Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thank you for visiting stevengreenoe.com. This website was created by friends of Mr. Greenoe after his arrest in 2010 in order to attempt to inform the conversation in the public sphere regarding his case as the media never interviewed him or his counsel, nor reported on any evidence of his defense.

Unfortunately, a myriad of factors have prevented Mr. Greenoe's defense from being presented here, including sealed and classified documents that had they been published here, or anywhere, would have garnered Mr. Greenoe more criminal charges. Also, there were, and are, ongoing civil and criminal legal proceedings that could not be/can not be commented on outside of court.

In 2016, when some of these legal actions drew to a close, Mr. Greenoe was able to write a series of installments on what occurred from the time of his arrest until the time of his sentencing, a period of roughly nineteen months. These can be found on this site in previous posts.

Further writings by Mr. Greenoe on his experiences to date were deemed inadvisable for publication for fear of reprisal as since then he has been incarcerated by the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and remains so to this day.

When all legal actions are at a conclusion, and Mr. Greenoe is no longer at the mercy of the government of the United States through the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Probation Service, he will be making his unclassified legal documentation available on this site as well as his writings on the case and his experiences after sentencing - including when he went back to court in 2015.

Thank you for your attention and interest. Please visit again in the years to come when content is updated. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

On how and why I plead guilty to a crime I did not commit.

#9 - On how and why I plead guilty to a crime I did not commit.

Having gone to some length explaining solitary confinement earlier in this memoir, perhaps you may begin to understand why the United Nations 'Special Rapporteur on Torture' declared in January 2012, that more than eight days in solitary confinement is "torture".  I persist in referencing this declaration regarding solitary confinement because I believe solitary confinement is torture and it is also illegal under United States law.

In 1988 the United States signed, and in 1994 ratified, the "UN Convention Against Torture", which thereby became a binding part of US law.  Article I of the convention defines torture to encompass, among other things; “...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

In my case, as in many others, the government imposed solitary confinement during the 'pretrial' stage, prior to trial or determination of guilt.  Held in solitary indefinitely, with counsel not informing me of an affirmative defense, I found myself weighing whether to plead guilty or not (for example, comparing the value of the truth of my cause against the monetary cost of mounting a defense against a prosecutor with unlimited resources), my resulting guilty plea was thus influenced by torture."...because the purpose of torture is to force its victim to say what the torturer wants to hear.  Indeed, historically, one of torture’s most prominent uses has been to coerce false confessions, as in the 'show trials' of the Stalinist period."  

This is all prelude to explaining my physical and mental state in February 2011, when I took my plea.  While I was experiencing the psychological, emotional and physical pains of indefinite solitary confinement without conviction or even explanation as to why I had been placed in solitary, attorney A (AA) made one of his sporadic visits to PCDC and delivered simultaneously and without warning, an offer to plead guilty from the prosecution and divorce papers from my then wife's attorneys in England.

Twice in my life I had taken an oath, first to my country and then to my wife, and now I was betrayed by both.  The decision to give my wife a no contest divorce in which I signed over all my remaining assets and possessions, including our house, which I had paid for and which had been declared legitimate by the UK government months before was easy.  Though I was surprised and heartbroken by the divorce papers my decision to grant an uncontested divorce was not a hard one simply because providing for her and our sons had always been and continued to be, my top priority.

It seems my then spouse had filed for divorce days after my arrest and that fact had been kept from me. That she had been in close contact with AA and I had not been included in their conversations would not come out until I sued him. AA was literally working for everyone but me while my attorney. I had been under the impression that she was standing by me while I prepared my defense and thus I had without hesitation allowed her to liquidate assets of mine, including my vehicle and pension fund, all the while her attorneys were filing the divorce papers. Having only ever wished happiness for her, if she could not find it with me, then I hoped she found it elsewhere.  Still, it hurt mightily and I expect it factored into the fatalism that produced my guilty plea.

Most unfortunately for innocent people who were tried nine and twelve months later in the UK as my 'associates' in an unsubstantiated 'conspiracy', my ex-spouse (who had ceased having contact with me, never having explained the divorce to me) then doubled down on her criticism of me and futilely testified against me in their trials.

[Her testimony, as reported, was that she 'knew nothing of me being anything other than a criminal,' was added to a UK prosecution based on inference rather than evidence, thus she allowed herself to be used as a cat’s paw by the UK prosecutors.  Agent 1 also went to the trial, before being indicted himself in a separate case as a serial liar and perjurer, and told the jurors that I had 'already plead guilty' thus inferring I had pled guilty to the conspiracy, which I had not. Neither did I ever give evidence against either defendant in the UK, nor did I appear, nor was I ever scheduled to appear, in any court proceeding in the UK. Later I would receive erroneous reports from UK tabloids making false claims too numerous to list here.]

