Doubletalk from Doublethink Lab cyber sleuths on Tsai Ing-wen thesis controversy in 2020 election report


Puma Shen, Chairman, and Wu Min Hsuan, CEO, co-founders of Doublethink Lab are two of Taiwan’s top disinformation experts. Deafening Whispers is their report on the 2020 Taiwan election. (credits: YouTube screenshot/Doublethink Lab/MySociety)

The long-running PhD thesis controversy of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen, sparked in June 2019 when Tsai submitted her thesis to the London School of Economics Library, 35 years late, was a hot-button issue in her 2020 re-election campaign. The tardy thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions was not only missing from the LSE Library shelves but the school she attended now says it does not know who her thesis examiners were. Tsai refuses to release the oral examination viva report keeping the controversy alive.

President Tsai survived unwanted media attention with a large electoral win, however the controversy hangs on in ROC and United Kingdom courtrooms with a criminal defamation prosecution and several Freedom of Information lawsuits. The thesis controversy and its influence, if any, on the 2020 election has been the subject of several academic papers and studies. One report, Deafening Whispers, by Doublethink Lab in Taiwan, touches on Tsai’s thesis using classic propaganda and disinformation tactics of changing the narrative and leaving out significant information. On the topic of Tsai’s thesis controversy the report would be better titled Deafening Silence.

To begin an analysis of the thesis controversy misinformation in the Doublethink report, a summary of relevant information is in order. Even more basic, what is Doublethink Lab?

Doublethink Lab is a think tank. The core activity seems to be a cadre of computer savy activists looking at internet data at the micro level and drawing conclusions on whether or not something is disinformation. Doublethink is well funded and well connected. Co-founded by Wu Min-hsuan and Puma Shen in 2019, the cyber-oriented think tank quickly moved into the political arena with its analytical talents and published a report on the 2020 election. Doublethink Lab describes itself as a “Taiwan based organization that operates at the intersection of the Internet, public discourse, civil society, and democratic governance.”

Wu Min Hsuan, also known as “Ttcat,” is CEO of Doublethink Lab, Wu’s LinkedIn bio lists him as a former paid political consultant in Taiwan. Puma Shen, Doublethink Lab Chairman, is an Assistant Professor at National Taipei University and Vice-President of the Taiwan Human Rights Association. Puma Sheen has been described as Taiwan’s leading disinformation expert.

The jargon filled election report is full of charts and graphs and nearly incomprehensible text. Anyone who followed the 2020 election in Taiwan knows that President Tsai’s thesis controversy had a brief but loud role in the campaign, yet Doublethink has changed the narrative leaving significant information out and reducing the only reference to the thesis controversy to a single sentence in the entire 130-page report. Okay, one sentence is at least a mention, now on to the report.

“We propose a model that brings together the different actors and modes of China’s information operations, using Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election as a case study. We find that although the whispers of individual agents of Chinese disinformation campaign may appear to have had little impact on incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen’s overwhelming victory, together the cacophony of whispers threatens to be deafening: sowing division in Taiwanese society, pushing groups into echo chambers, and attacking fundamental democratic values.”

“Saturated with disinformation, online propaganda, and radically divided opinion, attacks on Taiwan’s information space are growing on a daily basis and garnering global attention.”

“Awash in disinformation during both the 2020 general election and the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has been flagged as a testing ground for the PRC’s worldwide propaganda and information warfare.”

“We have developed a cross-platform database to keep track of 1,485 shared domains that can be grouped into 600 websites and filtered into 113 shared political content farms, which we used to reference 191 suspected Facebook Pages.”

“Facebook Taiwan has changed its algorithm to lower the ranking of disinformation sites in their search results in order to reduce the number of people who see these posts. Last October, Facebook filtered out all news feeds containing the domain names of the content farm Mission and other well-known content farms, including Kknews and Hssszn.”

Despite all of Doublethink’s work with Facebook data there is not a peep in the report about the election “war room” where Facebook representatives met with cyber warfare experts and ROC anti-infiltration agents while a purge of user accounts was planned. Content farms that outsource distribution for payments did get noted in the report.

“These profit-driven content farms were therefore still able to cause harm in the 2020 Taiwan general election by moving onto the YouTube platform in an attempt to discredit then-candidate Tsai Ing-wen.”

“Based on data Doublethink Lab collected from January 5, 2019 to January 31, 2020, we identified thirteen themes and fifteen narrative frames of disinformation.”

“Themes are the dominant subjects of discussion—what people were discussing, while narrative frames are the underlying assumptions brought to the discussions—how people were discussing or presenting their perspectives.”

“To further verify whether the content of disinformation would affect consumer belief, we conducted an exit interview on the day of 2020 Taiwan general election. To minimize the effect of respondents across different regions and their party preference, we selected 11 polling stations throughout the country, where the voting pattern for the two main parties were most similar to the 2016 Taiwan presidential election. We received a total number of 892 interviews from those 11 polling stations. In the interview, the research team selected four influential rumors related to China but along four different political affiliations.”

“Listed below are four political rumors circulated in the 2020 Taiwan general election. 1. Wang Liqiang is a pseudonym, therefore China’s announcement of criminal evidence pertaining to Wang Liqiang is self-contradictory. Political affiliation: anti-China 2. Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis dissertation is fake and unqualified. Political affiliation: anti-DDP 3. Passing the same-sex marriage bill in Taiwan is a plot by pharmaceutical companies to profit off of AIDS. Political affiliation: against same-sex marriage. 4. Han Kuo-Yu is educated in China by the CCP’s United Front Works Department. Political affiliation: anti-KMT.”

“The first and second rumors were widely reported by the mass media (more than 50% of respondents have heard these two pieces of disinformation).”

That is it. Nothing more mentioning President Tsai’s thesis in the lengthy report. However, Puma and Wu know more than they told. A separate Doublethink paper on the polling place exit study gives a few more details on the thesis controversy and its impact on the election not found in Deafening Whispers.

“As many as 80 percent of respondents have received information claiming that President Tsai Ing-wen plagiarized her Ph.D. dissertation, with 60 percent of respondents claiming they’ve seen the information frequently. Only 20 percent of respondents said they believed the statement was credible. There appears to be a weak correlation among respondents who have received this information and those who believe it. Compared to the false statement about Wang Liqiang in question group 1, the emotion elicited by this question group was more positive (“sympathy” for Tsai, “ridiculous” or mild “surprise”). However, there was no significant correlation between the emotions elicited by it and the credibility of the statement.”

“For example, in question group 2, people who did not believe that Tsai Ing-wen’s Ph.D. thesis is fake often replied that the information was “ridiculous” or “disgusting.” The spectrum of emotions behind this could be “how ridiculous/disgusting that someone is still spreading this information!” There is no obvious distinction between positive and negative emotions. If we want to analyze further, we will need to obtain more detailed information through interviews or other means.”

Doublethink was chasing a moving target with 80 percent of respondents reporting plagiarism of the thesis as the purported misinformation whereas Doublethink’s loaded question posed the thesis as a fake. At the same time the thesis controversy on Facebook chat groups and later in United Kingdom courtrooms was focused on validity of the PhD degree and the identity of who approved the thesis. By linking domestic critics, scholars determined to learn the truth, and members of the general public with theories of plagiarism and forgery those seeking information become demonized, another propaganda trick well familiar to the Doublethink team.

Oh well, the cyber sleuths did try hard to write a good report and even disclosed one of their own investigative techniques. “Doublethink Lab researchers disguised themselves as clients and were invited into the messaging app Telegram where discussion in a group called Big Durian took place….”

The Doublethink conclusion was that the thesis controversy was no big deal because it had been widely reported in the media and whatever harm to President Tsai’s reputation had already been considered and rejected by voters.

A United States Department of State study conducted at Harvard University entitled Combatting and Defeating Chinese Propaganda and Disinformation suggests there was more to the story than told by Doublethink Lab in their election report.

“China’s role was in propagating and amplifying this false story. If any attack were to affect the elections, it would have been this one. The false story came about during the ruling DPP’s presidential primary election. Because Tsai was unable to find her LSE diploma, thesis, and transcript at the beginning to prove her degree, the story gained further traction. Furthermore, China’s cyber army flooded Taiwan’s social media space with this story. Even though the LSE later confirmed her doctorate in an official statement, this disinformation continued to be spread by both traditional and social media outlets.”

“Facebook found the war room effective, and Dr. Puma Shen, Taiwan’s top Chinese sharp power professor, stated that the war room was one of the key reasons why Chinese propaganda and disinformation did not have much effect on Taiwan’s elections this time. Shen explained that the war room was able to block a significant amount of foreign-produced fake news, making the information environment much better than that of the 2018 elections.”

So the question emerges, why was Puma Shen so silent in the Doublethink report, was it to soft-pedal the thesis controversy changing the narrative away from the controversy and the behind-the-scenes disinformation warfare of Facebook’s war room?

An academic paper funded by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled Media Warfare Taiwan’s Battle for the Cognitive Domain lists questions about President Tsai’s PhD degree as the first Chinese misinformation line of attack. The paper was authored by Professor Kerry K. Gershaneck and is an awkward fit with Doublethink’s no-big-deal approach to the thesis controversy.

“The PRC Media Warfare generally followed the following six primary lines of attack: questioning President Tsai’s doctoral degree, attempting to influence top Taiwanese media leaders at a Beijing conference, rehashing contentious domestic issues such as same-sex marriage legalization, smearing a former Chinese spy who exposed China’s covert influence operations, attacking the Taiwanese government’s bill against foreign interference, and creating doubts around Taiwan’s election integrity

Between Anti-Infiltration Act cyber teams in the ROC departments of government, Facebook censors ready to purge, and organizations like Doublethink Lab on the counter-offensive, Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis controversy quickly quieted as a campaign issue.

A more recent thesis controversy purge on the ”What Do They Know” website has proven to not be as accurate as the disinformation experts would like the public to believe. MySociety purged the accounts because the London School of Economics and Political Science, where President Tsai attended school, suggested that Chinese operatives may be behind the Freedom of Information requests about the thesis. Six Taiwanese researchers have stepped forward identifying themselves as purged by MySociety, none of whom are from China and all motivated simply by a search for truth.

The mystery of President Tsai’s thesis has sparked a large number of Freedom of Information requests in the United Kingdom swamping the “What Do They Know” website. My Society spokesman Gareth Rees explained the purge of WDTK users.

“We have been made aware that there is the possibility that the LSE has been added to a list of targets to gain social credits in China. As such we believe that your request and the others we received in this time period have not been made for just the purpose of receiving information but for personal gain.”

“With this information in hand, we were confident to treat the issue as mass misuse, more akin to spam or even a disinformation attack than to people making misguided requests.”

