Conrad Black on America, its justice system and his new book

Conrad Black’s back — and he doesn’t love America so much anymore.

Black, the former CEO of Hollinger International who controlled such publications as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post and the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, was convicted in the U.S. in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice. Though he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court (which threw out two of his four convictions), Black spent three years in prison before being released in 2012.

The 68-year-old one-time champion of America doesn’t see the country — and its justice system — as so outstanding any longer.

“[M]y affection for the country has been seriously eroded and I consider the justice system to be a teeming anthill of corruption, and hypocrisy, a disgrace made more abominable by the complacency of most Americans about it,” Black, who maintains his innocence and lives in Canada, told The Daily Caller in an email.

“The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, 25% of its incarcerated people, and 50% of its lawyers, who consume almost 10% of GDP. It convicts 99.5% of its accused people, (compared to 61% in Canada and 55% in the UK),; has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people per capita as Australia, Canada, France/Germany, Great Britain, and Japan, and 48 million people with a criminal record. Even deducting those convicted of non-stigmatizing offenses such as DUI or disorderly behavior many years before, it still means that over 15% of American adults are officially felons. This is an atrocity.”

According to the most recent U.S. Attorneys statistical report [pdf], the actual federal conviction rate in 2010 was 93%, not quite the 99.5% Black claimed. The rate is much lower in state courts.

Despite his disappointment with the U.S, Black is out with a glowing portrait of America’s rise to world preeminence,  “Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies that Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership.”

“The advance of the U.S. in less than two centuries, two long lifetimes, from colonial status to a position of pre-eminence in the world beyond anything ever attained by any other country was, of course, partly the result of the good fortune of the English language, Common Law, democratic tradition and access to a vast rich continent,” he told TheDC.

But, he added, America’s rise “was also largely the result of actions of courage, genius, and innovation by fewer than 20 American statesmen and military commanders at the most critical points in the country’s history, according to carefully developed strategic designs.”

Black says the most interesting thing he discovered in his research was the “extent to which the Revolutionary War was a dispute about taxes rather than rights, and how brilliantly [Thomas] Jefferson and others presented it as the dawn of human liberty, when it had little effect on the rights of anyone, including Americans themselves, other than that their government was thereafter resident in the U.S.”

“The Americans and British citizens had approximately equal civil rights (except for slaves of course, who scarcely existed in Britain), before the war, and after the war, and with each other throughout,” he explained.

Black is the author of several books, including biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. Though he is down on the United States now, he believes Americans will eventually turn to better leaders who will put the country back on track.