Trial Day 9: BBC Transcripts and Illegal Arms Trafficking
Trial began Monday morning with a discussion of the evidence and witnesses that will be presented this week.
The prosecution is expected to call USCIS Senior Immigration Services Officer Peggy Lin later this week to testify as to her knowledge of Thomas Woewiyu’s citizenship application. The defense objected to portions of her expected testimony, arguing that it goes to the ultimate issue of truth before the jury. The prosecution responded that the evidence instead goes to the materiality of the question of what Woewiyu allegedly sought to conceal from the United States government, and why.
The defense proposed that stipulated facts be presented to the jury, in which the parties agree that Lin reviewed everything in Woewiyu’s application and made a decision issued on August 12, 2010 that Woewiyu was not morally fit for citizenship. The prosecution argued that such a stipulations would remove the probative evidence in Lin’s expected testimony, which would otherwise help the jury understand why the evidence regarding Woewiyu’s actions in Liberia was important to Lin’s decision. The prosecution then proposed an instruction be given to the jury that a USCIS immigration decision does not have direct bearing on the criminality at issue in this case. Judge Anita B. Brody asked the parties to continue to discuss the question between themselves.
The defense informed Judge Brody that it agreed to the authenticity and admissibility of documents that Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Special Agent Jennifer Lohmeier will read into the record.
The prosecution informed Judge Brody that it intended to move to preclude a witness the defense expects to call as an expert on the United States citizenship application process.
Witness 7: Jennifer Lohmeier
FBI Special Agent Jennifer Lohmeier returned to the stand a second time on Monday morning, in order to read documents into the Court record. The parties agreed as to the documents’ authenticity and admissibility. The documents included transcripts, letters, an affidavit, and newspaper articles. The majority of the documents included internal identification of Woewiyu as an interview subject or as the document’s author. The documents were dated by the prosecution and read into the record as follows:
- July 5, 1990; BBC Transcript:
The BBC reported that ECOWAS was conferring in Sierra Leone, and that the NPFL was anxious to communicate that it would not accept President Samuel Doe’s resignation unless Charles Taylor was allowed to lead the interim government. The BBC interviewed Woewiyu, who stated that Taylor was in charge of more than 15,000 fighting people in Liberia, and who said it was “unrealistic and conniving” for diplomatic forces to say that Taylor need not lead. Woewiyu asserted that if Taylor were not in control of the interim government, Liberia would plunge into further chaos, and he blamed the United States for pursuing its “own agenda, maybe they have somebody in mind to run the country.” Woewiyu blamed Doe for violence against civilians in Liberia.
Woewiyu said it was “not bad tactics” for the NPFL to confront America and all of West Africa, and continued that ECOWAS proposed and was behind the idea that the interim government be formed without Taylor. Woewiyu said he hoped ECOWAS would give up that “predetermined position,” and stated that the NPFL refused to hold its fire during upcoming peace talks.
After the interview, the BBC identified Woewiyu as an “NPFL spokesman,” and reported that the NPFL did not attend the scheduled peace talks.
- July 5, 1990; a second BBC transcript from the same day:
The BBC reported that Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers were looting shops and businesses, and that senior advisors to Doe had fled Liberia, although the President himself had not. The BBC reported that journalists “trapped” in Monrovia reported a lack of food and water, and that only one Telex a day could be sent from the city. The BBC identified Woewiyu as someone who “acts as a spokesman for [Taylor] in Washington” and indicated that Woewiyu had spoken with rebel commanders in the field a few hours before his BBC interview.
In his interview, Woewiyu said Doe’s army was disorganized and that “we hope to get ahold of Doe himself so he can stand trial.” Woewiyu stated that “the deal we are making with him is we will spare his life.” He told the BBC that by the time the NPFL came to power in Monrovia, “from the description we are getting, [Monrovia] is going to be in very, very bad shape.” He told the BBC that “there is no way to get out of the city” and said that “if they know what we know,” those fighting in the city should put down their arms and “join hands.” Woewiyu acknowledged the United States’s involvement in attempting to speak to Doe. The BBC reporter asked whether Doe could “get away if he wanted to,” and Woewiyu answered, “No.” Woewiyu said that Doe might be in an embassy from which he could escape Liberia “without our interference.”
- August 27, 1990; BBC transcript:
The BBC reported that ECOWAS was encountering resistance in areas around Monrovia, and that there was a peace conference in Banjul to discuss the first interim government in Liberia. According to the BBC, the idea of the conference was “to find someone whom all parties can agree should lead the interim government.” The BBC reported on differences between Prince Johnson’s troops and ECOWAS, and reporting that Taylor’s forces opposed the ECOWAS presence. The BBC reported that Prince Johnson and Doe had indicated to ECOWAS their willingness to sign a ceasefire, and that the NPFL had decided it wanted nothing to do with the ceasefire; the NPFL was “marginalized in the peace process.” The BBC reported that ECOWAS had arrested a number of Prince Johnson’s men, and he agreed to keep only 20 men around the port area.
The BBC reported that the main opposition to ECOWAS was coming from the NPFL, and then interviewed “Defense spokesman” Woewiyu. Woewiyu stated that ECOWAS was “not a peacekeeping force” and that he “believe[d] they have the support of the United States” and were carrying out offensive attacks. The BBC reported that ECOWAS was sought out by scared and hungry civilians – mostly women and children – who received food from ECOWAS troops.
