[Ppnews] COINTELPRO memo reveals Hoover gave order to withhold evidence in 'Omaha Two' case

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 9 15:33:17 EDT 2008

September 9, 2008 at 11:03:17

memo reveals J. Edgar Hoover gave order to withhold evidence in 
'Omaha Two' case

by <http://www.opednews.com/author/author3874.html>Michael Richardson


J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 
forty-eight years, was one of the most feared men in Washington, D.C. 
while he was alive because of his extensive files into the private 
lives of the rich and the famous and the powerful.  Hoover was also 
feared because of his violent responses to those he considered threats.

In the late 1960's, Hoover declared a clandestine war on the Black 
Panthers and other "black nationalist" groups as part of Operation 
COINTELPRO.  A secret directive dated August 25, 1967 both authorized 
and mandated illegal harassment and targeting of domestic groups and 
U.S. citizens deemed a racial or political threat by Hoover.

In Omaha, the war on the Panthers was directed at a chapter of the 
party called the Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism headed by Ed 
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (then-David Rice).  The attack on the 
two activists was personally directed by Hoover and his inner circle 
at the top of the FBI command structure.

Poindexter and Langa had been targets of COINTELPRO for their 
leadership roles in the Black Panther affiliate and were disliked by 
most local police for their sharp criticism of the shooting death of 
14 year-old Vivian Strong by police in the summer of 1969.  Both men 
further inflamed police hostility by their repeated use of the word 
"pig" to describe police officers.

On August 17, 1970 at 2:07 a.m. a powerful blast killed patrolman 
Larry Minard and injured seven others officers at a vacant house the 
police had been called to investigate.  While uniform officers ran a 
dragnet arresting dozens of people in the hours and days following 
the bombing, the man in charge of the investigation, Asst. Chief Glen 
W. Gates, was meeting with the FBI to hatch a plot to convict 
Poindexter and Langa rather than find Minard's actual killers, 
betraying his fallen fellow officer.

Two days after the bombing, before Larry Minard's body was even 
buried, Hoover gave a command to drop the search for Minard's killers 
and instead make a case against the NCCF leaders, a plan agreed to by 
Gates.  Hoover's verbal directive to rig the investigation was 
recorded by Ivan W. Conrad, the head of the FBI Laboratory, on a 
COINTELPRO memo issued the day of the bombing.  Conrad called Hoover 
to discuss the recommendation of the Omaha Special-Agent-in-Charge 
that police be only provided an informal, oral report on the lab's 
vocal analysis of the deadly phone call rather than a full 
investigatory report.

The voice of a killer, whose identity was unknown, presented a 
problem to what was now a police conspiracy. The headline in the 
Omaha World-Herald  blared out "Voiceprint in Bombing to FBI 
Lab".  According to the newspaper an Omaha Police spokesman said the 
voiceprint would be a "good investigative tool" to identify the man 
who made the call luring police to the deadly ambush.

Conrad, who apparently understood the implications of not issuing a 
formal lab report, asked Hoover about the Omaha SAC recommendation 
that, "an exception should be made in this case in order to assist 
the Omaha Police in developing investigative leads."  The exception 
Conrad asked Hoover about was, "The results of an examination will 
not be furnished directly to the Police but orally conveyed through 
the SAC of Omaha."

Conrad scrawled on his copy of the COINTELPRO memo, "Dir advised 
telephonically & said OK to do" followed by his initials.  Hoover 
gave approval to withhold the FBI Laboratory analysis and the lab 
director was able to keep the results permanently hidden.  However, 
Conrad did keep up his end of the plot and gave the results to the 
Omaha SAC who in turn shared them with Gates.

Ultimately, 15 year-old Duane Peak confessed to planting the bomb 
that took Minard's life.  Peak also claimed he made the emergency 
call and that Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa helped him build the 
bomb.  Peak was offered a deal and became the state's chief witness 
against the two Panther leaders in exchange for a short sentence and 
his freedom.  To keep the case from unraveling it was necessary for 
Peak to have been the caller as he claimed.  However, there was one 
catch, the voice on the tape did not sound like Duane Peak but rather 
that of an older man.

On October 13, 1970, the Omaha SAC sent a memo directly to Hoover: 
"Assistant COP GLENN GATES, Omaha PD, advised that he feels that any 
use of this call might be prejudicial to the police murder trial 
against two accomplices of PEAK and, therefore, has advised that he 
wishes no use of this tape until after the murder trials of PEAK and 
the two accomplices have been completed."

Mondo we Langa says, "This is pretty clear indication of cloak and 
dagger stuff.  We want you to do the analysis but we don't want you 
to put the results in writing.  Communicate to us this way.  So I 
suspect that somewhere between that memo and the prior one, the 
decision was made that the tape would not be part of the trial.  A 
vital issue, a critical issue."

The tape recording was successfully kept from the defense and the 
jury that convicted Poindexter and Langa never got to hear the voice 
that made the fatal call.  The original recording was destroyed 
several years after the trial and then in 1980 a reel-to-reel copy of 
the tape was found, quietly made by a dispatcher.  In 2006, the 
recording was submitted to modern vocal analysis.  Expert Tom Owens 
determined the voice on the tape was not that of Duane Peak, a 
conclusion apparently also reached by Conrad's technicians at the FBI 
Laboratory back in 1970 when the tape was withheld.

Peak served several years of juvenile detention and then gained his 
freedom.  The unknown caller whose voice was captured on tape was 
never identified or brought to justice.  Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa are serving life sentences at the maximum-security Nebraska 
State Penitentiary.  Both men deny any involvement in Minard's murder.

Poindexter has an appeal pending before the Nebraska Supreme 
Court.  Oral argument is scheduled for October.  No date for a 
decision has been announced.

Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in Boston. Richardson 
writes about politics, election law, human nutrition, ethics, and 
music. Richardson is also a political consultant on ballot access.

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