the cache, so he traveled back and forth disguised as a man with a broken neck, hiding the diamonds in his surgical collar and neck brace. He collected twenty-five thousand dollars for less than a week's work.

McCowan's name didn't surface again publicly until 1995, when author Dan Moldea published his book on the case, The Killing of Robert Kennedy.

The book climaxes with three interviews with Sirhan in California's Corcoran prison. In the penultimate chapter, after building a compelling case for conspiracy, Moldea made an abrupt U-turn and declared Sirhan the lone assassin. On the last page of the book, Moldea described a prison visit by McCowan, in which he tried to reconstruct the murder with Sirhan: "Suddenly, in the midst of their conversation, Sirhan started to explain the moment when his eyes met Kennedy's just before he shot him. Shocked by what Sirhan had just admitted, McCowan asked, 'Then why, Sirhan, didn't you shoot him between the eyes?' With no hesitation and no apparent remorse, Sirhan replied, 'Because that son of a bitch turned his head at the last second.'''

Robert Kaiser told Moldea of McCowan's allegations in late May 1994, and Moldea later claimed he asked Sirhan about them during their final meeting the following week. But Moldea was never allowed to see Sirhan alone, and Sirhan and his brother Adel -- who was at all three meetings -- insisted the subject was never raised. Moldea's own notes of the meeting, given to Sirhan to confirm their accuracy, also omit any mention of such a conversation.

Eight months later, Moldea finally located and interviewed McCowan by telephone. McCowan confirmed Kaiser's quote, and signed a statement verifying the story and approving its accuracy. Moldea put it in the book. In a letter to his long-time legal researcher Lynn Mangan dated June 24, 1995, Sirhan wrote the following about the matter: "I flatly deny making the statement Moldea ascribes to me in his book via Kaiser via McCowan. This quote was never mentioned by Moldea during any of his visits with me."

On McCowan, Sirhan wrote: "Whenever he came with the others (he seldom came alone) I told him all I could remember of the shooting night -- the same stuff that I told whoever asked me including the psychiatrists. McCowan was much more interested in my background than in the shooting scene. He always had that smooth chatty 'I am your best friend' attitude -- an insincere chumminess, and he made statements that included the answer or inference that he wanted to establish .... McCowan has very, very seldom come to mind over the years because I realized when I was on Death Row that he did not give a damn about me from the outset, and that he was out for all the glory he could get at my expense, like Parsons and Cooper."

McCowan told Kaiser about Sirhan's alleged comments, but only after the trial.

"McCowan did report Sirhan saying that," Kaiser told me. "And I didn't know whether to believe McCowan or not. McCowan was a puzzle to me. He had his own agenda. There's been some suggestion that Mike McCowan was, in fact, a plant in the defense investigation team for another agency."

Kaiser remembered talking to the FBI's Roger LaJeunesse in 1999, a year before the former agent died, about the curious visit from the man who came to fix his phone. When Kaiser asked him about possible FBI liaisons with the CIA, "I have a vague recollection that he said he thought Michael McCowan was working with the CIA."

It wouldn't have surprised Kaiser. "McCowan was kicked off the LAPD when he got a federal conviction for mail tampering, and he had every reason to cooperate with the CIA/FBI during the case."

Kaiser put me in touch with Pete Noyes, a veteran investigative journalist in Los Angeles, now seventy-five years old and still working in the investigative unit at the local Fox affiliate, Channel 11. Noyes was working for KNXT in Los Angeles on the night of the assassination, the same channel as Don Schulman.

Noyes confirmed that another investigator from the Treasury Department (now deceased) told him that McCowan was planted on the defense team by the CIA to find out anything he could about Sirhan. In return, after the Sirhan trial, his civil rights would be restored after his earlier mail-fraud conviction. Noyes added, "I can't understand how Kaiser didn't know McCowan was CIA, because everybody else seemed to."

Mention of the Treasury brought to mind the only Arabic page in Sirhan's notebook -- a letter written to his mother. One sentence is translated as: "I am also waiting for a check from the American Treasury Department which you are to send (P P Peggy)."


When I first tracked Michael McCowan down, he confirmed the telephone interview with Dan Moldea and stood by the alleged Sirhan confession -- "Sirhan said that to me." He said he'd be happy to meet up for an interview when I came to the States, and I asked a few final questions.

"Who were your main contacts at the LAPD?"

"Nobody. I was on the defense team. People have said I was FBI or CIA, but that's all nonsense."

"Have you ever had any indication the CIA were involved?"

"Let's talk about that when you get here."


During our interview a few months later, McCowan constantly circled back to three issues that were key to his understanding of the case -- the "many more will come" reference in Sirhan's school textbook; the disputed sighting of Sirhan following Hubert Humphrey down to San Diego; and Sirhan's disputed confession.

He reenacted Sirhan's statement three or four times but broke eye contact with me after each telling. It was the most important point in the interview and, for me, the least convincing.

Toward the end of our conversation, I brought up the accusations of Noyes, Kaiser, LaJeunesse, and others that McCowan had been a plant on the defense team for another agency.

"Roger LaJeunesse was a really good friend of mine," said McCowan. "I always liked him ... and I think he was liaison for the FBI at the Sirhan case, and he would have never said that about me. I don't believe." He seemed genuinely hurt by the idea and sure his friend would never have betrayed him like that.

"Not blow my cover!" he said, followed by a big, hearty laugh.

"And the Treasury guy saying you were CIA -- where would that come from?" I asked.

"That's interesting. Why the Treasury guy? What would it have to do with the Treasury Department?"

