News & Politics

REYNOLDS: Covering Up the MLK Murder

Reynolds writes: "If a former FBI officer swears that federal agents are harassing him for revealing new evidence in the re-opened investigation into the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, wouldn't you think the investigation is bogus?"
If a former FBI officer swears that federal agents are harassing him for revealing new evidence in the re-opened investigation into the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, wouldn't you think the investigation is bogus?What Donald Wilson says is happening to his family should be a lesson for all those who hoped that the recently re-opened King case would pursue "wherever the evidence leads," the promise made by Attorney General Janet Reno. After Coretta King urged Reno to re-open the case, partially because of Wilson's new information, Reno promised to conduct a "limited" inquiry. But now it seems that there will only be an attempt to beat back or harm anyone who tries to supply information that contradicts the official FBI conclusion -- that James Earl Ray was the lone assassin.In an exclusive interview from his home near Chicago, Wilson asserted that he has been harassed since coming forth with new information that might prove the existence of "Raul," the mystery man that James Earl Ray said set him up to become a "pasty" in the assassination of King.On April 4, 1968 -- the day of the shooting -- Wilson was a 25-year-old FBI agent in Atlanta. "I had joined the bureau to do something positive about civil rights, but I soon learned that this would never happen, because the FBI was a very racist organization," said Wilson. "I saw how the agents in the Atlanta bureau laughed and were so happy when King was killed."Wilson said that his penchant for civil rights resulted in his getting tucked away in the Bureau's stolen cars division. Ironically, this re-assignment made him the first agent to open the door of Ray's abandoned Mustang in an Atlanta parking lot one week after the King assassination. Inside Ray's abandoned car, Wilson found two pertinent pieces of evidence."There were two cops and an FBI agent on the passenger side, and I was on the driver's side," Wilson recalled. "I opened the door and a little white envelope fell at my feet. I reached down and put it in my pocket."Inside the envelope, Wilson found two pieces of paper. On one, the name "Raul" was written, with a phone number that rang to a Dallas night club owned by Jack Ruby. Ruby, who had killed Lee Harvey Oswald, was rumored to have connections with the Central Intelligence Agency. The other slip of paper had names and payoff amounts, according to Wilson.For nearly 30 years, Wilson said has kept quiet -- first fearing a bad mark on his record if he stepped forth with the information, and fear his personal safety. "I knew that the FBI would go to any lengths to accomplish its ends: assassination, murder, anything. But after I saw Coretta King on television talking so passionately about finding the truth, I decided to step forward."Wilson initially believed that Reno would institute change in the FBI. But shortly after he met with agents about the new information, he realized how much things had remained the same. "I had the papers in a bank vault near Chicago. Barry Kowalski, who is one of the Justice Department's lead investigators, called me screaming and threatening me and demanding the information. He told me, 'We will get it the hard way or the easy way.' He told me if I went to the vault to get the papers I would be arrested for obstruction of justice."What hurts so badly was that I asked them not to bother my wife, who is sickly. And they called her up and screamed at her and told her I was a liar and they would show up at my job where I teach at-risk students, if I didn't give them my papers."Wilson said he gave the federal law enforcement agents his papers after finding his wife's tires slashed. "I know what they are capable of," he admitted. He recalled an incident where he spoke out against racism in the Bureau in the 1960s. Shortly after his statement, Wilson received a message that his baby daughter was deathly ill. Although there was nothing wrong with the girl, he felt the message was a warning to keep quiet.On how the investigation of the King case will proceed under Reno, Wilson said, "The Justice Department has a track record of deception and lies. I have no confidence in the outcome of this inquiry. I know my information has been tampered with and will be discounted."Wilson's story has been discounted by the FBI, who say that he was not among the five agents who searched James Earl Ray's car. The Bureau has also failed to disclose any information about harassing or contacting Wilson.
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