Paranoia and Pernicious Prosecutions: The Department of Injustice Continues its War Against the Innocent

In the early morning hours of May 21, 2015, more than 10 FBI agents with guns drawn invaded the home of prominent physics professor Xiaoxing Xi, the chairman of the physics department of Temple University, and arrested the highly-honored scientist for allegedly spying for his native country of China. Agents handcuffed Xi in front of his wife and two children and paraded him for the television cameras and held him under $100,000 bond.

The massive show of force, at least to the local journalists, was “proof” that this mild-mannered physicist was nothing but another Chinese spy, and that, thank goodness, the feds were on the job. In its guilt-pronouncing broadcast, WPVI-TV of Philadelphia interviewed another local scientist who said: “I am shocked he was giving these details to people he was not supposed to.”

It turns out, however, that Xi, a National Science Foundation award winner, not only was innocent of the charges, but that federal authorities had engaged in sloppy research (if one can believe federal agents even are capable of researching anything) and wrote false information in the indictments. According to the New York Times: SJWs Always Lie: Takin... Day, Vox Best Price: null Buy New $5.99 (as of 01:45 EST - Details)

When the Justice Department arrested the chairman of Temple University’s physics department this spring and accused him of sharing sensitive American-made technology with China, prosecutors had what seemed like a damning piece of evidence: schematics of sophisticated laboratory equipment sent by the professor, Xi Xiaoxing, to scientists in China.

The schematics, prosecutors said, revealed the design of a device known as a pocket heater. The equipment is used in superconductor research, and Dr. Xi had signed an agreement promising to keep its design a secret.

But months later, long after federal agents had led Dr. Xi away in handcuffs, independent experts discovered something wrong with the evidence at the heart of the Justice Department’s case: The blueprints were not for a pocket heater.

Faced with sworn statements from leading scientists, including an inventor of the pocket heater, the Justice Department on Friday afternoon dropped all charges against Dr. Xi, an American citizen. (Emphasis mine)

The NYT account continues:

It was an embarrassing acknowledgment that prosecutors and F.B.I. agents did not understand — and did not do enough to learn — the science at the heart of the case before bringing charges that jeopardized Dr. Xi’s career and left the impression that he was spying for China.

In fact, the FBI essentially did no research at all, and federal prosecutors also were uninterested in the particulars of their supposed evidence. They had “bagged” a “spy” and what a catch it was: a department chairman at a local university. The FBI was “on the job,” and the local press was quick to praise the agents and even quicker to condemn Xi.

When someone is arrested and charged with crimes in the United States, it is up to the individual charged to come up with the funds to pay for a defense. Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, have what essentially is an endless supply of money to finance their work, creating an imbalance that makes it extremely difficult for someone accused of criminal activity to be able to fight the charges.

The once-glorious standard of American criminal law – guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – no longer exists de facto in U.S. courts, and especially in federal courts. Furthermore, federal intervention in certain legal areas – and especially when highly-politicized accusations of sexual assault are made – has made it extremely difficult for charged individuals to mount a defense, even when a charge is ludicrous on its face. Against the State: An ... Rockwell Jr., Llewelly... Best Price: $5.02 Buy New $5.52 (as of 11:35 EST - Details)

Let me further explain. Had there been a trial federal prosecutors would have presented their evidence and Dr. Xi would have had to then rebut with his evidence. However, as became painfully obvious, prosecutors had no evidence. Instead, they had “evidence” that on its face was untrue because they had the wrong material. One imagines that prosecutors and their “expert” witnesses would have given jurors a lot of scientific terminology that would have been confusing, and when jurors are confused, they usually end up siding with the prosecution, since most Americans believe that an indictment itself is “proof” of guilt.

It would have been up to Dr. Xi and his defense to prove that federal agents had presented the wrong set of blueprints. The feds would have falsely claimed that theirs was the correct set, even though by then they surely would have known they were presenting false claims. This last point is important, because it is a crime to knowingly present false information to a jury, but prosecutors never are disciplined for doing just that.

Because the feds had not indicted Dr. Xi for actual spying, but rather charged him with “wire fraud,” prosecutors would not have been burdened with having to prove that Dr. Xi actually had done anything illegal. (Wire fraud is an “ancillary” crime in which charges usually accompany charges accusing the defendant of engaging in a fundamental criminal act. However, in this situation, prosecutors only charged Dr. Xi with ancillary crimes (that carry heavy penalties, however), which tells me they knew from the beginning they had no case.

Furthermore, prosecutors almost certainly would have made an obvious appeal to xenophobia among jurors, and it is hard to imagine a jury not voting for “guilty” on at least one count, which often is just what happens in federal criminal trials. One does not need to have committed a crime to be convicted of wrongdoing in federal court, and federal criminal law itself pretty much makes it a crime for a defendant to exercise his constitutional right to a trial. (The penalties one receives if convicted at trial are substantially greater than the penalties given when one pleads guilty.)

When filing for dismissal of the charges, federal prosecutors said that “additional information came to the attention of the government” that led them to ask that the four charges of wire fraud against Dr. Xi be dropped. However, no one from the Department of Justice would make a public statement and prosecutors asked that a federal judge drop them “without prejudice,” which means the case is not closed.

Understand that federal prosecutors are not keeping their options open because they truly believe Dr. Xi has managed to pull a fast one. No, they are doing this because the man and his attorneys made fools out of government prosecutors, who already had engaged in huge fanfare about the charges and were all-but-declared heroes by the local media. Instead of being the Great Saviors, they now look like overzealous fools, people who charge first and ask questions later. Swords Into Plowshares... Paul, Ron Best Price: $4.00 Buy New $15.99 (as of 11:36 EST - Details)

For one, nobody from the U.S. Department of Justice offered an apology for what its employees had done to Dr. Xi, his family, his employer, and his reputation. No one believes he or she needs to explain why government agents had not done some basic research before launching a vilification campaign against a man who had a very good reputation for integrity.

Integrity, you see, is at the heart of the matter. No one from the DOJ has demonstrated any integrity. They dropped charges not because it was the right and moral thing to do, but rather because it became clear prosecutors and their so-called experts were incompetent and did not wish to look even more foolish. Furthermore, if they can find a way to harass Dr. Xi in the future, they will do just that.

The Department of Justice is an agency out of control. Its employees are incompetent (but venal), and when they ruin the lives of innocent people they blame the victims. Prosecutors and FBI agents like to portray themselves as heroes, but for the most part, they are common thugs and bullies. We can rejoice that Dr. Xi no longer is weighed down with false charges, but we weep for the next set of victims, and we know that the Xi setback won’t deter federal agents from seeking the lives of innocent people.

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