The Summer of 1994 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]’s Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, in which over 1,000 student volunteers from around the U.S. participated, after attending training sessions in Oxford, Ohio. But in 2007, a former chairman of SNCC, H. Rap Brown (n/k/a Jamil al-Amin) is still imprisoned for life in a Georgia prison.
In 1994, Downtown spoke with former SNCC organizer and Freedom Singers Director, Matt Jones, about the Freedom Summer, the Freedom Singers, SNCC and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Jones lives in Manhattan and for many years has generously donated his time to sing at many human rights and peace benefits. At The People’s Voice Café (http://www.peoplesvoicecafe.org/) in Manhattan, a celebration of his 70th birthday took place in 2006. Following is part 3 of an interview with Jones that first appeared in the September 21, 1994 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper, Downtown.
What was daily life like in Mississippi? You mentioned how, when you were in Ohio, right before the Freedom Summer was to start, you had certain concerns. Now, when you got down there—in terms of what you recall—what was life like? I mean, people talk about a “Freedom High” that people experienced there. And some people say they were never the same. What happened down there? Jones: They were never the same because their lives were in danger. It was so odd. Because it was really, really like being a race car driver and you were in a car and you didn’t know where the curves were. You had no idea what was going to happen to you from one day to the next. The fellows had already been killed. People like Lawrence Guyot had been caught in Ku Klux Klan rallies in Mississippi. And Medgar Evers had already been killed. And a couple of people had died in other sections of the South.
So you were talking about people being in an area where they were totally frightened. But I think that after the three fellows got killed, people were more apt to listen to some of the SNCC veterans. If they were going to drive in a car, they would listen to a fellow named George Green, who was our best driver. He was sort of like Roy Rogers on a horse. I mean, he knew how to get away from the Klan.
So after people got killed, we put radios and walkie-talkies in all our cars, so people could get in touch with each other. And people were taught that, if they were in a car, they would never let the Klan pass them. And if they were in jail, they would never let the jailer put them out of jail at night. They would always wait till the following morning and be sure that some people were coming to pick them up. And they would never let any jailer tell them “O.K., it’s 11:30 at night. You can go home now.” That was the last time that was done. People were very careful from then on out. And that’s why we didn’t have any of the rest of the kids get killed. Because they knew that the Mississippi racists were sincere about killing people and it changed even the way I dealt with law enforcement.
I remember when I was leaving Meridian—going to Jackson [Mississippi]—and I had to go through one of the counties. And our car broke down. And this fellow named “Flukie” Suarez from CORE went into Jackson with the tire, and I was left in the car till he came back. And we had SNCC and CORE literature in the car.
And when I saw the sheriff come down to check on me, with this big shotgun, I immediately hid all of the CORE and SNCC literature under the seat. And when he came in and asked me why I was there, I told him I was just there waiting on a friend of mine to come and bring a tire. And I didn’t say I was in SNCC or anything. I mean I knew to be cool. I knew that I couldn’t decide to discuss the Movement with that sheriff. And it was very clear in my mind that my job was to try to get that car back into Jackson and wait for the man to come to pick me up.
So it put a little fear in us. But we continued to work. We didn’t let that stop us from working. In 1963, we had a mock election and Aaron Henry had run for governor. Since the people in Mississippi couldn’t vote, we had our own election. The mock election in 1963 set the stage for the Mississippi Summer.
So we were, I think, “high” because for the first time in our lives we were moving to free people and, by trying to free people, we were freeing ourselves. We would always stay in the homes of some of the local people, and we would learn from the people. And the people grew. And we grew. I mean you had whites who had never been around blacks, and blacks who had never been around whites. So both groups grew.
Some of the blacks had never known whites. If a white person would come up and say “Will you come to register to vote?”, they would say “yes, sir” because the person was white and they had never said “no, sir” to a white person. So some of the students would come back and say “I got so-and-so to register to vote and the people never came.” They didn’t realize the reason they didn’t come is that the people, just said “yes” to them because they were white.
There were a lot of things that the people had to learn. And everyday somebody was getting beaten or something was happening. Emmett Till had already died. So we had a lot of death already in Mississippi and across the South.
Not only in Mississippi was there a lot of activity. There was activity across the South at the same time. People don’t know that, because people are so tied into Mississippi because the white civil rights workers got killed there. Therefore, there’s a lot of writing going on about Mississippi. But that’s because people still move in racist lines and they don’t realize. They don’t realize that they are really not interested in other sections of the South, even though they’re interested in Mississippi because three civil rights workers got killed, two of them white, and a lot of whites worked there. But a lot of whites worked in other sections of the South. But we don’t have a history of those sections.
But some of the white students from the South had more extensive training because they had gone to schools in the South and they also had worked. And they understood the people. So they could move better. People like Bob Zellner and Sam Shirah. And these people could move a lot better than the Northern whites. They knew the area. They knew the blacks and the whites. So they could just move. They couldn’t work in the white community, but they could work in the Black community. They understood the people and the conditions they were working with.
And you find that those of us who worked in Mississippi will never be the same. It changed our lives. Working with SNCC changed my life. It’s changed everybody’s life. Everybody I’ve met that ever worked there, it changed their life. Some people try to forget it, but they can’t ever really forget it. You know it always stays upon them because they were living on the edge of death. It’s like when you’re almost in a car accident and you can see your whole life before you. They could see their whole life before them. They didn’t know whether they were going to die or not, but they knew what they were doing meant something.
And that’s why I, at this age, at 57-years-old [in summer 1994] still move in a freedom kind of way, because of what happened to me during those formative years in my life when I was in SNCC, in the Freedom Singers and also a Field Secretary for SNCC in Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia. So I can remember those different areas.
What have you been involved with since Freedom Summer and in recent years [prior to 1994]? Jones: Well, after Freedom Summer I was going to go back on the road with the Freedom Singers. But I got caught in a Ku Klux Klan rally July 4, 1964, which caused me to be laid-up for a month or two, until I got better. [Segregationist Alabama Democratic Governor] George Wallace had a political rally. And we went there because we didn’t want the whites in the rally to think that they could meet like that and we not be there.
But when we got there, we found out it was a meeting of all the heads of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils in the South. And so when we got in there, we found out that we were in a lynch mob. When a policeman turned his back on me, I was saved by a Japanese photographer that took a picture of the policeman with his back turned. And that action itself caused the policeman to jump across me and save my life.
But that experience made me realize how sick racism was in the South. I had a direct personal confrontation within a lynch mob situation. Somehow I lived to talk about it.
So after then, we continued to work in the Freedom Singers, and go around the country and sing, and raise money for SNCC. After I left SNCC, I came to New York City and got involved—during the Poor People’s Campaign—in the “Hey Brother! Coffeehouse” movement with F.D. Kirkpatrick. And we began to sing freedom songs and get involved here in the late 1960s and the very early 1970s. And I continued to do that. I also helped to free the Birmingham Six in England. And also did some work with an African nation called Sierra Leone. Then finally, I set up the Open House Coffeehouse in the Fall of 1986. And I’ve been going with that since then.
Where does that coffeehouse meet? And how can readers check it out? Jones: That Open House Coffeehouse meets at 93rd and Broadway at Advent Lutheran Church on Monday nights. From 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Now we try to encourage people to write songs with a message. Some people have been able to write freedom songs. Other people don’t. But we make it open, so that people will do whatever they want to do. But, hopefully, they will write songs with a message.
Now you had a record, Matt Jones: Then And Now? Is it still possible to get that record? In which you sing some of your freedom songs? Jones: Yes. My record is called Matt Jones: Then And Now. People may contact me and I’ll be able to get it to them. Also, some of my music can be found in Peter Seeger and Rob Reiser’s book Everybody Says Freedom, and in the prize-winning documentaries: Eyes On The Prize, BBC’s Murder In Mississippi and a prize-winning student video: Road To Mississippi. And in the recent film: Freedom On My Mind. Also two of my songs can be found on a new [in 1994] CD, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, along with some of the greatest singers of the 1960s such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, the Freedom Singers.
But the main thing that people need to know about the Freedom Summer is that it was a time when young people all over the United States got together and there was a way for them to express themselves in a Movement. And a lot of them took advantage of it. (end of interview) (Downtown 9/21/94)
Next Posting Will Appear On August 6, 2007: U.S. Admiral Leahy: `Wrong To Use A-Bomb’
The Summer of 1994 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]’s Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, in which over 1,000 student volunteers from around the U.S. participated, after attending training sessions in Oxford, Ohio. But in 2007 a former chairman of SNCC, H. Rap Brown (n/k/a Jamil al-Amin) is currently imprisoned for life in a Georgia prison.
In 1994, Downtown spoke with former SNCC organizer and Freedom Singers Director, Matt Jones, about the Freedom Summer, the Freedom Singers, SNCC and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Jones lives in Manhattan and for many years has generously donated his time to sing at many human rights and peace benefits. At The People’s Voice Café (http://www.peoplesvoicecafe.org/) in Manhattan, a celebration of his 70th birthday took place in 2006. Following is part 2 of an interview with Jones that first appeared in the September 21, 1994 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper, Downtown.
