|Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile|
& Investigative Report
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a reprint of the June 1992 investigative report into the extradition request by the US State Department for Robert and Rochelle Manning.
Thefirst printing was limited to a press run of about 4,000. Only a few copies of this limited Israeli edition remain. Because of widespread US interest in the Mannings’ extradition, this special Internet edition is now available.
Thewriter/editor was a senior member of the editorial staff at The Jerusalem Post, but wishes to make it known that The Jerusalem Post and its editors and staff have no association with this report or the investigation, which was done independently of the Post and on the writer/editor’s own time. Since it is now being more widely disseminated in the United States, and the writer is an American journalist, it also does not fall under the jurisdiction of and has not been reviewed by Israeli censors, who must review all editorial content in the Israeli press prior to publication.
Thefindings were presented before the Post editorial board, which was divided on whether to proceed with extensive and expensive efforts to obtain comments from government and prosecution figures in the US as to their version of the facts especially when some of those facts were sure to be censored because of the highly political and potentially inflammatory nature of this report.
Withoutregard to censorship and in the interest of “truth” and “justice” the writer/editor here presents the story “too politically sensitive” for the Israeli daily media. Government and prosecution sources are quoted to the extent they would comment but Manning had a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it.
Special Reprint of June 1992 Report
DELL GRIFFIN / © 1992
TheJerusalem Torah Voice & Investigative Report
JERUSALEM -- Robert Manning once admitted that his left thumbprint actually could have been on the flap of a box used to package a bomb that exploded in 1980 and killed a Los Angeles secretary.
"The device was in a box just like the ones we used in our office to pack books," said Manning during a March 30 interview at the Russian Compound Prison in Jerusalem . "If it was someone's idea to frame me, it would have been easy to do."
Thereis nothing particularly credible, noteworthy or even newsworthy about a man behind bars claiming to be framed. But in a four-month investigation of the events surrounding the pending extradition of Robert Manning and his wife Rochelle, the Jerusalem Torah Voice & Investigative Report discovered a trail of tampered evidence, innuendo, harassment and "outrageous US government conduct" aimed at the Jewish activist who claims his only crime has been defending Jewish causes and Judaism. Among the most surprising findings:
● "Suspect" if not "doctored" fingerprint evidence which shakes the US case against the Mannings in connection with the July 17, 1980, bombing death of Patricia Wilkerson, a secretary at a Los Angeles computer firm.
●A paper trail linking the Mannings' arrests and imprisonments to foreign policy objectives of US Secretary of State James Baker and the administration of President George H.W. Bush and the timing of Baker's first and second visits to Israel.
Thereis nothing out of the ordinary about that trail except that it indicates the political motive for wanting Manning -- pressure from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and other members of the Arab lobby in Washington.
Thatlobby sandwiches the extradition of Robert Manning -- by name and by place of residence -- between U.S. recognition of Palestine (meaning the U.S. must press Israel to recognize a Palestinian State) and UN Resolution No. 242 (meaning no further Jewish settlements in the unannexed territories) as "necessary for initiating peace negotiations."
Thatlobby's influence in Congress appears to have been spearheaded by the ADC chairman who was a US congressman himself at the time and by a second congressman still in office who was on the ADC's National Advisory Committee. The latter congressman may have used his influence as chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Justice to order a congressional hearing into the 1985 pipe bomb death of ADC West Coast director Alex Odeh, in which Manning was a prime suspect.
●An airtight alibi that shows Manning to be in Israel 32 days continuously before Odeh's death in Los Angeles. The pipe bomb death of Odeh appears spontaneous since it occurred on the morning after Odeh had publicly praised PLO leader Yasser Arafat on ABC Television as a "man of peace."
Thefirst part of this investigative report, `US prosecution is all thumbs,' will focus on the fingerprint evidence. Part two, `Pawns on a political chessboard,' will expose the politics and "outrageous US government conduct" behind the extradition request, which is itself shown to be in violation of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Israel forbidding "political" extraditions. The concluding report, `WANTED: Dead,' will look in depth at Manning's numerous arrests, and his one conviction -- misdemeanor assault and possession of firecrackers. Manning's alibi, Israeli and American passports that show him to be in Israel 32 days continuously before Odeh's death, also will be examined.
TheUS State Department and the US congressmen who were contacted for "their side" of the story, did not take the investigation seriously, ignored written and oral questions posed to them and/or refused to reply to numerous written inquiries.
TheOffice of Israeli Justice Minister Dan Meridor also declined comment on any aspect of the investigation, citing Israeli statutes that prohibit discussing a case while it is before the courts.
TheU.S. Department of Justice did issue this statement: "In the matter of the United States vs Robert and Rochelle Manning, prosecutors have requested the U.S. Department of State to expedite extradition procedures. It is the State Department's jurisdiction.”
DELL GRIFFIN / ©1992
TheJerusalem Torah Voice & Investigative Report
RobertManning now claims his left thumb print was never on the flap of that box that contained a bomb disguised as a "new invention" mailed to Patricia Wilkerson's boss, Brenda Crouthamel Adams. Neither does he believe that his wife's right thumb print was on an accompanying letter of instructions.
Amongthe dozens of prints found on the box in which the device was mailed, an inspector with the US Postal Service Crime Lab claimed on April 18, 1988, to have identified Robert Manning's left thumb print under the packaging tape on one flap and Rochelle Manning's right thumb print on the accompanying letter of instructions.
Mrs. Manning was arrested by the FBI and US Postal Inspection Service agents eight years after Wilkerson's death as she stepped off of her plane from Israel with her two children on a family visit two months later on June 22, 1988. She was tried on the murder charge in January 1989 and freed after a hung jury. The prosecution surprisingly decided against retrying Mrs. Manning, even though the jury was hung 10-2 in its favor.
Mr. Manning, also charged in the Wilkerson murder, remained in Israel the entirety of his wife's trial because he claimed an FBI agent assigned to the Odeh case had made numerous threats on his life during his last visit to the States in 1986. He had complained about those threats to the American Civil Liberties Union in a five-page letter dated February 21, 1987.
