Saturday, November 1, 2014

COPA v DOD 2001

Coalition on Political Assassinations

Contacts: John Judge
Daniel S. Alcorn, Atty.

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2001

Citizen's Group Sues Pentagon for Release of Surveillance Files on the
Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Washington, DC) The Coalition on Political Assassinations [COPA] will
present oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in their Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] suit demanding
release of all military intelligence files relating to civil rights
leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the time of his assassination in

The original FOIA request for records, in 1998, specified a full range
of Army Intelligence units that were reportedly involved in surveillance
of Dr. King up to and including the day of his assassination. Early
responses from the Department of Defense FOIA office indicated that
there was not a single file in their records regarding the controversial
civil rights and anti-war activist.

COPA persisted in its efforts to retrieve records that reportedly
existed in military intelligence files. Veterans of Army Intelligence
were reported to have seen photographic surveillance records of the
events of the assassination on April 4, 1968. COPA pursued the matter in
the courts, and the Pentagon conceded that one file had been sent to the
National Archives for review, as part of a large collection of civil
rights era records that remain classified. An expedited declassification
led to release of an "after-action summary" of the 111th and 112th
Military Intelligence Groups activities in the days surrounding the
murder of Dr. King, and confirmed that these units were in Memphis and
had him under close surveillance as part of Operation Lantern Spike. The
Pentagon also claimed that only records that had "historical
significance" would have been preserved and sent on to the National
Archives, and that others had been routinely destroyed.

COPA will appeal a lower court decision that held in favor of the
Pentagon in the case, ruling that they had exhausted the possible
searches and complied with the FOIA. "If the "after-action summary" held
enough historical significance to preserve it, would not the original
documents it was based on hold even more?" asks Daniel S. Alcorn, the
attorney representing COPA in the suit. In addition, COPA has obtained
additional records about the unit activities that were released to a
journalist in Memphis by Army Intelligence, who reported initial denials
by unit members that they were spying on King in Memphis. The Pentagon
never released these files to COPA. Also, other records were reportedly
provided by Army Intelligence to the Justice Department investigators
who recently studied allegations of a conspiracy and FBI cover-up in the
King case.

COPA believes that the Pentagon has not been forthcoming in its search
or full release of all existing documents that may shed light on its
role in the surveillance of Dr. King at the time of his death. COPA has
also demanded full release of all government files relating to earlier
investigations of the murder, including some 600,000 pages held by
Congress from the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

COPA v. Department of Defense will have oral arguments presented in the
U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, at 9:30 a.m. on
Tuesday, May 15 at the Federal Courthouse, 3rd & Constitution Ave, NW,
5th Floor.

COPA is a national organization of forensic, ballistic and medical
experts, academics and authors, researchers and concerned citizens
working for release all official records relating to the still unsolved
political assassinations of the last four decades. COPA was
instrumental in the passage and implementation of the JFK Assassination
Records Act, which released over 6 million pages of classified documents
so far, the largest single release of records in American history. More
remain to be released.

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