Just when you thought you knew who not to trust, along comes another wave of bombshell revelations that make even seasoned skeptics and cranks seem like trusting pollyanas: you can never be too skeptical of the official version of events, past and present. Take the recent revelations about the legendary Civil Rights photographer Ernest Withers–turns out he was secretly working for the FBI as a paid informant all those years, snitching on Martin Luther King Jr. and his entourage. And that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg of the government’s compromised 40+year effort to bury what really happened in the MLK assassination. Another highlight of this truly marvelous year for obstructing that unfashionable concept called “truth” was the news that the late Eisenhower scholar Stephen Ambrose fabricated the nine-interviews-that-he-never-did-with-Ike. At the top of my highlight list, however, is Gerald “I’m a thieving cocksucker!” Posner, who was busted for plagiarizing all over his latest book, Miami Babylon, a scandal-babble-history of how Miami came to be. As a result, Tina Brown, one of Posner’s two major champions, had no choice but to let her Number-One investigative pet at The Daily Beast go.
Not satisfied with just slinking away into obscurity until the dust of his deeds cleared, Posner is already back sleazing in full frontal view, not even pretending to be a journalist anymore. Now that he’s been discredited, Posner’s come out of the closet doing what he’s always done: “dirty work.” Posner now acts as attorney and PR agent defending beleaguered Afghan President Karzai’s brother Mahmood, along with doing PR work for two other sleazy Karzai brothers, Ahmed Wali (who’s been on the CIA’s payroll since 2001, according to the New York Times) and Qayum. The brothers have been accused of not just opium trafficking, but also muscling their way into lucrative development projects, and selling materials for IEDs used to kill American troops. The once (much too) respected (for the public good) journalist Gerald Posner now spends his days attempting to whitewash the brothers’ slimy public image, all the while scanning around for potential libel cases against Western media outlets.
To recap the glory that is Gerald Posner: a few weeks after he was nailed for plagiarism and forced to quit the Daily Beast, Posner was confronted in a public forum in Miami by Frank Owen, one of the author-victims that Posner admitted he stole from—after being shouted down by Owen, Posner shouted in front of everyone in the room: “I’m a thieving cocksucker!”
Then, as if things couldn’t get any stranger, Posner announced a few days later that he had hired his one-time ideological enemy in the old assassination-conspiracy debate: 83-year-old Mark (Rush To Judgment) Lane. Posner has been the country’s leading “lone gunman” theorist, while Lane published the first major work in the 1960s suggesting that JFK was killed in a conspiracy and cover-up. Now, in this fucked-up upside-down world of ours, Lane works for Posner, as his attorney. So Mark Lane, former anti-government celebrity in the 1960s, filed a complaint against Miami New Times, to stop the alternative weekly from publishing further examples of Gerald Posner’s plagiarism– the Times uncovered enough material to argue that Posner’s career has been practically built on regularly stealing other people’s work, a really shitty thing when you think about how rich Posner is, and how hard real journalists who write original material struggle just to get by.
Posner getting caught and discredited has long been expected by those covering the counterintelligence field, but not for something as minor as plagiarism. As the public service ads used to warn us about marijuana, plagiarism is but a first step down the long winding road to “the harder stuff”… When you look back at the cases of reporters who’ve been exposed in the last few years for embellishing, exaggerating and outright lying in print — the New York Times’ Jayson Blair, the Washington Post’s Janet Cooke, the New Republic‘s Stephen Glass, the Boston Globe‘s Patricia Smith and Slate’s Jay Forman — a lineup so forgettable I wouldn’t be able to recall it in a million years without the Great God Google – it makes you wonder how many posneurs are out there who built their careers the same way.
Now that his plagiarism has opened the door, we have an opportunity to review some of Posner’s other transgressions against the truth. As the mainstream media’s most preeminent proponent of the JFK-MLK “lone gunman” assassination theory, Posner’s major identifiable affront to unbiased reporting has been the invisible crime of “omission,” a methodology more heinous in the long-run than even flat-out stealing, or lying. In other words, you wouldn’t know that omissions exist if you didn’t know the information being left out existed in the first place. Which is why most of the readers of Posner’s 1998 best-selling Killing The Dream didn’t notice the subterfuge in his deliberately one-sided analysis of the MLK assassination, which attempts to eliminate any doubt that James Earl Ray was the lone-gun assassin.
