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The Big Lie

Reflections from Behind the Wall

Anatomy of a FrameUp! - Installment 3

[Please accept our apologies, Installment Three inadvertently was not posted on the website when it was written. As you see below, we are now making it available. - Ed.]

Chuck TurnerThis is the third installment of an eight part series in which I discuss my two and a half year experience with the Justice Department that led to my being a convicted felon at the work camp at USP Hazelton, Bruceton Mills, West Virginia in my 4th month of a 36 month sentence.

A) At 7:30 on the morning of my arrest, TV and radio stations began sending the message to the world that Chuck Turner, well known activist and Boston City Councilor, had been arrested for extortion, conspiracy, and lying to FBI agents. The TV newscasters' commentaries were accompanied by pictures of a black hand putting something in my hand while the hidden camera captured a smile on my face.

The "evidence" was provided by the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney, Michael Sullivan, to establish in the public's mind that I was guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt". However, he knew that the Senator and I had not been conspiring to extort money from his cooperating witness, Ron Wilburn. He knew because he had hired Mr. Wilburn two years before my arrest to entrap us. That's right! U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, the chief law enforcement officer of Massachusetts was lying to the public. How could the Senator and I be in a conspiracy to extort money from Wilburn when Wilburn was being paid by Sullivan to attempt to entrap us.

Specifically, Mr. Wilburn was paid over $29,000 during that period of time to take candid pictures while handing us cash. The pictures would enable Sullivan to have us arrested and allege that we were coconspirators taking money from an innocent business man seeking a liquor license. Sullivan would then be able to boast at both the time of the Senator's arrest and the time of my arrest about the excellent work of his office and the FBI in apprehending two corrupt politicians who were using our positions to extort money rather than provide "honest services" as elected officials.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of Sullivan's corruption. To understand the larger picture as I have been able to piece it together from the trial testimony, court documents, and conversations with knowledgeable people, we need to go back to 2005. Sullivan's office was conducting an investigation of drugs and dirty cops at a nightclub named the Mirage, located in Lower Roxbury, a predominantly black and Latin neighborhood in Boston. Ironically, that investigation is apparently still ongoing.

During the investigation, it's alleged that FBI agents discovered information in the club's records that Ron Wilburn one of the club's owners had given money to the Senator, giving Sullivan a basis to put together a sting operation. Then in the early summer of that year, Wilburn allegedly ends his involvement with the operation of the club which leaves his partner and protege, Manny Soto, in charge. In August, Soto is arrested for the sale of 200 grams of cocaine. While he pleads not guilty, it seems likely that he will be found guilty at trial since the state police had him under surveillance at the time of the sale.

The facts of the case are that the state police saw a man get into Soto's car empty handed. When he emerged from the car, he had a bag containing 200 grams of cocaine which led to his arrest and the arrest of Soto. Soto maintained his innocence until January of 2007 at which time he changes his plead to guilty and was given seven years probation. The person who had bought the drugs who was not a known drug dealer was given a ten year sentence.

By March of the same year, Wilburn signed a contract to carry out Sullivan's plan of entrapment. Apparently, Soto also began working for the FBI at that time. It is rumored that he is still employed by them. You may question Sullivan's influence in Soto receiving probation since the case was in state court. However, Sullivan spent more time on drug and gun cases originating in state court than he did on white collar crime cases originating at the federal level as will be discussed later. Also court records show that in June 2006, the FBI made an appearance in court regarding the case.

To add to the absurdity of the idea that I was conspiring with the Senator to extort money from a person being paid by the FBI to entrap both of us, let me quote a conversation between the Senator, Wilburn, and Ivan Serret, another business partner of Wilburn. The meeting took place at a downtown Boston restaurant where, according to court testimony, Wilburn gave the Senator the first $1000 payment for help in securing a liquor license. Wilburn on orders from the FBI was to use the meeting to persuade the Senator to involve me in his entrapment scheme.

Ironically, the prosecutor in my case, Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil, included the conversation in his sentencing memorandum as evidence of the general opinion of my ineffectiveness as a Boston City Councilor. What he left out of the memorandum was that the Senator's statement, " 'Cause I think he's crazy" came as a response to Wilburn asking why she thought that they should NOT involve me in their joint venture to get a liquor license.

Wilkerson: 'Cause I think he's crazy.

Wilburn: No, he is crazy. Chuck Turner. He is crazy. I mean he's living in the nineteen sixties. He thinks Chairman Mao is still alive. Communist Manifesto. You know. (Laughs)

Wilkerson: He drives me batty. He really does.

