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Daniel P. Sheehan

John Simkin

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There are several threads on the Forum concerning the interview where Gene Wheaton suggested that Carl E. Jenkins and Raphael Quintero were both involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In fact, this is not the first time that Wheaton has made this claim.

Daniel Sheehan was a left-wing lawyer who worked on the cases of Daniel Ellsberg and Karen Silkwood. He was also involved in the prisoners’ rights movement in New York state and was at Attica State Prison during the 1971 riot, attempting to negotiate a peaceful solution, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered authorities to take down the prison by force. He was also a member of F. Lee Bailey’s law firm, which represented Watergate burglar James McCord at the time he wrote his famous letter to Judge John Sirica.

In 1980 Sheehan became general counsel for the Christic Institute, a small public-interest group supported by religious organizations.

In 1985 Paul Hoven met Carl E. Jenkins, at a party for people associated with the Soldiers of Fortune magazine. Jenkins introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton. Hoven discovered that Jenkins and Wheaton had been attempting to win federal contracts involving transporting goods to Afghanistan and Nicaragua. Wheaton told Hoven about how the Ronald Reagan administration were involved in illegal arms deals. He also provided information about how the CIA had been responsible for carrying out a series of political assassinations.

Hoven introduced Wheaton and Jenkins to Sheehan in February, 1986. The two men told Sheehan about a group of former CIA agents and assets were involved in illegal arms deals with the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Those named included Tom Clines, Raphael Quintero, Ted Shackley, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez, Albert Hakim and Edwin Wilson. Wheaton and Jenkins also provided more information about political assassinations that had been organized by members of the CIA.

On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. They added that it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.

Sheehan went to see Edwin Wilson in prison and he confirmed that Shackley, Clines and Secord had been involved in shipping illegal arms to Nicaragua. Sheehan made a series of speeches where he advocated the impeachment of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Several left-wing celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Kris Kristofferson, helped raised funds for the campaign being led by Sheehan and the Christic Institute.

In March, 1988, Gene Wheaton agreed to provide a deposition in a federal courtroom in Washington. Wheaton claimed that Ted Shackley was overseeing an assassination outfit called the Fish Farm. However, he refused to say which retired CIA official had given him this information.

It was assumed that Wheaton's source was Carl E. Jenkins. However he denied it saying: "I am astounded that on the basis of his conversations with me, Mr. Sheehan would swear under oath that I supplied him with any of this information."

On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". In February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.

An anonymous article for The Journal of Defense and Diplomacy (it was assumed that it was written by Ted Shackley) claimed: "This attack (by Daniel Sheehan) is part of a long-range plan to weaken the entire U.S. intelligence community." It was suggested that Christic Institute was under the control of the Soviet Union.

In her book, Legal Terrorism (1989), Susan Huck joined in the attack and claimed that the Sheenan lawsuit had advanced "Soviet interests" and that the Christic Institute had been devoted to "weakening the United States and supporting our enemies". This was as a result of Shackley's "record of thwarting Moscow and Havana for three decades".

Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra scandal, gave prosecutorial immunity to 14 defendants and indicted six people. Then, when George Bush, Sr. lost the election in 1992, one of the last few things he did before leaving office was to pardon all of the people the special prosecutor had indicted.

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Judge King certainly did put the Christic Institute out of business. They were a true threat to the covert action boys, and Dan Sheehan was certainly targeted for retribution for his efforts.

According to one of the bios of Ed Wilson, he was in charge, while Oswald was USMC in Japan, for U2 base security, which may have allowed their paths to cross.

They got Wilson for being out of control, but he certainly was connected. Having been incarcerated in Federal Pen with Noreaga, Wilson is slated to be released soon, compliments of an appeals judge in Texas who threw out one of his convictions. Now that the USA is pals with Quadafi, maybe they'll get back in business again once they spring Wilson.

Sheehan was most certainly a threat because he tried to apply the RICO statutes, authored by our good friend GRB, which was meant to attack organzed crime, but fit in with the RICO standards of rackettering.

During the course of the trial, which lasted years, I attened a lecture and press conference in Philadelphia with one of the American journalists wounded in a contra-bomb attack, an assassination attempt on one of the Sandinista leaders. The American reporter was severely wounded, grounds for his civil suit and party to the RICO suit against the bombers - Secord, et al.

Of course a similar civil suit, with the cooperation of James Tague, could be brought against the DP shooters and those responsible for killing JFK and wounding Connally, as he certainly was a victim too.

I wanted to get Sheehan to apply the same legal tactics to JFK, but once he went down, he left town (DC), but one of his assistants, a former Catholic priest, helped formed COPA when we met for the first organizational meeting at the Capitol Hill Friends Meeting House.

Although the COPA board of directors have not met in over two years, the organization is still in existence, John Judge is the secretary, and it has filed civil suits in the past, one of which was successful in prying loose the DOD USA After-Action reports on Memphis at the time of the MLK assassination. That suit was appealed by COPA attorney Dan Alcorn, but the last appeal before the Supreme Court, was rejected and Dan thought it a waste of time and money to try to go there.

COPA was founded as a non-profit, but not the type that you can make tax-deductable donations to, which allows it to endorse political candidates and to make organizational civil suits.

Alcorn is not supportive of the Grand Jury Project because he is primarily a defense attorney and FOIA specialist, and not a prosecutor. Judge is against using COPA in a JFK civil suit because of what they did to the Christic Institute.

Attorneys like Sheehan and Alcorn, who put their careers on the line for such lost causes are a rare breed.

I have more on the Christic Institute RICO action and COPA's MLK case if people are interested.

Bill Kelly

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Judge King certainly did put the Christic Institute out of business. They were a true threat to the covert action boys, and Dan Sheehan was certainly targeted for retribution for his efforts.