Theletter, obtained during the Torah Voice's inquiry, relates his claims of FBI harassment because of his high profile as a Jewish activist and activities in support of the late Kach party leader Rabbi Meir Kahane. It was Kahane's books, Manning said he was packing in boxes identical to the one that contained the bomb that killed Wilkerson.
BothMannings were arrested at their home in Kiryiat Arba by Israeli Police on March 24, 1991, more than 10 years after the Wilkerson death. They have been in prison at the Russian Compound for more than a year, awaiting the final outcome of the extradition request, which is now under review by the High Court.
Israel's lower court ruled in December 1991, that Mr. Manning's thumb print on the box and Mrs. Manning's thumb print on the letter together showed prima facia evidence and granted the extradition.
TheMannings, maintaining their innocence, appealed and decided to seek other expert opinions about the fingerprints since it seemed that the prints "were the only real evidence against us," Manning said. The High Court on May 19 took under advisement whether to allow these experts' affidavits -- disputing the fingerprint evidence -- to become part of the Court record.
MichaelBennett of Pikesville, Maryland, who describes himself as a "friend of the Mannings" said he secured the affidavits from five experts, to whom he paid a total of $1,250.
Bennetttold the Torah Voice that he attended the same synagogue as the Mannings when he lived in the Los Angeles area in the late 1970s.
"Based on my knowledge of Bob and Rochelle, I could not take at face value the claim against them. The nature and history of the evidence begged for serious questioning. After receiving authorization from the Mannings' attorney to act as a third party, I requested and received the evidence and submitted it to these experts. My attitude was to `let the chips fall where they may' and so I did not tell these five men of the nature of the case until after they had concluded their work so as not to prejudice them," Bennett said.
TheTorah Voice interviewed each of the five men after receiving copies of their affidavits in January.
Thefive each stand by their reports despite pressure from US prosecutors against two of them. Alan Bookoff and Louis Schreiberg, retouching experts in the Baltimore area, each told the Torah Voice they were asked by the California prosecutor assigned to the Manning case, Dean Dunlavey, to "tone down" or "alter" the statements in their affidavits.
Bookoffand Schreiberg also said that each was contacted independently and asked to sign another affidavit discrediting the earlier affidavit of the other. Dunlavey faxed a copy of the affidavit critical of Schreiberg to Bookoff, who in turn mailed it to the Torah Voice.
"I never signed it and told Mr. Dunlavey I would not sign it," Bookoff said. The other experts said they were not contacted by Dunlavey or anyone who asked them to change their statements.
Ina faxed statement, Dunlavey declined comment on any aspect of the Manning case and why he attempted to have Schreiberg and Bookoff change their opinions, because he wrote, federal laws prevented him "from making any statement concerning evidence or argument in the case, whether or not it is anticipated that such evidence or argument will be used at trial.'"
Aphotocopy of a fax cover sheet obtained by the Torah Voice from the office of Justice Minister Dan Meridor marked ‘Dahuf,’ or (URGENT), indicates that Dunlavey's apparent attempts to discredit the two experts came within hours after that office transmitted a fax to Dunlavey detailing the affidavits to him.."Only two of the experts were contacted by Dunlavey, because these were the only opinions we had obtained at that time. Hence, theirs were the only names that Ms. (Ruth) Rabin (Meridor's assistant) transmitted to the US." Bennett said adding that he felt Dunlavey had "attempted to use his office as a vehicle to intimidate these experts."
Theaffidavits signed by the five alleged experts are dated December 19, 1991, to January 6, 1992. They base their opinions on their independent examinations of contact photographs of the incriminating prints and enlargements of those prints compared with the Mannings' actual fingerprints. Both sets were supplied by the prosecution to Alan Rubin, Mrs. Manning's attorney in her 1989 California trial.
Hereare the experts' surprising findings:
●Robert Groden, an expert witness before the Rockefeller Commission, the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded "there appears to be some form of deception in the evidence as presented. The government's chart enlargements appear to have been photographically altered."
Groden, was staff photographic consultant to the House committee reviewing evidence in the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.
"I am amazed there are so few prints on the suspect letter. If Mrs. Manning had actually handled the letter in the prescribed way (as alleged in the court testimony of the postal inspector), "there would be, beyond question, many more of her fingerprints on the letter.
"The evidence as I see it, makes me believe that the fingerprints are probably not those of the Mannings."
●Louis Schreiberg stated that the photograph exhibit identified as "left thumb of Robert Steven Manning, allegedly found on a flap of the box under a piece of packing tape, "had been altered by some way. My reason for drawing this conclusion is based on the fact that this photograph showed some light lines that divided some detail masses in a continuous way unlike the detail in other parts of the photograph."
Hesaid he found similar signs of "retouching" on exhibit 29A, right thumb of Rochelle Ida Manning, allegedly found on the letter.
●Allen Bookoff, who said he has more than 20 years experience in the study of photography and retouching of negatives, prints and transparencies stated the government's enlargements "contain images not found in the original contact prints (photos) that I examined."
●Michael Kradz, certified as a teacher of fingerprint classification and identification by the Maryland State Police Training Commission, also reviewed the 130-page transcript of the postal examiner's expert testimony during Rochelle Manning's earlier trial.
"I do not agree with the Postal Examiner that the left thumb print of Robert Manning and the right thumb print of Rochelle Manning on the bomb letter contained 12 and 15 points of identification." (At least 12 points are needed to show a match under California law).
"This examiner lacked the experience of examining latent prints." Kradz said the transcript shows that the examiner had gone so far as to misidentify the incriminating thumb print of Manning as a “partial palm print” during his investigation.
●Stephen Schneiderman, trained 35 years in the detection of retouched negatives, multiple negative printing and negative manipulation states: "All of the government chart enlargements were photographed with uneven lighting and by selective exposure of the images. The charts do not accurately represent the detail shown in the contact prints. The exhibit 26A marked `left thumb print of Robert Steven Manning,' shows areas of suspect quality that could possibly be the result of negative manipulation. The fingerprint evidence is not reliable and is subject to suspicion from a photographic standpoint."