How was SNCC different from the other civil rights organizations? Why were the Freedom Singers involved with SNCC, as opposed to the other civil rights organizations? Jones: SNCC was a student organization. When we decided to do something, we did it! Each state had at least one field secretary and several local SNCC workers. These local SNCC workers organized the community. Each area was autonomous and allowed to develop independently.
And we were very, very similar in the way we operated and, in a lot of ways, we were different. Some of us were a lot more demonstration-oriented. A “mass meeting” would be a way for you to connect yourself to the ministers and the people in the community.
We in the Freedom Singers always considered ourselves to be organizers first and singers second. All of SNCC was very action-oriented. We did a lot of demonstrating. We continuously went to jail. We confronted the Establishment in each town that we went to. That was the nature of SNCC.
Now, once we got into these areas, CORE would then come in. CORE had a lot of youthful civil rights workers, also. But not as many as SNCC had. SNCC did not operate only in Mississippi. We worked throughout the South. We in the Freedom Singers were responsible for raising money for Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi, and certain parts of Virginia. So we had a large area that we had to raise funds for and a large area that we had to talk to people about. We had to let people know that we had projects in all these different areas.
And we were just different from other groups. We just operated on the spur of the moment, very action-oriented. We’d move in an uncompromising kind of way. We didn’t have any national office, like the NAACP had, that would get upset because [Mississippi NAACP leader] Aaron Henry would make a move or [slain civil rights leader] Medgar Evers would make a move. We didn’t have to get a go-ahead from anybody.
So people in their different areas would make their own moves. If they got in trouble, the people from other areas of SNCC would come in and help them. So in Mississippi, [SNCC leader] Stokely Carmichael [a/k/a Kwame Ture] might have come over from Lowndes County [Alabama]. You might even have people who would come in from other areas. They’d come into Mississippi, and they might leave Mississippi and go into Virginia. Or go into Tennessee. Or go into Georgia. So that’s why SNCC could move in a moment’s notice. And it could immediately transfer its workers from one state project to another, just by a lady named Ruby Doris Robinson making a call, and people would just saturate themselves from one area to another.
The Freedom Singers was started by Jim Forman [SNCC executive secretary] with the help of Pete Seeger and song leader and field secretary Cordele Reagon. We already had good song leaders in the South. So we took the best singers to go around and sing freedom songs and talk about the Movement. We felt that music was the best way to reach people. So those of us in the Freedom Singers became ambassadors and fund-raisers, as opposed to field workers. Occasionally, we would go back into the field to work. But then we would return to the North and talk and sing about what was happening in the South and raise funds to send back.
I was one of those people who would send back pretty close to $5,000 [in 1960s money]. And that was just the first amount of money we would make. After we would leave a town, people would send more money and more SNCC volunteers would be organized.
There were a lot of groups in music in the 1950s and 1960s. In terms of the music and the songs that the Freedom Singers sang, how would you characterize it? Jones: Well, I would have to say you need to realize that the Freedom Singers were organizers first, and musicians second. It’s true that we could sing very well. But we, by and large, were organizers.
One or two of the Freedom Singers might have been primarily singers. But, by and large, you were talking about a bunch of organizers who talked about the Movement in terms of song. And documented the Movement in songs and sang the songs to people across the nation. And tried to explain what SNCC was about and tried to get them interested enough to give funds and get involved. And give some kind of resource: either their personal selves or money or supplies or whatever. And that made us sing with a kind of intensity.
I was listening to one of our old records and it sort of frightened me when I heard it. I said to myself “Is this really singing?” I heard an intensity and a purpose in my voice that I’ve tried to duplicate unsuccessfully. Because we all had a purpose and when we sang you could hear that purpose in our voices. It’s almost like I was listening to somebody else, and not listening to myself.
We were very dedicated people, and the words that we sang, and the songs that we sang—we believed in. We believed in the words of the songs. Because each song approached the Movement in a certain way.
For example, I wrote a song “Oginga Odinga,” which brought the African Struggle into the Civil Rights Movement, and was also a favorite song of Malcolm X. Other songs, such as “In The Mississippi River,” written by my brother, Marshall Jones, had more meaning after Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner (www.jecf.org/History.htm) were killed.
These songs would make us feel better and through these songs we could explain to people what happened. They could understand exactly what state-of-mind we were in.
So the Freedom Singers was a group that explained to the world-at-large what was going on in the South. People were always very receptive to us and our message. We could communicate thoughts and ideas that would be very difficult for somebody to speak about. Or to preach about. Through our music we inspired people to help and/or join the Movement.
Who were some of the other members of the Freedom Singers? Jones: In the early days of December 1962, there was Bernice Reagon, Cordele Reagon, Charles “Chico” Neblett, Bertha Gober and Ruthie Harris. And in the Fall of 1963 I came on along with my brother Marshall Jones, James Peacock and Emory Harris. And Emory Harris was Ruthie’s brother. And we had a Venezuelan that came on later named Raphael Bentham. And very later in our career, we had a Jewish guitarist named Bill Pearlman. So we had sort of a cocktail of individuals who finally made up the Freedom Singers. And as we got new people in the Freedom Singers, it really changed our sound, and it made us incorporate more music as we traveled.
So the Freedom Singers had within it probably some of the most militant people in SNCC and also some of the most nonviolent people in SNCC. Because they were organizers, that gave the group a certain intensity. We weren’t just singers.
In December of 1964, we went into New York and sang with Malcolm X. And Malcolm X liked us very much. He was sitting down reading his notes and, when we started singing the song “Oginga Odinga,” he looked up. And he spoke to us and told us how important it was that we were singing about a Kenyan diplomat named Oginga Odinga, who was a freedom fighter. And he said that “Two or three years ago, you probably wouldn’t have been singing that song.”
But the reason we were singing the song is because I knew that the South was segregated and I loved the fact that we heard an African man had come to Atlanta on a State Department tour. We knew he was an important man and an international man. We wanted to let him know that Atlanta was not an integrated town. So I wrote this song. Malcolm X thought it was very significant.
At that time I wasn’t as political as I would later become. I gradually grew more political and wrote or arranged all of the Freedom Signers’ music. These songs were about different people who were in the Movement. For example, “Demonstrating G.I.,” is about a soldier who was thrown in jail for demonstrating in his uniform. In “The Prophecy Of A SNCC Field Secretary,” I talk about the lies that a grandfather would tell his grandson in the 1990s about work that he did in the Movement in the 1960s.
Some of the other important songs that we sang were: “We’ll Never Turn Back,” by Bertha Gober, which talks about the death of Herbert Lee, who was killed in Mississippi before Freedom Summer; and “Hartman Turnbow,” by Mike Killen. Turnbow was part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and a native Mississippian. After the death of Medgar Evers and the three girls killed in Birmingham, I wrote the “Ballad of Medgar Evers.” Thank god that Byron De la Beckwith was finally convicted after all these years. So the songs performed by the Freedom Singers always were about people and conditions that were in the SNCC projects in one form or another.
Did the Freedom Singers perform at the Newport Folk Festival? Jones: Yeah. In the early days when Bernice and Chuck were in the Freedom Singers, when they first started in December 1962, Toschi Seeger booked them. It was in the Summer of 1963 they went to Newport. And later on in my life, we sang there a time or two with [U.S. folksinger] Rev. Kirkpatrick [a/k/a Brother Kirk]. But we had sung there and sung at a number of other folk festivals in the country. (end of part 2)
Next: SNCC Freedom Singer Matt Jones: A 1994 Downtown Interview—Part 3
The Summer of 1994 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]’s Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, in which over 1,000 student volunteers from around the U.S. participated, after attending training sessions in Oxford, Ohio. But in 2007 a former chairman of SNCC, H. Rap Brown (n/k/a Jamil al-Amin), is still imprisoned for life in a Georgia prison.
In 1994, Downtown spoke with former SNCC organizer and Freedom Singers Director, Matt Jones, about the Freedom Summer, the Freedom Singers, SNCC and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Jones lives in Manhattan and for many years has generously donated his time to sing at many human rights and peace benefits. At The People’s Voice Café (http://www.peoplesvoicecafe.org/) in Manhattan, a celebration of his 70th birthday took place in 2006. Following is part 1 of an interview with Jones, which first appeared in the September 21, 1994 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper, Downtown.
Now it’s 30 years [in 1994] after the Mississippi Summer Project. What activities were you involved in that led to the Freedom Summer? What are your most enduring and vivid memories of that Summer? Matt Jones: In January 1964, I went on tour with the SNCC Freedom Singers. Our job was to organize Friends of SNCC chapters in the northern part of the United States and to talk about the Movement to interested students, who would in turn give their bodies, their minds and their finances to the struggle. They knew, by the accounts of life and death that we would give them in our concerts, that to work for SNCC was as dangerous as any war.
