JIM TRAFICANT SET FREE
Wrongfully imprisoned Congressman comes home to warm welcome after spending seven years in federal jail
By Michael Collins Piper
Former Congressman Jim Traficant came home to freedom on September 2 after serving seven years in prison for crimes he did not commit. More than a thousand of his friends and admirers bought tickets to a banquet being held in his honor in Boardman, Ohio in his former congressional district surrounding Youngstown.
Although the major media is still smearing Traficant as a “crook,” those who know Traficant know his prison sentence was “a railroad job” from the beginning. The fact is that although there are probably dozens of members of Congress who could be indicted and convicted for major criminal offenses involving high-stakes bribery and influence peddling that is often quite open and never prosecuted, the Justice Department spent many years coming up with a handful of dubious charges against Traficant.
Ask anyone who knows how it works in official Washington and they’ll privately admit that the real reason Traficant was indicted on criminal charges was simply the fact that “the powers that be” didn’t like Traficant: he was just too honest and too outspoken.
Right up front, let’s lay it out. Here were some of Traficant’s real “crimes” in the eyes of the elite who railroaded him into federal prison in 2002:
• Criticizing the Internal Revenue Service and calling for expanded protection for the rights of taxpayers under fire from the IRS;
• Taking a hard-line stand against NAFTA, the World Trade Organization and so-called “free” trade and urging protectionist measures to preserve American jobs, defend domestic industry from predatory global speculators and save the American economy.
• Tackling not only corruption inside the FBI and the Justice Department, but also assailing the personal integrity of former Attorney General Janet Reno;
• Attacking Wall Street wheeling and dealing and raising questions about the enrichment of high-level financial interests through the lending practices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
• Accusing then-Vice President Al Gore of “trying to steal the election” in the midst of the long-and-drawnout post-election debacle in 2000;
• Calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from trouble-spots around the globe and questioning constant U.S. meddling in the affairs of other nations;
• Charging American policymakers with treason for having given top-secret U.S. defense and nuclear technology to the butchers in Peking;
• Coming to the defense of Ukraine-born Cleveland autoworker John Demjanjuk, who was falsely charged by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Justice Department‘s Office of Special Investigations of being a “Nazi war criminal”—only to be cleared, ironically, by an Israeli court. (Ultimately, with Traficant sidelined in his own federal trial, they went after Demjanjuk again on “new” charges and restarted the process of seeking to deport the beleaguered old man, who is now in Germany facing trial on 29,000 counts of being an accessory to the alleged murder of European Jews.)
• Demanding that U.S. troops be sent to guard the Mexican border and prevent continuing hordes of illegal aliens—and potential terrorists—from entering into the United States; and—last but very far from least:
• Challenging one-sided U.S. aid and support for Israel, saying that the biased policy was to the detriment of America’s security and Middle East interests.
Traficant was the only member of Congress—the day after the Sept. 11 tragedy—to point out that U.S. support for Israel and open borders were root problems leading to the tragedy.
While Traficant enunciated these truths, other members of Congress squirmed uneasily, sitting in silence, as Traficant spoke out—even in the face of his impending trial—never one to be cowed.
Congressman Jim Traficant was most assuredly lynched by the Justice Department just as if he had been taken by force and hanged from a lamp post near the U.S. Capitol in Washington—a method of justice that certainly should be applied to many of the corrupt individuals who continue to misrule America from their positions in Congress and throughout official Washington.
However, what happened to Traficant could happen to any American should he or she fall into the gunsights of the powerful forces that reign supreme in America. The Traficant case is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, for the truth is that sitting alongside Traficant in prisons today—federal, state and local—there are probably thousands of Americans who were as much victims of an unjust system as Traficant.
These people, too, are “political prisoners” in the plainest and most very real sense of the words. But we haven’t heard about these folks because they didn’t have the high public profile of the outspoken Jim Traficant.
So the lesson to be learned is simple: Even someone in a position of influence—such as a U.S. congressman—can be railroaded into prison by the very people whose job it is to enforce the laws.
A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House All are available from AFP.
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(Issue # 37, September 14, 2009)