Inattempting to reach the Washington US Postal Service examiner who testified that the prints were the Mannings', the Torah Voice learned from an employee at the office of the International Association of Identifiers who requested anonymity, that the examiner, Billy Dotson, has been decertified by the Association.. Doug Dutcher, a private investigator hired by Bennett, later confirmed that Dotson is no longer working as an identifier and could not be located by standard investigative techniques. IAI secretary-treasurer Ashley Crooker informed the Torah Voice that he had no address for Dotson.
DuringMarch 30 and April 13 interviews in the visitors center at the Russian Compound lockup, Manning filled in some of the details of the Torah Voice investigation into the fingerprints. Specifically, he was asked why neither he nor his wife had earlier contested the fingerprint evidence. Here is his answer:
"From the first day my wife was arrested, I wanted to get fingerprint experts. Her attorneys in America said it would cost somewhere around $25,000. They knew we were having a hard time paying their fees, so they told me, `No.'
"Since only one left thumb print supposedly identified as mine was found on the edge of the box where it folds over and then is taped and none of my prints were found on the other side of the flap, it is conceivable that I came into contact with the carton before it was folded ... while it was still flat, if it was taken from my office, where we were packing Rabbi Kahane's books. But there were dozens of other prints found on the box, and as far as I know, none of them have been identified as being mine."
"And ... I guess we thought the case was so clearly a frame that we did not spend the time and the money to check the fingerprints. Her attorney said it doesn't matter whether or not they are your prints, they are in a place where it doesn't show intent to commit a crime so we are not even going to look to see if they are your prints. They (the prosecutors) have to prove there was knowledge and intent to commit a crime."
Manningclaims the sequence of events since shortly before his wife's arrest when compared with the court transcript of her trial, also raises suspicion.
Thecourt transcript states that the left thumb print, which Dotson mistook as a partial palm when first examining the packaging in 1980, was "too fragmentary" to be entered into the FBI's national crime computer. But Manning claims that eight years later, two months before his wife's arrest, "Dotson was able to look at a set of his prints and say, `its a perfect match with the left thumb print of Robert Manning.' He says the left `thumb' print of Robert Manning."
Thecourt transcript states that the prints from which Dotson made his identification were given to Dotson in March 1988 by Postal Inspector G.M. Porter, who assisted the FBI in the arrest of Mrs. Manning three months later.
"In May, a month after Dotson claimed to have identified my thumb print, they requested fingerprints of my wife. They supposedly checked fingerprints on the letter and they said it's a match with the right thumb print of my wife. In 1980, Dotson has a partial palm print too fragmentary for the computer, but in 1988, he has an identical thumb print! And all of this transpired within two months after the FBI had been tipped off by someone in Kiryiat Arba that Rochelle was coming to the States to visit her family."
"All of these little things sounded so unbelieveable to us, with modern equipment today and since my fingerprints were already available on the computer in America ... why they couldn't have just put it in the computer index system and found it in 1980 ... if it was really on the box to begin with."
DELL GRIFFIN / Copyright 1992
The Jerusalem Torah Voice & Investigative Report
USSecretary of State James Baker's first and second visits to Israel in the spring of 1991 had dire consequences for Robert and Rochelle Manning.
Withintwo weeks of Baker's first visit the Mannings were arrested to face a hearing on whether they should be held until the Israeli courts ruled on their extradition to face murder charges. The day Baker made his hastily announced return, newspapers in Israel carried the story that the Mannings were behind bars without bail.
Afour-month Torah Voice investigation has determined that the Mannings' arrests and imprisonments appear linked to foreign policy objectives of Baker and the administration of President George H.W. Bush as well as the timing of Baker's visits.
AsSecretary of State, Baker would be privy to all extradition requests. But linking the Mannings' extradition to foreign policy objectives appears to be a ploy to appease the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and other members of the Arab lobby in Washington. This is because officials of that Arab lobby sandwich the extradition of Robert Manning -- by name and by place of residence -- between US recognition of Palestine and acceptance of UN Resolution 242 as "necessary for initiating peace negotiations." Those proposals -- and a hard line on terrorist activity -- comprise the basic platform Baker has urged in his dealings with the Israeli government.
TheArab lobby has made no secret that it wants Robert Manning because it believes he is a prime suspect in the pipe bomb death of ADC regional director Alex Odeh on October 11, 1985, the morning after Odeh had praised PLO leader Yasser Arafat as a "man of peace" on national network TV.
Israel's extradition treaty with the US forbids the US to extradite Manning in connection with Odeh's death, since Manning and his wife became Israeli citizens four years earlier in 1981 and the treaty protects any Israeli citizen from a political extradition in any way, shape or form. And, Manning has an airtight alibi that makes it impossible for him to have planted the pipe bomb that killed Odeh. (See Part III: `WANTED: Dead')
Butin its zeal to return the Mannings to the US and thereby placate the Arab lobby, the State Department has revived a yet-unsolved murder case -- the death of a secretary at a computer marketing firm in the Los Angeles area in 1980, before the Mannings became Israelis. In reviving this case to extradite the Mannings, the State Department has left uncovered political tracks not to mention suspect fingerprints. (See Part I: US Prosecution is all thumbs)
Thesecretary died when she plugged into a wall electrical socket a bomb disguised as a "new invention" that was received in the mail and which was intended for her boss. The owner of the computer company, Brenda Adams, was involved in a longstanding real estate dispute with William Ross, a Los Angeles area real estate broker, and his brother. On the day the bomb intended for Adams killed her secretary, the Ross brothers were to give depositions in a lawsuit stemming from the dispute.
Nomention of the Mannings was made in connection with the Wilkerson case until 1988, eight years after Wilkerson's death. But Manning was immediately the prime suspect in the FBI investigation of Odeh's death, according to FBI Agent Larry Wack. However, internal memos that surfaced during the Torah Voice's investigation, show the FBI had no direct evidence linking Manning to Odeh's death until the case was reopened by pressure on the Justice Department, the State Department and key members of Congress.
Moreover, the Mannings had moved to Kiryiat Arba. Extradition of territorial residents by the Israeli government was not in the best interest of the ADC since it would have set a documented, legal precedent recognizing Israeli authority in the administered territories, something the Palestinians wanted to avoid at all costs.