I offered, "Apparently, they were one of the agencies doing their own investigation for whatever reason.

"On me or on Kennedy?"

"No, no, on Sirhan .... The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- would that be part of their jurisdiction?"

"Oh, yeah, with the gun thing and all, probably. I don't know. I don't recall ever talking to the Treasury people. Ever."

Pete Noyes later told me his source was in IRS intelligence.

"Just to clarify it," I asked McCowan, "did you ever work in any way with the FBI or CIA as an informant or agent?"

"Never," said McCowan. "Didn't work with the CIA. Was never a CIA operative. Never was an FBI operative. I dealt with some FBI guys and I knew some CIA guys and I could see why somebody would think, 'Okay, I'm planted in there because I've done some strange things in my life ... My present wife thinks I'm a CIA guy.... but I'm not getting a pension! If I was getting a pension from the FBI or the CIA, my wife would know about it! And I'm not ....

"But I don't find it unreasonable for people to think that ... but I don't think they'll ever find or there is any concrete evidence that I've ever been involved with either of those agencies."

"You weren't getting compensated," I asked, "so why did you work for Sirhan from June 1968 through to possibly going out to Jordan (for free) if you weren't a CIA babysitter?"

"Okay, well here's the real simple explanation to that. When I had the opportunity to do this, being an investigator and a lawyer, it's a great opportunity to see how good you are. It was a wonderful experience for me. I didn't expect the money and I didn't write a book about it or I didn't try to promote it. I never have given an interview, really. It just was something that was exciting for me to do and I did it."

Although he seemed wary recalling the details of the case, McCowan was at his most relaxed and jovial discussing these accusations, and I found his answers pretty convincing. As he conceded, he'd done a lot of strange things in his life and seemed to have a tendency to schmooze various agencies for information, blurring the boundaries of his relationship with the prosecution, LAPD, FBI, and Secret Service; but I found nothing concrete to tie Michael McCowan to the CIA.


In the mid-nineties, Jean Scherrer, the LAPD's "man who wasn't there," also reappeared. When author C. David Heymann interviewed former LAPD officer Daniel Stewart for his book on Robert Kennedy, the former head of VIP security tagged along.

Stewart had been assigned to Good Samaritan Hospital on the night of the shooting and was present with Sergeant Bill Jordan at the autopsy. Scherrer claimed to be the LAPD official assigned to work with Kennedy, went along to the hotel because he had "a premonition," and later was Rafer Johnson's chaperone when he delivered the gun to the LAPD. As noted previously, Scherrer told Heymann that for five thousand dollars, he would go into more detail about the assassination.

In 1996, the paths of Scherrer and Michael McCowan crossed in an apparent attempt to compromise Sirhan's attorney Larry Teeter and legal researcher Rose Lynn Mangan.

Photographer Scott Enyart was suing the city of Los Angeles over pictures he had taken on the night of the shooting that the LAPD confiscated and never returned. Enyart claimed he was in the pantry, standing on a steam table at the time of the shooting, taking pictures of the senator. When the police finally returned his photographs, the images of those key moments in the pantry were missing.

Two weeks before the case began, Sirhan's researcher Rose Lynn Mangan was approached by a neighbor in Carson City, Nevada, by the name of Jerry Vaccaro. Vaccaro told Mangan he'd been interviewed during the investigation into the JFK assassination and, it turned out, he was a friend of Mike McCowan's dating back to the mail fraud charges in 1966.

Vaccaro set up a lunch meeting in Burbank with Mangan, Adel Sirhan, and Larry Teeter, and he brought along Jean Scherrer. According to Vaccaro, Mike McCowan had applied for a presidential pardon in the mid-seventies to clear the mail-fraud case from his record. The pardon was denied, but McCowan's petition included confidential FBI documents showing that McCowan had been an FBI plant on the Sirhan defense team. In return for these embarrassing documents, Scherrer and Vaccaro wanted the movie rights to Sirhan's life story.

Mangan and Teeter immediately smelled a rat and flatly turned the offer down. Teeter wrote to Police Chief Willie Williams and the DA's office documenting the offer. The timing was worrying -- it seemed an obvious "sting operation" to compromise Mangan before she testified at the Enyart trial. The only response they ever got from the authorities was a postcard of acknowledgment.

When I asked Mike McCowan about the offer, he said he'd never heard of Larry Teeter and knew nothing about it. I spoke briefly to Danny Stewart, but he didn't want to discuss the case -- "most of the LAPD guys prefer not to." He'd lost touch with Jean Scherrer, and I haven't been able to find him.


When I discussed a possible assassination plot with seasoned operatives, they invariably pointed to a man on the inside as an essential element of such an operation. He could have been an insider working for Kennedy or the hotel who knew what was going on and could have, perhaps unwittingly, passed information to the plotters or been manipulated into directing the senator into the "killing zone."

While I don't suspect Pierre Salinger of any conscious connection to the shooting, some of his business relationships are worth examining with this in mind.

In Salinger's 1995 autobiography, P.S. A Memoir, he writes of his friendship with Bob Six, the founder of Continental Airlines. In the summer of 1965, Six was setting up a subsidiary in Southeast Asia called Continental Air Services (CAS). It would provide air services to the CIA as an alternative to the agency's own carrier, Air America, which was in danger of being banned from certain countries due to regional tensions over Vietnam. CAS would have no direct links to the agency; all contracts would go through the usual cover organization, AID.

Six had meetings at the CIA with William Colby, then director of covert operations and later head of the CIA. Colby told Six he needed someone with top secret government clearance to work at a high level in the new company. Salinger had such clearance during his career in the Kennedy White House and was perfect for the job.