Wilburn: You know Chuck, the lit...? The guy with the beard.

Serret: Yeah.

Wilkerson: He would be good if you needed somebody needed to pick up a ruckus and just protest for you. I would hire him. You want to get something done? He's not the p...that not his, he doesn't know.....

Wilburn: Yeah.

Wilkerson: That's not what he does.

Now ask yourself: If you were sitting on my jury and heard this conversation recorded by Wilburn between my alleged coconspirator and the person who the Senator and I were allegedly extorting money from would you believe the government was telling the truth. Yet, here I sit at USP Hazelton in the fourth month of my 36 month sentence.

Since I believe many of you are able to accept by now my argument that I was framed, the logical question is why did Sullivan do it. Why did he go after the Senator and I. In order to answer that question, let me share a little of Sullivan's background. Sullivan grew up and became active in Republican politics in Plymouth Country which is known for being the location of Plymouth Rock and being the gateway to Cape Cod. In the early '90s, he served as a representative of that area in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In the mid nineties, he ran for the office of Plymouth Country District Attorney. He won and served two terms. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush as Massachusetts U.S. Attorney. Some say that the appointment was based more on his friendship with Andrew Card, Bush's Chief of Staff, than on his ability to handle the responsibilities of the office. Card and Sullivan had become friends when they had worked together in the Plymouth County Republican Party in their younger days.

Since white collar crime is generally viewed as the major area of responsibility for the the U.S. Attorney, Sullivan's appointment in 2001 gave him a golden opportunity to demonstrate his skills. By the time of his appointment, the Big Dig, a major transportation project going through the heart of downtown Boston had become a major political and financial scandal with its original budget of three billion quintupling in size over the life of the project to fifteen billion. Unfortunately for Sullivan his office became an object of ridicule because of a lack of aggressiveness in pursuing fraudulent business activities on the project.

In 2004, Mark Wolf, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Federal Court publicly challenged the lack of prosecutorial activity on the "Big Dig". Jonathan Saltzman, a Globe reporter in a 2007 article regarding Wolf criticizing the work of Sullivan's office on Big Dig projects referenced the 2004 challenge when he wrote, "Wolf, who served as chief of the public corruption unit of the US Attorney's office from 1981 to 1986 has criticized the office sharply before. In 2004, Wolf said that under Sullivan the office was spending too much time on drug and gun cases that belong in state court, instead of focusing on public corruption and white collar offenses that he said would have a greater impact on society."

Another federal justice Nancy Gertner voiced similar concerns about Sullivan's using federal resources to prosecute small-time nonviolent drug cases that belong in state court, instead of focusing on public corruption and white collar offenses. "Federal sentencing is a bludgeon, and the question is when is it appropriately used," she said. "Federal courts typically deal with white collar cases. I don't see a large number of white-collar cases at all."

Despite this and other criticism, Sullivan was appointed in 2006 as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives while remaining as U.S. Attorney. I think it is reasonable to assume that Andy Card's position as Bush's chief of staff played a key role in Sullivan appointment. Also, I have wondered whether Sullivan's concentration on the guns and drugs cases was designed to put him in line for the ATF position. However, he was unable to obtain Congressional confirmation, probably because of his performance as U.S. Attorney.

In view of the above, I believe that Sullivan's plan to entrap the Senator and I was designed to strengthen his public credibility by "exposing" two black activist politicians with high visibility as corrupt politicians. Even if our arrests wouldn't bring the confirmation, he would gain stature at the state level that could lead to a successful run for Governor or Attorney General. Despite our arrests in 2008, the confirmation did not take place and when he resigned in 2009, he was offered a partnership by John Ashcroft, Bush's first Attorney General. Sullivan's responsibility was to head the Boston office of the Ashcroft Group, a high power lobbying firm with offices in Washington, Boston, St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston.

I do not believe that this position ends Sullivan's dreams of political advancement. The Ashcroft Group in 2009 when I did my research had within its leadership: eleven former US Attorneys, a former Governor of Missouri, and the former female Speaker of the House of Representatives in Missouri, Ashcroft's home state. I think it is reasonable to assume that Ashcroft is putting together a team that has the capability of having members who can run for office and when in office help move the fortunes of the Ashcroft Group forward. Those objectives make more sense as the reason Ashcroft offered the partnership to Sullivan than his legal skills given the nature of his career.

