Smiling Faces Sometimes

Monday, March 4, 2013

Support Paul Bergrin


"Besides the evidence I uncovered on Operation Iron Triangle, Objective Murray and the Rules of Engagement, to kill every[Iraqi] military aged male upon contact, I was about to change the course of history (in a press conference) that I had affirmative proof that President Bush, VP Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assist. Secy. of (Defense) Wolfowitz, Carbone and White House Counsel, (Alberto) Gonzales (later US Attorney General) had lied, deliberately and intentionally when they denied knowledge of the torture techniques at Abu Ghraib. "-   Paul Bergrin


TIME:  9:00 am

DATE:  Trial is currently underway and will be lasting for about two more weeks.

WHERE:  The third floor of the  main Post Office, between Franklin and Walnut Street (entrances are  on both  streets, which intersect  with Broad Street. The Post Office is about a Block in from Broad Street), downtown, Newark, New Jersey

Judge:  Dennis Cavanaugh, 3rd Floor, Courtroom 4.

Paul Bergrin is the prominent and brilliant defense attorney who tried to put George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on the stand  for authorizing torture in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was representing one of the soldiers who was wrongfully set up to take the fall for abuses at Abu Ghraib. And when Bush wanted to bulldoze the prison, Bergrin was the one who stopped him.  

In 2007 he was about to go forward with the trial of Operation Iron Triangle, which would have exposed how the US was authorizing soldiers to kill every Iraqi male of military age on sight. However,  he was arrested and charged with spurious counts of money laundering and operating a prostitution ring. After his arrest, all the soldiers involved were forced to accept plea bargains and the trial never proceeded. Thus, the war crimes that the US committed during that operation remains virtually unknown to  American public and soldiers that were set up to take the fall are serving 18 years in prison, while the top commanders who gave the murderous orders, such as Colonel Michael Steele of “Black Hawk Down” fame, remain free and clear, with their reputations in tact.

Bergrin was eventually able to clear his name of the felony charges against him (he pled guilty to a misdemeanor), but his troubles would prove to be far from over. In  April 2009, when the Obama administration released the torture memos, Bergrin announced his intentions to reopen the Abu Ghraib case as he now had the proof he needed to show that the US was authorizing torture. He writes:

"If I had the torture memos, I would have compelled the highest levels of the government to testify at these Court-Martials, gone with a not guilty plea and exposed the hypocrisy. Additionally, Col. Pohl denied me calling these witnesses because the (government) alleged there was no nexus nor evidence in existence on the torture memos and techniques; we now know (they) existed and all the above had knowledge of....I could have reversed the convictions at Abu Ghraib and placed blame on the real offenders . . ."

The government was also very aware of the threat that Bergrin posed to them and within a couple of weeks of announcing his intentions to reopen Abu Ghraib, he was again arrested and charged with over 30 felony counts, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, witness tampering, operating a brothel, real estate fraud, dealing in the drug trade, etc., etc. He was denied bail and has been imprisoned ever since. He is now fighting that outrageous 31 count indictment in Newark, New Jersey.   


While time nor space permits a detailed analysis of every false claim that the government has made against Bergrin in this sham of a case, there is one very important claim which is crucial to the US Attorney’s case that warrants scrutiny and that exposes the absurdity of the charges against him. And that is the claim that they have a wire tap of a conversation of Bergrin discussing killing a witness on December 8, 2008, with Oscar Cordova,  who was wearing a wire for the FBI. (It should be stressed that after six months of wearing a wire, the government only has one statement of Bergrin making such a reference.) 

According to Assistant US Attorney, John Gay, Bergrin hired Cordova as a hit man in June of 2008 to kill witnesses on behalf of a client  he was representing, Vinnie Estavez, who was a major drug dealer with big time connections and who had been arrested in May, 2008. Cordova testified that he had been a member of the Latin Kings and that on June 8, 2008, he was contacted about drugs and about killing witnesses in the Vinnie Estavez case. He then testified that because he did not want to get involved with anymore killings that he  contacted the FBI and decided to cooperate with them. Bergrin on the other hand always maintained that he was role playing and that he always had great suspicions about Cordova. Upon cross examination, Cordova was forced to admit that he had been in contact with the FBI on July 7th, before he ever met Bergrin, or anyone from his office.

Even more importantly, Cordova was forced to admit that in the six months that he had any dealings with him that no one from his office ever gave him any information about any of the witnesses. He admitted to repeatedly asking for information but was never provided with  pictures, phone numbers or addresses. He was also never offered any money or supplied with any guns.