Bill: Dan Sheehan has long been one of my MAJOR heros in life and I have wondered for years now what became of him. He just disappeared. Do you happen to know to where?

Also, the "former Catholic priest" who co-founded COPA would not be the (wonderful) James Douglas would it?


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Namebase entry for Daniel P. Sheehan:


Assn. National Security Alumni. Unclassified 1993-11 (16)

Bainerman,J. The Crimes of a President. 1992 (63-6, 82)

Berlet,C. Right Woos Left. 1991-12-16 (19-21, 42)

CIA. Hitz Report on Contras and Cocaine. Volume II. 1998-04-27 (E5, 7-8)

Christic Institute. Sheehan Affidavit. 1987-01-31 (1-3, A)

Cockburn,L. Out of Control. 1987 (91-103)

Corn,D. Blond Ghost. 1994 (380-8, 392-9)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1987-#28 (8)

Guardian (New York) 1992-05-06 (4)

Huck,S. Legal Terrorism. 1989 (30-2, 37-8, 43-8, 139-42)

In These Times 1987-04-21 (4)

Jensen-Stevenson,M. Stevenson,W. Kiss the Boys Goodbye. 1990 (231-5, 257-8)

Livingstone,N. The Cult of Counterterrorism. 1990 (31-2)

Lobster Magazine (Britain) 2001-#42 (16-7)

Mother Jones 1988-03 (21-6, 46, 48)

New York Times 1995-05-04 (A9)

San Jose Mercury News 1986-07-18 (14A)

Terrell,J. Disposable Patriot. 1992 (338-40, 343, 349, 408-9)

Vankin,J. Conspiracies, Cover-ups, and Crimes. 1991 (104, 115-20, 182)

Vankin,J. Whalen,J. The 60 Greatest Conspiracies. 1998 (32-3, 310-4)

Washington Post 1986-05-30 (A26)

Washington Times 1988-07-25 (A3)

Washington Times 1989-10-02 (A8)

Wilcox,D.A. The Left Guide. 1996 (114)

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Bill: Dan Sheehan has long been one of my MAJOR heros in life and I have wondered for years now what became of him. He just disappeared. Do you happen to know to where?

The Christic Institute moved to Los Angeles and in 1995 Mikhail Gorbachev appointed Sheehan as director of the “Strategic Initiative to Identify the New Global Paradigm”. One of Sheehan's tasks was "to try to identify the new principles of a new paradigm that would replace anti-Communism and anti-capitalism as the primary new organizing principle for major global institutions after the Cold War.”

In 2000 Sheehan became director of the New Paradigm Institute of the Cambridge Institute for the Study of New World Views.

Here is an interview he gave to Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger Magazine (2003)

Mark Gabrish Conlan: We are in a society where the conservative world-view is becoming so ascendant, it controls the entire government, virtually the entire media, and the Right is looking for and hunting down the last pockets of resistance in the religious community, in academia and in the media.

Daniel Sheehan: It’s actually a reactionary world-view. The distinctions between the merely conservative world-view and the reactionary world-view are very real and very specific. They have an entirely different cosmology. They have an entirely different theory of the role of the human family in the unfolding of the universe. They have an entirely different theory of the mode of ethical reasoning that ought to be applied in evaluating different policies. They’re very different from mere conservatives, or from moderates.

The long history of the Republican party has predominantly been one of a moderate to conservative world-view. Everett Dirksen and all the old classic Republicans, Eisenhower and the others, are not the same as the reactionaries. McCarthy types was an extreme reactionary. Right now you have William Kristol, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and those guys, who are unabashed advocates of a reactionary world-view, who have basically hijacked the administration of President George W. Bush.

It’s unfortunate because George Bush, Sr., who was in fact more of a conservative, went about getting his son chosen to be the Republican nominee for the Presidency basically to have him undertake a full additional term to carry out his father’s conservative world-view. He picked him because he was so malleable and would likely submit to his father’s proposals. Unfortunately, William Kristol and these other reactionaries have surrounded Bush Jr., and he has followed them in this much more reactionary world-view. So it’s not hard to predict where they’re going and what the policies are that they’re going to be advocating here if they get actually elected in 2004.

Mark Gabrish Conlan: I know you’ve described the reactionary world-view as essentially one in which might makes right and the strongest prevail.

Daniel Sheehan: Not exactly. The might-makes-right world-view is the authoritarian world-view. It’s a world-view that gravitates towards autocracy, one particular all-powerful person like Genghis Khan or Caesar. The reactionary world-view is a dialectical one which actually believes that a whole community - a larger tribal community - derives its primary value from engaging in a dialectical struggle with some ultimate “Other” tribe. That’s how they generate their sense of self-value.

The authoritarian world-view is that the whole world is complete chaos, there’s a threat of chaos looming everywhere, and therefore we all have to be willing to give up our own personal freedom to some very strong individual who will in fact dictate to us what we have to do in order to be safe in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world. Now that is much more kind of crazed than the reactionary world-view, which actually believes that it can discern a dialectical pattern underlying reality.

Ironically enough - it’s one of those little-known facts about a well-known subject - it turns out that both state capitalists - fascists - and state Communists are both reactionary world-views. The struggle between capitalism and Communism was a combat between two equal adversaries who were adherent to the reactionary world-views. The fascists believed that the primary struggle was going on between the Übermensch, the elite Caucasian super-race, the pinnacle of all biological evolution, in dialectical struggle against the aboriginal people. The Communists believed that the fundamental dialectical struggle goes on between the capitalist class and the proletariat: a class struggle as distinct from a racial struggle. But both of them adhered to the same basic world-view. The Communists were not in fact any further Left than the state capitalists were. You have to go to the Left of both of them to come to a mere conservative world-view.

