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Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

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Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Sun 23 Jun 2013, 8:22 pm

I posted the following on my MLK blog a while ago and thought I'd share:

Gerald McKnight is the author of one my all-time favourite books, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why, which is, for my money, the best critique of the official investigation into JFK's death ever written. So I was quite excited to come across a copy of his hard to find (in the UK anyway) 1998 book, The Last Crusade: Martin Luther King Jr., the FBI, and the Poor People's Campaign.

Man was I disappointed when I came across this passage: 

“...there is nothing in the released documents to support, and persuasive evidence to reject, assertions that the FBI and the MPD conspired to assassinate King. Had Hoover and the FBI elites actually planned to neutralize King by assassination, it is reasonable to assume they would have called off their COINTELPRO campaign against him and destroyed these records once the decision was finalized. Any truly independent federal investigation into the King assassination uncovering this kind of incriminating evidence would place the FBI at the top of its list of prime suspects. It is equally untenable and baseless to imagine that the Hoover FBI, a virtually independent security state within a state that had succeeded so spectacularly over almost 50 years under the operational premise that control was the name of the game, would conspire with parties outside the bureau to kill King.” (pgs. 81-82)

When I read the above, I found myself saying out loud, “Are you serious, Jerry?” because I just don't see how the man who wrote Breach of Trust could also be responsible for writing such unmitigated nonsense. There is, in my opinion, nothing about his argument that is reasonable or logical.

Firstly, I have no idea how anyone could attempt to use Hoover's well-documented hateful campaign against Dr. King as some kind of “proof” that Hoover was not responsible for his murder. To me that's like saying you can rule out the KKK as having any involvement because they've spent a century persecuting African Americans and allegedly made numerous attempts on King's life! Seriously, does that make sense?

Secondly, despite McKnight's claim, destroying the records of its campaign would not have removed the FBI from any list of suspects. Why? Because it was never a secret anyway. Officials of the Justice Department and everyone in the SCLC knew about the surveillance and wiretaps and Hoover had been feeding his “friends” in the press derogatory information about King for years. Hell, in 1964 he publicly called Dr. King “the most notorious liar in the country.” And because it was no secret, destroying records would actually have cast more suspicion on the FBI, not less. On top of that, Hoover never had to fear being investigated because he was always going to be the investigator. He would lead the Bureau's investigation down the lone nut path and, just as they had done with the Kennedy assassination, the mainstream media would dutifully play along. And once the fix was in, the cover-up became institutional and there was never going to be a “truly independent federal investigation”. Did anyone ever seriously believe that the HSCA would find the FBI responsible for the assassination? It was never gonna happen! Not even if the bullet that Killed King had Hoover's fingerprint on it. It was always going to be a case of the fox investigating the chicken coop and Hoover was smart enough and arrogant enough to know it.

Finally, this stuff about conspiring with “parties outside the bureau”, which is presumably meant to dispel the notion of Memphis Police involvement, ignores the obvious fact that the director of the MPD, Frank Holloman, was a 25-year veteran of the FBI who, as McKnight admits, “was professionally close to Hoover, having served seven years as inspector in charge of the director's Washington office.” (p. 47) On top of that, key members of the MPD investigation like N.E. Zachary and Glynn King had attended the FBI academy. So just how far “outside the bureau” was the MPD? Not very. In fact, McKnight himself writes about their special relationship: “...relations between the FBI and the MPD resembled a textbook version of cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies. There appeared to be none of the instances of paranoia revolving around issues of control, refusal to share file resources, or attempts by the bureau to shoulder aside the local police and grab the headlines that historically marred relations between Hoover's agency and local police functionaries. Frank Holloman, the Memphis director of public safety, characterized this relationship as 'unique.'” (p. 46) How McKnight can provide these details and less than 40 pages later seem to completely ignore them is quite baffling to me.

Martin Hay

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 9:51 am

Not that I am saying it was the FBI, but this is good analysis, Martin.

It looks to me like McKnight disproved his own thesis.

Which is what the warren commission documents do to the warren commission report.

Historians. God bless 'em drunken

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 3:16 pm

Thanks. Greg.

I'm not arguing that it was the FBI/MPD either. Just that the argument McKnight presents is extremely weak and in no way rules them out.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 3:23 pm

That's how I took what you were saying, Martin.

Have you read Larry Hancock and Stu Wexler's book on the case?

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
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Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Hasan Yusuf on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 5:01 pm

I frankly don't know much about the MLK assassination, so it's great that we have Martin here to talk about it.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 5:44 pm

I agree. It would be good to see some discussion on MLK, and not to forget RFK and others.  

I didn't even know McKnight had written a MLK book.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Mon 24 Jun 2013, 11:24 pm

greg parker wrote:That's how I took what you were saying, Martin.

Have you read Larry Hancock and Stu Wexler's book on the case?

Yes, Greg. I reviewed it for CTKA. I'm really quite proud of that review, I think its the best one I've written. So please read it and let me know what you think Wink

[forgot I can't post links Sad]

IMHO It's a very poor book.

Have you read it?

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 5:41 am

No. Haven't read it (I can't get through all the books I have on hand already, but I did intend to get to it one day) and sorry -- wasn't aware of the review. I know the authors were expecting a backlash when it was published. Looks like they got it.

