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UW's Eco-Arson Case Against Briana Waters

Feb.14 '08

Court reconvenes after lunch.
Defense attorney Bloom serves subpoena to woman in court room to appear as a witness; she is asked to leave. Later we find out that this is Brianna's aunt; her son is a witness for the prosecution.

Donald Sachtleven, FBI special agent bomb technician, returns to the witness stand. Prosecutor Bartlett continues questioning him. Sachtleven is asked to explain the workings of an incendiary device.

Defense attorney Fox cross exams about Sachtleven's qualifications. Fox points out that the education Sachtleven claimed to have amounted to twelve weeks of formal training. Then Fox proceeded to point out the misconducts of the four people who taught the trainings for this agency, pointing out that they misrepresented evidence in courts of law, these incidents were all documented by the inspector general. Fox inquires about his involvement in the Oklahoma City bomb case, Unabomber case and the world trade center case in which Sachtleven's agency and unit were criticized for performance. The cross examination continued to discredit the witness and point out his "less than completely honest" work ethic.

Sachtleven stoops down.

Prosecutor Friedman calls Lacey Phillabaum to the stand. She enters through a side door dressed in what look like khaki scrubs.

Q: Give a little history of yourself
A: Lived in Spokane until she was 18, graduated high school in '93, graduated University of Oregon at Eugene in '96, worked for EF Journal.

Q: Where on the spectrum would you place the views of the EF Journal.
A: Most radical.

Q: Do they have a motto?
A: "No compromise in defense of Mother Earth."

Q: What did you do at the EF Journal
A: Newspaper editor from '97-'99.

Q: Why did you leave?
A: Worn out, went traveling in Europe.

Q: Is the EF Journal in Eugene?
A: Yes

Q: Other work?
A: Odd jobs and Oregon Tilth

Q: What is Oregon Tilth?
A: Trade newspaper for organic standards, much more main stream. Editor through February '05. Moved to Virginia, then to D.C.

Q: Why are you wearing khaki?
A: I am in jail; I pleaded guilty to my charges, and self surrendered.

Q: Can you identify exhibit 792B
A: It is my plea agreement

Q: How many crimes were you charged with?
A: Three crimes: arson, conspiracy, and use of an incendiary device.

Q: Under the plea agreement, what have you agreed to do?
A: Tell the truth, regardless of impact. I'll serve between three and five years.

Q: How much time would you serve had you not cooperated?
A: For conspiracy, 0-5 years; arson, 5-20 years; use of an incendiary device, 30 year minimum; consecutive.

Q: Why did you cooperate?
A: The truth was coming out; I had regrets and did not want to spend 30 years in jail. It has been excruciating every day ever since. I have a lot of sympathy for everyone involved.

Q: Let's talk about your activism. Where did that start?
A: Warner Creek in Oakridge a large campaign, road blockades and protest.

Q: Do you recall meeting any others there?
A: Bill Rogers

Q: Was he a leader?
A: He had experience and was looked to for advice.

Q: Identify exhibit 111
A: Picture of Avalon.

Q: How well did you get to know him at Warner Creek?
A: Years. I had a high trust level.

Q: Were you involved in other protests?
A: In the Redwoods and in Idaho.

Q: Were you arrested?
A: Three times

Q: Did you see Avalon at other protests/
A: Yes, over the years

Q: Describe your relationship with him.
A: I had a lot of trust in him, he facilitated meetings, he was very reasonable.

Q: Would you consider his role leadership?
A: No, facilitator.

Q: What was your involvement at WTO?
A: Organizing, outreach, postering, and direct action.

Q: What type of direct action?
A: Cargill Grain elevator protest.

Q: What kind of protest?
A: Office occupation

Q: Were you alone?
A: No, I was with Avalon, Daniel McGowan, Joy Zacher, and Suzanne Savoie.

Q: Do you recognize exhibit 117/
A: Picture of Daniel McGowan

Q: Do you recognize exhibit 120?
A: Picture of Suzanne Savoie.

Q: Do you recognize exhibit 119?
A: Joy Zacher

Q: Were they all in this group?
A: Amongst others

Q: Did you take over Cargill?
A: No, the action didn't work. We went downtown with other protestors.

Q: Did you perceive WTO as a success?
A: Yes, because the meetings did not lead to negotiations.

