In the case of Martin Luther King, America's deep state intersected with politics and civil rights and Thurgood Marshall's strategy for African American legal equality in some ugly and dangerous ways.
And they intersect at a most unpleasant and unhappy point, one that is largely ignored when putting an optimistic, feel-good gloss over Dr. King's struggle for civil rights: the infamous MLK sex tape gambit cooked up by the FBI.
The most uncomfortable issue raised by the existence of tapes is not the matter of Dr. King's human appetites and deficiencies in the area of marital fidelity. It is the potential for blackmail, the leverage that the FBI and the US government could have brought to bear against Dr. King and his direction of the civil rights movement by exploiting the tapes.
And the case of the tapes also shines an awkward light on the relationship between America's deep state and another African-American civil rights giant: Thurgood Marshall.
In the 1950s the NAACP’s strategy for attacking Jim Crow in the south was to federalize the legal issues, using the appeals process to pull the most egregious cases out of the racist local courts and carry them through the appellate courts and, if necessary/possible, before the relatively sympathetic Supreme Court. The Justice Department, including the FBI, was often a significant adjunct to this process, providing federal investigators to gather exculpatory evidence in NAACP Legal Defense Fund cases that local law enforcement, usually riddled with KKK members and sometimes too cowed and incompetent to do their jobs, had ignored or suppressed or worse.
In April 1947, putting together an NAACP anticommunism position pamphlet, [NAACP president Walter] White requested a patriotic encomium from J. Edgar Hoover, who replied that it would be his “pleasure”. [pp. 111-112]…Early in the summer of 1950 [with nationwide desegregation of public education now seen as an achievable goal—ed]…Marshall and the board of the NAACP found it necessary to pass and adopt an anticommunist resolution, which directed the organization’s leaders to “eradicate Communists from its branch units.”…Marshall took special delight in trumping the political maneuvers of the NAACP’s communist wing…Marshall could…boast, “we socked them good”…The executive staff and majority delegates of the NAACP had in fact socked the communists good on virtually every resolution they’d brought to the convention floor in 1950. They walked out in frustration “and never came back,” said Marshall, whose management of the communist issue…earned him an oral commendation from J. Edgar Hoover. [pp. 205-207]…[On one occasion, Marshall was embarrassed that an informant with communist ties whom he had introduced to the FBI had found disfavor with the Bureau...] While Kennedy’s communist affiliations hardly bore upon the case, they provided Marshall, in his dismissal of the writer’s presumed scoops, with the opportunity to affect solidarity with the FBI. As always, Marshall expressed his appreciation for the bureau’s efforts…In return, he was thanked “for his appreciation of confidence in the work of this Bureau…” Once again, Hoover and Marshall performed their private rites of cooperation. 
Q: Did (Hoover) fear that King was a communist?
A: He just had an absolute blur on communism. It's unbelievable. I don't know what happened to him, I don't know what happened but something happened.
No, it was personal. He bugged everything King had. Everything. And the guy that did it was a friend of a private detective in New York who's a good friend of mine, Buck Owens. He called up and said, Buck, do you know Martin Luther King? And he said, no. He said do you know anybody that goes? He said yes. He said well you please tell him, don't use my name but I'm in the group that's bugging everything he's got. Even when he goes to the toilet. I mean we've bugged everything and I think it's a dirty damn trick and he ought to know about it.
So Buck called me and I called Brother King. He was in Atlanta then. And I told him about it and he said, oh forget it, nothing to it. Just didn't interest him. That's what he said. He didn't care, no.
Q: How do you interpret that?
A: I don't and I've never been able to. That he wasn't doing anything wrong. Well they ain't nobody who can say that. Right. Right. And when I called him up and told him that his house was bugged and all, he said so what? Doesn't bother me. That's what he said.
Q: Did you guys know about all this sex stuff that they talk about these days?
A: I knew that the stories were out. And I knew who was putting them out.
Q: Mr. Hoover?
A: No, it was a private police business. They used to settle strikes and everything. [Pinkertons] I'm not saying whether, I don't know, I don't know whether he was right or Hoover was right. I don't know which one was right.
Q: What did you think about the fact that he didn't care about being bugged?
A: Well, the answer was simple. I don't know if a man can humanly do all the things. Five and six times a night with five and six different women. We add it all up, I mean he just couldn't be all them places at the same time. I don't believe in it personally. But I don't know, when I was solicitor general, a lot of things came by, arguments between the attorney general and the director of the FBI and I, by internal rules, had to get copies of all of it. And we had to have a special safe and I know that of all the things that I listened to and read, I never found Mr. Hoover to have lied once. Not once. I don't know, I'm not saying he always told the truth -
Q: You never found him to have lied?
A: That's right. I mean he was never proved to be a liar. He always came up with the right stuff, usually it would be a taped thing. You can tell by the tape. I don't know. But that's between him and, I think the only way to do it would be him and King and put 'em in the same room. And it's too late to do that.
Who made Jesse Jackson? The press. Who made Martin Luther King? The press, they do it. Because it writes good, it writes well. And you know Martin Luther King didn't have a publicity person. No sir. The press did it all. The press did it all.
And perhaps, with the sex tapes in his safe--and serving as a sword of Damocles over King's head--Hoover believed he could regard King as something of a beholden asset that could be accessed, guided, cajoled, bullied, and if need be publicly discredited in the course of the Bureau's operations involving the African American civil rights movement.
Hoover and Marshall were two insiders “present at the creation”, their exalted status and power the result of a hard-won, superior understanding of the contradictions and potentialities of American government "as it is".
Their lives--and services to the state--followed different paths.