- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Getting sloppy with the FBI

The Associated Press wire story “Man free after FBI concedes lab sloppy” (Nation, Wednesday) brings to mind a case to which I was appointed by the Federal District Court in San Diego in September 1986.

The defendant, Mario Martinez Herrera, was the target of an investigation into the kidnapping, torture and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1985. A special prosecutor was sent from Washington to make the case against Mr. Martinez, but try as he might, all he could do was sandbag him before a grand jury (defense counsel was not allowed to be present) into making a statement as to his whereabouts around the time of the murder. Then the prosecutor got an indictment for perjury after he produced a straw-man witness who admitted at trial that he had made up many lies about Mr. Martinez but nevertheless said he was certain he had seen Mr. Martinez in Guadalajara around the time of the DEA agent’s murder. We had offered fingerprints, palm prints, hair samples and voice recording samples to the government to refute any suggestion that my client was in the murder house at the time of the torture and murder. (The torture and murder had been audiotaped by the real killers.)

Notwithstanding the special prosecutor’s admission that physical evidence in the case had failed to tie my client (a Mexican police agent) to the house where Mr. Camarena was tortured and murdered, it didn’t stop the government from introducing hair evidence. According to the now discredited FBI agent, Michael Malone, my client’s hair matched only one hair out of some 500 gathered at the scene of the crime.

At trial, I asked Mr. Malone if hair analysis was an exact science. He admitted that it wasn’t and that he could not place my client in that house where a similar hair sample was found. Yet this was enough to convince the jury that my client — while not a proven participant in the crime — had lied when he had said he was not in Guadalajara during that time. He was convicted of one count of perjury and sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

I didn’t think FBI Agent Michael Malone would lie about the hair sample, and to this day, I don’t know if he did. However, considering his record of fabricating evidence for trial and withholding evidence, I can see how it is possible that from the hair sample my client voluntarily gave, Mr. Malone rigged the purported finding of a sample distinctly similar to that one hair found in the murder house in Mexico. It would have been easy for Mr. Malone, had he simply put one of my client’s hairs in among the other 500 and then claimed that it was found at the scene and that it was a distinct match to hair samples taken from my client. I don’t know if he did this, but the possibility in light of his track record and disgrace as an FBI so-called hair and fiber expert, turns possibility into probability in my opinion.


South Riding, Va.

The Spanish vote

The United Press International article “Vote losses in Spain, Italy blamed on Iraq” (World, Wednesday), could be misleading as far as the real results of the local and regional elections held in Spain on May 25 are concerned.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s ruling Popular Party (PP) got the majority of the local councils opened for elections and retained nine of the 13 regional governments. In Madrid, the PP candidate for mayor won by a very large margin, and while the regional government of the capital was lost, the PP was able to win back that of the Balearic community.

Even in the Basque provinces, the PP was able to keep the mayorship of Vitoria in the province of Alava and scored good results both in San Sebastian and Bilbao, the capital cities of Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya.

Though it is true that the total number of votes cast for the socialists exceeded those gathered by the PP by 100,000, or 0.1 percent of the total returns, all political analysis concurs in noting that the PP and Mr. Aznar performed strongly despite the massive demonstrations against the war in Iraq.

While one of the advantages of democracy is that everyone has a chance to claim victory, I think a more realistic picture of the results than the one offered in the UPI article could be found in the Chicago Tribune Tuesday. Its headline states, “Spanish, Italian backers of Iraq survive vote.”



Embassy of Spain


The article “Vote losses in Spain, Italy blamed on Iraq” reports how Prime Minister Aznar’s Popular Party lost some ground on regional elections against the main socialist opposition party, the PSOE. Nevertheless, this has been a bitter victory for the PSOE and the Spanish left, which has failed to significantly beat Mr. Aznar for almost a decade.

With 95 percent of the Spanish people opposed to Mr. Aznar’s support for war in Iraq, the left expected a landslide victory. Instead, it won only some regional and municipal positions. While Mr. Aznar celebrates his “defeat,” the Spanish left provides additional testimony of its failure to come up with new ideas and proposals, remaining trapped in the same tired slogans against globalization and American interventionism.


Director general

Instituto Desarrollo y Libertad

Fundacion DL

Bogota, Colombia

Sympathy for terrorism?

Despite its witty title, Arnaud de Borchgrave’s latest column on the Middle East road map, “Road map or road rage?” (Commentary, Wednesday), was plagued by a gross misunderstanding of the situation and what can only be interpreted as sympathy for Palestinian terrorist activity.

Not only does Mr. de Borchgrave criticize Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for having reservations about rewarding terrorism with a terrorist state within Israel, but Mr. de Borchgrave’s strongest claims could be quotes taken straight from the editorial page of Ha’aretz, the Israeli equivalent of the New York Times.

The most outrageous argument floated by Mr. de Borchgrave was one that could have been borrowed from Yasser Arafat’s public relations cronies. He writes that Palestinian “security forces have seen their weapons gradually confiscated during the past 32 months … .” He continues, stating that the current state of Palestinian police is “hardly a full quiver to take on their terrorists.”

Surely, as editor at large of The Washington Times, Mr. de Borchgrave would have read the paper’s fair and balanced coverage of the latest terrorism in Israel since September 2000. He should know that Palestinian Authority police weapons — and often the policemen themselves — have been behind terrorist attacks against Israelis. He also should recall that many Palestinian weapons were smuggled illegally from terrorist states such as Iran, as was the case with the weapon-laden ship, the Karine A, that was intercepted by Israelis.

If Mr. de Borchgrave lacks the free time to read up on recent Middle Eastern history in The Washington Times archives, he simply need look at the columns above his own. The astute observations of his colleagues Frank Gaffney Jr. and Cal Thomas (“Perils for U.S. … at brink of terror”) illustrate how the road map is bad for Israel and the United States alike.



American-Israel Public Affairs Committee

University of Maryland

College Park, Md.

Spam is a steal

Bill Murchison misses one decisive point in his column criticizing unsolicited commercial e-mails (“Spam for breakfast?” Commentary, Thursday). Namely, he did not mention that spamming is a very effective method of shifting advertising costs away from the company and forcing others — the Internet service providers and receivers — to pay for it.

The damage is by no means slight. It is estimated to cost providers and receivers billions annually. In plain terms, spam is thievery. For this reason, spam must not be curbed gently, per Mr. Murchison’s suggestion. It must be stopped immediately, period.


Institute of Cancer Research

Vienna University

Vienna, Austria

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