The strange story of a London School of Economics PhD thesis has developed a new plot line. The 1984 thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions” was written by Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen when she was a graduate student in London. Tsai set off an academic firestorm in June 2019 when she submitted the thesis to the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. Now ROC prosecutors in Taipei are claiming a Chinese spy operation spread misinformation about the thesis in a bid to upset Tsai’s re-election to a second term in January 2020.
The purported spy, Ho Jianghua, denies the charge and claims her indictment is an example of the flawed justice system in the exiled Republic of China. Ho is head of the women’s division of the China Unification Promotion Party, a small pro-China party in Taiwan which is also known as the Union Party. Many Taiwanese refer to party members as White Wolves. The party supported Kuomintang candidate Mayor Han in the election campaign.
Details of the purported counterintelligence operation have not been revealed but supposedly involve a payment to spread misinformation to influence the ROC presidential election. Thus far, President Tsai has herself been a source of misinformation about the thesis. Tsai erroneously claimed one of her professors, who she cited in the thesis, was dead. John Barcelo, who is alive and well, says he had no role in the writing of the thesis. Tsai also falsely captioned a photo in her online memoir, taken with her sister in Boston, as being taken in London when the sister allegedly visited to give support during the thesis oral examination.
Ho Jianghua, an opponent of Taiwanese independence, is no stranger to ROC prosecutors, who have also charged Ho’s assistant Pao Ke-ming in the case. Ho and Pao are accused of violating the National Security Act.
Ho’s new purported crime was staging a “People Demand the Truth” demonstration on November 20, 2019, outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei. It was during this protest that the alleged misinformation about Tsai’s thesis was distributed.
Ho, who was born in China, is accused of making frequent trips to China and working with a group called the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots. Ho allegedly received $4,600 USD eleven days before the rally as her payment. Ho’s alleged spymaster in Beijing is a man named Huang Xinyu.
Ho and Pao are accused of recruiting Chinese spies married to Taiwanese spouses. According to prosecutors the goal was acquiring military and political information. The pair also allegedly monitored Taiwanese business in China and student activities.
Ho claims ROC repression of political belief is behind the criminal charges. Following her indictment Ho said, “Taiwan’s justice system is dead.”
Prosecutors, who are seeking a lengthy jail sentence, countered Ho’s remarks: “She does not appreciate living in a free, democratic society. Rather, she abuses our nation’s constitutional guarantee of democratic mechanisms for the rule by law and subverted national security.”
The Chinese Unification Promotion Party was founded in 2005 by organized crime figure Chang An-lo, a leader of the Bamboo Union triad. The party most recently has been getting negative publicity for its attacks on Hong Kong democracy activists. The New Power Party has called for a ban on political activity by the CUPP, while its affinity for flags of the People’s Republic of China has left many Taiwanese fearful of the party.
Chang has been accused in the media of being a Kuomintang hitman during the martial law era and heading an international crime syndicate before turning to politics. The CUPP is known for its rough street tactics at political events. CUPP hooligans attacked pro-independence students in 2017 on the campus of National Taiwan University. Hong Kong democracy activists were also attacked by party members that year. White Wolves targeted the pro-American advocacy group Taiwan Civil Government with a noisy protest outside the TCG office two years ago in Taipei and are suspected of a firebombing at the now-demolished TCG headquarters in Taoyuan.
Ho spoke with the Global Times after being charged. Ho said, “I have told them that if I receive one penny from the mainland for political purposes, you can execute me at once.”
When asked about her Chinese connections, Ho was defiant. “We are from the mainland, and the mainland is our home as well even as we live in Taiwan. We have exchanges with the mainland-based civil organization like the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots to share sentiments and experiences with Taiwan compatriots who moved to the mainland. But unfortunately, all of these could become excuses for the secessionist Taiwan authority of the Democratic Progressive Party to prosecute.”
The Global Times is a Chinese newspaper and refers to the Republic of China in-exile as the “Democratic Progressive Party authority” in the story quoting Ho. Actually, the preferred name for Taiwan, formerly Formosa, by the People’s Republic China is “Chinese Taipei” to support claims the island is a breakaway state.
Ho has been under investigation for months and was prevented from returning to China in April for her mother’s funeral. Prior to the January elections, Ho led a sixteen member group on a three-county tour that was partially subsidized with money from China. Ho was accused of vote-buying with the campaign junket. Ho’s response is that she is the victim of “political persecution” because of her pro-China views.
Ho might be a Chinese spy, that remains to be proven. However, Ho’s questioning of Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 thesis is a crime shared by many. Allegations of academic fraud have dogged Tsai ever since her tardy thesis submission. The thesis itself raises questions. The dissertation looks like a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten notations including a question mark.
Tsai has escalated the controversy by refusing to name the two thesis examiners who purportedly approved her work during a Sunday thesis viva session in October 1983. Tsai has boasted how impressed the thesis examiners were but will not identify them for verification. Neither the London School of Economics, where Tsai studied, nor the University of London, which awarded Tsai her doctorate, will say who the two professors were or when they signed off for her diploma.
Tsai has made criminal defamation complaints against attorney Ho De-fen and newsman Dennis Peng for comments they have made about the controversial thesis. Those cases are pending. Now Ho Jianghua is facing a jail sentence over her protest about the thesis.
Meanwhile, in London, three different appeals are lodged with the Information Review Tribunal in an effort to force the two schools to come clean about who approved Tsai’s thesis and when. A court hearing in January will resolve whether the cases can go forward.
Pictures don’t lie, but sometimes captions do. President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China in-exile falsely posted in her online memoir a picture with her sister which she captioned “My sister came to London for my PhD viva exam.” After Taiwanese news show host Dennis Peng reported on the deceptive photo caption, Tsai changed the caption to read “A picture with my sister.” It turns out the supposed London photo was really taken in Boston and had nothing to do with her London School of Economics oral PhD examination.
In June 2019, Tsai set off an academic firestorm with the submission of her doctoral dissertation to the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. According to library records, Tsai’s thesis, entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions,” was never submitted as required. Tsai was granted a PhD degree from the University of London for the thesis, which also was not submitted to the Senate House Library, on the strength of her name being on a LSE “pass list” of doctoral candidates. The London School of Economics was not permitted to issue doctoral degrees and Tsai’s advisor, Michael Elliott, only had a Masters degree.
The tardy thesis appears to be a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten entries, including a question mark. According to LSE, a two-member viva panel examined Tsai about the thesis on Sunday, October 16, 1983. Neither LSE nor Tsai will name the two thesis examiners. The University of London also refuses to name the the examiners or the date they approved the thesis. Tsai’s photo with the false caption has been offered by her supporters as proof the viva really happened.