As to pleading guilty, the decision was difficult, even knowing what I had learned about the Federal system (and have shared with you in previous chapters), and I refused to sign the plea immediately, much to the ire of AA as his pressure tactics were in full effect.  AA's faults in handling my case were too numerous to list here, but are available through court records as I later sued him for malpractice. Suffice it to say that I was not an informed client, and made the decision to plead guilty weeks later under a misrepresentation of the situation and, most importantly, unaware that I had a defense.  This I learned too late from a new attorney, Attorney B (AB).

The relationship with a criminal defense attorney is not like the doctor/patient relationship in that if you get a diagnosis from a doctor that you may question, you may then go to another doctor for a second opinion, not so with an attorney. Once a criminal defense process has begun, attorneys are loathe to intrude on a case that is in progress. In part, this is because of legal canons of ethics that preclude criticizing a fellow attorney without risk, and also there is a reasonable reticence to take on the mistakes made before their participation. Often side-deals are done between the prosecutor and the defense attorney,  For example, the prosecutor may say  If you let us destroy this defendant we' will give you sweet deals on your next three clients as we really want this guy  The temptation to trade a less than ethical agreement now for a more than ethical opportunity in the future is more than most plea merchants can refuse.

When I realized that AA was not acting in my best interests, I sought new counsel through the only means available to me, namely, by asking my family.  Communicating confidentially with anyone was nearly impossible.  The only unrecorded (but observed) communications I was allowed with family was screaming through a plexiglass partition for 20 minutes once every couple of weeks after they had driven many hours to see me.  All letters were required to be sent by me unsealed and all received by me had been opened and scanned by jail administrators onto a memory disk for the prosecution, all my telephone calls were recorded - not to mention ridiculously expensive. When someone is denied bond and therefore in the jail system, the majority of their communications, and all of their unmonitored communications, go through their attorney. Thus a huge level of trust in the attorney acting in the defendant’s best interest is required. At this point, for me, not only would it be difficult to get new counsel to take the case on, I couldn't ask AA to arrange it.

Since AA had shown himself a 'plea merchant', i.e. an attorney who never intends to defend a client instead, capitalizing on the fact that over 98% Federal cases end by plea bargains, “shines” the defendant on while selling him out, I needed to change attorneys.

Close friends of my family referred them to Attorney B (AB), a real trial attorney and a legendary one. My family met with him in January 2011 but before we could engage him I first had to prove beyond any doubt that AA was what I said he was; totally incapable and unwilling to provide a decent defense. I only managed to do this several weeks later after getting evidence in the form of a disrespectful letter where he bragged about not having to do any work and further taunted me. Managing to get the letter to my family attorney and friend, begging him to intercede on my behalf, is a story in and of itself, better left for later.

Sadly these events would not occur until after I had pled guilty and after I had given up hope of AA directly or inadvertently giving me any evidence of his ineffectiveness that I could then pass on. Had I known to retain AB from the first time I had been approached by Federal agents, I would have probably never spent a night in jail and certainly not gone to prison for as long as I have.

As it happened, though, my attorney (AA) bargained not at all.  He brought me the plea “bargain” the government wanted.  Rather than negotiate limits on prosecutorial liberty to charge or punish me as it would, there was in the plea no limits on the government whatsoever.  They could, within the plea, give me the harshest punishment the law allowed.  AA did though reduce the number of charges against me.  Through multiple superseding indictments, the government had arrived at over forty charges against me, everything but the sinking of the Titanic as a means of discouraging trial by jury because all the government need do is prove one charge to win and the defense had to defend all forty or more at very great expense.  Of the over forty indictment counts, all were dropped except for just two; exporting firearms without a valid export license and engaging in international travel for the sale of firearms. In contravention of standard practices in almost all Federal districts, no statement of what actually transpired was entered by AA on my behalf thus allowing the government to place into the record whatever narrative they wanted, and it be there for all future proceedings (We discovered later, AA never made a single motion in my case, that is, he entered nothing in the record on behalf of the defense, seemingly content to allow the government to monopolize the proceedings and have the case totally their way).

Throughout the process, the prosecutor controls the accumulation of all evidence and controlled access to all evidence. The law provides that anything so harvested should be provided to the defense in a timely manner.  Often, though, if the prosecution wants to surprise the defense they will hold key evidence close and present it in trial without warning.  To any defense complaint about this, they will assert that it 'just came into their possession.'  This may be just a means of frustrating defense attorneys but in some cases, prosecutors “sit on” exculpatory evidence and that may be fatal to the defense.  In my case that was certainly true.