B) Analysis:

1) Showcasing the crime:

Every day across America representatives of the criminal justice system summons the media and begin a process of subverting the rights of the accused. From their perspective, they are fulfilling their responsibility to keep the public informed. Yes, most would admit that these highly covered press conferences enhance their career possibilities, whether appointed or elected. However, what's wrong with that they would argue. If we are doing our job, shouldn't the public know about it.

From the perspective of the media, they see themselves as fulfilling their responsibilities to inform the pubic of the dangers to the health and safety of the society that have been removed by the arrest of dangerous criminals. Yes, they would admit that information on crime sells newspaper and magazines as well as brings viewers and listeners to their TV and radio stations. Yes, the more listeners, readers, and viewers, the more profit but profits are not the purpose they would argue. We are the 5th estate. Our duty is to inform. We are the priotectors of democracy, they would also tell us.

Having been in the hot glare of the spotlight, as uncomfortable as it makes you feel, the public does have a right to know that an arrest has taken place. They also have a right to know the charges that led to the arrest. However, the prosecutor and the media do not have the right to try me in the court of public opinion before my lawyers have even had an opportunity to review the evidence. Yet, that is what happens every day. Lives and reputations are destroyed sometimes months if not years before a trial even takes place.

My case is a classic example of the use of the media by a prosecutor to try the case before a lawyer has even seen the evidence. The pictures providing "evidence" of my guilt flashed across the TV screens not only of Boston but also the nation before the workday had even begun. I was being tried in the court of public opinion before I had even had a chance to call a lawyer.

Initially, I was amazed that the Senator and I were charged with being in a conspiracy and that Sullivan would make such a flagrant untruth the center piece of the public discussion. I didn't know at that point that Wilburn was his paid agent. However, it was generally known that the Senator and I were barely on speaking terms during the period of our alleged conspiracy because of a dispute regarding the building of a Northeastern University dormitory.

Wouldn't he be afraid that the truth would come out at the trial. However, I don't think he believed that there would even need to be a trial once Council President Feeney began her campaign to force me to resign. (More on that in the next installment--A Jury of My Peers.) If there was a trial, the media attention on the issue of the conspiracy would be forgotten since I was sure that charge would be dropped as it was. If my lawyer was able to get the issue discussed in the trial, I was sure that Sullivan believed that his assistants could find a way to deflect attention. They could even lie. They'd lied before and gotten away with it. If all else fails, he could find a friendly columnist to confuse the issue.

While I am focusing on my experience, the reality is that manipulation of the truth is often part of the prosecutorial process. Similar scenarios happen to people across the country every day. The question confronting the people of America is, "Do we care about justice for all?". If we believe in justice for all, if we believe that the accused has a right to be considered innocent until they are judged by a jury of their peers, then we have to change the practices of our criminal justice system regarding information disclosure before trial.  Otherwise, we are consciously colluding in the development of a fascist state where the government is given the ability to eliminate anyone or ones viewed as threats by putting them in jail through propagating "The Big Lie" over and over again with the help of their ally, the media.

2) Prosecution as a stairway to the stars:

There is an assumption in this country that the criminal justice system is designed to keep the people of this country safe while providing justice for those accused. Yet, as I pointed out in Installment Two, controls are missing. There are very few, if any checks on the powers of the prosecutors to manipulate the system to meet their objectives whether their objectives take justice into consideration or not. As the old saying goes, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Sullivan, I believe, is a poster child for the use of prosecutorial power for career advancement. As Plymouth Country District Attorney, he used his focus on drug and gun crimes to build a reputation as a "tough on crime, law and order prosecutor." This reputation plus having a friend in the Bush Court, Andy Card, led to his appointment as US Attorney. However, he didn't focus his office's energies on the areas viewed as the traditional focus for a U.S. Attorney--white collar crime and public corruption.

As U.S. Attorney, he acted as if he had never left the Plymouth County DA's office, continuing to focus on the areas he had specialized in as a district attorney. As Joseph Savage, Jr., a former MA Assistant US Attorney and now a defense attorney, said in an October 6, 2007 Globe article, "He brought the priorities of a local district attorney's office and has deemphasized the areas where federal prosecutors used to be uniquely involved, particularly white collar crime."

Despite the criticism from the Chief Justice of the MA federal bench as well s others regarding his lack of focus on the "Big Dig", he was able to use his guns and drugs focus as well as his friendship with Andy Card, Bush's chief of staff, to secure an appointment as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives while continuing to serve as U.S. Attorney. I have wondered whether he secured the appointment as a reward for not focusing on "Big Dig" contractors, many of whom may have been significant contributors to the Republican Party. I have no "evidence" but a seasoned intuition would suggest that it is an area that should be explored.

