Baylor University Poage Library

MLK Hearings

MLK Hearings (1978)


Note in the box:


Dear Penn:

Here is the balance of the MLK tapes. Hope you have not been too disappointed in their quality. I have already started on the JFK box. I had saved over 20 of them but as I replay, I am not too sure you will want them. I'll send a few at a time and let you decide.


Mary Love Smith


Note of Cassette II, 8-16-1978

Cass @ 2 is dated Aug 16. James Earl Ray on the witness stand. I do not have tape for 15th – apparently there was a session with Dr. Baden, Ch. Med. Examiner, City of N. Y., and 2 other pathologists giving forensic testimony. Either the quality was very poor, or the testimony was so dull, I discarded the cassette. On this cassette Ray is questioned all day. The start of side 2 starts out very scratchy but clears up in a few minutes.

The session was adjourned early and side 2 of the tape is blank, after the comments of the two reporters, half way thru. I do not have tapes of the next two days for whatever reason.

Some of it must have been very good because Mark Lane, who was representing Ray had a brawl with the Committee – if you were listening at that time, you might recall. Then Hearings were adjourned on Aug 17 or 18th until November 9th – see Tape #3.


Note of Cassette III, 11-9-78

Side 1 is mostly a recap by the reporters and a summary by Blakey, I believe. There is a hiatus of the consecutive flow of the hearing because I stopped recording here and began again later with testimony of the forensic findings regarding the gun. There regarding the windowsill of the hotel where Ray was accused of staying when King was killed.

During this testimony, the quality of the taping deteriorates intermittently. Hearings of 11-10 have been discarded if I made them. The next 2 days were Saturday and Sunday.


Note of Cassette IV and V.

This cassette and the following are possibly November 13, and are mostly the testimony of Percy Forman. His testimony was very lengthy and I believe I did not keep all of it.

Cass #V side 1 continues with Percy Forman testimony. Side 2 begins with reporters recapping Forman's testimony, and refers to testimony of Sgt. East of the British police. East had been Ray's jailer in London. I had discarded the taping of East for some reason. The reporters' recapping was rather extensive at this time, and more interesting than the actual testimony of the witness. Following this the hearings resume with a Canale – District Attorney's on the stand.


Note of Cassette VI, 11-20-78

Testimony of a Mr. Taylor, a member of the "invaders", a group of young people who felt they were not being given enough voice in the Civil Rights Movement.

This tape was a remake of an original, which I edited to compress and explain.


Note of Cassette VII, 11-27-1978

Think this is the first tape of 11-27-78. Opens with recapping by reporters. Then a lengthy summary by Prof. Blakey re apparent bias of FBI against King. Then Carter De Loche, former FBI assistant to J E Hoover is called to testify. Blakey refers to the diminishing of FBI funds after Ray was arrested, and implies this shows Hoover was not interested in trying to find out if there was a conspiracy. Blakey thinks this was an error. Reference was made to Ramsey Clark. The taping deteriorates somewhat here to the end of side 1.

Side 2 is of poor quality, but most of it can be understood to about halfway through. Mr. Beeson questions De Loche here whether a Grand Jury should have been called to investigate. Also questions why Ray was not read his Miranda Rights.

The tape quality gets better intermittently, then worse again. Beeson suggests that the "bugging" of Ray's family and friends could have put in jeopardy any possible trail of conspiracy. De Loche did not agree.

The remainder of side 2 becomes indistinguishable from here to end, but was a discussion about Hoover's accusations publicly caused a feud between King and Hoover. De Loche defends the FBI to the end.


Note of Cassette VIII, 11-27-78

De Loche still on witness stand. He is answering questions about the testimony of Aurthur Murtaugh. He had given testimony a couple of weeks previously which had been derogatory to the FBI.

Then Chr. Stokes takes up the questioning. De Loche says the Dept. had information that it was alleged that someone "high in the communist party had influence over King." Stokes presses De Loache to admit that King had superior education and would not be easily influenced. He admits that the communists "failed miserably" to infiltrate King"s Civil Rights Movement.

Side 2. Chr. Stokes still questioning De Loache. He asks De Loache if he knew anything about the tape sent to Coretta King and King suggesting he, King, commit suicide.

Cong. Pryor then takes up the questioning after him. Cong. Devine then takes up the questioning. De Loache admits Hoover had a large ego; but that he was a deeply religious man.

