United Kingdom Information Commissioner has accepted complaint against University of London over Tsai Ing-wen thesis secrecy

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Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China in-exile, and Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner for the United Kingdom. Denham will be reviewing privacy claims made by the University of London over Tsai’s controversial 1984 London School of Economics thesis. (credits: Voice of America/Euroforum)

Another hurdle has been cleared in the effort to penetrate the shroud of secrecy imposed by the University of London over Tsai Ing-wen’s controversial 1984 graduate thesis. The London School of Economics thesis was filed by Tsai with the LSE Library in 2019, thirty-five years late. The tardy filing of what appears to be a draft document triggered an academic firestorm in Taiwan with numerous scholars questioning the validity of Tsai’s PhD degree.

Pam Clements, Group Manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom, confirmed the office has accepted my complaint that a privacy exemption from disclosure was improperly applied by the University of London. “Your complaint has been accepted as eligible for further consideration and will be allocated to a case officer as soon as possible.” The case officer will oversee the ICO investigation.

Clements elaborated, “Generally we deal with complaints in the order we receive them, except where we have identified a complaint that can be resolved quickly or there is a compelling reason for a case to be accelerated.”

The London School of Economics has claimed Tsai’s thesis was reviewed at a “viva” on October 16, 1983. The school did not explain why the viva was held on a Sunday and has not named the thesis examiners who passed Tsai. A Freedom of Information request to the parent University of London led to a six-week internal review which concluded the public was not entitled to know the identity of the thesis examiners as the information was considered to be part of a student record.

In defending the privacy exemption, Roselind Frendo, Secretary to the Board, failed to cite any precedent of support for the decision to avoid public disclosure of the thesis examiners’ identities. Frendo wrote, “Even in the case of a PhD thesis, where there is an expectation that the thesis would be publicly available, there is no expectation that further records of the assessment would be disclosed.”

“I believe, in this case, the legitimate interests of a third party do not outweigh the rights of the data subjects in the disclosure of further detail from the student’s record.”

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, has made her career one of public disclosure. Denham can be expected to give the University of London refusal to name the thesis examiners a hard look.

Some of Tsai’s academic critics back home in Taiwan speculate that the real reason the University of London has not named the thesis examiners is because they do not exist. It is hard to see how the identity of thesis examiners is different from teachers, advisers, and administrators in the University degree process, while the need for secrecy about Tsai’s examiners remains unexplained.

Alleged fraudster Tsai Tsai-yuan exposed dictator Chiang Kai-shek to the world as a liar for denying political prisoners existed in the Republic of China

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Tsai Tsai-yuan outside his old cell door at the infamous Green Island Prison for Taiwanese political prisoners of the Republic of China in-exile. (credit: Taiwan Civil Government)

Tsai Tsai-yuan is alleged to be a con man, a fraudster, a man who defrauded members of his own organization, Taiwan Civil Government. Tsai, a longtime foe of the Republic of China in-exile that seeks to imprison him, is accused of cheating TCG members with false claims about its identity card and support from the United States. Arrested in May 2018, Tsai and others have been on trial in a tiny courtroom in Taoyuan twice a month. ROC prosecutors drag out the proceedings with an endless series of hearings and continuances. People that know “Prime Minister” Tsai Tsai-yuan swear that he is not the kind of person that would deceive his supporters.

A former political prisoner, Tsai suffered twelve years imprisonment at the notorious Green Island Prison. Tsai’s crimes were participating in a student discussion group and writing an essay in a political review journal. Tsai did another three years at Jingmei Prison where he was kept shackled and handcuffed in his cell day and night for six months. Tsai’s final crime was smuggling a list of political prisoners out of prison and into the hands of Amnesty International.

Although Tsai is modest in telling of his years of sorrow, he is proud that his jailers never could break him. Tsai’s name and sentence dates are carved in stone at the Green Island Human Rights Memorial. Tsai’s picture is posted with other notable prisoners at the National Human Rights Museum.

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Four former political prisoners of the Republic of China in-exile pose during a prison tour. From left: Lim Su-ki, Tsai Tsai-yuan, ROC Vice President Annette Lu, and Chen Bo-wen. (credit: Ronald Jung-Ching Tsao)

Linda Gail Arrigo, a well-known human rights activist in Taiwan and author of A Borrowed Voice interviewed Tsai in 2004 for a series of reports she did on the White Terror era and the fight against dictator Chiang Kai-shek and his regime. Arrigo dug deep into the Amnesty International incident that embarrassed Chiang giving the world a peek behind locked doors and she interviewed the major participants, including Tsai Tsai-yuan, who paid the price in pain for the leak. Arrigo has generously allowed her interview and report to be quoted.

“Tsai remembered the first time he had been arrested, in 1962….the old guards laughed and said it was lucky for them that it was no longer like in the 1950’s, when they were paid NT$5 to strangle a prisoner in a burlap bag to death, without seeing the face, and without bothering with a trial. They also heard that in the basement, below where the prisoners slept, there had been a machine that crushed a person alive to meat mush, so it could be flushed out through the sewers into the Tamsui River, which was not far away.”

“Tsai said that before this cadets case there were a few people in prison for advocating Taiwan Independence, but the great majority were either “reds” or cases of injustice…the KMT eating its own.”

In early 1971, on a list of over 400 names,Tsai “carefully listed name, date of birth, address, sentence or indictment item, and a commentary on the political nature of the case.” After the list made its way outside the prison and the subject of international news, Tsai paid a heavy price for the disclosure.

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The list of ROC political prisoners that caught Chiang Kai-shek in a lie.  (credit: Linda Gail Arrigo)

“He was called to the warden’s office, and immediately shackled, hand and foot. He was taken to an isolation room, and questioned with three tape recorders going. He readily admitted that he had compiled the list and smuggled it out, but he refused to implicate others. The interrogators couldn’t figure out how he had gathered so much information. They were surprised that he did such a thing when he only had a year and a half to go on his first conviction. At 11 pm he was abruptly taken to the second floor, and savagely beaten by a single guard, in the shower there, apparently as retribution.”

“Tsai finds it hard to explain his feelings at that time, and how he could withstand the torture. He says that since he had been successful in exposing the list, he was willing to suffer anything. He went through several hours of interrogation a day, continually beaten. His kidneys were damaged, and he still needs treatment for the long-term damage to them. Having his fingers squeezed in a vise, knees forced the wrong way, legs beaten….This went on for a month.”

“It was clear that the National Security Bureau had been severely embarrassed by the leak of the political prisoner list, and was determined to break him and deal with all those involved in the leak.”

“Then they sat him in an electric chair, with wires attached to him fingers, toes, and penis. Three people were watching….When Tsai began to feel the current being turned up, he jolted his body in a pretended shock, threw back his head, and virtually ceased breathing. They checked his eyes, but he had also rolled his eyes back so only the whites showed, and they believed he had passed out. The interrogators were somewhat worried, and they took him out of the chair and threw water on him. He feigned slowly coming to.”

