By Janet Phelan
Recent actions by the Trump administration have commentators wondering if Trump’s pursuit of whistleblowers is simply a continuation of the prior administration’s War on Revealers. The Trump administration’s decisions to attempt to extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and to repeatedly jail Chelsea Manning in an effort to coerce her testimony against Assange may only be the most visible manifestations of a policy which protects, rather than exposes, Deep State agendas.
In fact, the Trump administration has exceeded Obama’s administration in its pursuit of whistleblowers. Last week, ex-CIA analyst Daniel Hale became the latest target of this endeavor. Hale allegedly passed on classified documents to Intercept reporter Jeremy Scahill. In 2015, Scahill published a series of articles called “The Drone Papers.” Based on material obtained from an anonymous source he hasn’t publicly identified, Scahill said around 90% of deaths by drones were not individuals targeted.
Hale was arrested on May 9 for giving these documents to Scahill. He faces up to ten years in prison for the alleged leak. He is the sixth whistleblower charged under the Trump Administration.
However, numerous others are facing illegal detention and trial, due to smaller scale activism. These stories rarely hit the national press. Many of these individuals face entirely false charges, manufactured in order to shut them up and shut them down. These cases often involve ordinary citizens who are attempting to protect family members in child custody or guardianship proceedings. The massive irregularities in these types of cases have prompted allegations of human trafficking, while numerous grassroots groups struggle with how to reform courts that are overseen by judges with virtual impunity.
In a telling statement some years back, former AG Eric Holder said that the US generally uses the legal system to disable individuals. He did not state “to punish” or “to rehabilitate.” He stated “to disable.” As thousands of individuals are now experiencing the “disabling” potential of entrapment and fake charges, it seems to be an appropriate time to delve into the breadth of these efforts at “disabling.”
The Drug Bust
The drug bust is a sure way to take someone down. Whether it is motivated by fulfilling the quota for drug arrests at the Ramparts Division of the LAPD or a more directed effort to silence a CIA operative who has developed a conscience, the drug bust has been successfully utilized for years.
Michael Riconoscuito, who was known to have deep intelligence ties and very possibly a CIA background, was arrested within a week after offering his affidavit to the DOJ in the Promis software case. Riconoscuito, a brilliant software developer, filed a statement in the case which was not friendly to US DOJ interests. He found himself arrested and tried as a crystal meth manufacturer. He was in prison from 1991 to 2017, when he was released and almost immediately re-arrested.
Journalists who became interested in the Riconoscuito case found themselves succumbing to depression and suicide. Danny Casolaro’s death, determined a suicide by the police, evoked protestations of outrage from family and friends. Riconoscuito’s relationship with reporter Gary Webb, whose series on the CIA and drug running in the inner cities first won him journalistic awards then resulted in his blacklisting, has not been publicized. According to conversations with Ted Gunderson, a former FBI big wig turned whistleblower (according to the public perception he carefully nurtured), Webb was visiting Riconoscuito in prison and interviewing him shortly before Webb became suicidally depressed and shot himself in the head twice. Yes, you read that right. Webb, who was found in a hotel room with two bullet holes in his head, was duly pronounced a suicide.
Misapplication of Existing Law
Along with the infamous Drug Bust, other entrapment schemes abound. NSA whistleblower Karen Melton Stewart was confronted with an assailant on her parents’ property, who took a swing at her when she went into her driveway to see who had rung the doorbell. When Stewart blocked the impact of the ambush blow with a flashlight, he threw another punch busting open her lip. Stewart hit back with the flashlight again. When this did not deter the assailant, she cracked a window on his car with the flashlight and then backed off. However, he kept coming. So rather than get into a close tussle with a man half her age and twice her size, with a criminal record of substance abuse and battery, she threw the flashlight, busting another car window. At that point, the assailant left, giving her access to her home again.
Florida is a “Stand Your Ground” state. Nevertheless, Stewart was arrested, booked and charged while the assailant, the son of a long-time sheriff’s department female employee, was not charged with anything. Shortly thereafter (24 hrs), Stewart was rearrested for “cyberstalking” when the police mischaracterized a trail camera set up in a tree on her family’s property to record the neighbor’s constant nocturnal trespassing as being connected to the internet and capable of realtime surveillance and therefore “cyberstalking.”
The assault on Stewart took place in front of witnesses. Parenthetically, Stewart has informed this reporter that one of the lawyers she contacted in pursuit of representation told her that she had been warned that defending anyone NSA had “targeted” could be very dangerous. The counsel that Stewart eventually was funneled into hiring offered stunningly limp and inadequate representation.
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Selectively misapplying the law, as took place in the Stewart case, can be seen in other politically motivated circumstances, as well. Attorney Barbara Stone was visiting her mother in the facility in which the guardian-for-profit had placed Helen Stone. Alarmed at what appeared to be near-starvation in her mother, Barbara took Helen out of the facility and to a nearby restaurant to eat. Barbara was repeatedly jailed for this and ultimately, fearing yet another incarceration on the same “crime,” fled the jurisdiction. She was recently released after spending nearly two years in prison.
Ever Hear of the “Receipt Trick?”
According to Ted Gunderson, most people don’t check the date or the contents of a cash register receipt. The receipt trick, he declared, is therefore profoundly effective.
The Target would walk into a store, say a local 7-Eleven, buy a bag of chips, and walk out with either no receipt or a receipt that bears another date. He can then be picked up for shoplifting.
Enter the psychiatric arm of the State. At the Target’s hearing, during which he protests that he lawfully bought the item and that there should be video and other evidence available to support his contention, a judge may decide that the Target needs a psych eval. If the psych eval comes back compromised, the Target could spend the rest of his life incarcerated in the local behavioral health center.
Several prominent individuals have already suffered the impact of a compromised psych eval. CIA asset Susan Lindauer was arrested shortly after she contacted Bush’s Commission on Pre-Iraqi War Intelligence, stating her desire to testify. Her testimony would have called into grave question the WMD hook, line and sinker which the US used to go to war. Lindauer was taken into custody by the FBI, ludicrously charged as working as an unregistered agent for a foreign power, and ordered into Carswell Federal Prison Mental Hospital for brief psychiatric evaluation. In fact, she was psychiatrically detained for about a year, during the entire Commission hearings. The charges against her were ultimately dismissed.
Stolen Property Bust
Somewhat akin to the Drug Bust, the Stolen Property scam relies on the collusion between a “private citizen” and law enforcement. While the Target is out of the house, shopping or working, the good citizen sneaks into the Target’s home and leaves a piece of her property there. She then calls the local gendarmes and reports it stolen. And off to the gulag goes the Target.
Apparently, former NSA analyst Ken Ford, who was imprisoned for six years for allegedly sneaking documents out of the NSA (following his politically unfavorable report on the prospect of invading Iraq) was subjected to a variation of this scheme–the honeypot thief.
A twist to the Stolen Property scam is the Computer Porn Scam. Remotely unlocking a computer and planting incriminating details is a walk in the park for the advanced capabilities of the NSA and other computer-oriented spy shops.
At one time, these entrapment schemes would be prohibited by the US Constitution, specifically by Amendments 4, 5 and 6. The State, however, has assumed its own impetus and motive, apart from serving the citizenry. The State increasingly stands opposed to the public’s right to know and the individual’s right to protect his family and his property. As ethics are swept aside as inapplicable to the mandates of Empire, we will only see an increase in the use of such methods to “disable” the individual.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking , EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad. You can follow her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012703457651
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Image credit: Anthony Freda Art