The photo of Tsai with her sister was actually taken sometime in a summer month outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. One doesn’t have to be a forensic expert to see that the two sisters are not in London in October. The photo shows the pair in short sleeves, as are other pedestrians. London weather in October tends to be rainy and in the 50-60 F degree range. Also, the auto passing behind Tsai in the photograph has the steering wheel on the left instead of the right, as in London.
Tsai has fought back hard to quiet the storm making a criminal defamation complaint against two of her critics, Dennis Peng and Ho De-fen. Her supporters have managed to delete all reference to the ongoing controversy from Tsai’s Wikipedia page.
Presently there are three different pending appeals to the Information Review Tribunal of the United Kingdom over London School of Economics and the University of London denials of Freedom of Information requests about the PhD viva panel and the LSE Library acquisition of the thesis.
Tsai Ing-wen has not issued a statement about the false photo caption or its correction.
Newly elected Belize Prime Minister John Briceno came into office with a huge victory at the polls and a mandate for change. That required some fast footwork for the Republic of China in-exile which had been closely associated with Briceno’s predecessor. First came a congratulatory Tweet before Briceno was even sworn in. Then there was an evening get-together between Briceno and ROC Ambassador Remus Li-Kuo Chen just two nights after the election, when the diplomat presented Briceno with his official congratulation.
Now, Belize has received a goodwill gift of humanitarian aid from the exiled Chinese government that occupies Taiwan. The ROC gave $100,000 USD for flood relief. The new Minister of State for Finance, Economic Development and Investment, Christopher Coye, accepted the donation. The Ambassador explained the ROC “will continue to work closely with the Government of Belize not only addressing the challenges ahead, but also recovering with greater strength and prosperity.”
The ROC has made it clear that if Belize continues to recognize the exiled Chinese government as the legitimate authority of China, as the ROC Constitution claims, the financial benefits will continue. The ROC lacks sovereignty over Taiwan where it is based and is only recognized by fourteen small nations, most of them islands. The United States installed the ROC on Taiwan, then called Formosa, at the end of World War II as an occupation government of the former Japanese territory. The Cold War froze everything in place and the ROC never left, imposing decades of harsh martial law on the island.
Taiwanese independence advocates are opposed by the United States, China, and the exiled regime still controlling the island. The United States likes the status quo, a “strategic ambiguity” in diplomatic jargon. China wants Taiwan, claiming it to be a renegade province because it is ruled by the ROC and threatens invasion to prevent independence. The ROC only quit throwing islanders in prison for advocating independence in the mid-1980s.
During the first term of President Tsai Ing-wen, China bought off seven of the ROC allies with dollar diplomacy, spending over four billion dollars to gain a change of recognition. The flood relief donation to Belize was a drop in the bucket compared to what might come down the line for Belize if it recognized the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, as the United States and 180 other nations already do. China can put its flag on the moon but can’t get Belize to recognize its existence. That is the formula for dollar diplomacy.
Belize does not have recognize China as China to cash in. All that Belize has to do to fill the coffers is to lead the ROC to believe that it will recognize China and the money will flow. Briceno could say nice things about China to ratchet up the price tag for loyalty to a Cold War fiction. Sending Kareem Musa, the new Minister of National Security, back to China on a junket to attend a conference would be good as gold, as the ROC will seek to counter any diplomatic influence.
Thus far Briceno has been a national figure in politics. Now he is an international figure and is operating in a whole new dimension. Because of its recognition of a government banned from the United Nations, tiny Belize has a bigger voice in world affairs than the Dean Barrow administration was aware. Briceno has been dealt a loaded hand. If he plays his cards right, Belize could be a big winner.
Members of the Freedom for Ed committee braved the cold and rampant virus to hold a news conference at the home of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to call for the release of 76 year-old Edward Poindexter from the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Poindexter, imprisoned a half-century for the murder of an Omaha policeman, has steadfastly denied his guilt in the crime.
Poindexter was chairman of Omaha’s chapter of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, a Black Panther Party affiliate chapter in 1970 when he was charged with the murder of Patrolman Larry Minard in a bomb ambush. The confessed bomber, Duane Peak, a fifteen year-old at the time of the bombing, implicated Poindexter in exchange for a deal that kept him out of prison.
David Rice, later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, was a co-defendant and died at the prison in March 2016 while serving a life term. The pair were convicted at a controversial 1971 trial that was marred by contradictory police testimony, perjured testimony by Peak, questionable dynamite evidence, and withheld evidence. At the secret request of the Omaha FBI office, a 911 recording of the killer’s voice luring Minard to his death with a false report of a woman screaming at a vacant house was not analyzed to determine the caller’s identity. The recording was kept from the jury.
Both Poindexter and Rice were targets of the infamous and illegal COINTELPRO operation. The clandestine counterintelligence program targeted thousands of American citizens for their politial activity with actions designed to “disrupt” supposed revolutionary activtity. The Black Panthers became the number one COINTELPRO target with lethal force used against group members. The two men were both on the Security Index detention list maintained by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and subjects of individual counterintelligence actions. Rice was to be ambushed in Carter Lake, Iowa, while returning to Omaha from Eppley Airport with a shipment of the Black Panther newspaper. The FBI plot was foiled when the shipment of newspapers was cancelled.
Poindexter was the target of two bogus anonymous letters to the Black Panther headquarters and several Omaha publications including the Omaha Star. The letters, written by FBI agents, accused Poindexter of falsely stealing donations and working against the Panthers by helping “Whitey’s newspaper,” the Omaha World-Herald.
In December 1969, six days after the FBI-orchestrated attack on the Black Panthers in Chicago that left leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark dead, Hoover ordered the Omaha FBI office to get “imaginative” and remove Poindexter and Rice from the streets. The murder of Minard gave Special Agent in Charge Paul Young the opportunity he needed to satisfy Hoover’s blood lust. Poindexter and Rice were only saved from the electric chair, sought by prosecutors, by the jury during four days of deliberations.
The call for release of Poindexter, elderly, in poor health and at high risk for the Covid virus, has hit a brick wall with the Board of Pardons. The Board, chaired by Governor Ricketts, refuses to put communation requests, including Poindexter’s, ahead of routine pardons for people already out of jail. The backwards priority scheme is a potential death sentence for some inmates.
The elephant in the room is Ricketts’ advocacy for captial punishment. Ricketts led a campaign to restore executions after Nebraska abolished capital punishment. Poindexter’s conviction, even though tainted by COINTELPRO manipulation, should have led to execution in Rickett’s “eye for an eye” mindset. Ricketts is unwilling to investigate that Poindexter was wrongfully convicted, a victim of an FBI directed frame-up. Poindexter’s case calls into question, first-hand, Rickett’s advocacy of execution.
For more information see FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available 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.
Belize has a new government electing the People’s United Party to office in a landslide election on November 11 that gave PUP twenty-six of thirty-one Parliament seats and a new Prime Minister, John Briceno. Corruption and the sad state of the Belize economy were the driving issues giving the new administration a clear mandate for change.