The New York Times gave Gerald Posner’s MLK assassination book two Judith Millers WAY up, praising the serial-plagiarist for “a first-rate detective story”
Whether Ray was or wasn’t the shooter, the clearest example of Posner’s dishonesty in this book was the complete erasing from history of the existence of one Frank Holloman, the Memphis Police Chief & Fire Director at the time of King’s assassination. No matter what anyone on either side of the case says, you cannot purport to honestly tell the story of the MLK assassination in any shape or form without at least noting that Holloman was a major player in the great American-Shakespearean drama of the 20th century. Holloman retired from the FBI, after having spent 25 years in the Bureau, during that time acting as Special Agent in charge of the Atlanta, Cincinnati, Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis offices. But from 1949 to 1959 his primary responsibility was managing the Washington Bureau office for Chez Hoover and his buddy Clyde Tolson. His specific duties there are a huge can of worms still waiting to be opened, but he “officially retired” from the Bureau in 1964, after purportedly helping organize COINTELPRO’s ugly dirty tricks and smear campaign against MLK for #3 Hoover honcho William “Dead Deer” Sullivan to run, then moved back to the Bluff City to become Director of Development for Memphis State University, and then Executive Director of the Mid-South Medical Center.
Mayor Henry Loeb appointed Holloman to be the first person ever to head both the Police and Fire Departments at the same time–just in time to provide support for Loeb’s irrationally stubborn opposition to the sanitation workers’ strike, by laying down the hard-line law-of-the-land to the sanitation workers group attempting to negotiate with the Mayor against the inhuman conditions of their job, conditions so blatantly oppressive there couldn’t have been a more magnetic setup to lure Dr. King to meet his fate on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel. This hard-line stance ended negotiations with the City before they could ever actually start, and sent the workers out on strike. After the Marchers supporting the Workers “rioted” on Beale Street, Holloman was effusively praised as a new kind of police chief, for using Mace on the marchers, instead billyclubs and guns. As absurd as that praise seems now, it probably said more about the mood of the country in the spring of 1968 than it actually did about the virtually-invisible-from-history Holloman.
In Killing The Dream, Posner echoed Memphis Assistant District Attorney General John Campbell’s one-sided narrative that has James Earl Ray being solely responsible for assassinating Dr. King in Memphis. Posner did not bother to explain away the natural suspicion that a former FBI honcho like Chief Holloman might have had anything to do with all those orders given to all those supervisors under him who, in turn, gave all those orders to all those employees under them, to namely, remove Dr. King’s black police bodyguards (one hour before the assassination, Holloman himself called in black Detective Ed Redditt, a community relations officer assigned to intelligence duty at the rear of the firehouse across from the Lorraine, and against Redditt’s protests, ordered him to go home because there had been an alleged threat to his life – a threat that was later described as “a mistake”). Then there was the last minute transfer of the two black firemen at the firehouse behind the Lorraine to different firehouses.
And the most suspicious order of all, to the Parks Department, to cut down the thick high brush in the back yard of the rooming house at 7 a.m. the morning directly after the assassination, before the terrain could be examined for evidence; an order which was given despite the fact that most all of Dr. King’s supporters claimed the shot that killed him came from the jungle growth in the back yard (and not from the bathroom window of the rooming house, as the “lone gunman” version has consistently insisted against all logistical reason).
From the “this is fucked up shit” files: Justice Dept photo (click link here) showing the thick brush in front of James Earl Ray’s would-be sniper’s nest immediately after Martin Luther King Jr. is shot and killed.
Any way you look at it, even if a brilliant argument could be made that Holloman could not have had anything to do with what happened in Memphis that dark day, the need to make such an argument would have had to confront the possibility of a totally different picture of what might have / could have / most likely happened that would warrant serious consideration before any conclusion of what actually did happen could be reached if the prosecution had even bothered to note Holloman existed. Posner, echoing the prosecution’s hard-line like a trained magpie, does not even allow the audience to think that possibility could have existed.
In addition to neglecting to even mention the existence of Holloman, Killing The Dream supports Campbell’s insistence (despite all testimony to the contrary) that “the mysterious Raul” did not exist at all. This despite the fact Ray always claimed Raul hired him, paid for and told him to buy the Mustang he drove away in, paid for and told him to buy the gun, then sent him back into the gun shop in Birmingham the day after he bought it to exchange it for what coincidentally turned out to be the exact same caliber Remington 30-06 that Holloman issued to his five hand- picked sniper-teams in his first public official act on the Memphis job.