InJanuary 1986, just three months after Odeh's death, a Los Angeles agent for the Secret Service wrote in a telex that the Odeh murder investigation "had met with negative results" and the FBI had "suspended active investigation of the case."
Forthe next six months, the ADC made its top priority keeping the Odeh murder investigation alive. Congressman James Abourezk, who also was ADC president, scheduled monthly update meetings with top FBI officials and members of the House Committee on Criminal Justice, according to ADC bulletins obtained.
OnJuly 10, 1986, FBI Director Webster announced that the Odeh investigation "was of the highest priority." Six days later, at hearings before the House Subcommittee of Criminal Justice, Oliver Revell, FBI executive assistant director stated that the FBI investigation had extended to Israel.
OnJanuary 14, 1987, in response to continued pressure by the ADC, Steven Pomerantz, chief of the FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force, announced the Odeh murder was now the FBI's "single most important case."
Twoyears of the ADC lobbying select members of the US House of Representatives to press the FBI and the Reagan and Bush administrations for Odeh to be avenged, started to heat things up for the Mannings. Here is the sequence of events:
●August 9, 1987, a letter mailed to Robert Manning and signed by FBI Detective Larry E. Wack on Joint Terrorist Task Force letterhead, arrived in Kiryiat Arba. The 3-page letter threatens Manning in response to a 5-page letter Manning wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union asking for help against FBI harassment. Wack wrote Manning that he was being investigated by the FBI prior to 1986 in connection with Odeh's death, that the joint terrorist task force "has an incredibly successful record" and concluded, "Please don't believe ANYONE will escape extradition." There is no mention of the Wilkerson death in agent Wack's list of Manning's alleged criminal vices.
AgentWack refused to reply to inquiries made to him by the Torah Voice.
●November 18, 1987, three months later. A Washington headquarters ADC Action Alert newsletter reported:
■Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, (who also is a member of the ADC National Advisory Committee) announced he was calling for hearings into the FBI investigation of Odeh's death and obstructions of the investigation by the government of Israel. The announcement was made the day after Conyers had met with ADC President Abdeen Jabara.
Noone connected with the ADC would reply to inquiries made by the Torah Voice.
■After meeting with Jabara, Rep. Patrick Swindall, a member of Conyer's subcommittee and Rep. Don Edwards, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional rights, met with the FBI for an explanation.
(Conyers and Edwards refused to answer questions about their involvement with the ADC and their role in urging the extradition of the Mannings).
■The address, telephone number and extension to send the following mailgram to then-President Reagan and then-Attorney General Edwin Meese:
Outraged to learn Israel has impeded FBI's criminal investigation into murder of Alex Odeh. Seek your urgent intervention to secure Israeli cooperation in investigation and apprehension of murder suspect(s) and immediate extradition to U.S. for prosecution."
●November 24, 1987, an article entitled, `Who killed Alex Odeh,' written by Robert Friedman is published in `The Village Voice.' The article states that on October 10, 1985, federal agents followed Manning and another Kiryiat Arba resident from New York to St. Paul, where they boarded a plane for Los Angeles. The article alleges that the two were seen arriving in Los Angeles. but then were lost. One was reportedly seen leaving Los A.ngeles at 7 a.m. on October 11, 1985, two hours before the bomb exploded at the ADC office.
Manning, asked point blank if he knew who assassinated Odeh, replied: “If I knew I could not say anything. I can only tell you that Bob Manning was not there. Manning's American and Israeli passports show that he was in Israel 32 days continuously before Odeh's death. (See Part III, `WANTED: Dead.')
●March 28, 1988, the English Weekly `Al Awdah' quoted then US Senator James Abourezk, (who was also chairman of the ADC), as saying that the "killers of Alex Odeh are now living in the settlement of Kiryiat Arba." The same article stated that Abourezk's information came from an informant at the FBI, that the ADC had accused the Jewish Defense League of planting the bomb that killed Odeh, and that the ADC had "protested to the US Justice Department for its failure to apprehend the perpetrators." Abourezk revealed nothing about the FBI's investigation in connection with Wilkerson's death.
TheTorah Voice was curious to know to whom in the Justice Department Abourezk complained, but was unable to reach Abourezk despite more than a dozen attempts..
●March 1988, US Postal Inspector G.M. Porter sent a set of Robert Mannings' fingerprints to the Postal Service's Washington Crime Lab.
●April 18, 1988, US Postal Inspector Billy Dotson pronounces that the left thumb print of Robert Manning was a perfect match with what he had earlier identified as a palm print on the flap of the box that contained the bomb that killed Wilkerson.
●May ?, 1988, Mrs. Manning's fingerprints are sent to the Washington crime lab.
●June 1988, Dotson pronounces that Mrs. Mannings right thumb print matches a heretofore unidentified print on the letter of instructions that accompanied the bomb that killed Wilkerson.
●June 15, 1988, Arrest warrants are issued for Rochelle and Robert Manning in connection with the mail bomb that killed Wilkerson.
●June 24, 1988, Mrs. Manning was arrested by federal agents as she stepped off of the plane from Israel with her two children, who had come to the States to visit a relative. She was charged, along with William Ross, in connection with the bombing death at the computer firm.
●June 25, 1988, an Orange County Register report quotes Samuel Abady, Mr. Manning's New York attorney as saying that FBI agent Larry Wack told him "convicting Robert Manning of three unsolved bombings was the FBI's ‘true agenda.’"
●July 12, 1988, Friedman publishes another article in the Village Voice stating that the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, ADC national advisory committee member Rep. John Conyers, had accused the FBI of stalling on the Odeh murder investigation. Conyers also called the FBI a "racist institution" at a June 3 ADC meeting in Dearborn.
●July 14, 1988, The `LA Times,' two days later, quotes Assistant US Attorney Nancy Wieben Stock, prosecutor in Mrs. Manning's trial, as saying that a request for the arrest of Robert Manning in connection with Wilkerson's death was "being prepared" and would be forwarded to Israel that week.