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Tsai Tsai-yuan points to his picture on a display of noted political prisoners at the National Human Rights Museum. (credit: Taiwan Civil Government)

One day the prosecutor visited and Tsai was taken from his cell to an interview room. “The prosecutor asked Tsai to sit down, but Tsai, wearing only shorts, turned to show the severe bruises up and down his legs and back, which is why he could not sit down, he could only lie on the floor of his cell.”

The prosecution had been seeking a “punishment of life imprisonment or death, for the leak of the list, considering it a continuation of his previous sedition. But the prosecutor looked at his discolored flesh and only asked him his motivation.”

These days the prosecutors say Tsai’s motives are money not revolutionary spirit. Supposedly Tsai along with Roger and Julian Lin tricked members into parting with money making false claims about the benefits of the TCG identity card and support from the United States, Although the trial has been grinding on for months in an endless series of hearings and continuances, very little has been about what Tsai is alleged to have said or done. Prosecutors have concentrated their attention on Roger and Julian Lin.

Roger Lin, the alleged mastermind of an elaborate political scam, died in November 2019, leaving Tsai and widow Julian as co-defendants. Although they share a common foe, the ROC, the two leaders have parted company in a power struggle for control of Taiwan Civil Government. Rather than battle Lin for leadership, Tsai simply formed his own reform group called Taiwan Civil Government 3.0, splitting the organization. With the donor pool shallower, both Tsai and Lin have to keep resources in mind when planning future activity. With a twist of irony, both seek support from so-called victims they allegedly cheated.

Tsai Tsai-yuan lost fifteen years of his life in ROC prisons and now may be looking at spending his last years in another ROC prison, if he is a fraudster as prosecutors claim. Tsai is undaunted and denies he has done anything wrong or tricked anyone. Tsai says he is not afraid of the ROC and they cannot do anything to him to make him break. Tsai is adamant he is innocent and that his political views and efforts against the ROC are the sole reason he is on trial.

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Tsai Tsai-yuan points to his name chiseled in stone at the Human Rights Memorial on Green Island. Tsai spent twelve years at the infamous Green Island Prison. (credit: Taiwan Civil Government)

The Omaha Two inspired activist artists Ben Jones and Emory Douglas to create iconographic images of Nebraska’s political prisoners

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Ben Jones painted Edward Poindexter and Emory Douglas portrayed Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, two Black Panther leaders sentenced to life in prison. (credits: Ben Jones/Emory Douglas)

Ben Jones, a Chicago artist, has recently completed a portrait of Edward Poindexter, an inmate of the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Emory Douglas, former Black Panther Minister of Culture, created a poster of Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice) in 2016 for Mondo’s memorial service. Mondo, who died in March 2016 serving a life without parole sentence, and Poindexter were leaders of Omaha’s Black Panthers in 1970 when they were arrested for a policeman’s murder.

The two men were targets of a clandestine, and illegal, operation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation code-named COINTELPRO. The men were framed for the August 17, 1970 murder of Patrolman Larry Minard, killed in an ambush bombing. J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous FBI director personally oversaw the manipulation of the murder investigation and ordered the FBI Laboratory to withhold a report on the identity of an anonymous 911 caller who lured Minard to his death. The pair were convicted in April 1971 after a controversial trial marred by conflicting police testimony, perjured testimony, withheld evidence, and planted evidence.

Jones says his upbringing in the Midwest led to his activism for the two prisoners. “When I was eighteen, I was incarcerated for three weeks in Lincoln, Nebraska. I do not recall the charges beyond the crime of being young and black in America, but I vividly remember how it felt.”

“Staring out the window, I knew that two blocks down the road was the Nebraska State Penitentiary….I knew that Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter were incarcerated for a crime they did not commit. I thought about how I had driven by them without any conception of what they were going through….They were persecuted by COINTELPRO for trying to help people.”

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Edward Poindexter and David Rice (Wopashitewe Mondo Eyen we Langa) were Black Panther leaders in Omaha and frequently harassed by police.  (credits: Omaha Police Department)

“Thinking about the victims of COINTELPRO, one begins to wonder whether the Panthers underestimated the degree of sadism with which the state would seek to obliterate the Black Power movement.”

“The sickening idea that the Panthers were punished for trying to help black people never left me. After I got out, I tried to get we Langa and Poindexter out. I organized fundraisers and benefit shows. I painted an eighty by five foot banner that read “FREE MONDO & ED” and was sprawled out at the state capitol.”

Artist Ben Jones took his message of freedom for the Omaha Two to the Nebraska State Capitol steps.  (credit: Mary Kennedy)

“Much of the reach of their story comes by way of we Langa’s writings and art….One of his collages became the frontispiece of his 2008 book The Black Panther is an African Cat: Poems of Exploration and Testimony.”

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“Poems of Exploration and Testimony” book cover (credit: Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa)

Emery Douglas was cartoonist for the Black Panther newspaper and over the years has become recognized as the leading artist of the Black Power movement. Although Douglas and Mondo never met the pair were comrades in struggle and after Mondo died in prison Douglas made a painting for Mondo’s memorial service. Douglas put red stripes over Mondo’s face to symbolize both prison bars and the American flag.

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Mondo working on a painting in his prison cell.  (credit: Melissa Rice)

Ed Poindexter remains confined at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, approaching his fiftieth year of imprisonment. Both Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine refuse requests to reopen the investigation into Minard’s murder despite documented evidence that J. Edgar Hoover tampered with the investigation and trial. Meanwhile, from his tiny cell in Lincoln at the maximum-security prison, Ed Poindexter continues to proclaim his innocence.

For further information on the Omaha Two see FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition 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.

International law firm cites ‘globally renowned journalist’ Michael Richardson

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My articles on Taiwan have reached a hungry market eager for news not found anywhere else. I now have more readers in Taiwan than I do in the United States. The desire for news ignored by the mainstream media has caused readers to seek out my reports in record numbers. Two Taiwan news channels have featured my reports as well as the Liberty Times. Now a Washington law firm specializing in international law has recognized my reports.

The article cited by attorney Charles Camp is about the split in Taiwan Civil Government and some possible new litigation over Taiwan’s status. Camp has twice litigated Taiwan issues before the District of Columbia federal courts and appears to be working on a lawsuit that will involve Japan. Camp has chosen sides in the TCG split favoring Julian Lin’s faction.

Julian Lin, widow of TCG founder Roger Lin, was a plaintiff in Roger & Julian Lin vs. Republic of China & United States, a case that challenged the ROC Nationality Act that deprived island residents of their Japanese nationality. Although the case was dismissed for lack of timeliness the court suggested that a different ruling might have been reached if a missing party was before the court. The decision did not identify the missing party but Japan is the likely candidate.

