home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links / feedback


February 11, 2003

An Act of State

The Execution of Martin Luther King


Bill Pepper's book, An Act of State: the Execution of Martin Luther King (Verso, 2003), is a book whose time has come. It is required reading for anyone interested in how they illegitimate Bush regime will wield its ill-gotten power, not against Iraq, but against dissenters here in America.

An Act of State tells the story of how Martin Luther King was killed, not by James Ray, a bumbling patsy, but by a Memphis policeman in league with the Mafia, backed by soldiers -- some armed with high-powered rifles, others with cameras to film the event -- in a special Military Intelligence unit. The story is broad and deep and implicates high-ranking officers in all the American intelligence and security branches. And it stars Raoul, the assembly line worker now living under government protection. Raoul guided James Ray after his prison escape to a bathroom in a seedy Memphis hotel, above a greasy spoon cafe owned by a sad sack named Loyd Jowers, a creepy old white man having sex with Betty, a 16-year-old black girl. Betty, they say around Memphis, got hooked on drugs and had several illegitimate kids.

Pepper, who resides in Cambridge and spends his time practicing law in United States and the United Kingdom, assembles Jowers and Betty and about 70 other witnesses to make a convincing argument that Jowers and known and unknown members of the U.S. government conspired to kill MLK. Indeed, the argument convinced a jury of exactly that in a civil suit brought by the King family against Jowers and the U.S. government. The trial was held in Memphis in 1999, but the Department of Justice, as Pepper explains, buried the verdict beneath an avalanche of lies and distortions, with a little help from its friends in the media.

Most importantly, Pepper makes it clear that assassinations of this sort could happen on a regular basis in Bush's war-mongering America, where wiping out his political opposition under the guise of fighting terrorism will, if the Imperial wizard has his way, become de rigueur. Quoting Thomas Jefferson, Pepper asserted on C-Span 2's book show that only through a revolution can we stop the budding fascist dictatorship that is incrementally afixing its jackboot to our collective neck.

Pepper's ability to capture this revolutionary spirit, which MLK embodied, is the beauty of the book. Even if Pepper never follows some of the most important leads, like, for example, what CIA agent Marrell McCollough doing on the balcony of the Lorrain Motel while King was lying there dying? McCollough had infiltrated the local black power group, the Invaders, and was part of an Invader-staffed security group that Jesse Jackson allegedly disbursed moments before the assassination. Do we want to know about this? And Pepper doesn't ask who the other guy was on top of the fire station roof overlooking the Lorrain Motel that fateful day, April 4th 1968? We know Sergeant Greene was there, but who was the guy from the 112th Military Intelligence unit from down in Fort Sam Houston, Texas? Maybe that guy was a CIA assassin!

Even without the answers to these overarching questions, Bill Pepper truly makes a case that it was an Act of State that intentionally silenced Martin Luther King and his message of peace, justice and racial harmony, a message that hasn't been heard as eloquently for 35 years, and which, only through the voices of modern American revolutionaries will ever be heard again on the airwaves and on network news. Read the book, and be inspired to act against the state.

Douglas Valentine is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His new book The Strength of the Wolf: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968 will be published by Verso. Valentine was an investigator for Pepper on the King case in 1998-1999. For information about Valentine and his books and articles, please visit his website at www.douglasvalentine.com

He can be reached at: redspruce@attbi.com

Yesterday's Features

Dr. Susan Block
The Dildo Dialogues: My Adventures Suing the LAPD for Trampling the 4th Amendment

Mark Hand
Not Another Leftist Ideology Czar! Kazin's Groundrules for Dissent

John Stanton
Pretext Operations: Template for Iraq

Sharon Smith
Bush's War on Women

Mark Donham
Speed Bombers: This is Your Military on Drugs

Mark Engler
CAFTA: Free Trade vs. Democracy

Paul Laraque
Of Dream and Revolution

Elaine Cassel
Did the Beltway Sniper Case Cause the Supreme Court to Deny Death Penalty Appeals?

Ron Jacobs
Scenario for the Future?
China and US Regime Change

M. Shahid Alam

Linda Heard
Dossier? What Dossier?
Blair's in the Doghouse

Website of the Day
Poets Against the War

Keep CounterPunch Alive:

Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /


CounterPunch Available Exclusively to Subscribers:

  • CounterPunch Special: The Persecution of Gershon Legman by Susan Davis: Smut, the Post Office, Commies and the FBI;
  • Reeling Democrats: Is Pelosi the Answer?
  • Gandhi v. Hitler: the Secret Race for the Nobel Prize;
  • Sullying Mario Savio's Memory;
  • Lynching Then and Now;
  • Earn While You Learn: Chris Whittle and Child Labor;

    The Case of the Pompous Professor;
  • The Class Struggle in Boston: All that Effort, But What Did They Get?

Remember, the CounterPunch website is supported exclusively by subscribers to our newsletter. Our worldwide web audience is soaring , with about seven million hits a month now. This is inspiring, but the work involved also compels us to remind you more urgently than ever to subscribe and/or make a (tax deductible) donation if you can afford it. If you find our site useful please: Subscribe Now!

Or Call Toll Free 1 800 840 3683

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

February 8 / 9, 2003

Bill Christison
The US Gameplan for Iraq

Intelligence Officers for Sanity
Memo to Bush on Iraq

Olive Lowell
Homeland Insecurity
Champaign-Urbana Shaken by New INS Rules

Michael Neumann
Nonviolence: Its Histories and Myths

Alison Weir
A Thousand Professors

David Krieger
On the Brink of War

Muqtedar Khan
The Logic of the Hawks

Anthony Gancarski
Pakistan on the Brink?

Jason Leopold
GAO Surrenders to Cheney

Anis Shivani
A Post-Liberal Theory of Consciousness for the Starbucks Habitué

David Vest
Dive Bomber

Norman Madarasz
The New Brazilian Cinema

Poets' Basement
Handleman, Smith, Engel

Website of the Weekend
Cities for Peace


Subscribe Online

Search CounterPunch

Read Whiteout and Find Out How the CIA's Backing of the Mujahideen Created the World's Most Robust Heroin Market and Helped to Finance the Rise of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden

CIA, Drugs & the Press

by Alexander Cockburn
and Jeffrey St. Clair