Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. |  Express Newspapers/Getty

I had actually forgotten about this for a while. I first learned of it in a Black Studies class in College then on  a television documentary…

The Daily Beast ~ Nick Gillespie

A reminder that Washington has been toying with and lying to Americans for a long, long time.

The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI’s so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today’s America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business. Historian Beverly Gage and The New York Times have just published an unredacted version of the anonymous November, 1964 letter almost certainly sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks before the civil rights leader was set to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The typo-laden note pretends to be from a black American repulsed by King’s “psychotic” sexuality and warns that he will be unmasked as a “filthy, abnormal animal” unless he kills himself. “King you are done,” reads the letter, drawing on surveillance and wiretaps approved by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. “There is but one way out for you,” the note continues. “You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

In the 21st century, we worry less about the government ratting out our sex lives and more about it tapping our phones, reading our emails, secretly dispatching drones abroad, sending “desperate and dumb” mash notes to Iranian fascists, and generally lying about its true goals and actions. “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles” announced theTimes in 2012, clearly uncomfortable with the implications of its own expose (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Reveals Obama’s Principles” would have been more accurate).

So it’s fitting that the letter to King, one of the government’s most despicable acts of domestic surveillance, has only fully come to light in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and what Barack Obama promised was going to be the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history.

Alas, when it comes to openness, Barack Obama  neglected to mention that the most disturbing revelations would happen in spite of—not because of—his actions. We didn’t learn that  the president’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, former CIA director Keith Alexander, and current CIA director John Brennan all lied to Congress because the administration suddenly decided to come clean.

And it’s not just unseemly cloak-and-dagger stuff in an age of terrorism that’s causing trust issues. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the Affordable Care Act, has rightfully come under fire for admitting that the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare was a political strategy designed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Nancy Pelosi, who was speaker of the House when Obamacare passed, has carried the deception further still, falsely saying that “I don’t know who [Gruber] is” and that “he didn’t help write our bill” —claims that were immediately revealed as false after about 10 seconds of Googling.

A new survey by The Atlantic of 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders”—“executives, innovators, and thinkers”–asks respondents to name “the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States.” The top three answers are “government regulation/bureaucracy” (20 percent), “immigration policies” (16 percent), and “education” (14 percent). Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.

It’s not just tech gazillionaires who feel this way. Gallup annually asks jes’ plain folks, “Which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to the country in the future—big business, big labor, or big government?” Last December, a record-high 72 percent chose big government. That’s more than double the figure Gallup recorded when the FBI was listening to Martin Luther King’s heavy-breathing sessions. These days, says Pew Research, just 2 percent (!) of us trust the government “to just about always” do the right thing.

Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the “paranoid style in American politics,”. He lamented that, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

But today’s lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn’t seem all that angry. It’s more like we’re resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center.

There’s a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever.

The Definitive Guide To What Bundy’s Biggest Supporters Are Saying Now (New Update)

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

What he said previously: Appearing alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on KSNV-TV, Heller praised Bundy and his supporters: “What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”

What he’s saying now: A spokesman for Heller told the New York Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

What he said previously: Earlier this month, Paul criticized the federal government on a Kentucky radio station and said he’d prefer for the dispute to be worked out in court: “The federal government shouldn’t violate the law, nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams.”

What he’s saying now: After a spokesman told the New York Times that the senator wasn’t available for comment, Paul condemned the remarks Thursday in a statement to Business Insider: “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”

Fox News Host Sean Hannity

What he said previously: The Fox News host has staunchly defended Bundy and his supporters, going so far as to suggest that Sen. Harry Reid and the federal government were planning a secret raid on Bundy’s ranch. He’s also slapped down high-profile criticisms of his support for Bundy, most notably from Comedy Central comedian Jon Stewart.

What he’s saying now: Hannity hasn’t come forward with a position on Bundy’s latest comments. He still has a radio show and a Fox News program to broadcast today, though, so his take may be forthcoming.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)

What he said previously: Perry appeared Wednesday on Fox News and suggested the federal government was instigating the conflict: “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government.”