Salinger accepted the offer "because it sounded like an exciting job" and flew out with Six to start work at the new headquarters of CAS -- a converted motel in Vientiane, Laos. CAS would take over from Air America in supplying the U.S.-funded Meo army to the north, who were repelling North Vietnamese incursions along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Each morning, CAS DC-3s took off with sacks of "hard rice," full of military equipment to be parachuted to the Meo. According to Salinger, half the staff had CIA links. CAS also made daily reconnaissance flights, to report on North Vietnamese troop movements along the Ho Chi Minh trail, information that was used by the U.S. Air Force for their covert and illegal bombing raids in Laos.

Salinger worked for Continental Air Services for the next two years, bringing him into the same orbit as CIA operatives Tom Clines and David Morales, whom we'll discuss in the next chapter.

Another odd Salinger connection was Robert Maheu, right-hand man to Howard Hughes and the liaison connecting the CIA, John Rosselli, and the Chicago Mob during earlier attempts to assassinate Castro. During the California campaign, Kennedy staff decided to approach Hughes for a campaign contribution.

Salinger thought Hughes was approachable and got the assignment -- "I knew Hughes' right-hand man, Robert Maheu, quite well, so I called and made an appointment with him." The morning after their meeting, Maheu called to say that Hughes had agreed to give Kennedy twenty-five thousand dollars.

By 1968, the Hughes organization, through Maheu, was working hand in glove with the CIA. John Meier was Hughes's third in command and an arch-nemesis of Maheu's. In an interview with researcher Lisa Pease, Meier claimed that Maheu had connections to Thane Eugene Cesar and the upper ranks of the LAPD. According to Pease, "Meier saw enough dealings [within the Hughes organization] before and after the assassination to cause him to approach J. Edgar Hoover with what he knew ... Hoover expressed his frustration, saying words to the effect of "Yes, we know this was a Maheu operation. People think I'm so powerful, but when it comes to the CIA, there's nothing I can do."

I subsequently met Meier in person, and while he claims to know who financed, organized, and carried out the assassination of Robert Kennedy, I have yet to see any evidence of this.


When they retired, two legendary figures of American intelligence also held photographs of Robert Kennedy's autopsy in their personal safes -- FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton. As author Anthony Summers noted, of all the famous deaths in Hoover's long career, the gruesome color pictures of the RFK autopsy are the only death pictures preserved in his official and confidential files, segregated from the main FBI filing system.

Angleton's colleagues were astonished by their bizarre find in his personal safe when he retired. They had no idea why Angleton had the pictures or "why it was appropriate for CIA staff files to contain them. They were accordingly destroyed."
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Christian & Turner, Melanson & Klaber, Shane O'Sullivan. The acoustic test. The Enyart photos. Hernandez silences Sandy.

The associations of Pena and Hernandez with AID/CIA, their role in pushing another patsy, suppressing another conspiracy, deja vu all over again.

I picked up Moldea's '95 by the clean end in an Albuquerque book store and dropped it overcome with the smell.

Leamer called the year before Maher's release in the Safra sanitizing for the HSBC acquisition and laughed at my Russian mafiya scenario, and any second gun in the RFK shooting.

"My good friend did a book on that and there's nothing there."

As David says today, nothing can be believed until it has been officially denied.

Was there someone on the inside.


What if a temporary employee of advance man Jerry Bruno who was a three-time Vietnam vet checked into the Ambassador on May 28 and checked out June 6 having helped direct the candidate through the pantry away from bodyguards.

The hypothesis isn't mine nor possessed of any particular consequence apart from the author's rhetorical question above.

The principle of Ruby's wire is a perennial factor.

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Perhaps they should expand King's national holiday to include all US National Security State assassinations like the Kennedy's and many others. They could call it "All Assassinations Day".
Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there.
I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but "fear itself." But I wouldn't stop there.
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy."
Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.
Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be free."
And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.

And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.
I can remember -- I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.

And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be -- and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
We aren't going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don't know what to do. I've seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."
Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn't stop us.
And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing "Over my head I see freedom in the air." And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off," and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and then we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we've got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.
Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, "When God speaks who can but prophesy?" Again with Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me," and he's anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he's been to jail for struggling; he's been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively -- that means all of us together -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, "God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town -- downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."

Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school -- be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base....
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.
Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem -- or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.
But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles -- or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was looking down writing, and I said, "Yes." And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, your drowned in your own blood -- that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply,
Dear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School."
And she said,
While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze.
And I want to say tonight -- I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.
If I had sneezed -- If I had sneezed I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.
And they were telling me --. Now, it doesn't matter, now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Raul Pereira apparently died in 2005. This is the photo collage William Pepper showed witnesses (which includes Guy Banister and Carlos Bringuier, and apparently Frank Ragano). Raul is the man in the middle-right photo.