“During the course of this situation, we have banned 108 user accounts, most of which have been created to circumnavigate previous bans and to post inappropriate material to our site. We removed more than 300 requests from the site and 1,640 comments from pages.”

The MySociety censorship team has not disclosed if they called upon their Tic-Tech advisor Wu Min Hsuan, the Doublethink Lab CEO, to vet the purged thesis researchers. However, the MySociety purge has all the earmarks of the 2020 election war room cyber warfare with its allegations of personal financial motives by Chinese disinformation agents. One hopes the 2020 Facebook purge was done more accurately than the more recent MySociety purge of legitimate Taiwanese researchers.

Meanwhile, despite the Doublethink silence helping to quiet the 2020 election media frenzy, Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis continues to be controversial in the halls of justice.

Thesis controversy in ‘war room’ followed by Facebook purge during Tsai Ing-wen 2020 re-election campaign


Studies, reports, papers, and seminars tell the unfolding story of cyber warfare in Taiwan’s 2020 election. (credits: Screenshots)

In a drama fit for a Netflix series, a secret cyber war by the People’s Republic of China was waged against the Republic of China in-exile during Taiwan’s 2020 election. Although Chinese disinformation agents were able to spread a lot of misinformation, a rapid-response team in Taipei countered the unwelcome propaganda using humor-over-rumor memes, quickly generated media announcements, and a Facebook purge. In May 2019, in the run-up to the 2020 election, Taiwan’s Political Warfare Bureau of the Ministry of Defence and its National Security Bureau delivered a report to the Legislative Yuan entitled ‘Countermeasures Against Chinese Disinformation.”

The hidden story of those countermeasures has emerged in bits and pieces in studies, reports, papers, and seminars since the election. At the center of the cyber maelstrom, Facebook set up an Election Administration Center which became known as the “war room” to those in the know. A United States Department of State study conducted at Harvard University entitled Combatting and Defeating Chinese Propaganda and Disinformation provides some of the details.

“China’s role was in propagating and amplifying this false story. If any attack were to affect the elections, it would have been this one. The false story came about during the ruling DPP’s presidential primary election. Because Tsai was unable to find her LSE diploma, thesis, and transcript at the beginning to prove her degree, the story gained further traction. Furthermore, China’s cyber army flooded Taiwan’s social media space with this story. Even though the LSE later confirmed her doctorate in an official statement, this disinformation continued to be spread by both traditional and social media outlets.”

“Facebook’s policy, legal, and security representatives; content moderators; and local experts on politics, elections, and law…could meet face to face and expedite the decision-making process on what accounts to delete and what fake news to downrank/remove.”

“Facebook found the war room effective, and Dr. Puma Shen, Taiwan’s top Chinese sharp power professor, stated that the war room was one of the key reasons why Chinese propaganda and disinformation did not have much effect on Taiwan’s elections this time. Shen explained that the war room was able to block a significant amount of foreign-produced fake news, making the information environment much better than that of the 2018 elections.”

An academic paper funded by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled Media Warfare Taiwan’s Battle for the Cognitive Domain offers more details of the effort to respond to the Chinese misinformation. The paper was authored by Professor Kerry K. Gershaneck.

“Taiwan’s leaders learned from the PRC aggressive Media Warfare in the 2018 election, and effectively combatted it in 2020 through an innovative, whole-of-society approach. The government vastly improved its ability to detect and debunk various forms of Media Warfare and, as important, to raise public awareness of these attacks. The U.S. government and other entities, public and private, assisted.”

“Taiwan’s public education effort was more sophisticated and effective than in 2018. President Tsai personally engaged in the effort, with such warnings in public speeches as this October 2019 statement: “China has increased its coercion tactics… It has been doing so through a combination of military threats, disinformation and propaganda, infiltration, and other methods.” Consequently, civil society became more alert and created non-governmental organizations to detect, debunk, and block fake news online. Taiwan’s government passed sorely needed legislation (the Anti-Infiltration Law) to provide law enforcement and intelligence needed tools, it strengthened Taiwan’s institutions, and it formed its own united front—a public-private alliance–to fight back. On 31 December 2019, 11 days before the elections, the Legislative Yuan passed the Anti-Infiltration Law, to help counter election disinformation.”

“Taiwan’s Executive Branch also took important steps by strengthening its institutions….Every ministry established a team to detect disinformation campaigns and respond rapidly with a counter-narrative, and a well-funded Department of Cyber Security was established to guard websites and databases against hackers. The Ministry of Justice fined both individuals and television media companies who shared misinformation.”

“In the alliance, the government worked with major social media companies such as Facebook and LINE, and these companies became faster at finding and removing fake accounts and disinformation. As the 2020 elections approached, Facebook took action against a number of pages and groups that were suspected of spreading disinformation. It also created a “war room” against disinformation that worked closely with the Central Election Commission, law enforcement agencies, and the campaign headquarters of all three presidential and vice presidential candidates. Additionally, Facebook shut down a total of 118 Taiwan-based fan pages (one with as many as 155,443 members) along with 99 public groups and 51 accounts used to administer these pages various pages and accounts. Many of these pages and accounts supported the then-KMT presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu.”

“As important, the companies assisted in the public information campaign about misleading social media content. For example, Facebook began tagging fake articles with a correction from the Taiwan Fact Check Center and alerting users who shared the article that it contained inaccurate information. Civil society joined the effort to promote media literacy and awareness campaigns with various groups, among them DoubleThink Labs, the Open Culture Foundation, and Cofacts. These groups worked to identify, track, and flag disinformation.”

“The PRC Media Warfare generally followed the following six primary lines of attack: questioning President Tsai’s doctoral degree, attempting to influence top Taiwanese media leaders at a Beijing conference, rehashing contentious domestic issues such as same-sex marriage legalization, smearing a former Chinese spy who exposed China’s covert influence operations, attacking the Taiwanese government’s bill against foreign interference, and creating doubts around Taiwan’s election integrity.”

“When Tsai assumed the presidency, the existing laws that provided the foundation for the executive branch to investigate and prosecute illegal acts in support of the PRC included the National Security Act, the Political Donations Act, and the Organized Crime Prevention Act. While there were some successful prosecutions, these legal foundations proved insufficient and it was clear that new laws would be required to empower the courts and intelligence and law enforcement agencies to effectively confront the PRC’s highly sophisticated political warfare. One major problem that had to be overcome was, posed by the ROC Constitution: Taiwan authorities were unable to categorize the PRC as an “enemy state”.”

The Stanford Cyber Policy Center issued a report entitled Telling China’s Story: The Chinese Communist Party’s Campaign to Shape Global Narratives.

“Disinformation researchers such as Puma Shen, at National Taipei University, noticed suspect channels and videos with attributes that suggested mainland ties, including the use of third-party payment systems linked to China, such as Alipay QR codes that require a Chinese bank account. Shen also noted that some videos used phrases only common in mainland China, and errors in subtitles that might occur when converting simplified Chinese to traditional Chinese.”

“The channel was run by a YouTuber who appeared to be a concerned Taiwanese citizen: he spoke Taiwanese-accented Mandarin and his captions used traditional Chinese characters. The channel’s content amplified rumors that caught the attention of Taiwan’s Bureau of Investigation; one video claimed that Tsai Ing-wen is “selling” Taiwan to the United States and Japan (in other words, establishing an economic partnership that substantially benefited the latter two countries), and another denounced Tsai Ing-wen’s government and questioned the validity of her PhD.”

“Aside from suspicious YouTube channels and minimal activity on Twitter, China did not appear to leverage fake accounts on popular Western social media platforms to spread disinformation during the Taiwan 2020 presidential election. Although a cluster of accounts and Pages was removed from Facebook during the campaign, they were attributed to coordinated domestic actors—a reminder that not all inauthentic political activity comes from outside.”

Between Anti-Infiltration Act cyber teams in the ROC departments of government, Facebook censors ready to purge, and organizations like Doublethink Lab on the counter-offensive, Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis controversy was quickly quieted as a campaign issue. Did all those Facebook purged accounts actually belong to Chinese disinformation agents?

A more recent MySociety purge of Taiwanese researchers deny being Chinese disinformation agents after MySociety purge of What Do They Know website to censor questions in United Kingdom about Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis MySociety purge of 108 thesis researchers in the United Kingdom on the What Do They Know website has proven to not be as accurate as the disinformation experts would like the public to believe. MySociety purged the accounts because the London School of Economics and Political Science, where President Tsai attended school, suggested that Chinese operatives may be behind the Freedom of Information requests about the thesis. So far six Taiwanese researchers have stepped forward identifying themselves as purged by MySociety, none of whom are from China and all motivated simply by a search for truth.

The 2020 Facebook purge and the 2022 MySociety purge share one common connection, Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial PhD thesis. The Facebook purge was preceded by recommendations from the Anti-Infiltration teams. The thesis researchers censored in the MySociety purge are now wondering if their purge was also preceded by input from the ROC disinformation rapid-response squads as well.

“Frightening sound of a riot pump shotgun lock and load”


Edward Poindexter and Duane Peak at the National Committee to Combat Fascism headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. (credit: Omaha World-Herald)

This is Chapter 8 of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, and the Omaha Two story, a tale of injustice and two innocent men sentenced to life in prison because they were leaders of a Black Panthers affiliate chapter. Ed Poindexter is currently serving his life sentence at the maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary. This weekly installment of FRAMED is free to the public.

The new year started with the Midwestern United Front Against Fascism conference in Omaha. Black Panthers from Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, North Dakota and Missouri attended. Approximately one hundred and fifty participants were on hand for the gathering and dance afterwards.

Speakers at the event included Charles Knox, Maxine “Mama” Summers, and Ernie Chambers. Knox lectured on the evils of capitalism. Summers spoke against “inane American puritanical bullshit regarding sex.” Chambers denounced police brutality.i

Meanwhile, Paul Young understood that he had to come up with a counterintelligence proposal to satisfy J. Edgar Hoover. “As previously pointed out to the Bureau, the activities of the United Front Against Fascism, the successor organization in Omaha to the BPP, has been limited, however, indications are that this group plans to start a liberation school in Omaha in the near future.”