Withholding exculpatory evidence, that is evidence that benefits the defendant, is against the law and is called a "Brady violation" (after a case Brady vs. Maryland). I had no idea how much evidence my prosecutors did not share with my defense counsel for nearly five years after my arrest and imprisonment.  But, finally, when I found myself back in court 2015 I learned the breadth of what the prosecution had hidden and my plea merchant attorney had not demanded to see.

Granting a competency hearing after conviction in federal cases is extremely rare but in 2015 I was granted a hearing on the competency of my counsel.  In that hearing, during the testimony of AA I learned that the lead investigating agent in my case, Agent 1, who had been indicted and tried in a separate case for perjury before being dismissed from the ATF,  had withheld record of my CIA employment and chain of command from the "Record of Interview" ('ROI'), and that was only one of several Brady violations. For example, the prosecutors knew about my Non-Disclosure Agreements and only shared that information with my counsel after the plea was signed.
As it happened, the government did not have any testimony against me, nor confession from me, nor surveillance of me, so they had decided on a tactic of 'snowing in' the defense.  This consisted of providing my attorney (the plea bargainer) tens of thousands of documents unrelated to the case, knowing that AA would not bother to read them all.  That would have intimidated him even if he had not been a 'plea merchant'  who only want to get paid to ensure the paperwork was all in order, rather like a real estate closing.

In short, when AA presented me with the plea he explained my case as unwinnable. He said that I could not present my defense without violating my several Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) which would then result in additional charges being placed against me.  When I repeatedly asked to meet with the prosecutors to confirm AA’s description and ask about exculpatory evidence., AA said I could not speak with the prosecution until
I had pled guilty, and that I had no defense to the charges without having had a license to export granted by ICE, and so forth.  

Lastly, he did not inform me of the process yet to come in which the government would create a 'Pre-Sentence Report' (PSR) which would lay the case against me and ask the judge to assign a certain amount of punishment to me. This is a critical stage in any plea arrangement and my attorney left me in the dark about it. Further, he did not formally ask for any estimation of what the PSR was going to ask for in terms of a sentence for me, which was standard practice, assuring me instead that my plea to sentencing guidelines that I would quickly fulfill by applying the time I had already spent in jail.  So stuck in solitary indefinitely, with an absentee shyster of an attorney, desperate to see a judge and plead my case, knowing full well the power of the Feds and ,most importantly, believing that I did not have a legal defense, after days of anguished fishing for signs of hope to avoid pleading guilty, I signed the plea and mailed it to AA.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Some photos of crochet work done by me in recent years. SG

As part of my 'I want to stay sane' project, I crochet.  The finished products go to friends, children of friends and, of course, my sons, H and W.

Hello all, these are some pictures of some of the things I made during my years in prison. There are many other items not represented here as we do not have photos of just the items without someone in the picture, and I will never post a photo of an individual on any site. 

Should you have received something that is not represented here, please feel free to submit photos of your items, just make sure no one is in the photo, and we will post them here. 

I owe a great deal of thanks to the men who taught me, as there is no formal training and it is passed down from one man with too much time on his hands to the next. We all share the intention of trying to give something back to those who support us, and nothing heartens us more than to hear that the things we made were/are appreciated. 

After all the children in my life became too old to enjoy stuffed animals and no more babies arrived that might need blankets, I ceased crocheting and spent my creative energies on drawing. Unfortunately, I can not post my drawings as they are primarily reproductions of pictures of people, specifically my sons, and as I mentioned I won't post pictures of individuals.

  • Thank you for your compliments and love. My very best to all, SG 1-10-17

Trucks, cars and planes.







