III. Political Prisoners in Virginia:
It's Time for Truth-In-Justice in Virginia

In Jauary 1990, five political associates of economist and statesman Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. were illegally confined in the Virginia state prison system. They are currently on parole, after having served from 7 to 10 years in prison. While ostensibly under the control of state authorities, the prosecution of the LaRouche Five, was directed at all times by a national-security foreign intelligence task force, headed by former President and Knight of the British Empire, Sir George Bush, and his fellow knight, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Even though Bush and Kissinger no longer hold official positions of authority, the treasonous apparatus of which they are functionaries continues to exert great power through a permanent pro-British bureaucracy embedded within the U.S. Department of Justice, other federal agencies, the nation's news media, and federal and state courts.

While many of the principal Virginia state officials who prosecuted the LaRouche Five, have since departed government service in disgrace, or been prosecuted themselves for other crimes, the current administration of Conservative Revolutionaries, led by Virginia's Governor George Allen, and Attorney General Jim Gilmore, have adopted the illegal prosecutions as their own, by refusing to release the five prisoners, or to take any action to reverse the injustice. In fact, the Allen/Gilmore administration, has defended the illegal actions of their predecessors in federal and state court.

Over the last several years, mountains of evidence have piled up in the case of the LaRouche Five, documenting what amounts to a national disgrace. We review some of that evidence now, not only in the interest of justice, but in the hope that honest citizens and elected officials, will recognize the consequences of their own complacency.

The Head of the Beast

The ``LaRouche case'' and the task force to which the Virginia authorities were attached, was launched under U.S. Executive Order 12333, while George Bush was Vice President, at the initiative of Sir Henry Kissinger. In August 1982, Kissinger wrote to then-head of the FBI, William Webster, seeking to initiate federal government action against LaRouche. In January 1983, Kissinger's request was adopted, at a meeting of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, under Executive Order 12333 and National Security Decision Directive 3 (NSDD-3). Vice President Bush held ultimate responsibility for the foreign national security operations carried out under these directives.

(It was under this same authority, that Bush, and his underling, the psychotic Lt.-Col. Oliver North, ran a global drug- and gun-running network, involving the Nicaraguan Contras, the ``Afghansi'' mujahideen, and other covert operations.)

The goal of the operation, was to get LaRouche out of the way, by whatever means necessary. The means included illegal national security surveillance, wire taps, infiltrations, an assassination attempt, an international campaign of defamation and slander, harassment of political supporters of LaRouche's Presidential campaigns, and abuse of grand jury and other legal proceedings. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who became one of LaRouche's attorneys on his appeal, told an independent body of legal experts who had reviewed the evidence in the LaRouche case that the case, viewed in context, ``represented a broader range of deliberate cunning and systematic misconduct over a longer period of time, utilizing the power of the federal government than any other prosecution by the U.S. government in my time or knowledge.''

The Billington Case

[Note: For a fuller report on the Billington story, see his autobiography, Reflections of a Political Prisoner.]

In May 1996, evidence was presented in federal court in Richmond, before Judge Richard Williams, in the case of Michael Billington, one of the LaRouche associates incarcerated in Virginia. Billington is serving 77 years in prison, having been convicted in one of the most bizarre trials in the nation's history. A summary look at the evidence presented in the Billington case, while still only part of the story, illustrates the magnitude of the injustice perpetrated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, in coordination with the Bush machine.

Billington had been a co-defendant of LaRouche in the 1988 federal trials in Boston, Mass. and Alexandria, Va., which were prosecuted by the Bush/Kissinger task force. The Boston case ended in a mistrial, after government prosecutors were caught concealing evidence of their own misconduct. Among the documents concealed, was a May 1986 telex from Iran-Contra defendant General Richard Secord to Bush flunky Oliver North, discussing the gathering of information to be used against LaRouche. After this memo surfaced, Judge Robert Keeton ordered a search of Vice President George Bush's office, for documents relating to LaRouche. Shortly after this order, the government took measures to shut down the trial.

After being dismissed, the jury in the Boston case let the local media know what they thought of the government's case. Jury foreman Roman Daschewitz told the Boston Herald that, based on the government's own evidence, jurors had concluded that the government was the guilty party, and would have found the defendants ``Not Guilty'' on all counts. In a later ruling, Judge Keeton found the government guilty of ``institutional and systemic prosecutorial misconduct.''

After this treatment in Boston, federal prosecutors brought new charges in Alexandria, Va., against LaRouche, Billington, and five others. The government alleged that LaRouche, Billington, and the others, had conspired to borrow money from political supporters, for political purposes, with no intention to repay the loans.