Mark Gabrish Conlan: One of the things we’ve seen since the September 11 attack is the reactionaries have said, “Well, see? This proves it. We are right that we can no longer debate that the world is in a state of constant struggle. This has proved it. They have declared war on us. They hate us. They hate us because we’re rich and free, and all this stuff. This is no longer open for debate. We can no longer ignore the threat. All we can talk about is how best to deal with it.”

Daniel Sheehan: It’s important to remember they were talking about that before September 11. If you read the report of the Project for a New American Century, you will see that these exact same people were saying the exact same stuff back in 1991. They were aggressively advocating all of the same policies. It was all set forth fully, in writing, by Bill Kristol and all these other people, advocating that we had to undertake a military attack against Saddam Hussein. There was actual discussion going on within the Bush administration, right after they came into power in January of 2001, of how and when they were going to launch a military strike against Iraq. They were planning it, and they were sending military information to the Pentagon to start running war-game scenarios and everything. So the question of who it was that was planning to attack whom becomes very important.

Mark Gabrish Conlan: They could come back and say, “Well, yes, certainly we were talking about that before 9/11, because before 9/11 we thought this was how the world works. Now we know this is how the world works. Now we know we were right all along.”

Daniel Sheehan: What they were actually saying was that they knew it beforehand. They knew it so much that they were getting ready to do it. You’ve got an administration with the most powerful military in the world planning a massive military assault in Middle East, and they’re giving instructions to the Pentagon to start preparing for this whole thing. Then all of a sudden the other side attacks. That’s what they call “pre-emptive warfare,” which is exactly the policy that the administration is endorsing — ironically enough.

That’s really what September 11 was about. If it had gone according to plan, September 11 would have been substantially more effective than it was. If the third plane had actually hit the Pentagon directly, instead of just off to the side, it would have knocked out the entire air-conditioning system for the Pentagon complex. It would have melted down the central computer system for the entire United States military. And if the fourth plane had actually gone on and hit the White House and/or the Capitol Building and killed those people, it would have been a dramatically effective attack against the most powerful economic and military power in the world.

It’s that old adage that if one is going to shoot the king, you’d better get him. And they didn’t. But if they had — if they had killed a substantial portion of the American Congress and had blown up the White House and had melted down the entire computer system of the United States Pentagon and totally pulverized the twin towers of the World Trade Center, that would have been a substantial and effective pre-emptive military strike on the part of the Islamic world.

So, while we all uniformly condemn what they did, it’s important to keep a perspective on what it was they were responding to. They had every reason in the world to know that this Bush administration, under the influence of Project for a New American Century, was in fact actively planning major military operations in the Middle East whether these people responded or not. So they planned and attempted to carry out what they thought was the most effective possible thing that they could do to try to blunt that type of military operation — which, of course, they failed to do, and suffered the consequences of a highly mobilized and still very effective U.S. military.

Mark Gabrish Conlan: I still have the feeling sometimes — it comes from the famous line in George Orwell’s 1984 - that it’s possible that the victory of the reactionary world-view will be so total that there simply won’t be the words or the thoughts to express any alternatives.

Daniel Sheehan: There’s no doubt whatsoever that the advocates of this reactionary world-view believe that is, in effect, what ought to happen: that all of these kinds of subversive, insidious types of ideas ought to be eliminated from public discourse. You can see it on the Fox channel. If you watch the Fox channel, you’ll see that anybody who is invited to be on the Fox channel who doesn’t share their reactionary world-view is just harangued, browbeaten and insulted, to the point where those people can’t even get in a full sentence. I don’t know why anybody that believes in anything other than kind of total state fascism is so crazy as to go on the Fox network, because that’s what they do.

Their news is that way too. They have commentators that basically stand up and just spew at everybody about this kind of Right-wing reactionary world-view, and how anybody who even raised a question about it is unpatriotic and ought to be hunted down and purged, like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon and all the others who get disinvited even to come and participate in social events. (Robbins and Sarandon were disinvited from a showing of their film Bull Durham at the Baseball Hall of Fame because of their anti-war political activities.)

Mark Gabrish Conlan: Yet another thing Orwell wrote in 1984 is that in order to maintain this state of constant combat, the enemy has to be kept alive; that in order to sustain the liberal-bashing the Fox channel does to its audience, there have to be liberals to bash.

Daniel Sheehan: That doesn’t necessarily follow, because one of the things you see in a dynamic like this is that they move farther and farther and farther to the Right all the time. They constantly need to have an ultimate “Other,” some ultimate “Other” enemy, and as they eliminate the larger groups that might resist them, they spend the same exact energy going after the smaller and smaller groups. But they never stop. After they’ve eliminated anyone who genuinely disagrees with them, they start going after people who don’t even disagree with them. Or they start going after people who they suspect might possibly disagree with them. Eventually they turn on themselves and start eating away at their own tails. They’ll start working their way up through their own ranks of eliminating people who are perceived to be less and less orthodox.

We’ve seen this before. This world-view has manifested itself a number of times in the past, but most recently in the Third Reich in Germany but also in Stalin’s Russia. It’s the exact same world-view. So that’s what we really see happening, and that’s why it’s so important that they not be allowed to really be elected to office. You know, it’s one thing for them to have gotten in by chicanery and artifice, you know, by having the seven of the nine Justices who were appointed by Dad’s administration vote them in.

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I think that's the problem in a nutshell. You have all these lunatic reactionaries running the world, instead of reasonable people who are decent enough to respond appropriately.

Quite afew reactionaries on this message board....but have you noticed, they ALL pretend to be reasonable.

