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Detroit 'Sleeper Cell' Prosecutor Faces Probe
Seeing that one drawing said "Queen Alia Jordan," Convertino and his team searched for a match in Jordan among an airport, hotel and military hospital that all bore the name of the former queen. FBI agent Michael Thomas and State Department security officer Harry Raymond Smith testified to seeing striking similarities between the sketch and the hospital's surroundings.
"Every time we turned," Smith testified, "it was getting more and more like this drawing."
There was much discussion during the trial about whether the prosecution had photographs that could settle the debate. When Convertino asked Smith under oath whether he had taken photographs, Smith replied that diplomats "never take pictures" of a military installation because "it could cause bigger political implications."
But Justice investigators said later that U.S. officials had taken photographs and Convertino knew it. E-mails from State Department liaison Ed Seitz reported that the photos had been forwarded to Detroit, where Convertino replied, "Thanks Ed!! We love ya."
Justice lawyers said the photographs and the e-mails should have been disclosed. They concluded, in remarks unusually critical of a fellow prosecutor, that "misleading testimony was elicited."
"It is difficult, if not impossible," the lawyers wrote, "to compare the day planner sketches with the photos and see a correlation between the documents and the hospital site."
Thomas told investigators after the trial that Jordanian intelligence officers believed the drawing more resembled the airport. But he testified differently, telling the jury: "We presented this document to the Jordanians. They said, 'We believe this is the military hospital.' " Convertino said a second day planner drawing portrayed Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. This time he introduced photographs. Thomas testified that the match was "almost identical," while Air Force Lt. Col. Mary Peterson described the sketch as "pre-operational surveillance."
What no one on the prosecution team revealed was that other military analysts thought the drawing was not a bomber's map of Incirlik, but a doodler's depiction of a map of the Middle East.
The Justice review team said Peterson had created the "strong inference" that all Air Force personnel agreed that an object in the drawing was a hardened bunker that existed at Incirlik. But undisclosed documents in the Air Force file called the drawing unclear and described any conclusions as "essentially opinion."
A group of U.S. terrorism specialists in Ramstein, Germany, also studied the drawing and concluded that it might be a Middle East map. That detail took on more importance after the trial when an Air Force investigator described a conversation with FBI agent Thomas.
According to the investigator, Thomas reported that a Yemeni source named Nasser Ahmed told him his mentally unstable brother might have drawn a map of the Middle East while doodling in the day planner. Defense lawyers were never told of the potentially exculpatory evidence, as required by law.
Rosen was so troubled by another piece of hidden evidence that he conducted a December 2003 hearing to find out why the U.S. attorney's office had failed to disclose it. The subject was a letter written by Milton "Butch" Jones, a Detroit drug gang leader awaiting sentencing on a federal murder charge.