●December 28, 1988, the week before Mrs. Manning's trial, the Times carried a guest column by Salam Al Marayati, director and R. Ibrahim, research associate of the Muslim Political Action Committee based in Los Angeles. The column was headlined, "To Set the Stage for Peace, Israel Must Agree to Steps US Asked of Palestinians." It is critical of US aid given to Israel and spells out three steps "necessary for initiating peace negotiations."
●Between US and Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of UN Resolution 242 is the following statement:
Israel must also comply with the FBI's demand that it extradite to the United States the Israeli-American fugitive, Robert Manning ... known to be residing in the West Bank settlement of Kiryiat Arba."
Accordingto Herb Sunshine, president of the Jerusalem Committee to Free Prisoners of Zion, evidence that Moslem and Arab political action committees lobbied Washington to extradite the Mannings in connection with the assassination of Odeh disqualifies the extradition request.”
“Thequestion that has to be answered ,” Sunshine says, “is whether the attempt to extradite Manning is ‘political’? If so, he is protected under the explicit terms of the treaty between the United States and Israel, which strictly forbids politically motivated extraditions.
“Toinclude the Manning’s extradition in the same list not to mention the same paragraph between recognition of a Palestinian State and U.N. Resolution 242 preventing Israel from continuing to establish Jewish settlements in the unannexed territories,” Sunshine said, “makes the extradition request political with a capital P. End of case.”
●January 1989, Mrs. Manning and Ross are tried, but both trials end in hung juries. At the trial, Dotson, the postal service crime lab inspector, (who has since been decertified), publicly identified for the first time, the two thumb prints that connected the Mannings to the crime. Ross testifies that he was a major financial supporter of the Jewish Defense League and had made two telephone calls to Mr. Manning's home or office before the death of Wilkerson. The defense argued that Manning was then-director of the Conference of Jewish Activists, and the calls were explained as a response to thousands of calls made from his office to raise money for the CJA.
Beforethe case went to trial, Mrs. Manning was never questioned by prosecutors. Instead, Assistant US Attorney Wieben Stock, who prosecuted the case, said the US would drop all charges against her if she would convince her husband to "voluntarily return to the US to stand trial without the need of the US government to seek and obtain extradition." This according to Alan Rubin, Mrs. Mannings attorney.
Rubinadded in another affidavit obtained by the Torah Voice:.
Based on this offer it was, and is, my firm opinion that the federal prosecution against Rochelle Manning was being used as "leverage" against Robert Manning."
Mrs. Manning, aware of the problems her husband had encountered with the FBI in 1986 in connection with the investigation of Odeh's death, "rejected the offer, reiterated her innocence and that of her husband, and refused to have any part in subjecting her husband to US prosecution," Rubin said.
Rubinlater stated that if he had been given credible proof of governmental tampering with evidence during the trial, he would have made a pretrial motion to the District Court to dismiss the indictment for "outrageous government conduct."
●February 1, 1989, ADC officials meet with incoming Terrorist Task Force chief Neil Gallagher. He says the Odeh case is still the FBI's top priority.
●February-June 1990, ADC officials continue their monthly meetings re: the Odeh murder investigation with Gallagher.
●June 11, 1990, ABC carried a news segment claiming the "Israeli-occupied West Bank has become a haven for fugitives from American justice." It showed footage of the Wilkerson death, and quoted the same postal inspector, Billy Dotson, as saying "there is no doubt whatsoever that Robert Manning and his wife were responsible." The report then shifted locale to Kiryiat Arba and showed the Mannings' friends guarding his home.
●June 21, 1990, the pressure mounts as `The Washington Times' runs a front page article, headlined, "US urged to use aid clout on Israel." The article begins:
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which has accused Israel of sheltering the killers of its West Coast regional director, said yesterday the US government should use the leverage of its financial aid to solve the case.
"The largest single recipient of American aid should be told in no uncertain terms that they should provide the necessary information," Abdeen M. Jabara, president of the committee, said of Israel.”
Thesame article stated that members of the committee had met with the FBI on the same day to discuss the bureau's investigation of the still-unsolved 1985 assassination of Odeh.
●June 22, 1990, the following day, Jabara drafted a form letter on ADC stationery to "select members of the House of Representatives" calling for the extradition of Robert Manning and "to conduct an official inquiry of the Justice and State departments regarding the status of the investigation."
●March 11, 1991, less than two weeks since the last Scud missile fired by Saddam landed on Tel Aviv, James Baker arrives in Israel on his first trip to assess the prospects of peace between Israel and the Arab states. In his briefcase were extradition papers.
●March 24, 1991, thirteen days later. As Robert Manning was still unpacking his duffle bag from his military duties on the Lebanese border, both husband and wife were arrested by Israeli Police at their home in Kiryiat Arba.
“Itis obvious that something lit a fire under Baker,” Sunshine said. “Since all of this came so close after the cease fire, we have to believe that the cooperation the US secured from Arab allies against Saddam came at Israel’s and the Mannings’ expense. Baker pressed Prime Minister Shamir to halt construction of new Jewish settlements or lose our loan guarantees. The Mannings did not have a choice about anything. US policy in the Middle East took priority.”
The`LA Times' report on the arrest and investigation quoted Washington ADC director of legal services Gregory Nojeim:
Since the FBI identifed Mr. Manning as a prime suspect in THIS CASE (emphasis Torah Voice) at least four years ago, the ADC has urged the White House and the State Department to work with the Israeli government to have Mr. Manning arrested and brought to justice."
Thereader should take special note. If Nojeim's facts are correct, then the FBI identified Manning as a "prime suspect" in the WILKERSON CASE (emphasis Torah Voice) prior to March 1987. The thumb/palm print first connecting him to the death of Wilkerson, however, was not alleged to have been identified until April 1988.
Nojeimalso states in the article that "the ADC will redouble its efforts to have Mr. Manning extradited to the United States to face murder charges.
ADCnational President Albert Mokhiber is also quoted as saying that the FBI had informed the ADC as recently as two weeks prior to the Mannings' arrest in Israel during Baker's visit that "this was about to happen."
Finally, the `LA Times' account ends with Nojeim stating:
In literally every contact we have had with the Administration, we mention the murder case of Mr. Odeh and press for quick action and for the extradition. I think that the pressure did make a big difference because the ADC never let the issue die."