Taiwan Civil Government is under attack by the exiled Republic of China, an occupation administration since the end of World War II when it was installed by the United States military. TCG seeks the ouster of the ROC from Taiwan with United States assistance. The ROC has not taken kindly to the TCG mission and has arrested group leaders for alleged fraud, destroyed TCG headquarters, and harassed members with interrogations and surveillance.

Roger and Julian Lin were arrested in May 2018 and held five months incommunicado without bail. Also arrested in 2018 was group Prime Minister Tsai Tsai-yuan. Tsai, a former White Terror political prisoner, was released on modest bail. Apparently ROC prosecutors were wary of imprisoning a former Green Island inmate again and granted bail.

Roger Lin died in November 2019 and prosecutors dropped charges against him. However, the ROC persists in seeking convictions for Julian Lin and Tsai Tsai-yuan. Two weeks after Roger Lin’s death, Tsai stepped forward to assume the leadership of TCG. Julian resisted, claiming her co-defendant was a “usurper” and that she had inherited leadership of the group from Roger.

The two factions have been tearing into each other on social media both laying claim to legitimacy. Tsai calls his faction TCG 3.0 to distinguish a change of leadership. Lin is showing her moxie by hiring Camp again, although legal bills may soon overwhelm the faction. TCG lobbyist Neil Hare dropped the group late last year after it defaulted on a million dollar bill from Hare. Both factions will be headless if ROC prosecutors prevail against Lin and Tsai, sending the pair to jail.

Camp may have chosen sides in the internal dispute but this “globally renowned journalist” will remain neutral and objective until evidence compels a different response. Critics have claimed favoritism toward TCG for not accepting media reports about the group as valid. However, the ROC accusations remain unproven as the fraud trial grinds slowly on in a never-ending round of hearings and continuances. As before, the presumption of innocence will be extended by me to both Julian Lin and Tsai Tsai-yuan until they are proven, in a fair trial, to be guilty of misdeeds. A fair trial for the TCG leaders accused of cheating their own members may not be so easy as the ROC forbids jury trials and the judges have not done anything about the numerous “victims” that deny their victim status and claim prosecutors are misusing their names to inflate the charges.

Complaint filed against University of London over Tsai Ing-wen thesis secrecy

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Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner for the United Kingdom, to rule on University of London’s non-disclosure of Tsai Ing-wen thesis examiners. (credit: Information Commission Office)

In the interest of getting the news you can’t find anywhere else, a complaint has been filed against the University of London over the non-disclosure of the identity of Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 London School of Economics thesis examiners. Tsai is President of the Republic of China in-exile and has frequently boasted of her PhD.

The complaint has been filed with the Information Commission office headed by Elizabeth Denham, whose career has been based on public disclosure. The ICO has not indicated when a decision is expected.

The University of London has refused to reveal the identity of Tsai’s thesis examiners citing her right to privacy. After a six-week internal review the University declared the examiner’s identities to be the “personal data” of Tsai and not subject to disclosure. The identities became an issue last summer after Tsai belatedly filed her 1984 thesis with the LSE Library, thirty-five years late.

The ICO complaint outlines the arguments for and against disclosure and is reprinted here in full:

The University of London is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act for its failure to identify the thesis Examiners and the date they certified by their signatures the 1984 London School of Economics thesis of Tsai Ing-wen. The University of London cites an FOIA exemption claiming the identities of Examiners are the “personal data” of the student. The University of London offers no citations of support for its assertion of privacy protection nor does it cite any precedent to void transparency of the diploma process.

The University of London defense of its non-disclosure of information is summed up in one sentence. “Even in the case of a PhD thesis, where there is an expectation that the thesis would be publicly available, there is no expectation that further records of assessment would be disclosed.

The names of Examiners and the dates they certify theses with their signatures are not “further records of assessment.” The role of the Examiners is fundamental to the University mission and is an authenticating necessity for the integrity of a University of London degree. Lack of transparency in the degree award process harms the University of London and the public by undermining confidence in the legitimacy of the degree.

Current LSE policy on the nomination of Examiners precludes any student control over the Examiner selection process. “It is not the responsibility of students to nominate their own examiners and students do not have the right to request and have appointed examiners of their choosing.

Further, Examiner records are kept in the custody of the PhD Academy and not in student files. “Examiners must provide the PhD Academy with the following completed paperwork within two weeks of the viva having taken place: (a) examiner’s report form—confirming the examination outcome.”

If the identity of an Examiner is made in a student record the mere presence of the name does not confer authority to the student to void disclosure of the Examiner’s identity. In the case at hand, heightened public scrutiny of the University of London degree process is necessary:

  1. The 1984 thesis was not filed with the LSE Library until 2019.
  2. The tardy thesis appears to be a draft document only, not a finished, certified thesis.
  3. The student had a non-Doctoral instructor as Adviser.
  4. LSE did not award its own degrees, instead offering the University of London degree.
  5. LSE cannot or will not name the thesis Examiners.

The University of London has not raised any privacy protection claim for the Examiners themselves and therefore no response is necessary on that point. The privacy protection claim for the student is non-meritorious and contrary to the Information Act mandate of public disclosure. The University of London should be compelled to supply the requested information.

Simply stated, a PhD degree from the University of London based on a thesis requires certification by Examiners’ signatures that the degree award is warranted. The Examiners’ identity and date of signatures are necessary and absolutely essential to the integrity of the University of London degree. It is contrary to the Information Act to withhold such information from public disclosure.

Taiwan Civil Government split widens as two factions focus on Japan to resolve Taiwan sovereignty

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Taiwan Civil Government’s Julian Lin with attorney Charles Camp and Tsai Tsai-yuan of rival Taiwan Civil Government 3.0 faction compete for members while courting Japan. (credits: Taiwan Civil Government)

Taiwan Civil Government, a controversial advocacy group that advocates the removal of the exiled Republic of China from Taiwan¸ is bitterly divided following the November death of founder Roger Lin. The group’s woes began in May 2018 when the Criminal Investigation Bureau raided TCG headquarters in Taoyuan and arrested Lin, his wife Julian, and “Prime Minister” Tsai Tsai-yuan charging them with fraud for purportedly cheating TCG members with false claims of United States support and membership card benefits.

The group has been under much pressure with ongoing police harassment and surveillance, hefty expenses, and in July 2019, the destruction of their headquarters by a ROC wrecking crew. Events in Washington, including the impeachment of Donald Trump, have put a damper on TCG enthusiasm for American assistance to oust the ROC from Taiwan. TCG lobbying and advertising in Washington since Trump’s election has been in the millions of dollars as the group pinned its hope for help on the new president.

The ROC prosecution of the three group leaders has been dragging on in a series of protracted court hearings since the arrests. Initially Roger and Julian Lin were held for five months incommunicado and without bail. Tsai Tsai-yuan, a former White Terror prisoner at the infamous Green Island Prison, was quickly released on a modest bail. Either prosecutors believed Tsai had a lesser role in the alleged fraud or they were wary of imprisoning a former ROC political prisoner. Charges were dropped against Roger Lin after his death but the prosecution of Julian Lin and Tsai continues.

