RAND Corporation think tank analyst urges Republic of China in-exile to dump allies

Derek Grossman, RAND Corporation Senior Defense Analyst, urges Republic of China in-exile to dump the fourteen small nations that recognize the exiled Chinese government. (credit: RAND)

The failure of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen to hold onto allies has prompted a RAND Corporation defense analyst, Derek Grossman, to advocate abandoning the fourteen small nations that still recognize the exiled Chinese government ruling Taiwan. Under President Tsai’s watch Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Gambia, Kiribati, Nicaragua, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Solomon Islands have all dropped diplomatic recognition in favor of the People’s Republic of China. Honduras appears ready to make the switch, further reducing the ROC claim to be a sovereign nation.

Grossman, who previously urged getting more nations to recognize the ROC, has now decided that China will win the dollar diplomacy game that has played out during Tsai’s tenure. Nicaragua dropped recognition after the ROC refused a $100,000,000 USD loan. After ousting the ROC diplomatic corps with two weeks notice, President Daniel Ortega ordered the ROC embassy seized and turned over to the PRC.

Grossman, who avoids using the ROC name, proposes a novel solution to the diplomatic problem. “Beijing’s successful poaching of Taiwan’s allies is harming the island’s morale and tarnishing its image as a sovereign nation. As counterintuitive as it may seem, Taiwan should further consider unilaterally shedding all remaining partners to strengthen its hand long-term against China.”

Citing ROC allies as “small and impoverished nations like Palau or St. Lucia that are of little geostrategic value” the defense analyst says: “By unilaterally turning down all official diplomatic relationships, Taiwan would shore up precious time and resources to further its diversification of economic relationships away from China.”

“Taiwanese diplomats in Guatemala, Eswatini, the Marshall Islands, or elsewhere could more usefully be focused….Taiwan seeks to maintain its regional and international space, and yet only major and medium-size powers can help it accomplish these goals. So why not prioritize relationships with them?”

Grossman, who does not mention the strategic ambiguity known as Republic of China, does recognize the problem of sovereignty. “The Taiwanese government might still meet that basic threshold, but from the perspective of international law, sovereignty typically requires recognition by another sovereign state. Still, it is hard to imagine the island’s predicament would worsen, given that it is already locked out of nearly every significant government-to-government interaction.”

“I do not raise the proposal to unilaterally have Taiwan shed diplomatic partners lightly….But the upside is very significant. It would free Taipei from an unwinnable competition and refocus attention on what really matters: reducing China’s coercive power by strengthening relationships with powers that can truly help.”

Grossman has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency before joining the RAND Corporation. However, Grossman’s tenure in military spycraft seems to have left him clueless about the realities of Taiwan’s sovereignty problem. The Republic of China is an exiled Chinese government that lost a civil war and continues hero worship of dictator Chaing Kai-shek. As long as that political arrangement holds, the PRC will continue to make territorial demands on the island.

In Roger Lin v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declared the people of Taiwan were stateless and caught in “political purgatory” of unresolved status. Formosa, as Taiwan is also known, was Japanese territory at the end of World War II. The San Francisco Peace Treaty which officially ended World War II with Japan, left Formosa’s international status unresolved with the ROC as a caretaker government installed by the United States, which does not recognize the ROC as a sovereign nation.

Perhaps nothing sheds more light on the fiction of the ROC as a sovereign nation than the dwindling list of small countries that recognize it. Countries like Belize, which recently put its flag on a postage stamp with that of the ROC, will have to make some quick changes if Grossman gets his way.

If President Tsai does decide to dump allies to allow the resources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to concentrate on G7 nations, as Grossman urges, the dollar diplomacy will quickly end as the PRC will be the only game in town, leaving former ROC allies to fend for themselves.

The United States opposes Taiwan independence. However, many are beginning to see that an independent Taiwan, free of the Republic of China in-exile, is a way out of the quagmire. Another solution, infrequently discussed, is statehood in the United States of America. One thing is certain, the status quo, cherished by President Tsai, is slipping.

Information Review Tribunal judge rejects University of London claim President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis was lost by library

Information Review Tribunal Judge Hazel Oliver and Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis that the University of London claims was lost by librarians. (credits: Lewis Silkin/Hwan Lin)

Information Review Tribunal Judge Hazel Oliver has rejected the dog-ate-my-homework story of the University of London that the PhD thesis of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen was lost-in-the-library. Although Judge Oliver upheld a secrecy shield about the qualification viva examination of the thesis as Tsai’s personal data the University’s claim that librarians lost the thesis was disregarded.

“The appellant says that the absence of the original thesis from any of the libraries, as required by the University’s rules, indicates that there was no thesis at the time. Having viewed the emails from the libraries and the video from Dr. Peng, it does appear that none of the libraries have a record of the thesis being provided at the time the PhD was awarded in 1984. We accept that the explanation provided by the University that the thesis had been lost or mis-shelved may not be correct, as there is no catalogue or microfilm record of the original thesis.”

“A video of Dr. Peng conducting a search for President Tsai’s PhD thesis on the computer records of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) library, assisted by a member of the library staff….shows that they were unable to find a record of the thesis under President Tsai’s name or title of the thesis. The member of the staff says that if the thesis had gone missing it would be in the catalogue, and as it is not there suggests that the library had not received it.”