Edited by Lynne Foster
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Also, the "former Catholic priest" who co-founded COPA would not be the (wonderful) James Douglas would it?

Don't know about that but the co-founder of the Christic Institute was Father William J. Davies. A Roman Catholic priest, he has lived in Latin America and travelled widely in the developing world. In 1981, Davies investigated the disappearance of Charles Horman, a United States citizen whose murder by the Chilean military was dramatized in Missing, a film directed by Costa Gavras. Other members of the team included Sara Nelson, Lewis Pitts, and Lanny Sinkin. The main objective of the Christic Institute was to unite Christians, Jews and other religious Americans on an effective and practical platform for political change. Of course, the Republican Party could not allow this to happen and with the help of Charles (Bebe) Rebozo, they forced the Christic Institute into bankrupcy. Here is a speech made by Daniel Sheehan at Southern Oregon University on 9th January, 2003:

The special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, ended up giving prosecutorial immunity to 14 of our defendants, and then ended up indicting six people. Then, when George Bush, Sr. lost the election in 1992, one of the last few things he did before leaving office - the first thing he did was pardon all of the people the special prosecutor had indicted. The next thing he did was order the head of the Internal Revenue Service, who is a political appointee, to revoke the 501c(3) charter of the Christic Institute, that happened to cause all this trouble and name all these people and push everybody around and make them look into this big investigation…

Once the tax-exempt charter had been revoked, the court appointed by Richard Nixon, the chief federal judge in Miami - Judge J. Lawrence King, appointed by Richard Nixon at the request of Bebe Rebozo, who had formerly sat as a member of the board of directors of Meyer Lansky’s National Bank of Miami - summarily dismissed our case and told us that we could not appeal. And if we attempted to appeal, that he was going to impose a bond upon us of $1.6 million for having to pay all the attorneys’ fees for the other side. But if we would just go away, that we wouldn’t have to pay any such fine.

But we insisted upon appealing, and he imposed this $1.6 million bond on us, so that we went out to a lot of you and asked for contributions on an emergency basis to pay the bond, and we mortgaged all of our buildings all across the country, and all of our equipment and everything. We put the bond up, we pursued the appeal, it went to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the three-judge panel was appointed to hear this appeal. Judge Vance, the chief judge of the three-judge panel, was assassinated one week later. He was killed with a letter bomb that was sent to his home, giving George Bush - as his final act, before leaving office - the power to appoint a replacement.

He appointed Stanley Birch, Jr., a man who had never been a judge a day in his life. He in fact was a major contributor to the George Bush campaign, and in fact was the patent lawyer for the Cabbage Patch Dolls. He chaired the three-judge panel and just threw a fit when we walked into the courtroom, saying, ‘You should have known that you never would have been able to pursue this type of a case! These charges you’ve made against these people are basically criminal in their nature, and the Justice Department has the exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute criminally, and you are attempting to usurp the exclusive jurisdiction of the Justice Department, and therefore it was an outrage that you should file these types of claims.’ He sustained the judgment of the court below… and required that we pay all $1.6 million - which the Christic Institute did, and then immediately had our 501c(3) tax-exempt charter revoked.

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John, somehow I suspect you did not bother to read the actual decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Christic lawsuit. Well, it is below (let me point out that the decision was unanimous: i.e., three federal appellate judges agreed with it). I start with a few key paragraphs before setting forth the entire decision.

John, I assume you are probably a civil libertarian. On which side is justice in this case? should someone be able to bring a lawsuit against someone, causing the defendant to incur substantial legal fees, when there is no evidentiary basis for the lawsuit? Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was intended to prevent this very kind of abuse.

If you are now aware of any evidence that supported plaintiffs' claims, let's hear it!

The attorneys for the plaintiffs, The Christic Institute, must have known prior to suing that they had no competent evidence to substantiate the theories alleged in their complaint. Plaintiffs' lead counsel, Daniel Sheehan, supplemented the complaint with a detailed affidavit outlining the purported testimony of seventy-nine witnesses who Mr. Sheehan stated had factual knowledge that these defendants set and exploded the bomb that caused plaintiff's injuries.

The seventy-nine witnesses were identified only by number. Plaintiffs' counsel refused to identify the names and addresses of the vast majority of the seventy-nine witnesses until ordered to do so by the court. Plaintiffs appealed the order requiring them to disclose the identities of the witnesses. These actions by plaintiffs and their counsel prevented the defendants from taking depositions of these witnesses, and delayed orderly discovery for many months.

After all the appeals were exhausted and plaintiffs complied with the order to reveal the names of their witnesses, the reason for the plaintiffs' adamant refusal became apparent. Specifically, the names and identities of approximately twenty of the seventy-nine witnesses were totally unknown to Mr. Sheehan or the plaintiffs. Several of the disclosed witnesses later stated under oath that they did not know Mr. Sheehan, had never spoken to him, or flatly denied the statements he had attributed to them in his affidavit. The remaining witnesses did not furnish any statements that would be admissible. Much of the testimony of these witnesses involved conversations they allegedly had with other people, which is the hearsay testimony inadmissible at a trial.

Avirgan v. Hull, 705 F.Supp. 1544, 1545 (S.D.Fla.1989). Avirgan and Honey do not dispute the district court's statements. The other appellants, in the fee portion of the case, do not dispute the statements.

The appellate opinion in full:

I. Summary Judgment

[1][2] Consideration of the district court's grant of summary judgment requires plenary review and application of the same legal standards that bound the district court. Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc., 833 F.2d 1525, 1527 (11th Cir.1987). If the party seeking summary judgment meets the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with sufficient evidence to rebut this showing with affidavits or other relevant and admissible evidence. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). A nonmoving party, opposing a motion for summary judgment supported by affidavits cannot meet the burden of coming forth with relevant competent evidence by simply relying on legal conclusions or evidence which would be inadmissible at trial. Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1195 (5th Cir.1986). The evidence presented cannot consist of conclusory allegations or legal conclusions. First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 1592, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968).

