Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Then and Now

Back in the '60s, the great menace that justified an illegal war against a country that never threatened us, the erosion of civil liberties including warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens and the infiltration of peaceful political groups, and the labelling of dissenters as traitors, was the International Communist Conspiracy™. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was particularly obssessed with Martin Luther King, Jr. I was going to write about this today but President Gore beat me to it, so I get the day off.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

President Gore didn't spell it out, but the specific method the FBI used to try to blackmail King into committing suicide was to threaten to make public tape recordings made in hotel rooms where he had adulterous assignations. Dr. King was a great champion of humanity, but he was also human. The impostor who pretends to be president today claims he is listening to our telephone conversations because he wants to keep us safe. What sane person would believe him?

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