●March 26, 1991, two days after the Mannings' arrest, they are ordered held an additional 15 days (to decide whether they can await the extradition trial without being imprisoned).
●April 6, 1991. Suddenly, after only 11 days, the remand hearing is held four days ahead of schedule without any explanation. The Mannings were denied release from custody until the courts decided on the extradition.
●April 7, 1991. The following day, Baker arrived for his second visit and the Mannings were behind bars.
InMarch 30 and April 13 interviews at the Russian Compound lockup, Manning commented on what he claims is an unusual chain of events.
"Usually when they say 15 days they mean 15 days. All of a sudden at the end of 11 days, we were pulled back into court. I was shocked. Even my attorney was surprised."
"Later, we figured it out. On the day Baker arrived, the newspapers would have the story that we would be in prison until the end of our trial. The State Department was under a tremendous amount of pressure to extradite us. I had suspected that for some time. But on the day Baker arrived the second time, I knew that Rochelle and I are being played as chess pieces."
DELL GRIFFIN / Copyright 1992
TheJerusalem Torah Voice & Investigative Report
"I used to know my daddy," says 5-year-old Moriah, daughter of Robert and Rochelle Manning. Now, she is living with friends of her mother and father while they are in jail.
TheMannings' other daughter, Elana, now 17, has left the yeshiva in which she was studying and wants to be a beautician. Her parents are afraid that her faith in God and in Israel has been shaken by the ordeal they are experiencing.
Withoutwork over the past year that they have been imprisoned, the Mannings also are on the verge of losing their home in Kiryiat Arba.
Losinghome and family may be considered a fate worse than death, but Robert Manning faces the possibility of an extradition that he is convinced would literally mean his death.
"I don't think that my case could ever go to trial," Manning said in an interview on March 30 at the Russian Compound prison. "There is not enough evidence to pass through a preliminary hearing."
"But if I'm extradited, the first thing the FBI agent is going to do is he's going to grab my baby finger, and he's going to twist it back to my ear and ask me, "Who killed Alex Odeh?" Then, he's going to put me back in a room and he's going to give me electroshock treatments ... like they did (Jonathan) Pollard. I don't fear the open judicial system as much as I fear what they would do behind closed doors."
TheTorah Voice's four-month investigation into the extradition request of the Mannings reveals a Robert Manning as notorious as any man on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. He is wanted by the US Postal Service, the FBI and the Justice Department. But he is wanted most by the Arab lobby. Yet his only prior conviction is misdemeanor assault and possession of firecrackers. The Torah Voice asked, "Why?"
"Robert Manning's only crime is that he is a big man and he was born a Jew," said one of the friends who regularly visit him at the Russian Compound. At first glance, Manning does cast a shadow you would not want to confront in a dimly lit alley. And he has a booming voice, which he has used all too vocally in the past in support of Jewish causes. Put the three together — the size, the voice and the causes — and you have a "high-profile" combination.
Thatprofile attracted the attention of the FBI when Robert Manning began his association with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1970s. While most college-aged activists in the 1970s were protesting the Vietnam War, Manning had early identified with the Zionist cause of the Jewish Defense League.
Hecharacterizes his activities with the JDL as "peaceful demonstrations that sometimes got out of hand" and "nuisance activities aimed at disrupting and discrediting Arab propagandists, neo-Nazis and other antisemitic groups or activities." Many times the demonstrations and incidents where he made a nuisance of himself resulted in his arrest. But despite a record and a reputation as such a Jewish activist, Manning's rap sheet shows only that one conviction.
Hewas tried in a federal court in Los Angeles in 1972 on charges of possession of explosives, but was convicted of "misdemeanor assault and possession of firecrackers," and given three years probation.
"Someone had taped an M80 firecracker to a window of the Hollywood home of Muhammad Shafti, an Arab activist, shortly after the Munich massacre. It wasn't me and I declared my innocence but the firecracker did come from my house," Manning said.
Manning's first trial without conviction was in LA State Court in 1970.
"There was a gang war between blacks and Chicanos and in the middle of it a Jewish girl was pulled out of a car and was beaten. I ran and got a large dagger, whirled it around a few times and rescued her. A police officer arrested me for that," Manning said. "No one was hurt. The knife was not on me before the incident. I ran into a building to get it. The judge let it go."
In1971, Manning and a group of neo-Nazis had it out in Los Angeles and again Manning was acquitted of assault after a jury trial.
In1974, Manning was arrested by the LA Police Department after a complaint filed by Ralph Rison, producer of the Bridgett Loves Bernie show. Rison accused Manning of threatening over the telephone to "blow his ass off" in connection with the show, which was about a marriage between a Jew and a Christian and which demeaned Judaism and glorified Christianity, Manning said. Again, Manning was found not guilty by the jury. Manning then sued Rison in civil court for false arrest and $1.1 million. Rison offered Manning $500,000 to settle out of court, which Manning said he turned down. "Later I accepted $25,000 and Rison's agreement to take the show off the air.""Yes, I demonstrated against Universal Studios and outside Rison's home but no, I never threatened to kill him. I did speak to him on the phone but I only objected to him portraying Catholicism as a devout faith and reducing Judaism to locks, bagels, salamis and spinning the dreidel. I would never blow the ass off of another Jew. I may try to ridicule him, throw paint on him or come to his house and walk a pig in front of his door because I think he's a pig for doing such a thing, but Robert Manning would never kill or threaten to kill another Jew."
Butwhen it comes to Arabs, Manning is no saint. He was once quoted by a Dallas, Texas, reporter as bragging about the Arabs he had killed as an IDF soldier. He refuses to talk about his Vietnam War record or his IDF service, and particularly the training in explosives he is alleged to have received, but he claims he is able to recognize the difference between "active" duty and Jewish activism.
"I have a lot of arrests for demonstrations including just about every anti-Soviet demonstration from 1971 to 1980. Of the some 40 times I've been arrested, I've gone to court on four or five things.
WhenLibya's Ahmed al Shahati came to California in March 1979, Manning, then head of the Conference of Jewish Activists, put an abrupt end to a press conference for the No.2 official in Libya when he demanded in that booming voice of his, "Why do you support people who kill Munich athletes?"