A. RICO Claim

[3] Avirgan and Honey's RICO claim is founded upon 18 U.S.C. § 1964©. [FN6] Thus, they must prove three essential elements: (1) a violation of section 1962; (2) injury to business or property; and (3) that the violation caused the injury. O'Malley v. O'Neill, 887 F.2d 1557, 1561 (11th Cir.1989).

FN6. Title 18 U.S.C. § 1964© reads as follows: Any person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of section 1962 of this chapter may sue therefor in any appropriate United States district court and shall recover threefold the damages he sustains and the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee.

Sections 1962(a), (B), and © of title 18 make criminally liable those who engage in, or aid and abet another to engage in, a pattern of racketeering activity if they also do the following: invest income derived from the pattern of racketeering *1578 activity in the operation of an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce (section 1962(a)); acquire or maintain, through the pattern of racketeering activity, any interest in or control over such an enterprise (section 1962(B)); or conduct, or participate in the conduct of, the affairs of such an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity (section 1962©). Section 1962(d) makes it a crime to conspire to violate section 1962(a), (B), or ©. [Footnote omitted.]

Pelletier v. Zweifel, 921 F.2d 1465, 1495-96 (11th Cir.1991).

1. Evidence

As to the evidence Avirgan and Honey presented, the district court found: The plaintiffs have not made a showing of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to any of their allegations concerning the cause of their purported injuries. Causation is an essential element of a RICO action. Accordingly, the defendants who have moved are entitled to summary judgment.

Avirgan, 691 F.Supp. at 1377.

[4] Avirgan and Honey argue that they were not obligated to produce evidence gathered during pretrial discovery which demonstrated that Galil had committed the bombing and was a member of the enterprise, that C-4 was an ingredient of the bomb, or that they and their news sources were threatened and had crimes committed against them. We disagree. The evidence Avirgan and Honey presented is scant, almost nonexistent, on the important issue of causation. Avirgan and Honey presented the La Penca Report, a publication they prepared, which concludes that Amac Galil, a/k/a Per Anker Hansen caused the bombing. The district court correctly determined that this evidence was inadmissible.

Also, Avirgan and Honey submitted a one-page translation of a five-page document the Costa Rican OIJ prepared. The OIJ, according to Avirgan and Honey, is the Costa Rican equivalent to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The translation is uncertified, unsigned, and does not conclude that Galil was responsible for the bombing. It merely concludes that debris found at the site of the bombing matched that of a box Galil carried. This evidence is circumstantial, speculative, and of little weight.

Avirgan and Honey further argue that because none of the appellees disputed Galil's role in the bombing, summary judgment was improper. According to Avirgan and Honey, although some appellees claim that they did not know Amac Galil or have direct or indirect contact with him, this does not mean that all of the appellees are unassociated with the enterprise. In other words, Avirgan and Honey argue that no one has disproved Galil's existence, or disproved the existence of the enterprise, or disproved Galil's association with the enterprise. Thus, say Avirgan and Honey, the enterprise existed; Galil existed; Galil set off the bomb; and we were injured.

[5] Avirgan and Honey note that this circuit has ruled that a RICO enterprise may be an "amoeba-like" structure or a loose informal association. See United States v. Cagnina, 697 F.2d 915, 921 (11th Cir.1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 856, 104 S.Ct. 175, 78 L.Ed.2d 157 (1983). We have so held. Nevertheless, Avirgan and Honey presented no evidence to indicate that Galil committed the bombing or was a part of the alleged enterprise. No admissible evidence was ever produced to show that Galil even existed. [FN7] The evidence completely failed. Galil was never served with a complaint or scheduled for deposition. All parties realized that responsibility for the La Penca bombing was a key issue on summary judgment. Yet, Avirgan and Honey, after years of discovery, brought forth nothing on the causation issue.

FN7. At one point, Avirgan and Honey argue that Theodore Shackley's counsel admitted Galil's existence. Shackley's counsel's statement was, "I don't believe that the plaintiffs have any proof that any of the defendants was engaged in the La Penca bombing or connected to the La Penca bombing other than this fellow that they describe as Amac Galil." This statement is not evidence that counsel admitted Galil's alleged role in the bombing.

[6] Likewise, without submitting admissible evidence, Avirgan and Honey alleged *1579 that the appellees were liable for threats to and the kidnapping of Carlos Rojas Chinchilla and the murder of "David." According to Avirgan and Honey, Chinchilla and David served as their informants about the bombing. They specifically named Hull, Jones, Corbo, Vidal, Chanes, Nunez, Cruz, Saenz, Posey, Owen, and Palacio as participants in the crimes against David and Carlos, both individually and through agents. Avirgan and Honey assert that only three appellees, Hull, Owen, and Jones, moved for summary judgment. [FN8] They argue that Owen was in Central America at the time of an execution of a "Sandinista informant" believed to be David. According to Avirgan and Honey, it was Owen's responsibility to demonstrate that the executed Sandinista informant was not David, or prove that he had no knowledge of, or did not condone the execution. It is their theory that the omission of this evidence, which Owen did not produce, should serve as a favorable inference for them. Lampkin v. Liberia Athene Transport Co., Ltd., 823 F.2d 1497, 1499 (11th Cir.1987). This absence of evidence does not result in a favorable inference.

