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Frame-up; the incredible case of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings Hardcover – 1967

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
relevant once more 3 July 2004
By Robert D. Harmon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating story, timely again because it involves a wartime terrorist attack, foreign espionage, major issues of habeas corpus, and uneasiness about national security in general. It's also a warning about how runaway hysteria about national security can wreck lives, empower charlatans like the DA who prosecuted (framed) this case, and, in the end, fail to gain any security.
(There's even electronic surveillance in this story: seems that Federal agents had a dictaphone in the DA's office. In 1918.)
This book's appendix is particularly valuable. Having told the story of how two innocent men served 23 years for a bombing they never committed, Gentry asks, Whose Bomb? He reviews a number of theories (various -- and doubtful -- confessions, accusations about Mexican insurgents or the DA himself, labor activists, &c.) One finger points at the Imperial German consulate, and German espionage was a very real threat during that war.
I recommend Richard Frost's "The Mooney Case" because it goes into more detail on the legal intricacies of this case. Gentry and Frost complement each other because Gentry pursues the trial-by-press and multiple-suspects parts; Frost the law history. Both are useful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Lawless Enforcement of Law 26 Dec. 2002
By Acute Observer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This tells how the rulers and politicians of 1916 San Francisco tried to legally murder Tom Mooney and Warren Billings for a crime they didn't commit. Every scrap of testimony by the prosecution was perjured! The verdict caused worldwide protest demonstrations. Both men were freed after twenty years in prison.
Preparedness Day parades that year were business sponsored, pro-Republican party, anti-Wilson, and anti-labor. It could mean the European War, the Invasion of Mexico, or an attack on Democrats, Progressives, organized Labor, Socialists, pacifists, or supporters of President Wilson (p.12). The parade went on with unaccustomed silence from the crowd. At 2:06PM the bomb went off, killing 10 people and wounding may others; over forty were hospitalized. Glass from broken windows fell on the people below. When DA Fickert arrived, he used a sledge hammer and crowbar to create more damage! Photographs on page 28. Five people were arrested for this crime, when there were no warrants and no evidence to connect them to it.
Thomas Jeremiah Mooney's father was a coal miner and union organizer. His early death left the family poor, and they moved to Massachusetts where they had relatives. Tom became involved in union activities (p.34). The Panic of 1907 saw him travelling to find work across the country. He found work in Stockton, and joined the Socialist Party. Salesman Mooney went out to sell pamphlets rather than wait for customers to call. Tom became a militant organizer for industrial unionism. He then joined the IWW and its "direct action". Tom often criticized the union leaders as much as corporate employers; he made enemies of those who should be allies.
The early life of Warren Knox Billings saw him moving from job to job. One of his jobs was at a struck factory, where he sabotaged the work (p.54). He then became part of the Mooney family. Page 60 explains how the frame-up racket worked. Tom seems to have had too much arrogance and pride. Page 66 tells how the president of United Railroad looted the company of millions, not unlike today's scandals. Tom tried to organize a union there but failed. Page 70 tells of another attempted frame-up: they hired a look-alike to carry suitcases to where bombs would be set off!
This book is important as it documents prosecutorial tricks repeated at other political trials. Single, double, and triple agents do not occur only in wartime! Part One is their personal history. Part Two is about the trial. Part Three is about the efforts to free them. Part Four tells of their release. The appendix discusses the solutions to the crime. Henry Landau's "The Enemy Within" tells of German espionage in America during that time. His "Secrets of The White Lady" tells of his intelligence work in occupied Belgium and France.
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