Tag Archives: New York Times

Misleading Conduct? US and UK Intelligence Obstruct Justice of UN Investigation

Vlado's casket Geneva Lutheran Church

From Julian Borger’s Guardian article, 24 August 2016, “Dag Hammarskjold: Ban Ki-moon seeks to appoint investigator for fatal crash”:

“[…]Ban [Ki-moon] noted that the UK had stuck to its position last year that it had no further documentation to show the UN investigation. He appended a letter sent in June by the British permanent representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, saying “our position remains the same and we are not able to release the materials in question without any redactions”.

Rycroft added “the total amount of information withheld is very small and most of the redactions only consist of a few words”.

The wording of the letter echoed a similar letter, turning down the UN request for more information, the UK sent in June 2015, which said that “no pertinent material” had been found in a “search across all relevant UK departments”.

In reply the UN legal counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, reminded Rycroft of the shared responsibility of the UN and its member states “to pursue the full truth” about Hammarskjold’s death, and asked him to confirm that the search of “all relevant UK departments” included security and intelligence agencies.

In reply, Rycroft simply quoted the former UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond telling parliament that the foreign office had “coordinated a search across all relevant UK departments”.

“I think the British response is extraordinary. It’s very brisk and curt and evasive,” said Susan Williams, a British historian at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, whose book Who Killed Hammarskjold: The UN, The Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa, revealed new evidence that helped persuade the UN to open a new investigation into the crash near Ndola, in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.

Part of that evidence was a report from a British intelligence officer, Neil Ritchie, who was in the area at the time of the crash and who was trying to organise a meeting between Hammarskjold and a rebel leader from neighbouring Congo, where the UN secretary general was trying to broker a truce.

“This was British territory and they had a man on the ground. It doesn’t make them responsible for the crash but it does indicate they knew a lot of what was going on,” Williams said, adding it was “highly unlikely” that Ritchie’s report which she found in an archive at Essex University, was the only British intelligence report coming the area at the time.”

On 28 August 2016, Dr Mandy Banton (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies), Henning Melber (Senior adviser/director emeritus, The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation), and David Wardrop (Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch) published letters together in the Guardian, “UK’s lack of transparency over plane crash that killed Dag Hammarskjold”. From Melber:

“The US and British responses to the efforts by the United Nations to further explore the circumstances of the plane crash at Ndola should be an embarrassment to all citizens in these countries (and elsewhere), who have an interest in seeking clarification of what happened. The reports so far already present sufficient evidence that there is more to it than what the official government responses are willing to admit.

This form of denial through non-compliance with legitimate demands for access to information is tantamount to obstruction and sabotages the sincere efforts to bring closure to one of the unsolved cases involving western states and their security operations. Such an arrogant attitude further dents the image of those who claim to be among civilized nations then and now.”

From 2 September 2016, here is an excerpt from Justice Richard Goldstone’s letter to the Guardian, “Hammarskjold case is not yet closed”:

“[…]it is highly likely that some member states of the UN, especially but not only the US, hold records or transcripts of cockpit transmissions in the minutes before the plane came down. If so, these may well put the cause of the crash, whatever it was, beyond doubt. But neither the US National Security Agency, which has gradually resiled from its admission to our commission that it held two relevant records, nor, as Dr Banton’s letter (29 August) suggests, the UK government, has so far responded with any vigour to the secretary-general’s plea for cooperation.”

From the 6 September 2016 New York Times, “Release the Records on Dag Hammarskjold’s Death”, written by The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley:

“There was also evidence that the N.S.A. was monitoring the airwaves in the Ndola region, almost certainly from one of two American aircraft parked on the tarmac. Our inquiry therefore asked the agency for any relevant records it held of local radio traffic before the crash. The agency replied that it had three records “responsive” to our request but that two of those were classified top secret and would not be disclosed.

At its close, my commission recommended that the United Nations follow up this lead. The General Assembly appointed a three-person panel, which repeated our request to the N.S.A. This time, the agency replied that the two documents were not transcripts of radio messages as Southall had described and offered to let one of the panel members, the Australian aviation expert Kerryn Macaulay, see them. This she did, reporting that the documents contained nothing relevant to the cause of the crash.

This makes it difficult to understand how those two documents were initially described as “responsive” to a request explicitly for records of radio intercepts, or why they were classified top secret. It raises doubts about whether the documents shown to Ms. Macaulay were, in fact, the documents originally identified by the N.S.A. The recent denial that there is any record of United States Air Force planes’ being present at Ndola increases the impression of evasiveness.”

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From the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) website, “What You Should Know About Obstruction of Justice”:
“Q: Does obstruction of justice always involve bribery or physical force?
A: No. One particularly murky category of obstruction is the use of “misleading conduct” toward another person for the purpose of obstructing justice. “Misleading conduct” may consist of deliberate lies or “material omissions” (leaving out facts which are crucial to a case). It may also include knowingly submitting or inviting a judge or jury to rely on false or misleading physical evidence, such as documents, maps, photographs or other objects. Any other “trick, scheme, or device with intent to mislead” may constitute a “misleading conduct” form of obstruction.”

