For the past half-century, scholars worldwide have attempted to establish a motive for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Shortly before his death, the United States government was heavily involved with silencing the Civil Rights Movement while simultaneously seeking victory in Vietnam and in the Cold War against the Soviet Union and Red China.

With King speaking out against the Vietnam War prior to the Tet Offensive (late January 1968) and in proposing the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C., these scholars have suggested that these actions may have prompted his death.

The following three articles look at which agencies and/or organizations domestic or foreign (e.g. FBI, KGB, COINTELPRO, Mafia) had a vested interest in killing King by virtue of top secret operations’ code named Latern Spike (USA) and Active Measures (USSR). In the past year, a similar strategy (Active Measures) has been uncovered identifying Russian intelligence interfering with the 2016 United States presidential election.

—By William Covington

cover story published 1/12/06

Chasing Zorro

Insight into the assassination

of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Gregg Reese

OW contributor

Martin Luther King. Heretofore, he had been known primarily as a civil rights activist, but today he was making a departure from his previous ideological doctrine. Today in New York’s historical Riverside Church he was going to come out publicly against the Vietnam War. King had made public utterances against the conflict before, taking care not to alienate his supporters in the white community, but today the war and its moral ramifications would be the main focus of his address (hence its title “Beyond Vietnam”) before over 3,000 parishioners in one of the foremost black churches in the United States.

For Dr. King, it was part of a logical progression. The conflict in a strange, little country few even knew existed resonated mightily within the core of his being, since increasingly larger numbers of those designated for combat in that far off corner of the world were young Negro boys, as they were called by polite society back then, and many of those close to him, especially his wife, Coretta Scott King, were urging him to become more vocal. More importantly, he may have reached a point where, as a man of the cloth, he realized his allegiance to the world at large as opposed to one specific church congregation or ethnic group.

Finally, President Lyndon Johnson, normally an ardent proponent of civil rights, took steps to divert funds from the War on Poverty to Vietnam in December of 1966, which forced the Baptist preacher to question the rationale of taking “young black men who have been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed a position of power

equaled by few men in the history of U.S. politics. Serving under eight American presidents, more than one of his “superiors” suppressed the urge to have him fired no doubt because of the political backlash and retaliation that was sure to follow. During his almost 50-year tenure at the helm of the F.B.I., he amassed vast dossiers on potential enemies in the government and political arena and beyond, specializing in the sort of inflammatory information they would go to great lengths to keep covered.

A man given to many pet peeves, the foremost of which was subversion, he was known for his relentless pursuit of those (in his view) who constituted a threat to the security of the government. During the course of his career they’d included leftist radicals in the aftermath of World War I, bank robbers and bootleggers during the Depression, Nazi saboteurs in World War II, and communist sympathizers during the 1950s.

Now, deep in the turbulence of the ‘60s, he faced his biggest challenge. Radical elements seemed to be sprouting up on every college campus to openly exhibit contempt for American ideals and institutions, and sweeping up the best and brightest of the Baby-boomer generation in the process. Of particular concern to Hoover was the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, which he saw as being ripe for infiltration by the Communist Party. Specifically distasteful to the F.B.I. director was the movement’s most famous proponent, Dr. King, whose promiscuous sexual liaisons offended Hoover’s puritanical sensibilities.

Since his death, Hoover has been the subject of numerous insinuations and innuendoes, including speculation that he was a cross-dressing homosexual with hidden African-American ancestry, one source being literary icon and fellow Washington, D.C. native Gore Vidal, which may explain his relentless pursuit of individuals with similar backgrounds and preferences.

“Hoover was becoming famous, and it was always said of him – in my family and around the city – that he was mulatto. People said he came from a family that had ‘passed.’ It was the word they used for people of black origin who, after generations of inbreeding, have enough white blood to pass themselves off as white. That’s what was always said about Hoover.” -Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993.

The idea that homophobes (those with an irrational fear or hatred of gays) are themselves repressed homosexuals goes back to Sigmund Freud’s initial musings on the nature of human behavior.