In early 1964, we did a concert at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The KKK burned a cross on the lawn. Dick Gregory, who was touring with us, made fun of the incident. We wrote a song called “The Klansman:” (recites)
“Out of the night When the full moon is bright Rides a devil known as a Klansman. Devil, who makes the sign of a K. Devil, you’re bound to see your day.”
From the incident many students from Oxford got involved in SNCC. Their networking with the SNCC office in Atlanta set the stage for using Oxford as the meeting place for the Summer Orientation. Similar networking was done in other states, but none was as complex as The Mississippi Summer Project.
Seeing many students that we had organized with speeches and songs was an affirmation that we had done a good job. But that reality scared me. I suddenly felt an enormous responsibility. The people we had sung to and who we had organized were the students who were going South.
We heard that three students were missing in Meridian [Mississippi]. I became very nervous. I sat under the tree where we had taught many students nonviolent techniques, and hoped that they would decide to go home, because I did not want the responsibility of their deaths. I knew [SNCC Field Secretary] Bob Moses was talking to the students in the hall, and felt confident of Bob’s ability to explain things. Bob was a genius at making points with a few words. He had an eloquent silence. Bob was the leader of the Council of Federated Organizations [COFO] in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.
I knew I had a lot of responsibility for the students being there. I’m one of the cheerleaders, one of the people who talked them into coming down. Or talked them into thinking that was the place to be. But I had no way of knowing, when I was talking to them, that they would come down and somebody would actually get killed. A student would actually get killed. And we would have to deal with that.
So when we heard that three [civil rights] workers were missing, I looked at these students wishing they would go home.
Why was a decision made to utilize the student volunteers? Jones: I had been arrested 29 times in the Movement.
Twenty-nine? Jones: Across the South.
What kinds of arrests? Jones: Well, you would go to register people to vote and they would throw you in jail. You would go to integrate a lunch counter and they would throw you in jail. You would go to integrate a movie theater and get thrown in jail. And it just wound up, in the final analysis, being 29 times.
We had found out, as early as the March on Washington [in 1963], that with white student involvement the country would pay more attention to the struggle. We knew from past experience that this country would not react to Black people being killed. So in bringing the student volunteers to the South, their parents, their home towns, their colleges and their congressmen would be interested in their welfare.
We were right. However, we were as shocked as the rest of the nation when Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were killed. In 1963, we had previously used white students in other places throughout the South. However, the majority of these students were from the South.
So we took a calculated risk. We thought that something would happen. That people would get involved. And they did get involved. We didn’t want it to happen the way it happened…
Now when I was sitting under that tree, I knew that they were going. But I also knew I was going with them. So right after some of them left, I wound up going to Meridian. And being there with [Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC)] leader] Jim Bevel and a CORE [Congress of Racial Equality] worker named “Flukie” Suarez.
But I knew that some of the veteran workers had to go into Meridian at that time. And I was one of them that went into Meridian. I was frightened, but I also knew a little bit more about how to survive in that area than Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman had known. (end of part 1)
Next: SNCC Freedom Singer Matt Jones: A 1994 Downtown Interview—Part 2
In the 1960s, most U.S. anti-war activists worked for the defeat of the 1964 Republican Party presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yet in 1964 (according to a 1996 book written by a former senior aide to 1984 Democratic Party presidential nominee Walter Mondale named Roger Morris, titled Partners In Power), Hillary Clinton “to the delight of her parents, joined the campaign as an official Goldwater Girl, wearing her straw boater and sash to rallies, briskly canvassing the already solid Republican neighborhood” in which she lived in Park Ridge, Illinois. Four years later, she also worked for the 1968 presidential campaign of New York Republican Goverrnor Nelson Rockefeller, which most U.S. anti-war activists opposed.
In the 1960s, most U.S. anti-war activists also felt that the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] should be abolished and that the CIA should not be allowed to recruit student informants on U.S. or foreign campuses. Yet the husband of 2008 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, apparently may have worked during the 1960s as a CIA informant. According to Roger Morris’ Partners In Power book:
“`Bill Clinton’s ties to the intelligence community go back all the way to Oxford and come forward from there,' says a former government official who claims to have seen files long since destroyed…
“…The Central Intelligence Agency’s infamous Operation Chaos of the 1960s had been directed at uncovering some discrediting foreign hand in antiwar activities at home and abroad, to the point of recruiting American student informants…
“According to at least two former agency station chiefs and two more deputies who received the instructions and directed such covert operations, the inducements for the young informers ranged from cash payments to help with local draft boards and even promised deferments to more general and sweeping proffers of future help and influence with careers. `I could get them some money and accommodations if they needed it and see that selective service stayed off their backs,’ said one former CIA officer. `And most case officers were telling these young men…the agency’s in a position to help at some point in their careers, there’d be an institutional memory. The Rhodes and Fulbrights and others…knew the advantages of helping out.’…
“…There was a standing agreement between the CIA and their London counterparts not to conduct covert operations on one another’s home territory…According to several accounts of CIA officers on the scene in 1967-70, Operation Chaos evaded the secret intelligence agreement through an elaborate ruse in which the station at the US embassy in London arranged to contact certain American students at Oxford, Cambridge, and elsewhere and to be `turned down,’ with word of the attempted recruitment then leaking to the British…`In fact,’ remembered a ranking CIA case officer, `we went back and got the boys for real…’
“It would all befog still more the later allegations of CIA collusion by and around Bill Clinton at Oxford. One former agency official would claim later that the future president was a full-fledged `asset,’ that he was regularly `debriefed,’ and thus that he informed on his American friends in the peace movement in Britain. Similarly, he was said to have informed on draft resisters in Sweden during his brief trip there with Father McSorley…
“One more CIA retiree would recall going through archives of Operation Chaos at the Langley headquarters—part of an agency purge amid the looming congressional investigations of the mid-1970s—and seeing Bill Clinton listed, along with others, as a former informant who had gone on to run for or be elected to a political office of some import, in Clinton’s case attorney general of Arkansas. `He was there in the records,’ the former agent said, `with special designation.’ Still another CIA source contended that part of Clinton’s arrangement as an informer had been further insurance against the draft.”…
Book II of the U.S. Senate’s Final Repot of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities, titled Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans and released in 1976, contained the following reference to the CIA’s Operation Chaos program:
“Under White House pressure, the CIA developed its own program—Operation CHAOS—as an adjunct to the CIA’s foreign counterintelligence activities…The first CHAOS instructions to CIA station chiefs in August 1967 described the need for `keeping tabs on radical students and U.S. Negro expatriates as well as travelers passing through certain select areas abroad.’…”
In a footnote to his book, the author of Partners In Power, Roger Morris, noted that “interviews on the issue of Clinton and the CIA were arranged in part through organizations of retired intelligence officers and other national security officials and included former ranking members of the CIA stations in London, Stockholm, Paris and Moscow, as well as some who served at agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, during the late 1960s and who were familiar with the Operation Chaos files.”
Next: SNCC Freedom Singer Matt Jones: A 1994 Downtown Interview—Part 1
As president, the husband of former Wellesley College Trustee and 2008 Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton approved the granting of lucrative weapons manufacturing contracts to companies like United Technologies and Boeing. In addition, according to The Buying Of The President by Charles Lewis, “Saudi Arabia chose Boeing and McDonnell Douglas…to share a $6 billion jetliner order after President [Bill] Clinton…called King Fahd on Aug. 17, 1993” and “Boeing gave $307,000 between 1991 and 1994” to the Dems in campaign contributions.
Coincidentally, the Boston firm that managed both the blind trust funds of former Wellesley College Trustee Clinton and the Wellesley College Endowment funds, Essex Investment Management, has apparently invested these funds in companies which profit from selling the weapons of mass murder to the Pentagon. In 1995, for instance, the Wellesley College Endowment portfolio contained 18,700 shares of Boeing Company stock (worth $1.2 million) and 16,400 shares of United Technologies stock (worth $1.3 million).
Hillary chose the same firm that manages the Wellesley College Endowment to invest her own family’s surplus private wealth in July 1993; following a May 1993 consultation with Essex head Joseph McNay at the White House in which he talked with the 2008 Democratic Party presidential candidate “about his investment philosophy,” according to the Boston Globe (8/31/93)
Next: Was Hillary Clinton’s Husband a CIA Student Informant In The 1960s?
In 2003, the Montclair, New Jersey-based Schumann Center for Media & Democracy gave a $115,000 grant to The Nation magazine’s Nation Institute to help fund the for-profit magazine’s What Liberal Media? book project, according to the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy foundation’s Form 990-PF for 2003. In 2004, the Schumann Center also gave a $25,000 grant to Democracy Now Inc. “to fund Special 2004 election coverage for Democracy Now” and an additional $250,000 grant to the Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting [F.A.I.R.]/CounterSpin alternative media group, according to the foundation’s Form 990-PF for 2004. Among the other alternative media groups that were given grants by the Schumann Center in 2004 were the following:
American Prospect magazine was given another $255,000 grant;
Mother Jones magazine/Foundation for National Progress was given another $100,000 grant;
The Hightower Lowdown was given a $98,775 grant;
The Tom Paine Project was given a $500,000 grant;
The Free Press was given a $600,000 grant;
The Washington Monthly magazine was given a $320,000 grant;
In These Times magazine/Institute for Public Affairs was given a $15,000 grant;
The Independent Media Institute/AlterNet was given a $150,000 grant; and
The Proteus Fund was given at least $1 million in grant money.