"Billy Carter was courting the Libyans. Everywhere the delegation went, I went. Usually, I would make myself up and go into one of their press things, sit down on the floor in front of the cameras and start screaming. I am never looking to fight. I just want the Jewish presence and view known."
"I am sure I never won any popularity contests with the Arabs," Manning said, adding that this might explain why he has been a "prime suspect" in every incident involving overt and covert opposition to the Arab lobby in the US.
Unlikeher husband, Mrs. Manning was never arrested until the charges in connection with the Wilkerson death, for which she was tried in 1989. The trial resulted in a hung jury and the prosecution decided against retrying her. Mrs. Manning made a hasty return to Israel.
Sincethe Mannings moved to Israel in 1981, there have been no arrests of either until the extradition proceedings.
Afterthe 1985 death of Odeh, Manning's name was at the top of the suspect list. The Robert Manning who had been a burr under the saddle of the Arab activists for years suddenly became the mad Jewish bomber. Unattributed accounts of his 1972 firecracker arrest and conviction were blown up in a Los Angeles Times report as a "prior criminal conviction for placing an incendiary device at the home of Shafti."
Butthe Torah Voice's inquiry has determined that unless he has discovered some means to cross international borders undetected, Robert Manning was in Israel continuously for a month prior to Odeh's death and can prove it.
Hemay have had some role in planning Odeh’s death, but Manning’s Israeli and American passports show he left Ben Gurion airport on July 23, 1985, and returned to Ben Gurion on September 9, 1985, 32 days before Odeh's death on October 11. His five-year passport then expired four days later on October 15, 1985, and he did not travel abroad again until he received a new passport, the application for which was made on March 5, 1986.
However, the FBI claims a WUSA air ticket he had purchased for the July 23 to September 9 visit, continued to travel from New York to Los Angeles and back ... including the day before and the day after Odeh's death. Manning claims he knew nothing about the WUSA ticket until his next trip to the States in 1986 when he was introduced to FBI agent David Wayne James:"I was followed by the FBI from the moment I arrived at JFK Airport until I left to return to Israel. At one point agent James threw me against the wall in the bathroom of the Excelsior Diner in New York City and put a .357 magnum revolver in my mouth. He told me, "if I can't convict you I can kill you." After that, I showed him my American and Israeli passports and showed him I was in Israel at the time Alex Odeh was killed."I was released by agent James. Two days later I boarded the plane to go back to Israel. At that time, he came on the plane and showed me a WUSA ticket. Then he told me that in 1985, that I made a trip to America and I traveled around America on a similar WUSA ticket. He said that my passport might show that I had returned to Israel but my WUSA ticket kept traveling around America."
"I explained to agent James that I never paid for my WUSA tickets, that they were paid for by either the Chabad or the JDL and that I leave the ticket with them. I told him that my ticket in 1985 was bought for me by the JDL and that when I returned to Israel I would be happy to attempt to see who had used my ticket after me.
"When I got back to Israel, I received many calls from agent James. Finally, I went to my rabbi. He told me that I am not allowed to talk about another Jew to a Gentile. So, even if I knew I wouldn't tell who had use of my WUSA ticket after me."
Manningsaid he began to fear for his life when agent James called him five years ago the day after his youngest daughter was born.
"He congratulated me and then said, "too bad she would have to live without a father." When the threats continued, I wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union. I also mailed copies of my Israeli and American passports to about 20 of my friends just to show them that I wasn't anywhere around Odeh."
Thereply to Manning's letter did not come from the ACLU. It came from FBI agent Larry Wack, who Manning said told him later that agent James had been taken off of the case because he was "too mild" and had let me go.
Thethree-page letter on Joint Terrorist Task Force letterhead is dated August 9, 1987. It includes numerous threats and insinuations that Manning is involved with murder, extortion, kidnapping, illegal eavesdropping, mail fraud scams, narcotic use/sales, tax evasion and conspiracy, but does not mention the death of Wilkerson.
Manningadmits his involvement as a deprogrammer in taking people out of devil worship, Hare Krishna and L. Ron Hubbard and other cults.
Manningclaims his trip to the States in 1985 was for the purpose of rescuing the daughter of a Chicago-area jeweler from one such religious cult, a rabbi this time "with a following of women, including married women, from whom this rabbi received sexual favors." Rabbi Baruk Green (Baruk ben Yosef), an Israeli friend of Manning who assisted in deprogramming the girl, verified that Manning was continuously occupied with helping the girl during the July 23 to September 9 trip "except for a few trips to visit relatives." Manning adds that his last visit to the States in 1986 was to attend the girl's wedding.
"Although some of those we deprogrammed resisted at first or were taken against their will, nobody ever filed a police complaint, I was never arrested and I have never been prosecuted for such "kidnapping" activities," Manning said.
Hedenies all the other charges leveled by Wack, but admits that before a cult victim was abducted, eavesdropping was usually necessary, again with parental consent."If you and your associates maintain your TOTAL innocence in this investigation Mr. Manning," Wack's letter states, "then you will all have to provide detailed accounts of activities. Personally, I don't think any one of you will be willing to do this. Your only other option (is) to sit and wait. Time itself is on our side, not the side of those who believe violence and death is an end to a means."
Manningclaims the letter is decidedly antisemitic as well. "The fact that Jewish extremists resorted to murder in 1985 in this country has intensified the investigation," the letter states.
Theletter is signed "Cordially, Larry E. Wack, FBI," after ending, "Also, please don't believe ANYONE will escape extradition."
"Three months after Wack wrote the letter, the postal inspector in Los Angeles decided to send fingerprints of mine to Washington DC in order to check on the box in which explosives were sent in 1980. Eight years later, this guy all of a sudden out of nowhere decides to send my prints, three months after Larry Wack says "don't believe anyone will escape extradition."
Itis no wonder that Manning declined to accompany his wife on a trip to the States in December 1988 to visit relatives. "We figured the FBI would question her about me and that they might even try to detain her for 72 hours and we had been prepared for that. But we had no idea about the Wilkerson case and us being suspects."
Afterher arrest immediately upon stepping off of the plane with her two children, Rochelle Manning was charged with the first degree murder of Wilkerson.