Ethnic self-hatred is common enough to have spawned a number of studies, possibly the bestknown case being that of closeted U.S. Attorney Roy Cohn (and a political ally of Hoover) who zealously railroaded fellow Jews Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair for passing atomic weapons secrets to Russia, and strongly opposed gay-rights legislation before he himself died of AIDS.

As for Hoover, much has been made of the fact that for such a well-known public figure, little documentation was available on his early life, with no birth certificate on record until he was well into his 40s, along with his unusually close association with fellow F.B.I. man and lifelong bachelor Clyde Tolson.

Hoover’s inclination toward the persecution of African-American political groups went back to Marcus Garvey and the Black Nationalist movement in the early 1920s.

By the late ‘60s he had developed an intelligence apparatus unsurpassed in its ability to amass information on any conceivable person or subject, and implemented a program called COINTELPRO specifically to disrupt dissident political organizations. COINTELPRO contributed to at least one murder, that of white civil rights volunteer Viola Liuzzo, and after her death circulated gossip about her alleged sexual hi-jinks with her black co-workers.

Dr. King’s activism, viewed as radical and subversive, had made him the subject of countless vendettas, resulting in an arrest record consisting of such various offenses as contempt of court, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, driving without a license, loitering, tax evasion, and violating probation. The F.B.I. continued the harassment on their end by forwarding damaging information on his personal proclivities to colleges and universities that conferred honorary degrees and other accolades on him. His increased visibility in the media, nationally and internationally, worked Hoover into a frenzy, and his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 proved to be the last straw, with King, under the code name “Zorro,” designated for termination with extreme prejudice.

cover story published 1/09/14


Race War

Exploring the KGB’s plan to eliminate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

William Covington

OW Contributor

Author Note: During the Cold War era (1947-1989) both the United States and the Soviet Union fought an on going battle without bullets or bombs being used directly against the other—a type of undeclared limited war.

Both countries used third parties to fight (usually civil wars) instead of sending naval armadas or launching missiles at each other in so-called proxy wars. These battles usually took place in third world countries.

In addition to proxy wars, both intelligence agencies were active within their adversary’s borders. The Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB), a Russian intelligence agency and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) implemented “Active Measures.”

The goal of both agencies existence was to defeat or sabotage their nemesis politically, limit that country’s influence, as well as curtail it’s power in controlling world events and global resources.

On more than one occasion, Africans and African American, were pawns in Cold War strategy. The active measures utilized ranged “from media manipulations to special actions involving various degrees of violence.” They were used both abroad and domestically.

These actions included counterfeiting official documents, disinformation, propaganda, political repression, and assassinations. Most of the time, the active measures failed because the Soviets did not know our culture nor did they fully understand our politics, according to historians.

Fast forward to America April 4, 1968.

At exactly 6:01 p.m., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tenn., and according to files smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1992 by defector Vistol Mitrokin (1922-2004), a plan to replace MLK as the leader of the American Negro (Soviet title) was implemented some 5,439 miles east of Tennessee in Moscow, eight months prior to King’s assassination.

This plan to smear, discredit, or assassinate MLK by KGB agents already working secretly in the U.S. was approved by KGB Chairman Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov.

Andropov would eventually go on to become General Secretary (leader) of the Soviet Union in 1982. He was a mystery to the CIA, according to Amy Knight a former Senior Soviet Specialist in the Federal Research Division of the U.S. Library of Congress. Consequently, when he became the leader of the Soviet Union, America did not know what to expect.

August 1967

Chairman Andropov director of the Soviet Union’s KGB was seated in his office located in the Lubyanka Building, a neo-baroque structure built in 1898 according to The Mitrokin Archive, a book written by Professor Christopher Andrew, Intelligence Historian at the University of Cambridge, and it is Andropov who gave the OK to implement “Active Measures” against MLK after being badgered by one of his staff, Soviet controller Yuri Modin, who came up with the plan to neutralize MLK.

Modin was responsible for stealing atomic bomb secrets from the United States Manhattan Project during the Second World War. He was one of the Soviet’s top spies, according to Professor Andrew and believed African Americans were capable of starting a nationwide race riot in the U.S., if provoked.

