The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

When a KKK informant testified to Congress wearing a white hood

The good folks over at C-SPAN just posted a video to YouTube that caught our eye. It's of Gary Thomas Rowe, a controversial figure who informed on the Ku Klux Klan for the FBI, testifying before Congress in 1975 while wearing what looks a lot like a KKK hood.

The video is below. And the backstory follows.

The day the Ku Klux Klan took over Pennsylvania Avenue

In his testimony on Dec. 2, 1975, Rowe said he had informed the FBI of a 1961 attack on Freedom Riders in Birmingham, Ala., three weeks before the attacks, but he said the FBI didn't intervene.

From the New York Times's 1998 obituary:

Mr. Rowe vanished into the Federal witness protection program, presumably becoming Thomas Moore. Then in 1975 he emerged, masked in his hood, as a witness before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He said that in 1961 he had given the F.B.I. advance warning of an attack in which he and other Klansmen participated, beating Freedom Riders with baseball bats, chains and pistols at the Birmingham bus station. He said that the Klansmen had been promised 15 minutes of free rein by the Birmingham police and that he had advised his F.B.I. contacts of this three weeks in advance. He added that when he asked his bureau contacts after the attack why nothing had been done, he said he was told: ''Who were we going to report it to? The Police Department was involved.''
He also testified that the F.B.I. had told him to cause dissension in the Klan. ''I was told to sleep with as many wives as I could, to break up marriages,'' he said.
In 1980 the Justice Department compiled a 302-page report on accusations involving Mr. Rowe and concluded that the F.B.I. agents knew about and apparently covered up his participation in nonfatal attacks on blacks. But it said there was no evidence in F.B.I. files to support accusations that Mr. Rowe had failed lie detector examinations in which he had denied knowledge of the bombing. Robert E. Chambliss, who in 1977 was convicted of the bombing, had been Mr. Rowe's superior in the Eastview 13 Klavern.

From The Post's:

Under the federal witness protection program, Mr. Rowe had settled in Savannah and assumed the name Thomas Neal Moore, under which he was buried.
Federal authorities helped him assume a new identity in 1965 after he testified against the Klansmen accused of killing civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, sending three people to prison for 10 years. Liuzzo was a white homemaker from Detroit shot by night-riding Ku Klux Klansmen while she drove demonstrators to Selma, Ala., in 1965.
Mr. Rowe vanished into the witness protection program but remained a controversial figure. He was accused of and sometimes admitted to planning and participating in the violence he reported to the FBI.