What he’s saying now: Perry appeared Thursday on CBS This Morning and dodged the question: “I don’t know what he said, but the fact is Clyde (sic) Bundy is a side issue here compared to what we’re looking at in the state of Texas. He is an individual. Deal with his issues as you may.”

After Perry had a chance to read Bundy’s remarks later in the day, his spokesman told Business Insider via email that the governor “thinks they are reprehensible and disagrees with them in the strongest possible way.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R)

What he said previously: The gubernatorial candidate did not weigh in on the Bundy standoff specifically. However, he called attention to the BLM’s management of federal lands in Texas in a letter sent Tuesday to the director of the agency, saying he was “deeply troubled” by reports that the agency planned to “regulate the use of federal lands along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.”

What he’s saying now: A spokeswoman for Abbott told the New York Times that Abbott’s letter to the BLM “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”

Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R)

What she said previously: The lawmaker told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a testy interview that she thought the federal government’s handling of the conflict with Bundy was “suspicious:” “Don’t come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back.”

What she’s saying now: Fiore disagreed with Bundy’s comments on race in a statement that also reaffirmed her opposition to the BLM’s actions: “I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy’s comments about slavery. Mr. Bundy has said things I don’t agree with; however, we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.”

Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend (R)

What she said previously: Townsend, who participated in a rally near the ranch earlier this month, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that video of a clash between anti-government protesters and BLM rangers disturbed her: “Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me. It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”

What she’s saying now: Townsend hasn’t responded to Bundy’s latest remarks. TPM has reached out to Townsend for a statement and will update when we receive a response.

Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack

What he said previously: Mack, who helped organize the militia on Bundy’s ranch, equated the rancher and his supporters to civil rights icon Rosa Parks in recordings flagged by Right Wing Watch: “This particular peasant said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m not rolling over for this one. You guys are out of line, you don’t own the land, you don’t own our ranch, you don’t own us. … This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus.”

What he’s saying now: Mack hasn’t yet responded to Bundy’s remarks on slavery.

National Review Correspondent Kevin Williamson

What he said previously: Earlier this month, Williamson wrote that “a little sedition” à la Bundy is a good thing: “Of course the law is against Cliven Bundy. How could it be otherwise? The law was against Mohandas Gandhi, too, when he was tried for sedition.”

What he’s saying now: Williamson explained in an email to TPM that like “the men who died at the Alamo,” probably, Bundy has “repugnant” views that are distinct from the issue at hand: “Mr. Bundy’s racial rhetoric is lamentable and backward. It is also separate from the fundamental question here, which is the federal government’s acting as an absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada.”

Conservative Pundit Dana Loesch

What she said previously: Loesch has written extensively in support of Bundy on her blog.

What she’s saying now: The pundit wrote in a blog post that Bundy’s comments could have been blown up because he wasn’t media trained. She also argued that “the left” was attempting to tie his anti-government activism to racism.


Cliven Bundy: Minority Groups Are ‘Against Us’

Bundy noted that he “hardly ever” saw a black person until he was a teenager, and was surrounded by only white people during the press conference he was holding, according to the Post.

He then launched into a story about when he was working in Los Angeles during the Watts Riots in 1965.

“About two blocks south of Harbor Freeway, they were setting the world on fire,” he said. “And who was setting it on fire? It wasn’t We the People. It was the Negro groups — people theirself were setting their own city on fire and raping their own city and stealing from their own city.”

Bundy argued that the riots were a result of people lacking freedom, according to the Post.

“We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don’t want to go back,” he said. “We sure don’t want these colored people to have to go back to that point. We sure don’t want these Mexican people to go back to that point. And we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies and do it in a peaceful way.”

Ted Cruz posts Mandela tribute on Facebook. His fans go crazy.

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz answers a question from a television reporter Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston. Cruz is running against Democrat Paul Sadler to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) attribution: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Daily Kos

You’d think a tribute to one of the greatest leaders in modern history would be controversy-free, but no. The statement from Ted Cruz on his Facebook page:

Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.

