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8/09/2004

Detroit Trial, Convertino, and al-Libi

The AP has an important article out about the bungled proescution of the Detroit AQ cell. Intelligence that would have helped both the defense and the prosecution was declared off-limits by the DoJ, even though both parties were aware of it.

Note, though, that one of the main examples of embargoed intelligence evidence is now seriously contested.

"There was a series of evidence, pieces of evidence, that we wanted to get into our trial that we were unable to do -- things that would have strengthened the case immeasurably and made the case much stronger, exponentially," Convertino said.

For example, the FBI had learned before the trial that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, Al Qaeda's training camp chief, told interrogators after his capture that bin Laden had authorized an attack on the Incirlik air base in Turkey where US military jets had flown missions over Iraq for the past decade, Convertino said.

The interrogation was deemed important because the FBI found in the Detroit terror cell's apartment sketches of the same Turkish base, including flight patterns of US jets. Libi's testimony would have connected the Detroit defendants to a planned Al Qaeda attack, Convertino said. But Libi was "spirited off from Afghanistan to Egypt, and we were not able to interview him or use him as a witness," Convertino said.

Turkish authorities said recently that their evidence shows that bin Laden authorized an attack on the base but that he later abandoned the plan because security was heightened. US officials raised security at Incirlik within days of the Detroit discovery, Air Force officials say.
Al-Libi has recanted most of his testimony, and there is evidence it was given under duress. More collateral damage from our horrible, disastrous decision to torture people.

The Department of Justice retaliated against U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino for his criticisms of the agency in the aftermath of the trial. Convertino sued Ashcroft. Sen. Chuck Grassley R-IA is defending Convertino.

Miscellany:

Ashcroft leaked information about the case for political purposes. (Previewing Khan?)
Ashcroft's Appointment of a "Special Attorney"
FBI interviewed the Judge
Evidence withheld from Defense

 

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