Chicago Torture Cases Update and Another Chicago Cover-Up
We follow up on the Chicago torture cases and their aftermath. Listeners may recall the sentencing of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge in 2011, which helped create a model within Chicago criminal courts in seeking justice for crimes of torture. The Civil Rights Act was used to litigate the Chicago torture cases, specifically the Anti-Klu-Klux-Klan Act. Now, the People’s Law Office is working to get a statute passed making torture a federal crime. In our last interview with attorney G. Flint Taylor he questioned how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will handle the hundreds of ongoing torture cases of African-American men. The type of torture that was involved include electric shock, suffocation with bags, beating and burning prisoners to get confession. The city continues to fund Burge’s defense, paying private lawyers millions to date. Meanwhile, a recent unraveling of a murder cover-up involving former Mayor Daley’s nephew makes headlines.
This is a scandal that’s gone on for 20 years now. Burge came back from Vietnam and he was quickly made a detective on the south side of Chicago, in the early ’70s. He started to use electric shock, bagging people to suffocate them, mock executions – all the torture techniques you hear about in the Third World and that kind of thing.
He tortured over the next 20 years; we’ve now documented more than 120 African American men.
Many of those men were sent to the penitentiary, some to death row. Many of them gave false confessions under torture. During this 20-year period, Burge was promoted from detective, to sergeant, to lieutenant, to commander.
During this period of the time the prosecutor was Richard M. Daley, who went on to be mayor of course. This evidence was presented to him early on by the superintendent of police and they decided to cover it all up rather than pursue Burge.
Because of that, the torture went on for another 10-15 years.
Burge was fired in the ’90s but wasn’t prosecuted until the critical mass of evidence reached a peak in the mid-2000s. Burge was convicted and sent to a penitentiary, where he’s now serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence, with Bernie Madoff down in Butner.
The city of Chicago has paid over $20 million to defend Burge and his co-conspirators.
Another $20 million has gone out to their pensions. Burge now still gets his pension down in the penitentiary. There’s another $65 million that was paid out to the wrongfully convicted men who were fortunate enough to win lawsuits against Burge.
You add it all up and you get $125 million in taxpayer money that’s been spent on this scandal.
There are still men behind bars after all these years, based on tortured confessions.
We recently created a special position to find men in the penitentiary who haven’t had the ability to have a hearing, to have their case re-litigated based on the torture evidence.
There’s an ongoing battle to try and take Burge’s pension away.
David Koschman was a 21-year-old college student from the suburbs who had the misfortune of being on Rush Street in Chicago late at night, and getting into a verbal altercation with a group of thugs that included the mayor’s nephew, a man by the name of Vanecko. Vanecko was 6’3″, 230 lbs, and he punched David square in the face. Koschman went down, hit his head against the curb, went into a coma and died 12 days later.
The mayor’s nephew ran from the scene, so they didn’t know who it was. Somehow, through back channels they let the highest officials in the police department know that the mayor’s nephew was involved, and so a massive cover-up went on in the police department and at the state’s attorneys office, to make Koschman, 5’5″, 120 lbs, into the aggressor.
Guest – G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years.
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel – Max Blumenthal Speech in Brooklyn
We hear part of speech by award-winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal, delivered at a Brooklyn for Peace meeting. Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 is the starting point of the book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, in which Blumenthal shows the reader how a right-wing government in Israel rose to power. His book takes a hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics through a cross-section of interviews, from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault against civil liberties.
Speaker – Max Blumenthal, an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, the Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a former Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
In his recent article “The Kiev Putsch: Rebel Workers Take Power in the East,” returning guest Professor Jim Petras describes the immense complexity and shifting outcomes within the NATO, US and European violent seizure of the Ukraine. He asserts that the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine is part of a strategic goal to place neoliberal political proxies in power in Moscow. In order to do this, one objective is to undermine Russia’s military capability. However, things have not gone according to plan. There’s growing opposition to the Ukraine power grab in the EU and Russia. Professor Jim Petras asserts that the real struggle is not between the US and Russia; it’s between the NATO-imposed junta composed of neoliberal oligarchs and fascists, and on the other side is the industrial workers, their local militias plus democratic councils.
- Ukraine had kind of an oligarchical electoral system where various oligarchs competed in the electoral arena. One set of oligarchs was closer to the NATO powers and one set was closer to Russia, more or less pursuing a non-alignment policy.
- This came to a head recently, I believe in February.
- The opposition backed by NATO overthrew the government and a coup seized power, and the U.S. under the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Victoria Newland appointed the president and the prime minister, who then formed a coalition government with neo-fascists openly embracing the heritage of the Nazi collaborators.
- These people then tried to impose a different kind of policy, and different kind of orientation to the country, essentially aligning it to NATO and trying to undercut any pluralism or diversity that existed up until then.
- They moved ahead and outlawed speaking Russian and that provoked people in the east who were long time critics of centralism and the imposition of policies from Kiev, in the west.
- The Kiev junta sent military groups out there to repress them, culminating with the neo-fascists going to Odessa and incinerating 40 people who were taking refuge in a trade union center.
- You have to realize the dynamic of the industrial sectors in the east. There’s the steel, coal; it’s the most productive sector of the country. They pay a disproportionate amount of taxes and get very little in return.
- So there is a regional hostility here, and the issue has nothing to do with being pro-Russia. It’s a question of people in the east opposing a military takeover, a junta. They oppose a government appointed by foreign powers.
- They oppose the outlawing of bilingualism.
- The authoritarians in the east want to break with Russia. It has nothing to do with the so-called transition government. The west’s account is absolutely bizarre.
- The role of the western press–I would compare it to the worst part of McCarthyism in the Cold War.
- The Kiev dictatorship can’t even count on its own troops. They send troops over there and they fraternize with their own people. So they have to send special forces and they recently got a big inflow of mercenaries from what used to be called Blackwater. They call themselves Academi now.
- There were over 400 of them that were shipped in to the eastern part of the country to do the dirty work.
- I think this is an indication of how isolated this government is and how much the demands for democracy, maintaining industry and resisting the IMF, how much fear they have of the contagion, that the democratic self-determination agenda of the east resonates with the west.
- There’s no great wall of China separating the east and west when it comes to economic improvement and democratic representation.
- Essentially NATO and the US’s idea is to turn Russia into a vassal state.
- The same thing with China–they’re encircling China with bases all over the Pacific, provoking conflict.
- They don’t want a powerful competitive economy that’s displacing them in Latin America and Asia.
- What happened to the peace movement that went into the Democratic Party to support Obama?
Guest – Professor James Petras, author of more than 60 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2,000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Les Temps Modernes, and Le Monde Diplomatique.