Q: Did this lead to other work?
A: Formed an affinity group with Avalon and others. We had five meetings between March of 2000 and May of 2001. In Eugene, Arizona, California, Washington, and Bend, Oregon.

Q: How many people were at the meetings?
A: 10-12, they got bigger as time went on.

Q: Who was there at the first meeting?
A: Myself, Avalon, Suzanne, Nathan, Joy, and Daniel.

Q: Same people at second meeting?
A: Avalon introduced new people. Chelsea was at the second meeting. At the third meeting, Stan Meyerhoff and Jennifer Kohlar came.

Q: Identify exhibit 124.
A: Chelsea Gerlach.

Q: Identify exhibit 112.
A: Picture of Jennifer Kohlar

Q: Identify exhibit 116.
A: Stan Meyerhoff

Q: Identify exhibit 118.
A: Nathan

Q: Do you know Brianna?
A: Yes.

Q: Was she present at these meetings?
A: No.

Q: What was the topic at these meetings?
A: We talked about what we wanted to do, the experience people had, direct action ideas. At the third meeting we had a training by Stan and Chelsea on how to build an incendiary device. We learned to solder components.

Q: Any other trainings?
A: At the second meeting we learned anonymous communication from simple to sophisticated, generic email/ access through proxy. Different methods of encryption. Jennifer taught PGP, a type of encryption. We learned how to do recon, lock picking, and breaking and entering.

Q: What else did you discuss?
A: Philosophies and hands on tactics. Those meetings were not exclusive to do actions.

Q: Did you discuss genetic engineering?
A: Yes, that was a strong agenda for Daniel and Suzanne, and quickly became group agenda.

Q: Do most in the affinity group have nicknames?
A: Yes. Bill Rogers was Avalon, Suzanne was India, McGowen was Sorrel.

Q: What was yours?
A: Most people know me as Lacey, maybe knew me as Reba.

Q: Did genetic engineering become a focus?
"Washington. The email was encrypted. I had to decode it. It told me the time and place to meet. It was a Starbuck's in Pullman. Drove there with Cheslea. We met India and did the action.

Q: What was the action?
A: We pulled canola out of the field. We had a disagreement about which action to do: the barley or the canola. We did the canola.

Q: What is genetic engineering?
A: Introducing a foreign gene.

Q: Tell me about the action.
A: We pulled the canola out of a small trial field. It was like pulling weeds at night. There were 8-10 people. Myself, Chelsea, Joyana, Nathan, Justin, Suzanne, and either Avalon or Stan, I'm not sure.

Q: Can you identify exhibit 115?
A: It's a picture of Justin Solanz.

Q: Did you have a name for your meetings?
A: Yes, 'Book club meetings."

Q: Was Justin at "Bookclub?"
A: No.

Q: What precautions did you take in the action?
A: We wore black and gloves, had someone be the lookout, and tried to be inconspicuous.

Q: Was a communiqué written?
A: I think so.

Q: What is a communiqué?
A: It's where a person or a group claims responsibility for an action.

Q: Why?
A: So people understand that it was not a random act.

Q: Did you have involvement in writing communiqués?
A: Yes, I helped in writing that communiqué.

Q: Why are they anonymous?
A: So there is no association. Afternoon recess We entered courtroom after recess. Lacey on the witness stand, laughing and smiling with the cops.

Q: Identify exhibit 273.
A: I think it is the communiqué for the field action.

Q: Can you read the headlines?
A: "Dusty's Desporados raid Monsanto'"

Q: Were you involved in the Poplar Tree Action.
A: Yes, March '01.

Q: had you been involved in discussions before the action?
A: Yes, I talked to McGowan at the WTO protest, it became a focus of research. Poplar is the first non crop plant genetically engineered.

Q: Who was involved in research?
A: Steve Straus was doing research at Oregon State.

Q: Was there an action planned around the Straus research/
A: Yes, we were working on an action to destroy the trees. Some thought we were moving too slow. Others moved to do the action in early March. The trees were destroyed by girdling.

Q: Identify exhibit 292C.
A: I think it's a tree at the site. We rubbed a chisel to break the cambium layer of the tree. That's the layer under the bark. The tree will die. It's called girdling.