“As explained above, it does appear from the evidence that copies of the thesis may not have been provided to the libraries at the time by the examiners, rather than having been lost or mis-shelved.”

The appellant is a Taiwanese-American who sought details about the thesis viva examination and now plans to seek permission to appeal the decision. Under the legal system of the United Kingdom the appellant must seek the judge’s permission to appeal. The appellant believes the court made an error of law on the necessity of transparent verification by shielding the University of London with a cloak of secrecy. The University’s excuse about the library losing a thesis it never had in its collection severely undermines the school’s credibility about unverifed claims concerning the thesis and should have been a red flag for the judge.

President Tsai’s thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, has been at the center of controversy since June 2019 when Tsai filed the thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years after it was due on the shelves. Although Tsai attended LSE, the University of London awarded her a PhD degree as her own school could not then issue advanced degrees. Tsai’s advisor at LSE was Michael Elliott, who himself lacked a PhD degree.

Judge Oliver’s rebuke to the University of London is not the first time the school has been slapped over the thesis controversy. In September 2021, the Information Commissioner threatened the University with a citation for contempt of court if it failed to disclose email communications about the thesis that the school had wrongly declared to be President Tsai’s personal data.

“The steps that the University and the LSE have taken in order to locate the missing thesis do not involve President Tsai and the emails do not indicate that she had any involvement in (or even knowledge of) what was happening. Therefore the emails cannot reasonably be said to be relevant to any decision involving President Tsai. She is not the subject of these emails – her thesis is. The Commissioner is thus satisfied that the emails have insufficient connection to President Tsai to be her personal data.”

The University of London backed down and released the requested email messages which have not yet been made available to the public. However, absent a threat of contempt of court, the University of London continues to stonewall requests for information. Presently the school has failed to provide the 1983 thesis examiner regulations as requested, even though no personal data of any sort is sought.

The appellant in the latest Tribunal case “accepts that the University has stated publicly that it holds records of the viva and that President Tsai was awarded a PhD degree.”

“When asked about this by the Judge, he initially said that he didn’t think the University was telling the truth. He went on to say that he can’t say the University is lying, but he hasn’t been able to get a straight answer.”

London School of Economics contradiction on Tsai Ing-wen thesis examiners goes to Information Review Tribunal to sort out the doubletalk

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen and her London School of Economics thesis at the heart of an academic fraud controversy. (credits: Voice of America/Hwan Lin)

The Information Review Tribunal of the United Kingdom has been asked to resolve two conflicting and contradictory statements by the London School of Economics and Political Science about the 1983 PhD thesis of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen. The LSE, in response to a May 2021 Freedom of Information request, conducted an Internal Review and declared it lacked records that identified the PhD thesis examiners. Six months earlier Kevin Haynes, the LSE Head of Legal Team, provided the initials of one purported examiner and the name of a second to the ROC Ministry of Justice in a criminal investigation and even cited page numbers that allegedly contained the information.

Although Haynes is the Head of Legal Team at LSE he is not an attorney. Consequently Haynes is not subject to regulatory discipline if he gave false information in the ROC prosecution of Taiwanese news commentator Dennis Peng. President Tsai kicked off a controversy about her thesis when she filed what appears to be a draft copy with the LSE Library in June 2019, thirty-five years after it was due. Peng has accused President Tsai of academic fraud and she in turn made a criminal defamation complaint against Peng.

In response to questions from the public about who approved the thesis, the LSE has denied having records that name the thesis examiners. The LSE lacked an ability to award PhD degrees in the 1980s therefore the University of London issued diplomas to students on the pass list. President Tsai’s unwillingness to name the examiners has kept the controversy alive for two years while both schools, LSE and UL, have denied FOI requests for the information citing the Data Protection Act.

A request for the examiner names to UL is pending before the Second-Tier Tribunal. Now the First-Tier Tribunal will be considering the same request made to LSE with one big difference, UL said it held the thesis viva report while LSE claims it doesn’t even know the names of the examiners. If the LSE Internal Review could be taken at face value there would be no reason to involve the Tribunal, the school cannot provide what it does not have. However, the contrary action of Kevin Haynes, the Head of Legal Team, providing a name and the initials of another person as purported examiners to ROC prosecutors, puts Haynes in direct contradiction with Louise Nadal, the Secretary of the LSE Board and author of the Internal Review. It is the old he-said, she-said game with the truth in the balance.

The Information Commissioner’s Office was first asked to resolve the contradiction and determine whether or not the LSE did possess records containing the thesis examiner identities. However, the ICO dropped the ball and instead of probing the Haynes-Nadal divide, a probability analysis was used to determine LSE did not hold the examiner names.

“For clarity, the Commissioner is not expected to prove categorically whether the information is held, she is only required to make a judgement on whether the information is held on the civil standard of the balance of probabilities.”

“On the balance of probabilities, the Commissioner is satisfied that the LSE does not hold the requested information.”

“The LSE has searched its records and has been unable to locate the information in question. In the Commissioner’s view, the most likely explanation is that the LSE has never held this information. She is satisfied that none of the LSE’s statements, to which her attention have been drawn, conflict with a denial that this particular information is held.”

The Commissioner’s attention was drawn to the submission by the Head of Legal Team to ROC prosecutors, contradicting the Internal Review claim. As the ICO accepted Nadal’s assertion of no record, by implication the ICO has rejected Haynes’ representation to the ROC prosecutors on the strength of a probability analysis.