- September 24, 1990; BBC transcript:
The BBC reported on a ceasefire in Liberia, and said Taylor was “busy laying down plans” for the country, although he “persistently” rejected ECOWAS and its peace talks in Banjul. The BBC said Taylor was talking about holding elections, and then turned to “Defense spokesman” Woewiyu for comment. Woewiyu said that Taylor had declared an interim government, the National Reconstruction Assembly Government (“NPRAG”), and that it had been running for two months. Woewiyu identified himself as a member of NPRAG.
Woewiyu stated that people were “trying to normalize their lives” outside Monrovia, and described the interim government assembly as governing for a period of six months, during which time it would set up general elections. He described roads and food stores as open outside Monrovia, including in Buchanan. “As long as Doe is dead, the people know that was our prime objective,” Woewiyu said. He also accused ECOWAS of carrying out bombing raids and described Grand Jeddah as “very volatile.” He said Doe troops were still in Grand Jeddah, and stated the NPFL had “sealed off” the area so no violence could come out of it.
- November 10, 1992; BBC transcript:
NPFL spokesman Woewiyu called from Liberia about the NPFL’s self-proclaimed ceasefire, saying that “we ordered our forces to stop fighting” but that ECOWAS continuing to bombard. “Of course, if we are being shot at, we will not turn our backs.” When Woewiyu was asked why the NPFL announced its own ceasefire, rather than complying with the ECOWAS ceasefire, Woewiyu said that the terms of that ceasefire were not discussed with the NPFL. Woewiyu said the NPFL gave its own people 12 hours to stop fighting, in order for the terms of the NPFL ceasefire to be put in place. He said that “if ECOMOG observes a ceasefire, we will observe a ceasefire” but “if they do not, we will all know who is prolonging the pain of the Liberian people.”
- October 3, 1990; Letter from Firestone Plantation Company to Charles Taylor, internally identified as being sent care of Woewiyu:
The letter from the Firestone Plantation Company stated that its representatives desired to meet with Taylor, or his designated and authorized representatives, in Abidjan or a neighboring country. The purpose of the meeting would be to facilitate a visit to the Firestone plantation and to assess the state of Firestone’s assets and the plantation itself. The letter stated that Firestone was worried about the safety and security of its representatives, and sought assurances from Taylor. Firestone also wished to discuss future operations. Attached to the letter was a discussion agenda, including the protection of personnel; the protection of property; the recovery of stolen property or its return; tax relief abatement; the resumption of Firestone’s operations; and a functional banking system.
- July 19, 1996; Affidavit of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, submitted in Cigna v. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., et al.:
Woewiyu’s affidavit was internally identified as being filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio. In it, he identified himself as a member of the Union of Liberian Associations in America, 1980-1987; its chairman, 1987-1990; a founder of the NPFL, January 1987; a member of the NPFL, 1987-“the present;” a member of the NPFL’s Executive Council, 1990-1994; the NPFL’s spokesman, 1989-1994; the NPFL’s Chief Negotiator, 1990-1994; the Defense Minister of NPRAG, 1990-1994; a Minister of Liberia’s transitional government, 1994-1995; and the Minister of Labor of the interim government, 1995-“the present.”
In the affidavit, Woewiyu stated that Doe falsified the results of the 1985 presidential election, and that the majority of Liberians believed this unlawful conduct violated the letter and the spirit of the Liberian Constitution, and they therefore did not consider Doe a “constitutional president.” Woewiyu stated that post-1985, Doe engaged in unlawful conduct, including human rights violations.
Woewiyu stated that the NPFL was formed in Ivory Coast in January 1987 at a meeting attended by Woewiyu, Taylor, and three others. He said that the specific intent and objective of the NPFL was to protect the rights, freedoms, and democratic system of Liberia by trying to pressure Doe into resigning. Woewiyu said that it was agreed that after Doe’s resignation, an interim government would be set up, and that was the “specific intent of the NPFL” until the present. “Beginning with an incursion into Nimba County by 12 members, the NPFL attempted to apply additional pressure” to provoke Doe’s resignation.
Woewiyu stated that the NPFL initially had fewer than 200 members, but when it grew due to the popularity of its democratic goals, the civilians who joined “also pursued their own personal objectives” resulting in looting, revenge, and factional “turf battles.” Woewiyu said these were not the objectives of the NPFL itself, which had a standing policy against “looting, theft, or vandalism;” “whenever possible to do so, the NPFL punished those responsible for their unlawful conduct.” He stated that the NPFL never intended to overthrow Liberia’s government or alter its democratic system forcibly or otherwise, or to influence how the powers of the branches of the Liberian government were exercised. He stated that the NPFL never intended to seize control of the Liberian presidency forcibly or otherwise, or to install Taylor as president. Woewiyu said that any conflicting statements made or reported did not reflect the objectives of the NPFL, and to the extent that such statements were made, they were either misstatements, unauthorized, or made with personal objectives in mind.
Woewiyu discussed the INPFL and said that at all times it shared the same objectives as the NPFL. He stated that in June 1990, Prince Johnson set up the INPFL because he incorrectly believed that Taylor wanted to install himself as president. Woewiyu then reiterated that the two factions had the same goals, and said that at no time did the INPFL intend to overthrow the Liberian government or exercise the powers of the government. He said that NPRAG was an “interim caretaker administration” formed in November 1990, and that its goal was to discuss with IGNU – the interim government in Monrovia – the setting up of a democratic government together to hold free and fair elections. He identified the fighting that occurred through September 1990 as a result of Doe and a small number of Krahns in the AFL. He stated that the “events in Liberia constituted a popular uprising.”
