Martin Luther King Jr. was wiretapped and sent an anonymous letter from J Edgar Hoover encouraging him to kill himself

Chris Hayes of MSNBC reminds us that the good guys and bad guys of history are not entirely clear as they're happening.  Heather Parton of digsby blog passes along a transcript of his recent speech: 

In 1963, President Kennedy, himself, said this of Dr. King. 

(AUDIO) The trouble with king is everybody thinks he's our boy. King is so hot these days it's like Marx coming to the white house.
He admitted later he asked the FBI to make an intensive investigation of Martin Luther King. And that on October 10th, 1963, he personally authorized the FBI to begin wiretapping King's phones. The Kennedys were most certainly not alone in these attitudes toward Dr. King in the 1960s, much of the security apparatus of the cold war American state was obsessed with the idea that the civil rights movement was infiltrated by communists, and working to tear down U.S. society from the inside. And no single person captured the fear and paranoia of the security apparatus more than Dr. Martin Luther King. 

So faced with what they perceived as a threat, the security state did what all security states do when faced with a perceived threat. They surveilled Dr. King around the clock. They stalked his every move, broke into and bugged his office. They bugged his hotel rooms and they tapped into his phones. The FBI and Jay Edgar Hoover were obsessed with ruining Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In 1964, after Hoover called King the most "notorious liar in the country" in a press conference, a package was sent to King in the mail, a package the House select committee ultimately traced back to the FBI. Inside this package, one of the most remarkable artifacts in American history was an anonymous letter addressed to Martin Luther King and a copy of an electronic surveillance tape apparently to lend credence to threats of exposure of derogatory personal information made in the letter. We don't know to this day for sure what was on that tape. The heavy speculation throughout the years it was of personal and sexual nature recorded by a device planted in Dr. King's hotel room. 

The letter that came with the tape read in part, "you know you are complete fraud and a great liability to all of us negroes. The American public will know you for what you are, an evil abnormal beast. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation." The committee considered it highly likely that Director Hoover had before the fact knowledge of the action. 

So that's a letter encouraging Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to kill himself, sent to King from the FBI. This happened in American history. 
As the PRISM / NSA surveillance debate rages on (traitor vs patriot), we should keep this in the back of our minds. There's plenty of examples of history where those who were right were vilified by those in power, and then crucified.  So history repeats, and already, powers within the government have mobilized a set of talking points to ad hominem discredit the messenger

The full read is here, and very worthwhile. We are at a point where those who understand technology can educate those who don't, and help them understand what we're really getting into. It's going to take the awareness of the full populace to shift us away from a world of mass surveillance. 

Related: The Edward Snowden Pardon petition on is at 77,196 -- only 22,804 signatures more and the Whitehouse will be forced to respond. You can sign it here