Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Attorney Robert Bartle on withheld evidence by FBI in Omaha Two case

October 12th, 2010 Examiner.com

Robert Bartle, a Lincoln, Nebraska attorney, represents Ed Poindexter, an imprisoned Black Panther leader, in his effort to gain a new trial. Convicted in 1971 for the bombing murder of an Omaha policeman, Poindexter is serving a life sentence at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Poindexter was charged along with Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) for the August 1970 murder of Larry Minard who was responding to a 911 call at a vacant house. During their 40 years of imprisonment the pair have become known as the Omaha Two and are considered political prisoners by many.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa were targets of J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the focus of COINTELPRO subterfuge because of their role as leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism. The NCCF group was a Black Panther affiliate and vocal critics of the police in Omaha.

The clandestine Operation COINTELPRO was Hoover’s secret war on domestic political “enemies” and the Black Panthers were at the center of attention. Hoover had ordered Paul Young, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Omaha FBI office to get the two leaders off the streets.

Hoover had nagged Young since December of 1969 to produce results and had required the Omaha office to submit reports every two weeks on their progress toward eliminating the Omaha Two as a political force in the Midwestern city. When Larry Minard was killed the opportunity presented itself to blame the two Panther leaders.

However, one sticky detail threatened to derail the COINTELPRO plan to frame the two leaders, the voice of the killer.

Minard was lured to a vacant house by an anonymous 911 caller where a bomb waited. The Omaha Police made a recording of the call capturing the voice of Minard’s killer. Young needed to get the 911 tape out of the way to build a case against the Omaha Two. The day of the bombing, Young conferred with Glen Gates, the top police official in charge of the case and offered to analyze the tape at the national FBI crime laboratory--but not issue a report on the identity of the killer,

Hoover approved of the plan to let Minard’s killer get away with murder and Hoover’s order was noted by Ivan Willard Conrad, the FBI crime lab director, in a handwritten entry on the COINTELPRO memo .Robert Bartle talks about the significance of Hoover’s influence on the case.

“The whole COINTELPRO operation under the late J. Edgar Hoover’s administration was unknown to the folks at the time. The whole COINTELPRO focus on Ed and Mondo…and the efforts to discredit them in the Omaha community were a separate conspiratorial operation that was not known to either Ed or Mondo.”

“The fact that the tape was withheld from the defense at the time and the fact that the FBI, under the auspices of the COINTEPRO program, first offering to do a voice analysis and then retreated from that position because it might “prejudice the prosecution” we believe is critical information…that would have likely led to an acquittal in this case.”

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