In 2005, the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy continued to fund alternative media groups, according to its Form 990-PF for 2005:
The Hightower Lowdown was given a $250,000 grant “to fund program expansion of The Hightower Lowdown in print and on the internet;”
In These Times magazine’s Institute for Public Affairs was given another grant of $155,000;
Mother Jones magazine/Foundation for National Progress was given two grants, totaling $170,000. One of the grants was a $100,000 grant “to fund the Media Consortium’s multi-organization educational collaboration on reshaping the terrain of independent media;”
The Center for Media & Democracy’s SourceWatch.org was given a $150,000 grant;
The Independent Media Institute was given another grant of $135,000;
The American Prospect magazine was given another grant of $500,000;
Global Exchange was given another grant of $140,000;
Washington Monthly magazine/WM Corporate was given a $375,000 grant “toward expansion of Washington Monthly magazine;” and
Media Matters for America was given a $500,000 grant “for general efforts to monitor and analyze the U.S. media.”
Besides funding these alternative media organizations, the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy also owned 1,700 shares of Halliburton stock (worth $117,724) on Dec. 31, 2005, according to its Form 990-PF for 2005. The Halliburton Watch group (http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/) described on its web site how Halliburton has profited enormously during this current “era of permanent war” in U.S. history:
“Under Cheney’s tenure as CEO, Halliburton’s revenues from federal government contracts nearly doubled…The company became the 18th-largest defense contractor, in terms of revenue, whereas before Cheney’s arrival the company was the 73rd-largest contractor.
“Halliburton saw its revenues increase 30 percent to $16 billion in 2003, largely because of its military contracts in the Middle East. Halliburton was the number one U.S. Army contractor in 2003 with the total value of its Army contracts valued at $3,731,725,648. Dan Briody, in his book The Halliburton Agenda, described Halliburton’s relationship with Cheney as `the embodiment of the Iron Triangle, the network of the government, military, and big business that President Eisenhower warned America about in his farewell speech.”
Besides owning Halliburton stock, the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy also owned 5,900 shares of stock in the Clear Channel Communications media conglomerate (worth $185,555), 3,572 shares of Chevron Texaco stock (worth $202,782) and 2,200 shares of Coca-Cola stock (worth $88,682) in 2005.
The president of the Schumann Center foundation, former Johnson White House Chief of Staff Bill Moyers, was paid a salary of $200,000 by the “non-profit” foundation in 2005, according to its Form 990-PF. The de-classified FBI file of late 1950s and 1960s entertainer Bobby Darin (“a/k/a Walden Robert Cassato”) (File #NY25-78569) contains a copy of a November 30, 1964 letter from the FBI sent “BY LIAISON” to “Honorable Bill Moyers, Special Assistant to the President,” which states:
“Dear Mr. Moyers,
“In response to the request of Mrs. Mildred Stegall of your office on November 24, 1964, the central files of the FBI were checked concerning the following entertainers: Julie Andrews; Woody Allen; Harry Belafonte, Johnny Carson; Bobby Darin; Cary Grant; Bob Hope; Peggy Lee; Sophia Loren; Barbara Streisand.”
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Dean Emerita, former Columbia JournalismReview magazine publisher and former Public Affairs Television President Joan Konner (a business partner of Moyers) was also paid $25,000 in 2005 for sitting on the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy foundation board. In addition, Konner also sits on the board of directors of The Providence Journal mainstream newspaper. Coincidentally, the Schumann foundation apparently gave over a million dollars worth of grants to help subsidize Columbia Journalism Review magazine when Konner was the magazine’s publisher. In recent years a co-owner and former editor of The Nation magazine, Columbia University Professor of Magazine Journalism Victor Navasky, has also been the chairman of the ColumbiaJournalism Review. Not surprisingly, very few articles written from a radical left perspective which are critical of Columbia University, Bill Moyers’s historical role in the Johnson administration or the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy’s investment policies have appeared in The Nation magazine since Navasky began working for Columbia University.
Next: Was Clintons’ Blind Trust Invested In War Stock?
Ted Gold’s Wisdom was written deep inside of Brooklyn in the early 1980s. To mark the 20th anniversary of Ted Gold’s death, I also wrote the following column, which was published in the March 6, 1990 issue of the Columbia Daily Spectator:
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 18 W. 11th St. townhouse explosion in which former Columbia Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] vice-chairman and 1968 Columbia strike leader Ted Gold was killed, along with two other Weatherpeople. The Greenwich Village townhouse explosion was triggered by a mechanical error made by one of the Weather activists while producing bombs. Ted was not yet 23 years old at the time of his death.
In conversation, Ted exhibited a wealth of knowledge about politics and could also be quite witty. He liked to write and sing parodies of rock songs, substituting leftist lyrics for the more apolitical lyrics. At Columbia, Ted seemed to be one of the best minds on campus and one of the most together people.
Twenty years later, I think students at Columbia and Barnard should consider the issues raised by the example of Ted Gold’s life. Unlike many of his former SDS comrades, Ted never became a yuppie. He was a radical political activist before completing his studies at Columbia and he was a revolutionary activist after leaving Columbia. Like the late Abbie Hoffman used to say: “You can either go for money and become a yuppie—or you can go for broke and fight for your freedom.” Ted Gold never became interested in either money or a bourgeois academic or professional career. He went “for broke” and fought for his freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people on the earth.
In recent years, some former Columbia SDS activists have joined yuppie mass media pundits, feminist yuppies and neo-Marxist yuppie professors in declaring that Weatherpeople like Ted Gold went “crazy,” became “super-macho” and “terrorist” and “destroyed” the white New Left student movement of the 1960s, in general, and the largest New Left student organization, SDS, in particular. And if you accept the conventional wisdom of our 1990s “Yuppie Left” and the “Yuppie Mass Media” of the United States, then you’d have to agree that Ted should be remembered as, at best, a Columbia student radical who, after the 1968 student revolt, became too left-sectarian and too left-adventurist in his politics.
Although no revolution developed in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, as Ted had predicted would occur during the eight months prior to his death, I think a logical case can be made that his Weatherpolitics resulted from the conclusions he drew from his own personal experiences and his desire to respond to the history of his times.
Recent events in Central and Eastern Europe indicate the collective power that students still possess when they collectively decide to fight for democratization and demands for greater freedom. Yet at Columbia in 1990, students still don’t appear to genuinely control the campus or possess access to the U.S. mass media. And Columbia SDS founder David Gilbert remains locked up in Attica [in 2007, he’s in Clinton Prison in Dannemora, NY] at the same time nearly 200 other U.S. political activists from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s also remain imprisoned. Because Ted Gold was a revolutionary, not a yuppie reformist, I don’t think he would have been satisfied with the current U.S. political situation, 20 years after his tragic death. (Columbia Daily Spectator 3/6/90)
Next: Schumann Center for Media & Democracy Funds Alternative Media, But Invests in Halliburton
Before she began working as the Grit TV producer-host and Blue Grit author Laura Flanders used to co-produce and host a non-commercial daily alternative morning news show called Undercurrents with Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight of KPFA’s Flashpoints (www.flashpoints.net) daily alternative evening news show. Following is the seventh part of a 1991 interview with Flanders that appeared in the June 26, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.
In the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s, your father was a fairly prominent entertainer and broadcaster within what we might call the “Establishment entertainment industry’ in Britain. Yet you seem to be, on a political level, hostile to the British Establishment. What turned you against the British Establishment? Is it more difficult to come to a radical politic from that background? Flanders: Well, I think that the theatre world that I grew up in was a very irreverent world that helped to frame my politics of questioning. You know, not thinking as gospel what was labeled for me. My father was from a working-class background who made his career through his work. And a lot of his work was a struggle—being as he used a wheelchair and was not actually embraced by the Establishment, by virtue of his disability. That he fought a lot of struggles to get to where he was. And I think that I grew up with that sense of there being injustice in the world.
His strategy was to poke fun at it through satire and through comedy and through a kind of bitter-sweet humor that, in many cases, left a kind of ominous bell ringing in the mind about certain political trends and cultural trends in Britain at the time, and internationally.
My politics, I think, was influenced largely by my own experience, which was of fighting for my rights as a woman. I’d also had a vision of other people’s poverty, and been acquainted with it, through my father’s work and my mother’s work with different disability rights organizations, and other kinds of charities in Britain. But I think then I went on very much to change that…For example, by going to the Greenham Common and the Women’s Peace Encampment, which was a protest by British and women internationally outside the U.S. Air Force Base near London that was to be the home of 96 Cruise missiles.