FN8. The following persons filed motions for summary judgment: Jones, Owen, Hull, Calero, Singlaub, Shackley, Martin, McCoy, Quintero, Delamico, Clines, Hakim, and Secord. Gonzalez filed an untimely summary judgment motion.

Defendants Santiago, Palacio, Galil, Cruz, Escobar, and Ochoa, were never served and were dismissed.

Nine defendants did not move for summary judgment: Corbo, Nunez, Chanes, R. Gris, W. Gris, Pallais, Cornillot, Saenz, and Posey. Nunez moved, after the pretrial conference, to vacate the entry of default against him and to quash the service of process.

Avirgan and Honey further contend that Hull, Jones, Corbo, Vidal, Chanes, Nunez, Cruz, Saenz, Posey, and Owen threatened to murder them because they connected Hull and Vidal to the threats against their family. Again, theories, allegations, and speculation; but, no evidence.

2. Causation

[7] In a civil RICO action, the plaintiff must prove that the criminal conduct in violation of section 1962 directly or indirectly injured the plaintiff's business or property. Haroco v. American Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 747 F.2d 384, 398 (7th Cir.1984), aff'd, 473 U.S. 606, 105 S.Ct. 3291, 87 L.Ed.2d 437 (1985).

[8] Avirgan and Honey emphasize that the district court was required to provide them with notice of its intention to consider the causation issue, and it did not do so. We reject this argument. Appellees' numerous summary judgment motions presented the causation issue. For example, Owen's summary judgment motion asserted that no evidence supported the theory that Galil was linked to the bombing or to the alleged enterprise. In this motion, Owen also challenged whether any evidence supported the kidnapping of Chinchilla, the kidnapping and threatening of David, the threats to murder (Chinchilla, David, Avirgan, Honey), and the attempted assassination of Pastora. In practically every motion for summary judgment, the appellees asserted that they had no involvement, directly or indirectly, in the La Penca bombing, that they were not the cause of any of the injuries, and that they were not and had never been members of an alleged enterprise. The appellees' affidavits, answers to interrogatories, and depositions put Avirgan and Honey on notice that causation was a principal issue. Consequently, the district court acted properly in granting summary judgment on the ground that Avirgan and Honey failed to prove that the appellees caused the injuries.

[9] Avirgan and Honey's additional allegation is that Galil used C-4 explosives in the La Penca bombing. For this assertion, they rely upon the deposition of Fernando Cruz Castro. The district court found that Avirgan and Honey evidently asked Cruz Castro to recall a letter or some other writing which suggested that Per Anker Hansen (Galil) committed the La Penca bombing. Cruz Castro's affidavit seeks to recite the contents of the letter or other writing from memory. The district court found, and we agree, that Cruz Castro's *1580 affidavit was not admissible. No other evidence linked Galil or any appellee to C-4 explosives.

B. Discovery

Avirgan and Honey also contend that the district court erred in granting summary judgment because the appellees had not complied with discovery requests or the court's orders compelling discovery. The record does not support this contention. All appellees, except Corbo, submitted affidavits, answered interrogatories, and/or provided sworn depositions denying responsibility, directly or indirectly, for the La Penca bombing. Owen, Singlaub, and Calero gave lengthy and complete depositions; Hull and Secord gave incomplete depositions because of Avirgan and Honey's delay in setting dates; Posey, Quintero, and Hakim invoked their fifth amendment privilege; Shackley and Clines were never noticed for deposition. All appellees served with interrogatories responded, and all appellees who moved for summary judgment submitted sworn affidavits. Furthermore, Avirgan and Honey had the benefit of public information generated by the Iran/Contra affair, including the extensive testimony of Secord, Hakim, Owen, Singlaub, Calero, and numerous other witnesses in public hearings.

[10] In this RICO proceeding which involves some alleged criminal activity, Avirgan and Honey should have anticipated that some appellees would impose their fifth amendment rights. Invocation of the fifth amendment privilege did not give rise to any legally cognizable inferences sufficient to preclude entry of summary judgment. The negative inference, if any, to be drawn from the assertion of the fifth amendment does not substitute for evidence needed to meet the burden of production. United States v. Rylander, 460 U.S. 752, 103 S.Ct. 1548, 75 L.Ed.2d 521 (1983). Most importantly, Avirgan and Honey did not demonstrate that further discovery would have led to evidence which would have precluded summary judgment based on causation. [FN9]

FN9. Avirgan and Honey had two years to conduct discovery and seven and one-half months advance warning of the discovery cut-off date.

Knowing this, they took absolutely no discovery during the first nine months after filing the case and little more until January, 1988. During the final 4 1/2 months of discovery, Avirgan and Honey filed 153 deposition notices. It is clear that Avirgan and Honey's actions caused delay in discovery, not the appellees.

II. Orders Prior to Summary Judgment

[11] Avirgan and Honey also contend that the district court erred in the issuance of orders prior to summary judgment which restricted discovery and denied them the right to file a third amended complaint. We review these claims under an abuse of discretion standard. Edward Leasing Corp. v. Uhlig and Associates, Inc., 785 F.2d 877 (11th Cir.1986).

A. Discovery Limitations

Avirgan and Honey contend that the district court's order restricting discovery to evidence for the period 1983 through 1986 of only one venture of the alleged RICO enterprise, and only those subjects related to the La Penca bombing, deprived them of an opportunity to conduct adequate discovery.

[12] Despite these assertions, prior to filing the first complaint, Avirgan and Honey boasted of a two-year investigative period, and after filing enjoyed an additional two years of discovery. Where a significant amount of discovery has been obtained, and it appears that further discovery would not be helpful in resolving the issues, a request for further discovery is properly denied. Aviation Specialties, Inc. v. United Technologies Corp., 568 F.2d 1186, 1189 (5th Cir.1978).

