[Ppnews] Omaha 2 - "Immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge"
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Dec 7 08:49:21 EST 2008
J. Edgar Hoover: "It is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the
charge" against Black Panther
by Michael Richardson
December 5, 2008
"Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt BPP [Black Panther
Party] and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.
If facts are present, it aids in the success of the proposal but the
Bureau feels that the skimming of money is such a sensitive issue that
disruption can be accomplished without facts to back it up." -J. Edgar
The "immaterial whether facts exist" directive is found in a secret
memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, about a money-skimming allegation against Black Panther
activist David Hilliard. Hoover's candid order was a month after Hoover
had also ordered the FBI Crime Laboratory to not issue a formal report in
an operation against Panther activists Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa
(formerly David Rice) in Omaha, Nebraska.
The directives against Hilliard and the two Omaha men were part of a
massive but clandestine operation of the FBI devised by Hoover that was
code-named COINTELPRO. Illegally directed against domestic political
targets, COINTELPRO agents conducted a wide array of dirty tricks including
both planting and withholding evidence.
Hoover's directive in the Omaha case, compromising the investigation into
the murder of police officer Larry Minard killed in an August 17, 1970
ambush bombing, was documented by FBI Crime Laboratory director Ivan
Willard Conrad. A tape recording of the killer's voice luring police to a
vacant house with a report of a woman screaming was rushed to the crime lab
for vocal analysis but Omaha Police Assistant Chief of Police Glen W. Gates
did not want a formal report. Conrad spoke with Hoover over the phone and
confirmed that he was to withhold a lab report in the case noting that
Hoover said it was "OK to do" on his copy of the secret memo.
The plot against Hilliard was ordered in a secret COINTELPRO memo dated
September 16, 1970 from Hoover. That confidential memo also addressed a
proposal by the Los Angeles FBI office to send a false anonymous letter to
Hilliard alleging an assassination plot against Black Panther Party founder
Huey Newton. Hoover recognized the potential outcome of such a letter
might result in violence against the purported assassins but he was only
concerned with the possibility the Bureau might draw some liability.
Hoover ordered the letter to be rewritten to avoid Bureau exposure to
complicity in violence against innocent targets.
"With respect to two anonymous letters proposed by Los Angeles, Bureau
concurs with San Francisco that to include the card of a member of a rival
black extremist group in a letter to Hilliard indicating Newton is marked
for assassination could place the Bureau in the position of aiding or
initiating a murder by the BPP."
Hoover ordered: "Los Angeles should reword this letter to convey the same
thought without directly indicating that it is from a specific member of a
rival group. The letter could imply that the writer would soon get in
touch with Hilliard to see what he would pay to have Newton eliminated."
Hoover's goal was to "disrupt" the Black Panthers by targeting the party
leadership for removal by either violent means or prosecution and
imprisonment. Although the blunt language of the Hilliard memo "it is
immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge" spells out
Hoover's disregard for the truth, his order to Conrad "OK to do" shares an
equal disregard for actual facts.
In the Omaha case, the tape recording of the killer's voice was not that of
either COINTELPRO target, Ed Poindexter or Mondo we Langa. Nor did the
deep gruff voice of an older man match that of 15-year old Duane Peak, the
confessed bomber. A FBI lab report indicating an unknown murderer would
unravel the case being put together against the two Panther leaders and
would have to be disclosed to defense attorneys.
Conrad followed orders and withheld a formal report on the tape recording.
The jury that convicted Poindexter and Langa for Minard's death never got
to hear the tape recording of the fatal caller. Authorities later
destroyed the tape only to have a duplicate emerge years later. Finally,
after many more long years the tape was submitted for sophisticated testing
in 2006. In May 2007, expert witness Tom Owen, an internationally
recognized vocal analyst, testified in an Omaha courtroom that the voice on
the tape was not that of Peak leaving an unidentified accomplice on the
Poindexter now has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska Supreme
Court over the new information about the tape recording, which J. Edgar
Hoover had tried to bury back in 1970. Sworn conflicting police testimony
about dynamite used in the bomb has since emerged that is also under review
by the state high court. No date for a decision has been announced.
Convicted for the bombing murder, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa received
life sentences and are imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State
Penitentiary in Lincoln. Both men deny any involvement in Minard's death.
Permission granted to reprint
Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in Boston. Richardson writes
about politics, law, nutrition, ethics, and music. Richardson is also a
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