Book Reviews that you will find nowhere else:
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Book Review: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.?
— by Greg Maybury, Perth, Australia
Choose any notable event between presidents Calvin Coolidge and Richard Nixon (even beyond), such was his impact any subsequent discussion is far from complete without significant reference to J Edgar Hoover, the long-time founding Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); chances are that its Director’s ‘fingerprints’ were all over said “event”. This is one of those stories.
Such knowledge though about one of the most iconic and consequential figures in American history has only come to pass incrementally in the ensuing years after his death in 1972. Moreover, choose any significant individual public or political figure during that era, and the likelihood is that Hoover knew more about that person than they might’ve known about themselves. He most certainly knew much more about them than they themselves might’ve cared for anyone else to know, much less someone like Hoover.
One such “individual” on Edgar’s ‘dance-card’ was the iconic civil rights leader and anti-Vietnam war campaigner Dr Martin Luther King (MLK); one such “event” was his assassination on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN., and the subsequent cover-up by the forces behind the murder and/or those closely aligned with them. The man who was subsequently charged with the crime, James Earl Ray, spent the rest of his life in prison, despite maintaining his innocence up until his last breath. This is an outcome we might safely opine ranks as one of the most contrived perversions of what passes for justice in the Grand American “And Justice for All” Narrative.
There can surely be little doubt now there was a high level conspiracy to eliminate King, one planned and orchestrated from the highest levels of the U.S. government on down the ranks and that James Earl Ray was framed. In short, he was the fall-guy, the patsy, and his involvement in the King assassination was both peripheral and unknowing. The essence of this preamble becomes compelling when one reads the just released book by one such “intrepid” author Phil Nelson, titled: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? — The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover.
By referencing all available evidence and documents whilst drawing upon the extraordinary work of previous authors, most notably Dr William Pepper (to whom we shall return), but others as well, Nelson delivers a thorough exposition of the real backstory behind one of modern American history’s most defining and traumatic events. In the process he duly debunks both the renditions and reputations of several other authors whose names have frequently been linked with the official, yet totally bogus, narrative of his assassination, again most notably William Bradford Huie.
In doing so, as already indicated, the author shines the spotlight on two of the most reprehensible, criminally-minded public figures ever to ‘grace’ the political stage and be accorded the public trust in the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free: Messrs Hoover and Johnson. Given the plethora of folks — both living and dead — who might fit the above profile, by any measure we can say that that is a big call.
It’s axiomatic that there was no shortage of people throughout Edgar’s reign who pissed him off, a not especially difficult achievement even for those who went out of their way to avoid doing so. Hoover was to be sure one of the Great Haters in that aforementioned narrative. And there can be little doubt that it was King — along with Robert Kennedy (RFK) and his big brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) — who invited Edgar’s hatred more so than anyone else.
Hoover, along with LBJ — arguably one of the most unhinged Oval Office occupants to date, an observation difficult to refute for those who take the time to read Nelson’s earlier work on the man — conspired to eliminate King. All up then, if there is a more symbiotically iniquitous alliance in the annals of U.S. political enterprise, then this writer who’d be keen to know about it.
Insofar as Nelson’s book is concerned, his meticulous deconstruction of the situation and circumstances attending the assassination and the actual (versus the fabricated) facts related to it, and the now half-century campaign to preserve intact the official narrative, must now stand as the definitive account of this extraordinary event — as shameful as it is tragic — in America’s history.
That said, in a ‘cut to the chase’ kinda way, the following summary might be sufficient to inform those not overly familiar with some of the “actual facts”, and set the stage for what is to follow.