Cue the crazies. Here is a glimpse at the top-rated comments on the post:

Comments on Ted Cruz Facebook page.

attribution: screenshot from Facebook


Wednesday Blog Roundup 11-20-2013

Harry Reid is set to go nuclear

President Romney? Voters say yes in new poll

Florida congressman charged with cocaine possession

Supreme Court decides not to block Texas’ abortion law

Koch Brothers’ Group Uses Health Care Law to Attack Democrats

Virginia Political Figure Stabbed as Son Takes Own Life, Police Say

If You’re a Millennial, Black, or Latino, Good Luck Voting Quickly in 2016

Bobby Jindal is right: Republicans aren’t ready to win back the White House.

McDonald’s Advice To Underpaid Employees: Sell Your Christmas Presents For Cash

Republicans Have Pushed Him Too Far and Now Harry Reid Is Ready to Go Nuclear


Friday Blog Roundup – 10-18-2013

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks to reporters after a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 15, 2013.

The GOP’s Alamo

Anatomy of a shutdown

The Tea Party’s International Counterparts

Cruz again huddles with his House GOP flock

One chart shows how badly the GOP hurt itself

Eye Opener: Convicts forge their way to freedom

Fake crises are distracting us from really serious ones

House Committee Calls Hearing Over Obamacare Rollout

Obama To Announce Homeland Security Nominee Today

Oregon Cuts Its Unsinsured Population By 10 Percent Over The Past Two Weeks


Inarguably, Hopelessly Black

Sadly, point well taken.

Mario Piperni

Every time I hear someone claim that their deep hatred for Barack Obama has nothing to do with his skin color, I have to smile – something I’m prone to do when confronted with a blatant lie. Naturally, there would be all kinds of nastiness and dirty politics by Republicans and conservatives no matter what color of skin a Democratic president had – that’s the way the game is played. But the fact that this president is black adds a level of viciousness to it all previously unseen in American politics.

Bad News GOP: 51% Would Blame Republicans for a Government Shutdown, Up from 40%

The “Usual Suspects”  McConnell-Cantor-Boehner


It’s bad news for the embattled Speaker of the House and the Republican congressional leadership. Just months ago, the public was much more confused about whom to blame if the government were shut down. But according to a new CNN/ORC International survey, the public would now blame congressional Republicans much more than they would blame President Obama.

“Only a third would consider President Barack Obama responsible for a shutdown, with 51% pointing a finger at the GOP – up from 40% who felt that way earlier this year,” CNNPolling Director Keating Holland explained.

In March of this year, 38% would have blamed President Obama while 40% would have blamed Republicans and 19% would have blamed both. The September poll has Republicans bearing the brunt of the blame, with 51% blaming them and only 33% blaming Obama and 12% blaming both. Thus Republicans stand to bear the brunt of the blame if the government is shut down.

Things are even worse for Republicans when it comes to the debt ceiling. If the debt ceiling is not raised, only 25% would blame Obama while 54% would blame Republicans. In July of 2011, 30% would have blamed Obama and 51% would have blamed Republicans.

House Republican leaders delayed a vote on a bill to avert a government shutdown Wednesday because they lack the votes. The Tea Party is insisting that Republicans do anything, including shutting down government, to defund ObamaCare, but leadership knows that this is not only an unpopular idea, but it could be politically deadly.

The CNN poll only reinforces what non Tea Party Republicans already know – they can’t afford to be blamed for a government shutdown.

This can only be seen as a warning shot for Republicans who are still threatening to shut down government and are childishly tying raising the debt ceiling to delaying the implementation of ObamaCare.

Saturday Blog Roundup – 9-31-2013


Putin challenges US on Syria claims

U.S. Waging Secret War in Cyberspace

Chris Christie Signs Equal Pay Bill Into Law

GOP Senators Can’t Avoid Primary Challenges

Al Qaeda affiliate urges attacks on Egyptian army

Justice Ginsburg To Officiate Same-Sex Wedding

U.N. Chemical Weapons Inspectors Leave Damascus, Syria

Obama: ‘We’re Not Considering Any Open-Ended Commitment’

F.B.I. Sharpens Scrutiny of Syrians in U.S. for Signs of Retaliation

Cory Booker on personal life: ‘My sexuality is not an issue right now’


Friday Blog Roundup 5-31-2013


Rifle March On D.C. Cancelled

Holder May Rein In Prosecutors On Leaks

Did Daily Caller just call RNC chair the n-word?