While the trial grinds on the two defendants have parted company. Julian, the widow, has attempted to keep control of her late husband’s organization founded in 2008. Meanwhile, Tsai stepped forward to assume leadership. Things came to a head on November 23 after Tsai paid a visit to a TCG warehouse and purportedly removed computer equipment and files. Julian Lin’s faction calls Tsai a “copy cat” and “usurper.” Tsai’s faction, based in Kaohsiung, now calls itself Taiwan Civil Government 3.0 to indicate a reformed organization. Tsai’s supporters call Julian the “Black Widow” and “scammer.”

Besides the name-calling and insults on social media, there have been demands for letters of repentance and a January 31 deadline to reapply for membership. The bitterness of the two sides resembles the raw emotions of a family feud which undoubtedly pleases ROC prosecutors.

With all the troubles, a million dollar bill from Washington lobbyist Neil Hare went unpaid and Hare dropped TCG from his portfolio of clients. However, the May 2018 arrests had all but stopped headway in Washington where Julian Lin had scored a private meeting with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and was set to meet with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Now with Trump preoccupied with saving his presidency TCG is not likely to get much help from the White House.

The ROC has occupied Taiwan since the end of World War II when the United States imposed Chiang Kai-shek’s troops on the island. However, the formal end of the war with Japan left Taiwan’s sovereignty unresolved at the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Japan renounced all claim to Taiwan, then called Formosa, but the treaty did not specify the future status. The United States has used the ambiguity to keep the People’s Republic of China from invading the island to defeat the exiled Chinese government.

Japan is another country, besides the United States, with a possible role in resolution of Taiwan’s sovereignty. While TCG spent millions in Washington to influence the United States the group has not ignored Japan and has for years made regular trips to Japan to honor the Emperor and wave the TCG flag. In October, a 140 member delegation made the pilgrimage. Now, an American visitor, attorney Charles Camp, signals that Julian Lin’s faction is considering litigation involving Japan.

After the United States installed the ROC on Formosa the exiled regime issued the Nationality Act depriving island residents of their Japanese citizenship. TCG challenged the ROC law in the United States District of Columbia federal court with a lawsuit, Roger & Julian Lin vs. Republic of China & United States. Camp was the lawyer who litigated the case and found a friendly court despite losing the case. The United States District of Columbia Court of Appeals issued a decision in 2016. The case was dismissed for several reasons, not the least of which was timeliness.

“The statute of limitations for common-law tort is three years. The Republic of China issued the challenged decrees in 1946. Plaintiffs’ 2015 complaint is more than sixty years too late.”

However, another reason for dismissal suggests that the door to the courtroom may not be all the way closed. The court ruled, “Plaintiffs’ injury can only be addressed by foreign nations not before the court.” While it is not clear which foreign nations the court was referring to, clearly Japan would be one of them. If Camp can figure a way to get past the time deadline issue he may have another day in court by bringing in Japan as a defendant nation.

Tsai Tsai-yuan is also tilting Taiwan Civil Government 3.0 toward Japan. Tsai was unable to travel to Japan with the October delegation because of his ongoing fraud trial but he did see them off at the airport. At the New Year celebration of his faction in Kaohsiung there was a definite Japanese flavor with a number of the women abandoning their trademark black suits for kimonos. Tsai has been busy seeking an official connection with TCG 3.0 and the Japanese government pursuing a diplomatic approach rather than litigation.

Taiwan Civil Government has shown amazing resiliency and stamina in the last two years battling the ROC but has never faced such a divisive internal struggle. While most Taiwanese ignore TCG or believe distorted media accounts of the group, those that follow the organization realize that it is now facing its biggest challenge.

University of London internal review refuses to name Tsai Ing-wen thesis examiners claiming Privacy Act exemption from public disclosure

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Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 London School of Economics thesis and Rosalind Frendo, Secretary of the Board of the University of London, who refuses to name the thesis examiners. (credits: Hwan Lin/University of London)

Following a six-week internal review by the University of London, the identity of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis examiners will remain off-limits to the public. Rosalind Frendo, Director of Compliance and Secretary to the Board upheld the earlier decision of Kit Good, Data Protection and Information Compliance Manager, that the Privacy Act exempted such information from public disclosure. Frendo called the identification of university examiners “personal data” and denied a Freedom of Information request.

The identity of Tsai’s London School of Economics thesis examiners was called into question last year after Tsai belatedly submitted her 1984 thesis, thirty-five years late. However, the thesis submitted last summer to the LSE Library was not a finished, signed thesis. Instead, the tardy thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions appears to be a draft document patching together several separate papers.

Tsai has not named the thesis examiners but has written in a memoir they were so impressed they wanted to give her a double degree. The London School of Economicsdeclined to identify the thesis examiners but stated they conducted a “viva” with Tsai on October 16, 1983. Inexplicably, the viva date was a Sunday, an uncommon day for such a review. When pressed on the matter, Rachael Maguire, Information and Records Manager, directed all further inquiries to the LSE parent body, the University of London. After an initial denial of the identities by the University, Rosalind Frendo undertook an internal review of the matter.

Frendo will not talk about the thesis except to explain why the names of the examiners are exempt from public disclosure. Frendo wrote, “The University does consider that the information—which comprises part of a student record—is personal data.”

“Students will have a high expectation that records of their registration and the attendance at the University, which may reference a number of factors relating to their professional and personal life, would not be subject to public disclosure. Even in the case of a PhD thesis, where there is an expectation that the thesis would be publicly available, there is no expectation that further records of the assessment would be disclosed.”

“I believe, in this case, the legitimate interests of a third party do not outweigh the rights of the data subjects in the disclosure of further detail from the student’s record.”

“I do not believe that the requirements for transparency outweighs the privacy of individuals in the context of this request.”

“I have reviewed the request and conclude that the University was correct to take this position, which is a default position it holds for all its students and alumni. I have then gone on to assess the engagement of the exemption and find that the University has taken a reasonable position in its response.”

The academic controversy surrounding Tsai’s thesis has dropped from the news although it continues to be debated in the social media. Frendo’s decision that the thesis examiners will not be identified is likely to renew charges of critics that Tsai did not actually earn her degree and that the University of London is covering up an embarrassing mistake.

A Grandfather’s Tale: William Brewster and the Mayflower

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Treat this as a grandfather’s story to his grandchildren, as to where they came from, who their ancestors probably were and about the times in which those people lived.                                              -Lloyd William Richardson

Very little is known about the first William Brewster or his wife Mary Smythe, except for the probable dates of birth and death.

The second William Brewster is very well documented since he was the ruling elder of the congregation forming the mainstay of the Plymouth Colony.

