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Leonard Weinglass:

Leonard Weinglass: image Leonard Weinglass: image
Parent Issue
Day
14
Month
December
Year
1973
OCR Text

Leonard Weingíass is well known for his work with the déjense teams of a number of major political cases, includtng the Chicago S and the Pentagon Papers trials. The following article is based on a presentatoin he made on orem)cr 6 in Detroit. At the time. he was working on the appeal of 'the Chicago 8 contempt charges, a case whicli has sim e ended witli 90 per cent of the charges heing dropped. (sec article elsewhere in this issue). Q: Where are the Chicago 7 at politically today? L.W: Evcryone asks whufs happened to us, but no matter whal's happened to us, we're a lot more togetlier tlian the government . Our ma in antagunists in '69 you niight remember. were Spiro Agnew and John Mitchell. Their t'ail trom grace has been considerable. The Chicago 8 were really eight different people in the fïrst place and made mto a unit by virtue of an india ment. They never professed to all be in the same place; as a matter of tact . tliey weren't. They really worked well together. They synthesized their politics for the trial and had a unified position, whicli is important in any political trial. Going down the list. Dave Dellinger is still involved in anti-war issues. This week. he was supposed to be the fitst American in a liberated zone in South Vietnam and this contempl trial took that away from liim. He's still actively involved as I gather he always will be. Torn Hayden works with the Indochina Peace Campaign (IPC)around war issues in Indochina. Abbie Hoffman said he's busy organizing his new constituency. the American Coke Dealer's Association. He's been working on a number of project s that are not visible. One is a prison project with me in New Jersey in vol ving one prisoner in particular. Torn Trantino, whose book isabout to come out nexl month. Abbie has done the rewriting and the editing; he's very skilied at that. Jerry Rubin has moved to the West Coast, back to San Francisco which was his original political base including Berkeley. He ran for mayor ten years ago. He's not politically involved in the war and is kind of reestablishing himself on the West Coast. Reunie of course, is with the guru and on a fast. He's perhaps the most difficult one of the Chicago 7 to really explain quickly or easily. When 1 was in North Vietnam the Vietnamese asked me about Rennie because they feit that they had been let down and disappointed. Bobby Seale, who was in trial yesterday and testified, is in politics and is still organizing for Elaine Brown's campaign. She's going to run again for the city council of Oakland. John Froines and Lee Weiner; John is working with IPC in Vermont and Lee was working first on a women's project in prisons in New York and now on a project making psychotlierapy available to poor and ghetto residents of the city. So to one extent or another. of course it's very different than it was in '69!.. most of the Chicago 7 are still engaged in Political organizing of one sort or another. 1 don't think that there's been as muchof a change as the media's been making out. Q: Do you think that the trial of the Chicago 8 was purely vindictive or part of a carefully thought out plan by thegovernment? L.W: Ramsey Clark spoke of that under oath and was subject to cross-e xamination by a United States attorney. After the Chicago convention ended in 1968, Ramsey Clark sent word to the United States attorney' s office in Chicago that there was to be no grand jury beca use he was afraid that the Daley machine in Chicago needed a white-wash very badly at that time - if they convened a grand jury, they would immediately move to indict the demonstrators to get the pressure off from what obviously was pólice brutality. So Clark ordered no grand jury until the Justice Department did an independent investigation. The chief judge of that district, Judge Campbell, who was an appointed Daley aide, convened a grand jury over the Attorney General's recommendation. But Judge Campbell entered an order that has never been entered before: (and until Clark said it today, no one knew it) an order barring from a federal grand jury ' any representatives of the Justice Department in Washington or any aides of the Attorney General of the United States. It was to be a local affair and only the local United States attorney was to be allowed to handle it. Clark Rrotested, he called the judge, they backed down. They allowed some representatives of Washington to come in, in the company of local U.S. attornies. When Clark left office on Jan. 20, 1969, he wrote a memorandum to which he testified today, saying that after four and one-half months, the grand jury had no evidence upon