Pretend Evidence

The Bush Justice Department seems to be making up evidence in a prominent terror trial.

When the Bush administration shut down the Holy Land Foundation five years ago, officials of the former Richardson charity denied allegations that it was linked to terrorists and insisted that a number of accusations were fabricated by the government.

Now attorneys for the Holy Land Foundation say the government’s own documents provide evidence of their assertion.

In recent court filings, defense lawyers disclosed discrepancies between an official summary and the verbatim transcripts of a wiretapped conversation in 1996 involving Holy Land officials.

The summary attributes inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments to Holy Land officials that are not found in a 13-page transcript of the conversation, recorded by the FBI. The transcript recently was turned over to the defense in an exchange of evidence with the government.

Citing the unexplained discrepancies, defense lawyers asked U.S. District Judge A. Joseph Fish in Dallas to declassify thousands of hours of FBI surveillance recordings so that full transcripts can replace government summaries as evidence.

The demand could force government prosecutors to either declassify evidence they have fought to keep secret or risk losing a critical part of their case.


“Throughout the run-up to trial, the government has insisted that the defendants can learn what is contained in the [surveillance] intercepts by reading the so-called ‘summaries’ of those intercepts,” defense attorneys said in their papers.

But the recently disclosed transcript, attorneys said, shows that, “Not only are the summaries so inaccurate and misleading as to be useless [but the] author of the attached summary has cynically and maliciously attributed to the defendants racist invective and inculpatory remarks the defendants never uttered.”

4 thoughts on “Pretend Evidence

  1. Color me not surprised.
    All this classification and “national security” and secrecy is, I believe, a cover for incompetence and twisting of evidence.
    Remind me: have they actually successfully prosecuted ANY terrorists in the last six years?

  2. These would be the same prosecutors who say “You can trust us” when they arrange for people to be disappeared and held without habeas, right? Thought so.

  3. Nora points out what I consider one of the more horrendous and ominous possibilities in the Shrubco MO.
    Remember how easy it is to cook the books even when everyone is watching (see Enron which had to operate under certain constraints of public disclosure), think about the changes if you don’t even have to try to make your evidence believeable (see the so-called “terrorists” who ate Tofu in Florida and were arrested for a plan to blow up Chicago – which they had never visited).
    See how easy it was to “out” CIA operatives. And think for a moment if anyone in their right mind wouldn’t pause and catch themselves just on the easily deducible thought that discussing the identity of covert operatives may not be a good thing.

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