Belize, a Central American paradise, is one of the few countries that recognizes the exiled Republic of China as a sovereign nation. In doing so, Belize has endorsed the Chinese government that has occupied Formosa, now commonly called Taiwan, since the end of World War II. Seven decades of “strategic ambiguity” imposed by the United States following the surrender of the island by the Japanese have left nearly everyone confused about Formosa’s status. The confusion and unresolved sovereignty has left the many who support Taiwanese independence splintered and powerless.
The People’s Republic of China calls the island “Chinese Taipei” and considers it a breakaway district, much like the Guatemalan claim against Belize. Meanwhile, the administering government calls the island the “Republic of China (Taiwan)”. Each year on October 10th, the ROC buys full page ads in the Belize newspapers to celebrate ROC independence, claiming it to be a Taiwanese holiday. The names Republic of China and Taiwan are used interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. Confusion abounds.
The United States is to blame for the diplomatic mess that has left nearly 24 million people stateless and caught in “political purgatory.” Unfortunately for the Taiwanese, the Cold War still dictates their lack of international standing. Fortunately for Belize, there may be a pot of gold in the dispute.
America imposed Kuomintang troops of the Republic of China on Formosa and installed dictator Chiang Kai-sek’s regime as an occupation government after World War II. After Chiang’s forces lost the Chinese civil war in 1949, the United States allowed Chiang to establish his exiled government on the island. In 1952, when Japan surrendered Formosa the Korean War was raging and no decision was made at the San Francisco Peace Treaty about its sovereignty. The Republic of China was expelled from the United Nations in 1971 and is unable to use the International Court of Justice to which Belize has turned to resolve its border dispute with Guatemala.
Over the years, since 1979 when the United States dropped recognition of the Republic of China, most other countries have followed suit. Neither of the two Chinese governments can tolerate any country’s desire to recognize both because China wants to take Taiwan from the ROC, and the ROC has long wanted to retake the “mainland” it lost in 1949 at the end of China’s civil war.
As the PRC and ROC each lay claim regarding “one China” a dollar diplomacy has arisen as the mainland China has bought out support for the exiled China holed up on Taiwan. Under the current ROC administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, seven countries have dropped recognition of the fiction that the ROC is the legitimate government of China. The switches of loyalty from the exiled China to China itself had a price which provided a windfall bounty for the countries involved.
Now comes Belize and a new government with a strong mandate for change. Belize, already strapped with a huge foreign debt as a consequence of corruption and unpaid loans, has been hammered by the collapse of its tourist economy. China’s obvious dollar diplomacy is not lost any one. The ROC has worked overtime and invested considerable resources in keeping Belize on board, funding agricultural and infrastructure projects all over the country.
Recently a set of commemorative postage stamps was issued by Belize to honor the relationship and to cement the bond. However, things are just a bit more complicated than they seem. First off, almost no one in Belize understands the history of the Republic of China. Worst yet, a large number of Belizians do not know the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese. Most of the grocery stores in Belize are owned or operated by either Chinese of Taiwanese, yet they are all called Chinese. While the two populations each have their own associations and traditions, they do not bother to try and explain the difference to their Belize customers and neighbors and remain largely isolated to their own communities.
The Guatemalan claim against Belize gives a lens from which to view the two China governments. The People’s Republic of China wants to finish its civil war and possess Taiwan. Meanwhile, the Republic of China in-exile wants sovereignty over the island it terrorized for four decades under harsh martial law. Neither China has room for Taiwanese independence. Belizians, who are threatened by Guatemala with loss of territory, should be more sensitive to the aspirations of the people’s yearning for their own national sovereignty. However, decades of misinformation and ambiguity have kept Belize in the dark about the people of Taiwan and their hopes.
Besides the postage stamps and development projects, both Tsai Ing-wen and her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, have made state visits to Belize, bringing an entourage large enough for a jumbo jet. The ROC has kept its recognition by Belize a central figure of its relationship and assistance packages of people and money have regularly flowed. The degree of control over Belize politicians was evidenced last year when PUP Parliament member Kareem Musa was chastised for a trip to China. The now-defeated United Democratic Party made a big deal out of Musa’s junket, condemning the trip. A UDP news release said Musa was “diplomatically irresponsible” and lied about the nature of his visit which he said was personal and at the invitation of the Belize Chinese Association. The president of the association accompanied Musa and acted as translator but denied extending an invitation.
The news release continued: “Аn іnvіtаtіоn tо thіѕ еvеnt wаѕ nеvеr іѕѕuеd tо thе UDР. Аnd іf іt hаd bееn, wоuld hаvе bееn rејесtеd оut оf hаnd. Тhе UDР іѕ ѕtеаdfаѕt аnd unwаvеrіng, bоth аѕ а Раrtу аnd аѕ Gоvеrnmеnt, іn іtѕ ѕuрроrt fоr Таіwаn.” More correctly, it was the UDP support of the ROC and not Taiwan that was unwavering, because the ROC and Taiwan do not mean the same thing. One is war-time occupation government imposed by the United States that never left and the other is an island under some form of colonial rule for four centuries.
The UDP missive against Musa саtеgоrіzеd thе trip аѕ аn ”оutrіght bеtrауаl оf thе nаtіоnаl іntеrеѕt.” Now it is Musa’s party that decides the national interest. A switch of Chinese recognition from the ROC to the PRC would bring a significant and immediate financial reward to Belize. Opening a dialog with the PRC could result in Belize becoming caught in a bidding war for its favor and might increase ROC largess without making any change in diplomatic recognition.
Musa is now the Minister of Home Affairs and a rising star of the People’s United Party and his trip to China might be viewed as a strategic move that could benefit Belize. The ROC is obviously watching and was the first of many international congratulations. Party leader John Briceno was congratulated by Tweet before he was even sworn in. “The government & people of Taiwan congratulate John Briceno & People’s United Party on victory in the Belize elections. We look forward to working closely with the PM-designate going forward.”
Belize is one of only fourteen nations in the world that recognize the Republic of China as a country. The Vatican also recognizes the ROC but is itself not a sovereign country. The United States dropped recognition in 1979 when the ROC was kicked out of the United Nations. Most of the fourteen are island nations, although one of the few ROC supporters is Guatemala which threatens Belize. At the rate that countries have dropped ROC recognition, President Tsai will have fewer than ten allies to count on before her second term ends.
If Belize does switch and recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the government of China and abandons the claim that the exiled ROC is the real government, Prime Minister Briceno can expect a sharp rebuke from the United States. However, Belize has previously stood up to the United States over the recognition of Cuba. There is little reason to expect much response by President Donald Trump, given his current ballot fraud campaign. Joe Biden will be too busy dealing with the mess he has inherited and the raging virus problem to punish Belize for making the same change of recognition that the United States already made.
