Our Founding Fathers were so appalled by the criminal intrusion into the lives of the Colonists by King George III, that they incorporated a Bill of Rights into our Constitution. In the gross injustices done to Richard Clark Johnson, the Constitution was itself trashed to appease the interests of the British.
Back in the late 80ís, British intelligence agents requested that the FBI conduct an investigation into the activities of Richard Clark Johnson, an American citizen and a respected radar engineer, Christina Reid, an American citizen and engineering student, Martin P. Quigley, an Irish citizen from County Louth and Peter Eamon McGuire, an Irish citizen from Co. Dublin. They were all wrongly suspected of designing a fuse for a missile to shoot down British army helicopters in occupied Ireland .
When the FBI could not obtain any probable cause to obtain wiretaps against the above named individuals as is required by the Fourth Amendment, it reverted to the draconian Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Government then alleged before a secret court that the taps would produced evidence for foreign intelligence information purposes. FISA allows a standard of probable cause to obtain surveillance that is much less than required by the 4th Amendment. Worse, it seals forever from a defendant the basis or reasons that electronic surveillance warrants were originally issued. When no information could be obtained after taping the telephones of the defendants, the telephones in the house of Johnsonís parents, and over 100 pay telephones in the Boston area, the FBI changed its focus to a domestic criminal prosecution. It still utilized the FISA provisions to continue the wire taps against the defendants, even though its focus had clearly changed to a domestic criminal prosecution. After the wire taps could not produce sufficient evidence for an arrest, the FBI attempted to install a listening device in Johnsonís car. Johnson caught the FBI agents red-handed in this attempt, but he was promptly arrested himself. The FBI then dredged up, among other charges against him and his co-defendants, an archaic law that had not been used since WWI, entitled, " Possession of contraband in aid of Foreign insurgents".
At the trial in the Spring of 1990, in Boston, Judge David A. Mazzone presided. He was openly favorable to the prosecution and demonstrated anti-Irish biases, since no Irish Catholics were permitted to sit on the jury. Although it was never alleged that the defendants,now known as the Boston 3, had constructed a bomb, the trial judge wrongly allowed the FBI to video tape a van packed with explosives being blown up and shown to the jury. This was highly inflamatory evidence that serverely prejudiced the jury against all of the defendants. The judge also wrongly allowed as proof of intent the fact the defendant Johnson had Irish history books and copies of An Phoblacht, an Irish Republican newspaper, in his possession. All of the items that the FBI found in the possession of Johnson were ordinary components and gadgets readily available to any citizen from any Radio Shack store. An FBI lab technician, Richard Hahn, later thoroughly discredited in a government scandal, presented highly flawed forensic evidence against the defendants. The jury convicted all the defendants. Although the Federal sentencing guidelines for conviction called for a maximum penalty of only 60 months, Judge Mazzone doubled the sentence and gave Johnson 120 months in prison. He did this despite the fact that Johnson had no prior criminal convictions and had served as a radar engineer with an unblemished record in the defense industry for many years,and with the highest government clearances. The other defendants received substantially lower prison terms. Quigley and Reid are now free and McGuire will be released in January, 1998. Johnson is still languishing in a Federal prison at FCI Allenwood in White Deer Pa.
Some activists expect the Clinton Administration will insist on a new wave of confidence building in order to reinforce the peace process in the North of Ireland. It would be great, if Johnsonís sentence were commuted as a part of this process. It would also be of tremendous help, if readers of this newsletter were to write directly to President Bill Clinton and request that he commute Johnsonís sentence to time served. Copies of any letters to the President should also be sent to the Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Attn: Alice Huppert, 1400 Glenarm St.Suite202, Denver Co. 80202.
Thank you sincerely for all your efforts to bring justice to Richard Clark Johnson, a political prisoner, and closure to a sad chapter in the judicial history of this country.
Chairman, Richmond Va. Unit
Irish Northern Aid
ON 30 December 1997, Richard's application for executive clemency was denied.
IT IS NOW IMPERATIVE TO WRITE TO CLINTON AND URGE HIM TO RECONSIDER AND GRANT RICHARD CLEMENCY