Jump to content
The Education Forum

MLK Assassination Records Act


Recommended Posts

John Judge of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) has been working with Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D.Ga.) on a number of projects, including the release of the MLK Assassination investigation records of the House Select Committee on Assassinatons (HSCA).

John pretty much wrote the MLK Act that was recently introduced in Congress, basing it mainly on the JFK Assassination Records Act, which took many years of lobby efforts to get passed, and would not have passed at all if Oliver Stone didn't mention the sealed records at the end of him film "JFK".

We originally lobbied Congress to do away with the law that sealed all Congressonal records for 50 years, which would have included the MLK records of the HSCA, but after the reaction to "JFK" Congress decided to order the release of all JFK assassination records from all government agencies, and not all Congressional records. When Stone testified at a Congressional hearing, he asked, "What do I have to do to get the MLK assassination records released, make a movie about that too?"

Well Judge and McKinney have been working on this for quite awhile and now is the time to get other Congressmen to sign on to the act and to get those on the government reform committee to hold hearings and get the bill out of Committee and onto the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

If any American citizen is a constituent of any of the representatives on the government reform committee, it would be of great signifiance to write them a letter requesting that they support the MLK Assassination Records Act and ensure that it passes in this Congress.

John Judge will be in Dallas at the Dallas COPA conference and will be available to discuss this issue with anyone interested.

Many thanks to all who respond,

Bill Kelly

bkjfk3@yahoo.com

NOTE FROM JOHN JUDGE:

Friends,

I am working closely with Rep. Cynthia McKinney to support passage of

the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Records Act of 2005, HR 2554. We are

currently calling Congressional offices to seek co-sponsors for the

bill, and to move it to hearings in the House Government Reform

Committee as well as to find someone to sponsor a similar bill on the

Senate side. We have 16 co-sponsor as of the end of this week.

Now is the time for representaives to hear from supporters among their

constituents regarding this bill. If you have a working relationship

with a member of Congress, please contact them and get their support.

They can contact Rep. McKinney's office at 202-225-1605 about this. We

have a deadline of next week for the co-sponsors.

I am attaching a summary of the bill as well if they are not familiar

with it and to give you talking points. It is based on the successful

JFK Records Act and goes beyond that legislation to incorporate many of

the ARRB rules and regulations as well as to correct some of the

shortcomings we discovered. This is a good time to call with the recent

revival of the civil rights community around the death of Rosa Parks

and the discussions about that era in the news. Our history should belong

to us. If anyone asks, the King family is behind the bill and we have

several co-sponsors already.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform.

Here is their membership roster:

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM

2157 Rayburn House Office Building

(202) 225-5074

(202) 225-3974 FAX

Chairman Tom Davis (VA)

Republicans

Christopher Shays (CT), Vice-Chair

Dan Burton (IN)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)

John M. McHugh (NY)

John L. Mica (FL)

Gil Gutknecht (MN)

Mark E. Souder (IN)

Steven C. LaTourette (OH)

Todd Russell Platts (PA)

Chris Cannon (UT)

John J. Duncan, Jr. (TN)

Candice S. Miller (MI)

Michael R. Turner (OH)

Darrell E. Issa (CA)

Ginny Brown-Waite (FL)

Jon C. Porter (NV)

Kenny Marchant (TX)

Lynn A. Westmoreland (GA)

Patrick T. McHenry (NC)

Charles W. Dent (PA)

Virginia Foxx (NC)

Vacancy

Democrats

Henry A. Waxman (CA)

Tom Lantos (CA)

Major R. Owens (NY)

Edolphus Towns (NY)

Paul E. Kanjorski (PA)

Carolyn B. Maloney (NY)

Elijah E. Cummings (MD)

Dennis J. Kucinich (OH)

Danny K. Davis (IL)

Wm. Lacy Clay (MO)

Diane E. Watson (CA)

Stephen F. Lynch (MA)

Chris Van Hollen (MD)

Linda T. Sanchez (CA)

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)

Brian Higgins (NY)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)

Independent

Bernard Sanders (VT)

Several members are part of the Congressional Black Caucus,

progressives

and liberals, or moderate Democrats. The chair and vice chair, Tom

Davis

and Christoper Shays should be approachable on this bill. To date, no

other committee or subcommittee has asked for referral. The chair could

either hold a full committee hearing or assign it to a subcommittee.

