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Monday, November 24, 2008

Political prisoner 18330-424 speaks out: Conrad Black on the American prosecutocracy

In a letter published in the Sunday Times yesterday, written from his cell in a Florida prison, Conrad Black takes aim at the decline of American justice.

The entire letter is worth reading here, but here are some excerpts from political prisoner 18330-424:

However, apart from missing the constant companionship of my magnificent wife Barbara, who visits me once, twice or even three times each week and lives nearby in our Florida home with her splendid Hungarian dogs, I enjoy some aspects of my status as a victim of the American prosecutocracy.

My appeal continues. Given the putrefaction of the US justice system, it is an unsought but distinct honour to fight this out and already to have won 85% of the case and 99% of the financial case. The initial allegation against me of a “$500m corporate kleptocracy” has shrunk to a false finding against me - that even some of the jurors have already fled from in post-trial comments – of the underdocumented receipt of $2.9m. There is no evidence to support this charge.

It has been a grim pleasure to expose the hypocrisy of the corporate governance establishment, who have bankrupted our Canadian company and reduced the share price of the American one from $21, when I left, to a miraculous two cents (yes, two cents). They have vaporised $2 billion of public shareholder value; fine titles in several countries have deteriorated; and for their infamies, the protectors of the public interest have cheerfully trousered more than $200m.

US federal prosecutors, almost all of whom would be disbarred for their antics if they were in Britain or Canada, win more than 90% of their cases thanks to the withering of the constitutional guarantees of due process – that is, the grand jury as an assurance against capricious prosecution, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel, an impartial jury, speedy justice and reasonable bail.


The system is based on the plea bargain: the barefaced exchange of incriminating testimony for immunity or a reduced sentence. It is intimidation and suborned or extorted perjury, an outright rape of any plausible definition of justice.

The US is now a carceral state that imprisons eight to 12 times more people (2.5m) per capita than the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany or Japan. US justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers’ unions that agitate for an unlimited increase in the number of prosecutions and the length of sentences. The entire “war on drugs”, by contrast, is a classic illustration of supply-side economics: a trillion taxpayers’ dollars squandered and 1m small fry imprisoned at a cost of $50 billion a year; as supply of and demand for illegal drugs have increased, prices have fallen and product quality has improved.

Obviously, the bloom is off my long-notorious affection for America. But I note from recent comment in Britain and Europe that the habit of blaming anything that goes awry in the world on the US is alive and well. However, the United States has not disintegrated and American capitalism is not dead, nor even in failing health. The recent financial upheavals have exposed the folly of the US Congress and Federal Reserve and will aggravate a cyclical recession and take some time to shake out.


I would be distinctly consolable if the United States really was in decline and I have more legitimate grievances against that country than do The Guardian or the BBC, but it is still a country of incomparable vitality even as its moral, judicial soul atrophies and reeks.

H/T Bourque

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 24, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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He sounds exactly like Mark Emery. If only they would switch places.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-24 12:09:24 AM

This criminal had a fair trial and is in jail. Someone shut his face.

If it's Khadr, he should be in jail because American justice is the best in the world. But if it is Emery or Black you morons say American justice is flawed. You idiots are so diaphenous it is laughable.

What fools you expose yourself to be!



Posted by: epsilon | 2008-11-24 12:11:29 AM

Did Conrad Black ever remind anyone else of Gail Wynand?

I think that's why I still kind of like the guy.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-11-24 12:24:31 AM

Ha, yeah, actually. Black does remind me of Wynand, Terrence.

Reading his latest piece makes me like Black a lot more.

I'm looking forward to reading much more by him. I hope he writes another book.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-11-24 1:17:01 AM

Black was an unapologetic and uncritical acolyte of all things American until he found himself enmeshed by the very system he had trumpeted. While it's all well and good that Conrad's now become a critic of American justice and while it's also true that the US system regularly railroads innocent people it strains credulity to believe that Black is one of those innocents. His scheme of "non compete" agreements against himself was clearly fraudulent.

Posted by: JL | 2008-11-24 8:27:26 AM

If Black is trying to get a pardon before Bush leaves office, he's not making many friends by condemning the US government.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-24 9:18:03 AM

I wonder what Conrad Black would look like in a beard ? We have been conditioned to believe all the baddest foreign terrorists look the most dangerous wearing long scraggly beards..

Hey. it worked great for Charles Manson and to a certain extent - ZZ Topp

Posted by: 419 | 2008-11-24 9:33:49 AM

....Conrad Black takes aim at the decline of American justice.
Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 24, 2008

You do have to wonder about a legal system that arrests 12 year olds for farting in school.


Posted by: The Stig | 2008-11-24 12:00:33 PM

Air pollution, Stig. That kid was contributing to global warming.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-11-24 12:01:16 PM

Anyone claiming that he had a fair trial is ignorant of the facts. There have been other victims of what American justice has become. Martha Steward was another one. Actually one could compile quiet a list of cases where justice was not served.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-11-24 12:04:49 PM

Khadr is a killer. Black is the victim of Bush witch hunting - he already put 2 brave border guards in jail and now is nailing men who committed no crime to prove something - I suppose the size of his penis. His AG office is out of control.

Meanwhile Bush uses Paulson anmd friends to naked short sell commodity stocks (a highly illegal activity)

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-11-24 12:17:30 PM

Remember Compeon and Ramos. The AG office is out of control. Khadr killed people. Black committed a phony crime dreamt up to get Al Capone called mail fraud.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-11-24 12:19:58 PM

There really is no such thing as a fair trial in the US. However, the rich are far more likely to get a "not guilty" result than the poor regardless of the facts. Black and Stewart simply beat the odds largely because of their own behaviour - Black's open contempt during the trial did him no favours.

Posted by: JL | 2008-11-24 12:54:59 PM

One of the biggest problems that Conrad Black faces is that his legitimate ranting is well beyond most people’s comprehension; therefore, most do not understand where he is coming from, or where he is going. While I am not pretending to be a genius by claiming to understand Black, and understand him well, I want it to be known that a great deal of well seasoned American lawyers that I personally know do agree with Black as much as I do agree with him, if not more.
On the other hand, I do sympathize with all of the good men and women in the U.S. Attorneys Office, who work very hard to enforce what they believe in. Without the U.S. Attorneys Office, this country would be destroyed. What is unfortunate, is when a good man the likes of a Conrad Black are caught up in a grey area resulting in being caged like an animal.
I have been blessed to know Conrad Black. I met him in the house of God well over one year ago in Chicago. Conrad Black, my brother-in-Christ, has proven to be of the most sincere, compassionate and down-to-Earth people that I have met. In addition, I believe that God has a plan for Conrad, and a good one, and we shall see it take shape in a very significant way.
Please be advised that my brother-in-Christ, Conrad Black, has contributed in a number of wholesome ways to KTF Media Group (ktfmediagroup.com); please enjoy a good read.

Posted by: Joseph Fosco | 2008-11-25 5:05:33 AM

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