The LSE did inform the ICO about one questionable document which the Commissioner factored into her probability anaysis.

“The student record had been examined and no definitive record of the examiners had been found. Whilst one document indicated that a particular individual might have been an examiner, the LSE had no way of cross-checking whether that individual had in fact performed that role – and the LSE considered it unlikely that they would have done so.”

The ICO determination that the LSE lacked the thesis viva examination record, or even the names of the examiners, raises the question of how was the LSE able to verify that President Tsai passed her viva examination as the school did in a 2019 public announcement?

Louise Nadal had an anwer: “I note that in your request for an internal review, you have questioned whether the School’s public statement on Dr Tsai’s PhD can be accurate on the basis that, in your opinion, it could not be compiled without the information you have requested. As you are aware, the School has made a copy of Ing-Wen Tsai’s thesis available online and has confidence in the accuracy of its public statement.”

The new lawsuit seeks to unravel the mystery of the examiners and calls for an order to remit the matter to the ICO with “direction to conduct a more thorough review of the conflicting statements of the Internal Review and the Head of Legal Team.”

Further, it seeks an order directing the Commissioner, if she finds the Internal Review to be incorrect, to issue Good Practice recommendations to LSE to avoid future FOIA violations by the school.

Republic of China in-exile arrest warrant against Taiwan newsman Dennis Peng for comments about President Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis cannot be enforced in the United States

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen and True Voice of Taiwan host Dennis Peng are feuding over Peng’s comments about Tsai’s PhD thesis for which Tsai is seeking imprisonment of Peng (credits: Voice of America/Central News Agency)

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen wants True Voice of Taiwan host Dennis Peng in prison for his comments about her London School of Economics PhD thesis. Meanwhile, Peng wants Tsai out of office and charged with fraud. Tsai has the upper hand and already has gotten ROC prosecutors to charge Peng with criminal defamation. Prosecutors are now seeking Peng’s arrest while he is on a lecture tour in the United States. The Taipei District Court issued an arrest order for Peng for missing an October 20 court date in Taipei attended by his attorney in his behalf.

President Tsai will be unable to see Peng locked up while he remains in the United States. The Repubic of China in-exile is not recognized by the United States as a sovereign nation and has no extradition treaty with the ROC. Further, the charge against Peng, criminal defamation, does not exist in America, the home of free speech where defamation is a civil tort not a criminal offense. ROC prosecutors will not likely seek some sort of special agreement to detain Peng as that would open the door to a federal courtroom in the United States for the newsman. The prosecutors are happy with their exiled Chinese legal system that lacks juries and allows judges to be switched in sensitive cases.

The legal battle began in 2019 after President Tsai submitted her thesis to the LSE Library, thirty-five years after it was due. Critics, including Peng, were quick to cry foul while Tsai and LSE stonewalled inquiries about the thesis. Then the University of London, which was also missing the thesis from its Senate House Library, entered the scene and declared the thesis was lost during library restructuring, a claim refuted by Senate House librarians who maintain the thesis never arrived.

Litigation under the Freedom of Information Act is ongoing in two cases involving UL now before United Kingdom courts and the Information Commissioner is investigating statements made by LSE about the thesis. Now, with the arrest order against Peng, the controversy shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

President Tsai complained to ROC prosecutors about two other critics, attorney Ho De-fen and professor Hwan Lin although they were found not to have committed criminal defamation. Not so lucky was Dennis Peng, who has been relentless in his coverage of the thesis controversy on his popular YouTube news program.

Peng, who has been lecturing about “Thesisgate” in major American cities, says he offered to appear in a video hearing. Peng has expressed concern about his safety and a reluctance to undergo Taiwan’s mandatory 14-day Covid quarantine to attend court. Peng’s attorney appeared in court for him at the October hearing but that was not good enough for the judge who now wants Peng in custody.

Peng has reason to be concerned if the prosecution of former ROC President Chen Shui-bian is considered. Chen, who is still under house arrest after several years in a tiny punishment cell, was convicted of corruption after a controversial non-jury trial where judges were switched, the chief witness committed perjury, and midnight court sessions were held. Chen was also held in pre-trial detention without bail.

Another political case that should give Peng cause for concern is the ongoing non-jury trial of the leaders of Taiwan Civil Government, an advocacy group that seeks United States assistance to oust the ROC from Taiwan. The never-ending trial of group leaders, for purported fraud against TCG members, has been ongoing for over two years. At a hearing in October that was supposed to end the case, the ROC court announced the trial would continue until next summer. Prosecutors also used pre-trial detention without bail on TCG founder Roger Lin and his wife Julian. Lin died during the lengthy trial but the trial grinds on against widow Julian and former Green Island political prisoner Tsai Tsai-yuan. ROC prosecutors, determined to break the organization have repeatedly threatened members and demolished the TCG headquarters for code violations.

Although Peng is in the United States the internet allows him to keep his viewers updated on the controversy over Tsai’s thesis and the daily show continues to draw large numbers of viewers, which according to prosecutors is his motive in allegedly defaming President Tsai. Peng says not so and that his only motive is to seek the truth.