There are subcommittees on Government Accountability, Criminal Justice

and National Security, and one of them might be assigned or ask to be.

To learn more about the Committee visit: http://reform.house.gov/

Here is our strategy at this point.

The bill needs more co-sponsors in the House, so please email, fax,

call

or contact your Congressional representative and ask for their

legislative aide. The most important sponsors will be those listed

above, but numbers count.

If your representative is listed above, call and ask for the

legislative

aide that is assigned to their work on the Government Reform committee.

Ask the legislative aides to bring the bill to the Congressperson's

attention. Follow up and develop a working relationship with that aide,

and call back to find out what is happening. We want those

representatives on the Committee to co-sponsor the bill and to ask the

chair, Rep. Tom Davis, or their subcommiteee chair to hold hearings.

We feel if the bill is presented correctly it will not cause a great

deal of controversy. Focus on releasing the historical record on Dr.

King and his life, not on the assassination. Mention that the records

are now 37 years old or older. Mention the success of the earlier JFK

Records Act using the same model, which has led to the release of over

6.5 million pages previously classified. A similar model which has

functioned well is the Nazi War Criminals Records Act, which has

released 8.5 million pages. These are all pieces of our history and

they

belong to the people. These types of legislation are a counter to the

excessive secrecy of the classification system, which made 14.5 million

records classification decisions last year alone.

Please alert us if you are writing or calling a representative on the

Committee or otherwise, and what their response is. We will be actively

tracking the progress and visiting offices here as well to move the

bill

toward hearings and a vote.

This bill is based primarily on the JFK Records Act, but has been

modified to overcome many of the shortcomings of that Act and its

implementation. This Review Board will be more representative of those

seeking release of the files; it will include a citizen advisory

committee; it will not exclude ongoing FOIA requests or court

challenges; it will release all the files in a shorter period of time

from the beginning of the process (7-9 years maximum); and it will

enact

a presumption of release for any files not yet reviewed or subsequently

discovered after the termination of the Review Board and ensure that

any

item found in the future that meets the definition of a related record

will be released under the standards of this act. A more complete

description of the bill and a timeline is attached.

I want to acknowledge the extensive work done to get this bill drafted

and introduced by COPA member researchers T Carter, and Bill Kelly, and

the staff of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Without her help and

encouragement, there would be no bill in the Congress. Passage of this

bill will have an impact on future release of files and a more

permanent model using independent review panels to effect declassification

decisions.

OK, tie up their fax machines, clog their email, burn their phone

lines, dog their personal appearances and make them feel the grassroots

pressure and momentum for this bill. If you are a member of any public

organization that will support the bill, please get them to send

statements to McKinney's office and to get their membership to join in

the pressure on Congress. Let us know about your progress.

Thanks for your support!

John Judge

Coalition on Political Assassinations

PO Box 772

Washington, DC 20044

Thanks - John Judge

SUMMARY OF REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. RECORDS COLLECTION ACT OF 2005

The primary purposes of this Act are:

· The expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

· The preservation of all such records for historical purposes.

· Secure a presumption of disclosure to fully inform the public.

· Establish an independent and accountable process for public disclosure.

This Act is necessary because:

· Records might be lost or destroyed which are not subject to disclosure until 2038.

· The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has prevented timely disclosure.

· Executive Order #12356 on “National Security Information” recently eliminated declassification schedules and prevents timely disclosure.

· Previously released records are being evaluated for re-classification.

· Most related records are more than 35 years old, and only in rare cases are there legitimate reasons to protect them from disclosure.

There is a compelling public interest in prompt public disclosure of records for historical and government purposes, and to fully inform the American people about the history surrounding the life and assassination of Dr. King.

The Act will create a Martin Luther King Records Collection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and will require expeditious transfer of records to the collection.

The Act will disclose a broad range of related records on the life and assassination of Dr. King that have been created, obtained by or came into the possession of earlier investigations, including the:

· Rockefeller Commission

· Church Committee

· Pike Committee

· House Select Committee on Assassinations

· Library of Congress

· National Archives and Records Administration

· Presidential Libraries

· Executive and independent federal agency offices

· State and local law enforcement supporting any federal inquiries

· Deeds and gifts to NARA

The Act defines related records as public or private, regardless of how labeled or identified, that document, report on, analyze or interpret activities, persons or events reasonably related to the life and assassination of Dr. King. These records will include any investigations or inquiries into his life of death by federal, state or local agencies. And any other record not described in the Act that has the potential to enhance, enrich, and broaden the historical record relating to Dr. King.