Monogrammed brown bears,

Monogrammed polar bears


Blanket and cosy

A chill snowperson

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Memoir: Part 7

Part 7
Installment 7: My winter of discontent and disappointment
Over the winter of 2010-2011, after I was indicted, I waited (and waited, and waited) for the 'motion for discovery' to be filed with the court by the prosecution. 'Discovery' is the comprehensive term for the prosecution's responsibility to present its evidence against the defendant to the court & the defense in order for the defense counsel to prepare its countering presentation at trial. In theory at least, all evidence of the prosecution must be made known to the defense through this process ahead of time, though 'last minute awareness' (in which they unethically, if not illegally, withhold anything that might benefit the defense is an all too common prosecution trick.
Withholding evidence from the defense is called a 'Brady' violation after the case 'Brady vs. Maryland', where it was decided that hiding exculpatory (i.e. evidence that helps the defense) from the defense, or is in any way beneficial to the defense/defendant) is never allowed.
There is an argument that has gone on for some time in the USA about whether there needs to be an open file, not controlled by the prosecution, for all evidence, so that Brady violations do not occur. This argument would be weaker if Brady violations weren't as rampant as they are. These days there are national conferences dedicated to examining and exposing prosecutorial misconduct held by prosecutors. (Example: 3 June 2016 42nd ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility in Philadelphia). It is difficult to determine if these conferences are intended to diminish misconduct or to promulgate “best practices.”
Another n technique is called 'snowing in' the defense. In this case, during discovery prosecutors bury defense attorneys with as many documents as they can possibly link to the case most of which don't actually have any relation at all to the case while calling it 'Discovery' (Economist 2011) knowing that the defense then does not have time or budget to read them all, as only the government has unlimited resources. This intimidates lazy or inept defense counsel into believing that the evidence is overwhelming and pushes them to have their client plead guilty.
In my case, there was no evidence against me that was not circumstantial. No witnesses, no statements, no audio, no video, no 'co-defendants' turning evidence against me or people willing to testify against me for the government to display in court. Principally my discovery was a 'snowing in' with some circumstantial threads that AA (my attorney) was to read in order to see the narrative prosecution was going to create. As my indictments had read "with unnamed individuals for undisclosed amounts of money", vagueness was in the extreme.
In spite of the best efforts of an organization with virtually unlimited resources, including threatening people across the world for the preceding six months, absolutely no one came forward willing to support the criminal narrative the government was trying to construct.
Prosecutors, when they lack actual evidence, use whatever circumstantial evidence they can acquire, making up scraps & coincidences into a hypothesis that is then said by authority figures, which naturally, therefore carries weight with the public, and this is what my prosecutor decided to do in my case, first to grand juries and then to the media, and now was preparing to do so again in a trial, or more realistically - to use in the pressuring my attorney to get me to plead guilty. (note 1)
As the holidays approached, I remained defiant, wanting to expose the truth and clear my name, even in the face of the conditions I was being kept in, no matter how long it took. Of course, I was hyper-conscious of the toll this process was taking on my family and I wanted to be able to provide for them, not to mention desperately wanting to meet my sons, which of course the government was cognizant of and would use the threat of delays in proceedings as another pressure point.
Immediately before Christmas 2010, the police in the UK admitted that they had no grounds to seize my house, that I had bought in the wonderful town of Shrewsbury, years before. This was significant not only because it exposed their earlier threats as simply a tactic to drive a wedge between my spouse and I. It validated my lifetime of legitimate earning, but as I had put 50% down in cash and then done subsequent renovations and improvements on the house, it constituted a serious investment that had been under threat.
Securing my wife and kids in their home was the end of the good news. The US government, recognizing my determination to defend myself, and with the intent to break me to plead guilty (as was later admitted by Agent 1 to my counsel before he, Agent 1, was indicted himself and dismissed from the ATF) committed the following coordinated effort against me and mine in the first two weeks of January 2011: First, they paid an informant (i.e. jailhouse snitch) in the jail I was in (PCDC), a professional prisoner with over 16 criminal convictions, to give a statement against me. Since I did not discuss my case with anyone, let alone this man, all he could say were lies. According to his statement, he said that I had a machine gun and armor piercing bullets at my home and that I planned to take a nurse hostage from the medical department to gain escape from PCDC.
How did he even know my name? All prisoners in all the jails I was ever at, had wristbands with their names and numbers clearly printed on them, some jails even put digital photos of the prisoners as well as their names & descriptions on the wristbands. It is a common practice for the inmates to learn the names of other prisoners specifically so that they can then contact their people on the outside to Google the individuals and find out their accused crimes so that they can then concoct statements against them or try and "jump on their case" as it is called, in hopes of getting a reduced sentence for themselves in their own proceedings.
The Feds especially like this as they need only one statement from a witness of any caliber to get a conviction, they do not need actual evidence That is why in almost every single Fed case there are one or two people who get a small sentence and everyone else gets larger ones. Also, the Feds try and make as many people co-defendants as possible on the same case, as this gives them people to turn against each other.
It is an irony of the US system that those accused of a crime are only trustworthy when testifying against other accused, never in their own defense, and it is a vagary of the US Federal system that hearsay is admitted in Federal cases. So basically, even if you can't be shown to have ever met someone, a statement from them to a Federal agent and you will be held accountable for whatever they claim against you. By these means, prosecutors heap charges and run up the defense costs.
