Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fabricating Evidence

A former police chief in Scotland has testified that the CIA fabricated evidence in the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. This report from The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh, says, "The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people."

If this allegation is true, that fact that the government would take such steps in a critical prosecution has to shake the public's confidence in every prosecution of political or national security significance.

In the United States, the instances in which prosecutors have withheld or manipulated evidence favorable to the accused in high profile cases fill page after page of the law reports. Often these cases are not uncovered until long after the accused have gone to prison.

In Dallas in 2001, more than 30 innocent defendants were arrested and indicted, and some pleaded guilty because an informant was routinely submitting Sheetrock (R) to a narcotics detective claiming it was crack cocaine. An investigation released on May 9, 2005, by Special Prosecutor Jack Zimmerman found a pattern of malfeasance by police officers, their supervisors, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, but nothing that constituted a crime.

Throughout the United States crime labs have been facing challenges of reports of sloppy procedures.

Even the vaunted FBI crime lab blundered repeatedly, and in the highest profile cases: the Unabomber, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Ruby Ridge shooting, according to Tainting Evidence by John F. Kelly and Phillip K. Wearne (The Free Press, 1998). As The Scotsman notes the FBI was involved in the Lockerbie investigation, but assigned a bomb examiner who was exposed as a fraud:

"The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.

"The fragment was later identified by the FBI's Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.

"At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm's headquarters.

"The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya - and Megrahi - to be placed at the heart of the investigation. However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.

"Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi's lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.

"The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons."

From the lowest levels of the Dallas police department to literally the highest levels -- the bombing of long-range jet aircraft at cruising altitude for international terror reasons -- evidence is fabricated.

While serious predators continue to victimize innocent Americans every day, our ability to believe that the perpetrators are being caught and fairly tried in order to bring them to justice is steadily undermined. Lawlessness by the law enforcement agencies undermines society's ability to teach law obedience, to deter potential offenders, and to justly punish offenders.

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