The Act will also release all types of records, including books, papers, maps, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, digital or computer files, physical evidence and artifacts to the National Archives MLK Collection, including:

· Records created by but no longer in the possession of government agencies, or in the possession of any individual by virtue of service with a government agency, or anyone who obtained a record from any government source or individual

· Intra-agency investigations, analysis or communications, requests by government investigations, and segregated documents or files created by the House Select Committee on Assassinations

· Documents used during declassification reviews of related records, and all other indexes that disclose cryptonyms, code names, symbols, numbers, aliases or identifiers that appear in the records

· Records in repositories and archives of a university, library, historical society or similar organization

· Records under seal by courts or grand juries

· Foreign government records

· Records of federal contractors

· Records of government controlled corporations.

NARA and the government agencies will create an identification aid for each record, which include:

· Books and paper records

· Maps

· Photographs and films

· Recordings

· Computerized files regardless of the storage medium

· Physical evidence and artifacts

And the Archive will insure the provenance, physical integrity and original copies of the records. NARA will also prepare and publish a Subject Guidebook & Index and a central directory of records that will allow access by online searches to records, identification aids and indexes.

All related records will be transferred for immediate release to the Archive or sent for review for redaction or postponement by the MLK Records Review Board, but no record will be withheld indefinitely. The Act outlines the procedures for agencies to determine whether originals or copies of different types of records should be certified and transmitted. No related record may be destroyed, altered or mutilated in any way after passage of this Act. Any record previously declassified and disclosed may not be withheld, redacted, reclassified or postponed for release. Records pending review by the Board will be transmitted to a secure location at their offices. Priority in searching for records will be given to those records previously released or available for declassification in full, as well as any related records pending review under the Freedom of Information Act. Any related records discovered after termination of the MLK Records Review Board or the Act will continue to be reviewed for release under the standards of this Act, not the Freedom of Information Act or other legislation or executive orders concerning declassification.

To facilitate review of records, agencies will provide the MLK Records Review Board with all manuals, instruction materials and guidelines used in their search, organizational charts, filing systems and organization, storage facilities, indexing symbols, and search methods used. The Act also requires them to report any reclassification to a higher level, transfer, destruction, theft or other information regarding the status of related records in their possession.

The National Archives will also create a secondary location for copies of appropriate items in the Collection, in agreement with a public or private institution of higher education, research institution, museum or other archival institution that requests to store them. These institutions must have a proven record of archival collection and preservation, provide maximum public access, and encourage continuing study and education regarding the life and assassination of Dr. King.

In addition, all reproducible items in the Collection at the National Archives will be available for public inspection and copying through an electronic format within 30 days of transmission. Artifacts and physical evidence will be available through photographs or drawings, but additional display, examination or testing of an artifact will be allowed if it will reveal aspects that cannot be determined from the images.

No related record may be withheld indefinitely, and there is a strong presumption of release based on weighing the public interest against the gravity of the threat posed by release to the military defense, intelligence operations, or conduct of foreign relations of the United States. Clear and convincing evidence is necessary to create grounds for temporary postponements of release or redaction or records. These grounds are limited to threats to a living intelligence agent whose identity currently requires protection, an intelligence source or method currently in use which has not yet been officially disclosed, disclosures of sources and methods that would interfere with the conduct of current intelligence activities, and any other matter that would demonstrably impair the national security of the United States.

The Martin Luther King Records Review Board will be established as an independent agency with five members, appointed by the President and approved with the advice and consent of the Senate, to facilitate the review and transmission of all related records to the Archivist for public disclosure. The President will also appoint three alternate members to serve on the Board in the case of a vacancy. Nominations will be considered among persons recommended by the Society of American Archivists, the National Bar Association, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

All nominees to the MLK Records Review Board must be impartial private citizens, not presently employed by any branch of the government, and who have been involved with any official investigation or inquiry into the life and death of Dr. King conducted by any federal, state or local government, and who also have not been previously employed by any intelligence or law enforcement agency relating to Dr. King. These nominees will be distinguished persons of high national professional reputation in their respective fields who are capable of exercising independent and objective judgment to insure the review and public disclosure of all related records, and who appreciate the value of such material to the public, scholars and the government. They will include at least one professional historian, one attorney, one researcher, and one representative of the civil rights community.

