[Ppnews] COINTELPRO plot against 'Omaha Two' included a cadre of top FBI officials

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 10 06:21:09 EST 2008

Original Content at  

December 9, 2008

COINTELPRO plot against 'Omaha Two' included a cadre of top FBI officials

By Michael Richardson

In Omaha, Nebraska the leaders of a Black Panther group, Ed Poindexter  
and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice), were the targets of a  
clandestine operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation  
code-named COINTELPRO.  J. Edgar Hoover, then FBI director, had  
ordered the massive but secret operation against the Panthers and  
other domestic political organizations and individuals.  Hoover's goal  
was to "disrupt" the Black Panthers out of existence by targeting its  
leadership for elimination, prosecution and a host of dirty tricks.

The August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Omaha policeman Larry Minard  
provided Hoover and his operatives with the opportunity to put the  
'Omaha Two' behind bars by charging them with the crime.  Officer  
Minard had been lured to a vacant house by an anonymous phone call  
about a woman screaming; however, a tape recording of the killer's  
voice on the emergency call system was an obstacle to the prosecution  
of the two Panther leaders.

A plan was quickly hatched in Omaha to send the tape recording to the  
FBI Crime Laboratory for vocal analysis.  But even before Minard's  
mangled body was buried, J. Edgar Hoover had issued an order to the  
crime lab director, Ivan Willard Conrad, to withhold a formal lab  
report on the tape.  Conrad spoke to Hoover on the phone on August  
19th about the unusual order to derail the investigation noting on his  
copy of the COINTELPRO memorandum that Hoover said it was "OK to do".

Conrad followed orders and the tape was withheld from defense  
attorneys and never heard by jurors who convicted Poindexter and Langa  
in April 1971.  At the time of the trial COINTELPRO was unknown to  
most Americans and never mentioned at the trial.  Jurors were unaware  
of the duplicity and intervention of the FBI director in the case.

Years after the killing, Mondo we Langa obtained portions of his FBI  
file under a Freedom of Information lawsuit.  In a heavily redacted  
COINTELPRO memo, the plot to withhold the vocal analysis of the tape  
was revealed.  Assistant Chief of Police Glen W. Gates was the police  
command officer working with the Omaha FBI office to thwart the  
investigation into the identity of Minard's killer betraying his  
murdered fellow officer to make a case against the two activists.

But there were other conspirators in the COINTELPRO plot and some of  
the highest officials at the FBI were on the distribution list of the  
damning memorandum.  Receiving copies of the memo from supervisory  
Special Agent Wayne W. Bradley to Conrad at the FBI Crime Laboratory  
were John P. Mohr, William Cornelius Sullivan, Charles "Chick"  
Brennan, and John Edward Shimota.  Alexander Rosen and George C. Moore  
were also clued in to the secret operation in a follow-up memo three  
days later.

Mohr, Assistant-to-the-Director, was a top boss and the closest of the  
plotters to Hoover.  Mohr took charge of the Bureau in the days  
following Hoover's death in 1972 and was tasked with arranging  
Hoover's funeral until President Richard Nixon decided Hoover should  
have a state funeral where Mohr served as an honorary pallbearer.   
Mohr, along with Hoover's personal secretary, Helen Gandy, oversaw the  
shredding of Hoover's notorious secret files about which he had lied  
to Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray while denying their existence.

Mohr, who was forced out of the Bureau within a month of Hoover's  
death, eventually became disgraced after his role in the U.S.  
Recording Company corruption scandal was revealed.  Attorney General  
Griffin Bell was unable to prosecute Mohr because of a statute of  
limitations but uncovered Mohr's extensive use of FBI personnel as his  
own personal work crew having them build furniture, repair appliances,  
upkeep his automobile and also accepting gifts from companies doing  
business with the Bureau.

Conrad, the recipient of the confidential COINTELPRO memo, was also  
later caught in the U.S. Recording Company investigation taking over  
$20,000 of expensive electronic equipment for his home use.  Conrad  
too avoided prosecution because of a statute of limitations but had to  
make partial restitution to the Bureau and returned 29 boxes of  
electronic equipment.

