Obama's War On Cops "A Chicago Thing"

There is always a tension between a presidential administration and the federal justice system. Oftentimes, presidents have sought some illegal or unethical influence over the country’s law enforcement agencies for their own political gain.  

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, presidents often faced allegations that they were usurping or coercing these agencies, and they were. Nixon tried to get the FBI to refrain from investigating the Watergate scandal, and both presidents Kennedy and Johnson used the FBI to wiretap Martin Luther King. 

But perhaps no president in the United States has politicized and then undermined the federal law enforcement agencies more than Barack Obama. It’s a truth many Americans are slowly realizing in the wake of the decision by the FBI not to indict Hillary Clinton for her illegal actions in the email scandal. 

How could the FBI, many Americans wonder, not indict Clinton, given the fact that the agency itself uncovered such vast, ongoing wrongdoing? The answer is that Obama has successfully transformed federal law enforcement into his own political instrument, both as an agent of his political party and instrument of his own ideology. Obama is, after all, a disciple of Chicago’s machine political system, a system in which every public institution is transformed into a cog of the ruling political machine. 

But giving Clinton a pass on criminal charges is by no means the worst abuse of the justice system under Obama’s reign, not even close. 

What is truly chilling is how Obama has used federal law enforcement as an instrument of his intense anti-law enforcement ideology, an ideology utterly unique in the history of American presidents, revolutionary even. 

It is an ideology that goes back to Obama’s early years in Chicago, for Obama became a “community organizer” on the south side of Chicago in 1985, the same time another movement began to take shape on the south side: the wrongful conviction movement. This movement had its roots in the clashes between the more radical, violent activists of the late 1960s and what they called the “establishment,” in particular the Chicago Police, with whom they clashed in the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention. 

Throughout the 1970s, the more radical activists in this movement, including members of the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers, engaged in violent, terrorist attacks throughout the country, in particular the police. One thing that connected these groups, apart from their ideology and tactics, was their relationship to a local law firm, the People’s Law Office. The PLO was formed in 1969 to represent family members of two Black Panthers, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, who died in a shoot-out with police. The PLO would also provide assistance to Weather Underground members when they were on the lamb, and represented one of the most violent terrorist groups in the nation’s history, the FALN, comprised of members demanding the independence of Puerto Rico. 

The formation of the PLO marked a crucial alliance between upper middle-class radicalized youth and the inner city black caucus, many of them former radical revolutionaries from the 1960s, like former Black Panther Bobby Rush. The allegiance of these two groups would become a power base in the Democratic Party, in Obama’s successful quest for the presidency, and in the creation of the wrongful conviction movement.

By the end of the 1970s, most people were fed up with the calls by these groups for Marxist revolution and their brutal attacks on innocent people. 

These activists, therefore, reinvented themselves, moving into politics, law, academia, and the media, a move that helped transform their image from radical terrorists to legitimate academics, attorneys, and media members. But their attack on the criminal justice continued unabated.

Disguising their war on the police and the criminal justice system in the guise of civil rights, the PLO focused their efforts on a popular south side police commander, Jon Burge. In 1982, Burge and his men were in charge of the investigation of a brutal murder of two police officers, murders that took place in a macabre month in which, altogether, five officers were gunned down, four fatally. Andrew Wilson was arrested for killing two of these police officers on the south side.

By the time Wilson arrived at central detention after he was arrested and interviewed by police and prosecutors, he was badly beaten. Despite the fact that the evidence indicated the wagon men who transported Wilson were the ones who likely beat him, the PLO pointed their finger at Burge and his men. 

If the PLO could make Burge and his men the fall guys for police abuse—not two wagon men who could not control their anger at so many of their colleagues gunned down—they could open up a whole new market of lawsuits and cases against the police. And this is exactly what they did. 

Into this cauldron of anti-police machinations, Barack Obama began his political career as a community organizer on the south side. It would be difficult to imagine that he was not swept up into the mythology against Burge and his men taking shape on the south side at the very time he was honing his political skills and building his power base. 

After all, Obama’s political base is tied to both factions that came together in the wrongful conviction movement. One facet of Obama’s political power is clearly the black caucus of the south side. Obama also clearly has ties to the white, upper middle-class radical faction of the wrongful conviction movement as well, for his friendship and alliance with former Weather Underground terrorists and PLO allies like Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers has been well documented. 

And like both these factions, Obama shares their intense antipathy to law enforcement and the criminal justice system, an antipathy born out throughout his presidency. 

Obama’s knee-jerk response to blaming police in shootings around the country betray this willingness to vilify police, no matter how much evidence indicates the police acted legally and responsibly. It is a tactic by Obama that undermines local law enforcement and rallies public sentiment against the police, the same tactic employed time and again by Obama’s radical brethren in Chicago’s wrongful conviction movement. No matter how many times a court decision or investigation vindicates an accused Chicago cop, the city’s wrongful conviction machine doubles down on their accusations and vilification. 