The snitch’s effect was to have moved into solitary confinement without any explanation at the time as to why. It would be six months later when the above statement from said informant was provided as part of the responsibility of 'Discovery" by the prosecution that we understood how they had justified this maneuver. It was a maneuver that was designed specifically to break me, to hurt me and to get me to confess to any crime in order to make the pain stop - which is the point of any torture - and make no mistake, solitary is torture. Torture is a weapon against the truth. You're tortured not to reveal a fact but to force you to collude in any fiction proposed.
The UN Special Raporteur for Torture in January 2012 released a report stating that more than 9 days in solitary confinement was to be considered torture. Unknown to me at the time, was the fact that I was to spend over a year in solitary. I will describe further these conditions in a later installment, for now, I wish to continue to just cover the aspects of the government's coordinated attack as it was implemented against me in January 2011.
The second act by the government was to raid my family homes. The same agent, Agent 1, went in front of the same judge who had presided over my bond hearing and committed perjury by claiming something contrary to what he claimed at my bond hearing, namely that he did not know I owned legal firearms in my family's homes. At the bond hearing he had declared that any legally owned firearms I owned were "immaterial to the case", but of course that was six months previous. when the case was not so political as it had become with press coverage in the US and the UK. (note 2)
The judge either did not catch this contradiction, or was not bothered by it, and issued a warrant for the government to force entry and take whatever they wanted from my mother and grandmothers' homes, which they did (tens of thousands of dollars in personal property never to be returned.3
They were looking not for anything illegal as they claimed in court which by the way, they did not find, as there was nothing illegal to find, nor had there even been, but they also wanted to make sure that there was no exculpatory evidence that I may have been hiding.
Further, they do anything possible to subvert a defendant's support network, and they do so with no subtlety whatsoever. They will use of physical assault if possible, they will violate homes simply to intimidate anybody who might provide aid or comfort to a defendant. They will threaten to return and do so again and again.
In this instance, they failed with all but my spouse. She yielded to government threats and deceitful assertions and almost immediately divorced me, mainly I suppose, out of fear of losing our house and other assets. But my US support network, that is my family and some friends stuck by me and even made public statements in my support. For example, when a TV news crew t showed up at a family home to film what they hoped would be a great drama, they ended up taping a great testimonial to me made by my Uncle. Naturally, that statement from my uncle was shown once at 530pm that day on the local affiliate and then disappeared under the barrage of slander spewed out by the government which the press eagerly run with. By these means, the government obfuscate and cover up their intimidation tactics.
The third prong from the government at this time was to press my attorney AA to get me to plead guilty. When I complained loudly to him and to my family of his not doing any of things any decent attorney would do or any of things he was required by law to do, he said that I was mentally unwell.
As AA was my main conduit of communication, this prompted my family to hire the former director of the Federal Mental Health facility at Butner, NC to come to PCDC and test me. He did examine me for several hours, and in the end ,he declared me quite sane. At this point I was, In essence, claiming AA was 'ineffective counsel' and therefore my defense was irreparably flawed. (note 4)
We did not know at the time that this was normal for his class of lawyer, who are called 'plea merchants'.
A 'Plea Merchant' is a class of lawyer who for a flat fee, will handle your case with just a little more attention than a public defender, but they won't do any work. Instead, their method is to get you to plead out so they don't have to do any work. Plea merchants are endemic in the US Federal system as is witnessed by the following statistic: the last year 97.6% of federal criminal cases ended in plea bargaining (note 5)
Unlike attorneys that will actually search for the bargain in a plea bargain, 'plea merchants' only look to roll their clients into whatever the prosecutor wants. Unfortunately for my case, and for the fees spent on him that we would never recover, he had been charming while we had been naive, so he represented my sole line of defense. And I was; in solitary, in maximum security with no way to make a statement to the press and no legal preparation having been done in my case. This was by any definition a sucky moment.
The fourth and final angle played by the government was to get a second superseding indictment against me, putting me above 45 counts (see earlier description of the practice of 'indictment loading', e.g. giving 50 to get you to plead to just 1 or 2 as there is little likelihood you will beat every one of them at trial).
I learned of this development only when a guard put a copy of the local paper under my door and asked for my autograph on it as there was an article describing the newest indictment and a statement from the US Attorney for the state of NC saying that they were going to bury me. What made the guard notice the story was that there was also a statement from the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who in a press conference in London said that they would punish me to the limit of any available punishments. Clearly "innocent until proven guilty" was no longer even being given lip service in the US legal system.
There will be more on this in the next installment.
Note 1. A serious warning to anyone who reads this. If anything, ever, that has appeared in your communication history can be taken out of context, it will be by a prosecutor. Also, the police/agents will always make adjustments in the prosecution's favor, e.g. 'damp' becomes 'wet'. Emails and text messages are like Styrofoam, they never go away. Try and have any conversation that you do not want to have come up in court to be only between two individuals in an unofficial setting by voice with no chance of recording, otherwise expect it to be brought up later and treat it as such. The thread of any conversation of multiple messages is immaterial to a prosecutors 'cherry picking'. Live as if anything and everything will be subpoenaed. To do otherwise is not to prepare for an all too common eventuality in today's litigious world.
Note 2. Another lesson to be learned is that the government can always get a warrant, always.
Note 3. Washington Post reportage 2013-present - "Agents and agencies sell and trade these seized items to each other, especially collectible firearms and jewelry etc, only sometimes ever acknowledging that they even took possession of said items".
Note 4. Rather than itemize AA's malpractice, I refer anyone curious about this to the filings on PACER (on-line court records for the federal system) as in my later proceedings against him my attorneys did a thorough job of identifying his shortcomings. Those later attorneys had to make up all the work he had not done.