Q: The action was at two plots. Were you at both?
A: No. I went one night to one site, thought I saw headlights and called off the action. I was with McGowan, Nathan, Stan, and some other person.

Q: Who was on the other team?
A: I'm unsure. Maybe Gerlach was on radio relay and someone called Spring.

Q: How many people and how many trees?
A: Thirty people, hundreds of trees. People went back another night without me.

Q: Identify exhibit 293.
A: It's a communiqué of the completed action.

Q: Can you read it?
A: " Visited by night' cut down ring barked' 1,200 trees destroyed'Frankentrees' Eco warriors"

Q: Did someone approach you in a bar in May of '01?
A: I met Stan and Chelsea at a bar, they conversed in French, which I didn't understand. Then they asked me to be involved in an action and told me I would need to go north with Stan Thursday night.

Q: When was the action.
A: Late Sunday night, May 10th or 11th.

Q: Were Stan and Chelsea involved in a relationship?
A: They have been dating since high school, but things were on the outs.

Q: Were you involved with Stan?
A: Flirtatious at this point.

Q: Are you still involved.
A: Yes, we're engaged.

Q: Did you go north with Stan.
A: yes, with Stan, Suzanne, and Daniel. I have vivid memories of the music we listened to in the car.

Q: Where did you go?
A: Olympia. I was dropped off at a Denny's. I was the only one who stayed. Stan got out of the car to talk to somebody, and then left.

Q: Who did you meet there?
A: Jen Kohlar, Brianna, Justin, and Avalon.

Q: Identify exhibit 101A
Objection by the Defense: "This exhibit is suggestive, so it is not accepted."
Judge has the Prosecutor identify who in the picture was at the restaurant and cover up the rest.

Q: Name the five people at the restaurant.
A: Justin, Brianna, Jen, myself, and Avalon. This is the first time I've met Brianna.
The witness identifies Brianna in the courtroom.
I was unfamiliar with Brianna, but Avalon vouched for Brianna, and vouched for me.
Brianna and I started to walk to the back of the restaurant. Avalon brought us to the front. I was uncomfortable talking about the subject matter in public. The next morning I went running at a track near a house where Brianna was playing violin. She stopped playing when I arrived.

Q: Identify exhibit 733.
A: This is three different pictures of the house where we met that weekend. I think I stayed at that house. We went out to an out building in the backyard.

Q: Who went out to the outbuilding?
A: Brianna, Avalon, Justin, and myself.

Q: What did you discuss?
A: Justin was talking about incendiary devices, improvements he has made to the design, and how he was using these bladder bags that he dumpster dived.

Q: Was Brianna present?
A: I believe so.

Q: What else do you remember?
A: I remember being in a field, there were five of us: Avalon, Jen, myself, Brianna, and Justin. Jen outlined how who intended to break the windows using some stained glass cutting tools. It was supposed to be quieter. I had the impression it would be soundless. We also talked about who would claim responsibility in the communiqué. We also met at Evergreen, discussed the finer details; the amount of fuel we should use' Jen thought we should use less fuel, Avalon thought we should use more fuel to make sure it would not be put out by the sprinkler system.  Avalon's view prevailed.

Q: What happened at the end of the weekend?
A: We drove back south.

Q: What were people's responsibilities?
A: My responsibility was to secure black clothes for myself; Brianna was supposed to secure a vehicle.

Q: Explain the type of clothes.
A: It was important to wear clothes that were unassociated with us. Dark clothing.

Q: Because the action was in the city, did that have an effect on the clothes you would wear?
A: Yes, we didn't want to be walking around looking like thugs.

Q: Tell me about the car.
A: It was also preferable to have a car disassociated with us. This was often the lynch pin in the action. Brianna was supposed to rent a car. I was concerned.

Q: She would rent a car herself?
A: I was told someone she trusted was going to rent a car. Maybe a distant relative?

Q: Did you know the person renting the car?
A: No. Anyone in the know would be implicated. Brianna and her boyfriend would declare they were having problems and needed a car.

Q: What was Justin's responsibility?
A: To make the incendiary devices.

Q: Was he doing this alone?
A: I imagine with Avalon
Defense objects. Objection sustained.

Q: What happened at the end of the week?
A: I drove back to Olympia with Suzanne, Daniel, and Stan.