Attached Files
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Here is that 1993 Steve Tompkins article Pepper writes about:

Army feared King, secretly watched him

Spying on blacks started 75 years ago

Stephen G. Tompkins

Sunday, March 21, 1993

The intelligence branch of the United States Army spied on the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for three generations. Top secret, often illegal, intrusions into the lives of black Americans began more than 75 years ago and often focused on black churches in the South and their ministers. The spying was born of a conviction by top Army intelligence officers that black Americans were ripe for subversion - first by agents of the German Kaiser, then by Communists, later by the Japanese and eventually by those opposed to the Vietnam War.
At first, the Army used a reporting network of private citizens that included church members, black businessmen such as Memphis's Robert R. Church Jr., and black educators like the Hampton Institute's Roscoe C. Simmons. It later employed cadres of infiltrators, wiretaps and aerial photography by U2 spy planes.
As the civil rights movement merged with anti-war protests in the late 1960s, some Army units began supplying sniper rifles and other weapons of war to civilian police departments. Army Intelligence began planning for what some officers believed would soon be armed rebellion.
By March 1968, King was preparing to lead a march in Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers and another march a few weeks later that would swamp Washington with people demanding less attention to Vietnam and more resources for America's poor.
By then the Army's intelligence system was keenly focused on King and desperately searching for a way to stop him.
On April 4, 1968, King was killed by a sniper's bullet at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
In the 25 years since, investigators have focused on the role the FBI and other police agencies played in King's life. Few have paid attention to the Army's activities.
Some of the Army's spying against anti-war and civil rights groups became public knowledge in 1971 congressional hearings. But key intelligence officers avoided testifying, leaving the full story untold.
The Commercial Appeal's 16-month investigation of the Army's secret spy war with black citizens provides a first-time look inside the Army's largest-ever espionage operation within the United States.
Much of the story was pieced together from a trail of memos, memoirs, diaries and meeting notes scattered around the country in military archives, the Library of Congress, presidential libraries and private collections. Some of the documents are still classified. Other pieces came from interviews with nearly 200 participants, including the recollections of several dozen Army agents still living in this country and in Mexico.
This newspaper's investigation uncovered no hard evidence that Army Intelligence played any role in King's assassination, although Army agents were in Memphis the day he was killed.
But the review of thousands of government documents and interviews with people involved in the spying revealed that by early 1968 Army Intelligence regarded King as a major threat to national security.
A threat
Army Intelligence opened its file on King in 1947 with a photograph showing him and other Morehouse College students leaving a meeting of Mrs. Dorothy Lilley's Intercollegiate Council. She was a suspected Communist, according to the file on King kept by the 111th Military Intelligence Group at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
Reports on King's activities were added periodically through the 1950s, but comments in his intelligence file indicate Army officers at first considered him more of a phenomenon than a threat.
Army spies pegged King as a Communist tool in the fall of 1957 when he spoke at the 25th anniversary of the integrated Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn. Army Intelligence had watched the school for years.
A Sept. 6, 1940, report from Maj. G. R. Carpenter, assistant chief of staff for intelligence for the Sixth Corps Area in Chicago, said the school's executive director, Myles Horton, and Rev. Claude Williams of Memphis, a New York native known for his "Communistic activities," were working together to teach "a course of instruction to develop Negro organizers in the southern cotton states."
King's visit was given extra weight because of an FBI report received the previous July of his Baltimore meeting with Stanley D. Levison, a New York millionaire who had been under bureau surveillance as a Communist fund-raiser since June 9, 1952. Levison and King formed a long friendship and business relationship.
The suspicion with which top Army officers viewed blacks had its genesis in simple ignorance but gained credence because of real and perceived links between black civil rights activists and Communists and other subversives.
From the Civil War through Vietnam, Army officers were almost exclusively white and lived on military posts where contact with ordinary black Americans was virtually nonexistent. As late as 1967, only 3.49 percent of the Army's 143,517 officers were black. Few Army commanders understood that lynchings, denial of basic human rights and economic repression were at the root of black unrest.
Successive generations of Army leaders saw black Americans in the same light as Maj. R. M. Howell, assistant chief of staff for intelligence at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
"Communism has chosen the Southern Negro as the American group most likely to respond to its revolutionary appeal," Howell told the War Department in a Dec. 5, 1932, intelligence report.
"Anti-communism" became a "secular religion" for most Army officers after World War I, according to Dr. Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence school instructor who blew the whistle in 1970 on the Army's domestic spying on anti-war groups.
"Anyone who appeared soft on communism" soon found his career in limbo, Pyle, now a professor at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., told The Commercial Appeal.
As King gained prominence as a civil rights leader, intelligence officers also came to believe he was a man who sparked violence wherever he went, his nonviolent philosophy notwithstanding.
For example, an agent of the 113th Intelligence Detachment overheard King at a January 1963 dinner at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago telling "two black men and a pretty white woman that Project C was ready to go," according to the surveillance report the agent filed.
A followup report dated Jan. 24 describes Project C as "plans for massive disruption of public and private enterprise in Birmingham."
Three months later, King entered Birmingham. Television screens filled with pictures of marching black elementary school children being herded into police wagons while their parents were bombarded with high-powered water guns as they left the 16th Street Baptist Church. Riots broke out and Ku Klux Klansmen patroled the night streets with shotguns.
