Cutting Off the Freedom to Speak

Sherman Skolnick, Citizens’ Committee to Clean Up the Courts.

The phone company reserves the right to sabotage your phones if you are a political activist.

The background: In the 1960s and 1970s, like other phone companies nationwide, Illinois Bell Telephone Company assisted the espionage agencies in monitoring and sabotaging the phones of civil rights advocates, anti-war activists, trade unionists and such. Some local police units had or have units called “red squads” on the presumption that political activists are subversive. “Red squad” agents had free access to phone company facilities to monitor phones, to obtain records of phone calls, and to screw up phone lines so calls couldn’t go through — such as right before or during civil rights protest events.

In 1969 there was a boycott in Chicago by blacks, directed against banks who refused them mortgages and took discriminatory and highly inflated contract payments instead. The protest was by the Southside Contract Buyers League, some 25,000 black homeowners. At a key point in the boycott, all the phones were blanked out in the areas where the Southside Contract Buyers League members lived. Blacks who weren’t even members, but lived *near* members, also had *their* phones cut off.

Thereafter, a class action lawsuit was being planned against Illinois Bell Telephone for sabotage and racial discrimination in services. The president and the vice-president of the black homeowners group met with phone company officials in the home of our [Citizen’s Committee to Clean Up the Courts] chairman. The phone company offered a “gift” of a half-million dollars in “hush” money. The meeting blew up, however, when our chairman said he was going public with the phone company’s attempted  bribery.

Chicago alderman Ed Vyrdolak headed a committee supposedly  investigating phone company complicity in wire-tapping. City  Council hearings were scrapped, however, after Illinois Bell  Telephone Company reportedly gave “Fast Eddy’s” [i.e. Vyrdolak]  law firm a bribe of almost $1 million.

By 1982, the FBI and the Chicago police entered into a federal court consent decree that they would cease doing dirty tricks  against political activists and others in this federal district.  Thereafter, the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] intelligence,  acting similar to CIA, took over wire-tapping and spying in this  district, the result of a loophole in the consent decree. The IRS  gestapo does a number of acts having nothing to do with tax collecting:

1) They monitor and sabotage the phones of political activists.
2) As admitted offhand during a federal court hearing, the IRS keeps dossiers on federal judges here for blackmail and extortion. A federal judge who does not rule in favor of the IRS can expect himself and his family to be wrecked.
3) The IRS unlawfully spies on first class mail, with the connivance of postal authorities.
4) Top IRS officials in the Chicago area are secret partners in vending machine companies owned by the mafia in the south suburbs.
5) According to an unpublicized court suit, the IRS demanded the wife divorce a husband for publicly criticizing the IRS.

Does the phone company sabotage these [Citizen’s Committee’s phone] lines? You’re darn right. In November of ’93, Illinois Bell — now called Ameritech — resumed a 20-year-long sabotage campaign against these recorded commentaries.

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