To this day, Campbell insists that the mysterious suspected Portuguese mobster and U.S. intelligence agent was purely a figment of Ray’s imagination, and the Raul that John Billings and Kenny Herman, the private investigators representing Ray’s defense team, found just north of New York City was the wrong Raul. Politely put, Campbell’s insistence is against all evidence to the contrary — primarily the testimony of Portuguese journalist Barbara Reis, who interviewed Raul’s wife and got her to admit the passport picture a half-dozen other witnesses (including Posner himself) had identified, was indeed her husband’s passport picture. Ironically, Posner’s most original investigative reporting in Killing The Dream, the over-the-top episode of how the government protected the so-called “respected retired auto-worker” Raul claimed-to-be, from the investigators trying to interview him about the case, not only created the opposite impression Posner intended, making the suspicious reader wonder if the only logical reason the government would ever try to protect any suspect from being questioned was to conceal their own involvement with the suspect’s involvement.
Outside of the non-existence of Holloman and Raul in the “lone gun” narrative Campbell created, probably the biggest faux pas Posner made in Killing The Dream was to out Jack Valenti. By getting the then President and CEO of The Motion Picture Association of America to deny in print the charges witness Glenda Grabow had made that she had appeared in kiddie porn films for Valenti and his partner Jack Ruby when she was a 14-year-old elementary school dropout in the Houston area in 1961-62, Posner got “the Little Valet” (as LBJ used to call his former top aide) to publicly deny it ever happened. Thus, putting something on the record that probably never would have appeared as anything but backroom innuendo.
Who let the MPAA gnome onto Air Force One at a moment like this?
Even three years after his death, the former head of the Motion Picture Rating Bureau, for all practical intents and purposes, remains the 5,000-pound gorilla in this investigation — a name so big, a charge so outrageous – those factors, probably more than any other, ran Oliver Stone off the film he was in the process of making about the MLK assassination. Up until the time Posner got Valenti to deny the non-public accusations, his name had only been whispered (along with Ruby’s) in the inner circles of both sides of the investigation. Posner’s explanation in Killing The Dream could serve as the punchline of why “it was impossible for (Glenda) Grabow to have seen (Jack) Valenti in Houston during most of the time she claimed (she was doing kiddie porn for him and Jack Ruby), since he was living and working in Washington, D.C. in a high profile job in the Johnson administration (p. 305).”
Of course, what makes Posner’s fact finding so good is that Grabow always claimed what happened with Ruby & Valenti happened long before the JFK assassination, and Valenti, as anyone who knows anything about history knows, didn’t move to Washington to work for LBJ until the fateful moment he boarded Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas to watch the new President sworn in and bring the body of the dead one back to the Capital, on November 22, 1963. The only explanation for why Posner’s Editor didn’t catch his gross bungling of facts is that this is the kind of shit that always seems to happen when attempting to pound square pegs of evidence into round holes of a pre-orchestrated conclusion.
“Little Valet” Jack Valenti’s head is the perfect height for LBJ to place his cocktail glass on.
Needless to say, there are monumental books yet to be written on Holloman, on the mysterious Raul and on the so-called partnership of Ruby & Valenti, if anyone with the built-in credibility of the CIA-connected Seymour Hersh wants to dig into the material. Without that mainstream media-cred, it would be pointless to write those books, unless a journalist wants to make a non-career of their brilliant investigative insights by preaching to the converted (conspiracy freaks), or take a chance on becoming the next mysteriously dead Gary Webb or Danny Casolaro. Without that cred in-place there’s just no incentive to keep trying to breakthrough the mainstream mirror-mirror locked out in the hall.
Vibe proved that to me in April of 1998, when they gave me the assignment to interview the dying James Earl Ray in the Tennessee state prison, as part of the media frenzy surrounding the 30th anniversary of the King assassination. The magazine put up an astronomical sum for my expenses, after an inordinate amount of inside manipulating got me approved by Ray to visit him (something Posner never could make happen with all his high-powered connections). As soon as the ok was in place, I flew to Nashville and conducted the last face-to-face interview Ray ever gave before dying several weeks later. The magazine then put me up for a week in a suite at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, to cover the gathering that was about to converge around the 30th anniversary of the MLK assassination.