That was an experience of really living outside the law, living a life of protest, living in resistance 24 hours a day, and being surrounded by people who were articulating their politics around that in a very intensive kind of educational forum. And I think a lot of my politics came from that, from going to Northern Ireland and living with people in the north of Ireland who taught me an enormous amount about maintaining a vision of an alternative society, even as the absolute worst that can be handed out by the administrators of your state is being handed out to you and the people around you. And other experiences beyond my family one…
I must have grown up in an atmosphere very open to other possibilities, and if I’ve gone further than my parents, as far as my political resistance goes, it’s probably a function also of having that much more in a way of a heritage behind me that let me go that bit further. And being a lesbian. I think being gay definitely puts me outside of the mainstream. And you have nothing you can do about it, but claim your difference.
At the BBC in the 1950s, your father analyzed the news. In the 1990s, the BBC probably wouldn’t hire you. Is that because the BBC has changed? Is it because of your politics? Is it because you’re a lesbian? Flanders: I don’t know what kind of analysis he did of the news. It always astonishes me that I’m following to such an extent what it was that he did. I wasn’t even aware that he had done analysis of the news.
But you couldn’t imagine yourself doing the same thing? Is that because the BBC has changed or because your politics are too radical or because you identify as a lesbian? Flanders: I project that it’s because my politics are too radical. I don’t know. I never tried to get a job with the BBC. I know that the BBC believes in sort of “objective” journalism and I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in there existing such a thing as journalism that does not represent the perspective of the people who are editing. And I think the BBC is a classic example of a state agency that gives some space to alternative viewpoints, but is overridingly a pillar of the Establishment.
So I think it would be politics that would exclude me from that.
What’s your feeling about the treatment Vanessa Redgrave receives from the British media, the British Establishment media? And your explanation for it? Flanders: It’s red-baiting. It’s very simple. The British media are just as good at anti-communism as the U.S. media. I think it’s really as simple as that.
You mentioned your father was physically disabled. Yet he was able to pursue a theatrical and media world career. At least in the States, we don’t see many people with disabilities on the screen. Has there been a limiting of access as compared to the 1950s? Flanders: I think he was an extraordinary case. He was, when he was in college, hailed as the “next Laurence Olivier.” He was an extraordinary acting talent. And it was his talent that forced the Establishment’s entertainment industry to make a space for him.
He was pulled up the freight entrance in the back of the theatres, many theatres that he went to, because there was no access for people using a wheelchair. He was, you know, dragged in and out of the back of airplanes. Because there was no access for people with disabilities.
The situation has changed to some extent with respect to legislation enforcing access. But I think as far as our society having any perspective of physical variety, of personal and individual difference, physically, politically, racially, sexually—it comes back to the same old thing of a fear of “the other.”
I think that program that has the autistic child is a breakthrough. Because it shows, the U.S. program, a child with a disability performing a useful function, living a rewarding life and confronting his own disabilities and the prejudices of those around him in a way that the general mass culture has yet to do. People with disabilities in the U.S. are the largest single minority in the country. Thinking of that, they’re made invisible in the media.
If Undercurrents ran out of money, what would you do? Flanders: What if Undercurrents ran out of money, what would I do?
Scream and yell for a long time, because I believe that it’s unforgivable for the constituency that supports independent reporting not to support an institution that’s been around for four-and-a-half years doing the kind of work that Undercurrents has been doing, as an institution.
I would like to continue reporting. I really enjoy the reporting part of the work. I would perhaps take some time off and write. I had an idea that I would like to write a book about being away from Britain for 10 years and going back there and looking at the communities that I’ve been in touch with over this 10-year period, and seeing how they’ve changed. But beyond that, I think I would like to find myself some other position where I could advocate for the value of independent media.
I would like to find some forum where I could bring to the public airwaves, whether it’s the television or radio or even in print, the reservoir of people that we bring to Undercurrents. Because I think that in hearing from people in Guatemala, in Honduras, in South Africa, in Egypt, in Palestine, in Israel, in Turkey, in Southeast Asia, people in this country can feel connected to situations that are presented to them as entirely foreign.
And if I could find a forum like that in the commercial media, I would take it. Because I do believe that the responsibility is to take power and use it effectively, not to shy away from it.
You’re not worried you’d be corrupted by going into the commercial media? Flanders: Of course, I’m worried. I hope that my friends and colleagues and comrades would keep me honest. My grandfather always said that “it was one’s responsibility to get one shade more radical every year, just to combat the trend to the right that happens as you get older.”
So I hope I can follow in his footsteps.
When you’re not working on your Undercurrents program, how do you spend your time? Flanders: I go to a lot of movies. I swim. I do reporting. I do a lot of reporting. Travel. I’m a Sagittarian, and what can I say? I do like to travel and I like to hear other people’s stories. Journalism is its own excuse to hear other people’s stories. I spend a lot of time in the East Village. And I enjoy performance art. Anything that gets me a sort of different spin on the arts and living theatre. I also like to go dancing.
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the 1990s? Flanders: I’m pretty pessimistic about the 1990s. Maybe we will wrench ourselves out of this downward spiral in time for the next century. And maybe we will emerge from the 1990s in a better position, with a clear idea of who the enemy is, how oppression works and how bigotry and prejudice play a part of that and how people can reclaim their independence, their individual power and individual vision, in a way that helps the collective.
Do you think there’s going to be another war? Flanders: Yes. I think that this is a decade of wars. And some of them aren’t even defined as such. I think it’s going to be a decade of war within the United States. And it already is. Look at Tompkins Square.
(end of interview)
Besides giving a keynote address in March 2007 before a group that promotes on U.S. campuses opposition to Palestinian national self-determination rights, the Israel On Campus Coalition, Columbia University Law School Dean David Schizer has also been historically connected to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. A former classmate of the Columbia Law School Dean’s mother, Hazel Schizer, Justice (and former Columbia Law School professor) Bader-Ginsburg hired David Schizer to be her clerk during the 1994-95 court term. And when Columbia Law School needed a tax professor, Bader-Ginsburg recommended that the law school’s appointments committee hire Schizer.
Since July 2004, Schizer has been the Dean of Columbia Law School; and a daughter of Justice Bader-Ginsburg also apparently holds a position on Columbia Law School’s faculty. So don’t expect the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an injunction that blocks Columbia University’s plan to expand deeper into West Harlem, north of W.125th Street, despite the opposition of local community activists--if the legal case against Columbia’s latest land grabbing plan is allowed to reach the Supreme Court.
(In 1993, coincidentally, I wrote the following item about Justice Bader-Ginsburg’s historical links to Billionaire Ross Perot, which first appeared in the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.)
Anti-pot prohibitionist Ross Perot lost the 1992 presidential election. But the billionaire “populist” may soon have a special friend sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court bench for life. As the New York Times (6/16/93) noted on its back pages, the husband of former Columbia University Law School Professor Ruth Ginsburg—Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate lawyer Martin Ginsburg—is “an expert on tax law who has been Ross Perot’s tax lawyer for years” and “was an economic adviser in Perot’s presidential campaign.”
In addition to representing the special interests of former Nixon Foundation Trustee Perot in recent years—at the same time his wife was sitting on a U.S. Circuit Judge or U.S. Court of Appeals bench—the husband of Clinton’s Supreme Court nominee also represented the special foreign interests of Switzerland’s Credit Suisse bank, as a registered foreign agent No. 3199, during the 1980s. The parent company of Credit Suisse—CS Holding—owned, in the early 1990s, 64 percent of the First Boston Corp. (whose executive committee chairman was a member of the New York Times Company corporate board named George Shinn).
Other clients whose special interests have been represented by the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate law firm with whom Justice Ginsburg’s husband has been associated between 1980 and 1993 are the following: The Embassy of Israel; The Government of Israel; The Israeli Ministry of Defense; Israel Military Industries; Mobil Oil Corp.; Occidental Petroleum; Michigan Tire; A.G. Metallgesellschaft; Grumman Corp.; Schenley Distributors; Virgin Island Rum Industries; Bendix Corp. and the Bank of America.
For many years, the senior partner in Martin Ginsburg’s corporate law firm was neoconservative “Reagan Democrat” Max Kampelman of the Anti-Defamation League [ADL]—which was criticized during the early 1990s for hiring private undercover agents to spy on U.S. citizens who criticize the Israeli government’s foreign policy.
Following her nomination by Clinton for a lifetime seat next to Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court, former Columbia Law School Professor Ginsburg confessed that “I have been aided by my life partner, Martin D. Ginsburg, who has been since our teen-age years, my best friend and biggest booster.” But Judge Ginsburg failed to disclose how much money her husband has received for representing the special interests of Ross Perot or acting as a foreign lobbyist for Credit Suisse, at the same time she was a U.S. Circuit or U.S. Court of Appeals judge.
Next: Grit TV Host and Blue Grit Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview—Part 7
Before she began working as the Grit TV producer-host and Blue Grit author Laura Flanders used to co-produce and host a non-commercial daily alternative morning news show called Undercurrents with Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight of KPFA’s Flashpoints (www.flashpoints.net) daily alternative evening news show. Following is the sixth part of a 1991 interview with Flanders that appeared in the June 26, 1991 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newsweekly Downtown.