Then they speak of the meeting between Hoover, King, arranged by De Loache. Dr. Abernathy, Cong. Fauntroy were present.

After DeVine, Fauntroy questions De L. again. Refers to FBI desiring to "neutralize" King as a leader.


Note of Cassette IX, 11-27-78

Cass. XI continues Fauntroy questioning of De Loache immediately on the end Cass. VIII. Fauntroy details much of the pressure Hoover wants put on King. De Loach says this phase was before he was in that section of the FBI and maintained he was not aware of it until later.

Brennan and Sullivan are names hat appear as the FBI men on this phase of it.

Fauntroy tries to bring out the possibility that the Hoover tactics were conducive to the atmostphere that might cause the assassination of King. De Loache denies this energetically. Fauntroy pursues the subject for a while. Goes into the meeting De Loache arranged with Hoover, King, Abernathy and Andrew Young. Goes into conversation at this meeting re communist infiltration.

Then Cong. Fithian begins questioning at the end of side 1. Whether Gravd Jary should have been called.

Side 2. De Loache denies the efficacy of such a steps regarding conspiracy. He firmly asserts that Ray was the lone assassin. Fithian finishes, and Blakey asks questions re not pursuing the conspiracy angle; De Loache argues with him. De Loache is excused. Chr. Stokes then makes a long statementn concerning murder and conspiracy.

He excoriates the FBI for setting out to destroy a citizen, as was brought out in the testimony.


Note of Cassette X, 11-28-78 (tape missing)

Testimony of Ramsey Clark who was in the Atty. Gens. Dept (headed by Robt Kennedy at the time Dr. King was being kept under illegal surveillance and cduring the time Hoover was fanatical about him.

Chr. Stokes is doing the questioning. Clark speaks of the fact that Hoover had a large preoccupation with sex." Tokes lets him talk at length, then asks him about the period when Clark was the A.G.; if he was aware of the activities against King. Clark ways he believes that Hoover was very cautious about such activities.

Clark feels that the FBI did a good job of the investigation, and that the President thought so, too (Kennedy)


Note of Cassette XI, 11-29-78


There was a second tape with the testimony of Ramsey Clark which I had discarded. I found a note in the box with the information that Fauntroy questioned him, asking why he, Clark, did not form a strike force after he became Atty. Gen., to make an unbiased investigation. I think Clark just repeated that he and JFK (RFK?) had been satisfied that the F.B.I. had done alright.

Clark was then excused, and a Steven Pollard was brought to the stand. He had been head of the Civil Right Div. at the Justice Dept. I did not make notes on it, so there is a hiatus here to the next tape: number XI 11-29.

This tape starts out with the reporters making an extensive recapping of what had occurred in the interim. This was the end of the original broadcast that day on the other radio station. Next comes the re-broadcast on KLON, starting at the beginning of that day's hearings. Again the reporters are recapping. Hope this reversal of continuity is not too confusing. Anyway, the hearings start with Lawrence Weenick, former atty. For a witness named Byers who had given testimony earlier in the day, with radio, T.V. and photographers blocked out. This witness tells about the $50,000 offer to have King assassinated.

Side 2 continues to delve into this angle Matthews, Counsel for the Committee connects the web of the segregationist, right-wing groups, to the Ray family. The reporters' remarks are very frank in their consternation that the FBI had not followed any of these leads.


Note of Cassette XII, 11-30-78

Tape XII begins with remarks of Counsel preparatory to calling Jerry Ray to stand. This is his first appearance, and there is much protestion (sid) from his attorneys about the procedure.

This is a pretty good taping and does not really need my notes.

Following this tape were 2 more of Jerry both dated 11-30. On rechecking them, I am not sure which comes first; so I'll just number them the best I can.


Note of Cassette XIII, 11-30-78

Jerry Ray Still on the witness stand. This is a good clear tape and does not need explanation by me. A George McMillan is mentioned a number of times, Believe he wrote a story about James Ray. Maybe you can verify this if you wish.


Note of Cassette XIV, 11-30-1978


Tape XIV starts with testimony of Jerry finishing. This is date 11-30-78. This ends shortly and Jerry is excused. Then the 2 reporters recap what has occurred in the past 3 days. The session was in adjournment so there is a lot of background noise in the hearing room.

Side B is either the continuing dialogue from side A or else it is where I started to tape on the other station's re-broadcasting of the earlier portion.

