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Room 5150

Janet C. Phelan

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Room 5150

By Janet C. Phelan

Eric Shine is having a bad day. Scheduled to appear before a military tribunal in Long Beach, California on October 23, he discovered upon arrival that his paperwork provided the incorrect address for the hearing. He is now scrambling to get the correct address to the media. As well as an address change, there has been a room change, and Eric Shine's case will now be heard in Room 5150.

The implications of that room number are not lost on some of the recipients of his eleventh hour phone calls. "5150" is police code for an involuntary mental detainment. And in a bizarre twist of congruence, Eric Shine is being charged with..... “being depressed.” The 46-year-old former Merchant Marine and whistleblower is being hauled in front of a military tribunal and being charged with a state of mind, with no allegations of misconduct or negligence in his actions.

Some of the most horrific stories of human rights abuses in our modern times have come from political dissidents incarcerated in mental hospitals in Soviet Russia. The current regime in the United States of America has now adopted this method of targeting and removing "threats" to the regime. These stories are seldom, if ever, reported in the mainstream media.

The first such incarceration that came to my attention happened in the wake of Watergate, when Martha Mitchell, then the wife of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, was psychiatrically incarcerated in an effort to discredit her.

Eric Shine first caught the attention of the establishment while he was a midshipman at Kings Point, the Merchant Marine academy in Long Island, New York. Shine was editor of the student newspaper at the Academy, and published documents, which were harshly critical of the academy at a time when policies were under fire at that institution. Because of the ensuing scandal, the Admiral resigned. Shine went on to graduate with various honors, with an engineers license and a Naval Commission, and was serving on the SS COMET when he reported two events which were to soon enmesh him in a series of legal retaliatory moves now endangering his very freedom.

Lt. Eric Shine, a merchant marine officer and federal employee under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, attempted to prevent a boiler explosion before it occurred on the SS COMET in 2000, and tried to prevent dumping of hazardous materials at Alameda, California from the same vessel. He then reported the violations to his immediate superior, the vessel’s Chief Engineer. Subsequently, he filed a grievance through his federal officers association. When he attempted to report the matter to the Coast Guard, he was fired for so doing.

Shine filed several lawsuits for tortuous breach of shipping articles and federal contracts, labor disputes, federal contracting violations and safety violations. Technically, Shine is a whistleblower and must be accorded the protections afforded in the Whistleblower Protection Act, shipping articles and other legislation.

The Coast Guard investigated the COMET and found that the explosion and the dumping had in fact, occurred. Coast Guard Lieutenant Chris Tribolet then instead turned the investigation against Eric Shine. Shine was investigated for misconduct and any possible infractions of law and was exonerated. When the Coast Guard could find no evidence of misconduct on the part of Shine, Tribolet then took back over the investigation and directed his efforts towards attacking Shine’s competence. In an email to Lcdr. Kristin Williams, Tribolet revealed his intent in the following statements:

“Misconduct is human behavior that violates some formal rule….While it is difficult to define how Shine may have violated 33 or 46 CFR, his interference with proper and safe navigation of the ships is undeniably an issue. We may have to look to tort or admiralty precedents but I’m quite sure that we can frame the issue to show that there was misconduct.”

This email from Lt. Tribolet was sent May 29, 2002. Nearly six years later, Lcdr. Tribolet, who was unable to find any evidence of such misconduct, is now prosecuting Shine in a military tribunal under the banner of the Coast Guard, which is now part of Homeland Security.

The Coast Guard filed an Executive branch Article II counter-complaint against Shine and literally yanked Eric Shine out of civil court into a Military Tribunal, detaining him in a minefield of military legal mumbo-jumbo proceedings for over 5 years. This was apparently done in order to stifle him and to cover up the magnitude of the corruption and the high-ranking levels of those involved.

The U.S. Coast Guard has always been "Civil Service" in a time of peace, as has the Merchant Marines. Both, however, come under the Department of Navy in a time of war. After 911 the Coast Guard was put under the umbrella of Homeland Security and is now declaring itself a separate and distinct "Branch of the Military.” By attempting to adjudicate civilian affairs, as in the Eric Shine matter, this new branch of military has squashed the concept that civilian and military affairs are under separate jurisdiction. Parenthetically, the Coast Guard has also recently “promoted” a Coast Guard cadet to Active Duty so that he could be charged under a Military Tribunal. Therefore, he was “promoted” so that he could be prosecuted.

The fact that Eric Shine was never a member of the Coast Guard does not seem to bother Coast Guard Lcdr. Christopher Tribolet, who in the interim went to law school and is now a practicing member of the bar. Unable to nail Shine for any breach of conduct, Tribolet is now focusing his efforts on Shine’s mental status, and has requested that the Homeland Security aka Coast Guard Military Tribunal proceedings order him into a psychiatric evaluation. This request was granted in the October 23, 2007 hearing, in Room 5150, at the federal building in Long Beach, California, in official Judge Advocate General (JAG) proceedings.