Note 5. In 2015 there were 2002 Federal criminal trials, 40% fewer than in 2009. Federal sentencing guidelines virtually guarantee lower sentences for defendants who plead guilty rather than go to trial, though those that do go to trial are traditionally facing sentences so long that they want to become part of the appellate chain so that any new laws enacted or reformed affect them in future. "The Showman by Jeffrey Toobin pg. 42 New Yorker 9 May 16.

Memoir: Part 6

12 Jul2016

Installment 6: PCDC; waiting for charges and bargaining
PCDC (Pitt County Detention Center) is a regional facility located in Greenville, NC, that holds approximately 900 inmates for both state and federal courts. It also serves the surrounding counties so that they do not have to enlarge their facilities. I arrived there on the weekend of the 23rd of October, 2010 and would remain there for 16 months, until finally sentenced and moved into the Federal prison system.
PCDC is about the same as all the jails I went through. In-take of new prisoners followed a pattern of intimidation and degradation so consistently it had to be part of correction officer (hereafter CO) training and general prison management. Staff seeks to break any inmate resistance through various shock treatments, forewarning what could happen if you arouse CO wrath. There is a period called 'shock days'; a blur of dehumanizing treatments, psychological torture and physical abuse intended to soften one up, strip away all self-esteem while warning just how bad things could get in this new home. At PCDC, it started with a cold shower for 'disinfection' after which you are left naked in rooms chilled to 60F for a half hour or more, this is called getting the 'cooler' and it works well as a day to day punishment too, and at PCDC it was just one of their many games played by the COs.
For example, throughout the prison there were cages and closets just large enough for one person to stand in. They were designed to be used to hold one prisoner while another prisoner that the first prisoner is not allowed to have any contact with passes through the same room or hallway. They were, though, also used at any COs’ discretion to “tune up” an inmate. Men were put in the cage in full restraint which prevented any slouching or leaning. They were then left in a cage to consider their sins and they were often "forgotten" for hours. When the new arrival, having been tuned up, finally arrives at a bare cell he is happy to be there, or such is the theory.
I spent 24 hours in maximum security while they 'classified' me, determining what security level I would be housed in. I was then placed int the 'Low' security section that was comprised of eight pods of 24 bunks each, single large rooms with no radios or TV's, but with a dirty window through which one could view the forest beyond.
PCDC had no library and the only reading material allow in the jail had to come through the US mail - if an inmate was lucky enough to have someone to send them anything. Typically all bunks were filled and another 20 men slept on the floor of each pod. For the 44 residents there were three toilets, one shower, and two sinks.
The low-security pods were in an older section of the jail perhaps 20 years old and it showed its age. Pods extended off a central corridor with Plexiglas walls facing the hallway so COs could monitor the pods without actually entering them. In reality, the Plexiglas was there so that prisoners could practice their sign language to their co-defendants and friends from one pod to the next while the staff ignored us. Whenever violence erupted among the prisoners, a group of prisoners would run to block the glass as there were no cameras in the pods. Every night there would be bare knuckle boxing tournaments. Then there were the predatory attacks which occurred in the early morning hours while sleeping men were easy prey. Sometimes inmates would take a break from the violence and have a pop culture trivia quiz. It was a surreal and sometimes sublimely unreal environment.
When staff wanted to go violent on an inmate, they would move into the pods to be off camera and also so as to make an example in front of the other inmates, or they would remove the inmate to a closet off the corridor where there were no cameras or witnesses.
My pod consisted entirely of men facing violent charges, (murder/rape/attempted murder were the most common charges). Most of these inmates had already served multiple sentences and got their earliest jailhouse training in North Carolina's “gladiator schools”at the Hightower and the Polk, state facilities for violent youth. Almost all were either Crip or Blood affiliated, and of the 40 odd men, there were three of us who were federal inmates. I was the only 'white boy'. (The Feds are not supposed to house state and Federal inmates together, but they are given a waiver to do so by the courts when it is 'unavoidable' which means everywhere and all the time in actuality. But I learned this sort of lore, later, when I continued my education in Federal prison . There I found after surveying the other inmates in the system that co-housing state and federal inmates is a prevalent practice.)
