Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bad prosecution

The LA Times today has the harrowing tale of the Muslims from Lodi, California who were prosecuted as terrorists. Apparently, a reknowned FBI agent went to bat for the defense, risking his 36 years of good reputation within the force to save these guys. Read the whole thing - it's that important - and then ask yourself how you feel about where we've gone since September 11th, 2001. Snips:

Wedick was troubled by the inability of the agents to pin down the contours of one believable story. They didn't seem to know the terrain of Pakistan or the month of Ramadan. They didn't seem to fully appreciate that they were dealing with an immigrant kid from a lowly Pashtun tribe whose sixth-grade education and poor command of the English language—"Martyred? What does that mean, sir?"—demanded a more skeptical approach. And then there was the matter of the father's confession. Umer Hayat described visiting his son's camp and finding 1,000 men wearing black Ninja Turtle masks and performing "pole vaulting" exercises in huge basement rooms—100 miles from Balakot. The agents going back and forth between the two interrogations that night never attempted to reconcile the vast differences in the confessions.

The video ended and Wedick picked up the phone and called defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin. Whatever hesitation he had about taking on the FBI office that he, more than anyone, had put on the map—the office where his wife still worked as an agent—was now gone. "Johnny, it's the sorriest interrogation, the sorriest confession, I've ever seen."

...Outside the courtroom, Wedick wondered how the same government dismissing his credentials could have failed to produce a single piece of corroborating evidence in four years of sleuthing that cost taxpayers millions of dollars and unearthed a cherry packer and an ice cream vendor who drove around town playing "Pop Goes the Weasel." "To see the government's power from this side of the fence is a strange thing for me," he conceded. "What we're doing to these Muslims is the same thing we did to the Japanese in the 1940s. It's the same fear and the same overreaction. Instead of internment camps, we're sending them to prison."

...He saw one juror holding back tears and made a straight line for her apartment. She wouldn't let him in at first, talking through a crack. Two hours, four hours, finally she opened the door and told him what he suspected. She didn't believe Hamid was guilty. So intense was the pressure from fellow jurors to convict him that she had to check into the hospital. Throughout the trial, she said, the foreman kept making the gesture of a noose hanging. "Lynch the Muslim," she took it to mean. Wedick persuaded her to write it all down and sign it. Then he filed the affidavit with the federal court, hoping it might lead to a new trial.

1 comment:

Scott said...

I read it. It puts me in a rage. I probably have gone on about the story I want to develop based on Harvey Matusow, who wrote the expose False Witness. He made up stories, twisted stories, repeated canned stories, etc. for the Department Of Justice, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and McCarthy's Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.

The Army hearings and the parade of paid witnesses who recanted their testimonies brought old Joe down.

I was disgusted to read Khan, whose testimony was crucial was a paid witness, whose earlier claims were believed to be false. Our nation was disgusted with the notion of paid witnesses such a short time ago. Re-runs suck. Maybe I should start working on that story again.