The Pilgrims are generally confused with the Puritans who came later, settling north of them around Boston Bay. The Pilgrims were not pale plaster saints, on the contrary, they were red-blooded and self-assertive rebels against the existing order. They were far from being genteel and anemic Victorians, but were children of the Elizabethan Age and shared its robust qualities. They were restless and impatient with old ways, scornful of precedent and tradition, eager for change, bold and reckless.

The Pilgrims liked good food, strong drink and especially beer. They never complained more loudly than when reduced to drinking water.

They liked bright colors in clothing and only dressed in funereal black on the Sabbath. They were simple folk, farmers and working class for the most part, from the cottages and not the castles of England.

In family-conscious England, the thanes who formed the backbone of any army were good at one thing alone: establishing themselves comfortably on the estates granted them by the King. And then moving heaven and earth to see that not only did they hold on to them, however old, fat or unfitted for military service they became, but also that the estates were passed on in due form to their children. Sometimes they sent sons to perform service for them, sometimes they worked their way into royal favor by enforcing the king’s dooms and witnessing any charter that needed a voice to swear one way or the other. However they did it, even if they had to send their daughters to tempt some magnate’s lust, it was rare in England to find a parcel of land without some noble’s son who thought he had a claim to it.

England established a national church of her own in 1529, forbidding the Roman Catholic Church. The King forbade the worship of “idols.” ordering the destruction of shrines and images throughout the land. He also ordered every church to install a Bible written in English. Englishmen could examine Holy Writ for themselves without benefit of clergy. From this came the Pilgrim tenant that no doctrine or ritual was “lawful” unless it was provided for in Scripture.

At first the English Church assumed a Protestant character under Edward VI, but reform abruptly stopped when he died and was succeeded by Mary. She had been raised a Catholic, and reinstituted the Roman Catholic rite throughout the realm. Hundreds of Protestants—men, women, and small children—were executed. “Bloody Mary’s” days were few, for she died shortly, and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s political tactic was to first favor the Catholics, then the Protestants, pitting one against the other in order to keep either from being too strong. She especially didn’t want the reformers to gain enough power to cause a civil uprising. She instituted a “Court of High Commission,” made up of bishops of the Church of England and demanded absolute uniformity of belief. No one could preach without a license and above all no unlicensed printing. Hundreds of people were jailed at the order of the bishops, many upon reports or complaints of jealous neighbors.

The scholars and earnest students at the University of Cambridge dug into the Scriptures to discover just where the “disorder” had first crept in, and the more they dug, the less justification for current belief was found. The need of the hour was to restore the faith to its “ancient puritie.” These views led the Archbishop of Canterbury to label them as “these precise men.” It was very graphic, and reformers were quickly known as Precisians and then as Puritans—so named for their theological doctrine and not for their moral code.

The critics made little progress and the authorities more and more insistent in their demand all hold their tongues and strictly conform. Many of the Puritans resigned themselves to an appearance of conformity and fell silent from fear of jeopardizing their pleasant stations in life.

But not everyone. The Puritan group under Robert Brown decided it was not possible to reform the church from within, so he advocated the establishment of a different church, one made up of individuals who were most worthy. In every parish these people should withdraw from the church and organize themselves under a covenant “to forsake and denie all ungodliness and wicked fellowship.” Every congregation so organized was to remain independent, no bishops, no archbishops, no central organization or authority of any kind. Such a church was to be made up of religious elite, a “priesthood of believers,” a church of “saints.”

With the death of Elizabeth in 1603, the hope of reformers bounded up, for the new King, James I, had been raised in Scotland, where the Calvinist Protestant Kirk was well established. Hopes were quickly dashed. Afraid of civil unrest, he wouldn’t listen to requests for changes. “Away with all your sniveling!” cried the King when reformers approached him. He announced he would “put down such malicious spirits—I will make them conform or will harry them out of the land.” New decrees for conformity were issued and three hundred Anglican clergymen were deprived of office within a year, including the Pilgrims beloved pastor John Robinson.

The small group in and around the hamlet of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire were not to be frightened or intimidated. For “sundrie years, with much patience” they had borne the silencing of “godly & zealous preachers.” Now their patience was exhausted.

William Brewster, then bailiff of Scrooby manor and local postmaster, organized the Scrooby congregation. It was not a Sabbath at Brewster’s, in the imposing manor house. All must have enjoyed the irony that their secret meeting house was the property of the Archbishop of York.

Harassed on all sides, the congregation decided to flee to Holland—about half the company managed to get across. They took what jobs the could in the least skilled and poorest paid handicraft trades for they were simple country folk, skilled only as farmers.

The congregation built a meeting house in the heart of the old city, and here Brewster and his brethren worshiped for more than a year before they thought of moving on again. Disputes with other exiled Englishmen over church doctrine caused the small Scrooby group to move to Leyden, Holland. Within a few years they acquired a permanent place of worship and the “Saincts” were happy at last with more members coming to them from all over England till the congregation reached probably three hundred.

William Brewster first became a tutor, offering instruction in English. Later he established a publishing house for printing “subversive” literature for smuggling into England. The English ambassador prevailed on the Dutch authorities to seize the press and close down the operation. Brewster fled, hiding out in the neighborhood of Scrooby while authorities searched for him all over Holland.


By 1617 the congregation was restless due to their extreme poverty and their fear of being absorbed by the Dutch. They turned to a friend, Thomas Weston, an ironmonger of London and then followed three years of tedious and involved negotiations trying to finance the ship and provisions for their migration to America. The group of merchants assembled by Weston had no charter from the King and they reached a simple business agreement with the Pilgrims. Thus the merchants had no authority to appoint a governor or issue ordinances or decrees and the Pilgrims were free to go their own way from the start.

The preparation for the departure to the New World was conducted with little or no system, with Weston frequently finding fault with the improper manner in which the business was carried on.

Finally things were as ready as they would ever be, and a group of “Saincts” left Leyden. Crossing to England, they suffered vexatious delays and several near disasters before they finally embarked on September 6, 1620 in the Mayflower, carrying 102 passengers—men, women, and children; the ship loaded with all their provisions.

The colonists on the Mayflower, instead of proceeding to the mouth of the Hudson River as originally intended, landed at Cape Cod, and finally settled at a place called by the Indians “Patuxet.”

In the American mind the Mayflower company was a united group, from the simple congregation all the way from Scrooby to Leyden, Holland. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of the 102 passengers, only three were from Scrooby—William Bradford, William Brewster and his wife Mary—and only a little more than a third of the company were “Saincts” from Leyden. The rest were “strangers” who had been recruited from London and all over England by the merchants. What they were seeking in the New World was not spiritual salvation but economic opportunity and a chance to have a piece of land of their own. The smaller Leyden group was in command and determined to impose its religious views upon the majority.