[13] Thus, the time and subject matter restrictions imposed by the district court did not deprive Avirgan and Honey of an opportunity to conduct adequate discovery. Moreover, the order did not prohibit discovery into causation, which was the dispositive issue. The district court has wide discretion in determining the scope and effect of discovery, and it did not abuse its discretion when it imposed time and subject *1581 matter restrictions in this case. See Amey, Inc. v. Gulf Abstract and Title, Inc., 758 F.2d 1486, 1505 (11th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1107, 106 S.Ct. 1513, 89 L.Ed.2d 912 (1986).

B. Third Amended Complaint

[14] Avirgan and Honey also challenge the district court's denial of their motion to file a third amended complaint. Avirgan and Honey acknowledge that the third amended complaint would not have altered the claims against the appellees or added new parties, causes of action, or additional relief. Consequently, a third amended complaint was unnecessary. Avirgan and Honey needed proof, not more pleadings. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the filing of a third amended complaint.

III. Attorneys' Fees

In its order awarding costs and attorneys' fees, the district court stated:

The attorneys for the plaintiffs, The Christic Institute, must have known prior to suing that they had no competent evidence to substantiate the theories alleged in their complaint. Plaintiffs' lead counsel, Daniel Sheehan, supplemented the complaint with a detailed affidavit outlining the purported testimony of seventy-nine witnesses who Mr. Sheehan stated had factual knowledge that these defendants set and exploded the bomb that caused plaintiff's injuries.

The seventy-nine witnesses were identified only by number. Plaintiffs' counsel refused to identify the names and addresses of the vast majority of the seventy-nine witnesses until ordered to do so by the court. Plaintiffs appealed the order requiring them to disclose the identities of the witnesses. These actions by plaintiffs and their counsel prevented the defendants from taking depositions of these witnesses, and delayed orderly discovery for many months.

After all the appeals were exhausted and plaintiffs complied with the order to reveal the names of their witnesses, the reason for the plaintiffs' adamant refusal became apparent. Specifically, the names and identities of approximately twenty of the seventy-nine witnesses were totally unknown to Mr. Sheehan or the plaintiffs. Several of the disclosed witnesses later stated under oath that they did not know Mr. Sheehan, had never spoken to him, or flatly denied the statements he had attributed to them in his affidavit. The remaining witnesses did not furnish any statements that would be admissible. Much of the testimony of these witnesses involved conversations they allegedly had with other people, which is the hearsay testimony inadmissible at a trial.

Avirgan v. Hull, 705 F.Supp. 1544, 1545 (S.D.Fla.1989). Avirgan and Honey do not dispute the district court's statements. The other appellants, in the fee portion of the case, do not dispute the statements.

The district court awarded costs to the appellees pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), and 28 U.S.C. § 1920, which lists the items that may be reimbursed as costs. [FN10] Avirgan and Honey argue *1582 that what the attorneys "must have known" is not the proper standard for the grant of attorneys' fees, but is the standard for the imposition of sanctions. Thus, in their opinion, the district court impermissibly "guised its Rule 11 sanctions as a grant of summary judgment."

FN10. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides in pertinent part: Except when express provision therefor is made either in a statute of the United States or in these rules, costs shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.

Title 28 U.S.C. § 1920 provides:

Taxation of costs

A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;

(2) Fees of the court reporter for all or any part of the stenographic transcript necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;

(4) Fees for exemplification and copies of papers necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;

(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under section 1828 of this title.

Sheehan could not have reasonably believed at the time of the filing of the complaint and the signing of the affidavit that the complaint was well-grounded in fact. [FN11] Particularly is this true of the affidavit with its unknown, nonexistent, deceased sources, its fabricated testimony, and the deceptive style used to mask its shortcomings. It is obvious that if the appellants knew (must have known) prior to filing this lawsuit that they had no competent evidence, then, this complaint was not well-grounded. Additionally, the district court stated in its order granting attorney's fees and costs that Sheehan's affidavit was the impetus for the two years of discovery. Yet, this discovery did not yield any witnesses who could link the alleged criminal enterprise to the bombing.

FN11. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, in pertinent part provides: The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.... If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee.

[15][16] In its clarification order, the district court explained that Daniel Sheehan, as lead counsel, and the Christic Institute, as the official law firm, were liable pursuant to the bad-faith exception, 28 U.S.C. § 1927, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, while Avirgan and Honey, as willful participants in Sheehan's litigation strategy, were liable under the bad-faith exception. [FN12] 125 F.R.D. 189. A court may assess attorney's fees against litigants, counsel, and law firms who willfully abuse judicial process by conduct tantamount to bad faith. Roadway Express Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 100 S.Ct. 2455, 65 L.Ed.2d 488 (1980). On this record, we have no difficulty in finding that these appellants unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied these proceedings. [FN13] It is well established that:

FN12. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1927 provides: Any attorney or other person admitted to conduct cases in any court of the United States or any Territory thereof who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.

FN13. At oral argument, appellants admitted they had spent more than $2 million on this case although, under the best scenario, they did not expect to collect half that amount.

Although a litigant proceeding in good faith has a right to use civil discovery in attempts to prove the existence of a colorable claim for relief, filing a lawsuit is not a gratuitous license to conduct infinite forays in search of evidence. When it becomes apparent that discoverable evidence will not bear out the claim, the litigant and his attorney have a duty to discontinue their quest.

Collins v. Walden, 834 F.2d 961, 965 (11th Cir.1987). Since Sheehan, the Christic Institute, Avirgan, and Honey chose not to abandon this case, the district court properly awarded attorney's fees and costs to the appellees.

