Len would be amused that I would interrupt my hiatus to bring attention to an error about the case of the five Cuban heroes in his New York Times obituary this morning, an error frequently made by the media and frequently corrected by Len. He would have wanted this error to be corrected right away. Len worked constantly for justice and he will always be our treasure. He combined brilliance about legal issues with his sweet generosity of spirit, a magnificent combination.
This morning I called Bill Keller’s office at The New York Times and someone there returned my call and said she will report my remarks and someone will get back to me. So perhaps the error will be corrected soon. Perhaps not, so I want to correct it here.
In the obituary, Bruce Weber writes that “the Cuban 5…were convicted in 2001 of espionage against the United States”. There was never a charge of espionage against any of the Cuban Five. There was a charge of “conspiracy to commit espionage” against three of the heroes.
Here is what Leonard Weinglass said about the use of the conspiracy charge in the case of the Cuban Five:
“Conspiracy has always been the charge used by the prosecution in political cases. A conspiracy is an agreement between people to commit a substantive crime. By using the charge of conspiracy, the government is relieved of the requirement that the underlying crime be proven. All the government has to prove to a jury is that there was an agreement to do the crime. The individuals charged with conspiracy are convicted even if the underlying crime was never committed. In the case of the Five, the Miami jury was asked to find that there was an agreement to commit espionage. The government never had to prove that espionage actually happened. It could not have proven that espionage occurred. None of the Five sought or possessed any top secret information or US national defense secrets.”
Please help keep that charge straight when speaking and writing about the Cuban Five. Please see for the obituary.
NYTimes made the correction about conspiracy
Len would be pleased. I spoke with Bruce Weber, who wrote the obituary, and he told me that he would look into it and if the original was incorrect, it would be corrected. Now the obituary has the correct charge and this acknowledgement of the error.
Correction: March 26, 2011
An obituary on Friday about Leonard Weinglass, a lawyer who represented the Chicago Seven and other political renegades, misstated a charge for which the Cuban 5, his clients, were convicted. It was conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States; they were not convicted of espionage.