“In August 1967, the KGB began its operational plan to discredit King and his chief lieutenants by placing articles in the African press, which they thought would then be reprinted in American newspapers portraying King as an “Uncle Tom” who was secretly receiving government subsidies to tame the civil rights movement and prevent it from threatening the Johnson administration. This was reinforced by MLK’s practice of being in constant contact with LBJ while leading freedom marches under the admiring glare of worldwide television.

According to Mitrokin and notes from his smuggled files on KGB operations in Los Angeles, active measures were also conducted by KGB agents during the 1965 Watts Riots also known as the “Watts Rebellion.” The Soviets believed they could exploit the violent newsreels of law enforcement agencies beating Blacks. They were planning to rebroadcast them. These scenes seemed to indicate to the Soviets, that this civil unrest was possibly the beginning of the end of the United States.

The KGB’s focus was to take advantage of the ideal environment that existed during the riot. They analyzed the hot summer night combined with flaring tempers and civil unrest, existing racial tensions, poverty, unemployment, and the social despair of the Black Los Angeles ghetto, and concluded such situations could forment chaos and possibly anarchy. But Mitrokhin felt this analyzation was indeed a miscalculation by the KGB.

The riot was documented in the Soviet Union KGB files as “causing 36 deaths, leaving 1,032 injured and causing damage estimated at more than 40 million dollars.”

The KGB seemed to have hoped that as violence intensified, King would be swept aside by Black radicals such as Stokely Carmichael, who told a meeting of Third World revolutionaries in Cuba in the summer of 1967, “We have a common enemy. Our struggle is to overthrow this system. We are moving into open guerilla warfare in the United States.”

Traveling on to North Vietnam, Carmichael declared in Hanoi, “We are not reformists …We are revolutionaries. We want to change the American system.”

Having given up hope of influencing MLK who was more focused on civil rights as opposed to getting rid of imperialism, the KGB decided to replace him with a “more radical and malleable leader. In August 1967, the KGB approved an operational plan by KGB controller Modin. According to the plan, the KGB would organize several fronts to attack MLK’s credibility using resources the KGB had established in the U.S. via it’s Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) operatives.

The KGB had, prior to attacking MLK’s credibility, implemented a program that began the publication and distribution of brochures, pamphlets, leaflets and appeals denouncing the policy of the Johnson administration on the Negro question and exposing the brutal terrorist methods being used by the government to suppress the Negro rights movement.

The KGB agents also arranged resources for leading figures in the legal profession to make public statements discrediting the policy of the Johnson administration on the Negro question.

The KGB forged and distributed through illegal channels a document showing that the John Birch Society, in conjunction with the Minuteman organization, was developing a plan for the physical elimination of leading figures in the Negro movement in the United States.

Former Russian citizen Oleg Gorelik, talked about how the situation appeared to normal soviets. He felt pursecuted in the Soviet Union and emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in the late 1970s because of the discrimination Jews were experiencing in that country. His family got out, when the Soviet Union allowed Russian Jews out due to pressures from the west. The former Russian citizen particularly remembers Pravada reports about the Watts Riots while living in the Ukraine. He also remembers Pravada describing the long, hot summers in Black ghettos inundated with looting and Molotov cocktail bombs.

He reasoned that these stories must have been important to the soviet government because they were constantly in Pravda and on Soviet government-owned radio stations. And even though the riot lasted only six days, it was portrayed in Russian media as lasting 30 days. Russians believed this was the end of the West due to the trumped up propaganda of Soviet media. He remembers idolizing the citizens of Watts for standing up for their rights. Gorelik also remembers hearing rumors of conspiracies involving the Soviet Union courting Black people like Angela Davis, the Black Panther Party and Stokely Carmichael with KGB operatives belonging to the CPUSA.

In fact, after King’s assassination, the KGB realized that the violence and rioting was what they wanted. They consequently, helped turn the civil rights leader into a martyr and spread conspiracy theories alleging that his murder had been planned by White racists with the convenience of the authorities,” said Mitrokin in his book.

