2008.04.04 Martin Luther King and 9/11

This was published at 911blogger.com on April 4, 2008.

Today's 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King provides a good opportunity to examine Newspeak in full bloom.

The question, of course, is "Did the US government kill him"? The official answer is "No, a guy named Ray did it alone." The intuitive answer of a large part of the US population (not to mention the rest of the world) is "Yes," and the informed answer of the King family is the title of their lawyer's 2003 book: An Act of State (William F. Pepper). In their own words,

a conspiracy to kill Dr. King did exist. Most significantly, this conspiracy involved agents of the governments of the City of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the United States of America. The overwhelming weight of the evidence also indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was an unknowing patsy [cf. The King Center website].

In the words of the judge and the jury in the Lloyd Jowers trial in 1999:

In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Martin Luther King, your answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant? Your answer to that one is also yes [cf. trial transcript, Vol. 14].

These "governmental agencies" included, as the trial testimony shows, the FBI, CIA, and Military Intelligence. The Mafia (Carlos Marcello org) was also involved.

Now, one must ask oneself which of these "agencies" would have been the leader of the conspiracy. Who would be the senior partner in a conspiracy involving the Mafia, the city of Memphis, the state of Tennessee, and the government of the United States? This is not a hard question. The obvious answer is what many people think anyway: Yes, the government did it.

Here we have again the double bind I described in Part 6. Both "truths" cannot exist in a sane world, so we have a world (or two worlds, as Time magazine's Lev Grossman puts it--cf. Part 1) of doublethink, which Orwell described (in 1984) as "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." What we (tens of millions of us) think, and what the US government tells us, as in the case of 9/11, cannot possibly both be true.

So let's take a look at the way the Media Mafia handle this, 40 years after the fact, and 9 years after the trial that should have resolved the matter for everyone as clearly as it did for the judge and jury and the King family, who subsequently "have no doubt that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed."

I'll start with my local paper, the Hessische Allgemeine, which had a story on April 3 by an AP correspondent named Wolfgang Künzel (not online, but also printed, for example, here). Künzel says the 1999 trial showed that Jowers had been part of a conspiracy, was paid by the Mafia, and that Ray was not the shooter. In the very next sentence, however, instead of saying what the judge and jury said, namely that the US government was also part of the conspiracy, Künzel says that William Pepper says that government agencies were involved in the cover-up (Vertuschungsaktion). Why? Because, Pepper says, King had come out against the Vietnam war and was planning the Poor People's March on Washington. (He was also planning to run for president with Benjamin Spock at the head of a broad-based anti-war coalition, as Pepper has also said, but Künzel does not mention this.)

Well, well. Duh, duh. Or (in German), So, so. And what do we think of that, fellow doublethinkers, fellow inmates of the nuthouse so well tended by the "guardians of freedom" (in perfect Newspeak), the Media Mafia? Let's see. There was a conspiracy. Ray was in it. Jowers was in it. The Mafia was in it. And the government covered it up. Covered what up? That MLK had turned against the war (one year earlier, with the famous Riverside Church speech) and was planning a march on Washington? Well, no, that doesn't make sense, since these were public acts and part of history, then and now.

What has happened here is that Künzel has put the crucial words (conspiracy, Mafia, government, cover-up, etc.) together so as to perpetuate the double bind. He does not tell us what the Jowers verdict says, that the government did it, but says that according to Pepper, the government might have had something to do with it, meaning not the killing but the cover-up of some unspecified something. The title of the article is "Lone Gunman or Conspiracy" (Alleintäterschaft oder Verschwörung?), or, in the online versions, "Who Killed Martin Luther King?" The statement of the Jowers verdict is turned back into a question.

We are still insane, if we accept this, because it requires us to accept two completely incompatible ideas: what the government says (Ray did it), and what the Jowers verdict says (the government did it).

Once we understand that Künzel's purpose (perhaps without realizing it himself) is to maintain, not resolve, the double bind, it becomes clear why he could not tell us what the Jowers verdict actually says. If he had, it would have destroyed the pretense that the mystery persists. If we know who done it, we can't ask who done it, and this is where he wants us because it is probably where he is himself. You cannot have both the Jowers verdict and the Unsolved Mystery, because the former solves the latter. If the mystery is unsolved, the government may be right, and (maybe) Ray did it, and (maybe) he did it together with some Mafiosi. On the other hand, maybe Pepper is right about the government "covering up" something, although we don't know what. This is what we are supposed to (double)think, and is probably what the helpless Herr Künzel also thinks: We do not know the truth, cannot know the truth, and are therefore helpless.

Now let's look at a few examples in English, starting with the Voice of America, which produces the expected propaganda hatchet job:

Although Ray pled guilty and was convicted, years later he retracted his confession. He said he had been only a minor player in a conspiracy. But a lengthy U.S. Justice Department investigation concluded Ray had acted alone.