So it has been in Obama’s administration. Before local prosecutors, for example, had finished their investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting, Obama sent federal investigators, who pored over the evidence. Even though they concluded that the officer did nothing wrong, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder said the police were racists and imposed a Department of Justice mandate on the city.

Obama’s actions increased the fervor and violence of protests, leaving the city in a chronic state of chaos and destruction, even after the officer was fully vindicated. 

Heather MacDonald:

President Obama betrayed the nation last night. Even as he went on national television to respond to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, the vicious violence that would destroy businesses and livelihoods over the next several hours was underway. Obama had one job and one job only last night: to defend the workings of the criminal-justice system and the rule of law. Instead, he turned his talk into a primer on police racism and criminal-justice bias. In so doing, he perverted his role as the leader of all Americans and as the country’s most visible symbol of the primacy of the law.

Obama using the Department of Justice to create unwarranted, unjustified, and untrue attacks on the Ferguson Police Department must have been thrilling for Obama’s radical buddies back in the Windy City. 

But Obama’s reaction to police shootings around the country is only the tip of the iceberg. There are far more compelling ties from his presidency to Chicago’s radical left, the wrongful conviction movement, and the undermining of the justice system. 

Throughout much of his administration, for example, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder was the point man in Obama’s anti-police crusade. 

Holder has a compelling skeleton in the closet no one from the mainstream media fawning over Obama has bothered to look into. This was the pardoning of terrorists under the Clinton administration when Holder was a deputy Attorney General. It was the FALN, the same FALN represented by the PLO. Members of the FALN are believed responsible for as many as one hundred and thirty bombings and attacks that left dozens of people wounded and six people dead. 

That’s right: One hundred and thirty bombings. 

What kind of attacks did they initiate? From J. Connor in Human Events. Connor’s father was murdered by the FALN:

Among these vicious, cold-blooded attacks was the Jan. 24, 1975, lunchtime bombing at New York City’s historic Fraunces Tavern. Four innocent men were murdered that day, and one of them was my 33-year-old father, Frank Connor. My father had been very excited to get home from work that night to celebrate my brother’s and my recent 11th and 9th birthdays with his young family. Instead, after my father’s funeral, mourners shared a dinner in our home that was meant for our birthday celebration.

Did the FALN ever show any remorse for their brutality? Hardly:

After members of the FALN were arrested, they threatened Judge Thomas McMillen’s life during their Chicago trial. Carmen Valentine told the judge, “You are lucky that we cannot take you right now,” and called the judge a terrorist. Dylcia Pagan warned the courtroom: “All of you, I would advise you to watch your backs.” And Ida Rodriguez told the judge, “You say we have no remorse. You’re right. … Your jails and your long sentences will not frighten us.” These terrorists convinced McMillen that they would continue being terrorists “as long as you live. If there was a death penalty, I’d impose the penalty on you without hesitation.”

Holder’s role:

Holder played a central role in freeing these terrorists. As the deputy attorney general, he was responsible for signing off on all clemency matters forwarded to the President [Clinton], and in this case he recommended that clemency be granted — despite vehement opposition from the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and his own Justice Department…

Was Holder the obedient DAG [Deputy Attorney General] providing the Clintons with justification for politically craven pardons?  Or did Holder actually believe in unleashing unrepentant, communist terrorists on the public?  Either way, should this man influence a potential VP selection or one day be the nation’s top law enforcement officer?  Absolutely not.

Here is what PLO attorney Jan Susler had to say about the FALN. 

From the Tribune in 1995:

Jan Susler takes a deep breath and looks at the reporter long and steady. She's skeptical. She's afraid he'll get it wrong.

"The FALN are really lovely human beings," says Susler, a lawyer representing the group. "They aren't the kinds of people that have horns and a tail. They are intelligent, gifted and tolerant."

It is Susler's job—along with New York Attorney Michael Deutsch—to make the FALN's legal case for a presidential pardon. It's a tough sell, and she knows it. 

Susler, who practices out of The Peoples Law Office near the corner of Division St. and Milwaukee Ave., wrote the 70-page pardon application.

Really lovely human beings? 

Consider this account of the FALN from a Wall Street Journal Article by Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles Burlingame, a pilot of Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.

It was nearly 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve, 1982. Two officers on New York Police Department's elite bomb squad rushed to headquarters at One Police Plaza, where minutes earlier an explosion had destroyed the entrance to the building. Lying amid the carnage was Police Officer Rocco Pascarella, his lower leg blasted off.

"He was ripped up like someone took a box cutter and shredded his face," remembered Detective Anthony Senft, one of the bomb-squad officers who answered the call 25 years ago. "We really didn't even know that he was a uniformed man until we found his weapon, that's how badly he was injured.”