Speaking of the War. Why do you think that anti-war feminist women couldn’t stop the high-technology bombing blitz of Iraq [in 1991]? Flanders: The whole Anti-War Movement couldn’t stop it. The progressive Movement in this country, of which the feminist anti-war movement is a part, couldn’t stop the War. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Reasons to do with the Movement’s divisions, the Movement’s lack of creative strategies. That I think we have to look at the overall structure of the society at the moment. Which is overwhelmingly dominated by the corporate media, an internationalist, multi-corporate, multi-national, capitalist economy, in which the average person feels incredibly disempowered and probably is enormously disempowered—as far as their potential to stop the bombing of Iraq [in 1991].
The bombing of Iraq took place with pilots, a few hundred pilots, a few thousand pilots. It didn’t require mass mobilization. They didn’t even use the ground troops until the last minute [in 1991]. The Movement and the feminist movement have to be directed to long-term political change in this country. So those decisions are unacceptable. Once those decisions, those political decisions, have been made and those interests are being pursued, there is little that an Anti-War Movement can do except to build itself and to build coalitions that empower people to protest. And that, in itself, builds, I think, the longer-term social change.
But if there had been more outcry, maybe there would have been more resistance, maybe there would have been more threats to more elected officials so that they would have been less likely to vote through the approval of the President’s proposals.
But, in effect, this was a War that was never brought before Congress. It was never brought before any of the democratic institutions of the country. So input from the populace was excluded right from the very beginning and throughout.
But I do think the Anti-War Movement could have used the experience of the feminist anti-war movement, much more effectively, in terms of the way that it held demonstrations and the way that it harangued people from stages—rather than thinking there are other ways to demonstrate and more creative forms of civil disobedience and direct action in which the Women’s Peace Movement excelled in the 1970s and in the 1980s. The Women’s Peace Movement was creative, energetic, imaginative, powerful and combative. And that experience wasn’t really used in the mobilization against the Iraq War [in 1991].
There’s one criticism, for instance, like there were about 600,000 women protesting the Supreme Court decision against abortion rights and yet NOW and some other organizations did not appear willing to do that kind of mobilization in support of Iraqi women? And, at the same time you had images of women serving in Operation Desert Storm in the U.S. military alongside statements by certain women Congress people that this was `a victory for women’s equality’? Flanders: Well, I think with respect to the women’s movement’s attitude toward Arab women, that it’s classic racism was exhibited almost constantly. And that inhibited the Movement from taking any kind of useful stand around the War.
But as far as the presence of women in the military, and whether or not that was an achievement that should be praised? I think it’s a side issue. I think it’s a subsidiary issue. And as far as I’m concerned, I do think there should be equality between men and women in the armed services. And I think that if we could have the equality, then we could get back to the issue of not `who should fight wars’? but `should anybody fight wars’?
As long as there’s this question of `well, this is okay for men to do’ or, you know, `men can do it, but it’s a really horrid thing for women to do it,’ then we’re somehow admitting that what’s right for men is not right for women…There’s still this pretense that men wage war on behalf of the `weaker sex.’ And we don’t want them waging war on behalf of anybody. We don’t want anybody waging war.
But should women feel no reluctance about joining the military…or going to West Point? Flanders: They should feel as much reluctance as anybody else about joining up in an institution that is designed by its very definition to kill and impose its will on other peoples. Nor more, no less…Maybe more…They should feel more discomfort about doing such a thing because women, I believe, are that bit more insightful as to the crimes of the status quo because they’re not part of the status quo by and large. But I don’t think women should be made to feel more guilty for joining the military than men should.
(end of part 6)
Next: Columbia University Law School’s Ruth Ginsburg-Ross Perot Historic Connection
Hillary: Her True Story by Norman King described how 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Rose Law Firm connection became an issue during a 1992 Democratic presidential primary debate:
“…On March 15, 1992…in a Washington Post article…Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss wrote `…The Rose Firm offers the full range of representation before the government, from getting environmental approval from the State Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, to lobbying to protect the poultry industry from strict regulations on animal waste’…
"[Jerry] Brown zeroed in on Tyson Foods, a poultry-products corporation and Rose client. “… Brown said, `It’s not only corruption. It’s an environmental disaster, and it’s the kind of conflict of interest that is incompatible with the kind of public servant we expect in a President.’ “Moving out from behind the lectern as if about to attack his opponent physically, Bill Clinton shouted: `…You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You’re not worthy of being on the same platform with my wife.’ “Brown was amused…`You never answer the question.’ “But Clinton did: `I’m saying that I never funneled any money to my wife’s law firm, ever!’ “Hillary…did not dispute any facts in the Washington Post story…Hillary…said that she had done legal work for Madison Guaranty…She remarked, `For goodness’ sake, you can’t be a lawyer if you don’t represent banks.’
Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story by Judith Warner also noted:
“Rose, Arkansas’s second largest law firm, representing the major financial powers of the state, ranked 5th on the list of firms receiving state contracts a few years ago…
“The Rose Law Firm had served as either bond counsel or underwriter’s counsel on every bond issue by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority…Clinton acknowledged his wife had benefited financially, but denied a conflict-of-interest problem…
“Hillary’s positions on the boards of Wal-Mart, TCBY, and Lafarge, from which she earned close to $200,000 in director’s fees over 1986 to 1991, hardly made her a foe of industry…It was reported in April  that an Ohio subsidiary of the Lafarge Corp. from which Hillary was earning $31,000 a year in director fees, was burning hazardous waste in fuel cement plants…”
Next: Grit TV Host and Blue Grit Author Laura Flanders: A 1991 Downtown Interview—Part 6
(chorus) The Hollywood Ten Were labeled “Reds” And Washington Jailed all of them.
(verses) Once the movies they were written well And real feelings touched your heart and mind Then an Inquisition began And the ones with talent all got expelled. (chorus)
Their crime was their social awareness And not being just careerist Friends of labor and all oppressed The courts were used to make their lives a mess. (chorus)
Ain’t it plain when you walk into the theatre That the films they show just mask all the lies The plots don’t ring very true The hacks who write them seem so very blind. (chorus)
The U.S. courts and HUAC committees The right-wing answer to good minds To make a war they must control the culture And wreck a lot of literary lives. (chorus)
The Hollywood Ten was written during the late 1970s after reading books by Alvah Bessie, John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo and Herbert Biberman, a biography of Dalton Trumbo and watching the 1950s film Salt of the Earth a few times.
To listen to The Hollywood Ten , you can click on the following links:
Asked by Downtown in 1991 whether she thought the same kind of false arrest and civil liberties violations could happen in the 1990s to any individual political activist, Eve Rosahn answered: “It could absolutely happen again and last much longer.” According to Rosahn, “You have to prove a very high degree of intention” to win a false arrest suit, so it was not too likely that an individual activist who was falsely arrested in the 1990s could win such a lawsuit.
Rosahn remained politically active in the 1990s in support of U.S. political prisoners, worked with the Lesbian and Gay Folks political group and was also a law school student in the early 1990s. [and by the late 1990s, Rosahn was working as a community-service-oriented Movement lawyer]. Asked by Downtown why some activists drop out of politics after they’ve been jailed, but other activists, like her, remain politically involved, Rosahn replied: “I think there’s an experience that is shared by many people. Not only is it difficult or frightening. You can also get through it and come out at the other end much stronger, having been arrested and having survived. Having been on the inside of a legal process, it can also make you want to work harder to support others who have also been victimized by the courts.”
Tipograph still hoped in 1991 that continued public concern in the 1990s over civil liberties violations related to the Brink’s Case would lead to the eventual release of the Brink’s Case defendants, but she noted that “hundreds and thousands of people in New York State and elsewhere” who are also imprisoned, have also received “unjustly excessive” sentences after unfair trials.
Asked by Downtown whether the same kind of media hysteria which helped to violate the civil liberties of the people arrested on October 20, 1981 could also be whipped up in the 1990s in relation to any similar politically-related case, Tipograph replied: “Yes. Look at the media hysteria on Iraq. Without necessarily supporting Saddam Hussein, you would have thought there would have been more concern for the 150,000 Iraqi people killed.” [in the first Gulf War in 1991]
Downtown asked the now-deceased Kunstler in 1991 to compare the atmosphere during the 1969-70 Chicago Conspiracy Trial, after which he was cited for contempt, with the atmosphere after the arrest of the Brink’s Case defendants in 1981.
“Totally different. Most of the Chicago defendants were out on bail and allowed to go out on speaking tours,” Kunstler recalled.
Asked by Downtown why the atmosphere surrounding the 1969-1970 Chicago political trial and the 1981 Brink’s Case trials was so different, Kunstler replied: “They were afraid of revolutionaries. And the fact that in the belly of the beast there were people who believed in armed struggle and who carried guns scared the hell out of them.”
