Mohamed Mohamud was arraigned in federal court in Portland, OR, today, to hear his single indictment on one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. It sounds like the federal public defender on his case is well aware of issues raised here and elsewhere this weekend:
Mohamud was sitting hunched forward, conversing quietly with his attorney. Stephen Sady, assistant federal public defender.
“This situation is very unusual,” Sady said. He said that by Friday night, the press had been given a copy of the criminal complaint, which was essentially a press release.
“The arrest was obviously timed for maximum impact and maximum publicity.” Sady said.
He said a quite sophisticated government agency had been “basically grooming” the individual and Sady said there was “potential for entrapment.”
“It’s the first meeting that matters,” he said, complaining that the government’s recording devices had failed in the first meeting.
Sady asked Acosta to make sure that every device that was used in the investigation that could collect and store data be preserved as pristinely as they are today. Not just the recordings, Sady emphasized, but also the recording devices.
As long as there’s a public defender alert enough to recognize the potential for entrapment, and the import of the missing recording and recording device of the first meeting between Mohamud and the FBI, I think we can presume this defendant is in competent legal hands.
Steven T. Wax, the federal public defender for the District of Oregon, said in anticipation of his office handling today’s arraignment, that Stephen Sady, the chief deputy federal public defender, “has been working on the case this weekend.”
Just watched the local news; friends since childhood and former neighbors all seem shocked that Mohamud could be involved in something like this FBI terror plot.
UPDATE: Acosta set Feb, 1, 2011, for the start of the trial. He also set aside 15 days for it, and assigned it to Judge Garr King.
UPDATE 2: Looks like the Portland Police Bureau’s current relationship with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force might become much more formalized, if Mayor Sam Adams gets his way:
Afterwards, Mayor Sam Adams talked to reporters in the city park across the courthouse. He said it was important Mohamud be tried in a civilian court, not a military tribunal.
Asked whether he thought the FBI entrapped Mohamud, Adams did not answer the question directly but said it was important such issues be aired before the court.
Adams also said the arrest was prompting him to review whether the city should rejoin the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The city pulled out several years ago when former Mayor Tom Potter complained the police bureau was not able to adequately supervise the officers assigned to it.
Among other things, Adams said he wanted to understand what the city might have learned about the plot earlier if the city was part of the task force. He was not informed of it until hours after Mohamud was arrested. The police bureau was brought into the investigation earlier, however.