King's family rejected those findings. Historian Michael Honey says 40 years later questions linger, especially in Memphis.

It wasn't "years" but three days later that Ray retracted his confession. The Jowers trial is not mentioned at all. The AP story (e.g., in the International Herald Tribune) doesn't mention it either: "James Earl Ray, a petty criminal and prison escapee, pleaded guilty to the murder. He died in prison in 1998." By innuendo: he did it. Period.

ScrippsNews (Bartholomew Sullivan) manages to mention Pepper's book without mentioning the Jowers trial, which is what the book is about, and refers to him as Ray's lawyer without mentioning that he was the Kings' lawyer in the Jowers (the only) trial. Pepper, says Sullivan, suggests "the [HSCA] committee overlooked evidence it collected that 'frequently conflicts with conclusions of the (committee's) report itself,'" without further explanation. Consider the astounding opacity of this statement, in contrast to the simple assertion of both Pepper's book and the Jowers trial--that the government did it.

In a way it is a relief to have to deal only with these crude attempts to suppress the Jowers verdict by ignoring it. After 40 years, this first line of defense is apparently deemed sufficient. The second line was more evident in 1999 when the trial took place, though it was hugely underreported. I have a collection of these stories, but Gerald Posner'sWashington Post article will suffice as an example.

Posner, who exposed himself to serious researchers as a government shill with his first book on the JFK murder (Case Closed), dismisses the entire trial as a farce, "a cynical scheme to give some official sanction to the discredited theory that the Kings enthusiastically endorse" as part of the "persistent effort of the Kings to help Pepper exonerate Ray and to charge instead that much of the federal government killed Dr. King." These references to a "discredited theory" and a "charge" come, mind you, at the very end of a 923-word article that makes no mention of the actual finding, which is neither a "theory" nor a "charge" but a verdict. Posner, as a lawyer, knows the difference, but he obviously does not want his readers to know, and cannot quote the 50 plain words of Judge Swearengen (see above) for fear of exposing himself too plainly as the legal farce, not the trial in which 12 jurors heard 70 witnesses in three and a half weeks of testimony and concluded unanimously that the US government was involved in a conspiracy to "do harm to" MLK.

The phrase "do harm" was used by the judge instead of "murder" because this was a civil suit, not a criminal trial, but there can hardly be any doubt that the harm done was to kill him. I say "hardly" because I also have no doubt that Posner--if he had thought of it--would not have hesitated to claim that this refers not to the murder but to the FBI campaign to discredit King before the murder. There was such a campaign, of course, but even the scantest glance at the trial transcript makes it clear that murder is meant, since Jowers was not involved in the FBI defamation campaign, but only in the murder.

Posner does apply his legal expertise to the distinction between civil and criminal trials in an attempt to discredit the evidence. This point was taken up by a number of other journalists as well. It's is a bit tricky, so let's look at it :

The civil standard is only a "preponderance of the evidence" as opposed to the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" of a criminal trial. And in the four-week trial that just finished in Memphis, Pepper had a field day. With a hands-off judge who allowed almost everything to come into the record, coupled with an astonishingly lethargic defense offered by Jowers, Pepper essentially had an uncontested month to argue the theory set forth in his book.

Note the incoherence between the first sentence and the rest of the paragraph. I am not a lawyer, just an English teacher, but I can recognize that "preponderance of evidence" does not have to with the kind of evidence that is allowed, but with the certainty of the conclusions based on the evidence. Posner's implication is that the evidence produced in this trial, because it was a civil trial, is less reliable, less "evidential," less credible, less factual that it would be if it were produced in a criminal trial. This is absurd. It would mean that, say, 5 witnesses testifying that Joe Blow was wearing brown shoes at a certain time on a certain day is somehow less reliable, credible, factual, etc. than the same 5 witnesses testifying to the exact same thing in a criminal trial.

If Posner were honest, he would report that the Jowers verdict says that the US government was probably part of the conspiracy to murder MLK. This is less certain, legally, than saying it is beyond reasonable doubt (which could not be determined unless the US government was tried for murder). But it is still too much for Posner. He cannot allow it to stand that it was established in a court of law that the US government probably killed MLK. He knows that the public does not react so cavalierly to the notion of a civil suit being inconsequential, since in other cases it can result in penalties of millions of dollars, even though this one awarded only $100 to the King family. (Another possible approach for Mr. Posner, Esq.: Why, this suit only involed $100. It would be much more credible if the damages were $1 million!)

The truth of the Jowers trial, even with "probably," is suppressed completely, and the further implication is that the evidence that convinced the jury of this (probable) conclusion was less reliable than if it had been a criminal trial. If he had said it this way, it would be a lie, so he says it indirectly. The fact is that the evidence is just as credible as it would have been in a criminal trial, even if the sum total of this evidence would have had to be greater to prove complicity (conspiracy).