On May 12, the White House ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Earle Wheeler to send 3,000 men from Fort Benning, Ga., to Birmingham. Maj. Gen. Charles Billingslea, commander of the Army's 2nd Division, had asked for help in Birmingham because "I may have a full-scale revolt on my hands down here."
Portions of the monthlong Birmingham disturbances were recorded by U2 spy planes taking off from the supersecret "Site 98" outside Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Over the next seven years, at least 26 other such domestic spy flights by U2s and at least two involving the more advanced SR71 were requested by Army commanders and flown by the Air Force, according to classified documents reviewed by The Commercial Appeal.
These expensive spy flights illustrate Army commanders' growing fear of domestic upheaval as King's influence grew.
When King turned against the war in mid-1965, it merely made him that much more dangerous to some Army officers.
"To career officers, these (King's and other black militant) attacks were tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war," Pyle said in an interview. "Since the enemy was a Communist government, suspicions of an international conspiracy were confirmed."
Maj. Gen. William P. Yarborough, the Army's top spy, became convinced that either the Chinese or Soviets, through Cuba, bankrolled King and other black radicals.
Yarborough's evidence came from Lt. Gen. Marcelino Garcia Barragan, the Mexican minister of national defense.
Through a trusted aide, Garcia gave Army Intelligence a report on June 29, 1967, that said Mexican Army Intelligence had discovered militant black Americans receiving combat training and secret funding from the Havana-based Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS), financed by Communist China's military intelligence agency.
The report said, "American Negroes (were) sighted (with) automatic weapons/unarmed combat training/drilling evident" at an urban guerrilla training camp near Chiapas in southern Mexico.
OLAS's aim was to "commence guerrilla wars throughout the hemisphere to destabilize United States-backed governments . . . and (OLAS) has pledged its support to the Negro liberation movement."
Stokely Carmichael, co-chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a leader of the black power movement, was among a number of black Americans associated with the OLAS.
And Carmichael increasingly was seen in King's company.
Army Security Agency microphones recorded Carmichael trying to warn King that he was making powerful enemies during this exchange in King's Ebenezer Baptist Church office in Atlanta in early 1967:
Carmichael: You making a lot of new enemies. Not sure (unintelligible) Birmingham as dangerous as people you're pissing off. The man don't care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers, you got trouble.
King: I told you in Los Angeles I can do nothing else.
In speech after speech the year before he died, King tied the growing disillusionment of inner-city and rural Southern blacks to the country's preoccupation with Vietnam.
On April 4, 1967, he told 3,000 people at New York's Riverside Church:
"A few years ago, it seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program.
"And then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor, so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube . . .
"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now."
The speech shook the world. Life magazine called it "a demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi."
Dispatches from the 525th Military Intelligence Group (MIG) in Vietnam reported that "Negro troops are unsettled" by articles on King's speech in Pacific Stars & Stripes and their hometown newspapers.
Maj. Gen. Joseph A. McChristian, Army chief of intelligence in Vietnam, sent Yarborough a top secret April 14 dispatch that "treasonous propaganda" from "a group calling itself Blacks Against Negative Dying (BAND) is being mailed to Negro troops telling them they are killing the wrong enemy."
The dispatch also included reports of two instances of enlisted soldiers shooting their officers. McChristian also said three black soldiers near Ankhe had offered a $200 pool for the execution of a white captain with the First Cavalry Division.
Desperate men
To many, King's shift in direction served as a lens to focus the nation's compassion and sense of justice on resolving its inner conflicts.
But Yarborough and other intelligence officers heard only the voice of an enemy who was gaining ground.
By summer 1967, the ground was shaking.
"Tank crews blast away at entrenched snipers with 50-caliber machineguns" was not a headline from Vietnam but from Detroit, where 43 people died and $45 million in property was destroyed. Rioters burned and plundered 100 other American cities during that long, hot summer.
Detroit was particularly significant to Army leaders, not just for the bloodshed and damage but the results of a secret survey.
After the riot, 496 black males arrested for firing rifles and shotguns at Army troops were herded into a warehouse north of Detroit. They were interviewed by agents of the Army's Psychological Operations Group, dressed as civilians, in conjunction with the Behavior Research Institute of Detroit.
The arrested men were asked dozens of questions, but the responses 363 of them gave to the question "Who is your favorite Negro leader?" stunned Army Intelligence.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the clear favorite - 178 of the men named him. Men considered more radical, such as Carmichael and Malcolm X, came in a distant second and fourth.
Army Intelligence leaders repeatedly used this survey to signify the danger King represented to national security.
King really scared top Army commanders on Dec. 4, 1967, when he announced his intent to lead a poor people's march on Washington the next spring to focus public attention on "total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."
King's call for a "Poor People's Campaign" came on the heels of the nation's worst summer of violence in three years and an October anti-war protest in which 200,000 demonstrators had besieged the Pentagon as alarmed Army brass watched from the roof.
Civilian authority's responses to these upheavals had shaken the faith of Army leaders in the government's stability. Top officers believed the years of violence and protest had weakened the nation's social and political foundations.
The escalating war in Vietnam, meanwhile, had stretched the Army's ability to keep peace at home, safeguard Europe from the Soviets and fight in Southeast Asia, secret documents show.
Now King, in a December press conference, promised "the worst chaos, hatred and violence any nation has ever encountered" if America did not heed his demands for change.
Memos obtained by The Commercial Appeal reveal Army leaders were increasingly frustrated with top civilian Pentagon officials who ignored warnings that black unrest was Communist-inspired, damaging morale in Vietnam and leading to armed revolt at home.
