[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
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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