My last United States v. Harrison Jack case post. Well, probably. (See all posts at U.S. v. Harrison Jack).
Although you'll need to subscribe online, Trial and Error, tnr.com, or shell out $4.95 for the March 3 issue (on your newstands now) to get the full article, here is an excerpt from T.A. Frank's piece, "Trial and Error: A Strange Terrorism Case Gets Even Stranger" in The New Republic:
There was no evidence that Vang Pao had agreed to any plan, much less devised one. And, in the bigger picture, it was beside the point. The main charge—attempting to overthrow the Laotian government in violation of the Neutrality Act—was a bizarre appellation for an effort to save some kinsmen in the Laotian jungle.
In September 2009, the feds dropped their case against Vang Pao, instead redoubling their efforts against the other defendants. But last October, the judge, Frank Damrell, strongly suggested that the prosecutors had no case. “They sent this guy from Justice, and he got his head handed to him,” recalls Federal Defender Daniel Broderick, who represented Jack. On January 10, the case was dismissed.
The Justice Department’s Sacramento office issued only a blanket statement: “After considering all aspects of the case, we decided that under the totality of circumstances, it is not in the government’s interest to continue this prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. “While some defense attorneys have raised claims of misconduct, I believe the case was investigated and prosecuted properly and professionally.”
The entire saga had lasted nearly four years, and cost tens of millions of dollars. “Why would it take the government so long to figure out that the case had a problem?” asks Mike McKay, a former U.S. attorney. “What one goes through as a target in a federal criminal investigation is sheer agony. I don’t know if there’s anything worse.” Attorney Mark Reichel, who represented one of the defendants, says the case underscores Henry Kissinger’s grim assessment that to be an enemy of the United States might be dangerous, but to be its friend is fatal. Vang Pao’s health deteriorated during the trial. He died on January 6, less than a week before the remaining charges against his co-defendants were finally dropped.