News Release

The NSA Threat and MLK

Share BALL, imixwhatilike at
Associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto and A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, Ball said today: “None of the surveillance talk happening these days would surprise Dr. King. From the moment of his 1963 ‘Dream’ speech he was targeted by the FBI as ‘the most dangerous Negro … from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security…’ [William Sullivan, head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division] and was targeted with at least 25 illegal attempts by the FBI to discredit him.

“The FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) targeted King specifically as an increasing threat ‘should he abandon his supposed obedience to white, liberal doctrines (nonviolence) and embrace Black Nationalism.’ Eventually these tactics included FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover — and his leader of covert operations against activists William C. Sullivan — even conspiring through phony letter-writing to encourage King to kill himself. Further suggestive of the level of surveillance King endured is that Merrell McCullough, the first man to reach King’s fallen body April 4, 1968, was working undercover for the Memphis police and would eventually join the CIA. And the transcripts from the 1999 trial brought by the King family in which a jury of 12 found that the U.S. government was involved the assassination of Dr. King demonstrates the involvement of at least the FBI, CIA, military intelligence and that of the Memphis police in surveillance of a man previously deemed a threat and deserving of such a close watch.”

See video collection of King; and his April 30, 1967 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church against the Vietnam war.

The term “COINTELPRO” first became public as a result of 1971 break in to the FBI office in Media, Penn. The activists who broke into the office and made FBI documents available to the press just recently revealed their identities. See recent interview with them that discusses COINTELPRO.

On Friday, the Institute for Public Accuracy held a news conference with several NSA whistleblowers immediately after President Obama’s address. See reports by The Real News and Reuters.