- August 30, 2005; Open letter from Woewiyu to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:
In the body of his letter, Woewiyu stated that he wrote it in response to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf “mustering the courage” to apologize to the Liberian people for a “callous statement” she made in 1990. He indicated that she apologized for saying to “level the Mansion, we will rebuild it,” but stated that in reality, she said to “level Monrovia, we will rebuild it.” He wrote that Sirleaf now regretted “making a stupid comment,” and asked why Sirleaf would replace a stupid comment with a false one. Woewiyu wrote that he would also refresh her memory about other “deadly statements” she made, and clarify her role in the founding of the NPFL and the prosecution of its wars. He wrote that her position in the NPFL was a high one, “especially the Taylor version” of the NPFL, and said that Sirleaf was in fact in charge of the NPFL and gave the order to level Monrovia. “Her order was carried out.”
Woewiyu also indicated that Sirleaf was the second most powerful person in the United Nations Development Program at that time, and yet blocked the promotion of other Liberians.
Woewiyu wrote that Sirleaf was involved in the failed Quiwonkpa coup, and that after Woewiyu’s own subsequent visit to Ivory Coast, three members of the NPFL – including Taylor – began to look for support for training and arms of their rebels. Woewiyu wrote that Taylor said he found such support in Burkina Faso, and Woewiyu himself went there to ascertain it, with Sirleaf’s knowledge and support. His letter then implicated her in the training the NPFL forces received in Tripoli. Woewiyu stated that he met with Sirleaf and Taylor in Paris in order to plan how to get their rebels into Liberia; they discussed whether it was best to launch an attack using Sierra Leone as a staging ground.
Woewiyu accused Sirleaf of going to NPFL headquarters in Nimba County and telling the NPFL commanders there that she and Woewiyu agreed that support would be given to the Liberian Action Party when Doe was deposed. Woewiyu wrote that he was subsequently confronted with a court martial for “selling out the revolution” on his own arrival at NPFL headquarters, and that only God and “my friendship with Taylor” saved his life. He closed his letter with accusations of financial support by Sirleaf for the NPFL, including $25,000 “given by her consortium” when the war started.
- “The Woewiyu Testimony To The Liberian TRC That Was Never Given” article, published in African Panorama:
In a piece believed to be authored by Woewiyu, in lieu of his giving testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”), Woewiyu wrote that his heart went out to Guinean immigrants in Grand Bassa County who were put into a “concentration camp.” He said that at Woewiyu’s urging, Taylor saw that the camp was “broken up.”
Woewiyu wrote that he apologized to any ethnic Krahns of Grand Jeddah Country who may have suffered as a result of his misquoted statement that “the only good Krahn man is a dead Krahn man.” Woewiyu claimed that he was quoting Taylor, and that the broadcast misrepresented that “his” statement was originally made by Woewiyu. Woewiyu wrote that Taylor bankrolled ULIMO-J in its struggle against ULIMO-K, and stated that Krahns heard Taylor make the statement that “the only good Krahn man is a dead Krahn man” directly.
Woewiyu stated that he “condemns in strongest terms” those who used the Liberian “uprising” to profit, including those who took over diamond mines. He wrote that one such group worked as an extension of Guinea, with whom the group had “natural ethnic affinities.” He blamed the assassination of President Doe on ECOMOG.
- August 1992; “Turning the Tables” article:
Woewiyu is identified in the article as the Minister of Labor of the Liberian National Transitional Government (“LNTG”), and the Defense spokesman of the NPFL. It stated he was sworn into the LNTG along with Samuel Dokie and others. The article reported that Taylor had not intended the NPFL-associated delegates to the LNTG to take their seats, and so their being sworn in was perceived as a departure from the NPFL of its intellectual and ideological backbone, of which Woewiyu was a part.
The article quoted Woewiyu, who said reports of his departure were false statements; he called the NPFL a “very very good organization” but said its leadership under Taylor was bad. He said the NPFL was founded by Thomas Quiwonkpa and “it could have been led by myself, Tom Woewiyu,” but that Taylor rose to its leadership by a series of coincidences. Woewiyu stated that Taylor insisted on being present in the NPFL “by force,” and that those NPFL members who joined the LNTG did so in part to counter Taylor’s advancement, and to find a way to end the war. Woewiyu said that “over the years,” those who led the NPFL watched Taylor turn it into a quest for revenge. He stated that those children who fought in the NPFL and died were not of Taylor’s tribe, and thus belonged “to a group of people he has no regard for.” Woewiyu stated that fighters in the LPC and ULIMO factions were mostly NPFL fighters “who had to run for their lives,” and that the majority of fighters in the LPC specifically were people who had their ears cut off by J. T. Richardson and Koko Dennis.
Woewiyu said the NPFL itself was not the problem, but recognized that it had a problem in Taylor. He said that others involved, besides Taylor, did not believe that questions of sovereignty should stop the peace process, and said that the NPFL would avoid violence. Woewiyu stated that Krahns’ and Mandingos’ names were improperly used to fight the war, and called on NPFL fighters to “stop fighting anybody,” as Taylor was the real enemy of the NPFL. Woewiyu called Taylor an “enemy to society who has wasted blood on the noble goals of the NPFL.”