If Belize strikes up a bidding war between the PRC and the ROC it can expect some significant offers of assistance. China can help shore up a tourist economy by sending large numbers of visitors, as it has done in Taiwan itself. But the real numbers that will tempt Briceno will be dollars, massive foreign aid money. A look at the switches under President Tsai’s watch allows Belize to size up the financial benefits that could be expected to come with a change of Chinese recognition.
In the Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands are getting a giant multi-million dollar stadium they had been wanting and other development projects. However, the switch was a partisan issue and has led to internal dissent including talk of one island seceding and seeking its own independence.
Another Pacific island group, Kiribati, wanted to get air service and decided to purchase two big jets at $60 million USD apiece. They scraped together money for one and asked the ROC to pay for the second. The ROC assistance level to Kiribati had been about $10 million dollars USD so President Tsai Ing-wen said it was too expensive. The PRC has not yet bought the second plane but negotiations on the level of assistance are underway. The hard-fought battle of Tarawa was in Kiribati during World War II.
Across the world, off the coast of equatorial Africa, is an island group, Sao Tome & Principe, a former Portuguese colony. This tiny nation got a $146 million USD grant for an airport and other infrastructure developments for making the switch.
On the continent, landlocked Burkina Faso has played the dollar diplomacy game switching back and forth getting around $50 million USD for each switch. The latest change-up was in 2018 when the PRC offered to pick up the ROC’s projects and throw in a new hospital. Negotiations are also underway on Chinese funding of a regional military force where Burkina Faso is a member nation.
In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic dropped the exiled China for mainland China and picked up three billion dollars in loans and investments. Two big projects are a power plant and a mega-port.
In Central America, two countries have made a recent switch, El Salvador and Panama. El Salvador is getting a new stadium, central library, water treatment facility, and other infrastructure projects.
Panama, with its famous canal, is planning a lot of ambitious projects with Chinese money to upgrade the waterway. Talks are proceeding on port upgrades at both ends of the canal, a new set of locks to permit super-tankers, a new bridge across the canal, and a railroad system.
Although there may be long-term consequences of recognizing China, these nations are still in the honeymoon period and the money is flowing. John Briceno will likely get positive reports from the seven countries if he checks on them. Continued recognition of the Republic of China in-exile by Belize may be viewed favorably by some, but to Taiwanese independence advocates who don’t want either China, the Belize postage stamp with two flags is a slap at their desire for a flag of their own.
Taipei District prosecutors in the Republic of China in-exile government ruling Taiwan issued subpoenas for two professors, Ho De-fen and Dennis Peng, for criminal defamation. Over a year ago, September 19, 2019, ROC President Tsai Ing-wen complained to prosecutors about three professors who Tsai said defamed her with comments on her controversial 1984 PhD degree from the London School of Economics. Ho De-fen is a law professor while Dennis Peng teaches media classes and hosts the True Voice of Taiwan internet television program. The third professor, Hwan Lin, lives in the United States and has not yet been served with a court summons.
Ho De-fen, an activist attorney, signaled she is gearing up for a major court battle by refusing to answer the subpoena and appear in court. Dennis Peng took the opposite approach and confessed to criticizing President Tsai’s thesis. Peng told the prosecutors to seek the death penalty because he was completely guilty. Peng, a polished showman, may prove to be a difficult defendant in a case that oozes politics, is riddled with questions, and has an international audience.
Tsai started the controversy in June 2019 when she filed, thirty-five years late, a copy of her 1984 PhD thesis with the London School of Economics Library where she attended school. The tardy thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Action” triggered an academic firestorm with accusations of fraud, unfinished work, and an unearned degree. The 2019 thesis copy appears to be a draft document with footnote issues, pagination problems, and handwritten marks including a question mark. Tsai held fast and both LSE and the University of London, which actually awarded Tsai her degree, stuck by the story that Tsai honestly earned her diploma.
The thesis controversy briefly became an issue in President Tsai’s reelection campaign but died down after she won a second term. Critics of Tsai continued to question the events of 1983-84 in London that led to her degree. Freedom of Information requests flowed to both schools which continued to refuse to answer questions about the thesis. The University of London presently refuses to name the two thesis examiners who approved the thesis and will not even confirm if consideration was given to Tsai’s Masters degree. The London School of Economics refuses to give up internal emails about the thesis.
The refusals to answer questions or disclose records of the thesis viva examination, purportedly held on a Sunday in October 1983, led to complaints to the United Kingdom Information Commissioner. At least four complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office about the thesis have been made by various people. Three thesis-related lawsuits are pending before the Information Review Tribunal where international information requests are bottle-necked while the court reviews its stance on the territoriality of complainants.
One of the ICO decisions, issued September 16, 2020, and now before the Tribunal, ridiculed critics of President Tsai’s thesis and contained the statement: ”The Commissioner also notes that President Tsai has filed a defamation suit against individuals who have questioned the authenticity of her PhD and thesis.”
Taipei District prosecutors waited a year to act on President Tsai’s complaint raising an unavoidable question, why? The ICO decision, where Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, upheld Tsai’s right to withhold information about the thesis relied on Tsai’s “defamation suit” which had not yet been prosecuted. If prosecutors had not hauled Peng and ordered Ho into court on October 14, the ICO statement of September would continue to be false. Although prosecutors cannot be expected to admit they finally acted because of the ICO decision in the United Kingdom, the timing of the decision suggests President Tsai may have been forced to push for prosecution.
Dennis Peng, open and defiant, used his court appearance to carry on his running battle with Tsai over the authenticity of her London School of Economics thesis. “Tsai planned to use the courts from the beginning merely as a means to intimidate. Her first goal was to put pressure on her opposition. Second, Tsai took legal action right before the presidential election last year as a means to buffer the damage Thesisgate would inflict on her campaign. I believe Tsai knows that she can’t win the suit she filed.”
“I would like to remind Tsai and judicial officials that our claims against the president are based on evidence. We have proof to back up our claims. The results of our findings go beyond a shadow of a doubt. Tsai’s doctoral thesis and her degree are faked.”
“I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication teaching at the National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism for 20 years and served as its director. I have advised on over 100 theses, and am thoroughly familiar with the rules and standards they entail.”
“I have continuously questioned Tsai’s thesis on the True Voice of Taiwan talk show for over 450 episodes in the name of justice. Over the past year and a half, the True Voice of Taiwan has accumulated 86 million views and reached 660 million people. It most certainly has affected Tsai’s reputation. The True Voice of Taiwan exists independently of government oversight. It poses important questions and does not cater to the ruling administration’s every whim.”
“I called the prosecutor’s office on November 12, 2019, to request a court date. For my crimes listed above, I am asking that the prosecutor sentence me to death. If that is what it takes for this case to be seen through, so be it. For the greater good of this country.”