All nominees will be granted the necessary security clearances in an accelerated manner prior to being considered for confirmation by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Based on hearings and a vote by the Committee, they will be confirmed by the full Senate. Vacancies will be filled by the same methods. The Review Board will then elect one member as chairperson at its initial meeting. The Act establishes strict standards, procedures and judicial appeals required in the removal of any Review Board member.

All MLK Review Board staff will meet the same qualifications as Review Board members, and their security clearances will be accelerated to allow access to classified records. Employment and initial duties will be dependent on successful security clearance review. The Act provides that all members and staff of the Review Board will be protected under federal laws relating to whistleblowers, particularly relating to the disclosure of improper document retention, release or disclosure.

The Review Board will appoint within 30 days of its inception an independent citizen advisory committee under provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act that includes members of the civil rights community and the King family.

Within 45 days of its first meeting, the Board will appoint a citizen to the position of Executive Director, using the same criteria that apply to qualify Review Board members, and secure necessary security clearances. The Executive director serves as a liaison to the federal offices, and will be responsible for administration of the review of records and all official activities of the Board, but shall have no authority to determine whether any record will be postponed or released to the public. The Executive Director can be removed by a majority vote of the Board for serious cause.

The MLK Records Review Board will have the power to direct government offices to locate and organize related records and transmit them for review or release. Thy may also investigate the facts surrounding the transmission or possession of records, and take testimony of individuals in order to fulfill their responsibilities.

The Board can request the Attorney General to subpoena private persons or government employees to compel testimony or records, and require agencies to account in writing for any previous or current destruction of related records. The Board can receive information from the public about the identification and disclosure of related records, and hold hearings, administer oaths or subpoena witnesses and documents. Acting on a lawful request of the Board, these subpoenas can be enforced by any appropriate federal court. The Review Board can also offer witness immunity to elicit testimony.

The Review Board can also request that the Attorney General petition any court in the United States or abroad to release any sealed information or physical evidence relevant to the life or death of Dr. King, and to subpoena such evidence if it is no longer in the possession of the government. A similar request can be made for release of any information held under the injunction of secrecy of a grand jury. The Act requires the Attorney general to assist the Board in such requests in good faith to unseal any such records. The Secretary of State will contact any other foreign government that may hold relevant information and seek its disclosure, and will report on its progress in a timely fashion to the Review Board. All Executive agencies are required by the Act to cooperate in full with the Review Board to seek disclosure of all related records, consistent with the public interest.

Within 90 days of appointment, the Review Board will publish a schedule for review of all related records in the Federal Register, and begin its review within the next 90 days. In the absence of finding that the record is not related to the life and death of Dr. King, or that information in the record qualifies for postponement, the Board will direct transmission to the Archivist for public release. The Board will determine whether each record will more likely than not enhance, enrich and broaden the historical record of the life and assassination of Dr. King. The Board will announce its determinations concerning records that are related in a Notice of Related Records Designation (NRRD) to be published in the Federal Register.

If the Board decides to postpone release of information in any record, it must set specific conditions and dates for public disclosure related to the specific dates when the reasons for the postponement will end, prior to the set date for complete disclosure established in the Act. The Review Board may also disclose segregable parts, substitutions or summaries of postponed records, in consultation with the originating agency. Decisions by the Review Board concerning postponement or release of records generated by executive agencies can be appealed within 30 days to the President, with a determination by the President within the next 30 days. The Board will make regular reports on its decisions to the President, the federal agencies involved and the Archivist, and will publish the unclassified written certifications of the President regarding postponement or release of related records in the Federal Register and make them available for electronic searches. Every 30 days, starting 60 days after the first decision to postpone a record, the Review Board will notify the public of all such decisions and the grounds for them in the Federal Register and make them searchable electronically. The Review Board will also provide annual reports to Congress, the President, the Archivist and all government agencies whose records have been reviewed, and to the public, until its termination. These reports will include progress on review and disclosure of records, an estimated time and volume of related records to complete their task, any special problems including the level of cooperation or government offices, review actions taken by the board since the last report, suggestions to Congress about additional legislative authority needs, the recommendations of the citizens advisory committee appointed by the Board, any recommendations of the Board, and an appendix of postponed records.