“Several counterintelligence measures aimed against this organization are presently under consideration and proposals for counterintelligence activities aimed at disruption of this organization or directed against its leaders will be submitted to the Bureau by separate communication in the very near future.”ii

By the end of January, Young finally had a counterintelligence proposal for Hoover. Young planned to intercept delivery of The Black Panther newspaper on the way into the city from Eppley Airport. “Contact is presently being maintained with United Airlines to ascertain if a regular pattern exists for the pickup of this newspaper by [REDACTED] a known UFAF member to whom these papers are consigned. As soon as this pattern is established, Omaha contemplates initiating counter intelligence measures aimed at disruption of the distribution of this newspaper.”iii

In February, the FBI plot to ambush the delivery of The Black Panther newspaper went forward. Young updated Hoover on the status of the plan. Hoover read and initialed Young’s memorandum. “Since BPP Headquarters has changed its policy concerning the publishing of this newspaper to demanding that payment for these newspapers be received at BPP Headquarters prior to the time the newspaper goes to the printer, no papers have been received in Omaha from the San Francisco area. In recent communications from San Francisco, it appears that arrangements are being made to have further shipments of the BPP Newspaper sent to Omaha and contact is being maintained with United Airlines Air Freight.”iv

One winter night, Ed Poindexter “let off some steam” and got drunk at a party. Poindexter’s girlfriend had too much of something and they ended up at the emergency room of the Douglas County Hospital. A fracas over the way the girlfriend was being treated led to Poindexter being clubbed by a policeman. Poindexter remembered regaining consciousness in a cell.v

Word got out about Poindexter’s trouble at the hospital when Mondo and others collected bail money from the community. The FBI made note of the incident and Paul Young had a new counterintelligence proposal for Hoover. Young wanted to mail an anonymous letter and quickly gained the approval of both George Moore and William Sullivan. However, Hoover withheld his consent until he got more details about the proposal.

Young replied to Hoover. “Freedom By Any Means Necessary”…had an article which reads as follows: “Our department Chairman, ED POINDEXTER, wishes to extend his sincere thanks to the people in the Black Colony for their generous donations to get him out of jail….The donations were a sure indication of the support the UFAF is getting from the people.”

“Investigation by the Omaha Division has failed to find any records of [Poindexter] being in either the city or county jail during the month of February. It is believed that the money collected by [Poindexter] and the UFAF was done under false pretenses. It is felt by Omaha that the UFAF needed money and this was the ruse that they used in order to get donations from the Black Community.”

“Bureau authority is requested to write an anonymous letter to Black Panther Party Headquarters stating the above facts; also authority is requested to make anonymous phone calls to Negro militant [REDACTED] and local Negro publications and certain people in the Black Community stating the above facts.”

“[Poindexter] is carried on the Omaha agitator index and [REDACTED] is carried on the security index.”vi

Although Young’s agents could find no record of Poindexter’s arrest, Poindexter clearly remembered waking up in jail and who bailed him out. “I even recall the community activist who bailed me out. It was Elroy Williams, Sr., one of the old school communists who was inactive at the time, but still supported the party in any way he could.”vii

Mondo also remembered Poindexter’s arrest. “The Hoover gang faked up a letter to the Omaha Star, claiming the donations we asked for to get Ed out of jail were obtained falsely because Ed hadn’t been jailed. We didn’t know, at the time, who was behind that, but the fact was Ed had been arrested and jailed.”viii

Hoover wrote to Young about his counterintelligence proposal against Poindexter. Hoover wanted to see a copy of the anonymous letter. “Submit contents of proposed anonymous letter for Bureau approval. A copy of your request for approval along with a copy of your proposed anonymous letter should also be furnished San Francisco.”ix

After the anonymous letter finally gained Hoover’s approval he added several instructions. “Take the usual security precautions to insure this letter and mailing cannot be traced to the Bureau.”

“Advise the Bureau and San Francisco of any positive results obtained by means of this letter. You are also authorized to discreetly make anonymous local phone calls to the publishers of “Black Realities,” “Everyone Magazine.” and “The Omaha Star,” as well as to the individuals mentioned….The context of these anonymous calls should relate to [Poindexter] obtaining bail money under false pretenses as you have previously described. Use discretion in making these calls to insure that they cannot be traced to the Bureau.”

“Advise of any positive results obtained by means of these anonymous calls.”x

The FBI bogus letter was replete with intentional typographical and grammatical errors to presumably make it more realistic. “Mr. [Hilliard] I wish to report a violation against the people by the leader of the United Front against Fascism in Omaha, Nebraska. [Ed Poindexter] claimed he was put in jail by the Pigs on Feb. 11 and he got donations from the people to get him out of jail. I gave two bucks. Last week while in the Pig Department i overheard a Pig laughing and telling another Pig(Black) how the Black Panther cheif [Poindexter] screwed the peoplke on the North side. The Pig said [Poindexter] was not in jail and he snowed the people getting the donations for bail money. If thats the kind of leaders you want in the panthers I dont want to join.”

“Power to the Pigs if thats how you treat us fellow brothers and sister. Right On Former supporter of the BPP”xi

In April, Ed Poindexter presided over a “shotgun wedding” between Mary Mitchell and William Peak according to a newsletter account. “The best man and bridesmaid wore bandoleers and held shotguns pointed upwards.”

After promising revolutionary fidelity and allegiance to revolutionary ideology the couple were married by Poindexter. “At this point, the best man and bridesmaid simultaneously cocked and dry-fired their shotguns.”

Poindexter closed the ceremony with a wish. “I am proud to join these two servants of the people. And I hope they have many strong warriors for the people and more problems for the pigs.”

The first Sunday in May saw Mondo at the Zion Baptist Church. Mondo and seven church members were arrested. Several were elderly members of the church. Reverend Rudolph McNair told police he was pushed and grabbed by members of a group who blocked his way as he walked to the pulpit. McNair said the group shouted during the church service.xii

McNair had been a subject of attention from Mondo in Freedom By Any Means Necessary for hypocrisy in his personal life. Mondo later talked about his public battle with McNair. “I was working on our newsletter when I got a call from this dude who said a particular preacher had beat his wife in the Safeway parking lot. I got the lowdown. Now here was somebody church people had been trying to get rid of for years. I did know he had been active in the so-called civil rights movement, very active, and then he had gone quiet. Later on I found out that he turned to the mayor about his church receiving funds to operate certain programs. So for a time his quietness had been purchased.”xiii

“I guess he was with his girlfriend and the wife busted him and she didn’t take too kindly to it and he assaulted her in the parking lot. This is somebody preaching sermons to his congregation about sin and goodness and evil.”xiv

Mondo wrote an article for the newsletter about McNair and decided to attend McNair’s church. “Myself and another Party member went to the service next Sunday, right around service time. After people found out what was in it, all kinds of people just rushing, practically knocking us over to get these newsletters. Well, we ran out of newsletters but it was kind of fruitful we had The Black Panther newspapers with us. When we ran out of our newsletters the people bought the Black Panther Party newspaper. Maybe a week or two after that the police came and a number of us were arrested. I was the only one from the chapter that was arrested.xv

On May 13, 1970, the Des Moines police station and municipal court building were bombed causing $250,000 damage. The crime remains unsolved.xvi

The following week, several thousand people attended a four-hour rally in honor of Malcolm X organized by Mondo at Kountze Park. Mondo used local pride in Omaha as Malcolm X ‘s birthplace to turn out a crowd.xvii

Later in the evening, two Omaha patrolmen were making a traffic stop when approached by Mondo and Frank Peak, Jr. Both Mondo and Peak were carrying a pistol. Startled, one of the officers drew his weapon. After several tense moments Mondo and Peak continued on their way. A police spokesman told a reporter that no law was broken. “It’s unusual for people to carry guns like that, but there was no violation of the law.”xviii

Peak proceeded to the renamed National Committee to Combat Fascism headquarters where he had a conversation with George Parker. Parker reported several police cruisers were parked outside and “four or five” people were on the porch “drinking beer and pop.” Parker said police were “shining spotlights on the porch” and uttering “provocative epithets.”

Parker said he heard one police officer shout at the group on the porch. “You better get your guns, because we’re coming tonight.” After that one man produced a rifle on the porch. Parker was on the scene for three hours during the stand-off. At one point five police cruisers were parked outside the headquarters. The incident was not defused until Sergeant Pitmon Foxall arrived and ordered the people on the porch to go inside and the police to leave the scene.xix

The next day, Mayor Eugene Leahy asked the Public Safety Director to investigate complaints that had reached the Human Relations Board about police harassment of members of the National Committee to Combat Fascism. The United Front Against Fascism underwent a name change during the summer as they moved toward reactivation of the Black Panther Party in Omaha.

George Parker, vice-chairman of the Human Relations Board, went public with citizen complaints about the police. Parker said people were tired of “police harassment and abuse, without provocation.” That night, a shot was fired at a police cruiser near the headquarters of the NCCF in Omaha. The shot missed the cruiser but hit a city bus. Earlier, two police officers were driving past the NCCF headquarters when a group on the porch, men and women, shouted obscenities and displayed handguns. A woman on the porch allegedly pointed a pistol directly at police.xx

On May 22, 1970, the municipal hall and police station was bombed in Ames, Iowa. The Black Panthers were suspected but no arrests were made. The crime remains unsolved.xxi

In New York, the Society for Philosophy and Public Affairs adopted a resolution about the New York 21. Twenty-one Black Panther activists had been charged with planning to blow up various sites in New York. The philosophy society had uncanny insight into what was happening across America.

“The treatment of the New York Panther 21 by courts of the State of New York represents what we regard as a judicial outrage. The evidence brought against the defendants seems far from conclusive; yet the defendants have been placed under excessive bond that they have no chance of meeting, and that is far greater than the bond imposed on other defendants in New York charged with similar crimes and confronted with greater evidence against them. Eleven of the defendants have spent the past year in jail. In jail they have been the victims of gross brutality. In courtrooms they and their lawyers have been constantly harassed and have been denied elementary rights necessary for the conduct of a fair trial”xxii

“Unfortunately, it would appear necessary to consider the possibility that this case is part of a nationwide “police conspiracy” to destroy the Black Panther Party.”xxiii

On June 11, 1970, the Ames Avenue police assembly building in Omaha was bombed just before a shift change. A bomb placed outside the cement wall of the building damaged police cruisers parked nearby. No one was injured and the crime was never solved.xxiv

Police kept close watch on Ed Poindexter. “I’d spend the night at different homes so that the cops couldn’t pick up a pattern. Each night I was at a different safe house to sleep. Since it was unusually quiet…in terms of police harassment, I decided to walk north on Twenty-fourth Street instead of cutting through alley ways as usual.”

“Mama’s house was only a few blocks from headquarters, and I’d expected to be there within five minutes. But as I got two blocks from headquarters a cop cruised by and looked at me with surprise. I instantly knew there was going to be some stuff, so as they turned off Twenty-fourth and out of sight I took the opportunity to jet north to Spaulding and cut west before the cops had a chance to double back for an assault on me. Pity the poor soul caught alone on a side street with no witnesses.”

“About half way up the street I looked back to see the patrol car screech around the corner in pursuit of me. I ducked between two houses and cut through an alley. I heard the patrol car halt, the door open and slam shut, and the familiar but frightening sound of a riot pump shotgun lock and load.”