Anyway the opening of the hearings of the following days – 12-1-78 begin and the reporters talk. Then I inserted a remark of my own at the time, which is not clear, either – so press on and hope for the best.

Then Counsel presents a long recap and outline of the findings up to then. This is of very poor quality, so be patient, or advance the tape forward to near the end where I try to make a brief explanation, which will probably confuse you more, especially a remark I made about my cat!

Except for the good recapping of the reporters, this cassette also could have been discarded.


Note of Cassette XV, 12-1-78 (John Ray)

Cass XV opens with John Ray still on the witness stand. Evidently there was a tape between XIV and XV with first portion of John's testimony which I discarded. It is still 12-1-78 and Counsel was speaking when atty. for John broke in, fireworks between him and the Chairman. The taping is fair quality, so I will not make notes.


Note of Cassette XVI

Evidently this is also a reverse order of hearings of Cass V; because John is still on the sitness stand, and I thought he was already excused. My mistake. Farther on in this tape I believe it becomes clear that the last half of the tape was made from another station from the beginning by tape delay.

The reporters make explanatory remarks.

If you feel they are really worthwhile (my tapes) maybe someone could re-work them professionally, after the sequence and correct spelling of names inserted as commentary.

Side B is the closing of MLK hearings.


Note of Cassette XIX, 12-11-78

It is now Dec. 11, 1978, Cass # XIX.

The previous tape I sent you last was number XVIII of Sept 17th which ended this open hearings. XIX starts with the reporters from both MLK and JFK hearings making a short explanation.

Then chairman Stokes makes an opening statement of the Committee's purpose to make laws to better handle assassinations of high government officials.

The first witness is FBI Chief Webster.

Note to Penn: there may have been some material following Salerno's testimony of Sept 27. If so, I am unable to locate it.


Note of Cassette XX, 12-11-78 (Intermagnetic Cass.)

Ch. Webster still on the stand on Cass XX.

This is fair quality and can be understood. After he is excused, the reporters recap.

Side 2. Then the afternoon session begins, and the reporter makers a short introduction and mentions the case of Uri Nosenko who was treated badly by the CIA while a prisoner in the U.S. Frank Carlacet, Deputy Director of the C.I.A. is then called to the witness stand. He makes a long opening statement, mostly about the secrecy of the C.I.A. he is still testifying, and continues on Cass. XXI.


Note of Cassette XXI, 12-11-78

This black Intermagnetic 60" also dated 12-11-78. The quality is rather poor and am not sure if it is a continuation of the questioning of Dir. Carlucci or if it is a repetition in part of the preceding tape #XX. I am including it anyway and a better recorder may clarify the sound. His testimony ends part way through side 2. Some other voice or the PBS reporters can be heard in the background, and I am not sure how this occurred. (Can this be the testimony of Judge Webster? These two recordings can be separated)

After Carlucci is excused, the reporter makes the usual recapping, but the background voice can still be heard, also the other reporter Fay Fauechee. This concludes side 2 of Cassette XXI.

Note: Webster test. Is on tapes XIX and XX.


Note of Cassette XXII, 12-12-78 (red/green intermagnetic 60")

Starts with the reporters talking at the end of the previous day's session. Then begins 12/12/78.

The two PBS reporters are discussing the general thrust of the House Hearings. Then Chr. Stokes calls H. S. Knight of the Secret Service Dept. he is asked about "Guidelines". Also speaks of "agreement of execution" (of action) with the FBI and the other agencies.

Side 1 ends with departure of H. S. Knight, and summary by the reporters.

Side 2. The reporters are just finishing by saying the afternoon session will have Dep. Atty. Gen. Benjamin Civiletti to end of tape. Re legislation so federal agency can have access to films, tapes, and other documents in case of assassination of a high government official.


Note of Cassette XXIII, 12-12-78

Follows immediately. Civilletti still being questioned re jurisdictions and procedures of various agencies and whether new statutes should be enacted to help prevent assassinations and to expedite investigation and capture of the criminal.

Civilletti continues on tape XXIV.


Note of Cassette XXIV, 12-12-78

Civilletti still being questioned along the same lines regarding legislation, with attention to the assassination of non-government person, but those of great prominence. His response continues on side 2 to about ½ way down the tape. Then Chr. Stokes summarizes the purpose of the hearings and thanks the staff. After this Nina Totenbereg and Fay Fancher of P.B.S. also summarize and sign off (Nina thinks the 1-bullet theory has been proven.)