John McCain wants to arm ‘them.’ So who’s ‘them’?

Poll: Voters Pick Hillary Over Paul, Bush For 2016

Mitt Romney Plans To Campaign For 2014 Candidates

Ted Cruz is turning out to be a very skillful demagogue

Mitch McConnell’s campaign ad tying Obama to Nixon over the IRS scandal

Cheerios Commercial Featuring Mixed Race Family Gets Racist Backlash (VIDEO)

Surprise! CBO report shows 50% of government tax expenditures go to top 20% of earners

The Greatest Failure Conservatives Make When it Comes to our Constitution


Forward Progressives

Perspective—it’s something I always encourage people to use.  Unfortunately many people are reluctant, or incapable, of doing so.

This is especially true when it comes to our Constitution.  How dare anyone say an unkind word about the “infallible Constitution.”

But let’s take a look at just a little bit of what the original interpretation of our Constitution allowed.

Our Constitution, when it was written, allowed for very young women (13-14 in many cases) to be married off by families in arranged marriages to much older men.  Well it didn’t “allow” for it as much as it didn’t prevent it from happening.

This probably had to do with the fact that the average life expectancy in the late-1700′s was around 35 years of age.  Probably another reason why our right to health care wasn’t that big of a deal back then.

However, now days if a 13 year old girl was married off to a 30 year old man we would call that child trafficking, statutory rape, child molestation—or all three.  The man would be labeled as a sex offender, then be required to register as one for the rest of his life.  By the rest of his life I mean as soon as he was freed after serving a very lengthy prison sentence.

Then we have the almighty Second Amendment and the words “shall not be infringed.”  Many believe this amendment is one of the foundations of our rights as Americans.  It’s meant to empower people against a tyrannical government.  When people use this argument, based upon words written over 200 years ago (during a time very different from our own), they completely ignore the glaring fact that our society has changed drastically.

The Second Amendment was written during a time where militias were our primary means of defense against enemies, Native American conflict was frequent and “going out to dinner” meant a family hunting trip in the woods.

Oh, and when guns were single-shot muskets.  (Ed. Emphasis are mine)

Do you really think that if the Founding Fathers knew what our society would become, and what weapons would evolve into, they would have been so general with the wording of our Second Amendment?  After all, couldn’t some argue that “right to bear arms” means all arms?  Things like plastic explosives or military style rocket launchers and missiles.  I mean, if weapons are meant to “keep our government fearful of its citizens,” why is it that the federal government gets to have all of the really kick-ass weapons?

Shouldn’t we, as American citizens who celebrate our Second Amendment, be allowed to own F-22 Raptors loaded to capacity with however many missiles or bombs it can carry?  What could possibly go wrong with selling RPG’s at Walmart—without a background check?

Just imagine if someone could travel back in time and tell a father in 1780, “No, you cannot marry off your daughter to that much older man, that’s illegal.  Oh, and so is owning slaves.”  That father would have scoffed at your attempt to “infringe upon his rights as an American” and you would be deemed unconstitutional by many—if you were lucky enough not to be shot, or hung as “treasonous” for even suggesting something so preposterous.

Yet, in 2013, if someone advocated for the rights of families to sell off their young daughters to older men and for people to be allowed to own slaves, sane people would call them disgusting monsters.

Perspective is not a dirty word.  In fact, it should always be used when referencing the “core of our Constitution” (something written over 200 years ago) and how it translates into a modern society. Refusing to acknowledge proper perspective is the greatest failure conservatives make when discussing our Constitution, and how it should be applied today.

Because I hate to break it to conservatives, but progressive liberal ideas are an American tradition.  They’re what freed the slaves, gave women the right to vote, ended child labor, created Social Security and Medicare, built public schools and our Interstate Highways, integrated schools, brought groundbreaking technologies, discovered life changing health advancements and pushed our country forward.

Those were all done by “radical liberals” bucking tradition, not conservative Americans sticking to it.