Woewiyu said there was a big celebration when Jackson Doe was received by the NPFL in Harbel, and that he was received as a hero, but that when Jackson Doe and others were taken to Buchanan and given housing, they disappeared. Woewiyu called this a “calculated decision” on Taylor’s part. Woewiyu emphasized that the actions of Taylor, Grace Minor, and Koko Dennis were not the actions of the NPFL, and stated that Taylor’s struggle was “not political,” but rather to bring himself to power.
Woewiyu reiterated that the goals of the INPFL were the same as the NPFL. He said those involved in the fight were prepared to put weapons down and work via politics. He thanked Nigeria for its perseverance and its dedication to Africanism.
- October 23, 1992; “Horrors of War” article:
The “Horrors of War” article was read into the record as a first-person account of the experience in the war of the journalist Robert Morris, who worked for the Doe government and subsequently for the Liberia Broadcasting System (“LBS”). Morris discussed the entrance of the NPFL into Caldwell and Duwalla, near Monrovia, on October 23, 1992. He wrote that he heard obscenities directed against ECOMOG, Krahns, and Mandingos.
Morris reported that the NPFL called residents out of their houses to be interrogated and taken to “Taylorland.” He wrote that the NPFL asked the residents of the neighborhoods if they were working for the interim government or the AFL, or if they were Krahns or Mandingos. He recalled that the NPFL soldiers beat and killed people because of their tribes and their association with the interim government; he specifically recalled that they killed a Mandingo man because of his Mandingo accent. Morris wrote that as the civilians were forced from their homes by the NPFL and made to go toward the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia, women were stripped naked to see if they were hiding valuables in their vaginas. Women and girls, including young girls aged 12-15 years old, were raped.
Morris wrote that he had to hide his identity, and was interrogated for two hours before he was released, but was then grabbed again and asked why he was still in Monrovia when Taylor had ordered all its citizens to leave for NPFL territory. He pretended that he had recently had an operation, and was receiving treatment; the NPFL fighter who interrogated him was angry, and insisted there were good hospitals inside NPFL territory.
Morris wrote that NPFL rebels showed him and other civilians the dead bodies of ECOMOG soldiers. He recalled that he could not cry, because he was afraid of being shot on the spot. The NPFL fighters ordered Morris and other civilians to leave Monrovia, because the NPFL was sending 20,000 men to take the Executive Mansion. A friendly NPFL fighter warned Morris’s neighbor that the NPFL had decided to kill everyone from Duwalla, because people from Duwalla were suspected of alerting ECOMOG when NPFL fighters entered the city. This neighbor warned Morris and others, and they all lied about their home neighborhoods. Subsequently, NPFL fighters mounted a checkpoint at Fendell to search for those from Duwalla. Morris wrote that some people were detained, and he did not know what happened to them.
Morris wrote that he arrived at a checkpoint near 15 Gate near Harbel, and was identified by an NPFL fighter there as a member of Doe’s government and of the interim government’s LBS. Morris walked forward to be interrogated, but shooting began and he escaped. He wrote that 5,000 people were lined up at 15 Gate, being interrogated as they waited to enter NPFL territory. He said many rebels asked questions at once; there was not a lead interrogator.
Morris wrote that he arrived near Kingsville at the Firestone Plantation, along with thousands of other displaced people, and stayed there five months. He wrote that there was rampant murder, rape, a lack of food, and diseases spreading within the NPFL territory. He specifically said that people were killed and their bodies thrown in bushes for allegedly being ULIMO spies. Morris reported that sick people and children died daily. He wrote that NPFL fighters killed innocents and drank their blood; this included one fighter who entered the African Methodist Episcopal church where Morris was living, and asked for prayers because he killed a man and drank his blood. Morris wrote that civilians could not say anything positive about ECOMOG, because NPFL fighters were “brainwashed by Taylor,” and he specifically recalled a man who was severely beaten for spreading news of ECOMOG’s coming.
Morris wrote that ECOMOG began a bombardment of the Firestone area on February 23, 1993; “everyone panicked and began running everywhere,” including the fighters. Hundreds of rebels began to retreat but were confused, and Morris wrote that they did not know where to go because they were surrounded by opposition forces on all sides. He stated that the rebels decided to take guns from the small children, as the children could not effectively fight ECOMOG. Morris wrote that the rebels fled following the continued bombardment by ECOMOG, who then took over and directed civilians to go to a safe area.
Morris wrote that he personally sang and praised ECOMOG when he entered Monrovia with other displaced people. They were greeted by Monrovians dancing for joy to see them return from the NPFL’s territory. He recalled that he was very ill, and was taken by ECOMOG for treatment. He wrote that when he returned to his home in Duwalla, he learned that his five-month-old child had died during the height of the Operation Octopus attack on Monrovia.
On cross-examination, the defense asked Lohmeier about the article “Woewiyu Testimony to the Liberian TRC That Was Never Given,” as reported in African Panorama. Lohmeier stated that to her understanding, African Panorama is a periodical focused on Africa. To her knowledge, the document does not indicate when it was published, and Lohmeier was not aware of its date of publication. Lohmeier was aware that ultimately the TRC published a Final Report.
