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The FBI's role

The FBI's role

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Published by MansonCaseFile
J. Edgar Hoover hated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover wasn’t necessarily a racist; he hated anybody who challenged his almost omnipotent power over the American justice system. Hoover didn’t like civil rights leaders, he didn’t like antiwar protesters, he didn’t like social activists and he especially didn’t like commies. And if you were part of the FBI in the 1960s, then you had better think the same way. J. Edgar Hoover didn’t like inaction, either. If he didn’t like you, he didn’t just sit around and stew about it, he did something about it. So, when men like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young said the government was part of a conspiracy to murder King, the government they were talking about was the one run by J. Edgar Hoover.
J. Edgar Hoover hated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover wasn’t necessarily a racist; he hated anybody who challenged his almost omnipotent power over the American justice system. Hoover didn’t like civil rights leaders, he didn’t like antiwar protesters, he didn’t like social activists and he especially didn’t like commies. And if you were part of the FBI in the 1960s, then you had better think the same way. J. Edgar Hoover didn’t like inaction, either. If he didn’t like you, he didn’t just sit around and stew about it, he did something about it. So, when men like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young said the government was part of a conspiracy to murder King, the government they were talking about was the one run by J. Edgar Hoover.

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Published by: MansonCaseFile on Aug 03, 2011
Copyright:Public Domain

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The F.B.I.'s Role
J.Edgar Hoover 
J. Edgar Hoover hated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoover wasn’t necessarily a racist; hehated anybody who challenged his almost omnipotent power over the American justicesystem. Hoover didn’t like civil rights leaders, he didn’t like antiwar protesters, he didn’tlike social activists and he especially didn’t like commies. And if you were part of theFBI in the 1960s, then you had better think the same way. J. Edgar Hoover didn’t likeinaction, either. If he didn’t like you, he didn’t just sit around and stew about it, he didsomething about it. So, when men like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young said thegovernment was part of a conspiracy to murder King, the government they were talkingabout was the one run by J. Edgar Hoover.King first came under scrutiny in 1961 when Hoover asked a subordinate for thedepartment’s file on the civil rights leader. In a memo to his supervisor, Agent G.H.Scatterday mentions King briefly: “King thanked Socialist Workers Party for support of  bus boycott.” Scatterday’s report goes on to say King “was not investigated by the FBI”to which J. Edgar Hoover is reported to have asked “why not?” When Hoover asked whynot, his subordinates got the point and a file was opened on King. An unclassifiedmemorandum sent up the chain of command and now available in the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act reading room shows someone has highlighted King’s name onScatterday’s memo and written “Do we have more details?”Under the direction of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the FBI stepped up itsobservation of King in 1962 and 1963. Kennedy at one time asked the FBI to develop a plan for covert bugging and electronic surveillance, but later backed down and told theFBI to stop its activities toward King. At the time, Kennedy was concerned about King’sties to the communists and socialists who were actively trying to recruit the Americanunder classes. King himself reportedly attended a Communist Party education programand gave the closing address at one seminar in the 1950s.
 
Robert Kennedy
Without Kennedy’s knowledge, the FBI began an illegal counterintelligence programregarding King and the SCLC. “The program was intended to discredit and neutralize thecivil rights leader," the FBI post-assassination report said. Hoover was greatly afraid of communists and was convinced that the reds were attempting to “infiltrate” black societyto woo them to the communist side. Having watched Castro – who exhibited nocommunist leanings while he led his revolution – Hoover was determined not be fooledagain when his advisors reported that communist attempts to win support among blackswere met with failure.Stung by Hoover’s ire over botching the Castro takeover of Cuba, FBI underlings beganto step-up their activities regarding King and the SCLC. Hoover himself never waveredin his belief that King was a communist, but he refused to allow his agency to act solelyon his belief. At first, his subordinates told him that communists did not control the civilrights movement and Hoover said they were wrong. The aides quickly reversed courseand said, the boss was right; King was a communist. But Hoover dismissed the claim because no one had provided proof. The only alternative, the deputy directors felt, was to beef up surveillance of King to find the dirt Hoover believed to his core to be there. In1963, Hoover requested for a second time permission to bug King’s residence andoffices. This time, Bobby Kennedy agreed, with the caveat that the bugs would beremoved by the end of the year if no concrete evidence of communist infiltration wasfound. With the assassination of his brother, Bobby forgot all about the bugs and Hoover declined to remind his boss. The bugs remained in place and under observation.A month before John Kennedy’s murder, the report based on this increased surveillancewas presented to J. Edgar Hoover. “The attached analysis of Communism and the NegroMovement is highly explosive,” wrote Assistant to the Director A.H. Belmont. “It can beregarded as a personal attack on Martin Luther King. There is no doubt it will have aheavy impact on the Attorney General and anyone else to whom we disseminate it. It islabeled TOP SECRET.” On his personal copy of the memorandum, Hoover wrote: “I amglad that at last you recognize that there exists such influence.”Sparks began to fly between Hoover and King personally in 1962. Interestingly, it wasKing who threw the first punch by publicly questioning the FBI’s handling of a racialincident in Albany, Georgia. Hoover shot back by testifying before a Congressionalcommittee on his belief that communists had infiltrated and were directing the civil rightsmovement. King responded to this allegation by accusing Hoover of fanning the flames
 
of racism and placating right-wing reactionaries.Later, Hoover told a group of reporters that King was “the most notorious liar in thecountry.” King and Hoover reached a fragile truce in late 1964 after they met face-to-face in an attempt to iron out differences. About this meeting, Hoover told underlings “hehad taken the ball away from King at the beginning.” For his part, King apologized for remarks he had made and thanked Hoover for the work the FBI was doing to investigatecivil rights violations. The cease-fire lasted just two weeks. On December 14, 1964, theSouthern Christian Educational Fund repeated King’s criticisms of Hoover and calledupon supporters to write President Johnson to have the president fire Hoover. Themudslinging continued over the years, including one episode where Hoover met with anAtlanta official in Washington for President Johnson’s inauguration. Hoover leakedunflattering details of King’s personal life obtained through wiretaps to this official, whoreturned to Atlanta and passed them on to Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., who thenconfronted his son.While King was sparring with the FBI and gradually shifting his focus from civil rights toa more general human rights/anti-war perspective, James Earl Ray was maintaining a low profile and slowly working his way north toward Canada. His escape from the Missouri prison caused little concern and resulted in almost no news. Wanted posters were printedwith Ray’s prison mug shots, but the first press run included the wrong fingerprints – something that gives conspiracy theorists fuel for their fires. A reward was offered for hisreturn: $50.
FBI Wanted poster 
Ray managed to get a number of menial jobs on his journey north and his employersremember him as a hard worker and nice person. Most were shocked to find later the manthey hired was wanted for murdering Martin Luther King Jr. James, who had always been something of a miser, managed to put together a decent nest egg through hard work,

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