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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Federal prosecutors in hot water in Ashland terror funding case

Here's a seriously ugly moment for Oregon's federal prosecutors. This past summer, they successfully prosecuted an Iranian-American man from Ashland on conspiracy and tax fraud charges. He was convicted of diverting money, supposedly being used for humanitarian causes, to militant groups rebelling in Chechnya. But now it turns out that the government admits it withheld documents from the defense, and that the FBI quietly paid thousands of dollars to the husband of a key witness in the case.

Although claiming that the new evidence shouldn't change the outcome of the trial, the U.S. attorney's office is now dropping its opposition to letting the man, Pete Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, out of the slammer pending further proceedings. This move is a bit startling in light of the government's contention that he is a flight risk. Seda was out of the country when he was indicted.

The day the guilty verdict came in from the Eugene jury, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, Christopher Cardani, said "[W]e think he got a very fair trial" and was quoted as declaring that "the verdict showed that the U.S. criminal justice system, with its public courtrooms and lay jurors, 'can handle terrorism cases.'" The interim U.S. attorney, Dwight Holton, also did a fair amount of grandstanding that day.

What no one was mentioning, however, was that a key witness in the case was tainted by what could easily be construed as a secret payoff by the FBI. As the Eugene paper reports:

The documents filed by Seda’s attorneys say that on Jan. 6 they saw "for the first time" FBI documents stating that the agency paid Cabral and her late husband $14,500 in cash for helping the agency investigate Al-Haramain. The documents indicated that FBI Special Agent David Carroll also told Barbara Cabral before the trial that he would attempt to pay her another $7,500 after it was over. She did not receive such payment, the prosecution said.

The defense said the newly revealed FBI documents show that Barbara Cabral, a hairstylist, became close friends with Carroll and his wife, and discussed with them her need for money to pay medical expenses and a professional trip to a California styling school.

The feds' questionable conduct in the criminal case fits into a disturbing pattern. Seda's charity, now defunct, was the target of warrantless wiretapping in 2004 that was just ruled illegal in a federal civil lawsuit in San Francisco, with the government now liable for $40,800 in damages and $2.5 million in attorneys' fees on account of the wiretap misconduct.

If the federal judge in Eugene lets Seda out of the Lane County Jail -- and especially if he dismisses the criminal charges entirely, as defense lawyers are asking him to do -- the feds' p.r. fiasco will clearly cross over into disaster territory. Whatever the final outcome, the Seda case does nothing to bolster the Obama administration's civil liberties credentials, which for many have been a disappointment. Some days you wonder whether the Brandon Mayfield case would have been any different if the current crew had been in charge.

Comments (12)

I guess this post is why it has been difficult to get to your site this morning. Let's hear it for the JTTF!

Just one of many reasons that Portland should not rejoin the JTTF.

Federal prosecutors make many errors, damaging many people, including themselves:

I think when the Mohamed case goes to trial we will see that the government paid some shady people to help set him up. So far all mentions indicate that CI's were used throughout the operation and not actual agents.

CI is short for paid informant.

It's called "outsourcing".

The system has become so corrupted with politics that it no longer has any integrity. You get these career middle tier "enforcement" people who bet their professional life reputations on these things based on pure political prejudice, then have no compunction about lying or manufacturing evidence or whatever to make the case. Political expediency trumps honesty and the rule of law as soon as the sailing gets rough for them. And we have a professor of Constitutional law in the White House who apparently thinks it is all just peachy.

Sounds like someone has some ethics problems down at the UO law school. Just sayin'.

"Federal prosecutors make many errors, damaging many people, including themselves"

The spin word there being "errors" -- the phenomena that look the same as 'conspiracies' or 'job securities.'

"The feds' questionable conduct in the criminal case fits into a disturbing pattern."

'Pattern' being the category holding items of errors and the like.

We don't see the dots (or 'items') that draw the patterns until we look ... at dots (in the pattern of What's-going-on?), seeing examples here, Part I, and here, Part II.

Realizing there is a single simple explanation or 'pattern' in what's going on, (Occam's razor), finding relief in mind to have finally figured it out, simply -- what's going on is premeditated government corruption and high crime conspiracies, falsely termed 'errors' -- is good and bad. The good news is reality makes sense to you again: there are homicidal criminals at-large who society must apprehend. The bad news is your friends accuse you of tinfoil-hat lunacy and they desert you.

Tenskwatawa, keep it straightforward, at least for the time being:


"A mistake in a court proceeding concerning a Matter of Law or fact, which might provide a ground for a review of the judgment rendered in the proceeding.

The nature of the error dictates the availability of a legal remedy. Generally speaking, mistaken or erroneous application of law will void or reverse a judgment in the matter. Conversely, errors or mistakes in facts, upon which a judge or jury relied in rendering a judgment or verdict, may or may not warrant reversal, depending upon other factors involved in the error. However, appellate decisions make a distinction—not so much between fact and law, but rather, between harmless error and reversible error—in deciding whether to let stand or vitiate a judgment or verdict.

In litigation, a Harmless Error means that, despite its occurrence, the ultimate outcome of the case is not affected or changed, and the mistake is not prejudicial to the rights of the party who claimed that the error occurred. In other words, the party claiming error has failed to convince an appellate court that the outcome of the litigation would have been different if the error had not occurred. Most harmless errors are errors of fact, such as errors in dates, times, or inconsequential details to a factual scenario.