Lohmeier agreed that she was assigned to the investigation of Woewiyu until she was transferred to other duties last April. She became familiar with the TRC’s Final Report at that time. She agreed it was long, “over 300 pages.” She was not sure if the Final Report included a description of the TRC’s methodologies, or how long the Commission investigated. She stated that she had spoken to some of the TRC’s Commissioners as part of the investigation of Woewiyu.
Witness 29: Gary Lang
The prosecution’s next witness was Gary Lang, who began his testimony by informing the jury that he has severe tinnitus and 60% hearing loss as a result of exposure to an explosion, which would cause him to adjust his hearing device periodically.
Lang testified that he is currently an independent monitor and compliance official, overseeing defense contractors who willfully violated trafficking laws. He stated that he is appointed by the government to make sure contractors have strong compliance programs in place, and that he is responsible for overseeing ethics programs as well, to make sure companies are not dealing with countries under U.S. or international embargoes.
Lang testified that he began his government service as an investigator for the Food and Drug Administration, and served in that capacity for approximately seven years. Subsequently, he worked as a Special Agent for the Department of Defense, and then as a Special Agent for the U.S. Customs Service based in Miami, Florida. In that position, he assisted in a number of investigations, including marine and aircraft smuggling. He testified that some of his investigations were carried out under the Arms Export Control Act and International Trafficking Arms Regulation (“ITAR”), in an undercover capacity.
The witness described his undercover work for the jury, explaining that he investigated violations of arms and munitions smuggling. He testified that he worked on a number of cases involving a fake storefront and warehouse that federal agents had set up, where he worked undercover fulltime. He explained that the cover for this pretend arms business was as a storefront that dealt in aircraft parts.
Lang told the jury that federal undercover investigations allow agents to record conversations with suspects. He explained that the Arms Export Control Act is a federal act that relates to ITAR, and that these regulations give licensing instructions and outline legal processes for the export and import of arms.
Lang testified that his undercover identity was as Garrison “Gary” Luhr. Others working undercover at the fake storefront included a young female agent, who played the receptionist; those working in warehouse; and Lang’s purported “business partner,” who was familiar with aircraft parts. Lang told the jury that this was a Customs Service agent undercover as “Bill” or “Billy,” whose real name is William Parks.
Lang recalled two long-term undercover investigations ongoing at the time, during which he met Eugene Cox. He said that both long-term investigations involved the illegal export of arms. In one, he pretended to have stolen arms from the military to sell onward; the other involved arms to be smuggled outside of the country, so as to evade a license requirement.
Lang testified that he worked in this undercover capacity for at least five years. He confirmed that this was known as “deep cover.” Lang stated that his supervisor was referred to as the “Case Agent,” and was named Michael Verre.
The witness recalled meeting with Eugene Cox at the undercover storefront, located next to the Miami airport, on January 29, 1992. He testified that the meeting was set up by a confidential informant, who had information that Cox had friends who wanted “sensitive equipment,” and that they had just “overthrown a country.” Lang explained that a “confidential informant” is “a source of information in cases about individuals or groups looking to violate certain federal laws.” Lang stated that the confidential informant was present for Lang’s first meeting with Cox, and that William Parks was also present.
Lang testified that he introduced himself to Cox and asked how he could assist him. He said that he explained their business to Cox as an “aircraft parts business” that bought, traded, and sold “military surplus.” Lang testified that Cox opened his briefcase and took out and unrolled a picture of two individuals, pointed at them, and said, “This is Charles Taylor, acting president of NPRAG, and the second individual is Tom Woewiyu, the Minister of Defense.” Lang told the jury that Cox inquired about purchasing surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), M-16s, AK-47s, and related ammunition.
Lang told the jury that undercover operations approved out of Washington, D.C., are required to be wired for audio and video in order to collect evidence. He said that his investigations used pinhole cameras to record what was taking place at the storefront. He indicated that he occasionally wore a “body wire” in his investigation involving Cox and Woewiyu. Lang stated that his first and second meetings with Cox were recorded via audio and video, that he wore a wire at the third meeting because of its location, that he similarly wore a wire at the fourth meeting, and that the fifth meeting was recorded via audio and video.
Lang indicated that he had an opportunity to review the video and audio recordings made, and that they fairly and accurately captured what had occurred. He explained that at the end of an undercover operation, Case Agent Michael Verre would initial a tape and turn it into the evidence custodian, who would log it with a date and time. Lang would also identify himself by his agent number on the end of a particular tape.
Lang then identified the video of his first meeting with Cox, and portions were played for the jury, interspersed with testimony by Lang. The recording had both audio and visual. It showed Cox, the undercover informant, and three agents, including Lang and Case Agent Verre. The five men sat in a small office room, with Cox leaning forward on a couch to speak to Lang and Verre, who sat opposite him. The informant stated that Cox had friends who had overthrown a government and who needed arms. On the tape, Cox identified these “friends” in a photograph: Charles Taylor and Tom Woewiyu.
The tape was then paused, and Lang testified to the jury that he subsequently met Woewiyu on three separate occasions.
The tape was resumed, and Cox identified the two men in the photograph as from the “National Patriotic Reconstruction Front of Liberia,” and said that “Tom is the Minister of Defense.” On the tape, Cox explained to the undercover agents that Taylor would be holding elections eventually, and said that Taylor would be elected, but that he needed to “shore up his position.” The men on the videotape laughed. Cox then said “they had a lot of raw materials.” On the tape, Lang stated that he sold aircraft parts and did “a lot of exporting.” He told Cox they would take everything “one step at a time.” Cox then stated he was looking for ammunition, AK-47s, “and etcetera etcetera etcetera.”
