If you are a fan of limited government, the separation of powers, and checks against the power of anything-goes federal prosecutors, you will love reading the decision of U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Posada case (pdf here). If you are an admirer of the Bush Administration and want to believe in its competence in matters involving terrorism, you are in for an unedifying spectacle.
The judge ruled that the government’s conduct was so incompetent and so out of bounds that the indictment of Posada could not stand, so she dismissed it entirely.
With Posada in
The government produced a transcript of the interview that was, Judge Cardone said, “so inaccurate that it is not reliable.” She continued: “The danger of prejudice that would result from submitting this proposed evidence to the jury far outweighs its probative value.”
In theory, that problem could have been fixed, the judge said, but two other problems were insurmountable and made that point moot.
The first involved translation. The interview team included Susana Bolanos, an official of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services and a Spanish speaker. Bolanos was allowed to conduct the interview in Spanish, but she did not do so. Instead, the team brought its own interpreter and questioned Posada in English.
The interpreter, however, was incompetent. The Judge’s key finding:
“This Court has extensively examined the enhanced digital copy multiple times with the aid of a court-certified interpreter and has found numerous instances where words were incorrectly interpreted or not interpreted at all, where Defendant appeared to provide unresponsive answers as a result of his confusion over the questions, and where Defendant expressed difficulty understanding what was said to him.”
Second, Judge Cardone ruled that “the Government engaged in fraud, deceit, and trickery” by representing that it was conducting a routine naturalization interview when “the entire interview was, instead, a pretext for a criminal investigation.”
She summed up by saying that “the Government’s tactics in this case are so grossly shocking and so outrageous as to violate the universal sense of justice.”
The only saving grace for the government is that, with the immigration fraud charges gone, its choices regarding Posada are a little bit simpler today than they were yesterday.