In the 1990s, Gilbert thought that “however we are portrayed in the media—or even however more sincere people might see us and agree or disagree with some of the approaches—the basic social injustices go on. And that’s why they are vaster and more serious than any of these events. And so I think the big issue is people have to say `what are we going to do about these issues of social injustices?’ There are many forms to respond in many ways through struggle. But that struggle has to go on. We can’t just let it be deflected into saying that a handful of people who resisted are this terrible problem and terrible people. Let’s start looking at the nature of State power, police power and how it’s used in this society.”
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Columbia Student Revolt, perhaps the time has now come for a 21st-century amnesty for 1968 Columbia Student Strike Leader Dave Gilbert and all other U.S. political prisoners? (end of article)
Downtown asked Attorney Tipograph in 1991 why she thought legal establishment groups like the American Bar Association or the ACLU didn’t act to protect the civil liberties of the Brink’s Case defendants.
“It was a very hot case. The case was so controversial that you were painted by the broad stroke if you became involved. So people incorrectly avoided getting involved and refused to discuss the civil liberties question in a rational way,” said Tipograph. As a result of her own involvement as an attorney in the Brink’s case and the unfavorable way the Establishment media tried to portray her, Tipograph received a number of personal death threats, herself.
Downtown also asked the now-deceased Kunstler in 1991 why legal establishment groups didn’t step in to prevent the civil liberties violations?
“They couldn’t do anything because the courts are the enemy of the people. It’s not just in Bull Connor’s area now. It’s nationwide. They sanction civil liberties violations like anonymous juries and they influence the press,” Kunstler replied.
Although Gilbert has been treated as a common criminal by New York State since his arrest on Oct. 20, 1981, he thinks that people who regard the Brink’s Case defendants as criminals have “a ridiculous position that goes and flies in the face of all the facts of the history of the people and what the group was about. And it’s because certain people don’t want to admit that armed struggle can be part of political struggle, an important form of political struggle.
“We all had long, long Movement histories and no criminal histories…I went on my first Civil Rights picket line in 1960 when I was about 15 years old. I was involved in the Civil Rights and anti-war movement, in SDS, Weather Underground, for years and years. I’ve never been charged with so much as shoplifting a candy bar for personal use or criminal purposes or involved in drugs or anything like that…
“People tend to forget that there was a campaign of annihilation against the Black Liberation Movement in this country, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where literally scores of Panthers and other militant Black activists were assassinated and many more were put in jail and many mass organizations were destroyed. It was only in response to that type of attack that people felt that they had to develop an ability—that the Movement as a whole to survive, to develop, had to have an ability—to have clandestine and even military forms of struggle. Any serious revolutionary movement in the world in history has developed that.”
Gilbert, Clark and the deceased Kuwasi Balagoon received sentences of 75 years-to-life in September 1983. According to Gilbert, there were two reasons for the severity of his sentence:
“One is that it was police who were killed. To the System that’s the most heinous crime. People who would rape children or kill little babies or something would get out a lot sooner than people who fire back at police. So, really, even in nonpolitical cases—to be honest—they give `the max’ when it’s police who are killed. And then, in addition to that, in all political cases of revolutionaries against the System they’ve given out extraordinarily high sentences. When you look at other cases, political people—by which I mean people who fight against oppression, who fight against racism, who fight against U.S. intervention in Third World countries—they’ll get, like Linda Evans [who was finally released in early 2001], 35, 40 years for one count of possession of a gun. Whereas other people in the same jurisdiction, like the Ku Klux Klan who got busted with a boatload of guns, got out in three to ten years. So there’s a tremendously disproportionate sentencing for people who are revolutionaries.”
Gilbert is currently serving his sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Clark is currently serving her sentence in Bedford Hills State Prison in New York. Unlike Clark and Gilbert, Boudin chose to conduct a legal defense before finally copping a plea in 1984 in exchange for a lesser sentence of 20 years-to-life [and she was finally released on parole in 2003]. Despite becoming an informant, Brown was still sentenced for his part in the Oct. 20th events, but Gilbert doesn’t know where Brown is today [in 1991] because Brown is in protective custody. (end of part 7)
Next: Civil Liberties and the 1981 Brink’s Case: A 1991 Downtown Inquiry—Part 8
Within the African-American community, the post-Brink’s robbery/expropriation violation of civil liberties was more intense than it was in white radical political circles, according to Eve Rosahn, a 1990s anti-imperialist activist who had also previously participated in the 1968 Columbia University Student Revolt.
“The BAAANA [Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America] clinic was pretty well-crippled by the police and F.B.I. A tremendous amount of force and violence was used by the State which produced a crippling effect, by example. Mtayari Sundiata was killed. Sekou Odinga was beaten and tortured. In March, 1982, the F.B.I. raided a farmhouse in Mississippi and arrested two women and twelve children in a tremendous military raid,” Rosahn recalled. “This level of force probably had a greater effect than anything else in pressuring people not to ever speak in support of armed revolutionaries.”
The BAAANA clinic in Manhattan was crippled by the police and F.B.I., according to Rosahn, because “the clinic, in addition to being an acupuncture clinic, was also a center of revolutionary Black nationalist education,” which also “exposed the collusion of both police and the U.S. government in aggravating the entrance of drugs in the Black community.”
“The institute was visible in support of the B.L.A. and the Brink’s defendants. And the government had had a 10-year campaign to close down the clinic. Since the government was attempting to isolate the Brink’s Case defendants, any public or political support needed to be quashed. BAAANA could have been used to build political support,” noted Rosahn. For this reason, according to Rosahn, the government labeled BAAANA a “terrorist” and “criminal” enterprise, as a pretext for finally succeeding in closing it down after the Oct. 20th events.
Rosahn’s own civil liberties were personally affected by the Brink’s Case. She was falsely identified as being involved in the Brink’s robbery because “the government didn’t do the investigative work” that would have readily indicated that she was not involved, and the government “only took the time necessary to go through a process of incorrect identification,” before falsely arresting her.
A week after the Oct. 20, 1981 events, Rosahn was arrested and held for a week on criminal charges. Then, after the criminal charges were dropped, she was incarcerated for civil contempt for refusing to collaborate with a grand jury investigation, released on bail on Dec. 31, 1981, and then re-imprisoned for 15 months because of her refusal to cooperate with the Grand Jury investigation.
Recalling how she felt when she was erroneously arrested on Oct. 27, 1981 for being involved in the Brink’s robbery, Rosahn told Downtown in 1991:
“I think, in part, it was frightening—since I had just been a public political activist—to suddenly see 12 F.B.I. agents with guns come to arrest me in a friend’s apartment. They picked the lock, opened the door, and took me up to the F.B.I. office. At no point did they read me my rights. Then they swept me up to Rockland County Jail. I knew people had been seriously beaten there and I went fully expecting to get beaten, myself.”
In the car on the way up to Rockland County Jail from Manhattan, the F.B.I. agents attempted to get Rosahn to talk with them, although she was not allowed to speak with a lawyer until a day after she had been placed in Rockland County Jail. In Rockland County Jail, she was held in segregation, after being arraigned in the same kind of armed camp atmosphere that surrounded the arraignment of the people arrested on Oct. 20, 1981. When the criminal charges against her were dropped on Nov. 3, 1981, Roshan was moved back to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center [MCC] prison and held for non-collaboration with the Grand Jury. (end of part 6)
Next: Civil Liberties and the 1981 Brink’s Case: A 1991 Downtown Inquiry—Part 7
The civil liberties of many other political activists in New York City were also immediately affected by the events in Rockland County of Oct. 20, 1981.
Eve Rosahn is a veteran New York City political activist who worked in antiwar and SDS circles in the late 1960s, did Black Panther 21 political support work, and was active in the Puerto Rican independence and anti-apartheid solidarity movements during the 1970s. In 1991, Downtown asked Rosahn in a telephone interview how the civil liberties of political activists in New York City were affected following the Oct. 20th events in Rockland County.
According to Rosahn, it wasn’t like McCarthyism in the 1950s. The political repression and arrests differed from McCarthyism in that “the section of both white and Black activists whose civil liberties were violated was much smaller and much more focused,” Rosahn said. “People were intimidated by example.” Another difference from the 1950s McCarthyism was that the buzzword for the targets of the civil liberties violations was “terrorism” and “cop-killers” and, particularly, “Black terrorism,” and not “communism,” in Rosahn’s view.
The Grand Jury method of repression was also used to violate people’s civil liberties following the Oct. 20th events, according to Rosahn. “Since the early 1970s, there had been a political use of grand juries which, initially had focused on the Weather Underground, the non-violent clandestine Catholic Left and the lesbian community. Grand juries have been used to both collect intelligence about clandestine political groups and to create an atmosphere of fear and political isolation in the communities they focused on. The use of federal grand juries to subpoena F.A.L.N. supporters of Puerto Rican independence started happening in the 1970s,” Rosahn recalled.
The grand jury that was established following the arrest of the Brink’s defendants “focused on people who were political supporters of Black nationalism that did public work” and established a “second ring of oppression” for those political activists who weren’t falsely charged with involvement in the robbery itself, according to Rosahn. The post-Oct. 20th grand jury also focused on the personal friends of the people arrested on Oct. 20, 1981. “People who were subpoenaed were often just friends, and not political,” said Rosahn.