The video was paused and Lang explained parts of their conversation to the jury. He testified that when he had told Cox that he did not “sell out the front door,” he was talking about SAMs and M-16s. He explained to the jury that if one is not the government or manufacturer, one does not have the authority to possess or sell such weapons. He testified that he told Cox that he had access to the missiles because “they did not make it over to the Gulf War” and he obtained access to them after they had been stolen.
The video was resumed, and the undercover agents asked Cox about the “presiding faction” in Liberia. Cox replied that ECOWAS was fighting the rebels, and called ECOWAS a “U.S. backtrack force.” When asked the size of the rebel force, Cox said it was “50,000 men.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that it was important to find out the size of Taylor’s forces at the beginning, as Cox had asked for ammunition. Lang recalled that besides ammunition, Cox was looking for SAMs, M-16s, M-79 grenade launchers, and M-60 machine guns. He recalled mentioning to Cox that a “Redeye” was disposable and that a Stinger had a tracking device and could fire a large projectile. He explained to the jury that a Stinger is designed to track aircraft in range and lock onto it as a target. He said they are “ambulatory,” or “shoulder-fired weapons.”
The video was resumed, and Cox asked about the availability of munitions and rounds for AK-47s. He stated that the forces needed half a million rounds. The informant said that was not enough for 50,000 fighters.
The video was paused, and Lang confirmed that by “rounds,” Cox meant “ammunition.” He stated that Cox was interested in AK-47s because those were the guns soldiers on the ground were carrying.
The video was resumed, and the informant stated that the “Minister of Defense will know what he wants,” so that when Cox came back to the storefront for another meeting, he could tell the agents what was wanted. Cox said he did not know how many rounds per gun they wanted, but that overall it “sounds like a pretty good deal.”
The video was paused, and Lang explained that M-16s are also known as A-1s or A-2s, and might be referred to as such on the videotape.
The video was resumed, and the men discussed prices. Cox said he does the “dirty work,” and that “what they can’t find, I go and find for them.”
The video was paused and Lang testified as to the prices of the arms. Lang recalled that the Stinger missiles would be sold for $105,000 each, and that Lang told Cox he had Stinger missiles at several different locations.
Lang recalled that he subsequently received a phone call from Cox, and there was “an issue because of an embargo.” Therefore, the deal would be delayed. Lang recalled that Cox described the peacekeepers as behind the embargo, and that Cox referred to them as ECOWAS. Lang stated that he did not hear from Cox for almost a year after that.
Lang testified that his second meeting with Cox was on April 29, 1993. He said the meeting was set up via the informant, and that Cox came into the meeting to discuss next steps, again saying things had to be put on hold due to the embargo. He testified that this second meeting was again in the storefront office.
Lang recalled that Cox said they were “getting bombed by peacekeeping forces, but couldn’t do anything, because they didn’t have any Stinger missiles or SAMs to shoot them down.” The witness testified that this meeting was also secretly recorded. He told the jury that in the meeting, he went to show Cox the arms for sale in the warehouse connected to the office. Cox asked for photographs of the weapons so that he could take them back and show them to “his boss.” Lang testified that, based on his interactions with Cox, Cox’s “boss” was Woewiyu, the Minister of Defense.
After the display of weapons, Lang said, the men returned to the office and he discussed prices with Cox. He recalled that Cox asked if he had paper, and Lang wrote down prices, using “ST” for Stinger and “Red” for Redeyes, because they did not want explicit information about the arms trafficking to get into anybody’s hands. He testified that in addition to the name of the weapon, he also wrote the prices. For example, he wrote “ST for 105k” as shorthand for one Stinger for $105,000 and “Red for 50k” as shorthand for one Red for $50,000. Lang stated that on the paper, he also indicated the quantity he was making available, so “10 Red” was shorthand for “10 Redeyes.”
According to Lang, Cox brought polaroids of the weapons from the warehouse back to the office, so while Lang was writing his notes on the sale, Cox and the informant said they would write on the back of each polaroid what Lang had said about prices and quantity. Lang testified that in this discussion, he learned it would not be a cash deal. He told the jury that Cox said he wanted to set up a company with Lang, and give Lang 25% of certain resources or minerals available in Liberia.
Lang testified that the men also discussed the issue of transportation, and how they would get the weapons out of the U.S. to their ultimate destination of Liberia. He said that at a subsequent meeting, he learned the destination would be Ivory Coast. Lang told the jury that he was given the new destination by Woewiyu, because Ivory Coast was not under an arms embargo. The witness said that he learned from Cox and Woewiyu that once the weapons landed in Ivory Coast, they would be shipped into Liberia. He stated that at this second meeting, however, they were merely focused on getting the arms out of the United States.
Lang identified the video of the second meeting, and identified the participants for the jury. The video was then shown to the jury, and was played in increments and then paused, so Lang could explain what was happening onscreen. The portions of the second meeting that were secretly filmed in the storefront office had both audio and visual.
When the video began in the storefront office, Cox said that “in the country at the moment,” there was a situation where they “still had control of 75-80% of the country, but some things have changed. There’s an embargo there and they’re using ECOWAS to do it.” He indicated that Liberia had gold, diamonds, fishing, and ore reserves.