The charges were bogus. In fact, they were brought about by the government's own actions. In April 1987, the U.S. government forced the companies which had borrowed the money into involuntary bankruptcy. One year after the LaRouche-Billington trial, and just days after Billington's conviction in his Virginia State trial, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin V.B. Bostetter ruled that the government's actions were illegal and fraudulent, finding that federal officials had acted in ``objective bad faith,'' and by ``a constructive fraud on the court'' when they illegally forced the involuntary bankruptcy as part of the political prosecution of LaRouche and his associates.

After being falsely convicted in Alexandria, Billington was forced to go on trial a second time by Virginia State authorities. The charges were basically the same as in the federal case, but were brought under the rubric of Virginia's law regulating securities dealers.

Never before had the Commonwealth of Virginia considered political loans, or even corporate loans, ``securities.'' In fact, only after Billington and 15 others were indicted, did the State Corporation Commission hold a hearing to determine whether or not money borrowed from political supporters for political purposes should be considered securities, and the political organizers considered brokers. At that time, the head of the SCC, Elizabeth Lacey, said, ``This is a case of first impression.'' News media accounts quoted prosecutors saying their case against Billington would go down the tubes, if Lacey ruled the loans were not securities. Several weeks later, Lacey went the government's way, and was later appointed to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The Witchhunt in Salem

This set the stage for Billington's trial, which was being held in state court in Salem, Va., a small town in the suburbs of Roanoke. The trial began with one of the most bizarre episodes in U.S. legal history. Three days before the scheduled start of the trial, Billington's attorney, Brian P. Gettings, attended an off-the-record, backroom conference with prosecutor John Russell, and Judge Clifford R. Weckstein. Unbeknownst to Billington at the time, Judge Weckstein was a crony of Anti-Defamation League National Commissioner Murray Janus. The ADL was an integral part of the public/private task force operating under Bush's Executive Order 12333 apparatus.

In the back room, Weckstein pressured Gettings to in turn pressure Billington, to give up his right to a jury trial. Weckstein threatened not to reduce any sentence recommended by the jury in the event of a conviction. Virginia is one of only a few states in the country that still allows jury sentencing. Virginia juries are notorious for handing out ridiculous sentences, which frequently must be reduced by judges. Weckstein, however, hardly ever reduced jury sentences, and in Billington's case, he declared beforehand that he would not.

Billington refused to waive his right to a jury trial, which was his only hope of proving his innocence. Instead of accepting Billington's decision, Gettings moved, on the eve of trial, to withdraw from the case and have Billington declared mentally incompetent, solely because he had refused to waive his right to a jury trial, as Gettings had advised. This set off a chain of events in which Billington was ordered to undergo two psychiatric examinations, and several hearings, during which his own lawyer attacked him.

The first psychiatric exam was performed by Dr. Conrad Daum, of Roanoke, who found no basis for the outlandish charge that Billington was incompetent. Despite this finding, prosecutor John Russell and Gettings joined forces and persuaded Judge Weckstein to order a second exam, at the Institute for Law, Public Policy and Psychiatry at the University of Virginia--an organization closely tied to the FBI's brainwashing unit at Quantico, Va. and the Virginia Attorney General's office. (It was the ``experts'' at the FBI's Quantico Behavioral Science Unit, that directed the murderous operations against the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in 1994.)

According to documents which surfaced after Billington's trial, prosecutor Russell made every effort to involve Mira Lansky Boland, a former CIA employee and head of the ADL's Washington, D.C. fact-finding division, in the second psychiatric exam.

Despite this bizarre turn of events, Weckstein refused to let Billington hire a new lawyer, forcing him to stand trial with the lawyer who had betrayed him. Not surprisingly, the ensuing trial was a farce. Not only was Gettings hostile to the interests of his client, but he was so unprepared that his performance was shocking to the standards of the legal profession.

However, no systematic presentation of this scandal was heard, during Billington's first years in Virginia prison. The Virginia courts turned down his appeals, and only then could Billington appeal to the federal courts. The federal Appeals Court in Richmond accepted Billington's appeal for a federal habeas corpus hearing, on the issue of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the charge that Billington received ``ineffective assistance of counsel.''

At the May 1996 hearing before Judge Williams, Hofstra University professor and legal ethics expert Roy Simon, testified at length about Gettings's conduct. After examining the trial record, and all the supporting documents, Professor Simon concluded that Gettings's conduct was unethical. Another legal expert, Richmond attorney Steven Benjamin, testified that Gettings's performance was far below what should be expected of a competent criminal defense lawyer.

The testimony of both experts established that it was perfectly reasonable for Billington to reject Gettings's advice to waive a jury trial. What was unreasonable, and unethical, the experts testified, were Gettings's violations of the attorney-client privilege, his willingness to openly attack his client in court, and his sheer incompetence at trial. Professor Simon characterized the way Gettings mishandled the issue of Billington's own testimony as ``bizarre.'' Instead of preparing Billington to testify, as would be expected of any attorney, Gettings advised Billington to hire another attorney--in the middle of trial--to help prepare his testimony. Professor Simon said this was way outside the bounds of professional norms. Under attack from his own lawyer, Billington was unable to testify at his own trial.