Sullivan, an Assistant Director of the Domestic Intelligence Section  
and later Assistant-to-the-Director, was the chief architect of  
COINTELPRO and likely was the point man who monitored developments in  
Omaha.  Sullivan admitted knowledge of the Omaha case in a speech to  
United Press International reporters in October 1970, his last speech  
as an FBI official.

Although Sullivan steadfastly denied the existence of COINTELPRO  
during his tenure at the Bureau he did tell an interviewer after he  
left the agency, "I was opposed to Hoover's discontinuing COINTELPRO."  
  Sullivan then explained the clandestine chain of command.

"Take COINTELPRO, for instance, it began by the men in the field  
suggesting new methods and procedures, which were reviewed by  
supervisors, who in turn bucked memoranda up the line through section  
chiefs, branch inspectors and so on until it finally got to Mohr and  
me.  We'd look it over and send it to Hoover.  All ideas came from the  
working level, because, hell, you've got to understand that the  
position of people like myself is administrative.  We didn't have any  
time to sit around thinking up counterintelligence operations."

Sullivan's departure from the FBI was not long after the 'Omaha Two'  
trial in 1971.  Sullivan coveted Hoover's job and made a bid to oust  
the director by revealing to an administration official that Hoover  
had secretly wiretapped Henry Kissinger.  Nixon was enraged and  
demanded the wiretap logs, which Sullivan secreted out of FBI  
headquarters.  When Hoover learned of Sullivan's disloyalty, he fired  
Sullivan and changed the locks before any more documents ended up  
where they didn't belong.

Brennan was Sullivan's chief investigator and entrusted with cracking  
the Pentagon Papers case.  Daniel Ellsberg's secret report on the war  
in Vietnam was breaking news and Brennan was assigned to find the  
leak.  Brennan inadvertently crossed Hoover by interviewing Ellsberg's  
father-in-law after misreading Hoover's shaky handwriting.  Ellsberg's  
in-law was a friend of Hoover's and was to be left alone.  Hoover  
ordered a demotion for Brennan following the snafu but Sullivan  
intervened on his behalf setting the stage for Sullivan's break with  
Hoover over the Kissinger wiretaps.

Shimota was a Special Agent assigned to COINTELPRO operations and  
turned up investigating the American Indian Movement after the Wounded  
Knee shooting of two FBI agents.  By the mid 70's, Shimota was working  
prostitution cases in Fargo, North Dakota suggesting a fall from grace  
within the Bureau.  In the Fargo case, Shimota was cited for writing  
the confession of one of the prostitutes.

Rosen was not on the special distribution list of the August 19th memo  
to Conrad but did receive the follow-up memo putting him in the  
conspirator's loop.  Rosen was Assistant Director in charge of the  
General Intelligence Division and acted as liaison to the Civil Rights  
Division of the Justice Department.  Rosen was another honorary  
pallbearer at Hoover's funeral.  In charge of investigating possible  
accomplices of Lee Harvey Oswald following President Kennedy's  
assassination, Rosen made no serious effort, later telling a U.S.  
Senate committee that investigating Oswald's associates was only an  
"ancillary matter."

Moore, whose signature appears on the August 22nd COINTELPRO memo  
about Larry Minard's murder, was Chief of the Racial Intelligence  
Section.  Moore, when asked about the illegality of COINTELPRO actions  
would later tell a U.S. Senate committee, "We never gave it a thought."

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, targets of the FBI plot to withhold  
evidence, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  
  Both men remain in prison 38 years later at the maximum-security  
Nebraska State Penitentiary where they continue to deny any  
involvement in the crime.

Poindexter has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska Supreme  
Court over the withheld evidence and conflicting police testimony.  No  
date for a decision has been announced.

Permission granted to reprint

Authors Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in Boston.  
Richardson writes about politics, law, nutrition, ethics, and music.  
Richardson is also a political consultant.

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