Hwan Lin, the third professor, provided a video statement to a news conference in Taipei called by Peng following his court appearance. Lin noted he had not been subpoenaed despite authoring a fifty-page report questioning Tsai’s thesis. Lin believes that his residency in the United States has kept him out of the courtroom. Lin is very emphatic that he is unafraid of Tsai’s defamation lawsuit as all his remarks are based on his close examination of the thesis itself. Lin is convinced the only reason he was threatened with litigation by Tsai was to scare him into submission and silence him.
President Tsai refuses to name the thesis examiners who purportedly approved the thesis in October 1983, although she has said one was a law professor and the other an economist. Tsai’s advisor, before she withdrew from LSE, was Michael Elliott who lacked a PhD himself. At the time, LSE was not qualified to issue doctoral degrees and the University of London granted diplomas to those students whose name appeared on a pass list. Thus far very little oversight of Tsai’s studies have been revealed by either school beyond her name on the pass list.
Like the fable where two weeds grow for every one picked, questions about Tsai’s thesis continue to multiply keeping the controversy in court in both Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Tsai Ing-wen has opened a Pandora’s Box. Ho De-fen’s defense strategy is expected to be a legal challenge over the authority of the prosecutors to silence Tsai’s critics. Dennis Peng has made his defense quite clear, in a defamation case it will be Tsai’s thesis that is on trial.
Fifty years ago, the House Committee on Internal Security was the successor to the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities. In October 1970, an Internal Security Committee hearing opened that focused on “National Office Operations of the Black Panthers and activities in Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska.” Chief Committee investigator Robert Horner said there were twenty-seven active Black Panther and National Committee to Combat Fascism chapters which he considered virtually the same organization.
“Yes…the name can change from National Committee to Combat Fascism to Black Panther Party and back again, an example being here in Washington, D.C. where the group started out as the National Committee to Combat Fascism and then was upgraded to the status of a Black Panther Party group, which it is now. Whereas in Omaha, where there was a Black Panther Party group, it was downgraded for inactivity to the status of a National Committee to Combat Fascism and has since been ordered out of existence.”
On the other side of Congress there was a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing to “Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Assaults on Law Enforcement Officers” that called Captain Murdock Platner to testify about the August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Omaha Patrolman Larry Minard.
Senator Strom Thurmond advised Platner to “speak off the cuff” in the absence of a written statement. Platner said he was a twenty-five year veteran of the Omaha Police Department and oversaw the intelligence squad among other duties. Platner told of “hard- core militants” and an unexploded bomb at City Hall. “This was shortly after Eldridge Cleaver had been in Omaha and made a speech in which he advocated the doing away with police officers.”
According to Platner: “Wilfred Crutch Holliday, who was identified as a Black Panther from San Francisco….left Omaha shortly after this and returned to San Francisco, and has been arrested and convicted of assault on a police officer and is in the penitentiary at this time. An informant told us that Holliday appeared before 30 people and about 10 of these were Black Panthers and the rest were just people who were interested in hanging around socially, or something, and the meeting was not going very good. Nobody acted very interested, and he went outside to his car and took a shotgun out of the car and came back in and stood before these people, yelling and screaming and waving the shotgun, and saying “Let’s get whitey, let’s kill the pigs.” At this time, the term “off-the-pig” was introduced into Omaha. Prior to that, the Omaha police had not heard that.”
“It is known there were militants from Des Moines, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and San Francisco in Omaha.”
“Many militants from other cities came into Omaha during this time and attempted to start things. From informants, we learned that all types of assaults and ambushes were planned against officers. Some of the Black Panthers who had been in Omaha from California returned. There were others from other cities. A monitoring system was set up by the Black Panthers and they monitored all police calls, and every time a car was dispatched to an area on a call such as an accident or a fight in the street, or so on, several militants would show up. They would try to get the crowd around the people, around the officers, to do something. They started rumors.”
“This resulted in the police having to fight for their lives just to get out of the crowd or get their cars out. Violators were released, or else were taken away from the officers, and this resulted in quite a few cases having to be just forgotten about, because we were not able to find the parties again; we were not able to arrest on sight. My point is this type of operation against the police has occurred all over the United States, and this is the pattern that is followed, and it seems to me that it has to be a nationwide plan. It has been repeated, I know, in several other cities, from my conversations with other intelligence officers and from what I have read in the newspapers.”
“In March of 1970, the Black Panthers in San Francisco issued a statement to the press that they were denouncing the Omaha militants and that they would not have any connection with the Black Panthers anymore. This came up over a letter that was written by one of the men in the Black Panthers in Omaha to the San Francisco chapter. I do not recall offhand what it said. It had something to do with not doing what they wanted them to do. This group reorganized, then; almost all the same people, again, and they called themselves the National Committee to Combat Fascism. This is the name they use at this time. They became very active, and they met very frequently, traveled back almost weekly, Des Moines, Kansas City, and on occasion two of these people went to California to speak with members there. They started in, repeatedly, forcing confrontations with the police which then resulted in several misdemeanor arrests, which they made the most of, saying that we were persecuting these people. This was the type of thing where a Black Panther would be in a car driving alongside of a police car and point a gun at the officer and say, “You are going to die,” with a few slang words thrown in with it. We know that they were buying at this time quite a few pistols, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. We had information, received from maybe not too confidential a source, that they possessed dynamite, that they possessed hand-grenades, and so far as we know they were trying to buy machine- guns.”
“A bomb was exploded in the North Assembly Area, which is an outlying police station….This occurred as rollcall was being held, around 11:30 that night. There were 20 police officers at this rollcall. This bomb was set off on the back side of the building, and if it had been set on the other side, it probably would have collapsed that whole part there, and no telling how many officers would have been injured. There was no officer actually severely injured, just their hearing, and some of the uniforms were dirty and what-not. This bomb was of such force that it cracked this building from end to end, clear from the back toward the front….which I heard, through informants, was done by the Black Panthers.”
Platner described the August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Larry Minard where police were lured to a vacant house by an anonymous 911 call.
“We have since arrested three black militants. They have been charged in this assault with murder. From testimony at the preliminary hearing, it is known that two of the suspects made this bomb, and it was made exactly as the one in the toolbox that was made in Des Moines. We know that these two men had been traveling back and forth to Des Moines and Kansas City and that one of them had, on occasion, been to San Francisco. This is all within 2 weeks to 2 months prior to this officer being killed.”
“All of the information we have indicates that these militants were taught in Des Moines or Kansas City or San Francisco about how to make an ambush, how to make the weapon, and then how to put it into practice. It is my opinion that the Omaha militants were pushed into doing something drastic in Omaha because they were trying to regain their standing in the national organization. There definitely are connections between militants in Omaha and many other cities in other States. All of the Omaha police officers have, I know, heard many times militants advocating the killing of police officers, off-the-pigs.”