By December 1967, some officers felt desperate. Among them were Yarborough, who had been named assistant chief of staff for intelligence in 1966, and Maj. Gen. William Blakefield, chief of U.S. Army Intelligence Command, who reported to Yarborough.
"The Army was over a barrel," Yarborough said in an interview at his home in Southern Pines, N.C.
"Blacks were using the uncertainty of the Vietnam period and taking advantage of it," Yarborough said. "They were attacking the weak point in the line, which is tactically a good idea, but you couldn't do it without arousing animosity of all kinds.
"You couldn't expect people to be rational and look at this in a cool way," he said. "We were trying to fight a war at the same time where the home base was being eroded."
Army officers "take an oath to protect the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic," Yarborough said. "You see people breaking windows and throwing Molotov cocktails, snipers shooting policemen, people who are outwardly trying to shut the government down and announce that is what they are going to do, you have a feeling that this is perhaps a domestic enemy."
Blakefield told Army historians in 1975: "There was a fear among high- ranking Army officers that the long-term judgment of historians might be that the Army, in the late 1960s, failed to protect the people of this country, as they had in other times of crisis."
To stop that "enemy," Yarborough and Blakefield used the resources of the largest domestic spy network ever assembled in a free country.
The messiah
Though many black leaders spoke out against the Vietnam War, Army Intelligence focused on King, whom Yarborough described as "the messiah for his people, his own personal qualities notwithstanding."
King wasn't the first black leader, nor the first in his family, to be targeted for surveillance by the Army's spy agencies.
In September 1917, the War Department's Military Intelligence Division (MID) opened a file on King's maternal grandfather, Rev. A. D. Williams.
As pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Williams played a key role in Atlanta's black community. He was the Atlanta NAACP's first president in 1910 and an officer in the National Baptist Convention, the largest black religious organization of the time.
During World War I, Military Intelligence targeted black ministers and others as troublemakers or friends, depending on whether they worked as MID informants. Memphis businessman Robert R. Church Jr. supplied MID Maj. Walter H. Loving with names of prominent blacks in each major Southern city, intelligence files show.
One of the first items in Williams's intelligence file was a top-secret telegram sent to the Army's Southern Department headquarters in Atlanta. The telegram said in part:
"It behooves us to find out all we possibly can about this colored preacher."
Later, a memo in Williams's file labeled him a "radical Negro agitator" for leading a campaign to create a black high school.
His NAACP involvement also earned him the attention of Army intelligence officers, who believed the civil rights group was "an agitative pro-Soviet organization for propagandizing the Negroes," according to a 1926 report by Lt. Col. Walter O. Boswell, Army Intelligence executive officer at the War Department.
King's father, M. L. King Sr., eventually succeeded Williams as pastor at Ebenezer - and inherited his own Army watchers, Army Intelligence records show.
King Sr.'s participation in the National Negro Congress tarred him with the Communist brush as well.
Col. Walter A. Buck, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Third Army, at Fort McPherson in Atlanta said in a March 1947 report to the War Department that the NNC "serves as the staff unit of the Communist Party among Negroes."
The NNC's "program includes the ultimate founding of a Negro state in the South after the revolutionary overthrow of white landlords and capitalists," Buck said.
Of the three large black organizations active at the start of World War II - the NAACP, the National Urban League and the NNC - the National Negro Congress was considered the most activist and radical. Communist Party supporters gradually took it over, according to most histories, and a split with anti-war Stalinists at the start of WWII led to the group's decline.
Mere association with King's Ebenezer Baptist could put a person in Army Intelligence dossiers. For example, Army Intelligence files contain surveillance reports on Lillian D. Watkins, the church's financial secretary, and Felton Sims, the custodian. The only apparent justification was their employment by M. L. King Sr.
Army agents also watched an office two blocks from Ebenezer, which an April 1947 report from Third Army headquarters described as "the Auburn Avenue Branch (Negro) headquarters of the Communist Party of Georgia." Surveillance reports show local Communist head Dr. Ellwood Grant Boddie, a black dentist, visited Ebenezer regularly.
Not a clue
Despite the years of watching the King family, top Army officers were rattled by the prospect of Martin Luther King Jr. leading a horde into the nation's capital again.
An intelligence analysis distributed during a Dec. 12, 1967, conference at the Pentagon described King's plans for the march on Washington as "a devastating civil disturbance whose sole purpose is to shut down the United States government."
The analysis described King as "a Negro who repeatedly has preached the message of Hanoi and Peking."
Some of the Army's best officers attended that meeting to discuss "target city priorities" in light of "King's plans to ignite violence and mayhem" throughout the United States in April, according to a report on the conference.
But the meeting broke up in frustration, one participant said.
"Looking back, I remember nobody had any answers," he said. "We had all these West Point geniuses who could lead divisions. But when it came to stopping Dr. King, they didn't have a clue."
Nevertheless, Army Intelligence intensified its surveillance of King and covertly dispatched Green Beret teams to make street maps, identify landing zones for riot troops and scout sniper sites in 39 potential racially explosive cities, including Memphis.
The 20th Special Forces Group, headquartered in Alabama, seemed perfect for these scouting missions in the South. The 20th SFG was a National Guard unit, part-time warriors who lived and worked in many of the communities where black unrest was centered.
Green Berets from the 20th often spied on King and other black Americans during the 1960s, military records and interviews show.
Some Vietnam Special Forces veterans - particularly those who had worked in murky clandestine operations with the CIA, the Special Operations Group (SOG) or the top secret Detachment B-57 - were "dumped" into the 20th "for safe- keeping," according to a former major with Army counterintelligence.
"They couldn't let a lot of these crazy guys back into the states because they couldn't forget their training," he said. "Birmingham (20th SFG headquarters) became Saigon. The rural South was in-country and at times things got out of hand."
Many members of the 20th SFG during the '60s still live in the South, some under new identities. Some of them spoke to The Commercial Appeal only if their names were not used or locations revealed.