About 20 minutes later, Mr. Senft and his partner, Richard Pastorella, were blown 15 feet in the air as they knelt in protective gear to defuse another bomb. Detective Senft was blinded in one eye, his facial bones shattered, his hip severely fractured. Mr. Pastorella was blinded in both eyes and lost all the fingers of his right hand. A total of four bombs exploded in a single hour on that night, including at FBI headquarters in Manhattan and the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. 

Those are the actions of “really lovely human beings.” They are if one hates the police and believes they should be attacked. 

One wonders why Holder and Clinton would go to such lengths to free these terrorists.  

Burlingame offers a compelling, appalling explanation:

Given all this, why would Bill Clinton, who had ignored the 3,226 clemency petitions that had piled up on his desk over the years, suddenly reach into the stack and pluck out these 16 meritless cases? (The New York Times ran a column with the headline, "Bill's Little Gift.")

Hillary Rodham Clinton was in the midst of her state-wide "listening tour" in anticipation of her run for the U.S. Senate in New York, a state which included 1.3 million Hispanics. Three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- Luis V. Gutierrez (D., Ill.), Jose E. Serrano, (D., N.Y.) and Nydia M. Velazquez, (D., N.Y.) -- along with local Hispanic politicians and leftist human-rights advocates, had been agitating for years on behalf of the FALN cases directly to the White House and first lady.

President Clinton did it to get his wife votes, according to Burlingame. And the “leftist human rights advocates” advocating on behalf of the FALN members, might that be groups like the People’s Law Office, who think these bombers are “really lovely human beings”?

And the cops, FBI, and federal prosecutors reaction to Clinton’s pardon?

Mr. Clinton's action was opposed by the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. attorney offices that prosecuted the cases and the victims whose lives had been shattered. In contravention of standard procedures, none of these agencies, victims or families of victims were consulted or notified prior to the president's announcement.

"I know the chilling evidence that convicted the petitioners," wrote Deborah Devaney, one of the federal prosecutors who spent years on the cases. "The conspirators made every effort to murder and maim. . . . A few dedicated federal agents are the only people who stood in their way."

Observed Judge George Layton, who sentenced four FALN defendants for their conspiracy to use military-grade explosives to break an FALN leader from Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary and detonate bombs at other public buildings, "[T]his case . . . represents one of the finest examples of preventive law enforcement that has ever come to this court's attention in the 20-odd years it has been a judge and in the 20 years before that as a practicing lawyer in criminal cases."

Even Congress was furious:

Members of Congress viewed the clemencies as a dangerous abuse of presidential power that could not go unchallenged. Resolutions condemning the president's action were passed with a vote of 95-2 in the Senate, 311-41 in the House. It was the most they could do; the president's pardon power, conferred by the Constitution, is absolute. The House launched an investigation, subpoenaing records from the White House and Justice in an effort to determine whether proper procedure had been followed. President Clinton promptly invoked executive privilege, putting Justice Department lawyers in the impossible position of admitting that they had sent the White House a recommendation on the issue, but barred from disclosing what it was.

The guy who made all this happen, an attorney general willing to throw the entire justice system overboard to free some of the worst terrorists in the nation’s history, terrorists represented by the very law firm that built the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago, became Obama’s Attorney General. Clearly, Obama saw something he liked in Holder.  

But Obama’s decision to hire a guy like Holder, who has gone around the country vilifying the police at every opportunity, and bailing out Hillary Clinton for the email scandal are not the worst abuses during Obama’s presidency. 

The worst abuse took place during the first year of Obama’s administration in a criminal case, tied, again, to Chicago and the wrongful conviction movement, a case that should be studied in every law and journalism school in the land.  

In 1987, when Obama was still a community organizer on the south side of Chicago and the myth of Jon Burge and his men being racist torturers was still being constructed by the PLO and their cronies, an arson broke out on the south side. Seven people died, including two children, one of the worst crime scenes any of the cops or firefighters had seen. 

The Hobley Arson in 1987

The Hobley Arson in 1987

In a short time, detectives discovered that one of the residents who lived an apartment where the fire seemed targeted was somehow alive, even though his wife and child perished in the fire. His name was Madison Hobley. 

Hobley, who had no significant rap sheet, initially blamed his mistress for setting the blaze. But in a short time, Hobley’s claims fell apart, particularly when detectives discovered he had made arson threats against his wife several weeks earlier. 

What a coincidence. 

Hobley was tried and convicted, then sent to death row. A contingent of wrongful conviction lawyers and activists—longtime allies of the PLO—tried every legal tactic to claim Hobley had been framed by the police, in particular Burge’s men, and had confessed only because he was tortured. They also engaged Chicago’s activist media, who obediently echoed their claims without seriously checking the facts. 