“When I reached Twenty-seventh Street, I decided not to enter the house, but instead duck behind the hedges and wait for the cops to pass. I kneeled on the lawn and felt the salty sweat dripping down my face. My forearms and hands even glistened with it.”

“Moments later the patrol car cruised slowly past the house with its searchlight passing over the hedges and house. That was the longest ten seconds of my entire life.”xxv

On June 13, 1970, the Chamber of Commerce office in Des Moines, Iowa was bombed. The explosion caused $100,000 in damage to the building. The crime remains unsolved.xxvi

A week later, the Des Moines police received a phone call about a box under a bridge. The responding officer found a tool box set to explode when the box was opened. The booby-trap bomb did not detonate. No arrests were made.xxvii

The eight people arrested at the Zion Baptist Church in May went to court. Mondo and seven others were fined one dollar each for disturbing a church service. Municipal Judge Simon A. Simon told the eight, including several elderly women, that church was not the place to “settle grievances.” Several of the defendants testified they only grabbed McNair to restrain him after he clenched his fist as though to strike one of the women.xxviii

Omaha’s long hot summer simmered with confrontation and violence to follow.

FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, & the Omaha Two story is available at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at Northomahahistory.com. Patrons of the Omaha Public Library also enjoy free access.

iTrial Transcript, Exhibit 15, p. 1, January 16, 1970

ii Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection January 12, 1970

iii Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection, January 26, 1970

iv Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection, February 24, 1970

vKnown records do not note Poindexter’s jailing; however, removing an unconscious man to jail from a hospital emergency room is hard to justify in a report and may have occurred without proper record. The hospital also had a holding cell for prisoners which may have been used.

vi Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection, March 5, 1970

vii Edward Poindexter, letter to author, February 24, 2009

viii Mondo, letter to author, January 26, 2009

ix J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection, March 1970

x J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection , April 3, 1970

xi Anonymous letter against Ed Poindexter, Public Research Associates Library, Omaha Collection April 3, 1970

xii “Church Row Fine $1 Each,” Omaha World-Herald, June 25, 1970

xiii Mondo, prison interview, September 8, 2007

xiv Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007

xv Mondo, prison interview, September 8, 2007

xvi “Police Asking If Fatal Bomb Like Earlier,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, August 19, 1970

xvii “2,500 Attend Rally Honoring Malcolm X,” Omaha World-Herald, May 21, 1970

xviii “NCCF Group Flashed Guns,” Omaha World-Herald, May 21, 1970

xix “Report by Chief Is Contradicted,” Omaha World-Herald, May 20, 1970

xx “NCCF Group Flashed Guns,” Omaha World-Herald, May 21, 1970

xxi “Police Asking If Fatal Bomb Like Earlier”, Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, August 19, 1970

xxii The Black Panthers Speak, Ed. by Phillip Foner, p. 265, 1970

xxiii The Black Panthers Speak, Ed. by Phillip Foner, p. 266, 1970

xxiv “Police Asking If Fatal Bomb Like Earlier,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, August 19, 1970

xxv Edward Poindexter, personal letter, March 24, 2008

xxvi Hearing Transcript, House Committee on Internal Security, Subcommittee on the Black Panther Party, p. 4816, October 8, 1970. U.S. Representative William Scherle of Iowa named a suspect, James Lawson of Minneapolis, who was purportedly killed while transporting explosives.

xxvii “Police Asking If Fatal Bomb Like Earlier,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, August 19, 1970

xxviii “Church Row Fine $1 Each,” Omaha World-Herald, June 25, 1970]

Tsai Ing-wen PhD controversy has become a cyber war battlefield with Taiwanese thesis researchers under attack


Cover of a Harvard University publication prepared for the United States State Department which discusses Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis controversy. (credit: Screenshot)

The long-running controversy over Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis at the London School of Economics and Political Science was highlighted in a Harvard University publication called Combatting and Defeating Chinese Propaganda and Disinformation prepared for the United States Department of State.

The author of the Tsai Ing-wen case study is Aaron Huang, a former spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan. Huang is also a veteran of the Intelligence Bureau in the State Department and worked in the United Kingdom on a House of Commons committee.

Huang’s paper focused on the ROC presidential election of 2020, and in particular the PhD thesis controversy. President Tsai sparked an academic firestorm in June 2019 when she filed her thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions with the LSE Library, 35 years late. The LSE now admits, after being ordered to do so by the Information Review Tribunal, that it does not know who examined and approved Tsai’s tardy thesis.

Huang, a firm advocate of President Tsai’s story, denounced “the falsehood that Tsai’s London School of Economics doctoral degree was fake.”

“China’s role was in propagating and amplifying this false story. If any attack were to affect the elections, it would have been this one. The false story came about during the ruling DPP’s presidential primary election. Because Tsai was unable to find her LSE diploma, thesis, and transcript at the beginning to prove her degree, the story gained further traction. Furthermore, China’s cyber army flooded Taiwan’s social media space with this story. Even though the LSE later confirmed her doctorate in an official statement, this disinformation continued to be spread by both traditional and social media outlets.”

One of Huang’s sources on the allegation of Chinese disinformation efforts was Puma Shen, who is described as “Taiwan’s top disinformation expert.” The Journal of Information Warfare cited Shen as the chairperson of an outfit called Doublethink Lab, founded by computer guru Wu Min Hsuan.

Huang discussed the establishment of an Election Operation Center by Facebook, called by insiders the “war room” where “Facebook’s policy, legal, and security representatives; content moderators; and local experts on politics, elections, and law…could meet face to face and expedite the decision-making process on what accounts to delete and what fake news to downrank/remove.”

“Facebook found the war room effective, and Dr. Puma Shen, Taiwan’s top Chinese sharp power professor, stated that the war room was one of the key reasons why Chinese propaganda and disinformation did not have much effect on Taiwan’s elections this time. Shen explained that the war room was able to block a significant amount of foreign-produced fake news, making the information environment much better than that of the 2018 elections.”

One aspect of the thesis controversy overlooked by both Huang and Shen was the significant number of Taiwanese citizens raising legitimate unanswered questions about President Tsai’s degree award. Thesisgate, as the controversy has come to be called, represents a strong public interest in the matter which remains a significant contributing factor in the continuing quest for answers.

More recently, the thesis controversy has led to an apparently concerted campaign against Taiwanese researchers seeking to verify the validity of Tsai’s degree award. Some 108 thesis researchers were purged from a United Kingdom website called “What Do They Know” devoted to simplifying Freedom of Information requests. Gareth Rees, spokesman for MySociety which ordered the WDTK purge, claimed that the researchers misused the website and MySociety acted on suspicions advanced by the LSE that Chinese disinformation agents were at work. as Doublethink Lab claimed during the ROC presidential election.

There is one slight problem with the WDTK purge. People making the Freedom of Information requests on WDTK were not clandestine Chinese disinformation agents. Instead, the requests for information have come from Taiwanese researchers conducting legitimate research. A half-dozen researchers have stepped forward to complain about being kicked off the WDTK website for asking genuine questions about President Tsai’s thesis.

If the State Department wants to get to the bottom of the matter it should consider asking Huang to do more homework and update his Harvard University paper. Within the past month, the LSE has admitted not knowing who examined President Tsai’s thesis and the University of London, which awarded Tsai a degree for her scholarship, has admitted losing the regulations which governed her viva examination.

Perhaps Aaron Huang can convince Doublethink Lab to cut through the defamatory doubletalk coming from MySociety and discover the hidden hand that ordered the purge of the Taiwanese researchers?

MySociety experts on Chinese disinformation agents failed to prevent erroneous purge of Taiwanese thesis researchers from What Do They Know website


Gareth Rees, Senior Developer at MySociety, and Wu Min Hsuan, CEO at Doublethink Lab, are self-appointed experts on Chinese disinformation agents. (credits: MySociety/Ttcat)

The long-running controversy over Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis has spilled over to a United Kingdom website dedicated to the Freedom of Information Act called What Do They Know. The website, run by a group called MySociety, purged 108 users earlier this year claiming they were misusing the website to spread Chinese disinformation for personal gain. A half-dozen of the purged Taiwanese thesis researchers have bravely stepped forward to denounce the censorship and insist they were motivated by a search for truth about Tsai’s thesis and not in the employ of the People’s Republic of China.

President Tsai triggered the thesis controversy in June 2019 when she submitted her PhD thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions with the London School of Economics Library, 35 years late. Tsai keeps the controversy alive by refusing to release the oral examination viva report which purportedly approved the thesis. The LSE, where Tsai attended school, now admits it does not know who her thesis examiners were.

The mystery of President Tsai’s thesis has sparked a large number of Freedom of Information requests in the United Kingdom swamping the What Do They Know website. My Society spokesman Gareth Rees explained the purge of WDTK users.

“We have been made aware that there is the possibility that the LSE has been added to a list of targets to gain social credits in China. As such we believe that your request and the others we received in this time period have not been made for just the purpose of receiving information but for personal gain.”

“With this information in hand, we were confident to treat the issue as mass misuse, more akin to spam or even a disinformation attack than to people making misguided requests.”

“During the course of this situation, we have banned 108 user accounts, most of which have been created to circumnavigate previous bans and to post inappropriate material to our site. We removed more than 300 requests from the site and 1,640 comments from pages.”

It is unknown if the MySociety censorship team called upon its TicTech advisor Wu Min Hsuan, a Taiwanese computer guru with political connections, to vet the purged researchers. Wu’s LinkedIn bio lists him as a former paid political consultant in Taiwan. Wu’s mission is explained on the Doublethink Lab

website he founded.

“Doublethink Lab is researching modern threats to democracy and devising strategies to counter them. He is focused on mapping China’s online information operation mechanisms.”

“Our work focuses on researching malign Chinese influence operations and disinformation campaigns and their impacts via the digital tools and methodologies we have developed.”

“We seek to bridge the gap between the democracy movement, tech communities and China experts.”

Rees and Wu have both been featured MySociety speakers at RightsCon, a periodic international cyber convention. Wu’s signature work is something called the China Index, where the PRC propaganda influence is cataloged and quantified.

Three of the purged Taiwanese reseachers are considering Defamation Act complaints against MySociety for the defamatory allegations made by Rees against them. With all of the supposed expertise on Chinese disinformation agents shared by Rees and Wu, the question is how did MySociety get it so wrong about the Tsai Ing-wen thesis researchers?

The imaginative attention necessary to produce effective results”


Fred Hampton, head of the Chicago Black Panthers, murdered by police in his bedroom in December 1969. (credit: Chicago Police Dept.)

This is Chapter 7 of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, and the Omaha Two story, a tale of injustice and two innocent men sentenced to life in prison because they were leaders of a Black Panthers affiliate chapter. Ed Poindexter is currently serving his life sentence at the maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary. This weekly installment of FRAMED is free to the public.