The stage was set for bickering opposition, thievery and all other means of disrupting the settlement in the wilderness—remember, no corner stores, no factories, no mines, no seed supply stores, no tool makers (although they did have a barrel maker and a carpenter) and no hospital, doctor or nurse. All supplies must come from England, by ship, at least until they could harvest a crop the following year. The history of the Plymouth Colony is full of reports of the first few awful years when men staggered in the street from hunger, scarcely able to go to and from the corn fields upon which their very lives depended.

In the first two or three months after arrival in early November 1620, half of the company died due to the severity of the winter, lack of houses, scurvy and ship fever. There were six or seven sound persons, among them William Brewster, who spared no pains night or day, with great toil and risk to their own health, fetched wood, made fires, prepared food for the sick, made their beds, washed infected clothes, dressed and undressed them, did all the homely and necessary services which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure; and all done willingly and cheerfully, without the least grudging.

William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, said of William Brewster, “He was favored above many; he was wise and discreet and well-spoken, having a grave and deliberate utterance, with a very cheerful spirit. He was very sociable and pleasant among his friends, of an humble and modest mind and a peaceable disposition. He was tender hearted and compassionate with those in misery.”

Lloyd Richardson is a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of William Brewster.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover approved frame-up in 1970 police murder case during COINTELPRO secret war on the Black Panther Party

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J. Edgar Hoover and his written approval to withhold a FBI Laboratory report on the identity of a policeman’s killer in Omaha, Nebraska in August 1970 in order to prosecute two Black Panther leaders. (credits: White House/Federal Bureau of Investigation)

In 1919, J. Edgar Hoover, a Bureau of Investigation supervisor, received a tip from the Bureau office in the Panama Canal Zone about Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Hoover, who spent World War I chasing immigrants and radicals, launched what would become a life-long personal war against black leaders that he considered undesirable.

Hoover wrote to his superior. “Garvey is a West-Indian negro and in addition to his activities in endeavoring to establish the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation he has also been particularly active among the radical elements in New York City in agitating the negro movement. Unfortunately however, he has not as yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation. It occurs to me, however, from the attached clipping that there might be some proceeding against him for fraud in connection with his Black Star Line propaganda.”

Hoover hired four black undercover agents and went to work penetrating Marcus Garvey’s organization. As the investigation proceeded, Hoover began lining up witnesses against Garvey. In 1923, on New Years Day, a key witness was attacked and shot. Reverend J. W. H. Eason died in New Orleans following an after-church shooting. The murdered pastor, who had split with Garvey, was to be a leading witness in the Black Star Line mail fraud case. According to a Bureau of Investigation source, Garvey announced the shooting of Eason at Liberty Hall in New York just one hour after it occurred in New Orleans.

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Marcus Garvey mugshot when he was at Atlanta Penitentiary.  (credit: Jusstice Department)

Hoover suspected Garvey of ordering Eason’s murder to silence his rival. Prosecution against Garvey was ruled out in New Orleans by local authorities who feared the expense of such an undertaking. Although Hoover saw Garvey imprisoned and then deported for mail fraud over his back to Africa promotion, Hoover’s inability to see Garvey prosecuted for murder was a source of lifelong frustration. The Garvey case shaped and influenced Hoover’s future counterintelligence directives, he would no longer play by the rules.

Hoover directed his attack on black America using wartime techniques honed in World War II espionage cases and later in counterintelligence operations against the Communist Party in the United States. The clandestine program, code-named COINTELPRO, was nation-wide in scope with Hoover demanding results across the country. One Midwestern city on Hoover’s watch list was Omaha, Nebraska.

In May 1967, Hoover sent a special report on racial problems in Omaha to President Johnson and warned of the prospects for summer rioting. “Informed sources consider the present situation tense and rate the possibility of racial violence “quite high” due to the ill feeling created by the past incidents and the rapidity with which Negro youths respond to the leadership of militant malcontents who are not associated with any civil rights groups.”

That summer, J. Edgar Hoover launched a new counterintelligence program against so-called Black Nationalists in a memorandum to twenty-three FBI field offices. “The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder. The activities of all such groups of intelligence interest to this Bureau must be followed on a continuous basis so we will be in a position to promptly take advantage of all opportunities for counterintelligence and to inspire action in instances where circumstances warrant.”

“No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leadership of the groups and where possible an effort should be made to capitalize upon existing conflicts between competing black nationalist organizations.”

“Many individuals currently active in black nationalist organizations have backgrounds of immorality, subversive activity, and criminal records. Through your investigation of key agitators, you should endeavor to establish their unsavory backgrounds.”

“All Special Agent personnel responsible for the investigation of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and their memberships should be alerted to our counterintelligence interest and each such investigative Agent has a responsibility to call to the attention of the counterintelligence coordinator suggestions and possibilities for implementing the program. You are also cautioned that the nature of this new endeavor is such that under no circumstances should the existence of the program be made known outside the Bureau and appropriate within-office security should be afforded to sensitive operations and techniques considered under the program.”

“You are urged to take an enthusiastic and imaginative approach to this new counterintelligence endeavor and the Bureau will be pleased to entertain any suggestions or techniques you may recommend.”

Hoover’s secret war on black Americans was now official policy and considerable Bureau resources were directed to the clandestine program against unsuspecting citizens.

In March 1968, Hoover ordered Omaha added to the list of FBI field offices engaged in COINTELPRO operations against “Black Nationalists” raising the number of offices conducting racial counterintelligence from twenty-three to forty-one. Hoover reminded agents, “Because of the nature of this program each operation must be designed to protect the Bureau’s interest so that there is no possibility of embarrassment to the Bureau.”

paul young
Paul Young was Special Agent in Charge in Omaha, Nebraska.  (credit: Official photo)

In a memorandum Hoover told Omaha Special Agent in Charge Paul Young that often anarchists do not join organizations, even subversive ones, because their nature is to not affiliate thus the need for vigilance.

“It should be borne in mind that even if a subject’s membership in a subversive organization cannot be proven, his inclusion in the Security Index may often be justified because of activities which establish his anarchistic tendencies….It is entirely possible, therefore, that a subject without any organizational affiliation can qualify for the Security Index by virtue of his public pronouncements and activities which establish his rejection of law and order and reveal him to be a potential threat to the security of the United States.”

In July 1968, Hoover continued to press Young and other supervisors for a crack down on radicals. “There has been a marked increase in recent months of bombings and burnings of public buildings and other acts of terrorism which could logically have been perpetrated by extremist elements of the New Left.”

“I expect an immediate and aggressive response from you.”

“I have reminded you time and again that the militancy of the New Left is escalating daily. Unless you recognize this and move in a more positive manner to identify subversive elements responsible so that appropriate prosecutive action, whether federally or locally initiated, can be taken…..I am going to hold each Special Agent in Charge personally responsible to insure that the Bureau’s responsibilities in this area are completely met and fulfilled.”

