Monday, October 25, 2010

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Roger Warner had an interesting opinion column in yesterday's Sacramento Bee having to do with a "terrorism" trial here in California. In it he skewers the Justice Department and federal officials for going forward on a case in which the prosecution is even more inept than the defendants.

The U.S. Justice Department made a breakthrough of sorts when it launched a terrorism court case in Sacramento three years ago. Until then, terrorism had been a scary business. Now, we're looking at farce.

The court case, known as USA v. Harrison U. Jack et. al., accuses a military veteran named Harrison Jack and U.S. citizens of Hmong tribal descent of planning to overthrow the government of the Hmong's original home country, Laos, in Southeast Asia. ...

The joke is that the more information that has emerged about this case, the more it looks as though the government should be on trial instead of the defendants. The naive defendants, who are staunchly pro-American, never shot off anything more dangerous than their mouths. According to wiretap transcripts, they talked and talked – initially, about bringing democracy and free elections to one of the last communist regimes in the world.

They got in trouble when a government undercover agent entered the picture, lied to them about non-existent CIA connections, and tried to talk them into buying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, mines, anti-tank weapons and more. He also offered them mercenaries who had been trained in the U.S. special operations forces. Forget free elections! With his help, he said, the defendants could take over Laos, a country the size of California. To "prove" his sincerity, the undercover man rented an RV, stocked it with real and phony weapons and took the defendants through it one by one – filmed by hidden video cameras.

It looks to be a fine case of entrapment, one that should never have been brought once the facts were looked at by a savvy prosecutor, yet here we are, three years later, and the case continues to proceed. The patience of the federal judge hearing the case is wearing thin, so much so that he has taken to needling the latest prosecutor assigned to the case (number three) by asking which specific laws the defendants are alleged to have violated. That's a question no lawyer wants to hear because it signals the judge's assessment of the case. The prosecutor couldn't immediately answer the judge, which sends an even worse signal.

The case is complicated, unnecessarily so. The prosecution has released 85,000 pieces of "evidence", which means that the defense attorneys, their paralegals and staff have spent hours going through all of this material trying to determine just what the prosecution has, if anything. The kicker, as Mr. Warner points out, is that these are public defenders, which means that we are paying for not only the prosecution but also the defense. At this point, the costs of the case have to be hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars.

Why this madness?

The case of Harrison Jack is a pure government boondoogle. It is also an example of a post-9/11 terrorism genre based on what are called pre-emptive arrests. In pre-emptive cases, defendants can get indicted for talking about, or conspiring to commit, terrorist acts, even if they never lifted a finger to hurt anyone. The targets of these cases can be hostile to America, like al-Qaida, or ethnic groups who are loyal to America, as the Hmong proved during the Vietnam War era.

The biggest problem with pre-emptive cases, it turns out, is that everyone involved in the law enforcement community has powerful incentives to bring them. Investigators get promotions for the indictments they bring, not for the convictions. Federal prosecutors get credit from their superiors in Washington for having "A" level or national security cases, even if the cases are weak. The incentives have created an institutional enthusiasm for creating these cases – and a reluctance to give them up, even if they are flawed.
[Emphasis added]

If this didn't involve the lives of citizens being ruined and if it weren't costing us an arm and both legs, this would indeed be funny. Instead, it's just unforgivably outrageous.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane, Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your readers. As a Vietnam Veteran I am disgusted by this case and the Administration for not stopping this from happening early on. William Colby, former CIA Director called General Vang Pao the "Greatest American Hero of the Vietnam War" for fighting against the spread of communism during the Vietnam war. He and another defendant have been dropped from the case for three reasons (1) Lack of Evidence (2) to get rid of the Biggest and most powerful law firms of the Defense team and (3) in exchange of them dropping a motion of "Prosecutorial Misconduct" or lying in front of the Grand Jury!!

Remember these names...they are the ones that have been wasting our taxpayer dollars on trying to prosecute this "Bogus Coup" as Roger Warner explains in his article: Benjamin B. Wagner, US Attorney/Sacto; S. Robert Tice-Raskin and Ellen V. Endrizzi and Jill M Thomas all Assist US Attorneys/Sacto, Robert M Twiss, US Attorney's Office/Sacto; Robert Wallace and Heather Schidt Trial Attorneys National Security Div of DOJ/Wash DC; Scott W. McGregor, former US Attorney/Sacto; - Call and complain (916) 554-2700 or write letters US Attorney Benjamin B Wagner, 501 I Street (10th floor), Sacto, CA it now! The Hmong deserve our support.

7:10 PM  

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