Mondo was awakened by the telephone. “I get a call and the call is from my house, they were already at my house, and needed to come right away. It was about three o’clock in the morning. I get there and there are representatives from Des Moines and Kansas City chapters. We met with them, I think it was the following day there was a press conference when the official announcement was made that we were not recognized by national headquarters due to inactivity or something like that.”i

The Kansas City Black Panthers issued a press release announcing the expulsion of Eddie Bolden and the suspension of the Omaha chapter. The release was from June Hilliard, assistant chief of staff in Oakland. “There is no longer an official chapter of the Black Panther Party in Omaha, Nebraska. Further, Eddie Bolden, so-called leader of the Party here, was expelled from the Party in March and was not to function in any capacity, in the name of the Black Panther Party.”

“Bolden was expelled for his counter-revolutionary activities and his working and assisting with government sponsored programs, which mislead the people moving them deeper into oppression and despair, and his reluctance to follow Party line and relate totally to serving the “needs” of the people.”ii

Ed Poindexter had only been a member of the Black Panthers for several months when the announcement was made. Poindexter recalled that he was determined to go forward with the Black Panther Party despite the setback to the local chapter. “It was at this historic press conference where I met a small hardcore group of men, some of whom I knew from high school, who vowed to continue the struggle by re-organizing the Black Panther Party chapter under a different name.”iii

Mondo announced the formation of a local United Front Against Fascism group to the Omaha news media and later explained the name. “We chose the name kind of based on the fact I had been to the United Front Against Fascism conference so we thought that would be appropriate to give ourselves that notice and it was cool with the Party.”iv

Mondo held an organizing meeting at Kountze Park attended by ten people. The Omaha World-Herald described the gathering as a “newly formed Negro militant group.” Mondo announced the goal was “to decentralize all police forces and place them under community control.”

“The people in the community should have the power to hire and fire peace officers and decide policies for law enforcement.”v

Paul Young’s regular counterintelligence report to J. Edgar Hoover updated recent developments in Omaha and included the text of June Hilliard’s news release on Eddie Bolden’s expulsion from the Black Panthers. Mondo’s announcement about the United Front Against Fascism was Hoover’s introduction to Mondo.

“On 8/5/69 DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE [REDACTED] appeared on the 10:00 p.m. news on Omaha television stations and stated that a new party called “The United Front Against Fascism” was being formed.”

“In view of the above, Omaha feels that concrete recommendations cannot be made at the present time regarding counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.”vi

Two weeks later, Young offered more details to Hoover about the suspension of the Omaha Black Panther chapter. Young also put Ed Poindexter in Hoover’s crosshairs. “Although the BPP in Omaha is considered defunct by National Headquarters, it appears that this chapter at a future date will be reactivated possibly under the leadership of [Edward Poindexter] who, according to Kansas City, recently arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, to attend a BPP training school.”vii

Pete O’Neal, leader of the Kansas City Black Panthers, remembered the visitors from Omaha. “When I recall the many visits both brothers made to Kansas City an image comes to mind of two strong young men, totally committed to our struggle, I recall their participating in our community programs and never flinching from the heavy workload that all the members of the Kansas City chapter were required to perform, they were involved in our political education classes and never hesitated to criticize where criticism was needed. Mondo and Poindexter were an inspiration to us all.”viii

In September, Hoover sent a memorandum to Omaha and thirteen other FBI offices requesting an explanation of what steps had been taken to exploit membership weaknesses of the Black Panther Party. Hoover made it clear that he wanted results. “The participation of each office is expected and necessary in order that the BPP organization is thoroughly disrupted.”ix

In October, the United Front Against Fascism announced the opening of the Vivian Strong Liberation School. Ed Poindexter explained the intent of the school. “The purpose is to teach the children the true nature of this decadent society…they will be taught about revolutionary heroes such as Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm X, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and others…they will also be taught who their enemies are such as Jim Crow, Richard Nixon, the pig (police) department and many others.”

“They will be taught what revolution means and how they can play a role in it.”x

Mondo had his own description of the school. “At the school, located in the house that was our chapter headquarters, we taught African children and youth and fed them. To put it another way, we fed their minds and their stomachs. We gave lessons on politics and history, spelling and so forth. We encouraged them to discuss topics, to express themselves, to become thinking sisters and brothers.”xi

Hoover meanwhile lectured the Philadelphia FBI office about incorrect format for their counterintelligence proposals. Hoover listed the essential elements of a COINTELPRO proposal.

“1. The specific extremist nature of the target, whether a group or individual. Specific information regarding advocacy of violence, revolution or separatism should be included.”

“2. The counterintelligence action should be set out in detail; include what action is proposed and how it is to be accomplished. If sources are to be utilized, their reliability should be stated.”

“3. Explain how the counterintelligence action would tend to neutralize or disrupt the target.”

“4. Assurance should be given that the operation will not embarrass the Bureau.”xii

In Nebraska, Mondo spoke to a dozen students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha at a forum sponsored by the Young Democrats. Mondo urged the students to gain a voice in deciding what courses are taught and how the university budget is spent. Mondo said a black studies program needs to be “relevant and honest.” Mondo declared “the revolutionary movement in Omaha will grow stronger because the opposition is not very smart.”xiii

The United Front Against Fascism published the first issue of the newsletter Freedom By Any Means Necessary. Raleigh House, Deputy Minister of Finance, wrote the feature article explaining the group’s recent history and made a pledge. “Until Omaha is again granted a chapter by Panther national, black people can be assured that the United Front Against Fascism will serve the people of this community in every manner to bring about the self-determination and liberation of black people.”xiv

In November, Horace Mann Junior High School was bombed in Omaha, damaging windows and a hallway. The crime remains unsolved.xv

A week after the school bombing, a local coalition to work on racial problems collapsed over ideology. Mondo told a reporter that People for People had agreed to “work under black leadership” but backed off the pledge. Kay Stevens, a coalition organizer, said the joint effort fell apart because of “Marxist and Socialist comments.”

Mondo said the UFAF“in support of black liberation, will accept the help of sincere white people.”

“But we will not tolerate white racist and paternalistic interference in black people’s affairs.”xvi

Paul Young reported to J. Edgar Hoover that the United Front Against Fascism group in Omaha was too small to warrant a counterintelligence recommendation. “The United Front Against Fascism (UFAF), which organization succeeded the BPP in Omaha, Nebraska, is composed of approximately one-half dozen members and continues to be inactive, although it recently published a newsletter.”xvii

However, Young recommended to Hoover that Mondo be placed on the Agitator Index, targeting him for counterintelligence actions because of his role as Deputy Minister of Information of the UFAF.xviii

In December, the Los Angeles FBI office sent a memorandum to Hoover that reported the FBI was providing information to local police. “The Los Angeles office is furnishing on a daily basis information to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Division and the Los Angeles Police Department Intelligence and Criminal Conspiracy Divisions concerning the activities of the black nationalist groups in the anticipation that such information might lead to the arrest of these militants.”xix

In Chicago, FBI agent Roy Mitchell informed State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan’s special police unit that weapons had been moved into Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s apartment.xx

On December 4, 1969, in a FBI orchestrated pre-dawn raid by Hanrahan’s special squad, Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death. Fourteen handpicked policemen, armed with twenty-seven firearms including a Thompson submachine and shotguns, converged on Hampton’s apartment at 4:45 a.m. The police fired a barrage into the quiet apartment killing the two Panther leaders and wounding all of the other occupants.

Attorney Paul Wolf commented on a Los Angeles raid. “Four days after a similar raid on a Panther apartment in Chicago, forty men of the Special Weapons and Tactics squad, with more than a hundred regular police as backup, raided the Los Angeles Panther headquarters at 5:30 in the morning. The Panthers chose to defend themselves, and for four hours they fought off police, refusing to surrender until press and public were on the scene. Six of them were wounded. Thirteen were arrested. Miraculously, none of them were killed.”xxi

“The similarities between the Chicago and Los Angeles raids are undeniable, with a special local police unit closely linked to the FBI involved in both assaults, spurious warrants seeking “illegal weapons” utilized on both occasions, predawn timing of both raids to catch the Panthers asleep and a reliance on overwhelming police firepower to the exclusion of all other methods. Both raids occurred in the context of an ongoing and highly energetic anti-BPP COINTELPRO, and—as in the Hampton assassination—bullets were fired directly into Pratt’s bed. Unlike the Chicago leader, however, Pratt was sleeping on the floor, the result of spinal injuries sustained in Vietnam.”xxii

Two days after the raid in Los Angeles, J. Edgar Hoover was unhappy with a lack of action in Omaha. Hoover sent a stern memorandum to Paul Young. “While the activities appear to be limited in the Omaha area, it does not necessarily follow that effective counterintelligence measures cannot be taken. As long as there are BPP activities, you should be giving consideration to that type of counterintelligence measure which would best disrupt existing activities. It would appear some type of counterintelligence aimed at disruption of the publication and distribution of their literature is in order. It is also assumed that of the eight to twelve members, one or two must surely be in a position of leadership. You should give consideration to counterintelligence measures directed against these leaders in an effort to weaken or destroy their positions. Bureau has noted you have not submitted any concrete counterintelligence proposals in recent months. Evaluate your approach to this program and insure that it is given the imaginative attention necessary to produce effective results. Handle promptly and submit your proposals to the Bureau for approval.”xxiii

Young recommended to Hoover that Ed Poindexter be included on the Agitator Index, marking him for counterintelligence action. Poindexter’s role as Deputy Chairman of the UFAF and his being seen driving a car associated with the Black Panther Party, combined with Poindexter being spotted at the Kansas City Black Panther headquarters were Young’s reasons.xxiv

The next day, Hoover replied to Young on his recommendation to place Mondo on the Agitator Index. “No information was furnished that the subject by his actions and/or speeches has a propensity for fomenting disorder of a racial and/or security nature; nor was any information furnished indicating he has attracted such attention as to be of significant interest relating to the overall civil disturbance picture.”

“However, you have advised the subject is currently a member and the Deputy Minister of Information of the United Front Against Fascism, a revolutionary organization which was formed after the Black Panther Party was disbanded in Omaha.”

“In view of this, it appears the subject should be considered for inclusion on the Security Index and you should promptly submit your recommendation.”xxv

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury, inspired by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, was convened to investigate what the Omaha World-Herald called “a group of Negroes associated with the Black Panther Party, the United Front Against Fascism and other militant causes.”