Appeal application filed in United Kingdom court over Tsai Ing-wen thesis secrecy

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial PhD thesis and Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley who ruled the University of London may keep the identity of the thesis examiners secret. (credits: Hwan Lin/Dere Street Barristers)

An appeal application has been filed in the United Kingdom with Information Review Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley over her September decision to allow the University of London to keep secret the identity of the examiners who reviewed Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial PhD thesis. Tsai submitted her thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions to the London School of Economics and Political Science in June 1983. The University of London subsequently awarded Tsai a PhD degree in 1984.

President Tsai triggered a media controversy in June 2019 when she filed the thesis with the LSE Library, 35 years after it was due. The thesis does not appear to have been in any library collection prior to 2019, despite the requirement it be filed with the LSE Library, the University of London’s Senate House Library, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, the United Kindgom’s national law library.

The Senate House Library stated in email correspondence in September 2019 that it never had the thesis in its collection. The University of London later contradicted the library staff stating it had been lost sometime between the 1980s and 2010 during library “structuring” and stood by the thesis award.

The University of London flip-flop led to a Freedom of Information request for the names of the examiners who approved the thesis. The Information Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth Denham, backed the University secrecy claiming the identity of the thesis examiners was President Tsai’s personal information and not subject to disclosure. From there the matter went to court where after a lengthy delay Judge Buckley unheld the secrecy determination.

Under United Kingdom court rules, an appeal of Buckley’s secrecy decision requires her permission and is limited to questions of law. An appeal application has now raised three legal issues for review.

The first issue is violation of the Freedom of Information Act mandate of transparency and openness. “Thesis examiners are the gatekeepers of a PhD degree requiring their exclusion from any personal data exemption as they are in fact the qualification certification and structurally essential to the integrity of the University degree, overriding any individual privacy concern. Examiners should have no exclusion from disclosure, nor have an expectation of exclusion, given their important public duty. The University of London is not a secret institution and the certification of its degree awards should not be secret as that undermines public confidence in the institution. Public servants carrying out their ordinary functions should not be given anonymity as of right.”

“Verification of qualification for a PhD degree at the University of London is contingent on approval of examiners selected solely for assessment of a PhD candidate’s thesis. The examiners are a unique, necessary, and indispensible element to the award of a PhD degree and their identification is absolutely essential to a transparent verification of a PhD candidate’s qualification. The substantial evidence standard applied by the Tribunal instead of a more anxious scrutiny falls short of the…mandate of

transparency and openness when it shields the identity of examiners from disclosure and its application constitutes legal error against the public interest.”

The second issue involves a requirement to describe withheld information. “In the present matter the Tribunal, in acting on behalf of the citizen, reviewed a closed document with the names of the examiners in question and the dates of their signed approval. The decision to grant an exclusion from disclosure by the Tribunal substituted its review for that of Appellant and other members of the public. The Tribunal…did not describe, with legally sufficient detail, the closed document.”

“Appellant is not only denied by the Tribunal, acting in his behalf, of the identity of the examiners, but any information at all including the number of non-disclosed examiners, whether or not they were external examiners, or even the date of their signed approval which does not reveal their identity in any manner. The foregoing information constitute important and critical elements in assessing an allegation of academic fraud, the proverbial elephant in the room, all of which could be learned by Appellant and the public from the identity of the examiners.”

The third legal issue concerns the Tribunal failure to properly investigate the conflicting factual claims before it. “The University of London has provided differing accounts for the absence of the thesis from its collection. The University has not provided Appellant, despite a FOI request and an Internal Review request, any bibliographic, catalogue or acquisition data of the thesis, nor has the University established with verifiable documentation the presence of the thesis in the library collection at any time.”

“The University stated on 9 October 2019…in a response to an information request from the public that: “It would seem from our card catalogue records that Senate House Library never received the original copies of this thesis from the External Examiners.”

“The University, subsequent to the filing of this Appeal, stated…“The original copy held by the University library was lost or mis-shelved sometime between mid‐1980s and 2010s over which period there were numerous structural changes to the library.”

“The two statements “never received” and “lost or mis-shelved” are inconsistent, incompatible, and required the Tribunal to provide an explanation for its speculative determination.”

“The Tribunal acceptance of the University’s speculation about loss of the thesis is foundational and erroneous, and more than a mere makeweight finding. Without discussion of Appellant’s tendered evidence to the contrary, the Tribunal avoids its fundamental investigatory function constituting legal error.”

While Judge Buckley decides on whether to permit an appeal of her decision, a Taiwanese newsman, Dennis Peng, awaits trial for criminal defamation. Peng, who has questioned the University of London PhD award on his internet television program “The True Voice of Taiwan” faces prison for his broadcasts. President Tsai complained to ROC prosecutors about Peng and two others, Ho De-fen and Hwan Lin, soon after the controversy erupted. The ROC prosecutors were idle for a year then, when the controversy over the thesis would not die, opened an investigation eventually clearing Ho De-fen and Hwan Lin of criminal defamation. Peng, the most vocal critic and now on a speaking tour in the United States about the thesis, remains a target of prosecution. Although no longer facing jail, both Ho and Lin have kept up questioning the validity of the University of London degree and support Peng who must undergo trial for his freedom.

President Tsai’s Republic of China in-exile does not permit jury trials and Dennis Peng’s fate will depend on the ruling of a ROC judge instead of a jury of his peers.