A former 20th Special Forces sergeant from Detachment B-6, Company B, who was stationed in Columbus, Miss., said the unit's undercover missions "didn't peak into windows, if that's what you mean."
"But a lot of us knew guys who knew things. You know, Klan guys who hated niggers, so we'd ask them about where nigger troublemakers might meet, and we'd go there and then file a report. It wasn't any big deal."
But it became a big deal.
In return for paramilitary training at a farm in Cullman, Ala., Klansmen soon became the 20th's intelligence network, whose information was passed to the Pentagon.
Bill Wilkinson, chief of the Klan's Invisible Empire branch in 1983, told United Press International (UPI) that the group no longer had a training camp at Cullman.
"And they're not paramilitary. We called them 'Klan Special Forces,' " he said.
While Army commanders chewed on the King problem, another one came to a head: The sinkhole of Vietnam had sapped the military's pool of available, experienced manpower.
A grim group of Army generals received that secret news on Feb. 8, 1968, in a bugproof conference room at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., headquarters of the U.S. Strike Command, responsible for the defense of the continental United States.
Two secrets in particular chilled the combat veterans: Gen. William C. Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam and a close West Point classmate of Yarborough's, badly needed reinforcements despite a publicly optimistic report he had given President Johnson just a few weeks before.
Yet there weren't enough troops left in the United States to control a nationwide outbreak of protests, let alone the armed revolt many officers expected.
"We knew the whole country was a tinderbox," said Ralph M. Stein, a Pace University law professor who in 1968 was the top Army Intelligence analyst in the Counterintelligence Analysis Bureau at the Pentagon.
"Once we recognized the magnitude of actual civil disturbances, based on our worst possible scenarios, we didn't have enough combat-type troops to react to widespread riots," Stein said.
"At one point, we even considered pulling troops out of Vietnam or withdrawing units from the Seventh Army (in Europe)."
Upon his return from the MacDill meeting, Yarborough told a top aide: "I can't believe what sorry shape we're in."
Shadowing King
But Yarborough and other intelligence officers had little time to bemoan their situation.
King was busy building momentum for his poor people's march and trying to maintain a bridge between moderate civil rights forces like the NAACP and his own Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the increasingly militant Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown.
King did not have an easy task, as illustrated by a recording made Feb. 7, 1968, by Army Security Agency buggers.
Army undercover agents had followed Carmichael and King to the Pitts Motor Hotel in northwest Washington, where the two activists met in Brown's room. Carmichael had recently returned from Hanoi.
Brown and Carmichael argued against turning the other cheek in the upcoming Washington march.
Brown: We stop the fuckers here. Right here.
Carmichael: No more Uncle Tom, dammit. This let-them-shit-on-you shit . . . ain't working. You know it and so does everybody.
King: Is killing and burning (unintelligible) in your own people's streets your answer?
Carmichael: It's time. We can't wait anymore, and the people (unintelligible) us are tired of waiting.
King: Nobody is as tired (of waiting) as me.
Carmichael: Then let's shut the honkies down. They bring the Army, we fight the fuckers with ours. We got guns. Marching for peace - shit, you seen it. What's it got us?
An hour after that exchange, Army agents listened to King tell 600 people at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church:
"We seek to say to the nation in our campaign that if you don't straighten up, then you're writing your own obituary."
Intelligence officers and other high-ranking government officials found it hard to mesh such rhetoric with King's avowed nonviolence.
In a Feb. 14 memo to President Johnson, White House aide Larry Temple called King's philosophy "criminal disobedience" and urged the president to ''publicly unmask this type of conduct for what it really is."
On Feb. 15 at Fort Holabird, Md., Blakefield met with three of Yarborough's top aides - Herbert Taylor, special assistant to the Army's top spy; Dayton Cassidy of the Counterintelligence Analysis Branch; and Frederick H. Gaston Jr., Army Intelligence Systems Analysis Group.
A still classified memo of the meeting said Blakefield wanted a ''systematic analysis of King's plans, manpower and weapons we might see in the streets" of Washington in April.
On Feb. 19, King went to Miami to drum up support for the "Poor People's Campaign." Armed with a new $230,000 Ford Foundation grant, he told a group of black ministers that American capitalism must be reorganized.
Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles of Memphis, who was in the audience, later that afternoon told King about 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers who were striking against the city for refusing to recognize their union. Kyles, joining Rev. James Lawson, asked King to come to Memphis to support the strikers.
A Feb. 22 report in King's Army Intelligence file states: "Indications from reliable source are MLK will be in Memphis to support union striking city."
Armed camp
While Army Intelligence scrambled to develop hard information that could be used to counter King's Washington plans, others made their own preparations for what many feared would be another summer of violence.
Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh, who saw his city become a war zone in July 1967, asked the city's Common Council to authorize a $9 million bond issue to buy machineguns, M-1 carbines, gas masks, flak vests, 50,000 rounds of ammunition, infrared sniper scopes, tear gas guns and grenades, 50 new scout cars, eight armored vehicles, a helicopter and spotter plane.
Mayors and police officials in other cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Newark also began buying high-powered rifles, machineguns, armored vehicles and tear gas grenades.
In Memphis, new Fire and Police Commissioner Frank C. Holloman began outfitting five new anti-sniper squads with 30.06 rifles with scopes, the civilian version of the rifle used by Army sniper teams.
While big city officials were making these public moves, some Army units secretly took matters in their own hands.
In February 1968, the 113th Military Intelligence Group (MIG) at Fort Sheridan, Ill., outside Chicago, began supplying the "Legion of Justice" terrorist group with tear gas, Mace, electronic surveillance equipment and money to harass anti-war groups.
Led by Chicago lawyer S. Thomas Sutton, who recruited Chicago police intelligence officers, the Legion used wiretaps supplied by 113th agents to break into and bug the offices of anti-war groups.