Young responded with a proposal for a gossip campaign against the Black Panther Party leaders. Hoover cautioned: “The utilization of your sources and informants to spread gossip in the ghetto area concerning BPP leaders and members must be done on a selective basis so as to preclude tracing the origin of the gossip to the FBI. This is an effective but risky maneuver and you must insure that your informants are not compromised.”

Meanwhile, the San Francisco FBI office informed Hoover on developments involving Eldridge Cleaver and mentioned Cleaver’s trip to Omaha in August 1968 to establish a chapter of the Black Panthers in the Midwestern city and a FBI effort to exploit the trip.

“Also, with Bureau concurrence, an anonymous letter was sent to BPP Headquarters via Omaha, where [Cleaver] was in August, 1968, organizing a new BPP branch, and where he had temporarily been detained and interviewed by police, suggesting that the brothers in Omaha were suspicious of [Cleaver], who had easily gotten out of jail on a local charge.”

“It is believed that the BPP is becoming sensitive to the possibility of informers. This office will try to ascertain those Panthers who have been arrested and who BPP thinks might start to talk. We would then formulate some plan to cast suspicion on the man. We must bear in mind that if the plan is successful, a gang-type murder may be the result.”

Lethal outcomes did not deter Hoover so long as the crimes could not be traced to the FBI or its informants. Hoover saw death as a permanent way to rid America of its domestic enemies and an acceptable counterintelligence operational option.

In February 1969,Hoover was pleased with the San Diego FBI office and sent the Special Agent in Charge a complimentary memorandum. The memo revealed what Hoover expected from field offices. “You are encouraged to continue your aggressive attacks against the leaders of the Black Panther Party.”

In August 1969, Paul Young informed Hoover of a shake up in Omaha and introduced a new COINTELPRO target. “Although the BPP in Omaha is considered defunct by National Headquarters, it appears that this chapter at a future date will be reactivated possibly under the leadership of Edward Poindexter who, according to Kansas City, recently arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, to attend a BPP training school.”

Ed Poindexter mugshot
Edward Poindexter was the leader of the National Committee to Combat Fascism in Omaha and is currently imprisoned at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving a lfe without parole sentence. (credit: Omaha Police Department)

The next month failure to submit counterintelligence proposals caused Omaha and thirteen other FBI offices to be ordered to explain what steps had been taken to exploit membership weaknesses of the Black Panther Party. Hoover made it clear that he wanted results. “The participation of each office is expected and necessary in order that the BPP organization is thoroughly disrupted.”

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

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Fred Hampton was murdered in his bed by a special police squad.  (credit: Chicago Police Department)

Four days later in Los Angeles forty men of the Special Weapons and Tactics squad, with more than a hundred regular police as backup, raided the Black Panther headquarters and other locations at 5:30 in the morning. The Panthers chose to defend themselves, and for four hours they fought off police, refusing to surrender until press and public were on the scene. Six of them were wounded. Thirteen were arrested.

Two days after the raid in Los Angeles, Hoover was unhappy with lack of action in Omaha and pumped up by the assassinations in Chicago and the Los Angeles gun battle, Hoover sent Paul Young a stern memorandum. Hoover demanded “imaginative” action and in the context of the shootings it is apparent what Hoover had in mind.

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

Young replied to Hoover about Ed Poindexter’s formation of the United Front Against Fascism. “In response to referenced Bureau letter [12/10/69], the identities of the leadership of the UFAF are known to the Omaha office. Omaha is presently giving consideration to some type of counter-intelligence activity aimed at disruption of the UFAF newsletter or its distribution and counter-intelligence measures directed against the leaders of this organization.”

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

In January 1970, Young assured Hoover that he was participating in the COINTELPRO program and plotting against Poindexter and the UFAF. “Several counterintelligence measures aimed against this organization are presently under consideration and proposals for counterintelligence activities aimed at disruption of this organization or directed against its leaders will be submitted to the Bureau by separate communication in the very near future.”

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

Word got out about Poindexter’s trouble at the hospital when bail money was collected from the community. The FBI made note of the incident and Paul Young had a new counterintelligence proposal for Hoover.

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

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

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

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David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) was charged with murder and spent the rest of his life in prison A COINTELPRO victim, Rice narrowly escaped Nebraska’s electric chair. (credit: Omaha Police Department)E

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

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

Advise the Bureau and San Francisco of any positive results obtained by means of this letter. You are also authorized to discreetly make anonymous local phone calls to the publishers of “Black Realities,” “Everyone Magazine.” and “The Omaha Star.”

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

At the end of July a surprise came to Poindexter when a notice appeared in The Black Panther newspaper about Omaha. “The National headquarters of the Black Panther Party would like to inform the people that the National Committee to Combat Fascism in Omaha, Nebraska, is no longer functioning as an organizing bureau of the Black Panther Party.”

The notice provided Paul Young with another opportunity to please Hoover. The Omaha World-Herald published an article on the National Committee to Combat Fascism reporting that the Black Panther Party severed ties with the group. The article made reference to the suspension over a critical letter Ed Poindexter supposedly sent to Black Panther headquarters. The Omaha newspaper interviewed Poindexter about the matter who responded: “We had no knowledge of the letter until recently. Our organization had nothing to do with it.”

Young proposed an anonymous letter to David Hilliard at Black Panther headquarters in Oakland which accused Poindexter of cooperating with “Whiteys newspaper.” While that bogus letter was under review in Washington waiting approval an Omaha policeman was killed in a bombing. A decision was made the day of the murder, August 17, 1970, that Patrolman Larry Minard’s death would be blamed on someone other than the killer. J. Edgar Hoover would have a COINTELPRO proposal with a lethal outcome, Nebraska’s electric chair.

Minard cover photo
Patrolman Larry Minard was murdered August17, 1970. J. Edgar Hoover ordered a report on the identity of Minard’s killer to be withheld. (credit: Omaha Police Department)

A call was made to FBI headquarters from the Omaha office hours after the bombing. Assistant Director Charles Brennan was informed by memorandum about the call concerning the death of Minard. “Omaha Office offered assistance in covering out-of-state leads and FBI Laboratory facilities offered. Omaha advised it had notified military and Secret Service, was following closely, and alerted its racial informants in pursuit of investigation.”

Brennan was also assured, “Pertinent parts will be included in teletype summary to the White House, Vice President, Attorney General, military and Secret Service.”

Young wasted no time in privately talking to Deputy Chief Glen Gates, who was in charge of the police while the police chief was out of town. According to a confidential FBI memorandum, Young and Gates discussed a piece of crucial evidence, the recorded voice of the anonymous caller captured by the 911 system. The search for truth was over.

Young wrote to J. Edgar Hoover. “Enclosed for the Laboratory is one copy of a tape recording obtained from the Omaha Police Department.”

“The enclosed tape was recorded from an existing tape recording used by the Omaha Police Department in their normal emergency telephone calls.”