Mondo, Ed Poindexter, Ed Brightman, Jr., Raleigh House, Eddie Bolden, and Ernie Chambers were all summoned to appear before the grand jury. Speculation was that a “Freedom School” operated by the UFAF was the subject of inquiry. House was identified as “a onetime Panther lieutenant in Omaha.”xxvi

The six men all declined to testify before the grand jury ending the federal inquiry.xxvii

Mondo later talked about the Vivian Strong Liberation School. “We didn’t have anything to hide about the school. Some people probably don’t like the idea of us calling the police “pigs” and so forth and talking bad about politicians, so be it.”xxviii

Paul Young responded to J. Edgar Hoover’s demand for “imaginative” counterintelligence proposals from Omaha. “In response to referenced Bureau letter [12/10/69], the identities of the leadership of the UFAF are known to the Omaha office. Omaha is presently giving consideration to some type of counter-intelligence activity aimed at disruption of the UFAF newsletter or its distribution and counter-intelligence measures directed against the leaders of this organization.”xxix

At year’s end, Hoover responded to Young’s recommendation of Ed Poindexter for inclusion on the Agitator Index. Young had not given Hoover sufficient reason to include Poindexter on the list. “In view of the fact that no information is reported which shows the subject possesses a propensity for fomenting violence, his name is not being included on the Agitator Index at this time. The subject’s membership in and his position as an officer of the United Front Against Fascism, the successor to the BPP in Omaha, could qualify him for inclusion on the Security Index.”xxx

At the national level, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a news release about police actions against the Black Panther Party. “The record of police actions across the country against the Black Panther Party forms a prima facie case for the conclusion that law enforcement officials are waging a drive against the black militant organization resulting in serious civil liberties violations.”xxxi

FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, & the Omaha Two story is available at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at Northomahahistory.com. Patrons of the Omaha Public Library also enjoy free access.

i Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007

ii Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, August 11, 1969, Reel 3 Black Nationalist Hate Groups, microfilm, 1978. Eddie Bolden’s expulsion from the Black Panthers saved him from being targeted for committing Larry Minard’s murder.

iii Edward Poindexter, unpublished autobiography, p. 27, undated

iv Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007

v “Militants Seek Police Controls,” Omaha World-Herald, August 11, 1969

vi FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 12, p. 162, August 11, 1969

vii FBI Vault, Black Extremist, Sec. 12, p. 197 August 25, 1969

viii Pete O’Neal, Letter to author, March 18, 2016

ix FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 13, p. 165, September 12, 1969

x “Class to Begin In Liberation,” Omaha World-Herald, October 2, 1969

xi Mondo, “The 47th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Honors Our Political Prisoners,” p. 11, 2013.

xii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 13, p. 82 p. 172, October 2, 1969

xiii ”7 Speakers Show Up But Audience Is 12,” Omaha World-Herald, October 6, 1969. The author was the organizer of the poorly attended campus event and had invited Mondo to speak.

xiv Trial transcript, Exhibit 53, p. 1, October 24, 1969

xv Duane Peak was a student at the school.

xvi “Race Relation Coalition Split On Statement,” Omaha World-Herald, November 9, 1969

xvii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 14, p. 27, November 17, 1969

xviii Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover memorandum, “DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE,” November 19, 1969

xix Church Committee, Vol. III, p. 222, April 23, 1976

xx Search and Destroy: A Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Black Panthers and the Police, Ed. by Roy Wilkins & Ramsey Clark, p. 32, 1973

xxi COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story, Paul Wolf, p. 37, 2001

xxii COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story, Paul Wolf, p. 38, 2001

xxiii J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, Dec. 10, 1969

xxiv J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “EDWARD ALLEN POINDEXTER,” unpublished, December 30, 1969

xxv J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “DAVID LEWIS ANDREW RICE,” unpublished, December 11, 1969

xxvi “U.S. Grand Jury Aims At Several Subjects,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, p. 2, December 10, 1969

xxvii “Five Black Militants Take 5th Amendment,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 2, December 12, 1969

xxviii Mondo, prison interview, December 31, 2007

xxix Paul Young memorandum to J. Edgar Hoover, Dec. 15, 1969

xxx J. Edgar Hoover to Paul Young memorandum, “EDWARD ALLEN POINDEXTER, unpublished, “December 30, 1969

xxxi The Black Panthers Speak, Ed. by Phillip Foner, p. 263, 1970

Did MySociety violate the Defamation Act in purge announcement calling Taiwanese thesis researchers Chinese disinformation agents?


Taiwanese researchers Hwan Lin, Wen-Ting Chiu, Herb Raison Lin, and Taitzer Wang all deny being Chinese disinformation agents in wake of What Do They Know website purge of Freedom of Information requests (credits: Hwan Lin/ Wen-ting Chiu/Herb Raison Lin/Taitzer Wang)

MySociety spokesman Gareth Rees may have violated the United Kingdom Defamation Act in announcing the purge of 108 user accounts at the Freedom of Information website called What Do They Know. The MySociety purge of persons making FOI requests to the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of London about Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1983 PhD thesis was defended by Rees in a prepared announcement earlier this year.

“While rejecting one FOI request on this subject as vexatious, LSE raised the possibility that people in China could be making requests to benefit from the country’s citizen evaluation system, stating:

“We have been made aware that there is the possibility that the LSE has been added to a list of targets to gain social credits in China. As such we believe that your request and the others we received in this time period have not been made for just the purpose of receiving information but for personal gain.”

“With this information in hand, we were confident to treat the issue as mass misuse, more akin to spam or even a disinformation attack than to people making misguided requests.”

“During the course of this situation, we have banned 108 user accounts, most of which have been created to circumnavigate previous bans and to post inappropriate material to our site. We removed more than 300 requests from the site and 1,640 comments from pages.”

Rees, who was trying to justify the purge of Taiwanese researchers from the WDTK website, explained the LSE told him the school was targeted by Chinese disinformation agents for personal gain. Rees and his management team quickly sprung into action and shut down pending FOI requests about the thesis denouncing the purported misuse of the website by Chinese operatives without offering any supporting evidence.

The purged WDTK users thus far identified have not been Chinese at all and instead are Taiwanese researchers concerned about possible academic fraud by President Tsai. So far none of the questions posed by the researchers appear to be vexatious and MySociety’s purge has all the appearances of political interference with FOI requests rather than a response to misuse as Rees claimed.

The controversy over President Tsai’s PhD thesis began in June 2019 when Tsai filed her thesis entitled UnFair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions with the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. The controversy has grown as the LSE now says it doesn’t know who approved Tsai’s thesis. Tsai stubbornly refuses to release the oral examination viva report which purportedly approved the thesis keeping the controversy alive.

When Rees launched his attack on WDTK users he apparently was not thinking about the Defamation Act of 2013. Perhaps it is not a derogatory insult to be called a Chinese disinformation agent in London; however, in Taiwan such a claim constitutes fighting words. If any of the insulted researchers makes a Defamation Act complaint to remove the offending allegation, Rees and his management team will get a quick course on due diligence and due process.

MySociety claims, “Our work is politically non-partisan, evidence-based, accountable and open to scrutiny. We critique our own work and that of our sector honestly; we publish our references, won’t hide uncomfortable truths, and where we fall short we seek to rectify our mistakes promptly.”

Taiwanese researchers deny being Chinese disinformation agents after MySociety purge of What Do They Know website to censor questions in United Kingdom about Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis


Taiwanese researchers Hwan Lin, Wen-Ting Chiu, Herb Raison Lin, and Taitzer Wang all deny being Chinese disinformation agents in wake of What Do They Know website purge of Freedom of Information requests (credits: Hwan Lin/ Wen-ting Chiu/Herb Raison Lin/Taitzer Wang)

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial PhD degree from the University of London has prompted numerous Freedom of Information requests about her 1983 thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions. Tsai filed the thesis with the London School of Economics Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late. The LSE now says it does not know who Tsai’s thesis examiners were and she refuses to release the oral examination viva report. As a result of the secrecy around the tardy thesis many Taiwanese have been asking questions but getting no answers. The efforts of dozens of truth-seekers swamped a British website, What Do They Know, which responded by banning the requesters and suggesting they were Chinese disinformation agents.

What Do They Know is run by a group calling itself MySociety which ordered the thesis question purge. MySociety spokesman Gareth Rees defended the repressive censorship in a prepared statement.

“While rejecting one FOI request on this subject as vexatious, LSE raised the possibility that people in China could be making requests to benefit from the country’s citizen evaluation system, stating:

“We have been made aware that there is the possibility that the LSE has been added to a list of targets to gain social credits in China. As such we believe that your request and the others we received in this time period have not been made for just the purpose of receiving information but for personal gain.”

“With this information in hand, we were confident to treat the issue as mass misuse, more akin to spam or even a disinformation attack than to people making misguided requests.”

“During the course of this situation, we have banned 108 user accounts, most of which have been created to circumnavigate previous bans and to post inappropriate material to our site. We removed more than 300 requests from the site and 1,640 comments from pages.”

Rees may soon be calling his MySociety censorship team together to work on some apologies. The banned WDTK users have begun stepping forward to deny their information requests were vexatious or that they were acting as disinformation agents for China. To a person, they all insist the pursuit of truth is their only motivation. They are unhappy at the denial of due process and being purged without cause or notice by a group supposedly dedicated to advancing Freedom of Information access.

Hwan Lin, a current university professor, authored a fifty-page report on President Tsai’s thesis and even made a trip to London to examine the 2019 submission. “I made an FOIA request to LSE in January 2022 and another two FOIA requests to the University of London in February 2022. They are all about the controversies of Ing-wen Tsai’s doctoral thesis and degree. The January request has long been overdue, while the two February requests were labelled as vexatious for no legitimate reasons. Even more absurd was the ensuing suspension of my What Do They Know account, ridding me of rights to information from public authorities.”

The Taiwanese diaspora is well represented by the banned researchers. Wen-Ting Chiu has lived in Krakow, Poland for years but still stands proud of her homeland where she follows developments closely. “As a Taiwanese and Polish citizen, to be insinuated that I am involved in activities to gain social credits in China is a grave insult to me. I am interested in the complete transparency of President Tsai’s degree, because I think integrity is an essential quality of a state leader. There is nothing for me to gain personally, either the degree is genuine or not. All I seek is truth.”

Herb Raison Lin, who lives in Taiwan, not China, has been a close follower of the thesis controversy and over time asked seven WDTK questions which resulted in his purge. Raison explains he was trying to help President Tsai set the record straight by debunking rumors of forged documents. The politely worded questions concerned certificate seals, diploma codes, a listing of original documents, a follow-up question to an ICO decision, a copyright form, an application for lost diploma, and a clarification of the LSE’s official statement on Tsai’s PhD degree. For his trouble to establish the truth of the matter Raison was banned as vexatious and now declares: “If what UL submitted are defined as “alternative measures” for releasing information about President Tsai’s thesis examiners and viva date; as a matter of course, the evidence the UL submitted should be disclosed to the public. It is time to stand up for justice.”