Platner returned to Washington the following week for testimony before the House Committee on Internal Security. This time Platner would give a different version of the story about construction of the bomb but no one knew because neither hearing was reported in Omaha.
Representative William Scherle of Iowa was present. The Minard murder was big news back home and Scherle wanted to investigate the matter himself. Murdock Platner read a prepared statement this time that both elaborated on and contradicted his earlier testimony.
“I will outline for you the development of the militant actions in Omaha that led up to the murder of a police officer. Eldridge Cleaver came to Omaha and spoke to about 400 people in a city park. Several Black Panthers from California were in Omaha at this time.”
“Cleaver’s speech that he made in the park was mainly about the revolution and violence against police officers.”
“This was one of the first speeches that they had in Omaha by any known militants or especially any Black Panther. He mostly used a lot of four-letter words, cussing the Establishment and cussing the whole police department.”
Platner mentioned the 1969 shooting of fourteen year-old Vivian Strong. “The next night after the girl was killed rioting and burning started. Several businesses were burned out in the Negro area. This lasted for 3 days. During the entire week militants from other cities came to Omaha. This was established through informants and surveillance of autos with out-of-State plates that were spotted in the area….Cars from California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado were in the area.”
Platner described the deadly blast in Omaha. “A 16-year-old Black Panther was arrested for the murder and implicated the deputy chairman, Edward Poindexter, and the deputy minister of information, David Rice, of the NCCF party, who were arrested and have been ordered to stand trial in district court for murder. Dynamite similar to that stolen from the Quick Supply in Des Moines was found in the home of one of the above. It is believed it is part of the supply from which the bombs were made.”
Representative Scherle then asked questions about Omaha’s anti-poverty agencies and their hiring practices. Platner replied the police had not been requested to run background checks. Scherle revealed he tried to influence the hiring policy of Omaha’s anti-poverty programs. “I have made numerous visits to Omaha concerning the poverty agencies, the Job Corps, and other areas that fell under the jurisdiction of our committee. I sent a letter to the OEO asking them about the hiring practices concerning these people a year in advance. They just didn’t do a thing about it.”
“I think the thing that concerns me so much is the great association of militancy with our poverty agencies. I am sure that if they were much more responsible in the people they hire I am sure there would be less damage, a better image as far as agencies are concerned.”
“I have a letter here concerning David Rice, who had written for underground newspapers, whose history was well known and he also was employed by GOCA, Greater Omaha Community Action. This had been called to their attention numerous times; nothing had been done. I had sent a letter to the OEO once again concerning this person, and finally Reverend Rudolph McNair, who is the head of the GOCA board, fired him for incompetence and being absent on the job and numerous other reasons.”
“I would like to read this letter in the record written to me by a United States attorney, District of Nebraska.”
“I bless you for your activities in turning the cold light of dawn upon those who would destroy our Country’s development. I am particularly distressed that some of these people are beneficiaries from a government that they would destroy.”
“Such a man is David L. Rice, who can be most easily identified by the enclosed clipping out of the Sun newspapers of Omaha, Nebraska, where this bum operates. As you notice, he sneers at the Constitution and its provisions but saw fit to take the Fifth Amendment when called before a Federal Grand Jury inquiring into the installation of a school designed to train young Blacks to bomb, kill and take over the Country, this using the Government he would destroy.”
“The most tragic thing is, this man is an employee of the Greater Omaha Community Action group, financed by O.E.O. money. It causes me to lose sleep to think that I am paying a portion of the salary of this American rat.”
Scherle asked Platner who were “two of the Omaha militants” traveling to Des Moines and Kansas City. Platner answered, “David Rice and Edward Poindexter.”
Platner went on to falsely describe Duane Peak’s testimony at the preliminary hearing and wrongly claimed that Rice supplied the suitcase and dynamite for the bomb instead of Raleigh House. “I can tell you this, that one of the suspects in this, Duane Peak, a 16-year-old boy who was arrested, testified in a preliminary hearing, he testified that David Rice brought a suitcase filled with dynamite to his house or to somebody’s house. I am not for sure just which place; that they removed all the dynamite from the suitcase except three sticks; made the bomb, the triggering device, and so on, and put it together; and then packed the suitcase with newspapers and that he left with this suitcase.”
“Now I am a little bit hesitant to go into the rest of this because there is a trial yet to be held. I don’t know what I should say.”
Scherle renewed his criticism of anti-poverty agency hiring practices, concluding that the Office of Economic Opportunity played a role in the murder of the Omaha policeman. “I guess Des Moines and Omaha are just as guilty as the rest of the country, that because we have not taken the time to screen and properly hire these people…we end up with a group of questionable characters, murderers in this instance, hired by tax dollars.”
“I can’t help but feel in my own mind that the OEO and the anti-poverty agencies played a very important part in the boobytrap murder of Larry Minard….I don’t know what it is going to take to force them to screen their employees more properly….Because it was not done in Omaha we have a widow.”
Platner replied. “Congressman, I for one, I would like to express my appreciation to you for having brought this out and I will say to put the heat on the people responsible and try to get something done about it. I appreciate it.”
Edward Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) were convicted of murder in April 1971 following a controversial trial marred by conflicting police testimony. Mondo died in March 2016 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary serving a life sentence. Poindexter remains imprisoned a half-century after the bombing and continues to proclaim his innocence. Governor Pete Ricketts has refused to expedite Poindexter’s request for a commutation of sentence despite his high-risk status for the Covid virus. A commutation would make Poindexter eligible for parole or release.
Ed Poindexter gets the last word. “I honestly believe that I am going to get justice eventually.”
Excerpted from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available 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.
The late Roger Lin left behind devoted followers, hostile critics, investigating police, and disgruntled supporters. The founder of Taiwan Civil Government died in November 2019 following a long battle with prostate cancer. Roger Lin also left behind what has become a fabled bank account in the United States.
Republic of China in-exile prosecutors obtained a bank freeze order in the United States after charging Lin and others with fraud in May 2018. Lin and his wife Julian, along with former political prisoner Tsai Tsai-yuan, are accused of deceiving supporters about the benefits of their TCG identity cards. Roger Lin died before the marathon trial with its repeated hearings has ended, however Julian and Tsai may face long prison terms.
Roger Lin’s death caused a split in Taiwan Civil Government with Tsai forming his own faction called TCG 3.0, dividing the membership. However, TCG had earlier fractured over allegations of financial mismanagement with Gavin Tsai leading a breakaway group called Taiwan Government. The rump group was overshadowed by the more powerful TCG. Gavin’s group attracted around 500 members, with most disgruntled over Roger Lin’s unquestioned control of TCG and its finances.
Gavin Tsai, after investing his life savings in Taiwan Government, is now trying to move his group to center stage in the battle to rid Taiwan of the exiled Republic of China. Gavin has been seeking advice and legal counsel on ways to crack Roger Lin’s frozen bank account. Although Gavin has stated that donors should be repaid he is hoping that there will be enough unaccounted for money to allow Taiwan Government to assume a central role in Taiwan’s future.
