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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Desperately Seeking Susan

Meet the real-life Lisbeth Salander.

We live on a planet where it's a perpetual truism that truth, as Lord Byron famously observed, is stranger than fiction. Fiction, especially the kind that depends upon Coleridge's suspension of disbelief, needs to catch up with real life if it is to be taken seriously. Bestselling author James Patterson sagely observed recently that if someone penned a novel about an ex NFL player who murdered his wife and one other man then led the LAPD on a nationally-televised, slow motion chase down a California freeway and had done so before 1994, that person would've been laughed out of the publishing business. As a working novelist myself, I concur.

Therefore, it only follows that Susan Lindauer had to come around years before Lisbeth Salander, the waspish heroine of the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. And, as it so often happens, the real life case has been virtually ignored while the fictional Salander's fictional travails have been, justly, celebrated in both print and film.

I'm shamelessly stealing from journalist Michael Collins' "The Hornet's Nest Kicked Back", his review of Susan Lindauer's new tell-all autobiography, Extreme Prejudice. I've yet to read the book. But then again, this isn't a book review nor does it pretend to be. Let's call this, instead, a review of the Kafkaesque/Orwellian/Larssonian persecution undergone by Lindauer during much of the illegitimate Bush administration.

To anyone who's read Larsson's excellent book, the reasons for paralleling Lindauer's experience with Salander's are obvious. Both women are of Swedish extraction who were then charged with crimes they didn't commit, had their sanity questioned by the Powers That Be and were even illegally incarcerated. Both women had information that could take down their respective governments, which necessitated their disappearance a la Pinochet.

Here's the difference. Salander has celebrity journalist Michael Blomqvist on her side, as well as, eventually, several members of law enforcement.

Aside from her Protean legal team, Lindauer had no one but Michael Collins, a freelancer who hardly has the celebrity of Millennium's publisher and crusading financial journalist. Blomqvist, in Larsson's books, always found himself playing private detective and either insinuating himself into the official investigation into Salander or running his own parallel investigation with the laissez-faire freedom that only a crusading, nationally-known, therefore dangerous journalist of Blomqvist's stature can muster. Collins was virtually the only accredited journalist who consistently took up Lindauer's cause and still is and the mainstream media had hardly touched Lindauer. Salander, at least, was the source of tabloid fodder in Sweden and had ridiculous stories about being part of a "lesbian Satanic gang" circulated about her.

Salander, in the last two books, was essentially held prisoner from the age of 12 on and victimized by the evil Dr. Peter Teleborian. Lindauer's own Teleborian goes by the name of Sanford L. Drob, PhD.

Drob's diagnosis, if one were to honor his findings with such a dignified word, was to treat Lindauer, literally and figuratively, as if she was too incompetent to defend herself. In fact, Drob's contention was that the more Lindauer called for witnesses who could exonerate her of espionage charges, the more "proof" it was of her delusional structure and persecution complex. In other words, the more she demanded the trial that was forever denied her, the more they kept denying it to her. It was the first time that I'd ever heard of the prosecution claiming the defendant was too incompetent to stand trial.

For those of you just tuning in, the basic reason Lindauer was arrested, detained and accused of espionage was her opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. She'd written at least 11 letters, some of them to her second cousin, then WH Chief of Staff Andy Card, vehemently advising against such a rash policy of regime change. Lindauer had prophesied, among other things, that invading Iraq would be used as a great recruiting tool for al Qaeda, a fact borne out a few years later when the Flypaper Effect became apparent and our troops found themselves fighting a new enemy called "Al Qaida in Iraq."

What happened to Lindauer, not a covert agent but a supervised intelligence asset, went in some ways even further than the much more publicized Valerie Plame outing. Plame, because of a now-infamous NY Times op-ed written by her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, had her career destroyed and her life put in jeopardy when the late Robert Novak, at the behest of senior Bush administration officials, outed her.

Lindauer was the Nexus phase of the paranoid Bush junta's persecution, losing almost everything in the process yet somehow falling between the cracks. It's impossible to fathom why she'd suffered the same fate as Sibel Edmonds, former translator for the FBI who'd also been vigorously shunned by the MSM.

2002 was not a good year for the Bush administration. That same year, Edmonds had been fired from her translation job at the FBI Washington, DC field office after threatening to make public revelations of federal impropriety that could've endangered national security. This was the exact same rationale used by that same government to persecute Lindauer.

Without going into details (read Lindauer's 466 page book for them. I trust it will make for riveting reading), the federal government:

  • Incarcerated Lindauer at Carswell Federal prison for women beyond the legally permissible time.

  • The prosecution, incredibly, tried to have Lindauer declared mentally incompetent to stand trial, a legal tactic exclusively used by defense attorneys, often in capital crimes cases.

  • Both the prosecution and the psychiatric "experts" who'd had, at best, middling contact with Lindauer, lobbied to have her forcibly drugged with Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic medication.

  • Valuable information, analysis and testimony that could've exonerated Lindauer or at least shed some doubt on her condition and even guilt was deliberately withheld from the court of Michael B. Mukasey, who would later become the Attorney General of the United States.

  • The case was later transferred to Loretta Preska, someone who'd been elevated to a federal court by none other than George W. Bush.

  • The case against Lindauer abruptly lost steam within days of Bush and Cheney, after a massive, self-satisfied burp, waddling out of the White House on January 20th 2009.

  • What's happened to Lindauer, who'd been denied her freedom and credibility and justice for years, her career ruined and sanity questioned, is, if anything, an even more egregious blow to her civil liberties than that endured by Valerie Plame. Yet, the mainstream media, except for followup filler blurbs on Lindauer's court dates, hardly touched it.

    Lindauer's book promises to set the record straight, revealing much more detail about her experience and evidence of the coverup. However, it's telling that the book was published by the obscure CreateSpace and that Extreme Prejudice couldn't get the backing of a literary agent (who are as a whole, on top of being career-driven and greedy, also literarily moronic and cowardly).

    That means we have to get the word out. Because Lindauer is not like Lisbeth Salander in the respect that her own persecution and false imprisonment does not have the massive, money-making PR machine as enjoyed by the estate of Stieg Larsson.
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    Anonymous tata said...
    jp, I read that entire post. Unless you are familiar with every name in it and his/her story, this post doesn't make a whole lot of narrative sense.

    Blogger jurassicpork said...
    Then maybe you ought to read it line by line and pay more attention.