However, while his Bush connections could secure an appointment as acting director, it did not bring a Congressional confirmation. Thus my theory that he decided that if the Chief Justice and others were were saying that he didn't focus enough on public corruption and at the same time the Bush administration was putting an emphasis on U.S. Attorneys targeting Democrats (remember the firing of 8 prosecutors for not going after Democrats), it would make sense to take down a couple of black activist politicians like Wilkerson and Turner. This could bring him local if not national stature and perhaps secure the confirmation or at least a platform to run for office in Massachusetts after Bush left office at the end of his second term.

While the arrests of the Senator and I brought him a ton of good publicity, he still did not secure the confirmation. However, as we have seen, the Bush administration was always ready to come to the rescue. This time, Bush's former Attorney General John Ashcroft offered him a partnership as director of the Boston office of the Ashcroft Group, Ashcroft's national lobbying firm with offices through out the country. This not only gave Sullivan a good income but also a Massachusetts base to run for office if the opportunity arose.

While this scenario may change from state to state with different U.S. Attorneys, the fact that there seems to be no oversight by the Justice Department of the U.S. Attorneys' actions allows them the opportunity to chart a course where they focus on personal aims and aspirations rather than the administration of justice. One has to wonder whether Karl Rove, recognizing this vacuum, decided that the Bush administration should use it as an opportunity to advance their interests by having the U.S. Attorneys' offices across the country focus on political targets. Is this what led to the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys that would not follow the Party line?

3) Protecting Criminals to Promote their Careers:

Boston is ablaze--on fire with excitement. After 16 years on the run, the infamous Whitey Bulger has been caught. Questions fill the air on TV and radio, the newspapers as well as the streets. Did the FBI know where he was all the time? Will Whitey talk? If he talks, what will he say? Will other officials go to jail if he talks? Who might they be? And so on, and so on, and so on.

Unfortunately, no one, as far as I have seen or heard is talking about what I believe are the fundamental issues beyond the sensationalism. As usual, the focus is on personalities. What demons possessed this man? How could one brother head the world of gangsters in Boston while the other brother headed the world of politics? Were there other FBI agents involved in Bulger's protection? Don't we need to be looking at fundamental questions?

My belief is that the explanation lies not in the personalities but in the practices of prosecutors and their police force, the FBI, protecting some criminals to secure their help in catching other criminals or in victimizing the innocent targets of prosecutorial terrorism. What happened, as horrendous as it was, has to be seen as the logical extreme of the practice. U.S. Attorneys and the FBI have the responsibility to stop crime. Yet, they allowed one gang, an Irish one, to engage in crime in order to secure their help in eliminating another gang, an Italian one. To me, it's logical that as the Italian gang became weaker, the Irish gang would feel more and more powerful and act in a more and more brazen way.

Since prosecutorial terrorism is aided and abetted by a lack of oversight and control, why wouldn't the same be true for criminals who are allowed to commit crimes while public safety officials look the other way. As long as the Justice Department allows this practice to continue, I believe that the Whitey Bulgers of the criminal world will play their "handlers" for fools and the public will pay the price.

The other question that is being ignored is what role were the U.S. Attorneys playing while Whitey was being allowed to conduct his reign of terror. I think we make a tremendous mistake when we separate the activities of the FBI from those of the US Attorneys whom they serve. It is unimaginable to me that the FBI agents could have protected Whitey without any oversight by the U.S. Attorneys and their staffs. It was the responsibility of the U.S. Attorney's office to prosecute the Anguilo gang members based on the evidence gathered with Bulger's help. How could they not have known of Whitey's involvement with the evidence that was being gathered for them. It seems inconceivable.

Again, I believe examining my case can be helpful in understanding how U.S. Attorneys and their prosecutors can project criminals not in the interests of justice but in the interests of their career advancement. From my perspective, U.S. Attorney Sullivan's helping Wilburn's partner, Manny Soto, to stay on the streets despite his sale of 200 grams of cocaine is a clear example of how this institutional practice is exploited by power hungry US Attorneys. Why was Soto allowed to virtually go free when the person who bought the drugs from him received the mandatory ten year sentence.

The reality is that this is just another example of the hypocrisy and corruption that U.S. Attorneys engage in while pursuing their ambitions. What public interest was being served by allowing Soto to stay on the street. None from my perspective. The deal seems to have been that Mr. Soto would virtually walk free in return for Wilburn's entrapment of two black activist elected officials both of whom have ahistory of working steadfastly in the interest not only of their community but also the City and the State.