Tsai Tsai-yuan is also interested in Roger Lin’s bank account located in Washington. Tsai’s faction has been in negotiations with Neil Hare, TCG’s former lobbyist. Hare, an attorney, has told TCG 3.0 that he thinks they have a fifty-fifty chance of recovering the money. Tsai, who has cast himself as a reformer, can be expected to seek return of donations to donors. Tsai, a former Green Island political prisoner, scoffs at ROC prosecutors who say he cheated his supporters. One small problem, Hare wants a large retainer upfront with no guarantee of success.
Julian Lin, widow of the controversial TCG founder, believes she and her group, the original TCG, is entitled to reclaim the money. Julian wants to use the money to advance the TCG agenda of ridding Taiwan of the ROC. Julian entertained Washington attorney Charles Camp with a trip to Taiwan to discuss litigation. Camp represented both Roger and Julian Lin in two lawsuits against the United States over Taiwan status.
While the list of possible claimants to the frozen funds grows, ROC prosecutors are no doubt eyeing the money as ill-gotten gains and can be expected to seek confiscation of the account. Prosecution of Julian Lin and Tsai Tsai-yuan goes forward despite the fact they may lack the culpability of Roger Lin, if indeed false claims were made.
Tax collectors, both in the US and ROC, may also be looking at putting a lien on the account for past due taxes. Roger Lin has a history with unpaid taxes, costing a TCG foundation in Delaware its registration status.
The start-and-stop prosecution grinds on with an average of two hearings a month. After the better part of a year, prosecutors have wrapped up questioning of the first batch of witnesses and are now calling in a second group of witnesses, recruited by Cai Chaopeng, a disgruntled TCG title-holder, according to one courtroom insider.
Gavin Tsai, a former Prime Minister of TCG testified against Roger Lin in the fraud trial. Gavin testified Lin led personnel layouts, public financing, and the affairs of public administration in TCG. What Roger said was like an imperial edict to all the members of TCG. Gavin departed long enough ago to avoid being charged by the ROC in the case and thus could not provide the court with recent evidence of fraud.
Gavin testified that as a new bride, Julian attended roundtable meetings but not to take her hand in discussions. Since Tsai Tsai-yuan replaced Gavin as Prime Minister, Gavin had no damaging testimony against Tsai.
Gavin further testified that in early 2013, Roger said to the members that TCG will reform the foreign exchange rate make a change from 30 NT dollars to one US dollar with the exchange rate to become one to one. However, Lin’s claim was like a campaign promise rather than an assertion of fact.
Gavin stated that Roger Lin did tell a lie on April 27, 2017, after Gavin left TCG, that the United States will redeem two million US dollars to TCG members for human rights redemption payments.
As possible claimants emerge, one thing is becoming clear, a beneficiary of a multi-party court battle over the money will be the lawyers. Neil Hare, burned by Roger Lin on a defaulted million dollar lobbying contract, will not likely enter a courtroom without being paid up-front. Charles Camp does not appear to be looking for any Taiwanese pro bono work and can be expected to have a hefty fee request. Gavin Tsai, money gone, is hard pressed to hire Washington legal talent unless he can offer a lawyer a generous chunk of the winnings.
Gavin Tsai, educated in the United States at John Hopkins University, is pro-American and shares one vision with his former TCG colleagues, the expulsion of the Republic of China in-exile from Taiwan.
Fifty years ago, on September 28, 1970, Duane Peak, the teen-age star witness against Black Panther leaders Edward Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) committed perjury. Peak told two contradictory stories under oath to an Omaha judge about the involvement of the two men in the bombing murder of Patrolman Larry Minard. County Attorney Donald Knowles and Arthur O’Leary represented the prosecution, Public Defender A.Q. Wolf and Thomas Kenney represented Poindexter, with David Herzog representing Rice.
Duane Peak was called to testify. Herzog immediately objected to any testimony by Peak because he was a co-defendant, unreliable, and a minor. The judge overruled the objection stating he did not know anything about Peak. “I have no charge against this young man so I don’t know anything about him.”
O’Leary asked Peak about seeing Ed Poindexter a week before the murder. Peak couldn’t remember. “I don’t think I remember seeing him.”
Peak also couldn’t remember seeing Poindexter at the American Legion on the Friday before the bombing. Peak couldn’t remember giving a deposition to O’Leary a month earlier where he purportedly did remember. Nor did Peak remember giving O’Leary a statement during an interrogation a week earlier. Peak also claimed to not remember O’Leary’s trip to the jail in Fremont.
Knowles had enough and stopped the questioning. “I note, Your Honor, from looking around the Courtroom, that this witness’ lawyer is not here. I would like your permission for a continuance to the time that we can get his lawyer here. I think he should be here with him.”
When the preliminary hearing resumed Donald Knowles made a statement, apparently because Peak was still not ready to cooperate with the prosecution. “I understand that the Court’s ruling was that we were allowed to withdraw the witness that was on the stand this morning due to the fact that he had taken us by surprise and we are allowed to proceed now with other witnesses.”
Detective Jack Swanson testified his search of Mondo’s home revealed fourteen sticks of dynamite.
“I was given information by a party who had given reliable information in the past that David Rice had explosives in his house and the necessary elements to make a bomb.”
Swanson said that no one was found at or near Mondo’s house the night of the search, not mentioning the detention of Mondo’s brother Michael and a friend, or the shots fired at an unknown third person.
Swanson testified he found dynamite in the basement. “In the basement against the north wall in what you would call a kind of a cut-out in the basement down there. It was a cut-away and you had to look back in there.”
“The sticks were laid in the box and it was a dynamite box and they were just in there like they would have been shipped.”
Swanson said one suitcase was found at the residence but it was not seized as evidence.
In the afternoon Duane Peak returned to the witness stand, wearing sun glasses. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Peak’s hands trembled and his answers were whispers.
Peak admitted conferring with three people during the morning recess; his lawyer, his brother Donald, and his grandfather, Foster Goodlett. Objections were made against any further testimony by Peak because of the visits. The judge allowed Peak to testify. “The young man is represented by competent counsel and I don’t know what he advised him but he has been represented and he has also conferred with his grandfather, who is a minister and whom I have known for a long time and I don’t know what advice he gave him but your motion is overruled and we will see what the Defendant testifies to.”
In the morning session, the judge said Peak was a young man facing no known charges. Peak was now a “Defendant” in the case. Peak’s testimony also changed during the recess. Now Peak remembered a conversation outside NCCF headquarters with Ed Poindexter about a bomb. “He called me outside and said he wanted to show me how to make a bomb.”
Peak said Poindexter told him to meet that evening at Frank Peak’s house. “He met me there with Rollie House.”