We spent our time watching the violence, listening to the screaming (the dumber the man, the louder he talks) which was incessant - and that wasn't even from the visibly mentally ill prisoners - and watching prisoners decompose as the torpor of hopelessness got to them. (According to the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, New Yorker pg. 5, 20 Jun 16; "...56% of state inmates and 45% of inmates in federal prisons have mental health issues.") Treatment of any condition, but particularly of mental conditions, at every jail I went to was minimal. If treatment existed at all it never involved a doctor, and usually was limited to a constant dosing of Seroquel or similar antipsychotics to induce sleep and reduce psychotic episodes. Men would save their doses to sell to others as it helped you sleep through the constant screaming. Others saved theirs to overdose; the final way out of jail. Some worked hard to get hooked so they might be able to get a disability check from Social Service when they got out by claiming prison induced dependency and who is to say they weren’t telling the truth. (Most drug dependency results from self-medication using whatever comes to hand.)
For three months, over Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday 2010, I stayed in in that pod. During this period there were a few visits from Attorney A ('AA') in a room adjacent to the pod. I had been indicted, but the governments practice, as I previously described, is to maximize the number of indictment counts to compound the cost of defense., so we were now in a period of superseding indictments, where the prosecutor would go back in front of different grand juries and tell them what they 'believed' occurred so as to get more and more counts added to my charges. Though some were deemed ridiculous, and easily beatable in court, the sheer number charges eventually defeated any prospect of a defense in court. Over the holidays it became increasingly obvious that I was well and truly screwed.
Federal prosecutors develop plausible if not true 'narratives' by which they "win" indictments and later convictions. The DOJ will not speak on camera about this as demonstrated on the US TV program "60 minutes" on the 15th of May 2016. These narratives do not have to be fact based, they need only be “expressed belief” based. It is these expressed beliefs prosecutors publish to besmirch defendant reputations and poison any possible jury pool. Whether charges are dropped later, or a person is exonerated, the DOJ never apologize or in any way corrects the public record. In short, there is no accountability. CBS reported that the minimum cost of defense in the face of just ridiculous charges, such as mistaken identity, that are quickly dropped in the face of adequate legal representation, is $200,000. One can extrapolate from that the likely cost to inmate families. The cost to careers and reputations is incalculable but equally horrible.
Though in the US legal system, it is the prosecutions responsibility to protect the rights of the defendant and the integrity of the 'justice' system (no one in the system except the prosecutors call it the "justice system", for everyone else its just the "legal system"), the reality of their employ is that their job is to get convictions and their promotions and careers are based on how many they get, how many cases they close, and the total number of years they get assigned to a conviction. Ideally, judges would recognize the reality of prosecutor over-reach and the failure of prosecutors to imbue justice with truth but such is the exception as a large percentage of federal judges are former prosecutors and old school ties will tell.
There is a scene in the film 'Training Day' where Denzel Washington's' character, the dirty cop, tells his superiors in the restaurant that he has "over 10,000 man years in his jacket", i.e. the number of years sentenced to men he's arrested and testified against, this being reason for them to retain him & promote him. It is the job of the police to get arrests, not to get the truth. It is the job of the prosecutors to get convictions, not justice. A very lame theory holds that the process of adversarial argumentation before a judge will produce “truth.” Given equal resources that theory might work., but only the 1% have equal resources so most simply yield to the inevitable and thus DOJ criminal prosecutors have a nearly 100% win rate.
During the autumn of 2010 Julian Assange released hundreds of thousands of classified communications of the US government through Wiki-leakes. Since making that act of suicidal defiance he has sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to the US. Like Chelsea Manning who is doing thirty years in a Federal prison, he tried to induce an element of truth into the government narratives.
The material released by Assange included State Department communiques that showed that the US government was involved in the very project that I had described at length upon my arrest and subsequently to authorities. Namely, armed maritime security was being provided for commercial vessels without the knowledge of governments that hosted these vessels in their ports.
In one cable the US was asking Kenya to allow a former NOAA ship renamed the 'Douglas MacArthur' which had been purchased by the PMC (Private Military Company) “Blackwater” and then armed with naval weaponry to dock and be serviced without interference.. This Wiki-leak revelation began the process of verifying the classified information I had provided to the US government upon my detention. It’s verification continues to be validated by whistle blower disclosures.. Knowledge that in July 2010 I could not possibly have had if I hadn't actually been involved in the business and been cleared to have came out before any charges were ever filed against me and it was suppressed by the DOJ.
