I’ve written two posts about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in which I discuss the possibility that there was government collusion. In the end I felt there is not definitive proof, but there is absolutely enough evidence to make one wonder. I will leave the links here for those who wish to read my thoughts.
While I feel good about the first post, I don’t feel so great about the second. I was talking to someone I really think highly of, and she asked if I had talked about J. Edgar Hoover. To my chagrin, I realized I had not. And in order to understand the belief that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, you really need to know a bit about Hoover.
For the sake of this post I’m doing a bit of cursory reading, and learning a great deal I had not known before. Let me sum up what I had “known” before. He founded the FBI. He was head of the FBI for over forty years. He was accounted a hero until about the eighties when rumors started leaking out that he had spied on quite a few people, and had possibly had a hand in several assassinations, and he (or maybe it was Ed Wood) was a cross dresser. Presidents were afraid of him. Truman compared Hoover’s FBI to the Gestapo, and Nixon said “We have on our hands here a man who will pull down the temple with him, including me.” Now you know as much as I do, let’s see what we can find out about him, and why the King’s feel he had a hand in their father’s death.
A cursory read of Wikipedia is enough to make one understand the unique place in American history the man had, for good or ill. He spent his entire life in Washington D. C. Which likely explains part of his issue. He enrolled in ROTC and was on the debate team. A stuttering child, he overcame this foible by learning to talk super fast. His first job was as a messenger for the order department at the Library of Congress. The library taught him the value of research and the orderly collation of data. He had his law degree by age twenty-two and was a clerk for the War Emergency Division of the Justice Department. So his career begins preparing America for war and terrorism at the dawn of WW I. The year is 1917. He is exempt from the draft, but the horror of the war in Europe is known, and he likely was determined that America would not suffer the same way Europe did.
Soon he was appointed the head of a new Justice division: The Alien Enemy Bureau, authorized by Woodrow Wilson to arrest and imprison foreigners suspected of disloyalty without trial. So you have a man in his early twenties, ambitious, powerful, with unconstitutional powers granted under the premise that this was a special, wartime situation. But as we all know, youthful habits die hard.
In 1919 he was appointed the head of the Bureau of Investigation’s (the precursor of the FBI) new General Intelligence Division (the grandpappy of the CIA). He was only twenty-four. His job was to both gather intelligence and disrupt the activities of “radicals.” One of these, a fellow named Felix Frankfurter (no, I didn’t make that up) was according to Hoover, “The most dangerous man in America.” Frankfurter was later appointed to the Supreme Court (again, no joke).
The Red Scare was on, and one of Hoover’s first assignments was to carry out the Palmer Raids…..which had nothing to do with the reason some boys have hairy palms. Under the orders of Attorney General Palmer (acting under the administration of Woodrow Wilson), three thousand people, mostly Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Jews, were arrested for being socialists, communists, or anarchists. 556 foreign citizens were deported. Again, a youthful Hoover was taught that the security of the nation trumped the rights of the citizens. And he learned that differing ideology was dangerous to our survival.
Much of what I’ve said sounds critical. But to be fair the guy did revolutionize law enforcement, revamped the system for hiring agents so that it was less political, and under his direction, the FBI put some really terrible people behind bars. But on the other side, there were secret files on movie stars, politicians, and world leaders. He was not above blackmail, disinformation campaigns, and allegedly, even assassination.