Posner does not mention any of this evidence, because it would destroy the power of his innuendo, which is that the evidence is unreliable because it was presented in a civil trial. He cannot deny the testimonial evidence that African-American police officers and firefighters had been pulled from duty in the vicinity of King's motel room, that normal security had been withdrawn in the hours before the shooting, that the sniper's bullet had come from the bushes across from the motel room and not from the rooming house where Ray was, that the bushes were removed by the Memphis police and the FBI the morning after the shooting (thus sanitizing the crime scene), that two Army officers with cameras were positioned on the roof of the fire station, also across from the motel, during the shooting, that an Army sniper team had been sent to Memphis to shoot an "unknown" target on April 4 and were being transported to Memphis when their mission was suddenly cancelled (the back-up team), etc.

Of course you can argue about this evidence. Maybe the witnesses were all lying. But this is not the point, and even Posner doesn't try to imply that lying witnesses are more likely to be found in a civil trial than a criminal trial. He has to leave it at innuendo, because anything more specific would be an obvious lie. If the Army filmed the shooting from the fire station roof, the Army filmed the shooting from the fire station roof. This testimony would not become more credible in a criminal trial, which is what Posner wants us to believe.

As I said, it's a tricky point, and Posner is smart enough to exploit it for maximum obfuscation. But it doesn't work if you pin him down. Let him try (an imagined conversation):

"Carthel Weedon, the fire station chief, said Army photographers were on the fire station roof."

Posner: "No, they weren't."

"So Weeden lied?"

Posner: "I didn't say that."

"Then why do you think it's not true?"

Posner: "Because it was only a civil suit."

"Does that mean Weeden was more likely to lie than if it were a criminal case?"

Posner: "No."

"Does it mean he was more likely to be mistaken or confused than he would be in a criminal case?"

Posner: "No."

"Does it mean the testimony would not be allowed in a criminal case?"

Posner: "No."

"Then what does it mean?"

I will leave it to the reader to continue this imaginary conversation, which can be repeated with every piece of evidence submitted at the trial. Not in a single instance will Posner be able to tell you that any of it is less credible than it would have been in a criminal trial. He will still be able to deny that the US government has been found guilty of conspiracy to murder (has it ever?), but he will not be able to deny the evidence that convinced 12 jurors that this is probably what happened.

Tiresome, tiresome, I know. Infinitely tiresome. That's part of it. They want to tire us out. And who are they? Orwell has already given us the vocabulary. Big Brother. The Inner Party. That's all we need. Why should we expect more than the King family, who "do not believe that, in such a politically-sensitive matter, the government is capable of investigating itself" but who nevertheless "have no doubt that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed"?

Let this be a lesson for us. The Inner Party has spoken, I have come to believe (MITOP), most clearly with 9/11, but also with JFK, RFK, MLK and much else. The Jowers trial was the best that could be expected in the MLK case, and I think the fact that it happened at all confirms the MITOP theory. Can we seriously doubt that the Inner Party could have prevented even this $100 civil trial if they had chosen to? Why did they allow it, then?

I think it was their way of saying to the King family, to black Americans, and all Americans, "Ok, here's your truth. Deal with it." It was a relatively gentle reminder to the slaves of what happens when we get uppity and start messing with the Inner Party's wars (Vietnam then, Iraq et al. now). A more brutal reminder could have been to fly a plane into the Memphis courthouse and blame it on "The Friends of James Earl Ray" or somesuch. I daresay that black people are better equipped than white Americans to understand such messages, and the response of the Kings, acknowledging that truth had been served, even though justice must wait for a while yet, shows that they understood it. This is not submission, or even acceptance, but in fact an act of resistance. Bearing witness may be the best we can do, for the moment.

9/11 was a great big slap in the face, not gentle at all. The Inner Party obviously felt we needed a strong reminder that War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, Arbeit macht frei, Jedem das Seine, etc. So what can we do? Strive for a Jowers trial? Yes, I think so. We could do much worse--for example, by doing nothing, and there are an infinite number of ways to do that. Even if we never get our day in court, we can testify.

I am writing this before watching the CNN documentary "Eyewitness to Murder," which is scheduled for Sunday evening here in Germany, on purpose. CNN is not going to testify, or allow others to testify, in the way that I mean. They are not going to tell us what the Jowers trial told us. I'll be surprised if they quote the verdict, which is the only real source of inspiration. What we'll get is further obfuscation of the Unsolved Mystery and vapid accolades to MLK, stuff about Barack Obama moving us toward "the dream," etc., all of which is exactly in tune with War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. Praise be to the man we killed. MITOP is Hope. We slapped down King to kill the dream and Dream on, brothers!

We don't have to fall for it. That's another thing we can do.

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