At this point in my prosecution, my attorney asked for a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), so that I could defend myself without fear of being prosecuted for violating the NDA's that I had signed with the US governments intelligence agencies, which were explicit in their threat of Federal prosecution for any violation. The prosecutors refused and said that I would be prosecuted either for the crimes they accused me of or if I was cleared for those crimes by showing that I was exporting firearms under orders of the government, for violating the secrecy agreements related to those projects, a catch 22 that saw me guaranteed to be sentenced for committing a crime. ("Official impunity is, always and everywhere, the arch enemy of the rule of law" David Luban 21 Apr 16 NYRB pg.22)
My supporters contacted directly, through first person connections, every single one of my legislative representatives. Only one offered any assistance. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), currently chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence offered no actual assistance but he did refer AA to a competent attorney, an offer AA did not act on, and his decision not to seek competent co-counsel may have been his most fatal breach of his duty to me.
Meanwhile, my family and friends, including my wife (who had not two weeks before given birth to our twin sons), were being braced by Federal agents and/or their local associates worldwide and being falsely threatened with civil asset forfeiture or criminal arrest for conspiracy. The intent of these threats and intimidations was to subvert my support network and get their hands on any evidence that might help me; to deny my defense. Regardless of guilt, or evidence of guilt, the Feds will make threats. The only defense is to lawyer-up and let the attorney explain what they can and can not actually do.
The authorities spoke to the press. Gossip can be ignored but, in the process we're talking about there was authoritative public exposure and humiliation. It is the manifest power of the state to crush someone and its intent is, in part, to intimidate anyone who might come to a defendant's assistance; this too could happen to you. They paraded me through the newspapers and on TV before ever letting me into a courtroom. They invented things about me and passed them off as true. They used their authority to deny who I really am, to deny any and all positive aspects of my history. Incarceration and libel are just a tiny foretaste of what they can and will do to someone. The Feds know that the firewalls between news and entertainment, journalism and profit making have collapsed entirely, and it's sad to see the 4th estate straying so far from its purported function of sustaining an informed citizenry. As noted before, regurgitation of government press releases now passes for journalism.
Defense attorneys, as a rule, don’t speak to the press out of concern that they may inadvertently inform prosecutors of their defense strategy and the expect the prosecution to deny by any means access to exculpatory evidence. In my case, I had no idea that AA was not only not seeking “disclosure” from the prosecution, he wasn’t doing evidence gathering at all. He did absolutely nothing to offset gross ly inaccurate characterizations of me by the government in the press. Being held incommunicado, well away from media I had no way of knowing what was being published except as it trickled in to PCDC in letters from friends and family.
At this point, is there anyone still speaking to me, let alone supporting me? Yes, thanks to having friends and family that cared enough to not succumb to government propaganda I had a small but loyal support cadre. In this regard our lives are cumulative; what we sow we reap. I am so grateful for the ongoing support of my loved ones I can not express my gratitude. It is to them that I constantly pointed out the deficiencies of AA and it is they who would eventually save me from him. Alas, though, being tried in the press drove many away from me. In some cases colleagues felt they had to deny any association with me because it could hurt them professionally.
Picked up, interrogated and imprisoned, life wrecked, is that the worst that can happen? No, not really. In the world I chose people got killed for a hell of a lot less than you can imagine. Thanks to my career choices I know just how nasty and awful humans can be, thus none of the treatment I was receiving in my various jails annoyed me. Rather, what annoyed me the most was the very charges against me. The ridiculous assertion that I would dump guns into the hands of criminals in a community where I was raising a family did not irritate, it infuriated me.
Now I am a criminal and am in prison. My karmic bill is mine to pay. I do not write for your pity, or for your attention. This is just to say what was and is. My goal is precision. Some people get through prison by counting down the amount of time that they've left in prison. I get through by treating it as the only life I've ever known or will have. That also is the way I have survived all my previous, some times ill-considered avatars.