The Review Board will terminate its work no later than 5 years from passage of the Act, unless it votes to extend its term for an additional 2-year period if it has not completed its work. At least 90 days before completing its work, the Board will provide written notice to Congress and the President of its intention to terminate upon a specific date. Upon termination the Review Board will release a public report to the President and Congress accurately accounting all its expenditures and completing other reporting requirements. All records still pending postponement decisions by the Review Board upon termination will be presumed available for release and transmitted to the Archivist for release within 60 days of its termination.

The Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate will have continuing oversight jurisdiction over the Review Board, the Collection and the performance of government agencies. They will hold hearings every two years up to and beyond the termination of the Review Board, or one year after the Archivist certifies that all related records have been fully released to the public. These Committees will have access to all records held or created by the Review Board, and full cooperation from the Board and all federal agencies in their oversight.

The provisions of the Act take precedence over other laws except the privacy provisions relating to records of the Internal Revenue Service, as well as judicial decisions or common law interpretations that would otherwise prohibit disclosure of records. The Act does not eliminate or limit requests for records to any agency under the Freedom of Information Act, save that related records discovered after the termination of the Review Board will be considered for release under the standards of this Act, not the FOIA. The Act precludes judicial review of its decisions, but does not revoke the power of the President, the Congress, the executive branch or any other government entity to review and release records to the public on their own initiative.

Those provisions of the Act relating to the activities of the Review Board will remain in effect until its termination. All other provisions of the Act will remain in effect until such time as the Archivist certifies to the President and Congress that all related records, including any discovered subsequently, have been made available to the public in accordance with the Act.

TIMELINE FOR MLK RECORDS ACT

From the date of enactment:

RECORDS REVIEW BOARD

· Within 45 days nominating organizations will send nominations for the Review Board to the Senate

· Within 90 days the President nominates 5 members and 3 alternates

o Within 30 days after at least 3 nominations are made confirmation hearings will be held in Senate committee

o Within 14 days after confirmation hearings the Senate committee will vote on the nominees

o Within 14 days after the committee vote, the full Senate will vote on confirmation

o Within 30 days of any vote against confirmation of a nominee the President will send another nomination and the Senate will follow the same procedures

· Within 193 days a Review Board will be nominated and confirmed.

· The Review Board will appoint within 30 days of its inception an independent citizen advisory committee that includes members of the civil rights community and the King family.

· Within 45 days of its first meeting, the Board will appoint a citizen to the position of Executive Director

· Within 90 days of appointment, the Review Board will publish a schedule for review of all related records in the Federal Register, and begin its review within the next 90 days.

· Every 30 days, starting 60 days after the first decision to postpone a record, the Review Board will notify the public of all such decisions and the grounds for them in the Federal Register

· Decisions by the Review Board concerning postponement or release of records generated by executive agencies can be appealed within 30 days to the President, with a determination by the President within the next 30 days.

· The Review Board will also provide annual reports to Congress, the President, the Archivist and all government agencies whose records have been reviewed, and to the public, until its termination.

RECORDS COLLECTION

· As soon as practicable government agencies identify and organize related records for transmission.

· Within 45 days NARA Archivist prepares and distributes a standard finding aid and identification form for each record

· Within 60 days NARA starts the MLK Records Collection, and

o Publishes a subject guidance that is searchable electronically

o Creates a central directory of identification aids

· Within 180 days government agencies will locate and review all related records in their possession

· All reproducible items in the Collection at the National Archives will be available for public inspection and copying through an electronic format within 30 days of transmission.

OVERSIGHT AND TERMINATION

· Biannual hearings by Congressional oversight committees will be held up to and including the year in which the Archivist makes a final determination that the collection is complete and fully disclosed to the public.

· Within 5 years of enactment the Review Board will terminate its work, unless it requests an extension of 2 more years.

· At least 90 days before completing its work, the Board will provide written notice to Congress and the President of its intention to terminate upon a specific date.

· Upon termination the Review Board will release a public report to the President and Congress.

From the date of termination of the Review Board:

· All records still pending postponement decisions by the Review Board upon termination will be presumed available for release and transmitted to the Archivist for release within 60 days of its termination.

· One year after termination all related records will be fully released, or

· Eight years after enactment all related records will be fully released, whichever is sooner.

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tim,

Thanks for that list, but as you were posting it I was also cutting and pasting the list into the original post.

