Lessons From the Fiftieth Anniversary of the King Assassination

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8 April 2018

The 4 of April 2018 marked the 50thanniversary of the assassination of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The media coverage in Australia followed the same pattern that has been observed in the previous anniversaries. Tribute was paid to King’s legacy of non-violent resistance; his opposition to the Vietnam War; and the stock attribution of his murder to a “lone white racist”, James Earl Ray.

The King assassination, coming as it did between the assassinations of John Kennedy (1963) and his brother Robert (like King also murdered in 1968) reflects some characteristics common to all three events.

First, the killings are attributed to a “loner”:  Oswald, Ray and Sirhan respectively. Secondly, a mountain of evidence, then and later, discrediting the official story accumulates. Thirdly, that evidence, even when revealed in official documents, is ignored by the mainstream media. Fourthly, the real culprits are agents of one or more agencies of the State. Fifthly, there is a sustained campaign by the media to cover up, obscure, manipulate the truth, or outright lie, and continue to do so for now, more than 50 years for the three victims referenced above.

As it is the anniversary of the King assassination, I will refer only to the evidence in that particular case. The important part of this story begins after the King assassination and the sentencing (to 99 years) of the accused perpetrator, James Earl Ray. The facts surrounding the Ray conviction are a wholly separate issue, and not discussed here.  Suffice to say that it does not reflect well on the person who allegedly represented his interests.

The King family were not persuaded that Ray was in fact the killer. They employed a British barrister, William Pepper, to investigate. Pepper did so, over many years and in the face of incredible obstacles.

The investigation culminated in a civil suit brought by the King family against Lloyd Jowers and others. Jowers was the owner of the Lorraine Motel where King was staying the night he was murdered. The “others” were the FBI, the CIA, the Memphis police and the United States Army.

One might have thought that in many respects this trial would qualify as one of the trials of the century. In the event, it was covered by only two journalists, Wendell Stacey from the local Memphis newspaper, and James Douglass, later author of the invaluable “JFK and the Unspeakable.”

Stacey’s newspaper did not print his reports of the trial. To the mass of the US public the trial never happened, and certainly its evidence and conclusions never appeared in the mainstream media. This continues to the present day.

The trial commenced on 15 November 1999. The jury reached an unanimous verdict, after hearing from more than 70 witnesses, on 8 December 1999. They took only two hours to do so. It was the Judge’s duty to apportion liability among the defendants.  Jowers (who was an accessory) was held to be 30% liable. The remaining co-defendants were liable for the 70% balance.

All of the relevant facts and details are to be found in the three books that Pepper has published on the subject: Orders to Kill (1995) Act of State (2002) and The Plot to Kill King (2016).

Suffice to note here that Ray was no more then a patsy (shades of Oswald and Sirhan) and that the actual killing was carried out by a member of the US Special Forces, with a mafia assassin as a backup.

 Pepper’s latest book provided substantial new evidence gathered post trial, based on interviews, confessions from some of the perpetrators, and access to the official documents. This will all be very familiar to those who have followed the two Kennedy assassinations. What is notable from the King trial and Pepper’s books, is the detailed accounts given of the control of the media, mainly, but not only, by the CIA. The CIA project was known as Operation Mockingbird.

According to the evidence of William Schaap at the King trial, and confirmed in detail in Pepper’s latest book, the CIA owned or controlled some 2500 media entities around the world. It’s had its own people in positions in the media, up to and including editorial control in every major media organisation.

The recognition of this singular fact goes a very long way to explaining the nature and content of so much of what passes for “news” and “analysis” in the major news media outlets in Australia and elsewhere.

When one hears, ad nauseam, about Oswald and Ray as lone assassins of Kennedy and King respectively, the obvious question is: do those “journalists” actually believe that, in which case they are appallingly inept; or do they say that because that is what their controllers want the message to be?

Either way they do not serve the public interest, much less the fabled democracy we are said to enjoy. As to why Kennedy and King were killed, again there are some remarkable parallels. Kennedy effectively signed his own death warrant in his June 1963 speech to the American University, and by signing a national security memorandum ordering the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam after the 1964 election.

King had called for nothing less than a social revolution to reverse what he called in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, delivered a year to the day before he was killed, the “far deeper malady within the American spirit,”and that “if we are to get on the right side of world revolution, we must as a nation undergo a radical revolution of values.”

The language of Kennedy and King was clearly seen as a threat to prevailing American values, then as now seen as a belief in American exceptionalism; the imposition of American power on recalcitrant nations in pursuit of full spectrum dominance; the ignoring of international law and treaties to which they are a party when it is convenient to do so; and a willingness to destroy all who threaten the power and the profits that flow from such “values.”

Kennedy and King were not the first to die for their opposition to the status quo.  They are unlikely to be the last.

*Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst.  He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au

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