On the other hand, error that is deemed harmful in that it biased the ultimate decision of a jury or judge, constitutes reversible error, i.e., error that warrants reversal of a judgment (or modification, or retrial). A reversible error usually refers to the mistaken application of a law by a court, as where, for example, a court mistakenly assumes jurisdiction over a matter that another court has exclusive jurisdiction over. A court may erroneously apply laws and rules to admit (or deny the admission of) certain crucial evidence in a case, which may prove pivotal or dispositive to the outcome of the trial and warrant reversal of the judgment. Occasionally, a court may charge the jury with an instruction that applies the wrong law, or with an improper interpretation of the correct law. If the party claiming error can prove that the error was prejudicial to the outcome of the case or to the party's rights, the error will most likely be deemed reversible."

While it is difficult to imagine any case being conducted perfectly, the possibility that federal prosecutors are purposefully less than scrupulous in following rules of procedure is very discouraging. The vast power of federal prosecutors over defendants is such that every effort must be made to purge the system of such a possibility. The pursuit of notches cannot be allowed to overwhelm the probability of justice.

Re: "...the Seda case does nothing to bolster the Obama administration's civil liberties credentials, which for many have been a disappointment."

The Obama administration's DOJ has been disappointing on most fronts. Civil liberties were supposed to be AG Eric Holder's strong suit, but this case undercuts such claims. James Leiber observed in the Village Voice fifteen months ago:

"Holder takes a hard line on social issues, but not on financial issues: He favors re-dedicating the DOJ to civil rights, and he has vowed to investigate Bush-era torture. But when asked if he plans to prosecute the financial mayhem that erupted under Bush, Holder has said that he isn't inclined to engage in what he calls 'witch hunts.'"

Won't get fooled again.

"Holder takes a hard line ... He favors ... he has vowed to investigate ... Holder has said that he isn't inclined to engage ...."
Talking ain't walking the walk, make no mistake about that. But again, the media indoctrination time after time is that 'errors were made, some sort of bad intelligence got spread coincidently and innocently.' Aiding and abetting injustice ain't innocent; it's premeditated. Even conspired, but the conspiring does not (necessarily) occur in a group meeting around a table, like the football offense going in a huddle. No. Rather, in today's politics environment (Beltway bubble) saturated with total info awareness, one conspirator 'sees the trend signal' of another conspirator, (let's say two CEO's of separate companies) without ever meeting each other, yet the one knows full-well how to cooperate to reinforce the trend direction, or thwart it; (with resources the politics 'rainmaker' musters). On TV they report the news that the other channels are reporting, uniformity lock-stepping.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the DoJ/FBI/CIA/authoritarian'center' may make mistakes -- and when the center slips up, a tsunami-force radiates outward -- but the 60-year ('post-War') pattern through every instance shows mistake every time. The entire 'central authority' model is a mistake, broken between its idealistic inception and its management reality of 300 million citizens (at least, not incl. Canadians and Mexicans who are affected) across a 3000-mile (5000-km) North American continent.

There are only so many trees deserving attention until we have to admit we are in a forest. And re-focus our attention and decisions based on the systemic implications -- nevermind each tree's details, we're in a forest and there's no sunlight.

"... every effort must be made to purge the system ...."

And that's been advised, or attempted, again and again. No matter how many trees are chopped down, we're still in a forest. And lying to ourselves that this is "beautiful, for spacious skys, and amber waves of grain, a fruited plain." This is NOT a meadow, NOR the promised of this land. It is a freakin' Sleepy Hollow darkening woods with assorted ghostriders and psychopathic privateers (wild animals) in it naturally. The DoJ/etc canNOT be repaired by 'purging' the few (the shameful, the cowardly) 'bad apples', 'rotting trees'. (Especially in light of reports that DubCheney implaced co-conspirators (for the tyranny) to 'stay behind' -- the GLADIO tactic, look it up -- throughout the DoJ/etc assigned to hinder any posse of 'good guys' going after the DubCheney 'bad guys' getting away.)

Let me introduce us to Jack's astral twin: Eric Alterman, in that they were born on the same day ... a few years apart. Dr. Alterman is a college professor. A month ago he wrote an astonishing admission, like a sudden recognition that the entire whole government is committing crimes including those bureaucrats whose responsibility is to apprehend anyone committing crime, and failing in that responsibility is furthermore a crime -- not by mistakes-made failing, but a crime by deliberate failing.

When Eric sees the light, literally millions of others are enlightened too. During the last month or so, it seems to me Jack is obtaining a similar 'come to quantum' revelation. (The word-pun is that the 'quantum' is a photon which is one unit of light.)

I still fault Eric's missive for lacking galvanic force, while I'm delightedly amazed he'd come to publish what he did realize.
The CIA: A Law Unto Itself, Eric Alterman, The Nation, December 2, 2010.

The problem with the CIA et al. is not the intelligence they collect but the operations they conduct. These are — even by the generous terms of legislation written for these purposes, and indulgent court decisions relating to any and all issues of "national security" — criminal. And almost no one appears to care.
We might say and fully admit 'The CIA et al.: An OUTlaw Unto Itself.' What's to be done about that? Walk out of the forest. Remove (ourselves from) all of it and rebuild (re-systematize) from the ground up, enact the US Consti2tion. Left and Right both agree on that remedy.

Sticklers for 'evidentiary findings' can find some here: A Timeline of CIA Atrocities, and other places google goes ... cleaning goggles.
Keep up at 4G pace, get the straightforward memo: Ratical.ORG/ratville/JFK/ST/

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