What evidence did Sullivan have to justify the attempt to entrap the Senator and I. At my trial, it was alleged that the FBI had found evidence that Wilburn had given money to the Senator that hadn't been recorded. However, that would be a campaign finance violation not a federal crime. What evidence did they have against me to justify the sting. Wilburn told the grand jury and the jury at my trial that he had heard that I asked for money to write a letter for someone coming out of jail so he could get a job at CVS. It's ludicrous to think that I would ask anyone, let alone a person coming out of jail to pay for a service that I have been doing for free for decades before I became an elected official.

If the judge had allowed my lawyers to discuss the issue of entrapment, we would have been able to expose the fact that Wilburn was telling a lie regarding the alleged letter to CVS. When the prosecutor, McNeil, pressed Wilburn to tell the grand jury the name of the person who had told him, he named a person whom I have known since he was a young boy. To find out if what Wilburn alleged was true, my lawyer's office called the person's sister who gave his number in another state since he had been living out of state for over ten years. When he was reached by phone, he said he had not talked to Wilburn for years and he certainly didn't tell him a ridiculous story like that. He also agreed to provide an affidavit if necessary. However, since we couldn't discuss the issue of entrapment at the trial, we could not expose Wilburn's lie and the fact that there was no legal justification for the sting in the first place.

In order to have Ron Wilburn entrap two hard working, respected black elected officials, Sullivan allowed Wilburn's partner and protege who had admitted selling 200 grams of cocaine to stay out of jail. What makes Sullivan's actions even more corrupt and hypocritical is that Sullivan was constantly being criticized for taking drug cases out of state court, refusing to plea bargain, and forcing the accused to go to trial which often resulted in sentences ranging from 30 to 40 years. When questioned about the practice, he said he had a responsibility to keep people who sold large quantizes of drugs off the streets for as long as possible. Yet Mr. Soto is walking the streets today. In fact it is alleged that he is working for the FBI.

4) Fishing for Evidence:

In an initial conversation with my lawyers, I remarked that we should have an easy time with my case since the government's affidavit indicated that they didn't have substantial evidence to support the extortion and conspiracy charges. While they had evidence regarding the three counts of lying to FBI agents, I had the truth on my side. The truth was and is that I did not remember him or my interactions with him. It seemed to me that we were in a reasonable legal position. Their immediate response was "Don't take them for granted. The affidavit is just the opening shot. If they think they don't have the evidence to convict you, they will just keep searching until they find what they need even if it's evidence of a new crime. If they can't find what they need, they'll make it up. You have to understand, this is not about fairness or justice; their objective is to win."

A few weeks later, I could see more clearly what they meant when Terri, my campaign treasurer as well as my wife, received a letter from the U.S. Attorney's office saying that we would have to submit four years of our campaign financial records. My initial reaction was that it was a waste of energy for us to have to put the records together and for them to have to review them. I knew they were not going to find anything wrong. I knew how meticulous Terri was not only about our records but also about making sure that all our financial actions fit within the campaign finance rules so that the records could never be used to tear down what we were trying to build.

When I asked her to be my treasurer before the first campaign, her response was that she would agree based on the condition that she have total control of the books as well as decisions on how we raised and spent money. She said that she knew enough about politics to know that it is usually the campaign treasurers who go to jail, often for someone else's mistakes. I agreed to her condition immediately not only because I needed her as the treasurer but also because I knew she was right. Traditionally, financial records have been used to get rid of elected officials who wouldn't go along to get along.

After a forensic accountant spent what seemed to be months going over the books, they reached the conclusion that I predicted. Terri's books were perfect. Let this serve as a lesson for all of you who are thinking about running for office. The most important person in the campaign besides the candidate is the treasurer. The reason is that if you are challenging the status quo, it is likely that at some point you will be targeted by state or federal officials and the first place they will look for a mistake they can use against you will be your campaign financial records.

The best way to protect yourself against challenges to your campaign finances and financial records is to have a treasurer who will be tough enough to make sure that you and every other person dealing with the campaign, especially those raising money and giving fund raisers know the campaign finance rules and follow them to the letter. This will not make you or the treasurer popular but it may save your political career and/or keep you out of jail.

