January 26, 2005

PROBLEMS AT THE FBI are a long-running InstaPundit topic of interest, but this is still a big deal:

A federal jury today awarded nearly $6.6 million in damages to former Chicago police Officer Steven Manning, finding two veteran FBI agents framed him for a Cook County murder that put him on Death Row.

The jury also held that one of the FBI agents also framed Manning in a Missouri kidnapping case. Manning spent 14 years in prison before both convictions were overturned and the prosecutions were dropped.

The damages could go even higher. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who presided over the six-week trial, is yet to rule on whether the United States shares responsibility with the two agents for malicious prosecutions.

"It's a long, long way from Death Row to complete vindication,'' Manning said after the verdict.

Then there's this bit:

Both Miller and Buchan remain with the bureau, according to FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates.

In closing arguments Jan. 11, a federal prosecutor lauded both Buchan and Miller as dedicated, law-abiding FBI agents.

In a fateful decision, the FBI used a notorious informant named Tommy Dye to try to elicit evidence about the Pellegrino murder while Dye and Manning were incarcerated in Cook County Jail.

Dye asserted he had captured a confession by Manning on a hidden recorder, but when nothing was audible, he claimed that the confession came during a two-second inaudible portion of the recording.

Sounds like he should work for CBS. But this is no joking matter, and (1) it's appalling that someone would introduce such dubious evidence; and (2) this sort of thing needs to be punished so that it doesn't happen again. No doubt the agents would claim that the defendant is really guilty, and that the evidence is "fake but accurate," but that doesn't wash.

The question is whether this represents a systemic problem at the FBI, and I fear that it does. Can Porter Goss go there next?

If he does, he should listen to Dave Kopel and Paul Blackman on what ought to be done.