Oleg Kalugin, the one-time head of counterintelligence for the Russian KGB, told Las Vegas Eyewitness News reporter George Knap on July 5, 2001, that the civil rights movement provided more fertile ground.

cover story published 1/16/14

King and
the FBI

The price of conviction

By Gregg Reese

OW Contributor

Authors Note: Last week we investigated the Soviet Union’s KGB (intelligence agency) which attempted to discredit or assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King in hopes of starting a race war during the Cold War (1949-1989). This week we investigate the FBI’s attempt to commit similar acts of sabotage.

April 4, 1967, was a milestone in the public life of Martin Luther King Jr. Heretofore, he had been known primarily as a civil rights activist, but today he was making a departure from his previous ideological doctrine. Today in New York’s historical Riverside Church he was going to come out publicly against the Vietnam War. King had made public utterances against the conflict before, taking care not to alienate his supporters in the White community, but today the war and its moral ramifications would be the main focus of his address (hence its title “Beyond Vietnam”) before more than 3,000 parishioners in one of the foremost Black churches in the United States. Unbeknownst to King, his proclamation would again place him in the crosshairs of the FBI.

For Dr. King, it was part of a logical progression. The conflict in a strange, little country few even knew existed resonated mightily within the core of his being, since increasingly larger numbers of those designated for combat in that far off corner of the world were young “Negro” boys, as they were called by polite society back then, and many of those close to him, especially his wife, Coretta Scott King, were urging him to become more vocal. More importantly, he may have reached a point where, as a man of the cloth, he realized his allegiance to the world at large as opposed to one specific church congregation or ethnic group.

Finally, President Lyndon B. Johnson, normally an ardent proponent of civil rights, took steps to divert funds from the War on Poverty to Vietnam in December of 1966, which forced King to question the rationale of taking “young Black men who have been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed a position of power equaled by few men in the history of U.S. politics. Serving under eight American presidents, more than one of his “superiors” suppressed the urge to have him fired no doubt because of the political backlash and retaliation that was sure to follow. During his almost 50-year tenure at the helm, he amassed vast dossiers on potential enemies in the government and political arena and beyond, specializing in the sort of inflammatory information they would go to great lengths to keep covered.

A man given to many pet peeves, the foremost of which was subversion, he was known for his relentless pursuit of those (in his view) who constituted a threat to the security of the government. During the course of his career they’d included leftist radicals in the aftermath of World War I, bank robbers and bootleggers during the Depression, Nazi saboteurs in World War II, and communist sympathizers during the 1950s.

Now, deep in the turbulence of the ‘60s, he faced his biggest challenge. Radical elements seemed to be sprouting up on every college campus to openly exhibit contempt for American ideals and institutions, and sweeping up the best and brightest of the Baby-boomer generation in the process. Of particular concern to Hoover was the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, which he saw as being ripe for infiltration by the Communist Party.

Specifically distasteful to the F.B.I. director was the movement’s most famous proponent, Dr. King, whose alleged promiscuous sexual liaisons offended Hoover’s puritanical sensibilities. Since his death, Hoover has been the subject of numerous insinuations and innuendoes, including speculation that he was a cross-dressing homosexual with hidden African American ancestry, one source being literary icon and fellow Washington, D.C. native Gore Vidal, which may explain his relentless pursuit of individuals with similar backgrounds and preferences.

“Hoover was becoming famous, and it was always said of him—in my family and around the city—that he was mulatto. People said he came from a family that had ‘passed.’ It was the word they used for people of Black origin who, after generations of inbreeding, have enough White blood to pass themselves off as White. That’s what was always said about Hoover.” -Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, 1993.

The idea that homophobes (those with an irrational fear or hatred of gays) are themselves a repressed homosexual goes back to Sigmund Freud’s initial musings on the nature of human behavior. Ethnic self-hatred is common enough to have spawned a number of studies, possibly the best known case being that of closeted U.S. Attorney Roy Cohn (and a political ally of Hoover) who zealously railroaded fellow Jews Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair for passing atomic weapons secrets to Russia, and strongly opposed gay-rights legislation before he himself died of AIDS.

As for Hoover, much has been made of the fact that for such a well-known public figure, little documentation was available on his early life, with no birth certificate on record until he was well into his 40s, along with his unusually close association with fellow F.B.I. man and lifelong bachelor Clyde Tolson.