When I assess the mistakes that I made that led to my being here in the mountains of West Virginia rather than the hills of Roxbury, one of the key reasons is that I broke one of Terri's very simple but critically important rules. Whenever receiving cash, immediately give it to the treasurer to be recorded and deposited. If I had done that with whatever the amount of money Wilburn gave me, it would have made it very difficult for Sullivan to execute his plan.

Despite the other attempts of Sullivan and McNeil to find additional evidence to use to add counts, they were unsuccessful. When I went to trial, I still had only the counts that I had when arrested minus the conspiracy change. They dropped it before the trial started because they knew as they had known when they had initially lodged the charge that it was a lie that could easily be disproved. Nonetheless, the conspiracy charge even if dropped had done its job by keeping the idea in the minds of the public until the trial started that the Senator and I were the conspirators to hide the reality that Sullivan, McNeil, FBI officials, and Wilburn were actually the conspirators.

5) Pitting the accused against the accused.

A common practice of prosecutors is to arrest a number of people on charges of conspiracy even if the links seem tenuous. The purpose is to pit accused against one another. If some can be persuaded through the psychological warfare practices to plead guilty even if innocent, then they can be used to give testimony against the others. In my case, I believe that I was brought into a case where the Senator was the initial target in order to put me in a position where to save myself I would give testimony against her.

Similarly, Terri and I believe that one of the government's reasons for taking four years of our financial records for investigation was their hope that they could find some evidence of some error by Terri that could be used to charge Terri with a crime. Then they would offer to be lenient with Terri if I would plead guilty and testify against the Senator. Obviously, they underestimated Terri's skills and integrity.

C) Action Steps:

In my second installment, I discussed a number of action steps including making it legal to prosecute as well as sue U.S. Attorneys and their assistants for misconduct as well as only allowing the charges to be revealed until the trial takes place. Both of these would be helpful in stopping the prosecutors from trying the cases in the court of public opinion as well as engaging in misconduct since there is no penalty if caught. Also, we need to develop a strategy to stop their fishing expeditions.

However, given the crisis that we are facing with the rampant spread of prosecutorial terrorism, we need a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to making justice the focus of the criminal justice system. My perspective on this issue is not only based on my present circumstances but also grows out of a lifetime of activism.

I remember as a teenager in the fifties hearing people on radio, TV, and in general talking about how good it was to be in a country where people were not subjected to the evil practices of a secret police. Eyes would squint and and voices would tremble as people would talk about how horrible it would be to live in a place like Russia where you would have to worry about the KGB, their secret police, and worry that the government may decide to lock you up because you didn't agree
with their policies.

A decade later, I began to learn about our secret police the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with a leader named J. Edgar Hoover who was so powerful that even Presidents were afraid to risk his wrath. Also, I learned about the operation that was coordinated through the FBI the Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program) whose purpose was to disrupt and destroy if possible by any means necessary those whom J. Edgar and his allies viewed as dangerous such as the civil rights and antiwar movements.

In the eighties, nineties and into this century, I saw drug laws passed and prosecutors working feverishly to use the laws to imprison as many as possible with the results that in 36 years our prison population quintupled, growing from just over 400,000 in 1973 to 2.3 million today.

I am now in my seventies and see ruthless prosecutors working under the mantle of our Justice Department and using the FBI as their special police force creating in communities across America the kind of terror that was inspired by the stories of the KGB. Unfortunately, the terror of the FBI and the prosecutors who direct them are not stories from a land far away. This terror is up close and personal.

The moment for action is now. We cannot afford to ignore the injustice that parades itself as justice to continue. It is time to recognize that the issue of injustice is a cancer that effects all of us, regardless of race, class, and gender. It is time for our national progressive organizations to recognize that they have to come together not just to make pronouncements but to organize.

There need to be operational units throughout all the states of this country. These units need to be focused on research to identify the extent and nature of the prosecutorial terrorism being seen in their area; to identify the practices that need to be challenged; to identify the prosecutors who need to be removed; and to identify the political and legislative actions that need to be taken. With this information, they need to educate. They need to awaken the consciousness of this country, city by city, town by town, state by state of the injustices that are being perpetrated by those who are supposed to work in the interests of justice, not against it.

This local energy must be galvanized into a political force locally and nationally that makes the issue of justice as much a concern for the parties and people of this country as debt reduction. We must raise the consciousness that our human relationships are the basis of a healthy society and that injustice destroys the human fabric of a society in the same way that a cancerous cell, focused only on its own interests, will destroy the body in which it exists. The choice is ours. We can recognize the cancerous nature of the injustice running rampant through our society and root it out or let it continue to grow and flourish until it destroys us. 

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