Billington vs. North

It wasn't until the federal court hearing, that Billington was finally able to take the witness stand in his own defense. One of the most dramatic moments of Billington's testimony, was his account of his direct battles against the drug-running operations of Bush and North.

In 1985-86, Billington had come into contact with a wealthy Connecticut woman, Barbara Newington, who became a major financial contributor to the political movement associated with LaRouche. But Billington wasn't the only one soliciting Newington for funds. During the same period, North's chief fundraiser, Carl ``Spitz'' Channell, convinced Newington to donate millions of dollars to North's Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua.

At some point during early 1985, Channell went to see Mrs. Newington, and began a process of calls, meetings, and trips to Washington intended to persuade her to cut off support for the LaRouche organization and divert the money to the Contras. U.S. government official North and his cohort Channell lied to Mrs. Newington (and others) that donating money to purchase weapons for the Contras was not only legal, but tax deductible! All of this is in the Congressional Record from the Iran-Contra hearings.

In 1985, Executive Intelligence Review magazine began to document that, under the cover of fighting communism, the Contra apparatus, including its pilots, logistical capabilities on the ground, and so forth, was fully integrated into the Medellin, Colombia-based regional cocaine trade. Newington, through discussions with Billington, had become a major sponsor of publishing and other activities by LaRouche and his associates, who were exposing the international drug operations run by leading U.S. banks and government agencies. Oliver North, illegally using the power of his government position, convinced Newington to support only his Contra scam, telling her that worrying about drugs and narcoterrorism elsewhere would only divert attention from the Contras. He instructed her not to mention his name to Billington, nor the fact that the Contra support was being passed off as U.S. government policy.

By now, most Americans know that Billington was right, when he warned Newington that North's operations were bringing tons of drugs into the United States. But at the time, LaRouche was the only major figure with the courage to expose the North/Bush operation for what it was. North and Bush were well aware of what LaRouche was doing, and they considered it a threat to their ongoing drug- and gun-running apparatus.

Prosecutor's Misconduct

The federal court hearing only scratched the surface of the injustice in the Billington case. Judge Williams had refused to review, on procedural grounds, the prosecutor's violations of Billington's rights, despite being presented with over 100 pages of factual allegations showing that prosecutors withheld evidence, presented perjured testimony, tampered with witnesses, and lied in court to cover up their illegal actions.

A full hearing would have enabled Billington to show that prosecutors used coercive techniques against financial and political supporters of LaRouche, in order to get them to present false testimony against Billington. One witness, former LaRouche associate Chris Curtis, was ``deprogrammed''--i.e., brainwashed--by Cult Awareness Network kidnapper Galen Kelly and former Loudoun County (Va.) Sheriff's Deputy Donald Moore. Both Moore and Kelly have since served federal prison sentences for a CAN-related kidnapping.

Billington also presented extensive evidence of illegal activities conducted by government officials. According to the petition, Moore illegally entered buildings without a warrant, and illegally obtained photos and seized computer printouts, including notebooks and lists of financial supporters, which were used to harass and spread lies among financial supporters. Moore also engaged with others in illegal wiretappings, and interfered with the finances and operations of the Constitutional Defense Fund, which was assisting in Billington's defense.

After two days of hearings, Judge Williams issued a piece of Nazi-like propaganda which he put forward as a ``judicial opinion.''

``Billington wished to make his trial a platform to defend and extol the virtues of various LaRouche entities and LaRouche himself...,'' Judge Williams blathered in his opinion. He went on: ``Unlike most defendants who want to be found innocent of criminal charges, Billington, either because he was dominated by his political associates or because of his own zealotry, wanted a forum to make a political statement rather than to establish his innocence. Billington was willing to assume the role of a martyr for a political cause.''

Judge Williams was lying. It was Mr. Gettings who refused to refute the government's charges, both in specific, and by demonstrating the fact that the loans that were subject of the government's securities fraud case were political, and it was a political motivation that led to the prosecution. To remove politics from the trial, was to concede defeat.

In perhaps his most fanciful statement, Judge Williams called Gettings's efforts to have Billington declared mentally incompetent and placed in an institution, ``a classic example of his dedication to his client's cause and his efforts to promote his innocence at all cost.''

Judge Williams's blatantly political opinion is being appealed; but it will come before a Circuit Court of Appeals that has not only previously ruled against LaRouche and his associates, but is notorious for its corruption and denial of rights to all defendants. It's time for honest citizens to step forward: Isn't it about time we had some truth in justice in Virginia?

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