Q: Where in Olympia?
A: Maybe I stayed at Nathan and Joy's after the crime. I remember being in an out building one other time.

Q: Who else lived there?
A: Ocean. He was in a wheelchair. And his girlfriend. She had red hair, I don't know her name.

Q: What else do you remember?
A: I remember in the outbuilding, part of it was sectioned off. It was a "clean room", to build devices.

Q: How do you create a "clean room?"
A: I think they use painting plastic on the sides.

Q: Were you in the "clean room?"
A: I understood we needed to help build the devices. Brianna and I went in the room. We only looked.

Q: Who took you in there?
A: I don't remember; either Justin or Avalon.

Q: Did you need to take any special precautions?
A: Yes, we wore cloth painter's outfits, gloves, and hair covers.

Q: What did you see?
A: Devices.

Q: Any details?
A: Looked sort of like an alarm clock with wires hanging out in a
Tupperware.

Q: Any large containers around, like for fuel?
A: Not in the 'clean room." We were shown how the bags for the fuel worked, and how all that was put in a garbage bag, then in a duffle bag.

Q: Identify exhibit 33B.
A: Looks like the Tupperware container to hold fuel.

Q: When did you leave Olympia?
A: The evening of the arson we went to Seattle.

Q: Where in Seattle?
A: To a bar.

Q: Identify exhibit 304A
A: I believe it's the bar in Seattle we went to: The Green Lake Bar and Grill.

Q: Who was at the bar?
A: Jen, Avalon, Justin, Brianna, and myself.

Q: How long were you there?
A: An hour or two.

Q: Did you eat or drink?
A: I think I had a salad.

Q: Where did you go after the bar?
A: We drove to UW.

Q: Identify exhibit 303.
A: It's a map of the university campus. This is where we got dropped off.

Q: Who got dropped off?
A: I don't have a clear memory of who.

Q: Identify exhibit 304C.
A: This is a picture of the street where we got dropped off near the gate. At some point, earlier that evening, someone pre positioned the backpacks. I don't recall carrying anything when we got out of the car.

Q: Identify exhibit 304D.
A: That is a picture of the gate we passed through.

Q: Identify exhibit 304E.
A: That's another picture of the gate, and a bush.

Q: Let's go back to exhibit 303. Locate this on the map.
A: she locates it on the map.

Q: Identify exhibit 304F.
A: Picture of the area from the other direction.

Q: Where in the picture is the gate.
A: This is the gate.

Q: Why is the bush significant?
A: After we came back, Brianna was "lookout" there. I don't have a clear
memory. I think she had a radio.

Q: What was Brianna's responsibility?
A: To notify us of security or if anyone noticed our ruckus.

Q: Let's go back to the map. Where did you go next?
A: She traced on the map where she said the bags were hidden. We couldn't drive the care in late at night. Someone drove in earlier and dropped the bags off.

Q: Identify exhibit 304K.
A: Dumpsters.

Q: What happened at the dumpsters?
A: That's where the bags were hidden.

Q: identify exhibit 304M &N
A: Yes, this is a view of the area around the wetland.

Q: Was there a path through there?
A: I don't remember. I just remember the general direction. I crouched near there with Jennifer. I remember looking to the left and there was a bike at the bike rack. I was concerned there was someone in the building. We had a strong commitment to not hurt anyone.

Q: Where was Avalon?
A: At the building checking things out.

Q: What did you see?
A: I think I remember him creeping up to the building. Jen went to break the window. The broken window was loud. It wasn't supposed to be that loud. Avalon was inside. I handed the bags in. He checked the office and came back to the window with Tupperware containers, indicating to me to take them out. I opened one up to see snake shapes; quickly covered it and put the Tupperwares outside.

Q: Do you remember a radio call?
A: I kind of remember Jen received a radio call. We held for a few minutes, then we proceeded.

Q: Then what?
A: Avalon was inside. I think he set the devices.
Defense objects. Objection sustained.

Q: Did you see or were you told?
A: I couldn't see much. He may have been narrating, looking for places to put the devices. He set one near the building, then we left.

Q: Do you recall a radio call?
A: No, not at that point.

Q: Okay, look at the map. Show us what happened next.
A: We were here. Someone called for pick up. Justin was driving the car, and Brianna was near the bush. I believe someone called and he picked us up in the rental.

