Nov 2 Update
**Note: the following two paragraphs are not exaggerated or fabricated for entertainment. They are real events that occurred in courtroom 9 today at Moakley Federal Courthouse.**
Mr. Chakravarty opened today’s session with questions for Mr. Boonyasait in response to Mr. Carney’s thorough cross-examination (see Nov 1 Update). Mr. Chakravarty presented no new exhibits. Instead, he went over all of the same material from yesterday. He asked if Mr. Boonyasait had reviewed all of the messages on the Tibyan forum (no, he hadn’t) and asked about the kinds of views that he saw posted (pro-jihad, Mr. Boonyasait responded). We were all wondering where Mr. Chakravarty was going by asking his witness what the view points of prosecutor-chosen messages were.
Mr. Chakravarty then re-read many of the passages that Mr. Carney had presented the day before about Tarek’s belief in a people’s right to self-defense, trying to play on them somehow as evidence for the prosecution. This is criminalizing self-defense, for sure. He took a cue from Mr. Carney and used the tactic of reading the passages himself instead of having the witness read them. Almost as though he were working for the defense, he read quotes referencing Tarek’s belief in defending one’s nation from invading military forces and his belief that civilians should not be targeted; he even pointed out that Tarek specifically made a distinction between military and non-military personnel when it came to fighting back. Mr. Chakravarty didn’t even move to draw conclusions to make his case from these passages.
Mr. Carney went on to cross-examine Mr. Boonyasait one more time, appearing as confused as the rest of us about where Mr. Chakravarty was headed with his questions. Mr. Carney pointed out that because there were several thousands of posts on Tibyan, and that Mr. Boonyasait only read the posts selected by the prosecutor (except for 5 or 10 posts, replied Mr. Boonyasait), he couldn’t know the full scope of the views on Tibyan. Mr. Carney once again asked, isn’t it fair to say that Tarek’s belief is that Muslims have the right to expel invading military forces? (Yes, he replied) And that Tarek made a distinction between people who were not part of the military, for example, teachers and oil engineers, and people who were, for example, Marines? (Mr. Boonyasait answered yes.) Mr. Carney then tried to proceed in a line of questioning about how the US uses much of the oil that comes from these regions, but it was objected to by Mr. Chakravarty and the objection was sustained by Judge O’Toole. Mr. Carney asked Mr. Boonyasait did Tarek maintain his views in all of the threads that Mr. Boonyasait had read (yes, he replied), at which time he finished his cross-examination.
The testimony of informants didn’t start today, and will most likely start tomorrow. There were eight more witnesses today, all from the FBI. Many of them testified about how they surveilled Tarek by monitoring his email, IM chats, phone calls, and by tapping the house where he was living. There was a lot of tedious testimony about chain of custody, quality control, demonstration of competence.
There was not much cross-examination by the defense because there was a lot of business-type testimony that didn’t pertain directly to the charges Tarek is facing, but instead laid the groundwork for the reliability of the prosecution’s witnesses. Ms. Bassil, however, did cross-examine Greg Hughes, an FBI agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. She asked him how he determined which emails, phone calls and chats to examine. He answered that they were chosen for him by FBI Special Agents Heidi Williams and Tom Davis (note: Ms. Bassil asked on Monday if being a Special Agent for the FBI meant that one had a special expertise; the witness on the stand replied that no, they are all special. “Oh! Me too,” Ms. Bassil responded with a grin.) She asked him if he knew that there were 3,000 pages of chats the government had? No, he replied. He had only reviewed the chats, emails and phone calls chosen by the case agents with no discussion of why they were chosen.
There were two linguist/translators who testified today, only to establish the basis of their expertise. It is particularly interesting to have government translators testifying in a case where the government is trying to criminalize someone for translating. Considering Mr. Carney’s example a few days ago about how the US funded the Taliban’s ousting of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, and how the US now considers the Taliban a “terrorist organization,” isn’t it then applicable, applying their logic, that translating in the aid of a government that gives money and arms to what they themselves call a “terrorist organization” is considered material support, as that law is written? Maybe the government wants to reconsider how they sling around the word “terrorist.”
More to come tomorrow! Please join us in court! There have consistently been between 25-35 supporters in the courtroom since Friday. Let’s keep it up! We will be there 9am-1pm, Monday thru Friday at Moakley Courthouse in Boston. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.