"I was arrested by nine agents," Mrs. Manning said in the March 30 interview. "FBI Special agent J.R. Hill, wanted information on Bob, LA Joint Terrorist Task Force Detective John Coyle told me to `think of my children. They need a mother.' Also, Postal Inspector G.M. Porter xeroxed the personal documents I had on me and Postal Inspector Nick Kaylor questioned me, filled out the forms and handcuffed me. I don't remember the others.
"Curiously, none of those who arrested me ever questioned me about my involvement in the Wilkerson case," Mrs. Manning said adding that she also was never questioned by the prosecution before her trial.
AlanRubin and Michael Adelson, Mrs. Manning's attorneys, said Assistant US Attorney Nancy Wieben Stock proposed in a meeting in her office prior to the 1989 trial that the US drop the charges against Rochelle Manning if she would "persuade her husband Robert Manning to voluntarily return to the United States to stand trial without the need of the US Government to seek and obtain an extradition."
Mrs. Manning refused to deal and the trial resulted in a hung jury. The judge declared a mistrial and the prosecution decided not to retry Mrs. Manning, even though the jury was hung, 10-2 in the prosecution's favor.
“Ithought that was curious then, but now that we have reason to suspect the fingerprint evidence, I am convinced that someone at the FBI or someone who has the FBI in their pocket has a vendetta against me," claims Manning, who has had to become something of a jailhouse lawyer in recent months. He offers this scenario:
"Now I believe I could have been a suspect in 1980, but when my prints were not initially found on the box, they no longer considered me a suspect.
"Then in 1987, someone decides they are going to do whatever they can to get Manning so they go into the file and try to find something that Manning was connected with. They find this case and ask, `What is the connection with Manning?' We have this box, we have Manning knowing the guy who has boxes like this, we have Manning knowing the guy whose mad at this woman but what we don't have is anything linking Manning.
"Then I think someone was told to check again and put the prints on the box."
Friendsand supporters of the Mannings also have been harassed by the FBI and other US agencies, the Torah Voice has learned.
Arelative of the Mannings set up an account to raise money for the Mannings' defense. "Every contributor to that account was contacted by the Internal Revenue Service and audited and several were questioned by the FBI," one of those audited said.
Atan Emunah (Women of Faith) convention in New York City this past January, three women among a group planning to stage a protest about the Mannings being in prison as Justice Minister Dan Meridor was speaking said they were confronted by FBI agent Wack.
"He (Wack) told us not to dare to get involved or he would `make sure that your lives will be very difficult,'" one said.
Thelower court judge, Dr. Zvi Cohen, said he perceived harassment from the FBI but ruled that despite Mrs. Manning's 1988 arrest by six FBI agents, two postal inspectors and the terrorist task force detective, that the harassment “did not show a strong enough link between the FBI and the postal inspector who presented the incriminating fingerprints.”
Mrs. Manning's earlier trial, which resulted in the hung jury also presents a question of law on which the High Court must rule.
Israelilaw either convicts or acquits and does not allow for a hung jury since jurors are not involved in the system. The extradition treaty Israel has with the US states that a person who is previously tried and "discharged" by the country requesting extradition, is not extraditable for the same alleged crime. The question is whether "discharged" includes the dismissal of a case because of a "hung jury" which the prosecution decides against retrying.
Sincethe death of Wilkerson occurred before the Mannings were Israeli citizens, there are other questions as to whether Israel's extradition treaty even applies to the Mannings.
Here, the Mannings are appealing to Jewish halachah (interpretation of the Torah primarily based on Deuteronomy 1:16-17) and the Talmudic prohibition against a Jew being turned over to Gentile justice.
Ifthe High Court ignores halachah and upholds the extradition, Robert Manning is certain it will be his death sentence.
WhenJustice Perverts Justice
The Manning File investigation raises serious questions about the integrity of Israel’s justice system as well as the intelligence and justice network in the United States. If nothing else, it can be concluded that in the case of the Mannings, Justice on both sides of the globe has not been “blind.”
While we do not defend the thuggish activities of the Jewish Defense League or Rabbi Meir Kahane and his outlawed Kach Party, we do believe in Manning’s case, that his past association with these activities is not reason to pre-judge him.
Without a jury system of justice here in Israel, it matters little what the public believes about the Manning case. But our independent investigation has turned up too much unanswered evidence indicating this extradition request is highly politically motivated and should be overturned.
The most telling evidence that Manning’s extradition is related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States to appease the Arab lobby, (who in turn has influence with Arab oil states and a fragile Alliance among Arab nations in the US cause against Saddam Hussein), is a major contradiction that surfaced in the investigation. According to the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee director of legal services who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times in the report of Manning’s arrest pending extradition, the FBI had identified Manning as a prime suspect in the Wilkerson case prior to March 1987. But the only evidence so linking him (which has been found suspect) did not surface until April 1988. The Arab lobby wanted Manning in connection with the death of West Coast ADC Chairman Alex Odeh and would press the State Department however necessary to get him.
We suspect that the Mannings’ “higher cause” in life is that of a test of the Israeli and US justice systems. For whenever Justice itself perverts Justice, judgment is not far from a nation’s shores. The Almighty is in the Justice business Himself. The Torah charges judges (not juries) to judge righteously and not show respect of persons. (Deut. 1:16-17). It is a tragedy for the Mannings and their children to be caught between politics in Israel and the Arab-motivated demands of the US State Department withholding Israel’s loan guarantees.
Since the end of the Gulf War, US attention has focused on “keeping the Arab states happy.” President George H.W. Bush enjoys an unprecedented 80 percent popularity rating. The Baker State Department’s new hard line against Israel tampers with Torah precepts of Justice on which the United States stands or falls and is ignorant of the policy of the God of Israel re: the Land of Israel. And the God of Israel is still God and still watches over Israel.
We like Bush. He has been good for America. Nevertheless, his priorities are misplaced and this change of policy against Israel will result in his popularity plummeting to the point that he will not be re-elected. Also, a Justice that stoops to falsifying evidence shakes our confidence in America and that for which she stands, liberty and justice for all ... and that includes the Mannings.