Q: Identify exhibit 775.
A: That's the rental car. I believe it fits what I remember.

Q: All five of you got in the car? Then what?
A: Justin was driving, I was in back. We had a radio scanner. I remember driving out of a residential area on a one way street with cars parked on both sides. As we turned left, Justin nicked that back of a parked car. It felt huge, but it was not. We stopped, and they switched drivers.

Q: Then where did you go?
A: We were in another residential area, listening to the scanner to hear the fire response. We heard the call and the firefighter jargon about the science and possibly chemicals in the building. It was terrifying to me.

Q: Tell us about Avalon.
A: He seemed excited.

Q: How much time had gone by?
A: Not long, five or ten minutes. I pushed to leave.

Q: Where did you go next?
A: We went to a park without Jen. She got dropped off. I remember thinking how lucky she was. We waited in the park until morning so we could be more inconspicuous in the morning traffic driving back to Oly.

Q: Where in Olympia?
A: I remember a couple of things. I was at Nathan's; Avalon and Justin were trying to fix the dent in the car. I think there was another action with Joy, Nathan, Daniel, Suzanne, and Stan. I got a little sleep. When I woke, they were there, excited and talking. The four of us sat and wrote the communiqué for both actions. Myself, Suzanne, Daniel, and Nathan.

Q: Then what happened to the communiqué?
A: Chelsea would take it and send it through a safe computer. But days had passed, and no claim had been made.
The judge intervenes. It's 4:00p.m. Court recesses until 8:30 a.m.


More Details Emerge in UW's Eco-Arson Case

What's this about the Mafia-like "Family"?

By Nina Shapiro

February 6, 2008

When a group of radical environmental activists burned down the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001, it turned out to be a big mistake. Contrary to what the perpetrators believed, there was no genetic engineering going on at the professor's office they targeted.

Now, one of the approximately 20 defendants indicted in twin cases (which tie together a string of other arsons in Washington and Oregon) is trying to prevent what she claims would be another mistake: her conviction. On Monday, 32-year-old Briana Waters will be the first of these defendants to actually go to trial. Some of the rest are fugitives; most have taken plea bargains. Waters, who claims she was home in bed at the time of the crime, was fingered by one of those who pleaded.

Last week, Waters emerged from a pretrial hearing in the Tacoma federal courthouse wearing a purple scarf and looking weary, her long blond hair pulled back from her face. She had traveled here from Oakland, Calif., where she and her lanky, blond male partner, who was by her side, are raising their 3-year-old and where, according to Waters' attorney Bob Bloom, she gives violin lessons to children and plays in Balkan bands. Waiting for her outside the courtroom were nine supporters, including a dreadlocked woman in a flowing turquoise robe. Many of these supporters decried as excessive the mandatory minimum sentence Waters faces should she be convicted: 35 years.

Bloom, a feisty attorney from Oakland, along with local co-counsel Neil Fox, insists Waters is not only innocent but the victim of government misconduct and dirty tricks. For example, they believe prosecutors improperly moved the case to Tacoma in order to find jurors who would be less sympathetic to the environmental movement. Prosecutors counter that the "center of gravity" of the charges is actually further south, since Waters and others in the underground movement were in Olympia at the time the plan was allegedly hatched. (The judge has ruled the change of venue to be acceptable.)

"Here's my situation," said the wise-cracking, gray-haired Bloom over sandwiches at a cafe across from the Tacoma courthouse where Waters, who declined to be interviewed, was having lunch with her supporters. "I'm [originally] from New York. I've practiced in a lot of political cases." Past clients have included members of the Black Panthers, the Black Liberation Army, and the Puerto Rican independence movement. Call Bloom's voice mail and you'll be greeted with the following: "Hey, Britney's sister is pregnant and there's 151,000 dead people in Iraq. Leave a message."

Meanwhile, in hundreds of pages of documents both sides have already filed, a fascinating picture is taking shape: of an underground environmentalist cell that the government says was known among its members by the weirdly Mafia-like tag of "the Family." In Olympia lived the head of "the Family," a man named William Rodgers who went by the moniker "Avalon," according to government briefs. He was eventually arrested in Arizona and died in his jail cell, an apparent suicide.