which to indict. He recommended that the grand jury stop and that there be no attempt to present indictment. Mitchell came in the next day and within 7 weeks the Chicago 8 were indicted. MitcheU's first act was to send Jerris Leonard from Washington to Chicago to secure the indictment against the eight. Ramsey Clark said that there was no testimony presented to the grand jury and no investigation with respect to Bobby Seale. You might recall after the indictments came down. including Seale. Ramsey Clark even back then in 1969 said that the indictment of Seale with the rest of the group was a legal atrocity seaie didnotknow any of the seven. He testified to that yes' terday. He had never even met any of them. He came to Chicago for 1 3 hours to fill in for Eldridge Cleaver, made two speeches and left the city. He was indicted as a planner and organizer of the demonstration. Whether this was part of a design I think is pretty clear. Mitchell was asked the question: Why do you pursue these political people when most of the trials end up in acquittalsor in hung juries? Mitchell replied that it at least ties them up for the period of time that the trial takes. That's probably their strategy, to tie us up. Q: Isn't it true that thegovernment tended to particularly aim at the leadership of movements in bringing a case? L.W: Looking at the anti-war movement, Spock was the first of the anti-war Spock was charged with soliciting people to resist. At that time, the government was worried about the resistance to the draft. Then the resistance to the war went into the street, the Chicago 8 were indicted; the resistance to the war then became a matter of concern for the clergy,Jhe middle class Berrigans were indicted. When the resistance to the war became acts' of disloyalty or opposition to the war by government employees, Ellsberg and Russo were indicted. When the resistance to the war took the form of veterans opposing it, the Gainesville 8 were indicted. So these cases almost document the resistance extent in the country. It would be almost too much to ask the government to resist the temptation to use the power it has to cut off criticism by criminal prosecution. It was Ramsey Clark who personally authorized the prosecution of Dr. Spock-something that he now publicly acknowledges was wrong and he feels very badly about. But they did intend to prosecute Spock and put him away. And Ramsey Clark, on reflecting about that, points out that what moved him was the fact that they couldn't handle all the prosecutions they had to handle against the draft evaders, so if they go after the leadership like Spock, then everyone down - the line would figure, well, I'm not immune, Spock is away. They got Spock, they can get all of us. And so the thinking was to go after the leadership. Clark ad mits to that kind of thinking. And that's what kind of moves they made, to cut off the problems the government wasn't willing to deal with, or contend with, by prosecuting the leadership. Q: How can the government be so inept at prosecuting people with all the resources they have? L.W. About their ineptness. U's always a new revelation to me as to how totally inept the government is. Including today and the last trial, the Pentagon Papers trial; in every case on which we worked. The government puts into evidence about 40 per cent of what we anticípate their case to be. That's a running figure. They are for some reason, totally incapable of ; ing a strong case. It's really a mystery to me. It reminds f us that we should never underestimate the ignorance of the ruling class, it's constantly unfolding in court, in front of us. Q: But isn't it true that the government uses incredible surveillance techniques to keep track of it's critics? I L.W. Yes, for example, a suit was filed about ten days I ago on behalf of Jane Fonda in the Federal district court in Los Angeles. Someone in the Justice Department xeroxed her entire file from the FBI- it's almost three inches thick--and turned it over to Jack Anderson who published some of the juicier parts, then turned the remainder over to Jane Fonda. We filed the suit, alledging illegal surveillance and various other illegal activities-one of which occurred here in Detroit. You might remember Jane carne here with the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971. While she was in the city, the trunk of her rented car was burglarized. Nothing of value was taken except a small brief case containing the contributions list for the Winter Soldier Investigation, the names of prospective witnesses and the list of supporters. Parts of that turned up in her FBI file in Washington. When she was arrested in Cleveland for supposedly bringing drugs into the United States, all of which turned out to be vitamins, and that