Nevertheless, the courts repeatedly bolstered Hobley’s conviction and he remained on death row. 

Case closed, right? 

Don’t bet on it. Hobley’s case became central in the anti-Burge mythology taking shape in the city, even though Burge had no real connection to the investigation of the arson. In fact, Burge never even met Hobley. The wrongful conviction faction of the city pressed on with their claims that Hobley was innocent. 

In one of the most appalling examples of Illinois corruption, Governor George Ryan bowed to the pressure of the wrongful conviction zealots and pardoned Hobley in 2003, along with three other murder offenders, all of them without any new evidence that they were innocent. Ryan just let them out, the way Holder and Clinton ignored the objections of the FBI and Department of Justice and finagled the FALN terrorists out of prison. 

As all exonerated offenders do, Hobley’s lawyers filed the obligatory multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city, claiming Hobley was innocent and coerced into confessing. It’s not enough in Obama’s hometown that the killers should be set free. They should also become multi-millionaires at the expense of the taxpayers. In the course of that lawsuit, Burge was deposed. In an interrogatory, Burge denied ever abusing anyone. 

Despite being exonerated, Hobley wasn’t in the clear, yet, however. His case generated the attention of federal investigators and prosecutors, who began re-investigating the arson. 

Many people in law enforcement familiar with the arson, particularly in Chicago, were hopeful that the Feds would be the crucial check and balance on the city and state’s corrupt justice system and would re-indict Hobley for the murders. If so, they might also illuminate the rampant corruption in the wrongful conviction movement that led to Hobley’s exoneration to begin with. 

At first, things looked positive. Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald seemed as if he would federally prosecute Hobley.


Murder by arson is a federal offense, and Fitzgerald has stated that if his office believes there is sufficient evidence to prove a case against someone for starting the blaze, it would not be relevant whether that person was "charged or convicted or pardoned" in state court. Fitzgerald made that remark almost 11 months ago as he responded to questions about the fire probe without mentioning Hobley by name.

The entire case file on the fire has been reopened, but sources say its focus is whether Hobley committed the crime. Some of Hobley's relatives have been subpoenaed as agents look for new information.

But then something truly shocking took place. Rather than re-indict Hobley, the Feds under Fitzgerald indicted Jon Burge for denying in a written interrogatory that he ever abused anyone as a cop. This indictment came in 2008, the same year Obama came to power. 

It’s hard to put one’s mind around it. The Feds gave Hobley a pass for the arson and used this fraudulent exoneration as the means to finally get what the city’s wrongful conviction crowd always dreamed of: the indictment of Jon Burge. 

Law enforcement officials, local and federal, were shocked at the decision, just as federal investigators were shocked when Clinton pardoned the FALN. 

It was this indictment that led to the sole criminal charge against Burge. 

One investigator close to the Hobley case was ATF agent Jim Delorto: 

The evidence in the Hobley arson case is so overwhelming and of such specific detail and volume that no jury in any court would not have found him guilty beyond any doubt. In my eight years as supervisor of the ATF federal bomb and arson task force, there has never been a clearer case of guilt. For the federal government not to have pursued this case, in which seven African Americans were burned to death, was unconscionable and unprecedented.

What happened among federal prosecutors and investigators that Hobley was given a pass so that Burge could be indicted? How could the Obama administration stand by while a mass murderer got a pass? The question has never been asked by the nation’s mainstream media, but needs to be, desperately so.

Burge’s conviction in connection with the Hobley arson was the climax of the wrongful conviction movement. It also marked the turning of the federal justice system on its head. The decision by federal prosecutors under the Obama administration to indict Burge and let Hobley off for a mass murder stands as one of the greatest abuses of the federal criminal justice system in modern history. It is a disturbing sign of just how far Obama and his radical allies, going back to his days as a community organizer, will go to wage their war on the police. 

Conservatives have hurled endless allegations about just how radical Obama truly is. Many on the Right have questioned if Obama is indeed a socialist. They have tried to put into context the nature of his connection to radical activists like Dohrn and Ayers. Liberals have countered that the Right has made too much of these connections and that the Right is paranoid about Obama. 

But the evolution of the wrongful conviction movement, a movement aimed at destroying the rule of law, and the attendant politicization of the federal law enforcement that took root in Obama’s political career, is becoming the hallmark of his presidency and the most rock solid evidence of Obama’s true radicalism.  

One wonders if this undermining of the law during the Obama years is what Obama truly meant when he, newly elected, he announced his plans for the “transformation” of the country. Under his leadership, cities have degenerated into chaos, rioting, and looting. Killers like Hobley have been set free, and a steady vilification of the police, now turning into violent attacks, has ensued. 

It’s a chilling vision of the country, the ascendance of a political ideology born and perfected by an ambitious politician from the south side of the most Crooked City.

Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, which played a critical role in the release of Alstory Simon from prison, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.

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