Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: Anatomy of a Lie


NEWS ITEM-A 47-year-old substitute teacher announces he heard former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal admit murdering a Philadelphia police officer.

Vanity Fair magazine features an interview with Phillip Bloch, who tells the reporter that Jamal made the admission to him during a visit in winter of 1992 at Huntingdon prison. The FOP applauds Bloch’s courage and the Philadelphia DA’s office announces this is proof of Jamal’s guilt.

For the better part of a week in summer 1999, newspapers ran banner headlines and talk shows did a brisk business in the above. The gossip-oriented Disney-owned “20/20” show called it a significant development in the Jamal case and shamelessly hyped the show’s new witness from a man who claimed he was a close personal friend

In a startling departure from journalistic standards, not a single newspaper or so-called news show bothered to check his tale with me, nor to check him out with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the agency that he was briefly affiliated with doing his visits to state prisons in Pennsylvania.

Instead, using the old “they did it, so we can do it too” justification, papers and other media leaped at the chance to sell papers with this hot news story. You could almost hear them drooling at this scoop. Stop the presses!

Rarely has one lie drawn so much ink, so much videotape, or wasted so many trees. Let us suppose, just for the sake of argument mind you, that Bloch is speaking the truth. Have you ever seen cops embrace snitches so warmly? In truth, cops hate snitches, as should be clear from cop cases where cops tell on other cops.

Do you think the cops who testified as to the brutal assault on Abner Louima in New York City were hailed for their courage, or were they damned and ostracized. What do you think?

Bloch claims I was a close personal friend of his, yet he admits his letters went unanswered for years. If his tale is true, isn’t he a snitch and a traitor?

Yet there is no truth to Bloch’s revelations, as will be seen by his own words.

Again, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose all of what he said is true. Why would he write the following words to me over six months after my “confession” to him?

“I watched the movie -`Incident at Ogalala’ last month-After [Leonard] Peltier’s codefendants were acquitted by the jury-(in a separate trial)-the FBI (interviewed on camera) were saying that the jurors and their families had been intimidated by Indians. Then they interviewed the foreman of the jury-and he said that nobody on the jury had ever seen any Indians-there was no truth to the FBI allegations.

“Then the juror said to the camera-I thought that the FBI agents were going to kill all of us (the jury)-after the verdict was read. So-it is possible to get justice from a jury-not always-but sometimes. So, when you get a new trial-I think that there is a good chance of acquittal.”

The letter is dated July 17, 1993, and it is signed by Phil Bloch.

Question: Why write to a guy and write about a new trial or acquittal if that guy confessed his guilt to you? The answer is simple. There was no confession. Period.

Mr. Bloch knew that six months after the time of his alleged confession, which means he is lying now.

Did Bloch, like the cops of the sixth district, conveniently “forget” this confession also? I don’t know, and frankly, don’t care why he has come forward now.

Perhaps he is frustrated that he is still the substitute teacher and wants a push from his friends in high places. Perhaps he seeks the warm glow of limelight. Who knows? Who cares?

By his own words he proves he may not be a snitch nor much of a traitor, but he is a liar. By this episode he has proven how truly low trash journalism can go.

From Death Row,

This is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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