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“Biographical Sketches of the Secretariat Personnel Who Died in Air Crash”

Here is a 19 September 1961 article from the New York Times, paying tribute to Heinrich A. Weischhoff, Vladimir Fabry, William J. Ranallo, and Alice Lalande – but no mention of the ten other passengers who perished. The full article is transcribed below.
NYT Obituaries 1961

United Nations, N.Y., Sept. 18–Following are biographical sketches of United Nations Secretariat personnel killed with Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in last night’s plane crash:

Dr. Vladimir Fabry
Dr. Vladimir Fabry, 40-year-old legal adviser with the United Nations Operation in the Congo, was an underground resistance fighter in his native Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation.

He joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1946 after helping organize the first post-war Czechoslovak Government. He became a United States citizen two years ago, a little more than a decade after the Communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia.

Dr. Fabry was born in Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas. He received a doctor’s degree in law and political science from the Slovak University in Bratislava in 1942. He was admitted to the bar the following year.

Before going to the Congo in February, Dr. Fabry had been for a year and a half the legal and political adviser with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. In 1948 he was appointed legal officer with the Security Council’s Good Offices Committee on the Indonesian question. He later helped prepare legal studies for a Jordan Valley developing proposal.

He participated in the organization of the International Atomic Energy Agency. After serving with the staff that conducted the United Nations Togoland plebiscite in 1956 he was detailed to the Suez Canal clearance operation, winning a commendation for his service.

Dr. Heinrich A. Wieschhoff

Heinrich Albert Wieschhoff, director and deputy to the Under Secretary, Department of Political and Security Council Affairs, had won distinction as an anthropologist in his native Germany and in the United States before he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1946. He was 55.

Born in Hagen, Mr. Wieschhoff was educated at the University of Vienna and Frankfurt. He received a doctor of philosophy degree in African anthropology in 1933 at Frankfurt, where he served as an instructor in the university’s African Institute from 1928 to 1934. He moved to the United States and taught anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1936 until 1941.

During World War II Dr. Wieschhoff served as a consultant on African matters in the Office of Strategic Services. He joined the United Nations staff as a consultant to the Trusteeship Division. In 1951 he was secretary of the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on South-West Africa.

A frequent visitor to Africa since 1928, Dr. Wieschhoff accompanied Secretary General Hammarskjold on four trips to the Congo in the last fourteen months. Mr. Hammarskjold sent him on a special mission to Brussels last year to confer with Belgian officials. Dr. Wieschhoff wrote a number of scholarly books on African cultures and colonial policies and was a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

He was married to the former Virginia Graves of Caddo, Okla., in 1938. The couple had three children.

William J. Ranallo

William J. Ranallo, 39, went to work for the United Nations fifteen years ago as a chauffeur in the transportation pool and worked his way up to a unique position as driver, bodyguard, “man Friday” and friend of the Secretary General.

The relationship between Mr. Ranallo and Mr. Hammarskjold was such that at a Thanksgiving dinner at the Ranallo’s a few years ago the Secretary General went out to the kitchen, rolled up his sleeves and helped with the dishes.

Mr. Ranallo was born in Pittsburgh. He was graduated from Evander Childs High School here in 1941 and worked for a year as a technical employee at the Sperry Gyroscope factory in Brooklyn. He then served four years as a private in the United States Army.

Former Secretary General Trygve Lie picked Mr. Ranallo from the chauffeur pool to be his personal driver in 1951. The Secretariat staff, with whom the chauffeur was a popular figure, was delighted when Mr. Hammarskjold retained his services and increased his responsibilities.

Among the many places to which Mr. Ranallo accompanied Mr. Hammarskjold were Peiping, the cities of the Middle East, Laos and Africa. This journey to Africa with the Secretary General was his third in two years.

Last year Mr. Ranallo married the former Eleanor Gaal. The couple had three sons, one by Mr. Ranallo’s former marriage and two by his wife’s former marriage.

Alice Lalande

Miss Alice Lalande was a French-Canadian whose career as a bilingual secretary took her to remote trouble spots of the world as a member of the United Nations Secretariat staff.

Before her assignment to the Congo a year ago she had spent two years in Gaza as a secretary with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. In the Congo she was secretary to Dr. Sture C. Linner, officer in charge of United Nations operations in the Congo.

Miss Lalande was born Feb. 6, 1913, in Joliette, Quebec. She was graduated from a secretarial school in Montreal and was employed by the University of Montreal before she joined the United Nations in 1946.

After two years as a French-English stenographer in the languages division of the United Nations Department of Conferences and General Services she became bilingual secretary in the office of the department’s Assistant Secretary General.

In January, 1951, Miss Lalande went to Jerusalem for a three-year secretarial assignment with the United Nations Conciliation Commission. In 1957 she became an administrative assistant with the Preparatory Commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency.