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Read the House Select Committee on Assassinations' final report on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death

Read the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ final report on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Five years prior, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been killed by a rifle in Dallas, Texas. The deaths of both men generated conspiracies of government complicity, which in 1976 led to the establishment of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. A copy of its final report is preserved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives.

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The FBI file of Bureau's lead investigator in the  Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination makes little mention of his efforts

The FBI file of Bureau’s lead investigator in the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination makes little mention of his efforts

As the third highest ranking official in the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach worked some of the Bureau’s biggest cases, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. However, you wouldn’t know that if you were just going off DeLoach’s own FBI file, which has more about his cholesterol levels in 1968 than leads on the civil rights leader’s murder.

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Incidents from the CIA archives and his FBI file underscore Bayard Rustin's complexity

Incidents from the CIA archives and his FBI file underscore Bayard Rustin’s complexity

From defending the man who had blackmailed him out of the Southern Christian Leadership Council to serving as a character witness for Ariel Sharon, records from the Central Intelligence Agency and his Federal Bureau of Investigation file show civil rights icon Bayard Rustin was a man who couldn’t easily be categorized.

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The interagency CACTUS program served as the conduit between CIA’s Operation CHAOS and FBI’s COINTELPRO

The interagency CACTUS program served as the conduit between CIA’s Operation CHAOS and FBI’s COINTELPRO

A little known but extremely important part of the history of domestic surveillance by intelligence agencies is the CACTUS program. CACTUS was a highly classified channel used by agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to transmit information about “the New Left, Black Militants and related matters.” This channel was never disclosed in the Church Committee reports, even when the reports discuss information that was transmitted through CACTUS.

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Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was many things: He was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, an advocate for Soviet Jewry, and, “a convicted homosexual,” according to his Federal Bureau of Investigation file. Despite being what many would consider a textbook lefty, Rustin also moonlighted for the Central Intelligence Agency. While that might seem like an irreconcilable contradiction for a man who sat in prison for two years because he refused to serve in World War II, but contradictions aren’t there to be reconciled, they’re there to confound.

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