“Deputy Chief [Gates] inquired into the possibility of voice analysis of the individual making the call by the FBI Laboratory. He was advised the matter would be considered and that if such analysis were made and if subsequent voice patterns were transmitted for comparison, such analysis would have to be strictly informal, as the FBI could not provide any testimony in the matter; also, only an oral report of the results of such examination would be made to the Police Department. [Gates] stated he understood these terms and stated the Police Department would be extremely appreciative of any assistance in this matter by the FBI and would not embarrass the FBI at a later date, but would use such information for lead purposes only.”

“It should be noted that the police community is extremely upset over this apparent racially motivated, vicious and unnecessary murder….Any assistance rendered along the lines mentioned above would greatly enhance the prestige of the FBI among law enforcement representatives in this area, and I thus strongly recommend that the request be favorably considered.”

At FBI headquarters, William Bradley, a supervisor, sent Ivan Willard Conrad at the FBI Laboratory a memorandum advancing Young’s proposal to withhold a written report on the 911caller’s identity.

Omaha Office has advised that the Omaha Police Department has requested laboratory assistance in connection with a bombing which took place in Omaha 8/17/70. This bombing resulted in the death of one police officer and the injuring of six other officers and is apparently directly connected with a series of racial bombings which the Omaha Police have experienced. The Police were lured to the bomb site by a telephonic distress call from an unknown male.”

The SAC, Omaha strongly recommends that the examination requested by the Omaha Police Department be conducted.”

If approved, the results of any examinations will be orally furnished the Police on an informal basis through the SAC, Omaha.”

A handwritten, initialed notation by Conrad stated, “Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do.”

Ivan Conrad
FBI Laboratory Director Ivan Willard Conrad agreed to withhold a report on the identity of Larry Minard’s killer. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Hoover was still on vacation when Conrad called him by phone for instructions. Hoover conducted limited FBI business while on vacation and was only called on important matters, however Conrad understood the significance of letting a policeman’s killer get away with murder necessitated making the call.

Mondo’s view was that Young’s memorandum to Hoover on the day of the bombing and Bradley’s memo to Conrad two days later were evidence of the conspiracy against him and Ed Poindexter. “This is pretty clear indication of cloak and dagger stuff. We want you to do the analysis but we don’t want you to put the results in writing. Communicate to us this way. So I suspect that somewhere between that memo and the prior one, the decision was made that the tape would not be part of the trial. A vital issue, a critical issue.”

Mondo FBI file -- Bradley memo 8-19-70 p. 2
Secret memorandum initialed by FBI Laboratory Director Ivan Willard Conrad authorizing the withholding of a report on the identity of a policeman’s killer. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Hoover’s inner circle of Bureau top executives were on the distribution list and all knew of the misdeed to be done in Omaha and none dissented. Three days later, Bradley sent a second memorandum to Conrad at the FBI Laboratory about the Minard murder.

In referenced memorandum [8/19/70], the Director approved a request to assist the Omaha Police Department in captioned case through the use of voice comparison examinations by the Laboratory.”

By telephonic communication 8/21/70, the SAC, Omaha has requested that a Laboratory Supervisor travel to Omaha for the purpose of furnishing technical guidance to the Omaha Police concerning the correct techniques in obtaining known voice samples for comparison purposes and make recommendations as to what commercially available equipment can be used in making known voice recordings.”

The SAC, Omaha, noted that he had been instructed by the Bureau to suggest steps of possible assistance to the Omaha Police in solving the bombings. He advised technical guidance of the type requested would provide maximum immediate assistance, particularly since the existing recording of the false “bait” complaint to the police is the most important present tangible evidence in the possession of the police, and he recommended the Bureau send a Laboratory representative.”

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Recording of 911 call that led to policeman’s murder. The jury never heard the tape before convicting two Black Panther leaders for the crime. (credit: Scott Blake)

The FBI top directorate was aware and approved of the plan to conceal the identity of the 911 caller by withholding a formal laboratory report and instead sending a lab technician to Omaha to direct local police. J. Edgar Hoover put his own pen to paper and wrote “OK” on the memo followed with his distinctive “H” initial. The anonymous 911 caller that lured a policeman to his death would not be sought.

Edward Poindexter and David Rice (Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) were convicted of murder at a controversial trial without the jury ever hearing the 911 recording. Mondo died March 2016 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving a life without parole sentence. Poindexter remains imprisoned, forty-nine years later, at the prison. Poindexter continues to maintain his innocence.

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Excerpted from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition 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.

Washington lobbyist dropped Taiwan Civil Government after group missed payments

Neil Hare at Heritage
Neil Hare was Taiwan Civil Government’s paid mouthpiece in Washington until the money stopped. (credit: Taiwan Civil Government)

Justice Department disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act reveal that on October 29, 2019, lobbyist Neil Hare, CEO of Global Vision Communications, terminated his relationship with Taiwan Civil Government. The shutdown was just months after TCG “President” Roger Lin signed a $1.2 million contract for lobbying services to run until December 2020.

Lin’s signature, June 1, 2019, was supposed to be accompanied by a $200,000 payment with another $200,000 due in September. There are no posted FARA records that show the payments were made. Instead, TCG forwarded $125,634.09 to Global Vision Communications for “creative services” and travel expenses.

Hare, who served as TCG lobbyist for three years, opened doors in the Trump administration including a private session with presidential counselor Kellyanne Conwayand a reception with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, canceled at the last moment when word of Roger Lin’s arrest in Taiwan in May 2018 reached Washington.

Lin and others were charged by the Republic of China in-exile with cheating group members with false claims about the TCG identity card and support from the United States. The arrests effectively halted TCG advances in Washington. TCG seeks the expulsion of the ROC from Taiwan and advocates for a United States military government during the transition. Taiwan’s longstanding unresolved international status, since the end of World War II, led to the formation of TCG in 2008.

Roger Lin died a week after Hare terminated the contract and made no public announcement of the cancellation. ROC prosecutors dismissed pending fraud charges against Lin although they are proceeding against his widow Julian Lin and “Prime Minister” Tsai Tsai Yuan. Julian and Tsai are now locked in a power struggle for leadership of the TCG which has split the group into two camps. Lin loyalists maintain they are the official TCG while Tsai followers have adopted “TCG 3.0” to signify a change in leadership. The FARA report identifies James Lin as the official TCG representative for Hare and his lobby team.

At the time Roger Lin approved the new contract with GVC a cool million dollars was owed the lobby firm. Hare has apparently been unable to collect his money which led to the contract termination. Hare refuses to discuss his work with TCG and no one in either faction seems interested in paying his bill. Internal rumors suggest that at least some of the money to pay Hare was raised but no one has offered an accounting for the funds.

Although devotees continue to honor Roger Lin, as evidenced by a recent memorial ceremony, the organization is struggling in the absence of the charismatic leader. Meanwhile a fraud trial continues to grind along forcing both Julian Lin and Tsai Tsai Yuan into a courtroom twice a month while ROC prosecutors try to prove money was mishandled and false claims were made.