I noticed that there are three Republicans from Florida on the Committee. Maybe you can hit them up for support.

Opening the records is beyond anything partisan, democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, right wing or left wing, it's a matter of the American people having access to their own history.

And what are you doing up at this hour?

Bill Kelly

bkjfk3@yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill wrote:

Opening the records is beyond anything partisan, democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, right wing or left wing, it's a matter of the American people having access to their own history.

Could not agree with you more.

One thought: to get a bill past a GOP controlled Congress, even though as you note it should not be a partisan matter, it might have been helpful to start with some Republican sponsors. The reputation of Rep. McKinney is not the highest among Republicans, of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill wrote:

Opening the records is beyond anything partisan, democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, right wing or left wing, it's a matter of the American people having access to their own history.

Could not agree with you more.

One thought: to get a bill past a GOP controlled Congress, even though as you note it should not be a partisan matter, it might have been helpful to start with some Republican sponsors. The reputation of Rep. McKinney is not the highest among Republicans, of course.

Yes, I hear you on that point Tim, and it will be important to get the Republicans on board. They got her kicked out after six terms for implying US intelligence knew more about 9/11 beforehand, and now she's back and they put her on the House Armed Services Commitee - what were they thinking? My Congressman, Jim Saxon (R.NJ) is also on that committee and I'm going to talk to him about it.

Cynthia is scarry. she's a black women scorned, she's back and she's mad.

And now I know what you are doing up at this hour (5:45 am EST) on line - you really do monitor John's forum 24 hours just to keep it straight, right? ;)

BK

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
Yes, Bill, it's almost a twenty-four hour job! (By "job" I do not, of course, infer I am on anyone's payroll. I was, but they read John's post about my effectiveness and fired me!)

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENTS ON THE MLK RECORDS ACT, THE BILL, AS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE BY REP. MCKINNEY, IS GETTING MORE AND MORE CO-SPONSORS AND SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE, BUT HAS YET TO BE INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE.

I INTRODUCED JOHN JUDGE - THE BILL'S PRINCIPAL AUTHOR, TO MY SENATOR JOHN CORZINE WHEN WE MET IN THE CONGRESSIONAL CORRIDORS - CORZINE WAS RECENTLY ELECTED GOVERNOR OF NJ, AND, AS WE DO THINGS HERE IN JERSEY - HE GETS TO CHOOSE HIS REPLACEMENT IN THE SENATE - AND MAY TAP STATE SENATOR NIA GILL, A BLACK WOMEN, WHO WOULD BE THE SIXTH BLACK PERSON AND SECOND BLACK WOMEN IN THE SENATE.

LETS SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

BK

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENTS ON THE MLK RECORDS ACT, THE BILL, AS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE BY REP. MCKINNEY, IS GETTING MORE AND MORE CO-SPONSORS AND SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE, BUT HAS YET TO BE INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE.

I INTRODUCED JOHN JUDGE - THE BILL'S PRINCIPAL AUTHOR, TO MY SENATOR JOHN CORZINE WHEN WE MET IN THE CONGRESSIONAL CORRIDORS - CORZINE WAS RECENTLY ELECTED GOVERNOR OF NJ, AND, AS WE DO THINGS HERE IN JERSEY - HE GETS TO CHOOSE HIS REPLACEMENT IN THE SENATE - AND MAY TAP STATE SENATOR NIA GILL, A BLACK WOMEN, WHO WOULD BE THE SIXTH BLACK PERSON AND SECOND BLACK WOMEN IN THE SENATE.

LETS SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

BK

Well, Nia Gill wasn't appointed Senator, instead we got Rep. Robert Menendez - son of Cuban immigrants and a Congressman from North Jersey.

BK

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's Phil Melanson on the MLK Records, which was published two years before the MLK Act was introduced, but it still gives you the deep background on the issues involved. - BK

THE BLACK CAUCUS’S POLITICAL BLACKOUT

From Secrecy Wars – by Prof. Phil Melanson, Ph.D. ( p. 151)