charge had to be dropped. But when she was arrested, none the less, her name and address book was taken from her in Cleveland, flown that night by courier to Washington where' every page of the name and address book was xeroxed, flown back the next morning, returned to her by the custom's agent. They said that they were just holding it over night with her other personal effects. Each and every page of her address book appears in her file in Washington, with copies to the secret service. The government engaged in something called a pretext cali, I hadn't known of this practice before. The FBI would cali Jane directly and ask her questions about things like the whereabouts of her child, Vanessa who is seven years old. They were very curious about what school she was going to; there were other kinds of harassment. They had all her bank records, which they acquired from the bank without a subpoena or without any form of warrant, they were just turned over. This kind of practice against Jane between '71 and '72 has produced a file that runs over three hundred pages. It is very extensive; it involves over 40 surveillance agents; it involves a number of FBI personnel, secret service personnel; people like customs officers and local city pólice in Los Angeles. So if you wonder about government involvement in trying to meet anti-war criticism, if Jane Fonda is any indication, the involvement was very extensive, very widespread and, of course, totally ineffectual. The 300 pages are remarkable for their volume and the extent of the efforts but unbelievably thin on content. They learned virtually nothing; they knew nothing. What little they knew, they misinterpreted. You can read through that file and sigh a breath of relief that they are literally incapable of understanding what's going on in the country. They can't evendeal with objective facts and data that they gather and interpret them in any kind of meaningful or realistic way. I debated Mark Feit, the number two man in the A FBI, in Platville, Wisconsin and in the course of the debate, I mentioned the figure I have that thegovernment was spending $3.7 million a year to pay informants outside the aegncy. He conceded that was about right, although he thought it might be a little underestimated. The department itself has a budget of $345 million a year which is larger than the State Department. It's the only agency of the government that contains within itself, it's own self auditing. The same office that prepared the budget for the FBI audits itself, which is the only government agency with that cozy kind of arrangement. So the amount of resources is extensive; the amount of effort is very large to stop the anti-war movement, but they have been generally ineffective. I don't think they really have it together very well. That is just the beginning; we've filed the suit and now we're going to begin to take the depositions of the persons who were in vol ved in Jane's patricular situation but I suspect the same people were involved in other operations f against other people. f Q. Do you find the same kind of support for j cal trials now as you did when the Chicago 7 first went on trial? j L.W.: We've had an interesting tliing happen to J us in Chicago. In 1969, people from the media would come in and testify in the court room, f i but in 1973, they will not. I think the government has effectively neutralized the media. We also noticed in the Pentagon Papers j trial that although that case was well ƒ attended, the best coverage was European. Dan and Tony were very hopeful 1 1 that their trial would at least lead to I a public education, but it was very difficult to get any kind of coverage. j The war in Indochina, being our I est war and our most recent with a direct involvement of the U.S., is the one f area that lends itself to public education around the more elusive general issue of imperialism and what the U.S. is doing to the rest of the planet. You also have the fact of the Pentagon Papers, which have surfaced the policy of the U.S. towards Indochina since 1940, a period of 28 years that ended in 1968. There's no similar documentation of the U.S. policy towards any other country. It starts with Roosevelt, it i goes through the war, it tains something even the f Nortli Vietnamese didn't know about when I was lll&JC 111 lldllUl. 1 IIC MA letters written by Ho Chi Minh to Truman asking for Truman's help. citing the fact that the North Vietnamese had been instrumental in rescuing downed American pilots in WW II and Á turning them to f the U.S. The SUN would S like to thank the f Motor City I Mbor League E for this transcript. u H txïS&GO ■. 'rl u iiis 'a' Ap ; frr nsPiri Cae tri , JtJvss ÊÉÊ ïS&' "SgS&áíSi LSff Oss' CuUr. nese'nui. soko fteaasríssssa?5íí mmmmm: n-%L5SS&3f rírssr ( A