According to the government, the cell was part of the Earth and Animal Liberation Fronts. Rodgers led divisions located in both Olympia and Eugene, Ore. In gatherings sometimes referred to as "book club meetings," members fixated on the genetic engineering of poplar trees. Genetic engineering has inflamed the passions of some environmentalists who believe it to be interfering with nature's biodiversity. The "Family" cell, the government says, staged arsons to stop it and even, at one point, "discussed whether it would be necessary to 'up the ante' and resort to assassinations. " Although prosecutors don't suggest any assassinations were carried out, they say cell members, including Waters on at least one occasion, engaged in target practice. Waters denies it.

At the time of the UW arson, Waters was, by her account, finishing up her degree at Evergreen State College in Olympia. Her briefs say she was "spending hundreds of hours" on a school project: a documentary she was making about a tree-sit in the town of Randle, Wash., aimed at protecting old-growth forests. In a student report on "personal achievement" she submitted to Evergreen, she talked about taking part in a related protest at the Seattle offices of Plum Creek Timber Company. She was then dating a fellow Evergreen student named Justin Solondz, who is also charged in this case and remains a fugitive.

But Waters says she was a law-abiding environmental activist. In the early morning of March 21, 2001, when the Center for Urban Horticulture burned to the ground, Waters was asleep in bed, she says.

Prosecutors, however, say she borrowed a rental car from a family member on March 20 and drove with her boyfriend, Rodgers, and two others to the Greenlake Bar & Grill in Seattle. They ate dinner, then, sometime after midnight, headed to a dead-end street near the Center for Urban Horticulture, which is just outside the tony neighborhood of Laurelhurst, in the shadow of Husky Stadium. According to the government, Waters hid in the bushes with a walkie-talkie to alert the rest of the group if anyone was coming. Two of the others got into the Center and planted plastic tubs filled with gasoline, which were ignited by a switch triggered by an alarm clock. When Waters returned the rental car to her relative in Olympia, the government says, she told them she had traveled to Seattle to find an open emergency room because she needed treatment of some sort.

Much of the government's case hinges on the testimony of a woman who has pleaded guilty to a role in torching the center, and whose sentence is pending. In the months leading up to the arson, Jennifer Kolar worked as a software engineer with a Seattle company called Singingfish. She owned a yacht—yet was caught shoplifting at Whole Foods in the Roosevelt district, later explaining to an FBI agent that she did so for the cause, according to defense documents. A fellow member of the underground movement had complained of always being the one who had to steal food and supplies, and Kolar said she was trying to rectify that situation, according to the documents.

In a Dec. 16, 2005, meeting with FBI agents, Kolar identified four others as participants in the UW arson: Rodgers, a woman known as "Capital Hill Girl," Capital Hill Girl's "punk boyfriend," and "Crazy Dan." Just shy of two weeks later, she informed the government that she remembered another participant: Waters, who served as the lookout.

"We know Kolar is lying," Bloom says. He cites as proof the fact that Kolar has never named Oregon activist Lacey Phillabaum as a participant in the UW arson, yet Phillabaum has also pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against Waters. "If [Kolar] is lying about that, she's lying about other things as well," Bloom says. The defense for that reason moved to bar Kolar from testifying. Judge Franklin Burgess denied the request at last week's hearing.

Kolar is also at the center of the defense's claims of government misconduct. Waters' attorneys claim that the FBI report they were provided, describing the original interview with Kolar, did not list the four people she had named. Instead, the report attested that Kolar named herself, Rodgers, and a few others—a vague statement that leads the defense to believe that the FBI agents wrote a real, more specific report other than the one provided to the defense. The government says the report was authentic, and that the agents understood Kolar to be sure of the identities only of herself and Rodgers. Burgess found no evidence of misconduct and refused to hold oral arguments on the subject.

Indeed, the defense has gotten little love from Burgess, who also ruled that it cannot present testimony that equipment used in the arson does not constitute a "destructive device." This is an important matter for the defense because Waters is charged with using a destructive device during a crime of violence, and that charge by itself carries a heavy penalty: a 30-year mandatory minimum.

nshapiro@seattlewee kly.com


From: olycivlib@riseup.net

Briana Waters trial begins on February 11, 2008

Briana Waters trial begins on Monday, February 11, 2008. Please be at the court at 9am. Dress and act respectful of the court. 1717 Pacific Ave, Tacoma. Judge Burgess starts on time.