In Rosahn’s view, the U.S. government “underestimated the strength of commitment to non-collaboration” with the post-Brink’s robbery/expropriation Grand Jury investigation that would be expressed. “They assumed that people subpoenaed before the grand jury would cooperate with them and provide them with information, but they didn’t get that,” recalled Rosahn. “Only 1 of around 25 who were subpoenaed by the grand jury collaborated.”
Downtown asked Rosahn in 1991 why she thought people in the 1980s seemed to resist the pressure of Grand Jury subpoenas more than people had during the era of McCarthyism in the late 1940s and 1950s?
“There had been a good 10-year struggle among people in the Catholic Left, the lesbian community and in the Puerto Rican movement to establish a tradition of non-collaboration with the Grand Jury. And the Grand Jury investigation following Brink’s took in a smaller section of people—the people tended to be stronger and more committed,” Rosahn observed. (end of part 5)
Next: Civil Liberties and the 1981 Brink’s Case: A 1991 Downtown Inquiry—Part 6
Before being sentenced in September 1983, Clark and Gilbert had already been imprisoned nearly two years and Kuwasi Balagoon had already been locked up for 21 months. Gilbert recalled that “a lot of the delay was their security arrangements—which I think also became a boondoggle for the various sheriff’s departments to buy off the supplies and hire people and so forth that they had wanted to do to pad their payroll and supplies. One delay was that there was a change of venue. But most of the delays—you have to realize that Kuwasi, Judy and I did not put on a legal defense. We just put up a political stand and we justified this fight against a racist and oppressive regime. Under international law, it requires you to do that. So we didn’t even go through a lot of legal motions, the hearings and so forth that a vigorous criminal defense would have—and yet the whole trial took two years. I think the main factor, along with the change of venue, was their going through all their so-called security arrangements.”
During the long period of pre-trial detention, according to Gilbert, “They cut us off from contact with all other prisoners. And they tried to keep us as isolated as possible. They tried to use that to break people down. With Sam Brown, a combination of that and his medical condition, and his incredible pain and fear that he’d be paralyzed if he didn’t get an operation, did break him down. It was a very heavy psychological warfare that was going on with all of us.”
According to The Big Dance, after Sam Brown’s arrest, F.B.I. agents began to interview him in prison, without Brown first waiving his right to legal counsel in the presence of his lawyer. The first two F.B.I. agents to visit the severely beaten Brown visited him on Nov. 12, 1981. On Nov. 21, 1981, two Special Agents of the F.B.I.-N.Y.P.D. Joint Terrorist Task Force also began to interview Brown in prison and these Special Agents continued to meet with Brown on at least seven more separate occasions. Under New York State law, however, according to Castellucci’s book, “once a defendant is indicted, no law enforcement official can interview him unless he waives his right to legal counsel in the presence of his lawyer.”
There is disagreement about the reliability of two people, Yvonne Thomas and Kamau Bayete, who were used by the F.B.I. as informants in relation to the Brink’s Case. Castellucci states in a footnote in his book that “I would be less than candid if I characterized them as reliable. Thomas has been in and out of mental hospitals. Bayete is an admitted liar.”
Although Castellucci does reveal certain civil liberties violations and certain inconsistencies in the Rockland County D.A.’s case against the people arrested on Oct. 20th, Gilbert does not regard most of Castellucci’s The Big Dance as either accurate or fair. According to Gilbert, The Big Dance “is misleading because it is written in such a detailed, factual style. I think that many people might feel that while the interpretations might be hostile to us, the facts are more or less accurate. They’re not.
“Before I read the book I assumed it was biased in the following ways: 1) relied on the police and informant versions of events and 2) based on that, put us in the worst possible light. But in reading the book, he goes way beyond that. He actually makes a whole lot of shit up, whole cloth. I saw it most clearly in his extensive account of Kathy and my relationship since this is an area (as opposed to some stuff about other comrades) where I knew all the facts. So much of it was so far off that I was actually laughing at this opera buffo. I would say that about 80 percent of what he presented as fact about us is plain wrong. And for most of that he couldn’t have any conceivable `source.’
“The purpose of the book can be summarized in one sentence: to strip any and all moral credibility from the revolutionaries involved. Beyond the factual fabrications, he takes steps inside our heads—as though it were factual reporting—to discredit our motivation.”
One apparent inaccuracy in Castellucci’s The Big Dance deals with the events surrounding the arrest of the still-imprisoned former Black Panther Party activist, Sekou Odinga, in Queens, which occurred at the same time that another African-American activist, Mtayari Sundiata, was killed near 127th Street and Northern Blvd. In the Oct. 24. 1981 edition of the New York Times, it was reported that “workmen in the area said” that Sundiata “was shot as he climbed a chain-link fence attempting to flee” and “his body fell on the other side of the fence,” yet Castellucci portrays Sundiata as firing at a policeman when he was slain. (end of part 4)
Next: Civil Liberties and the 1981 Brink’s Case: A 1991 Downtown Inquiry—Part 5
Attorney Tipograph felt that the activists arrested on Oct. 20th received sham trials because anonymous juries were used and the jurors were brought to the courthouse in buses with blackened windows. She also recalled that “the creation of a police state atmosphere was participated in by the press—as well as the Left.” According to Tipograph, “Most Left forces didn’t want to have any association with the defendants. And, in the name of wanting to disassociate, many progressive Movement people refused to protest the violations of the civil liberties of the defendants.”
Gilbert recalled that the post-arrest Establishment media coverage of the case was “like an avalanche to discredit us in every way. They created what they knew from their own police analysis—and the documents we’ve seen—was a pure propaganda creation: that the whole thing started with the revolutionaries just jumping out of the van shooting. When they know, that the method of this group was to always to try to avoid shooting the police people if they freezed and did not shoot back.
“They created scares in the community that all sorts of people would be coming attacking the community. They created fears that juries would be attacked, even though there was never any Black Liberation Army trial or Weather Underground trial or trial of any of these groups in history where any juror had been the least bit threatened or approached. So they convinced the community that anybody who was on the jury would be under grave risk for their life.
“And it was treated as a real setback for civil liberties in terms of what jury trials are supposed to mean: with anonymous juries, with jurors who were never given their names. They were rushed in and out of the building in buses with blackened windows, covered by paramilitary police, for the incredible scare operation against the public in general and against the jurors, specifically, and for a broader propaganda effect that the revolutionaries were just `thugs' and `criminals' and `murderers'. They had a hard time, in terms of our histories and what we had stood for. And they had to do things like having artists’ sketches making us look like psychotics. Weird stuff. Even some of the guards of the jurors said” `Jesus! You people don’t look anything like what I’ve seen in the papers.’”
Because of the pre-trial publicity in Rockland County, on Dec. 15, 1982 the Appellate Division ordered the Brink’s Case trial shifted to Orange County after finding that The Rockland Journal-News had prejudiced the defendants’ chances for a fair trial. The Appellate Court had determined that “In a 50-day period ending Nov. 20, 1982, fully 76 news articles appeared in the local press concerning the case. Thirty-two occupied front page space and were accompanied by more than 50 photographs.”
Establishment media in New York City also published articles which may have jeopardized the fair trial rights of the Brink’s Case defendants. In its Nov. 22, 1981 issue, for instance, the NewYork Times Magazine published a pre-trial article by then-New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s wife, former Times reporter Lucinda Franks, which was entitled “The Seeds of Terror: How Children Of Privilege Became The Weather Underground,” and which concluded “But those white radicals who massacred innocents at Nyack never seemed to move forth from that moment when they blindly assembled anti-personnel bombs on West 11th Street.”
The granting of the change of venue motion did not really make a fair trial more likely for Boudin, Clark and Gilbert—and for an additional co-defendant who had been arrested on Jan. 20, 1982, Kuwasi Balagoon (Balagoon died of AIDS while in prison in 1986, after being sentenced at the same time as Gilbert and Clark), according to Tipograph. “Essentially, people had been subjected to the same sort of press coverage in all the adjacent counties,” Tipograph said in a 1991 interview. A preliminary screening of potential Orange County jurors by Boudin’s attorneys had found, according to Castellucci’s book, that “half the Orange County residents called for jury duty had already judged the defendants guilty.” Although attorneys for the Brink’s Case defendants applied to have the trial moved to New York City—where the defendants were from and where their peers lived—the court denied this application.
Downtown asked the now-deceased Kunstler in 1991 why he thought the application to move the trial to New York City was rejected?
“New York City is too cosmopolitan a jury pool. The courts have held that large cities are more likely to overcome pre-trial publicity prejudice than rural towns. But there would have been less chance to influence the jury to convict. You can’t ride horses in front of the courthouse in New York City since it’s too cosmopolitan. They wanted the defendants tried in a rural area where the atmosphere could best influence the verdict,” Kunstler answered.. (end of part 3)
Next: Civil Liberties and the 1981 Brink’s Case: A 1991 Downtown Inquiry—Part 4