United Kingdom court upholds University of London secrecy over Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis examination

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis and United Kingdom Information Review Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley who ruled the University of London did not need to identify the examiners who approved the thesis. (credits: Hwan Lin/Dere Street Barristers)

United Kingdom Information Review Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley, writing for a three-member panel, upheld the University of London’s secrecy about the identity of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis examiners. President Tsai triggered an academic firestorm in the summer of 2019 when she submitted her 1983 PhD thesis to the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years after it was due. Tsai has refused to name the examiners who approved her thesis, as have both the London School of Economics where she studied and the University of London which awarded her a PhD degree.

The thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, submitted to the LSE Library appears to be a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten notations including a question mark. The thesis was purportedly examined on October 16, 1983, a Sunday.

The thesis problems became a political issue in President Tsai’s reelection campaign and many have taken to social media to question the PhD degree award where the matter continues to be debated.

The three-member Tribunal panel included Dave Silvers and Michael Jones, who heard the case and reached a decision on September 13th. Judge Buckley wrote in the decision released a week later: “We accept that Mr. Richardson has a legitimate private interest and that there is a broader public interest in the legitimacy of President Tsai’s PhD.

“We find that the legitimate interest can be achieved by the University’s confirmation that there is a written record of the names of the examiners and of the date that they signed approval of the thesis, and we find that this interferes less with the privacy of the data subjects than releasing the specific date or the names of the examiner. Accordingly, it is not reasonably necessary for the names or the date to be released.”

“Further, we find that there is sufficient evidence already in the public domain to satisfy Mr. Richardson’s or the public’s concerns about whether or not President Tsai was awarded a PhD, without the need to release this particular information.”

“This includes the fact that the University has publicly confirmed that the degree was correctly awarded and that it holds records of the viva and the pass list in relation to President Tsai and the fact that the thesis appeared in the IALS list of legal theses successfully completed for postgraduate degrees published in 1985. In our view it is not reasonably necessary to also disclose the names of the examiners and the date that they signed approval of the thesis.”

“Having concluded that it is not reasonably necessary to disclose the requested information it is not necessary to consider whether the legitimate interests are overridden by the interests of the data subjects and we find that the University was entitled to rely on the exemption.”

One person with a keen interest in the examiners’ identity is Taiwan newsman Dennis Peng, who faces criminal prosecution for defamation of Tsai for statements he made about the thesis. Tsai also sought prosecution against activist attorney Ho De-fen and Taiwanese-American scholar Hwan Lin. ROC prosecutors declined to press charges against the two although are seeking the imprisonment of Peng.

Although President Tsai’s thesis woes began at the London School of Economics, the University of London kicked the bee hive with the claim its copy of Tsai’s thesis was somehow lost during a thirty-year period of library restructuring. The University has failed to provide bibliographic or acquistion records documenting the receipt of the thesis; such records would be kept separate from the thesis in the event of loss of the shelf copy. The University also apparently failed to make a microfilm copy of the thesis, as was standard protocol at the time.

Under the arcane rules of the Information Review Tribunal, permission of the court must be obtained in order to appeal the decision. One of the primary issues in an appeal application will be the necessity of transparency in the verification of President Tsai’s PhD qualification. The Freedom of Information Act litigation now moves from factual assertions to legal arguments as it advances in the United Kingdom judicial system.

This article has been corrected at the suggestion of a reader.

August 17, 1970 was a day of tragedy in Omaha, Nebraska

Patrolman Larry Minard, his killer Duane Peak, and Black Panther leaders Edward Poindexter and David Rice (Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) who were sentenced to life in prison. (credits: Omaha Police Department)

August 17, 1970, was a day of tragedy in Omaha, Nebraska. Patrolman Larry Minard, answering a 911 call about a woman screaming in a vacant house was killed when a suitcase bomb exploded. Buried on what should have been his 30th birthday, Minard left a widow with five young children.

The crime demanded punishment and simultaneously three different law enforcement agencies; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division; and the Omaha Police Department took steps to pin the crime on Edward Poindexter and David Rice [Wopashite Mondo Eyen we Langa] for their leadership of the Black Panther Party affiliate group, the National Committee to Combat Fascism.

The booby-trap suitcase bomb was placed by a fifteen year-old Panther wannabe, Duane Peak, who confessed on the advice of his grandfather. Peak was turned in by his older brother, Donald Peak, who was suspected of making the 911 call that lured Minard to his death.

Unknown to the public in Omaha were secret directives from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Special Agent in Charge Paul Young to get Poindexter and Rice out of circulation. The pair were targeted by a clandestine counterintelligence program code-named COINTELPRO. The same day of the bombing Young arranged to have a recording of the 911 call sent to the FBI Laboratory, however Hoover ordered the laboratory to not issue a report on the identity of the anonymous caller. The search for truth at the FBI ended before the first arrest.

At the ATF field office in Omaha, lead investigator Thomas Sledge, a former Omaha policeman, took custody of crime scene evidence and dynamite samples for analysis. Sledge had more than a professional interest in seeing Poindexter and Rice convicted, his younger brother James Sledge had been injured in the fatal blast. ATF believed the two man were part of a four-state conspiracy but was unable to convince U. S. Attorney Richard Dier. Curiously, an ATF chemist started finding dynamite particles in evidence submitted by Sledge; in a shirt pocket, a pants pocket, and in debris from the trunk of an automobile owned by a Peak sister.