i) The assassination of MLK was planned more than 2 years before, and was the brainchild of Johnson and Hoover, with Edgar’s 2IC Clyde Tolson the point-man, ably abetted by Cartha “Deke” DeLoach;
ii) The motivations for Hoover and LBJ were various and sometimes over-lapping, with Hoover having a visceral hatred of King because of his activism and his race, and LBJ resenting his popularity, political influence and opposition to the Vietnam war;
iii) The plotters cunningly planned to have the assassination portrayed from the off as the work of another “lone nut”, in James Earl Ray’s case, ‘[A] vicious Southern racist and hater, stalker, [and] murderer’, itself a total fabrication;
iv) It was the famed novelist, William Bradford Huie, an old crony of Hoover’s, who was given a “mission” to create this meme for Ray, one whose shelf life endures to this day, and from whom so many others took their lead in its perpetuation;
v) A civil trial in 1999 exonerated Ray (who’d died in prison the previous year just over 30 years after the murder), and it found that a government conspiracy was responsible for King’s murder, [and] that Ray was a ‘patsy’ with no knowing involvement in the hit; and most shockingly,
vi) King was not killed instantly as most people believe, but in fact was later murdered by his attending doctor who smothered him with a pillow, a contingency which had been allowed for by the plotters in the event of such an outcome.
From these basic premises, Nelson methodically unpacks this bespoke meme regarding James Earl Ray — as removed from reality as it could possibly be imagined — as the massive deceit that it was. He then presents us with a revised account in its place, based upon hard evidence that exonerates Ray. It needs be noted that Nelson’s account is supplemented by many other authors, including Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane, and, particularly, William Pepper.
Insofar as the MLK story goes, it is to Dr William Pepper that Nelson ‘dips his lid’ most prominently as being his most inspired source and the most indefatigable of investigators in the search for the real truth about the man’s murder, one of America’s most seminal and quintessential of ‘state crimes against democracy’. Pepper has written three books on this event, the latest being 2017’s The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
In his interview with James Corbett, Pepper reveals that in the forty plus years he’s been involved in investigating and reporting on the King assassination, he has spent over a million dollars of his own money and at one point relocated himself and his family to the UK as a result numerous death threats. It is also notable that Pepper has given his seal of approval to Nelson’s more recent effort to add further insight into this extraordinary story. Here’s part of what he had to say (via email to this writer and Nelson):
‘Phil Nelson . . . has provided us with some valuable missing information about the actions of Lyndon Johnson in the context of events in the 1960’s. I’ve long believed the information given to me…about LBJ’s knowing involvement and collusion in the assassination of JFK. Nelson’s research about Johnson’s collaboration [with] and his support of the profoundly illegal and evil, public actions of J. Edgar Hoover [in the assassination of Martin Luther King] fills in many blanks and is a highly valuable historical contribution. I urge, and hope, that this work will be widely read.’
In showcasing the real truth behind one of America’s greatest of criminal conspiracies, given the overwhelming, irrefutable evidence, as previously presented by William Pepper and so many others, and now by Phil Nelson, anyone who still thinks James Earl Ray was the ‘only shooter’ and the ‘only plotter’ and that there was no conspiracy, frankly needs a ‘check up from the neck up’. To be sure then the state sanctioned plot to murder King as outlined by both authors, [then] blame it on an innocent man and allow him to rot in jail for forty years, all the while bringing to bear the full resources of said state the aim of which is to keep this secret from becoming public knowledge — and to continue to do so as of this writing — is as savage an indictment on the republic as any this writer can think of.
For his part in the proceedings, James Earl Ray most certainly did end up ‘rotting in jail’. Yet, if there’s any justice or karma to be had in this or the next life — in this the Empire of the Republic — the best we might hope for then is that those who committed this crime and/or were complicit in its cover-up will either rot in hell when their time comes or are in the process of doing so as we speak. I can think of no more fitting fate for the lot of them.
WHO REALLY KILLED MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.?, BY DAVID MARTIN
(BLOGGING AS “DCDAVE” AT HTTP://DCDAVE.COM)
Do you think that the answer to the title question is James Earl Ray? If so, it’s likely because you are still completely dependent for your information upon what I have come to call the NOMA, the national opinion-molding apparatus. The NOMA is made up in various degrees by the GAME, the government, academia, media, and entertainment. The NOMA and the GAME are at the heart of Phillip F. Nelson’s latest exposé of the U.S. Deep State at its worst.
