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UNITED STATES v. WILSON

May 15, 1984

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, against EDWIN P. WILSON, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD

OPINION*

EDWARD WEINFELD, D.J.

 Edwin P. Wilson is under indictment on eighteen counts arising from Wilson's alleged plots to assassinate witnesses, potential witnesses, Assistant United States Attorneys, and other involved in prosecutions pending or concluded in United States District Courts located in Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., as well as in the prosecution pending in this Court. *fn1" Before the Court is a motion by the United States for a ruling, in advance of trial, that various matter the defendant intends to disclose upon the trial is inadmissible as not relevant evidence.

 The Court's disposition of this motion is required by the Classified Information Procedures Act ("CIPA" or "Act"). *fn2" Pursuant to the Act, *fn3" defendant has made a submission briefly describing classified information he intends to disclose upon the trial. By petition of the Attorney General, the United States moved for, and this Court held, an in camera hearing for the purpose of making "all determinations concerning the use, relevance, or admissibility of classified information that would otherwise be made during the trial. . . ." *fn4" Based on this hearing, consideration of the papers submitted by the parties, and counsel's arguments in support of their respective positions, the Court makes the determination indicated hereafter and the basis therefor.

 I.

 Under CIPA, in making its rulings on admissibility, the Court is to disregard the fact that certain material may be classified. The Act "does not alter the existing standards for determining relevance or admissibility." *fn5" Both documentary *fn6" and testimonial *fn7" evidence containing classified matter may be admitted if in conformity with the Federal Rules of Evidence. If specific classified information is admissible, the Court may consider an alternative -- the substitution for such classified information of a statement admitting the relevant facts that the specific classified information would prove, or a summary of the specific classified information, consistent with preserving the accused's right to make a full defense; if no alternative suffices, the Court may dismiss the indictment or take other measures. *fn8" If information the defendant intends to disclose at trial is found inadmissible, however, that is the end of the matter as far as CIPA is concerned. The defendant is inno worse position than if a proffer of evidence were rejected upon the trial.

 II.

 Defendant's CIPA submission, insofar as it may be described without disclosing specific classified information, encompasses twenty-seven items. *fn9" Ten of the items describe specific projects Wilson allegedly worked on while employed or associated with the United States intelligence community. *fn10" One concern Wilson's general activities in the period 1961-70 while employed at the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA") and before his employment with Naval Intelligence during the period 1971-76. *fn11" Fourteen items relate to the activities of Rafael Quintero, a witness in other prosecutions against Wilson and an alleged target in the plot for which Wilson is now on trial. *fn12" A few of these last items involve Wilson's relationship to Quintero. *fn13" At least two also involve one [* John Doe *], and Wilson's and Quintero's alleged connection to him. *fn14" One relates to Barbara Wilson, the defendant's former wife, who, like Quintero, is alleged to have been a target of Wilson's assassination efforts. *fn15" One item concerns Jerome Brower, a witness for the government in Wilson's trial in Texas and another alleged target of Wilson's alleged plot. *fn16" According to the government, most of the information described in defendant's submission is classified; most of the classified material is designated secret; some is classified top secret; some information is not classified. The status of other matters, according to the government, cannot be resolved without further information. As noted above, however, the admissibility of the matters described in the CIPA submission in no way depends on their classification status.

 Defendant offers a number of theories by which the submitted information is admissible upon the trial.

 III.

 The underlying premise of defendant's CIPA submission is that the information contained therein is relevant to showing that Wilson "lacked the intent to solicit the assassination of witnesses and prosecutors connected with his pending cases, that he lacked any motive to do so, and that he, in fact, had a strong motive to make sure many of his alleged victims remained alive."

 The thrust of Wilson's principal argument is that he believed that prosecutorial efforts mounted against him for his acts abroad were not serious; that the government would reward him for his patriotic work in American intelligence; and that in any event the acts for which he was prosecuted in other courts were authorized by the United States and thus lawful; hence, notwithstanding any conviction in a federal trial court, he would be exonerated upon appeal. Of strong belief that he would soon be a free man, Wilson contends he had no motive to plot the killing of witnesses and officials. In short, Wilson claims that the details of his work for American intelligence, including "the history and nature of the relationship between Edwin Wilson and Rafael Quintero," his "foxhole buddy" of many years, would tend to negate that he had the required intent to commit the crimes charged or a motive to do so.

 Relevant evidence is that which tends "to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." *fn17" However, evidence cannot be considered, for purposes of relevance, in the abstract. *fn18" In assessing the relevance of Wilson's intelligence activities to the charges here -- that he plotted to assassinate witnesses and prosecutors in trials in other districts and in this district -- the following additional facts are also to be considered.

 First, the prosecutorial efforts against Wilson were, over an extended period, extremely vigorous. Wilson was wanted for arrest by federal officials as early as 1980, *fn19" when he was indicted in the District of Columbia while a fugitive in Libya. *fn20" Indeed, Wilson claimed in this very Court that "he was forcibly brought back to the United States against his consent, without proper ...


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