Then, without explanation (to me, or the Editor who assigned the story), the Editor-in-Chief Danyel Smith killed the piece before the tape of the interview had even been transcribed, much less listened to by anyone but me.
Obviously I should have hired Mark Lane to threaten to sue the magazine until Smith revealed why the piece had been killed, but frankly it never occurred to me that a so-called black publication would go in the tank over a story so critically essential to the magazine’s core audience. Though I don’t know for sure, what I believed then and what I believe now is that the orders to kill the Ray interview had to come from above. Although why anyone feared what Ray had to say was and still is beyond my comprehension. Up until that point, James Earl Ray had been so snookered by the spider web of contradictions he had been sucked into by his own lies trying to hide the embarrassment his big man (I’m the shooter) ego felt for allowing himself to be setup as the patsy, he never said a thing to anyone publicly that helped his case. He rode that shooter’s ego like a badge of macho from the day he allowed an alleged FBI snitch to help smuggle him, not break him, out of Warden Harold R. Swenson’s supposedly escape-proof Missouri State Prison, until the moment in Memphis he knew he had been double-crossed. Ironically, the truth of showing what a handpicked fool he was from the beginning was the only real chance Ray ever had of proving he was the patsy, not the shooter.
Every other mainstream publication I approached refused to even listen to the tape, much less read the transcript of the interview, for fear, I suppose, of possibly having to reveal information that could get them into deep trouble. With who and for what, I can’t tell you. After all this time, I still can’t put names behind who was calling the shots or what they were afraid of hearing come out of Ray’s mouth. But whoever they were, they were pretty high up the old totem poll, and they know more than you or I or the just-following-orders-Posner-and-Campbell do, that’s for sure.
Obviously the pathetic state of mainstream American journalism over the last decade has degenerated into little more than a jumping-on-the-bandwagon business, disseminating what passes for news to the public: say, for example, a desperate hairbrained idea to burn the Koran by a publicity seeking jackleg preacher that the Chicken Little magpies of the media hysterically snap on, creating an overnight no-news end-of-the-world-wide panic over nothing, which passes for news until the next sound byte titillates their pickled brains.
A little over a week after Posner threatened the Miami alternative Weekly with a lawsuit to stop them from exposing his nasty little habit further, they called his bluff by revealing that Greg Gelembiuk, a 48-year-old Wisconsin doctorial student had discovered that Posner had lifted 35 passages in two books: Why America Slept, his 2003 take on the 9-11 attacks, and Secrets of the Kingdom, a 2005 book about Saudi Arabia.
Gosh, what are the odds of this?! The New York Times gave two Judith Millers WAY up to serial-plagiarist Gerald Posner’s 9/11 book, which established Posner as the leading “asleep-theorist” of our time
To prove the converse of the no good deed goes unpunished credo, eight days later, Posner was rewarded, or paid off, as the case may be, for his now long gone career, when the sullied Miami Babylon was optioned by LA-based producer Cary Woods, with the intent of turning it into “a tropical version of The Wire for Showtime.
The legacy of Posner’s shillism (there’s just no way to call it journalism any longer) is that his bogus narrative of what happened in the MLK case has become the traditional hack standard of what the lamestream media will allow to be considered what really happened in Memphis, April 4, 1968. The latest and most recent substandard whitebread tome to embrace this tradition is native Memphian Hampton Sides’ Hellhound On His Trail, which, like Posner’s fabrication, became a pure recounting of assistant DAG John Campbell’s fictional narrative – the same narrative Posner embraced — of what (could have) happened, as long as all those holes of omission (like the existence of Holloman) remained hidden from the audience.
I encountered Sides several months ago, in late April, at a Center For Communication screening of Roads To Memphis, an American Experience PBS docudrama that was produced to be released parallel to the publication of his book. While introducing their film, the proud author, director, producer and moderator were joking around with each other, asking the audience which one of them they thought was the whitest person on the stage. But that smug joking attitude didn’t win any points with the audience once the film started rolling, as the footage of the sanitation workers strike, and manhunt for Ray brought back memories of those chaotic dark days. It was hard to say whose memories they were though, since director Stephen Ives had cleverly shot and proudly and seamlessly added scenes into the film with an actor who had an uncanny resemblance to the young Ray.
Gerald “I’m a thieving cock-sucker” Posner poses with his loot: Is plagiarism the secret to the 56-year-old Posner’s young, soft skin?
