Sunday, July 16, 2006

"How FBI moles snared terror suspects"

That's the headline of today's Herald article about the now infamous Miami 7 "terror" case. It has many more details than previous press acounts. It explains the initial meeting between the lead defendant, Narseal Batiste, and the FBI this way:

Batiste, a struggling contractor born in Chicago who headed the local branch here of a Moorish religious sect, became friendly with the store's owner after learning that he was going to Yemen on vacation in October. The store owner happened to be an FBI informant.
After the shopkeeper's return, Batiste, with two of his followers present, laid out his vision. Batiste said that he was a member of the Moorish Science Temple -- a sect that blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- and that its members were entitled to their own government within the United States. Violence was the only way, he said, and he explained to the store owner that only extreme Islamic groups, such as al Qaeda, could help.
The shopkeeper told the FBI of Batiste's plans. For FBI agents, the threat was serious enough to have him introduce Batiste to another informant, an Arabic man with a thick accent.
The second man was Mohammad, a friend of the store owner's uncle. Batiste pressed the shopkeeper to find out whether the man knew al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but was told that question was off limits.

So far the press has been very pro-defendant. This article is not at all.


Anonymous said...

This Rule has been vewied extremely narrowly when it relates to publication of information by the Government. For example, the MD Fla. has a specific local rule that addresses the issue. Why is it that the Government gets to make up the Rules as we go along and nobody tries to hold it accountable. The attorneys on this case should file a Motion requesting an evidentiary hearing as to the source and motivation of this information...information that would never be turned over in discovery at this point.


(a) Prejudicial Extrajudicial Statements Prohibited. A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding due to its creation of an imminent and substantial detrimental effect on that proceeding.

(b) Statements of Third Parties. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to make such a statement. Counsel shall exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, employees, or other persons assisting in or associated with a case from making extrajudicial statements that are prohibited under this rule.


It is difficult to strike a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial and safeguarding the right of free expression. Preserving the right to a fair trial necessarily entails some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about a party prior to trial, particularly where trial by jury is involved. If there were no such limits, the result would be the practical nullification of the protective effect of the rules of forensic decorum and the exclusionary rules of evidence. On the other hand, there are vital social interests served by the free dissemination of information about events having legal consequences and about legal proceedings themselves. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. Furthermore, the subject matter of legal proceedings is often of direct significance in debate and deliberation over questions of public policy.

Anonymous said...

Who's leaking?