In Baltimore, the Inspectional Services Division of the city police received secret funding from the 109th MIG to spy on area black radicals.
In Washington, the Metro Police received $120,000 in 1967 and $150,000 in 1968 from Army Intelligence. Undercover police intelligence officers met regularly with 116th MIG agents. They maintained an index card file of 21,000 suspected black and anti-war radicals.
Teams of police and Army Intelligence officers followed and photographed King during a prayer march in Arlington Cemetery on Feb. 6, 1968, and his sermon the following day at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church. The officers later used the pictures for dart practice.
While these Army Intelligence units secretly worked with civilian police departments, other Army officers supplied automatic weapons and even rocket launchers to the black market, where they often ended up in the hands of militants, white and black.
Stolen or missing Army weapons had been sold to extremists and rioters as far back as 1940, according to Army records.
In May 1963, a carload of white men using Army-issue 45-caliber pistols with Army bullets shot up and firebombed the farm of Hartman Turnbow, who had dared to be the first black in Holmes County, Miss., to register to vote in the 20th Century.
The pistols had been "misplaced" from an Alabama armory and sold to Ku Klux Klansmen from Greenwood, Miss., by an Army National Guard sergeant, an Army officer familiar with the case said. The weapons were never officially recorded as lost, the officer said.
The Defense Supply Agency between 1958-63 supplied riot shotguns, M-1 rifles with bayonets and Army radios to police and highway patrol units in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. But the practice was discontinued in 1964 because "these weapons are finding their way into the hands of undesirables or extremists," an October 1963 Army Provost Marshal report said.
Many weapons turned up "lost" during training exercises in the United States and Mexico, according to a classified Justice Department file reviewed by The Commercial Appeal.
During a 1967 training exercise at Camp Shelby, Miss., involving Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard troops, soldiers of the 20th Special Forces Group lost "70 M-16 rifles and assorted .45 pistols and ammunition," a report in the file says. An undetermined number of M-72 light anti-tank weapon rockets also were "lost during the exercises," the report added.
The Justice Department file was put together in preparation for the trial of Maj. Gen. Carl C. Turner, provost marshal of the Army. Turner, the Army's top law enforcement officer, pleaded guilty in 1971 to selling firearms illegally to the Kansas City and Chicago police departments.
Turner also tried in February 1968 to secretly sell machineguns and sniper rifles to Memphis's assistant police chief Henry E. Lux at a Sacramento conference on civil disturbances sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Lux turned down the offer.
The Army had always battled theft of its weapons, but now powerful tools of death were turning up in the hands of growing numbers of people fighting the government.
Destiny nears
In public appearances around the country, King continued to hammer away at the "terrible, tragic, unjust war taking place in Vietnam" and to drum up interest in his "Poor People's Campaign."
King's rallying cry came against the backdrop of Westmoreland's request for still more troops in Vietnam and the 1968 presidential primaries. Anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy won a startling 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire's primary. Sen. Robert Kennedy took the cue to get into the race, promising to end the war and heal the nation.
And the war was going badly. The Tet Offensive had shattered Westmoreland's forecast of impending victory. More than 40,000 soldiers had deserted in 1967, and drug use among Army troops in Vietnam had gotten so bad that the 135th Military Intelligence Group in Saigon concluded in February 1968 that "we are approaching the stage where in some maneuver battalions whole squads are infested (with drugs)."
Meanwhile, the Army had finished its intelligence outlines on 124 cities with the potential for violence that summer. The outlines included maps with all "sensitive areas" marked, landing zones, secret storage sites for riot gear and weapons, and files on all civic leaders and known troublemakers.
Details of those plans were kept secret from civilian law enforcement agencies for fear of leaks. Still, at least the Army felt better prepared for King.
But before Washington came Memphis.
At 11:06 a.m. on March 28, King linked arms with Rev. Ralph Abernathy, his trusted colleague in the SCLC, and Bishop B. Julian Smith of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and led a march in support of Memphis's striking sanitation workers.
The peaceful demonstration soon turned violent, leaving a 17-year-old dead, 60 injured and 120 in police custody.
Later, in his eighth-floor room at the Rivermont Hotel, King warned Memphis's black leaders that he would not participate in another march unless it was better organized.
An FBI report on the Memphis violence condemned King.
"This clearly demonstrates that acts of so-called nonviolence advocated by King cannot be controlled. The same thing could happen in his planned massive civil disobedience for Washington in April."
In Washington the day after the march, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-Va.) said, "The nation was given a preview of what may be in store for this city by the outrageous and despicable riot that Martin Luther King helped bring about in Memphis . . ."
King flew to Atlanta that day, but promised to return to Memphis the following week to lead another march.
On March 31, the president of the United States became a casualty of Vietnam - Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.
On April 3, King returned to Memphis. Army agents from the 111th Military Intelligence Group shadowed his movements and monitored radio traffic from a sedan crammed with electronic equipment.
Eight Green Beret soldiers from an "Operation Detachment Alpha 184 Team" were also in Memphis carrying out an unknown mission. Such "A-teams" usually contained 12 members.
On April 4, at 6:01 p.m., a bullet from a 30.06 rifle equipped with a scope struck King down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
The man whose fingerprints were found on that type gun - James Earl Ray - pleaded guilty to King's murder and is serving a 99-year prison sentence. Ray bought the rifle from a sporting goods store in Birmingham, FBI investigators said.
On Oct. 3, Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark sent a report to the White House. The predicted summer of violence that was to have begun with King's April 22 demonstrations in Washington never happened, the report said.
Rioting had broken out in several cities as news of King's assassination spread, but "there was a clear and significant decline in the number and severity of riots and disorders this summer," Clark said.

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