The full title of his book is Who Really Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Case against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. Nelson makes his case very well that the assassination plot was conceived and directed by the latter and authorized by the former. In terms of the dominance of the respective roles played by these two long-term Washington, D.C., neighbors and co-conspirators, it is a sort of reversal of the picture that Nelson paints in his two groundbreaking books on the JFK assassination, LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination and LBJ: From Mastermind to “The Colossus.” In the JFK murder, according to Nelson, Lyndon Johnson was not just the primary beneficiary of the murder, but he was also the primary orchestrator. In my review of the latter book, I argue that as a bare minimum, LBJ had to be thoroughly involved in the plot, or it would have been entirely too risky for the people who carried it out.
The real strength of Nelson’s latest book, the thing that might well make it his best book yet—including even his most recent previous book, Remember the Liberty—is its focus upon the big role played by the NOMA in making people believe, in the absence of a trial, with only a clearly coerced then quickly reversed guilty plea, that Ray was King’s killer. That took real yeoman’s work by the national news media. In fact, to be properly descriptive, Nelson probably should have added to his subtitle, “and the media.”
Actually, but for its lack of popular currency “NOMA” would have been even better, because most people think of the media as just the press, and Nelson devotes a great deal of attention to the pernicious job done by book writers on the MLK, Jr. murder, particularly the fiction writer—even when he is purporting to write fact—William Bradford Huie. Here is how Nelson sums up the work of Huie and his cohorts:
But a professional’s opinion of James Earl Ray’s psyche was woefully inadequate to describe the designated patsy of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. That was left to a succession of inventive novelists as outlined above. William Bradford Huie, Gerold Frank, and George E. McMillan in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s were joined in 1998 by Gerald Posner and in 2010 by Hampton Sides. All had made up assertions to repaint the same contrived portrait of James Earl Ray. The germ planted originally by Huie in his first magazine articles and book was then replanted in the books by the others, becoming an organic linkage between them and the future books designed as additional boosts for the original myths that reblossomed each time with ever more flagrant deceits and distortions.
It suggests that the earliest authors were brought in to FBI headquarters in Washington and put in a conference room with Hoover, [Clyde] Tolson, [Cartha] DeLoach, [William] Sullivan, and [Sam] Papich, where they were told to make up as many stories as they could and write them up as convincingly as possible, to reframe the narrative to paint the most derogatory profile they could of James Earl Ray. Based on the results, it would appear that they were competing with one another for the winning entry, probably even a grand prize for the winner, who could come up with the most absurdly outrageous fiction, and sell it to the public; whoever’s book sold the most in the first production run would be declared the “winner.” (pp. 122-123)
Book writers are very much a part of the national opinion-molding apparatus, but their reach is limited without full establishment assistance, publishers to distribute the books and the press to publicize them and their message. A relatively few people actually take the trouble to read books. Most of what the general public learns from them comes from reviews written about them or press articles that make reference to them.
In the case of the MLK, RFK, and JFK murders, that national news media make a sharp division of the books written into two categories, either “authoritative,” or “conspiracy theories.” The former group receives all the publicity and the wide distribution while the latter are seldom even mentioned individually; they are merely dismissed collectively. When the public was being sold what Nelson shows is the completely preposterous notion, sold primarily in the beginning by Huie, that Illinois native James Earl Ray was a hard-bitten Southern George Wallace-supporting racist who stalked King around the country before finally catching up to him in Memphis, the press sellers of that story had a virtual monopoly on national information. As preposterous as the story might have been, the press across the board has treated it as authoritative, and so it has been.
The King Family
The mainstream press might have done some bump-and-run reporting on it here and there, but, thanks to the general suppression of the news, most people, at best, are only dimly aware of the fact that King’s family has been strongly opposed to the official blame for the murder that was laid upon Ray. One can get a good appreciation of the King family’s position, particularly that of the son, Dexter, in the 2010 article by Lisa Pease on the Alex Constantine web site. That article is also a very good supplement to Nelson’s book on the press role in the continuing cover-up.