At home in Huntington Beach, California, Shine is beginning to show signs of wear and tear. Stripped of his means for gainful employment, he lost both his houses and was homeless for a period of time. A “BOLO”-- “Be On the Look-Out”-- was issued against him—the very same sort of document that has been used in the past for terrorists-- and posted at the San Diego Coast Guard office and elsewhere. Incredibly, his own officers association has denied him independent legal counsel, and he is now doing battle with a military tribunal without legal support. While being prosecuted for being “medically/mentally incompetent,”

and “depressed,” he is nevertheless expected to defend himself, without benefit of legal counsel.

His plight has caught the attention of the media. Air America, KPFK, American Radio Voice Network and other stations have run interviews with Shine. He is an outspoken critic of the war on Iraq, Republican war profiteering and the privatizing of U.S. Treasury assets.

The continuing persecution of Eric Shine raises some troubling questions for us all. First, Eric Shine is being tried by a military tribunal when he is, in fact, being alleged to be a civilian on the one hand and a Federal Officer on the other. The government is ignoring his Naval Commission and attendance at Kings Point and is not allowing him his legal right to counsel, as a member of the military. Speaking out of both sides of the mouth, the government is nevertheless claiming that he is and remains a Federal Officer, while they refuse to pay him, provide him the medical attention and legal aid, which these Article II Military Tribunals mandate be offered to Federal Officers under the UCMJ. And most tellingly, he is being tried for a state of mind-- “being depressed”-- rather than for any overt act or failure to act.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 set precedent for civilians to be tried in Military Tribunals. This Act in itself signals a radical departure from our Constitutional protections. But nowhere does the Military Commissions Act dictate that a civilian in the United States of America can be tried under a military tribunal for an alleged state of mind.

This method of targeting dissidents has been deployed against others under the current administration. Susan Lindauer, a former reporter and U.S. Congressional Aide, had been working as an asset for the CIA in the Iraqi Embassy, prior to the war. When Bush established his Commission on pre-Iraqi War Intelligence, Lindauer contacted the commission to arrange to testify. Her testimony was to include evidence that the Administration was well aware that Iraq did not possess WMD’s at the point of our going to war.

Within twenty-four hours of contacting the Commission, Susan Lindauer was arrested as a spy for the Iraqi government. She was stripped of her right to a trial, adjudicated incompetent, and sent off to Carswell Federal Prison Mental Hospital. The government quickly filed motions to have her forcibly drugged. Public outcry, generated by a media campaign spearheaded by this reporter, resulted in Judge Michael Mukasey, now the Attorney General of the United States of America, dropping the charges like a red-hot potato. Lindauer is now a free woman.

Dr. Rebecca Carley, a court qualified expert in vaccine-induced diseases and a talk show host on the alternative media circuit ("What's Ailing America?” /BBS radio/Republic Broadcast Network) was stripped of her license to practice medicine in the State of New York after she refused to undergo psychiatric "treatment" for her alleged "delusion of conspiracy", diagnosed by the NYS medical board following the airing of one of her more controversial shows. The Coast Guard is clearly deploying a similar tactic in going after Shine’s professional Marine Engineer’s license, which was granted by Congress.

Others may not have been so lucky. Given the failure of mainstream media to cover psychiatric abuse and targeting, there may be thousands of political prisoners now forcibly drugged and languishing in mental prisons.

Nearly forty-five years ago, the Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency chose a state of dormancy rather than termination of the National Emergencies. We are now seeing the fallout from this, in “state of mind” tribunals, segueing to forcible drugging of political activists and whistleblowers.

In the Committee’s report to the Senate, Justice Jackson was quoted as stating:

“In view of the ease, expedition and safety with which Congress can grant and has granted large emergency powers, certainly ample to embrace this crisis, I am quite unimpressed with the argument that we should affirm possession of them without statute. Such power either has no beginning or it has no end. If it exists, it need submit to no legal restraint. I am not alarmed that it would plunge us straightway into dictatorship, but it is at least a step in that wrong direction.” It appears that the “step in the wrong direction” has resulted in a headlong rush, since 911.

Back in the Soviet Union, the prevailing wisdom was that you had to be “crazy” to come up against the full force and power of that dictatorship. And as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. The young Kings Point newspaper editor has continued on his path of exposing corruption in the ranks. Eric Shine’s story illuminates another corner of “the room” in which we all live—that our government will strive to protect its cobwebs, at any cost. Eric tried to protect those on board the SS COMET,and he now needs our support. You may contact the following parties and inquire as to what they will do to stop the attacks on Eric Shine, whistleblower:

U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation—(202) 225-4741

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence—(202) 224-2921

U.S. Representative James Oberstar, D-Minnesota., Chairman of the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure—(202) 225-6211