Taitzer Wang, a retired university professor, got purged for merely seeking to confirm the date of President’s Tsai’s degree award, citing apparently conflicting information posted by the LSE. Wang blames the Information Commissioner’s Office for misleading WDTK. “What a shame for the people who work for an organization that proclaims “the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interests, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.”

Yu Chao, another Taiwanese truth-seeker, feels MySociety’s purge explanation was not only wrong but also insulting and he has a few sharp words in reply. “I am appalled by the fact that this self-appointed, faceless arbitrator of “truth” in the UK has the nerve to come out in the open to defend its despicable act of blatant censorship and disinformation, and to justify it by pinning it on the PRC, as if the source of these questions had any bearing on their validity. Not to mention people pursuing the ThesisGate are predominantly those on the PRC blacklist….This cowardly syndicate is shameless in making such preposterous excuses.”


“This MySociety posting also mendaciously distorted the time sequence of events. It is the WDTK’s malicious and stubborn stonewalling of legit questions in the first place that opened the floodgate of follow-up questions, not the other way around as it claimed. True to character, this MySociety posting also cowardly disabled comments, the same way it handled questions posed at WDTK.”

“I was born and grew up in Taiwan. I have never lived in the PRC, and it is simply preposterous to say I work for or am paid by the PRC. I wonder if I can take legal action against this crooked MySociety for smearing and innuendo about my character. Shame!”

Information Commissioner’s Office labels members of public vexatious for seeking information about Tsai Ing-wen thesis and refuses to process complaints


The United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s announcement refusing to process Freedom of
Information requests by members of the public. (credit: Information Commissioner’s Office)

Deluged with Freedom of Information request denials by the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of London, the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom has turned on members of the public making the requests, refusing them as vexatious. The requests are disparaged in a public announcement by the ICO.

The refused requests share a common theme, seeking information about the 1983 PhD thesis of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai sparked public interest in her thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions in June 2019 when she filed her thesis with the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. Compounding the mystery is Tsai’s stubborn refusal to release the viva report of her oral examination which purportedly approved the thesis. Further clouding the matter is the announcement of the LSE that they don’t even know for sure who the examiners were that supposedly qualified the dissertation.

The tardy thesis, its draft appearance, and the secret examination have led many to question the vadility of President Tsai’s PhD degree from the UL which examined the LSE students at that time. The strong public interest and numerous requests, many from persons for whom English is a second language, are regarded by the two schools and the ICO as a nuisance. The ICO explained its refusals in the announcement.

“The ICO recognises that these requests form part of a concerted campaign of similarly themed requests submitted to the ICO, designed to further certain theories about President Tsai’s academic record, dealing with which would cause an unjustified level of disruption to our services and as such is refusing them because they are vexatious.”

“Our understanding of the matters around Tsai Ing-wen’s PHD awarded by the LSE [sic] in 1984, in as far as we have been required to consider them in connection with several complaints we have received…are summarised in a series of decision notices available on our website. In dealing with these complaints, the role of the Commissioner was to consider whether s.40(2) of the FOIA, relating to personal data of third parties, had been correctly applied by The University of London to categories of requested information relating to President Tsai’s student record. It was not within the Commissioner’s remit to investigate the movements of this thesis over the subsequent years however, in order to determine whether the exemption was correctly applied, the Commissioner did consider the necessity of disclosure of the requested information in order to satisfy the public interest.”

“In the first decision notice relating to a complaint against the University of London under the references FS50908339, the Commissioner concluded that the University had demonstrated sufficient transparency in the matter in order to satisfy the public that President Tsai’s PhD was valid and properly awarded by the University and, more generally, that the University’s award processes were sound and trustworthy. This decision was appealed by the complainant to the First Tier Tribunal, and in September 2021 the Tribunal dismissed the appeal, stating that the Commissioner had reached the correct decision in that case, and that there was already sufficient evidence in the public domain to satisfy any concerns the public may have about the validity of President Tsai’s PHD.” [Presently, the Tribunal decision is now under reconsideration by the Upper Tribunal.]

“In a subsequent Decision notice concerning the University of London and the same subject matter under the reference IC-40405-S7L3, the Commissioner concluded again that the University had correctly applied s.40(2) and further examined the controversy around President Tsai’s thesis, concluding that the various theories put forward were fanciful at best. Following this, in a decision under the reference IC-83994-C7Z4, the Commissioner ordered disclosure of some information not considered to be personal data, but further advised that there was no legitimate public interest in disclosure of information on the topic for the purposes of verifying the validity of President Tsai’s PHD, as the matter had already been satisfactorily explained. The many requests we have received about this topic have been prompted by publication of the Commissioner’s recent Decision notice under the reference IC109451-S1M2, which concerned a complaint about the LSE relating to the same topic, and which largely referred to the Commissioner’s previous decisions referenced above, given that the matter had already been comprehensively discussed and concluded upon. The intent of these requests is clearly to try to add weight to theories around the falsification of President Tsai’s PHD, which have already been considered at length by the Commissioner and the Tribunal and found to be entirely lacking in substance, as well as to express dissatisfaction with the Commissioner’s decisions in these matters and cause deliberate disruption to the ICO’s services.”

“Given that the ICO’s involvement in these matters as regulator of the FOIA, with the limited remit to consider whether exemptions had been correctly applied in respect of the various requests, it is disproportionate and inappropriate that the ICO should find its own information access department spending a significant proportion of its time dealing with requests about matters which occurred long ago involving academic institutions with no connection to the ICO, aside from in relation to the above referenced complaints, the findings of which are publicly available in the relevant Decision notices on our website.”

“Neither is it correct for the ICO’s information access services be seen as a channel through which to try to obtain information about other public authorities having thoroughly exhausted both the correct procedures to obtain information from the relevant authorities and the appropriate means for pursuing dissatisfaction with the outcomes. It is not within the public interest for the ICO to further expend its finite resources in responding to requests of this nature when it is clear that doing so will not put to rest the postulated theories, given the unwillingness of their proponents to accept the clearly explained and well evidenced position of the ICO, the University of London, the London School of Economics and the First Tier Tribunal on the matter thus far. Particularly when considered as part of a concerted campaign, which the ICO is currently on the receiving end of, it is clear that doing so would represent a disproportionate level of disruption to our services. We have also seen evidence on the What do They know website that multiple accounts are working together in a co-ordinated campaign in relation to this issue and the ICO.”

A closer look at IC-40405-S7L3 reveals the prejudicial view of the ICO toward those members of the public who ask questions about President Tsai’s thesis. The Decision Notice to a Taiwanese-American researcher reveals the ICO bias and its distorted view of purported claims not actually being made by Complainants.

“The Commissioner finds it somewhat difficult to describe the “fake degree/thesis” theory as it lacks coherence. In broad terms, the theory alleges that the University or the LSE (the “corrupt” institution varies from allegation to allegation) conspired in 1984 to award the then-Miss Tsai a PhD to which she was not entitled – presumably for the express purpose of manipulating the Taiwanese presidential elections of 2016 and 2020 – and is now trying to cover its tracks. Another alternative theory is that the PhD was never conferred and President Tsai has simply invented it. According to this version, the LSE and/or the University have conspired to fabricate the original records (and the degree award) to either curry favour with government of Taiwan or to increase their own prestige by associating themselves with a head of government.”

“Given that contemporaneous records exist demonstrating that a PhD was conferred upon President Tsai (undermining the argument that the PhD was created at a later date), in order for the “1984 conspiracy” to make sense, the Commissioner is being asked to attribute extraordinary powers of foresight to the University. In order for the “fake thesis” theory to make sense, the University must have considered the then Miss Tsai to have been so remarkable a student that it was worthwhile disregarding the usual safeguards of academic integrity so that in thirty years’ time she would be more likely to win a presidential election. The Commissioner considers such a proposition to be fanciful at best.”

“The Commissioner further notes that the fact that the then-Dr Tsai was not successful in the 2012 Taiwanese presidential election – despite presumably claiming to have received a PhD – would suggest that her status as a PhD graduate has had minimal influence on the Taiwanese electorate.”

Such views by a regulatory body would suggest the ICO has been paying minimal attention to the actual complaints before it. Further, such notions compromise the responsibilities held by the ICO as a public advocate and its duties under the Freedom of Information Act to process information request complaints.

“Near North Like Fires From Hell”


The shooting death of 14 year-old Vivian Strong by Patrolman James Loder triggered rioting in Omaha, Nebraska (credit: Omaha World-Herald, June 26, 1969, screenshot)

This is Chapter 6 of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, and the Omaha Two story, a tale of injustice and two innocent men sentenced to life in prison because they were leaders of a Black Panthers affiliate chapter. Ed Poindexter is currently serving his life sentence at the maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary. This weekly installment of FRAMED is free to the public.

Paul Young reported to J. Edgar Hoover in May 1969 there was organizing activity by the Black Panthers at a high school in Omaha and a public park rally in Des Moines. “The Black Panther Party in Omaha under the leadership of [Eddie Bolden] is apparently under the process of reorganization. This organization recently sponsored the organization of BANTU at Technical High School, Omaha….[Bolden] attempting to interest young Negroes, especially in the Black Panther Party; however, to date he has had little success in recruiting youth to his cause.”

“In connection with the Black Panther Party chapter in Des Moines, Iowa, this organization in mid-April, 1969, held a public park rally, which rally resulted in racial disturbance when police officers questioned [Charles Knox], BPP, who was speaking to the public gathering when police arrived.”

“As indicated…the BPP in Des Moines has been in recent conflict with a Des Moines street gang over control of the Negro community. This situation continues and it is expected that this situation will eventually result in counterintelligence measures being utilized in taking advantage of the situation.”i

The Black Association for Nationalism Through Unity at Tech High School staged a one-day boycott of classes. At issue were twenty-three demands made by BANTU on the school administration. Young informed Hoover of the BANTU boycott, held on the anniversary of Malcolm X’s birth. Young assured “Omaha is remaining alert to various activities of the BPP and BANTU that might lend themselves to counterintelligence activity and it is anticipated that such situations will arise in the very near future.”ii

The end of the school year brought a close to BANTU’s activity in Omaha. Although Young wrote to Hoover that the group was primarily concerned with local educational issues, not revolution, he proceeded to plot against the black student group. “This matter will continue to receive close attention and suggestions for counterintelligence activity against the Black Panther Party, BANTU and the leadership of these organizations at a future date will be submitted by separate letter.”iii

Two weeks later later, Young reported to Hoover on the Black Panther breakfast for children program at two churches in Des Moines. The breakfast program was one of Hoover’s most despised targets for counterintelligence mischief. “Once this program was instituted and publicized it received favorable comment and support from both the black and white communities; and the “Des Moines Register”, a daily Des Moines, Iowa, newspaper, praised the Panthers for this program noting that when the Panthers instituted this type of program in the black community they had, in effect, achieved something the Des Moines School Board had been unable to accomplish.”