I had a bit of a ringside seat for one bit of this news suppression back in 1997. On the evening of February 13, Hugh Turley and I attended a presentation at George Washington University by some high media muckamucks, including the incumbent White House press secretary, on the subject of what was then considered the new “24-hour news cycle.” Our purpose was to ask questions that demonstrated that the national press was not at all holding government leaders accountable nearly to the extent that these speakers would have us believe. Turley’s question, which he was able to deliver, involved suppression of the news of the street harassment of grand jury witness, Patrick Knowlton, in the Vince Foster death case. Mine, which I didn’t get the chance to ask, was to have been related to the Martin Luther King assassination. As it happened, I had learned from the Internet that that day members of King’s family had held a press conference in which they called for a new trial for James Earl Ray. I wanted to ask the panel if any one of them would want to bet against me on the proposition that the news of that press conference would be blacked out by the major press the next day. The story of the dramatic events of that evening, at which Turley came close to getting arrested for asking his impertinent question, is told in my article, “Indifference to Tyranny.”
I can’t say if there was a complete blackout of the news of the King family press conference, but I do know that there was nothing about it in the edition of The Washington Post that was thrown into my driveway the next morning, because I wrote a poem about it:
News Suppression, Feb. 14, 1997
What did the “liberal” Washington Post
Do for black history this day?
They did what they’ve done most consistently,
They protected our rulers from you and from me,
And blacked out the news that the King family
Had called for a new trial for Ray.
The 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations’ (HSCA) cover-up die was cast when staff director Richard Sprague was replaced by Notre Dame law professor and supposed expert on organized crime, Robert Blakey. According to Nelson, the HSCA did accomplish one very important thing. By interviewing a number of the people that Huie had talked to in order to spin his widely believed fantasy about Ray’s virulent racism, they were able to establish that there was simply no truth to it. In doing so, though, they created another problem for themselves:
The HSCA’s rejection of Ray having a racist motive required a little back-filling in order to support his only other possible rationales. That was done by replacing racism with the possibility that Ray might have been involved with other shadowy figures who could have promised him other rewards for taking the extraordinary violent action—especially for someone who had never done anything like this in his life—of shooting King using a high-powered rifle with a misaligned scope (one that was, incidentally, never shown to have been the murder weapon, and indeed it has been proven that it could not have been). Instead of racism, it was conjured, Ray might have been intrigued by having his name in a lot of newspapers, thus making it into the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list (though he had carefully chosen a number of aliases to avoid that very thing) and being given a large reward for his efforts (though nothing like that ever occurred either, other than book contracts that would be used against himself to pay for his deceitful lawyers.) (pp. 298-299)
You know that they’re desperate when they have to play the old aiming-for-immortalization-through-infamy charge, but that’s all they ever had to explain Lee Harvey Oswald’s supposed actions, and while hinting at some possible conspiracy behind Ray, the HSCA never made any serious follow-up on it, knowing, undoubtedly, where that approach would most certainly lead.
What it Means
The real strength of Nelson’s book lies in the fact that his previous books have made him an experienced researcher into the reality of American politics as it exists today. He has seen the tricks that were played in the other major assassinations, making him better able to see through them in the King case, particularly through the use of those detestable mercenaries in the opinion-molding field. His conclusion contains an ominous warning for us all:
Looking back on the story that never was—the innocence of James Earl Ray—it finally becomes clear. He was merely another patsy, just like Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan B. Sirhan…
[What] we don’t know is how much longer this shamefully despicable lie—putting the blame on an innocent, vulnerable man who was set up months, even years, in advance—can remain in the nation’s most secret closets. But it should now be understandable to all that the longer the nation’s foundation continues to rest upon fabricated myths, built on top of fractured and crumbling truths—compounded with a patchwork of new, ever-greater lies to extend the original cover-up—the weaker and more vulnerable it will become. (pp. 408-409)
Twenty years ago, I put the matter in even starker terms in poetic form:
When I first read The Gulag Archipelago
I knew that those Reds had to go.
They weren’t quite as bad as Joe Stalin,
But they were still up there running the show.
Now the killers of King and the Kennedys
And the makers of Dick’s silent coup
Have a similar grip on this country,
And we have to be rid of them, too.
But for the fact that it would badly mess up the poem’s meter, we could include quite a few more outrages in that second verse, the most recent discovery of which has been the 1968 assassination of the great Catholic antiwar monk, Thomas Merton. Whatever unspeakable horror they have planned for us next, one can be certain that the NOMA will be wheeled into operation to make us accept it.
August 2, 2018