The trial is expected to go for a month, Monday thru Friday 9am -4pm.

Briana Waters asks that there be NO rally or signs outside or inside of the courtroom. Our presence will be the support she needs. Please come dressed and leave the wacky at home. Anyone concerned with civil liberties should pay attention to this case.

Briana Waters has been indicted in the arson at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, specifically for the alleged role as a lookout. Ms. Waters maintains her innocence and pleads not guilty. Briana Waters is facing a mandatory minimum of 35 years.

The case is built on the word of two informants, Jen Kolar and Lacey Phillabaum. Although, Ms. Waters attorneys, Robert Bloom and Neil Fox, filed a motion that the government concealed important information and created a fraudulent FBI report. The Judge Burgess has denied the motion in January. The Judge Burgess closed the pretrial, which is our fundamental right to an open and clear process in public court.

Now is the time that we must show up in the court room to support the transparency of our judicial system. It is more than our civil liberties at stake in this precedent setting case. We have seen more and more of our civil rights taken away and it is important for us to stand and bear witness to this trial.

www.supportbriana.org
www.portland.indymedia.org/greenscare
www.olycivlib.org

Olympia Carpools leave daily from the Grocery Outlet Westside parking lot at 7:30 AM.


February 6, 2008
www.counterpunch.org

Informant Games
The Disturbing GreenScare Case of Briana Waters
By BEN ROSENFELD

Tacoma, Washington.

On February 11, trial begins in the federal government's case against Briana Waters. Ms. Waters is accused of conspiring to set fire to the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. Specifically, the government accuses Ms. Waters of acting as a lookout. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the fire, along with another one the same day, at the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon, saying that the poplar research posed "an ecological nightmare" for the diversity of native forests. Ms. Waters, a violin teacher and 32-year-old mother of a little girl, steadfastly maintains her innocence. Federal sentences for arson, including those motivated by greed, insurance fraud, and even racial hatred, typically fall within the 5-7 year range. But if convicted of both counts, Ms. Waters faces a mandatory minimum 35 years behind bars (five on the arson charge, and 30 for conspiring to use a destructive device).

The government has no physical or even direct evidence against Ms. Waters. It's "case" rests entirely on the testimony of two informants, Jennifer Kolar and Lacey Phillabaum, who confessed to participating in the University of Washington arson, and who will receive leniency (most likely, 3-7 year sentences) in exchange for their testimony.

On December 26th, 2007, attorneys for Ms. Waters filed a motion arguing that the government concealed important exculpatory information from the defense and by created at least one fraudulent FBI report. According to the motion, when informant Jennifer Kolar initially identified her accomplices in the arson, she pointedly did not name Ms. Waters. An FBI agent's handwritten notes of the interview confirm this. Moreover, in another interview some months later, Ms. Kolar affirmed her earlier account. She also told her handlers that she never saw Ms. Waters with the second informant, Lacey Phillabaum.

It is well known in the informant game that informants must trade new names for favors, not names the government already has. Inevitably, this leads to the risk that informants will implicate innocent people. In addition, police can easily mold the information they receive from informants into what they want to hear. According to former FBI agent Jack Ryan, who was fired for refusing to go along with the FBI's counterintelligence program against the Plowshares Movement in the 1980s, the FBI would simply make up the information it wanted to hear and put it in the mouths of informants, real or fictitious.

According to Ms. Waters' attorneys, the feds have refused to provide the defense with the original "302" form the FBI's report memorializing the interview with informant Kolar in which she identified her actual accomplices, not Ms. Waters. Rather, the defense says, they passed off a doctored 302 as the original. According to the motion, it is apparent that the government falsified this document because (a) it alters the information contained in the handwritten notes, and (b) the government refused to provide it to the defense for many months after it was requested. The defense contends that it was during this period that the government falsified the 302. The government has refused to allow the defense attorneys supervised access to the FBI's filing system, which would likely expose this egregious misconduct.