In stark contrast to the JFK records, the House Select Committee on Assassinations – HSCA’s 600,000 pages of documents on the King case remain sealed. The film was JFK, not MLK: the film spawned the JFK Records Act, which said nothing about the King documents. The JFK files are infinitely larger and broader than the King files. There can be no doubt, however, as to the historical and criminal justice value of the King files. They contain documents that would help resolve the major questions of conspiracy and of agency activities before, during, and after the assassination. Having read related files and having talked with lawyers for the late James Earl Ray, as well as with HSCA investigators, I discovered leads that were not pursued by the committee. Its investigation had been flawed by its preoccupation with attempting to prove that James Earl Ray’s brothers, John and Jerry, were coconspirators, as well as its inability to understand the scope and intensity of CIA and FBI activities focusing on Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

There appeared to be an excellent opportunity to achieve disclosure. On the coattails of the JFK release, who was going to argue for continued secrecy in the King case without being politically ineffective, or politically incorrect? Was it that King was not a president? Was it that disclosure was too expensive (we had just spent a bundle on JFK files)? Was it that the millions of pages already released should be “enough”? Many politicians and journalists were already aware that the issues and controversies in the King case were just as compelling as in JFK’s, only not as widely known to the public.

With COPA leaders and others, I joined the campaign to release the (MLK) files, giving talks at college campuses, universities, and other public forums and making TV and radio appearances (especially around the King holiday and the anniversary of the assassination). One of my points was, “Do we need to wait until Oliver Stone makes an MLK movie?” Actually, in the first few years after JFK, I had several conversations with Eric Hamburg, an executive in Stone’s Ixtlan production company. A film dealing with King’s assassination, we would have to rely on politics rather than cinema to free these files.

There seemed to be progress. In a 1995 appearance on CNN’s Both Side Now hosted by Rev. Jesse Jackson, there was encouragement not only from Jackson and Walter Fauntroy ( a former member of the HSCA), but from an unlikely source – G. Robert Blakey. As planned off-air with Jackson, the disclosure issue was raised. Blakey rendered a tepid endorsement while issuing qualifiers that Ray had acted alone and that my book on the King case was “garbage.”

From 1995 to 1997, it appeared that political support within the Afro-American community was increasing. I talked to a half-dozen mostly black audiences at colleges and cultural events and saturated the black-oriented media. The Black Caucus of the Ohio state legislature offered a resolution of support. Jackson and Fauntroy gave supportive responses when asked questions. Afro-American citizens contacted the Congressional Black Caucus. It seemed that we were getting close. One floor speech from a John Conyers or a Kweisi Mfume or a Maxine Waters and the vault would again be opened.

It never happened. It probably never will. Disclosure will likely occur as Professor Blakey’s preferred date of 2039. Pro-disclosure advocates misread the political equation. Despite all the rhetoric about the public’s right to know, agency accountability, and the truth about King’s death, some powerful (albeit quieter) voices of those concerned with Dr. King’s legacy may have spoken. They may see a different balance. For some, the risk of another round of scurrilous gossip from federal files (of the kind created and used by J. Edgar Hoover) is not worth the marginal gain of enhancing the truth about King’s killing. John Judge, executive secretary for the Coalition on Political Assassinations, told the author: “They [Congressional Black Caucus] had a problem with release. They didn’t want dirt to come out.”

While I know enough about HSCA files from leaks, discussions with committee staff, and footnotes to the locked documents to be able to say that potentially scandalous material is quite probably absent, no one can guarantee it. I would argue that the worst of this smear was unleashed in the 1960s, and that he public and media have a better understanding that agencies lied about King and, in the FBI’s case, tried to destroy him. Yet it is too easy to envision some of the media picking out the one document in 600,000 pages where an unknown informant talks about hotel rooms. This is the scare tactic used by Chief Gates in referencing Marilyn Monroe and was Los Angeles Police Commissioner Samuel William’s worry about hotel trysts being revealed. Those working for continued secrecy who have also seen the files can always report, exaggerate, or conjure up such specters. This would explain why our grass roots campaign never left the statehouse lawns, never got to the U. S. Capitol.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Well I guess I'm talking to my self about this subject.

Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King Day, which for the past 11 years, people have been dedicating to public service.

I am asking those who support open government and declassificaiton of official records to contact their Representatives in the Senate and House and request that they support the Martin Luther King Records Act, which was introduced by Rep. Cynthia McKinney and needs co-sponsors in the house and a Senator to introduce the same or similar bill in the Senate in this session.

Sen. Edward Kennedy's office is currently considering a Senate resolution and I am contacting my Senators from New Jersey to support this effort.