The video was paused, and Lang testified that based on his discussions with Cox, it was Taylor who had 75-80% of country, and his forces were getting bombed by ECOWAS, the peacekeeping force. He said that when the video discussed not having Stingers or SAMs “to bring them down,” it was ECOWAS who would be brought down by the missiles.
The video was resumed, and Cox said, “You can check in [to Liberia] but you can’t check out.” He said there were “unnecessary difficulties,” and the fighters “need arms to stop those bombers.” He said they “need to get products to do it” and that suppliers “need vision to understand what they can have.” On the videotape, Lang said that he had a certain package to offer, and that he would sit down and listen to Cox’s proposal. Cox stated he needed AK-47s, M-16s, and rounds to go with both of them, “because you know we can’t buy them.” Cox stated he wanted to buy SAMs, and Lang replied that he had Stingers and Redeyes. “You said you needed stuff to take out an aircraft. Those are perfect for your infantry.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that Cox described needing something to combat low-range aircraft. Lang testified that when Cox said, “He said he’d take stingers,” the “he” Cox referenced was Defense Minister Woewiyu. Lang told the jury that Cox was worried about being identified by law enforcement, and would often look at the ceiling, because he was nervous about people listening to their conversations.
The video was resumed, and Cox said “I don’t like to talk on the phone,” and suggested getting a third party to communicate for them. On the video, Lang said he “just got back” and “there’s a great market over in Yugoslavia.” Lang reminded Cox that the last time they spoke, Cox wanted “a lot of infantry stuff,” but Lang was concerned about how to “get this stuff out of here.” Cox told Lang, “I don’t know where he’ll have it, he said you don’t need to know where I’m going to take it.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that the “he” Cox discussed was Woewiyu, the Minister of Defense. He reiterated that at a subsequent meeting, Woewiyu told Lang that the arms would go to Ivory Coast.
The video was resumed, and Cox told Lang, “This guy is in-country now.” Cox explained that Lang could “cut a deal right now. He says he’s here, in-country.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that then, as seen on the video, Cox unrolled a photograph and pointed to the picture of Woewiyu as being “in-country.” He said Cox then rolled up the picture and put it in his briefcase. Lang testified that throughout their conversation, when Cox said “he,” he continually pointed to the photograph in his briefcase and was referring to Woewiyu.
The video was resumed, and Cox stated that there was 7-8 million dollars right in the port of Buchanan. The informant then suggested taking photographs of the arms available to show to “his boss.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that he was made aware during a subsequent meeting that Woewiyu had in fact seen the photographs that were taken at the second meeting. He said Woewiyu referred to Lang’s shorthand and specific quantities of Stinger missiles for sale, which Woewiyu would only have known if he had seen the back of the photographs on which that information was written.
The video was resumed, and Cox said that they had “walked into a situation where people died. People in Sarajevo and Bosnia are killing each other for this.” Lang responded that “we’re going to be businessmen here.” Cox said that he did not “want to get into it with someone who doesn’t have the imagination to see possibilities.” He then stated, “When you’re talking to me now, you’re talking to this guy here” and pointed at the photograph in his briefcase.
“These guys are revolutionaries,” Cox said on the video, explaining to Lang that it would be difficult for “them” to draw up a contract that said “XX dollars owed” and charge it to the government. Cox then told Lang they could “get there by recognizing the assets and liabilities of the country,” because the rebels did not have that expertise, and instead “come to guys like us to do it for them.” The informant asked if it would be acceptable to Lang to receive a note from the government as to what was owed. Cox then asked, “How about a conversation with this man?”
The tape was paused and Lang testified that when Cox said “this man,” he pointed to the picture in his briefcase of Woewiyu.
The video was resumed, and Cox asked, “These are things you can’t write down; how about a conversation in the next few days?” The men made plans for a meeting, and Cox asked, “Can you guys come up to New York?”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that he met with Cox and Woewiyu in New York the next month, in May. He did not believe the informant was at those later meetings, because it was standard undercover practice to cut out the informant after initial contact was made.
The video was resumed, and on it Lang reiterated a list of the weapons he had available. Cox said that he was “willing to get started with that, that’s a great good faith gesture.” Cox called the company they would set up the “Liberian Development Corporation,” and said 25% of its profits would be given to Lang.
The video was paused, and Lang explained that Cox intended to pay him for the arms by giving him 25% of the iron ore in Liberia. He did not recall if Cox gave him literature or documents to look at.
The witness testified that he had had seen the video recording of the subsequent display of arms in the warehouse, but that the audio was very poor due to noise in the warehouse. He then identified the video, and it was shown to the jury. It depicted men walking toward a truck inside a warehouse. Lang identified Cox, the informant, himself, and another federal agent operating undercover in a role as the person who brought out the weapons and spoke about each of them to Cox. Lang said that this second agent was “former military,” and Lang recalled that Cox was very worried about him. Lang recalled that he told Cox that the second agent was Lang’s brother-in-law. He explained that Cox was nervous because the agent’s actions and appearance were “very much like a police officer.”
The video showed various arms laid on a table by the truck. In the video, Cox was shown a Redeye, a Stinger missile, and an M-16. Lang confirmed to the jury that Cox was also interested in arms sometimes referred to as “heavy machine guns.” Lang confirmed to the jury that an M-79 is used to fire grenades at vehicles, including tanks. On the video, Cox was shown an M-16, and the second agent demonstrated the bipod on which it could be mounted so fighters could fire the M-16 while lying on the ground. The witness described for the jury the heavy caliber of bullets which were used by these guns.
