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MLK Assassination and Events In The World Today
By Dave Ratcliffe
Mar 3, 2003, 11:50am

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Greetings to all,

With the world teetering, as Geov Parrish wrote on Feb 24, on the brink of "one of the greatest war crimes [and crimes against humanity], in the history of the world, committed in our name and with our money,"[1] I send this along because the assassination of Martin King was a critical precusor to what we see happening in the world, and especially the United States, today. As I wrote last September: "As has been the case for decades, when suppression of information is justified under the cloak of `national security,' or, as described above, `politically sensitive material,' it usually turned out to be a cover for illicit or criminal activity.

"The United States has rejected a legally-binding system of United Nations inspections of suspected U.S. biological weapons facilities while at the same time accusing other countries--including Iraq--of developing biological weapons. Simultaneously, the United States armed forces, in direct violation of the Biological Weapons Anti- Terrorism Act of 1989, is actively pushing for offensive biological weapons development, despite the fact such activity is illegal and subject to federal criminal and civil penalties. . . .

"Back in the early 1970s Nixon and Kissinger chose to end the U.S. offensive biological warfare program for the essential reason that these items cannot be controlled. When people are able to work within a system of legally-sanctioned secrecy pursuing programs that would never survive the light of public scrutiny and inclusive debate, the result is precisely what we have seen and are seeing: a steady, continuing erosion of global security for all. The rejection of international cooperation in arms control and disarmament that seeks to reduce such global threats as biological, chemical and nuclear weapons--which Bush II is pursuing with frightening determination--does not serve the needs of humanity and our Earth. Who truly benefits from the renunciation of such international cooperation?"[2]

As overwhelmed as each of us feels with the daily assault of commercial news conglomerates relaying what anonymous Pentagon or White House sources dictate with nary a drop of independent critical analysis, it is essential to see more of the whole story, of how we have arrived at this juncture. The story recounted in the 1999 trial for Martin King's murder was extraordinarily significant, despite the fact that it was not covered in the commercial media, with very few exceptions.

As William Pepper points out, "It is important for Americans to look at this case history in terms of the health of democracy." I have read a number of articles recently that express the same sentiments as Ted Lumley on Feb 24: "individuals need to take back their moral proxies, . . . and that is what is happening in the demonstrations all around the world."[3]

With whatever follows, we no longer can pretend our national security state structure of government, that rules by secrecy and deception, acts responsibly to honor or fulfill the precepts expressed in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is for each of us to come to terms with this fundamental conflict-of-interest that defines our society and our time like never before.

The following excerpts are taken from the complete transcript of Dr. William F. Pepper speaking about his new book, "An Act of State - The Assassinationof Martin Luther King" (Verso, 2003) at Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco, 4 February 2003.

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. . . .

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. . . .

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. . . .

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 Washinton 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.

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. . . .

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.

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?' . . . 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. . . .

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 and whose Bolivarian revolution I've come to believe in very much as a continuation of the legacy of Martin King.

0. Transcript: 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

1. Shock And Yawn
Plan could kill millions in 48 hours. Why don't Americans Care?
by Geov Parrish
24 February 2003
Working For Change

2. U.S. Development of Biological Weapons
Watch What We Say, Not What We Do
from Broadening Our Perspectives of 11 September 2001
Sept 2002

3. Ted Lumley's response to Hal & Sidra Stone's open letter to Bush
24 February 2003


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