An ATF tool marks expert declared a match on a purported bomb fragment and a pair of pliers owned by Rice despite the fact dissimilarities on the tiny sample outnumbered similarities almost two to one.

At the Omaha Police Department, the head of the Intelligence Unit, Jack Swanson, prepared a suspect list with Poindexter and Rice at the top. Swanson led a search with ATF assistance, including Sledge, of Rice’s home and allegedly found dynamite hidden in the basement. Swanson’s account of finding the explosive was contradicted by detective Robert Pfeffer at trial but was not followed up by defense lawyers.

The various actions of the three police agencies were in part coordinated in a formal manner under a multi-agency task force named Domino. The deceptive deeds were kept from the larger group and done secretly. The two Black Panther leaders were convicted in April 1971 following a controversial trial.

Larry Minard was buried on his birthday. Duane Peak made a deal and never served a day in prison. Peak now lives under an assumed name in Spokane, Washington. David Rice, since renamed Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in March 2016. Edward Poindexter remains imprisoned at the maximum-security prison where he continues to proclaim his innocence. Poindexter has served over a half-century behind bars for a crime he says that he did not commit.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts both have refused requests to reopen the Larry Minard murder investigation. August 17, 1970, was a day of tragedy in Omaha, Nebraska.

Further information about the Larry Minard murder case can be found in my book Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, available in print at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.

Taiwan Civil Government political fraud trial finale stalled by Covid surge

Julian Lin and Taiwan Civil Government supporters in March 2021 for a Taoyaun District Court appearance where Lin and others face fraud charges from Republic of China in-exile prosecutors. (credit: Taiwan Civil Government)

The long-running trial of leaders of Taiwan Civil Government, an advocacy group, for allegedly defrauding its members with false claims about the benefits of the TCG identity card and support from the United States was to have concluded in late May. However, the recent Covid virus surge in Taiwan has led to yet one more continuance in the two-year long trial. There is no jury in the marathon proceeding as the Republic of China in-exile does not permit jury trials.

During the course of the lengthy trial the chief defendant Roger Lin died and the TCG headquarters was demolished under order for code violations. Group members have been repeatedly interrogated and TCG parades are closely monitored and filmed by police. The reason for the unfriendly attention TCG has brought to itself is the group goal of expelling the ROC from Taiwan with assistance from the United States. At the core of it all lies Taiwan’s unresolved sovereignty since the end of World War II.

The United States installed the Republic of China on Taiwan, then called Formosa, in October 1945 as an occupation government. Abuses by ROC against the Formosans resulted in the island’s sovereignty away from Japan to be put on hold at the San Francisco Peace Treaty which formally ended the war. The unresolved status has lasted seven decades and the ongoing “strategic ambiguity” has left everyone confused.

Roger and Julian Lin sued both the exiled Republic of China and the United States in the District of Columbia U. S. District Court to force the repeal of the ROC “Nationality Act” which stripped Formosans of their Japanese citizenship. The case was dismissed for not having been filed a half-century earlier and not including Japan as a defendant. However, Roger & Julian Lin vs. Republic of China & United States of America put the couple in the cross-hairs of the ROC Ministry of Justice.

The election of Donald Trump presented TCG with a new administration to lobby for American help to rid Taiwan of the ROC. The group began pouring millions of dollars into its campaign in an attempt to win over President Trump. TCG funded an inauguration party, hosted receptions, bought an expensive advertising campaign, courted think-tanks, underwrote a Heritage Foundation reception and event for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, picked up the bill for several POLITICO events, and dropped money on Roll Call Live. TCG members volunteered for delegation trips to Washington, New York, Zurich, and Japan. Much of the money was funneled through lobbyist Neil Hare and his company Global Vision Communications.

Julian Lin, wife of TCG founder Roger Lin, became the public face of the organization in America and led the junkets. Hare helped Lin score a private chat session with Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway. However, hours after announcements about the Heritage Foundation event were sent out ROC prosecutors decided to act. Quickly a raid was planned for TCG headquarters and homes of the leaders. The news media was alerted just prior to the May 10, 2018 raid. Roger and Julian Lin were paraded in handcuffs and held incommunicado without bail for five months.

The destruction of the TCG headquarters ended the group’s overnight training classes and was a severe morale blow to members. Interrogations and surveillance took its toll on membership, claimed by Hare to be 70,000. The trial itself, an endless series of hearings and continuances, has burdened the faithful.

The October 2019 death of Roger Lin, in the middle of the trial, unraveled TCG and factions formed. One faction led by Gavin Tsai had previously split and began calling itself Taiwan Government. Julian Lin, as the widow, picked up her husband’s mantle and claims her faction is the legitimate TCG. Tsai Tsai-yuan, a co-defendant, split with Julian and heads a reform faction called TCG 3.0 and keeps the trademark black suit as uniform. Tsai, a former political prisoner at the infamous Green Island Prison, now faults Julian for group woes. Both Tsai and Lin face prison if convicted.

The trial, which has brought in witnesses a few at a time, scheduled four days at the end of May to hear statements from over 1,000 purported victims. Allegedly there were over 1,300 victims, however many of them deny being victims and remain loyal supporters still donating money. Court records show statements were received from over five hundred witnesses. Some witnesses had purchased the identity card while others had attended TCG training classes held at headquarters.

Julian Lin maintains that witness statements were obtained by fear of prosecution as witnesses had first been interrogated as victims. “The judge hinted to the defense in advance, explaining that we are currently split into several different groups with different positions, and may arrange for riot police to be there.”