[17] Furthermore, the district court's order does not infringe upon the appellants' right of access to the courts, or first amendment rights of free association, or Sheehan's professional obligation to represent clients zealously. Status as a public interest law firm or the nature of a claim *1583 does not confer immunity from attorneys' fees for bringing and maintaining frivolous lawsuits. See Roadway Express, 447 U.S. at 762, 100 S.Ct. at 2462; Oliveri v. Thompson, 803 F.2d 1265, 1280 (2d Cir.1986). Accordingly, we affirm the district court's award of attorney's fees and costs.


Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the district court.


Edited by Tim Gratz
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Very interesting UFO interview. GREAT political commentary on today's situation, brilliant analysis of our near dictator-state. Scary speech-judge assassinated??? And typical TG would refer to anything accomplished- (or almost so)- against the defendants as "abusive".

Thanx for all the info on Daniel Sheehan. Now that's a man I could really support for political office.


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Tim, it was just a matter of time before you came in to defend the corrupt activities of the CIA/Republican Party. That is in fact your main purpose on the Forum. Don't you have even the slighest doubts about the way these two political organizations have worked together in order to undermine democracy in the United States. The latest installment of this scandal is being played out in the European press at the moment. It concerns the way that Bush has got the CIA to transport prisoners to Eastern Europe where they are tortured in an attempt to gain information on terrorism. I suppose you support that as well. Thank goodness for people like Daniel Sheehan who has devoted his life to exposing the criminal activities of the people you so much admire.

There is not much on Daniel Sheehan on the web. I have therefore created a page on his attempts to obtain the truth about the dark side of America.


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When Martha Honey was raising money for the appeal, she made an appearance at Cal State Northridge. My girlfriend was friends with the teacher who sponsored the engagement and we spent an evening chatting with her. She was as sincere and as straightforward a person as I've ever met. Her husband was hurt in the bombing and she wanted justice. I've read in several places where she now blames Sheehan for a lot of what went wrong. She believes Sheehan craved attention and used their case to get it. I believe she even accepts the subsequent-to-her-trial discovery that Ortega had hired an Argentinian assassin (as I remember) to plant the bomb.

Sheehan is a kind of Garrison-like figure. He went after some big fish in order to draw some attention to the sea they swim in. Problem was, unlike Garrison, who could at least take solace that history has proven Shaw to be a perjurer, the men Sheehan went after probably had nothing to do with the La Penca bombing.

Another similarity to the Shaw trial is that, due to the trial's proximity to those surrounding the President, the U.S. Gov. interfered with the case in every way they could. Land of the free, indeed.

I have a Christic Institute comic book somewhere. Lots of Secret Team and Enterprise talk. Shackley as Satan, etc. I was skeptical then and even more skeptical now.

Edited by Pat Speer
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I have another point to make on the Christic case. I believe there oughta be a cap on the amount of attorney's fees that can be recouped through summary judgement.

Although I am not a lawyer, I believe its blatantly unjust to make someone bringing a lawsuit against a large powerful interest pay for the other side's over-priced lawyers should the case fail to gel. This tactic encourages lawyers to over-charge and discourages people from bringing lawsuits against those already receiving the benefit of high-priced (and presumably superior) counsel. It's a protection for those already protected. There are a lot of reasons why the American Bar Association should be ashamed. I think the deliberate running-up of corporate legal costs to discourage individuals from bringing frivolous (and often times not so frivolous) lawsuits is one of them.

I recently attended the final bankruptcy proceeding of my former employer. There was one lawyer there representing the trustee. That was it. The Judge made note that she felt the trustee's awarding 200k to the law firm that handled the chapter 7 filing was grossly excessive. She said she failed to understand how a chapter 7 filing could take 800 man hours at 200 dollars plus an hour. I explained to her that the whole case was a scam from beginning to end, and that I was there to register my complaint that the creditors--including the employees who lost the last several months of their 401k money (which went into the pockets of the new owners of the company)--were given bupkus while the high-priced bankruptcy attorneys hired by the crooks were paid huge amounts for helping to keep the lid on their crime. Her mouth dropped and she had no answers; she was unaware that the FBI, the IRS, and the Dept. of Labor had ever taken an interest in the case; she was unaware that there had ever been a civil suit brought by the bank against the former owners, a suit that was dismissed only when all those involved filed for bankruptcy; she was unaware even that the accountant of my former employer was convicted of keeping two sets of books in an unrelated case and had done time iin a Federal prison.

It ain't my yob, she said, and brought down the gavel.

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Judge King certainly did put the Christic Institute out of business. They were a true threat to the covert action boys, and Dan Sheehan was certainly targeted for retribution for his efforts.

Bill: Dan Sheehan has long been one of my MAJOR heros in life and I have wondered for years now what became of him. He just disappeared. Do you happen to know to where?

Also, the "former Catholic priest" who co-founded COPA would not be the (wonderful) James Douglas would it?


Hello Dawn,

Sorry about being so tardy in response, but yes, as John has pointed out, it was Bill Davies. At those first early COPA organizational meetings, I sat between Bill Davies and Peter Dale Scott at tables arranged in a square so we all faced each other - about 30 people, also including Jim Lesar, Dan Alcorn, John Judge, John Newman, and others. I drove down from Atlantic City with Robert C., a Cherry Hill N.J. police Lt. The meetings were held over two days, and during breaks for lunch or afterwards we all walked around the corner to the Hawk & Dove bar. I talked with Davies, who was then from California, more than any of the others, a very mellow guy, though I don't know what happened to him.

The American reporter injured in the bomb explosion in Central America was Tony Avirgan, and the target of the bomb was Sandinesta Commander Zero, a non-communist who fought the Contras.

Although the Christic Institute failed, I think their legal tactics worked and that they should be reapplied to the political assassinations in the United States.


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