According to the filed motion, the federal agents' and prosecutors' misconduct not only violates Ms. Waters' constitutional rights and undermines her defense, it constitutes the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice. However, the federal judge, Franklin Burgess, has shown no interest in disciplining the government or repairing the damage to Ms. Waters' defense. In his January 7, 2008 order denying the motion, the Judge wrote, without substantiating his findings: "Nothing in Defendant Waters' assertions about the timing and content of the FBI agents' 302s convinces the Court to conclude that there has been misconduct, intentional failure to disclose, production of a fraudulent 302, or untimely production of discovery."

Then, on January 29, Judge Burgess held yet another closed hearing (Judge Burgess closes all of his hearings in this case to the public, in violation of the fundamental principle that court proceedings should be open and transparent) , in which he ruled that the defense may not present its own expert to rebut the government agents' expert testimony that the delayed incendiary device used in the arson was a bomb. In so doing, the Judge has deprived Ms. Waters of a crucial part of her defense to the destructive device charge, which carries the draconian 30 year mandatory minimum sentence, in violation of her fundamental constitutional rights. The defense has filed a motion for reconsideration, but Judge Burgess, who has shown extreme partiality to the government throughout the case, is not expected to reverse his ruling.

According to one of Ms. Waters' attorneys, Bob Bloom, "The government hand-picked this Judge by manipulating court procedures. This is a classic case of a corrupt prosecution, and a Judge who apparently chooses to look the other way."

Briana Waters is a victim of the "Green Scare" the federal government's hysterical, post-911 witch-hunt against environmental activists, and its overzealous charging tendencies. Shortly after the government revealed the indictment, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proclaimed Ms. Waters guilty in the media, prejudging the case for the jury, and demonstrating that the government is more concerned with public relations and declaring victory than with truth or fairness.

If Ms. Waters is convicted, then the government, which pretends to want to prevent violence, will have inflicted the only human casualties in the crime which it purports to be investigating, by doing immeasurable harm to this gentle woman, and her three-year old daughter.

People may show support for Briana Waters by attending her trial in Tacoma, Washington, which is expected to last several weeks.

For more information, or to make donations to her defense, visit www.supportbriana.org .


Ben Rosenfeld is a Civil Rights Attorney. He lives in San Francisco.


Notes

(1) Former Agent Ryan provided this information to attorneys, including this author, for use in environmental organizer Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney's historic lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police, for attempting to frame them for transporting a car bomb which the evidence plainly showed a would-be assassin had planted under Bari's car seat in an attempt to kill her while she drove through Oakland in 1990. (For more information, visit www.judibar.org .)


[CounterPunch - opinion]

On February 11, trial begins in the federal government's case against Briana Waters. Ms. Waters is accused of conspiring to set fire to the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. Specifically, the government accuses Ms. Waters of acting as a lookout. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the fire, along with another one the same day, at the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon, saying that the poplar research posed "an ecological nightmare" for the diversity of native forests. Ms. Waters, a violin teacher and 32-year-old mother of a little girl, steadfastly maintains her innocence. Federal sentences for arson, including those motivated by greed, insurance fraud, and even racial hatred, typically fall within the 5-7 year range. But if convicted of both counts, Ms. Waters faces a mandatory minimum 35 years behind bars (five on the arson charge, and 30 for conspiring to use a destructive device).

The government has no physical or even direct evidence against Ms. Waters. It's "case" rests entirely on the testimony of two informants, Jennifer Kolar and Lacey Phillabaum, who confessed to participating in the University of Washington arson, and who will receive leniency (most likely, 3-7 year sentences) in exchange for their testimony. ... Briana Waters is a victim of the "Green Scare" the federal government's hysterical, post-911 witch-hunt against environmental activists, and its overzealous charging tendencies. Shortly after the government revealed the indictment, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proclaimed Ms. Waters guilty in the media, prejudging the case for the jury, and demonstrating that the government is more concerned with public relations and declaring victory than with truth or fairness.

If Ms. Waters is convicted, then the government, which pretends to want to prevent violence, will have inflicted the only human casualties in the crime which it purports to be investigating, by doing immeasurable harm to this gentle woman, and her three-year old daughter.

People may show support for Briana Waters by attending her trial in Tacoma, Washington, which is expected to last several weeks.

For more information, or to make donations to her defense, visit www.supportbriana.org .

Ben Rosenfeld is a Civil Rights Attorney. He lives in San Francisco.

-- full story:

http://www.counterpunch.org/rosenfeld02062008.html

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