Duane claimed that from Frank’s home he went with House and Poindexter to Rice’s residence where Poindexter got out of the vehicle. “We went up to Rollie House’s house. Rollie brought a suitcase out from the house.”
Peak said House returned him to Rice’s home where Peak claimed that Poindexter opened the suitcase to reveal dynamite. “Poindexter took the dynamite out of the suitcase and put it in a box.”
Peak’s story about construction of the bomb changed from his earlier versions. Peak said he and Rice assisted Poindexter. Peak also said that Poindexter wanted to plant the bomb that night but couldn’t get a ride. According to Peak, at an encounter with Poindexter about 11:00 p.m. on Friday night at the American Legion Club, Peak was instructed to deliver the bomb to Ohio Street.
Peak said he retrieved the suitcase and took it to Olivia Norris’ house where he told his brother Donald to stay away from the suitcase. From there Peak took the suitcase to sister Delia’s apartment with sister Theresa giving him a ride. Peak claimed he examined the suitcase in the bathroom at Delia’s before she gave him a ride to Ohio Street.
Under cross-examination by Thomas Kenney, Peak admitted telling the police a different story when first questioned. Peak said he was threatened with the electric chair during his first interrogation.
David Herzog asked Peak about his arrest. Peak said he was taken to the police station where he met with police officers and one other person. “There was one from the FBI.”
“The FBI arrested me.”
Peak said police twice talked to him about being executed in the electric chair. “They said I was sitting in the electric chair so I had better tell the truth.”
“I didn’t have a chance.”
Peak admitted he had been coached about his confession by Arthur O’Leary in preparation for the hearing. Peak said his attorney was not present for the session with O’Leary. Herzog asked Peak to remove his sunglasses. Ernie Chambers was there and described the scene in an interview. “When he came back in the afternoon, his face was swollen around his eyes, he had glasses on….When Duane took his glasses off his eyes were red, you could see he had been crying, and there was an audible gasp in the courtroom.”
“His answers were scarcely audible. A young man who knew nothing about anything in the morning and suddenly gave the answers that the police, the prosecutors needed to implicate David and Ed.”
Kenney asked for a dismissal of the charges. “Your Honor, the case that the State has presented thus far was the testimony of a 16-year-old boy who admittedly was subjected to extensive psychological coercion on the part of the Omaha Police Department and therefore is unreliable.”
Herzog also sought a dismissal. “The witness has changed sides; has altered his story; has forgotten, claims to have forgotten some facts, and then comes back this afternoon and offers that testimony at the State’s own request and that witness has now impeached himself.”
“The confession itself or the statement here is of an unreliable nature; obviously coerced; obviously given under fear by the statement of the witness himself. He indicates he would give the police officer or police officers anything they wanted.”
Peak’s testimony was allowed and Poindexter and Rice were bound over for trial.
The next day, Duane Peak wrote a letter from the Dodge County Jail to Olivia Norris. In the letter Peak called Norris his “Moms” and explained the preliminary hearing testimony. Peak did not show any remorse for the death of Larry Minard but did feel bad over implicating Poindexter and Rice for possible execution.
“The Lord knows I tried but something happened which forced me to realize that I had no alternative but to say what I said. No matter what anyone says from now on I refuse to call myself a man, or anything close to a man, because I did what I did. Even though there was no other way, because they already had enough evidence to convict those other two bloods. I don’t know, maybe I sound kind of nutty but that’s just the way I feel. Or maybe I’m just trying to get somebody to say what I did was justifiable, but I know it can’t be justified. I not only turned against those two bloods, but I turned against myself and my own people. I could have denied everything and all three of us would have gone up to the chair. And then again if I denied everything one of those other bloods would have gave them a story and sent me and the other dude up. But neither one of those is the reason, I was scared a little but that’s not the reason,? I guess I’ll never know.? Now I have to wait until my actual trial before I find out whether I get the chair or life?”
Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa died in March 2016 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving his life sentence. Edward Poindexter remains imprisoned at the maximum-security prison where he continues to proclaim his innocence. Poindexter has a pending sentence commutation request with the Board of Pardons but the Board has refused to say when it will take up his case.
Excerpted from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available 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.
Black and white, young and old, approximately one hundred marchers paraded down North Twenty-fourth Street in Omaha seeking freedom for Edward Poindexter from the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Poindexter, former chairman of the local Black Panther Party affiliate chapter, has been imprisoned fifty years for the August 17, 1970 murder of Patrolman Larry Minard.
Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) were leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism and targets of a clandestine counterintelligence operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named COINTELPRO. FBI agents worked behind the scenes during the murder investigation and steered detectives toward the men who have come to be called the Omaha Two. The FBI Laboratory was ordered by Director J. Edgar Hoover to withhold a report on the identity of an anonymous 911 caller that lured police into a bomb ambush. The COINTELPRO operation was successful and resulted in the conviction of the Poindexter and Rice after a controversial trial marred by conflicting police testimony and apparently planted evidence.
Omaha was recently the scene of a similar but more somber event, a prayer vigil for families of racial violence. Prayers were offered for both the families of Larry Minard and Ed Poindexter. The Nebraska Board of Pardons has a pending request from Poindexter to have his sentence commuted to make him eligible for parole.
The March For Ed proceeded to Kountze Park where organizer Preston Love and others spoke. Retiring Senator Ernie Chambers participated in the march and spoke briefly calling for Poindexter’s release from prison. Freelance writer Kietryn Zychal, long an advocate for Poindexter’s freedom, also called for immediate release.
Chambers, who was named on a police suspect list in the bombing murder, has always insisted that innocent men were wrongfully convicted in April 1971. Chambers once took a trip to Spokane, Washington with City Councilman Ben Gray to obtain a voice sample of Duane Peak, the confessed teen-age bomber. Peak, who planted the bomb that killed Minard, made a deal with Douglas County Attorney Donald “Pinky” Knowles and escaped prison. In exchange for his freedom, Peak claimed that Poindexter and Rice built the bomb and put him up to delivering it to a vacant house.
Preston Love had a message for Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “Part of the change we need and part of the reform is to let our political prisoners go.”
One marcher, Rikki Payne, has a personal interest, Ed Poindexter is her uncle. “You can’t talk about the overpopulation of the prison and keep this man, who is innocent, in prison. Please write Pete Ricketts and ask him to put my uncle on the Pardons Board agenda for October. He’s in a wheelchair, he can’t hardly see. He is not a threat to this society.”
Poindexter, in poor health, remains imprisoned under maximum-security and continues to maintain his innocence. Mondo, also sentenced to life in prison, died in March 2016.
Members of the public that want to share an opinion with the Nebraska Board of Pardons may write to them at P. O. Box 95007, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509. Those that want to talk to someone may call Governor Pete Ricketts and give him an earful at 402-471-2244.
For more information see FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available 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.