Harold Rosenthal, the man who helped Jerry get involved in the cocaine trade in Medellin, Colombia, escaped from a federal prison. He then was flown to the Bahamas, where Jerry later flew him to Colombia. How he escaped remains a mystery but more and more it sounds like he had help from government officials. I don’t know if it was the CIA, DEA, or whatever, but you just don’t walk out of a prison without significant assistance.
Once in Colombia, he entered the cocaine business and ran a large organization. Then, after an extradition treaty with Colombia was signed, he was whisked away from his Colombian homes by US officials and tried in the US on RICO and CCE charges. At his trial, he protested that he was working with the CIA. The judge disallowed any comment about the CIA as irrelevant.
He spent time in Marion, a bad place, and wrote a letter to a man who then wrote a reporter for the New York Times. This is what was included in the Times:
To the Editor:
There are 350 inmates in this ''super-max'' (super high-security) prison, ---Marion---whose name terrifies prisoners throughout the United States. One of them is Harold Joseph Rosenthal, a political prisoner serving a life sentence. It is he who wrote me.
Marion opened in 1962 as a prison for especially dangerous Federal criminals. Some United States human rights organizations, whose materials were mailed to me by a lawyer, Alan S. Ross, refer to this prison as ''America's shame.'' The prison is notorious for ''beatings, torture tactics, psychological abuses, solitary confinement and experimental 'behavior modification programs' (which were barred as unconstitutional practice by the Supreme Court).'' The material sent to me says: ''Marion does not have beds but instead has concrete slabs, some with restraining hooks to chain a prisoner to.A>
''Beating a prisoner is called 'counseling.' The guards carry three-foot riot bludgeons with steel-ball tips to break internal organs. The metal ball is there so that the bludgeon won't break ribs. The steel ball separates the ribs, tearing the intercostal muscles with pain so intense it can be felt months afterward. ''Many prisoners are kept within their closed-front cells 23 1/2 hours a day.
''The only time a prisoner is taken out of his cell is in handcuffs.
''Prisoners are thrown in the 'hole' (a punishment cell 9 feet by 6 feet), where prisoners can be kept for months for the least minor infraction, such as putting socks on the cell bars to dry or keeping an empty milk carton to use as a cup.''
Two guards were killed at Marion in the fall of 1983. The three murderers were soon found (they got 50-to-150-year sentences in addition to their life imprisonments), but the prison has long been sealed off from all contacts with the outside world. Three hundred of the 400 inmates were dragged into the yard naked or in underwear with their hands handcuffed behind their backs, and Marion guards, together with a special reinforcement team, staged a brutal beating. Many of the inmates following that were kept two to three years in solitary confinement.
Despite protest from a number of organizations, including Amnesty International, the situation has not improved.
Harold Rosenthal, a white, has been active in the black civil rights movement since 1957. In 1963, he was thanked for his activity by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Rosenthal was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's list as a ''subversive element'' for many years and was arrested several times. In the 1970's, he went to Latin America to support revolutionary movements, including the Sandinistas. One of his colleagues says he did this selflessly, through the force of his convictions, and he calls him a socialist. In 1983, Mr. Rosenthal was kidnapped by United States intelligence in Colombia, taken to the United States and sentenced to life on charges of ''politically motivated crimes of arms and drug conspiracy.'' As I see it, some people doubt the legitimacy of applying United States laws to a person kidnapped in another country, as well as a number of other aspects of the charges.
''If my politics were capitalist instead of socialist, I wouldn't be in prison right now,'' Harold Rosenthal, prisoner 08075-020, wrote me. ''Lieut. Col. Oliver North, William Casey, Gen. Richard Secord and many others did the exact same thing I did. The only difference is I traded in arms for the liberation movements and in aid of the people, whereas Colonel North and the Central Intelligence Agency trade in arms and drugs for the contras trying to overthrow the people's government of Nicaragua. Because I follow my politics and conscience, mine is a 'crime,' while theirs is not. I will exchange prison cells with any Soviet prisoner. When the United States Government wants you to release prisoners, have me brought to Russia in exchange.''
I feel obliged to mention an apprehension voiced by Harold Rosenthal: ''Whenever a prisoner says anything about the prison system or goes against it in any way he suffers the reprisals. . . . an example is Leonard Peltier . . . He is put in the hole for months on false charges. Prison officials tried to get another prisoner to kill him.''
I would hope that this letter will not in any way worsen Harold Rosenthal's situation.