Clearly the fact that Bergrin never gave the hit man any money, or weapons or any identifying information about any witnesses (Cordova didn’t even know the names of all of them) makes the government’s assertions that he was conspiring to kill people an absolute farce! The only thing that Bergrin could be accused of doing on those tapes is bullshitting Cordova!

Here’s a few more facts about the government’s star witness, Oscar Cordova. He told the FBI that he had committed 15 murders, but changed his statement around to say that he knew of 15 murders that were committed after he learned that he could get a life sentence for each murder. He lied to the FBI on a previous case in which he was working as their informant. He continued to use drugs and engage in illegal activity and was arrested while working as an informant on this case. And after he finished testifying on Thursday, 2/21, he had to be called back to the stand on Monday, 2/25, for perjury because he testified that he had never called in a hit  on himself to the FBI, when the fact is that he did. He disguised his voice as a female and told them  that a hit had been ordered on him. He did this because he did not want to testify at the trial. And naturally the reason that he admitted to doing such is that the government basically promised him immunity.

But it gets better. When Vinnie Estavez took the stand he testified on direct questioning that Bergrin told him that if he wanted to win his case the witnesses would have to be killed. But under cross examination Vinnie  acknowledged that upon his arrest he made a videotaped confession to law enforcement. He gave up the names of almost everyone that was involved with him in the drug trade! What’s more, the government had bugged many conversations of him talking to  his drug connections. Thus another preposterous charge by the government is ripped into shreds! It is ludicrous to believe that Bergrin would ever tell Estavez that killing approximately five witnesses would help his case when he had already confessed to everything and had given up the names of  his drug contacts. In fact, Estavez admitted that for the first 13 months after Bergrin’s arrest he pled not guilty and asserted his innocence in conspiring to commit murder and only agreed to cooperate with the Feds after he was given a 25 year sentence in state court.

The trial of Paul Bergrin is violative on so many fronts. And the system of the confidential informant has proven to be nothing more than  another way for this government to exploit the pain and destitution of so many impoverished communities of color to exact vendettas against anyone it deems a threat to its imperialist designs. The trail of carnage that this vendetta against Bergrin leaves in its wake is immense. There is the young man, an informant,  who the FBI refused to put into the witness protection program and  who consequently was gunned down in front of his stepfather;  there is another young man who was framed with ordering his murder who is serving a 20 year life sentence; there are 9 American soldiers who have been tortured and who are serving 18 years in prison because they followed orders. But perhaps the biggest casualty of all  is the so called system of justice. Whereas if it was broke before, it is now completely shattered, as defense attorneys are  being imprisoned and charged based on guilt by association for zealously defending their clients (let us take a moment here to remember another ardent defender of justice, attorney Lynne Stewart, who is wrongfully serving a 10 year sentence in Texas and who is currently battling stage 4 breast cancer).

The ramifications of these actions are far reaching and can have potentially devastating consequences on disenfranchised communities, unless we come together and mount an organized challenge to government corruption and frame ups.

Paul Bergrin needs our support! And we need to send a strong message to this government that people are watching this case and that its corruption and underhandness is being exposed.  And the strongest way to do that is by having a strong turnout in the court room.  

Lisa V. Davis 


barry crimm said...

Excellent post! Yes, the Bergrin trial is an affront to justice and could easily be seen as a comedy if an innocent man's life did not hang in the balance.

Oscar Cordova was the single worst witness I have ever seen appear in a federal trial. I always knew that John Gay and his gang of rogue prosecutors were capable of stooping to unfathomable lows, but going forward with Cordova demonstrated that they also have no shame. While Ms. Davis' post did a wonderful job of highlighting Oscar's laughable testimony, one cannot fully appreciate its complete absurdity without having been there. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I still might not believe it.

One can only hope that the jurors recognized Oscar as being more akin to a cartoon character than a "hit man."

madmax said...

Went to court house today got their at 2:00 pm, court was in recess but when they got back the prosecutor was going over mr bergin accounts real a state,tax transaction, even his car. None of this had nothing to do with the case. They tried to prove that the car was the same one he met the group of dealers in. But like paul objected i quote i never said didn't own the car, i said i wasn't at the meeting. The no kemo no case meeting. So if he wasn't their means his car not there. No proof it was, i know the jury seen this.

Anonymous said...

The drug counts are just ridiculous. How are you going to charge Paul Bergrin for drug dealing in massive quantities and not have any solid evidence. A judge should of threw that count right out of the window. Show the authority the prosecutors have on building a case any way they'd like. This system is a sham...

Hopefully Paul is acquitted and the prosecutors can spend another few years building a jay-walking case against him in the form of a rico indictment. lol

Also it's terrible that these prosecutors have immunity from being prosecuted because the way they built this case they should be prosecuted.