That didn’t bother me half as much as the inclusion of on-screen narrators Posner and Campbell coming in and out, passing on their narrative throughout the film, hypothesizing over what happened like the cartoon magpies Heckle & Jeckle, as though what they were saying was what factually happened, when without a shadow of a doubt, we don’t know that; we only know they want us to believe that. Why these two middle-aged more-vanilla-than-the-flavor shills wanted the audience to believe that one can only speculate, but my guess is that selling the Ray as lone gunman point-of-view (which has always been the major function of Campbell’s job description) was part of the assignment for Sides to write the book in the first place, and thus, the only point of view presented in the embarrassingly one-sided film. Nothing made that more evident than the repeated use of a clip looking out the bathroom window (which Ray supposedly shot King from) as a refrain throughout the film. Making it appear it was such a clear-easy shot from that window to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel that you almost would have had to have been blind to miss.
There was just one little chink to the setup they were trying to sell: If Ray, or anyone else for that matter, shot Dr. King from that bathroom window they wouldn’t have had such a dramatically clear easy shot, they would have had to fire through the thick jungle growth brush that grew up above the bathroom window, at least two floors higher in spots, all the way up to the roof of the rooming house, before Holloman gave the order that was passed down to the Parks Department to cut it down at 7 a.m., the morning after the assassination. So the refrain — the false refrain — to show how easy it was for Ray to shoot King through the bathroom window, was totally deceptive. Just like the film was patently false, and blatantly dared the audience to rip off the wool the filmmakers had just tried to pull down over their eyes. Which I did during the Q&A session after the screening.
I stood up and introduced myself before asking the “ proud as punch” filmmaker and even smugger author of the book the film had been made from, how they could have portrayed what happened in Memphis without including the name Frank Holloman into the mix. How they could continually show how easy the shot was from the bathroom window was when the footage they were showing was footage that was shot after the brush had been cut down.
There were no answers. Sides may have grown up in Memphis, but there was no sign of that legendary badass Bluff City ‘tude in his hemming and hawing response, just befuddled mumbling in the defense of omitting Holloman, because FBI agents often take law enforcement jobs when they leave the Bureau. So what’s the big deal? Sides blurted, “I wanted to write a book about the assassination, not about the conspiracy.” Which was equally as ludicrous as John Campbell’s repetitive broken-record “We didn’t want to give Jowers credibility” explanation every time he was asked over the years why the District Attorney General’s office had never interviewed Loyd Jowers, the man who claimed a local Memphis businessman-mobster named Frank Liberto (who was originally not from Memphis as we were always led to believe by the always attached “local” moniker to his name, but from New Orleans, and whose brother was not only one of Carlos Marcello’s right hand men, but his personal confident and barber) had sent him a $100,000 (delivered by the mysterious Raul) to hire someone to kill Dr. King, and the man he hired was not James Earl Ray.
At one point during the confrontation, the proud-to-be-privileged preppie author asked me if I was Doctor Pepper. It was definitely his best shot of the night. And I admit it got a laugh out of me, though like most of the audience, I didn’t really know whether he was joking or serious at the time. But the audience did know if Sides’ confusion over whether I was (the King family and James Earl Ray’s lawyer) Dr. William Pepper was real, then he never really even considered the other side of the case at all when he wrote his book. The audience also knew from the exchanges between us that we had an awful lot of disagreements that were never going to be settled, and certainly not in the space and limited time frame we had left that night. At one point during the banter, Sides even suggested that we debate at a later date, though I seriously doubt if he’d show up. Anymore than Posner would.
If I’m wrong, and they do, I’ll bring the popcorn and provide a slide show of Withers’ greatest FBI financed photographs of the Civil Rights movement.
“I Am Man”: One of FBI informant Ernest Withers’ most famous Civil Rights photos
Mike Golden is editor-publisher of Smoke Signals and the now dormant “countervoid” SoHo Arts Weekly, and he has written for Rolling Stone, The Paris Review, The L.A. Weekly, Spy, Ducts and elsewhere. He is the author of The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle (Seven Stories Press)on the art-poetry and mysterious death of the last poet in America to be put on trial for his language, d.a. levy.
Read more: assassination, cointelpro, ernest withers, fbi, frank holloman, gerald posner, j. egdar hoover, james earl ray, jr., lorraine motel, mark lane, martin luther king, raul, remington 30-06, Mike Golden, Investigative Report
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