“The witnesses so far have not said I gave orders, got money from them, or ever cheated a member.”

Julian did concede some witnesses said she claimed TCG was authorized by the United States Military Government. Lin says the answer was given to a question fabricated by the prosecutor. “Usually the prosecutor asked the witness, “Did the TCG personnel tell you that they are authorized by the US military government?”

“Most witness don’t understand the question,but have to answer yes or no.”

Then prosecutors would ask, “What role does Julian hold in it?”

Witness: “Roger also listen to her, she made decision for everything.”

When the defense attorney would ask for an example, “All the witness answer, “It is said that….”

Julian concluded, “Some of victims think can get money from me and listen to investigators….but until now no one said I gave order.”

Two Roger Lin lawsuits have been filed in Washington with Julian being a co-plaintiff in the second case. The first Lin lawsuit against the United States sought American passports for Taiwan residents. A sympathetic court declined to rule stating it was a political issue not a legal matter as the court lacked authority over foreign policy. However, the court described Taiwan’s long unresolved history as “political purgatory” and the people as stateless. Julian Lin and Tsai Tai-yuan both can give personal testimony to what that purgatory feels like as they await their fate over claims that TCG founder Roger Lin made before his death.

Secretary of London School of Economics contradicts school head attorney over Tsai Ing-wen thesis in Freedom of Information case

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1983 PhD thesis and London School of Economics and Political Science Secretary Louise Nadal. (credits: Hwan Lin/London School of Economics)


In an unexpected development in the ongoing controversy over Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s1983 PhD thesis, two top officials of the London School of Economics and Political Science have made contradictory statements about the thesis. Tsai triggered an academic firestorm that took on political dimensions during her re-election campaign when she filed her PhD thesis with the LSE Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late.

The tardy thesis has the appearance of a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and hand-written entries including a question mark. At the time of Tsai’s enrollment at LSE the school was unable to award its own PhD degrees and submitted a pass list to the University of London.

President Tsai has refused to name the thesis examiners that passed her for a degree from the University of London. Tsai has bragged about the examiners however, claiming they wanted to give her a double degree for the thesis entitled, “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions.”

Two Freedom of Information requests, one in 2019 and the second in 2021, to LSE for the identities of the thesis examiners elicited the same answer from Rachael Maguire, Records Manager, that LSE did not have the examiner names. An Internal Review by LSE confirmed the school could not answer the request. School Secretary Louise Nadal stated on May 26, 2021, that “the School does not hold the information you have requested.”

However, what Nadal either did not know or was deceptive about, is that Kevin Haynes, “Head of Legal Team” at LSE, has compiled a 278 page file from President Tsai’s student days that is indexed and carefully numbered.

The revelation that Haynes could cite specific page numbers to a file that Secretary Nadal said did not exist has led to a complaint against LSE to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The language of the ICO complaint tells the rest of the story.

“That the Internal Review is contrary to 19 December 2020 email correspondence by Kevin Haynes, Head of Legal Team, addressed to Kristen Chen at the Republic of China Ministry of Justice, which discloses information from Tsai Ing-wen’s 278 page student file, citing specific page numbers (pp. 74-75) of the record.”

“Exhibit A is a copy of an email exchange of Kristen Chen on 17 December 2020 to Kevin Haynes and his 19 December 2020 response. Exhibit A was received from Taiwan newsman Dennis Peng, who received it from Republic of China prosecutors acting on Tsai Ing-wen’s complaint against Peng, in the discovery phase of his criminal trial for alleged defamation of President Tsai.”

“Kevin Haynes aided a foreign government’s criminal prosecution by disclosure of information that the Internal Review denied LSE possessed. Further, Haynes’ disclosure to ROC prosecutors was done without written consent, warrant or court order.”

“Kevin Haynes’ job description on the LSE website is as follows: “Kevin’s background is in compliance, regulation, complaints and litigation. He is responsible for the School’s Legal Team, which deals with student complaints, litigation and misconduct cases, dispute resolution, contracts and other legal agreements, Data Protection and Freedom of Information, ethics, insurance, Intellectual Property, records management and the School’s relationship with external providers of legal services.”

“Kevin Haynes is Rachael Maguire’s immediate supervisor at the “Legal Team” and knew, or should have known, that both his subordinate Records Manager and the School Secretary, who conducted the Internal Review, were responding to a Freedom of Information request with deceptive and false information.”

“That the Internal Review false statement that LSE did not have the requested information is part of a larger, ongoing, pattern of willful violations of the Freedom of Information Act by school personnel.”

“That the fended off enquiries…ongoing information denials to the public, and the false statement of the Internal Review constitute a pattern of willful and intentional violations of the Freedom of Information Act of almost two years in duration.”

“That said pattern of FOIA violations heightens the legitimate interest of…the public in the verification of qualification of Tsai Ing-wen and makes necessary the disclosure of the examiners’ report for the 16 October 1983 thesis viva examination as the least intrusive method of achieving full transparency in this matter.”

“That said pattern of FOIA violations by LSE requires supervisory, corrective measures by the Information Commissioner beyond ordering the information request be processed.”

There is presently a pending motion to obtain the thesis viva examination report in a Freedom of Information case before the Information Review Tribunal. The ICO has petitioned the court to permit a “closed” submission of evidence delaying resolution of the motion.