“In view of the foregoing, it would be most difficult to undertake any kind of counterintelligence activity relative to the Black Panther Party breakfast program, and no recommendation in this regard is being submitted.”iv

In June, the San Francisco FBI office advised J. Edgar Hoover to reject a proposal from the Denver FBI office. “San Francisco feels obliged to point out the possible danger of planting the idea in the BPP that a certain member, now separated from the BPP, furnished information allowing the successful apprehension of two BPP members wanted for murder. The fact that those people were wanted for murder indicates the possibility of BPP taking violent action against this individual. Even if such action could be justified against an active leader it is not felt that Bureau should become even remotely involved in furnishing anonymously incorrect information that might lead to the homicide of a young teenager who has apparently separated from the BPP.”v

Hoover had his own ideas about Denver and told the SAC to anonymously mail five caricature cartoons to the Denver Black Panther headquarters to incite conflict between the US organization and the Black Panthers. “BPP has accused US of killing two BPP members some time ago. We have previously distributed a cartoon of [Ron Karenga] sitting on a chair crossing off various BPP members from a list with excellent disruptive results….This cartoon should continue the breach between the BPP and US both nationally and on a local basis.”vi

On June 24, 1969, fourteen year-old Vivian Strong was shot to death at the Logan Fontenelle housing project in Omaha where she lived. Police responded at 10:25 p.m. to a call about a break-in. Police said they caught a young man exiting a building while a small group of youth scattered and ran. Patrolman James Loder shot at the group and killed Vivian with a shot to the back of the head.

Deputy Chief of Police Glen Gates told a reporter the investigation into the shooting was delayed because of the “unruliness” of the crowd of two hundred at the scene. Investigators were chased from the scene and did not return for three hours. A seven block section of Twenty-fourth Street was vandalized and firebombed. As the night wore on vandalism spread to other parts of the Near North Side and police began sealing off the area.vii

The next day, Ernie Chambers spoke to a large crowd on a ball field adjacent to Logan Fontenelle Homes. A leaflet promoting the gathering asked a question. “How many black children have to be murdered by cops before something is done?” The Omaha World-Herald reported, “More than a dozen Negroes were reported milling through the crowd carrying rifles.”viii

Nightfall brought more trouble to the streets. Several white motorists were injured during the night when they were either pulled out of their cars and beaten or objects were thrown through auto windows. Police formed a skirmish line fifteen officers abreast, all armed with shotguns, and walked along Twenty-fourth Street dispersing the crowd.

Policemen displaying shotguns were riding on firetrucks as firemen responded to some of the blazes on a ten-block section of North Twenty-fourth Street that was the scene of rioting. Many of the fires were ignited by firebombs. Twenty-three people were arrested during the evening.ix

At the National Guard Armory on Sixty-ninth Street, Major Jack Hultgren was on alert with a special anti-riot team that had been mobilized during the day. “We’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.”x

Rodney Wead, executive director of the United Methodist Community Center, was critical of the Omaha Police Department. “You work to pull the pieces together and then bingo, some policeman shoots a black child. It’s depressing.”

“I talked to Mayor Sorenson and after every incident all I got was rhetoric. I took time to talk with Chief Anderson and it was even worse. It’s useless to talk to anyone who is associated with that inadequate police force.”xi

Ed Poindexter was pictured on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald in a photograh of three Black Panthers, wearing black berets, protecting an office of Greater Omaha Community Action. Mondo worked at the GOCA office and with others was providing a safe haven for those seeking refuge from rioting as police patrols were overwhelmed. Panther leader Eddie Bolden was shown holding a shotgun and wearing an ammunition bandoleer to keep rioters away. The photo would cost Poindexter his job with the Post Office. Kenneth Shearer, director of GOCA, said assistance was provided to the community agency during the riot by Black Panthers “who were willing to help and who acted responsibly in helping get kids off the street.”xii

The Black Panthers announced the sanctuary was to provide a safe place for children but that anyone seeking safety would be protected. Also responding to the chaos were representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons who walked the streets attempting to quiet rowdy youth.xiii

Reporter Robert Hoigrode in an armed caravan behind five fire trucks into the Near North Side. Hoig described the riot scene as like “fires from hell.”xiv

The newspaper said “sporadic violence” continued on the Near North Side. In the three nights of rioting, over fifty people were arrested. A policeman, David Heese, compared the rioting with the 1966 Omaha riots which he witnessed. “This one is worse. Perhaps there was more looting then, but there have been more fires this time. It’s incredible down there. It looks like a bombed out area.”xv

The rage over Vivian Strong’s death exhausted itself, however the anger and angst lingered. Years later, while in prison, Mondo wrote a seething poem entitled “Braids in the Sunset” about the shooting of Vivian.

“there are pigtails sticking up out of the graveyard

little girl died years ago

blackchild”

“pigtails coated and withered

by the mystic fingers of death”

“an expendable people

marked as targets for goons

with death in their eyes

monsters who spit lead

and wear bright stars on they chests”

“pigtails of vivian strong

how many of us have/will died like her

the line is very long”xvi

The day after the riots ended, J. Edgar Hoover wrote to Paul Young that the Omaha FBI office had not been “effective” against the Black Panthers. Hoover was unhappy about Young’s favorable report on the Des Moines breakfast program. “Referenced letter pointed out that the BPP Breakfast for Children Program was well received in Des Moines and was praised by various civic organizations and the press. It is apparent that the counterintelligence program of the Omaha Office has not been effective and needs a fresh approach.”

Hoover reminded Young why the breakfast program was so bad. “The BPP has extorted food for this program from local businessmen all over the country and most probably in Des Moines also. The children receiving the food also received “political training.” In some cases they sang “Free Huey.”

“Omaha has furnished a negative counterintelligence communication. We are pointing out various aspects of a BPP breakfast program which may assist them in their endeavors.”xvii

Young replied to Hoover’s criticism. “Omaha will review its files for additional information relative to the Black Panther Party Breakfast for Children Program in an effort to formulate an effective counterintelligence action against this program.”xviii

Hoover sent a memorandum to Omaha and eleven other FBI offices with a series of articles about the Black Panthers and a copy of the “Black Panther Coloring Book.” The memo’s purpose was to encourage counterintelligence proposals against Panther breakfast programs. Hoover explained his hostility to the breakfasts. “They are able to poison the minds of small children who take this hate into their homes. The food used is usually obtained as a result of semi-extortion and veiled threats. The Party uses naïve thinking clergymen in their breakfast program.”xix

Young knew Hoover was keen on action against the Black Panthers so he had to explain something would be done against the breakfast program. “In the event this program is reactivated in September, Omaha will attempt to formulate an effective counterintelligence against same.”xx

Unaware and unconcerned about FBI subterfuge, Mondo was busy getting ready to travel to the United Front Against Fascism conference in Oakland. Mondo was eager to ask the Black Panther leadership about the status of Omaha’s chapter. Rumors were circulating the Omaha chapter was defunct or had been expelled and Mondo hoped to be able to find out.xxi

J. Edgar Hoover sent a memorandum to Omaha and fifteen other FBI offices urging renewed action against the Black Panthers. “Numerous arrests by both local police agencies and the FBI have injured not only the physical ranks of the BPP but also its image throughout the country. Its invincibility was challenged and struck down as a result of the arrests.”

“At this time it is most imperative that we capitalize on these weaknesses. The disruption of this organization through counterintelligence should continue and even increase as the weaknesses appear….The full cooperation of recipient offices is needed so that the threat posed by the BPP can be eradicated.”xxii

In mid-July, Hoover responded favorably to a Kansas City FBI office suggestion with his own commentary on using organized crime against the Black Panthers. “Logical counterintelligence pitting the organized crime element and the BPP is feasible and logical but the use of informants and sources to plant questions of ill feeling between those two elements should be avoided. There are ways of bringing the desired antagonisms to bear. Things such as anonymous communications whereby a Panther blamed for causing the arrest of a hoodlum or vice versa is one example. Kansas City should consider above and if feasible, submit a specific counterintelligence proposal.”xxiii

Mondo arrived in Oakland to attend the United Front Against Fascism conference. “It was a weekend conference and Sunday night had a question and answer thing so I said, “Look, I’m from Omaha and the Black Panther chapter there I just joined, I’ve heard that our chapter has been disbanded by national, is that true?” They confirmed it was true.”xxiv

FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO, & the Omaha Two story is available at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at Northomahahistory.com. Patrons of the Omaha Public Library also enjoy free access.

i FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 9, p. 33, May 5, 1969

ii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 10, p. 202, May19, 1969

iii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 10, p. 74, June 2, 1969

iv FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 14, June 16, 1969

v FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 12, p. 58, June 18, 1969

vi FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 10, p. 71, June 18, 1969

vii “Negro Girl Killed By a Police Bullet At Housing Project,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, June 25, 1969. Vivian’s babysitter said that she and Vivian were in the alley playing records when the chaos broke out. However, a close friend of Vivian has said she was in the vacant apartment with others when the police arrrived. James Loder was prosecuted for manslaughter and acquitted by an Omaha jury.

viii “Buildings Are Burned As Violence Erupts,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, June 26, 1969

ix “North Side Business Hit by Firebombs,” Omaha World-Herald, June 26, 1969

x“Guard Force Is Ready At Moment’s Notice,” David Tishendorf, Omaha World-Herald, June 27, 1969

xi “Wead: Negro Feels Girl’s Life Worth More Than Bread,” Omaha World-Herald, June 27, 1969

xii “Several Negroes Try To Ease the Tensions,” Omaha World-Herald, June 28, 1969

xiii “Buildings Are Burned As Violence Erupts,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, June 26, 1969 Benny Johnson of the Omaha Star took the photograph.

xiv “Near North Like Fires From Hell,” Robert Hoig, Omaha World-Herald, June 26, 1969

xv “North Side Violence Continues a 3rd Night,” Omaha World-Herald, p. 1, June 27, 1969

xvi “Braids in the Sunset,” Mondo, Prison Writings No. 355, undated, circa 1975

xvii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 16, June 17, 1969

xviii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 103, June 30, 1969

xix FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 116, July 2, 1969. The irony of the Black Panther coloring book is that the FBI was its distributor as the Panthers decided against its use.

xx Paul Young to J. Edgar Hoover, July 14, 1969, Black Nationalist Hate Group, Reel 2 microfilm, 1978

xxi Mondo, prison interview, date unknown

xxii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 242, July 11, 1969

xxiii FBI Vault, Black Extremists, Sec. 11, p. 121, July 15, 1969

xxiv Mondo, prison interview, September 28, 2007