The video resumed inside the office after the men visited the warehouse, with audio resumed as well. Cox called it a “done deal.” The informant said, “When you form a company, it makes it easier, because you can talk on the phone about company business.” Cox said, “Don’t tell him you’re gonna meet this guy.”
The video was paused, and Lang explained that Cox did not want the second agent in the warehouse to be told that Lang would meet Woewiyu. Cox was also nervous about “Billy” knowing too much. Lang testified that this was because William Parks appeared to represent the legitimate face of the aircraft parts business.
The video was resumed, and Cox expressed how pleased Taylor would be about the deal. The video depicted the men discussing the polaroids taken of the weapons, and what details of the deal would be committed to paper. Eventually, the men decided to write the quantity and price of the arms on the backs of the photographs. Cox said, “He’ll look at them and then destroy them.”
The video was paused, and Lang identified the “he” in Cox’s statement as Woewiyu. Lang stated that although Taylor was previously mentioned, Lang knew “he” was Woewiyu because that was the individual with whom Lang was going to subsequently meet. Lang reiterated that in their subsequent meeting, Woewiyu identified the polaroid photographs by the descriptions written on the backs of the polaroids.
The video was resumed, and showed Lang writing something. Lang testified to the jury that he was writing what weapons Cox wanted and at what prices, and he then recognized and identified the paper on which he had written those notes. He indicated the initials of Case Officer Michael Verre at the bottom of the page of Lang’s notes, and indicated where Verre wrote the date of the meeting. He said that Cox wrote the quantities and prices on the back of the photographs, so Cox did not need Lang’s paper, and Lang retained it.
On the video, Lang asked whether Cox needed a photograph of the Redeye. Cox said, “He knows the Redeye. He spoke of the Redeye.” Lang testified that, once again, “he” referred to the Minister of Defense.
On the video, Lang asked about where to move “this surplus.” Cox said, “He’ll tell you where to put it.” Lang told the jury that once again, “he” referred to Woewiyu.
Lang’s testimony will continue tomorrow morning.
The jury left the courtroom, and counsel discussed whether Special Agent Lohmeier may be called by the defense to testify to the TRC’s Final Report. The defense stated that USCIS Senior Immigration Services Officer Peggy Lin’s immigration decision was based in part on the TRC’s Final Report.
Defense objected to the prosecution potentially admitting, through Officer Lin, the document in which she denied Woewiyu’s Citizenship Application. Defense counsel stated that allowing the document to be admitted would usurp the role of the jury, because in it, Lin talked about caselaw and the findings that she had made. Defense specifically objected to Lin’s statement about Woewiyu willfully refusing to support his dependents during the period in question. Prosecution counsel said he had no objection to redacting the portion of Lin’s decision about refusing support.
Defense objected to the admissal of the portion of Lin’s decision in which she summarized what she had learned about Woewiyu’s role in the NPFL, and in which she concluded that he did not have good moral character. The defense stated that in her decision, Lin wrote that she relied solely on the factual findings of the TRC Final Report.
Judge Brody asked counsel to confer tonight and determine what they agree may be redacted from Lin’s decision, so that tomorrow morning they can either present an agreement, or Judge Brody can rule on the objection at that time.
The prosecution then raised an objection to an immigration attorney whom the defense intends to call as a witness. Defense counsel outlined the attorney’s immigration law background, and explained that calling him would be appropriate, given that citizenship is a specialist practice area. Counsel specifically stated that the defense wanted to call the attorney to provide a “defense expert perspective” as a counter to the two Immigration Officers the prosecution expects to call tomorrow.
The prosecution argued that the proposed defense witness has not served in the Immigration and Naturalization Service in approximately 30 years, and that the prosecution witnesses will state factually what happened with Woewiyu, “not opine” about what legally should happen.
The defense argued that its witness would only opine as to the immigration process “remaining open for final determination,” and explained that because the witness currently practices as an immigration attorney, he is qualified to speak to that process.
The prosecution argued that the denial of Woewiyu’s citizenship goes to the materiality of the facts, and Judge Brody told the prosecution that “if it is important that Woewiyu was denied citizenship, the defense has an opportunity to question that.” Prosecution counsel responded that the Immigration Services witnesses will testify that they made requests for additional information from Woewiyu. Counsel indicated that the first officer will testify that she interviewed Woewiyu and will discuss that process, and the second officer will testify about the information she considered when denying Woewiyu’s application, including the TRC’s Final Report. Counsel suggested that it was not necessary nor would it aid the jury to hear that “the process remains open.”
The defense argued that Woewiyu’s intent in answering the Citizenship Application questions is at the heart of this case, and that Woewiyu’s supplemental response demonstrated his intent better than what he said “in a very brief hearing.” Counsel argued that because the jury does not know what the citizenship application process is, the defendant should not have to rely on government testimony as to what it is, and that the jury would be helped by the testimony of someone who practices in the area. The defense described its witness’s relevance as “he says how this process goes. He’s not giving opinions on the ultimate questions, only on what the possibilities are each step of the way.”
The prosecution responded that an expert can have nothing to say about Woewiyu’s intent.
Judge Brody referred to the defense opening argument, and noted that if Woewiyu’s defense is that he did not understand what the Citizenship Application questions were because they were open to interpretation, then the defense witness will say they were open-ended questions. She told the parties that she will rule on their objections tomorrow.