If everyone interested in civil rights, political assassinations and the life and philosophies of Martin Luther King and John and Robert Kennedy would write (best), call (okay) or email (least desirable by still an effort) their congressman it would help tremendously and be a public service.

Bill Kelly

bkjfk3@yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

HR 2554 calling for the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Records Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Sen. Kerry introduced a similar bill S. 2499 in the Senate and made these remarks on April 4, 2006:

By Mr. KERRY:

S. 2499. A bill to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and assassination of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today, on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, I am pleased to join with my colleague in the House, Congresswoman CYNTHIA MCKINNEY to introduce the Martin Luther King,Jr., Record Collections Act. This act will ensure the expeditious disclosure and preservation of records relevant to Dr. King's life and death.

Fully releasing these records--many of which are not subject to disclosure until 2038--will shed significant light on a turning point in American history. My friend, Representative JOHN LEWIS, explained its necessity quite eloquently:

I, too, was the subject of unwarranted FBI surveillance during the Civil Rights Movement. Because we do not know this part of our history, it is clear that we are beginning to repeat it. Recently, we became aware of the administration's domestic spying program that has targeted peace groups that are carrying on the nonviolent action of Dr. King. It is time that we know our history, and passage of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Records Act will take us one step closer to uncovering that history.

Judge Joseph Brown, the last presiding judge in James Earl Ray'spost-conviction relief proceedings, also supports this legislation. He believes that it is important to:...fully release the still classified historical record surrounding the life and death of the late Dr. King. In light of the disturbing record and documents that came to light in James Earl Ray's petition before me and in consideration of the recent furor over the power and authority granted to certain officials under the guise of the Homeland Security Act, it might prove most illuminating to review the historical record relative to the exercise of purportedly similar power and authority by the U.S. officials 40 years ago. The American public, the citizens of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave deserve this access to the historic record surrounding the life and death of Dr. King.

Our legislation will create a Martin Luther King Records Collection at the National Archives. This will include all records--public and private--related to the life and death of Dr. King, including any investigations or inquiries by Federal, State, or local agencies. The records will be organized in a central directory to allow the public to access them online from anywhere in the world. The documents will be overseen by a review board consisting of at least one professional historian, one attorney, one researcher, and one representative of the civil rights community.

The MLK Records Review Board, a five-member independent agency, will be responsible for facilitating the review and transmission of all related records to the Archivist for public disclosure. Members will be nominated by the President and approved with the advice and consent of the Senate.

It will have the power to direct government offices to locate and organize related records and transmit them for review or release. It will also have the power to investigate the facts surrounding the transmission or possession of records, take testimony of individuals in order to fulfill their responsibilities, request the Attorney General to subpoena private persons or government employees to compel testimony or records and require agencies to account in writing for any previous or current destruction of related records. In addition, the Board can request that the Attorney General petition any court in the U.S. or abroad to release any sealed information or physical evidence relevant to the life or death of Dr.King, and to subpoena such evidence if it is no longer in the possession of the government. The MLK Records Review Board will also be required to provide annual reports to Congress, the President, the Archivist, and all government agencies whose records have been reviewed, and to the public. The Board must terminate its work no later than 5 years from the passage of the Act unless it votes to extend for an additional 2-year term.

The reason for having such a Board is to ensure that someone is responsible for finding all relevant records and that the records do not disclose any sensitive information. It is particularly important to have a Board like this given recent revelations by the New York Times that the government has begun removing thousands of declassified documents on a wide range of historical subjects from public access at the National Archives. There has perhaps never been a more urgent time to bring the records on Dr. King into the light of day. According to the National Archives, about 9,500 records totaling more than 55,000 pages have been withdrawn from the public shelves and reclassified since 1999. We need to ensure that the records relating to the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., do not suffer the same fate. They are too important to us at this point in American history.

Dr. King challenged the conscience of my generation, and his words and his legacy continue to move generations to action today. His love and faith is alive in the millions of Americans who volunteer each day in soup kitchens or in schools, and those who refused to ignore the suffering of thousands they'd never met when Hurricane Katrina destroyed lives and communities. His vision and his passion are alive in churches and on campuses when millions stand up against the injustice of discrimination or the indifference that leaves too many behind.

The best way to honor the memory of Dr. King is to finish his work at home and around the world. And the first step to furthering his legacy is to know the full body of it. I hope that my colleagues will join me in this very important effort: to preserve and learn from records relating to the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

xxyyzz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...