I'll have to check it out, but it's impossible to critique a critique without having read it myself.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 5:49 am

Well, when you do get around to reading the book, let me know what you think.

Out of curiosity, where do you stand on the question Of James Earl Ray's guilt? That will probably determine how much you think of Hancock & Wexler's book.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 6:30 am

I'm on the fence on his guilt until I dive into it a lot more than I have to date. I do know there are a number of curiosities that I would need to satisfy myself about one way or the other.

My understanding was that the book does leave the door open for a conspiracy.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 6:49 am

greg parker wrote:I'm on the fence on his guilt until I dive into it a lot more than I have to date. I do know there are a number of curiosities that I would need to satisfy myself about one way or the other.

My understanding was that the book does leave the door open for a conspiracy.

Wexler and Hancock's book is very much a conspiracy-oriented book.

One thing I can tell you, Greg, is that the case against Ray is so unbelievably weak as to be virtually non-existent.

In fact, it makes the case against Lee Oswald appear conclusive by comparison.

I'll start a few threads on the subject, get some discussion going.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Tue 25 Jun 2013, 7:40 am

Thanks Martin.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

greg parker
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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by greg parker on Tue 02 Jul 2013, 9:54 pm

greg parker wrote:Thanks Martin.

I should also declare that I was sent a few pages of the book in draft form for comment, and I was also asked - or volunteered (can't remember which) to conduct a phone interview with a well known Klan member associated with the one (name unrecalled) who was alleged to have obtained a weapon specifically to use on King. Sorry to be so vague on names and details but I seem to think now that the person I phoned was possibly an FBI informant... anyhow -- when I rang, he was out and his wife hung up on me when I gave what I thought was a pretty good cover story for the call (though in hindsight, obviously not so good!)

I hope to get permission off you and Larry/Stu to host both sides of the argument.

I do tend to believe that Ray was innocent  - but I am also fascinated by their premise that starting a "race war" was a motive - since that was a Charlie Manson mantra as justification to his flock for the slaughters he ordered.

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

greg parker
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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Tue 02 Jul 2013, 11:51 pm

It's an intriguing theory, I just don't believe they offered any evidence to support it really. I'm open to the possibility that the KKK and NSRP were involved in the assassination but Wexler and Hancock tried too hard to put Ray in the middle of it all, saying that he "probably" shot Dr. King to collect a bounty. The problem is that the crime scene evidence all but proves Ray's innocence. And they offered ZERO credible evidence that Ray ever even heard of a bounty on King's life.

BTW Wexler was pretty pissed off by my critical review. He told me that he saw it as "a hit piece that fundamentally misrepresented key aspects of our book, and the facts of the case."

I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not that's true. All I can say is that the only feedback I've had was from another very knowledgeable MLK researcher who thought I did a good job on my review but the book was actually a lot worse than I made out.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Guest on Sat 06 Jul 2013, 11:06 am

I'm a firm believer that the bullet came from the shrubbery- King family attorney William Pepper even claims that an Army 
 Intelligence photographer, poised on the roof of the fire station just down the block, snapped a photo of the shrubbery sniper moments after he fired his rifle. Given that a US Army vehicle was undeniably photo'd at the fire station on the afternoon of April 4, 1968, I find Pepper's claim completely plausible.

And Pepper states- toward the end of Evidence of Revision Part 6- that he came very close to acquiring this photo. Pepper's partner botched up his infiltration of the "photo-intel" unit by giving away his real name.

Are you familiar with this aspect of the case, Martin? And if so, can you elaborate? It sounds like another Bernardo de Torres, snapping photos of the Dealey Plaza kill team in action.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Martin Hay on Sat 06 Jul 2013, 10:28 pm

Hi Richard,

I have read Pepper's books, the transcript of the 1999 civil trial, and the Justice Department's response to it all. For quite some time, and until not so long ago, I was fairly convinced by Pepper's stuff. But the more I looked into it all the more misgivings I had about his theories and the case he put before the Memphis jury.

As much as it pains me to say it, I have serious doubts about Lloyd Jowers' "confession" and the alleged involvement of Army snipers. I will go into more detail about my thoughts on all of this in the near future. But before getting around to that I want to start a few threads on the basics of the case. Hopefully we can stimulate some interest in this very over-looked tragedy.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

Post by Guest on Sun 07 Jul 2013, 9:25 am

Looking forward to your seasoned input, Martin- and at your leisure. My own research into the case is basically limited to the DiEugenio/Pease compendium The Assassinations and that 2-hour Evidence of Revision documentary. Which is quite chilling, and I was curious as to your take on Pepper's dramatis personae. Allegations of such Army Intelligence photos are pretty startling. 

Douglass said he attended every day of the grand jury, which concluded it was a sophisticated conspiracy between elements of the FBI, CIA, Memphis Police, Mafia, and an Army Special Forces sniper team. What's astonishing is that so few American citizens know this. 

I lived a few brief months in Atlanta in 1995, and had the occasion to visit Martin Luther King, Jr.'s tomb. A moral giant, heroic and tragic. His old news clips are still quite moving; I was an 8th-grader when he was murdered and hung on to that newspaper for many years- as I did the Kennedy papers, gave them away to a college friend.

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Re: Gerald McKnight, the FBI, the MPD, and the MLK Assassination

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