The conflicting statements of Louise Nadal and Kevin Haynes, both London School of Economics top officials, now cast the shadow of doubt on the veracity of LSE pronouncements about Tsai Ing-wen, deepening the mystery of the 1983 thesis.

University of London intervention in Freedom of Information case by obfuscation of President Tsai Ing-wen’s commercial and employment use of PhD degree and speculation about her missing thesis raises question

The University of London has broken a long silence about Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1983 PhD thesis with obfuscation and speculation. (credit: University of London)

After a long silence about the controversial 1983 PhD thesis of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen, the University of London has intervened in a Freedom of Information case pending in the United Kingdom. The University has entered the FOI case brought by a Taiwanese-American to determine if President Tsai’s October 16, 1983 PhD viva examination was a full PhD exam or if it was instead a Masters to PhD transfer viva. However, instead of bringing clarity to the Information Review Tribunal hearing the case, the University brought obfuscation, ambiguity, and speculation with its formal entry into the case, giving the unavoidable appearance of a cover-up.

The litigation is an outgrowth of the academic firestorm ignited by President Tsai in June 2019 when she submitted her 1983 PhD thesis to the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years late. Further, the tardy thesis appears to be a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and hand-written notations, including a question mark. The thesis, entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions,” was also said to have been submitted to the University of London’s Senate House Library and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, neither of which received the thesis, according to library staff correspondence.

The international academic brouhaha is now two years old and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. President Tsai’s refusal to name her thesis examiners, who Tsai brags were so impressed with the thesis they wanted to award her a double degree, has added fuel to the fire. Tsai attended the London School of Economics and Political Science but accepted a PhD degree from the University of London because LSE was not then qualified to issue its own degree. Tsai’s adviser at LSE was Michael Elliott who lacked his own PhD degree making the thesis examination critical to a valid award.

The thesis viva examination was conducted on October 16, 1983, a Sunday, according to LSE which refers all other questions from the public to the University of London. For its part the University of London has stonewalled and refused to answer questions about the viva examination, including even the identity of the examiners. The University has cited President Tsai’s privacy as its reason for silence.

In its submission to the Information Review Tribunal, the University admits it has not asked President Tsai for her permission to discuss her student days. School officials pick and choose what they want to tell the public so the court submission was carefully vetted and worded making its obfuscation and ambiguity one of intent rather than sloppy wordsmiths. The University of London submission to the court, as told by Data Protection and Information Compliance Manager Kit Good, tells its own story.

“In some cases, the University may weigh up the legitimate interests and confirm a qualification has been obtained….Recipients of PhD degrees in almost all cases have their thesis listed in the publicly searchable University library and therefore the confirmation of qualification can be determined via this route.”

“The copy held by the library was lost or mis-shelved sometime between the mid-1980s and 2010s over which period there were numerous structural changes to the library.”

The ambiguity of this speculation about the fate of President Tsai’s thesis goes to the phrase “structural changes” and whether it is referring to staff reorganizations or physical remodeling of the library facility. The difference, which cannot be parsed from the University’s choice of words, would put the blame for loss of Tsai’s thesis on either librarian negligence or on contractors who mistook the thesis for construction debris.

The University of London speculation that President Tsai’s thesis was lost sometime over a thirty year period is disingenuous as Senate House librarians have yet to establish with acquisition records that the University ever possessed the thesis in the first place. The thesis could not have been put on the wrong shelf or tossed out with the trash if the library never had it. The lack of an acquisition record for Tsai’s thesis makes the University’s submission to the Tribunal with its speculation of loss a classic example of the legal phrase “a fact not in evidence.”

The University of London also cites an October 2019 public relations statement by LSE as evidence of the validity of President Tsai’s PhD degree. The University does not explain to the Tribunal how an announcement, decades later, by a subordinate school unable to award its own degree, could verify the University decision to award a diploma.

The University does make an admission. “In some cases, there is a legitimate interest in confirming details of an individual’s degree qualification.” However, no need of confirmation details in President Tsai’s case. “The qualification has been confirmed. The thesis is available online.”

The University ambiguity and speculation are accompanied by obfuscation. The school’s submission to the Tribunal explains that no harm has been done because President Tsai did not need her degree to run for the ROC presidency. “The degree qualification is not essential for a political career in the same way that a medical degree would be for a physician.”

“A PhD thesis is not a professional requirement for a public career and is not analogous to a scenario such as surgeon and a medical degree. The graduate in question here was not elected to public office at the time they were a registered student.”

However, the University of London did not tell the Tribunal that President Tsai used her PhD to obtain teaching positions at Soochow University and National Chengchi University in Taiwan. If the PhD was not legitimate, Tsai would have violated ROC criminal fraud laws. Whether or not a statute of limitations would preclude prosecution does not diminish President Tsai’s culpability for academic fraud in the event the thesis was not legitimate and her University degree was improperly awarded.

The University of London’s submission to the Tribunal falls short of full disclosure and does not tell the court that President Tsai used her PhD for commercial purposes, founding and operating TaiMed Biologics, which continued to use Tsai’s degree from the University of London for commercial purposes after her election to public office.

Meanwhile, another FOI case before the Tribunal awaits decision on release of the thesis examiner identities. A decision is expected in June. The University of London did not intervene in that case.