.Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant went into prison unbent and unbowed and—despite seven years behind bars—the outspoken Ohio populist remains unbent and unbowed.
On Sept. 10—just a few days after arriving home from prison—Traficant appeared on Fox News as a guest of reporter Greta Van Susteren and demonstrated, once again, that he is the same no-holds-barred critic of special interest influence over the U.S. government that he was during the 18 years he served in Congress (1989-2002).
Assessing his years of torment and imprisonment by the federal authorities Traficant summed it up as follows:
I didn’t give a damn what they did to me. And from this day forward, talking with you, I don’t give a damn what anybody does to me. I’m going to say what I think is right, I’m going to do what I think is right. And if it offends some people, then so be it.
But if you’re a politician and you support me, you’re in trouble. If you’re a businessman and you give me money on my finance report, you get audited.
I was a target. And you know what I’m most proud of? That I was that target. I must have been doing something damn right. I was doing the right things.
During the interview with Fox News, Traficant made a number of comments about political realities in America that, in the estimation of many viewers, were some of the most candid reflections ever heard live on the air from an American political figure.
Following the interview, the elite Jewish Telegraph Agency—which bills itself as “the definitive source for American Jewish community news and opinion” and as “the global news service of the Jewish people”—issued a blast at the former congressman, saying, “James Traficant has come out of prison spewing conspiracy theories about Israel.”
What was it that Traficant said that so exercised the JTA and other powerful pressure groups such as the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which consistently agitated against Traficant during his years in Congress?
First of all, Traficant dared to say that he was, in his words, “the number one target of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” He went on to assert:
I believe that Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government. They control the members of both the House and the Senate. They have us involved in wars in which we have little or no interest. Our children are coming back in body bags. Our nation is bankrupt over these wars. And if you open your mouth, you get targeted. And if they don’t beat you at the polls, they’ll put you in prison.
As far as Israeli influence on U.S. affairs, he said that his comments were “an objective assessment that no one will have the courage to speak about,” adding “they’re controlling much of our foreign policy. They’re influencing much of our domestic policy.” He added:
We’re conducting the expansionist policy of Israel and everybody’s afraid to say it. They control much of the media, they control much of the commerce of the country, and they control powerfully both bodies of the Congress. They own the Congress.
Traficant pointed out that between the direct foreign aid grants to Israel, along with all of the other benefits including trade compacts, economic and military assistance, “Israel gets approximately $15 billion a year from the American taxpayers. That $15 billion is $30,000 for every man, woman and child [sic]. And people in my district are losing their pension benefits. So, I was targeted big-time.”
He pointed out that pro-Israel forces—such as Paul Wolfowitz—manipulated then-President Bush into invading Iraq and that they also pushed Bush to invade Iran.
When asked by Fox’s reporter if he was an “anti-Semite,” Traficant said he wasn’t but “that’s exactly what they’re going to say, and I expect that.” Rather, he said:
What I am is an American. You see, I think America comes first. And we have a one-sided foreign policy in the Mideast, and we’ve alienated Arabs who have no way of fighting. So, what they’ve done—and I predicted this on the House floor—is they would export violence to America. And they have. They have no other way to fight. I think President Obama knows this. I think he sees this. I think he wants to do something. I think his hands are tied, and I think he’s dancing between the raindrops, trying to figure how I can politically machinate some scenario to mitigate these problems.
I’m saying this. America is in danger if Americans doesn’t take back their government without foreign influence, interference.
Traficant also pointed out that another reason he became a target of influential American Jewish organizations and their allies in the Justice Department and its “nazi-hunting” Office of Special Investigations was the fact that he came to the defense of John Demjanjuk.
Certain American Jewish organizations had accused the Ukraine-born Demjanjuk of having been a concentration camp guard during World War II. Demjanjuk insisted that he was not the alleged “Ivan the Terrible” (as the camp guard was supposedly known by the inmates).
However, only Traficant came to Demjanjuk’s defense.
Having come to recognize Demjanjuk had been railroaded, Traficant used the powers at his disposal to investigate the affair. Ultimately the Israeli Supreme Court set aside Demjanjuk’s conviction and the death sentence.
Traficant flew to Israel to bring Demjanjuk home and, as Traficant pointed out, as far as the Israeli Supreme Court was concerned, he “gave them credit—big time.”
It’s no coincidence that the very week Traficant himself was ultimately sentenced to jail, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Sunday magazine interviewed Eli Rosenbaum, the staff director of the OSI, who said, “There’s only one member of Congress who has ever tried to take us on and interfere with our work, and he will be sentenced in federal court.”
Pulling no punches in his interview with Fox, Traficant charged the Justice Department and the OSI of having suborned perjury in its efforts to destroy Demjanjuk. But, as Traficant pointed out, the OSI continued to pursue Demjanjuk and just a few months ago he was deported to Germany where he now faces another war crimes trial.
“If someone doesn’t look into this,” Traficant told Fox News, “the American people should be ashamed of themselves. When you allow one American to be violated, you threaten the freedoms of every American.”
Discussing his imprisonment, Traficant reflected on his years behind bars and the apparent determination of the authorities in D.C.—not the guards at the prisons where he was jailed—to make his life as hard as possible:
For me, it was tough. The first place I went was Allenwood, and I think the reason I [was sent] there is there were a lot of illegal immigrants there. And they knew I had [advocated] troops on the border [to block illegal immigration]. I think I was put in a position [by enemies in the government] to be hurt.
When I was at Allenwood, I had a guy say—he would refute this—but he said, “My mother’s your biggest fan. Watch yourself.” We can’t even [do anything] with you: everything is coming out of Washington.
Before long, I was in the hole. They were my captors. I didn’t give a damn about them. I had nothing to do with them. And the hole didn’t bother me. It gave me time to think. Most political figures go to some camps in country clubs. I didn’t. I went through some tough times.
Traficant noted that, while in Congress, he had put forth legislation to stop putting non-violent offenders, including those suffering from drug addiction, into prisons. However, he said, “now what you have is, they want to keep the prisons open, keep the jobs going [to keep the federal prison bureaucracy and the private prison industries operating]. They’re putting 20, 30 years on some of these young people, and it’s out of hand.”
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