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For almost three years, an inmate who was once a CIA officer has waited in a federal prison for a judge to rule on his motion to vacate his 1983 conviction for smuggling explosives into Libya in 1977. It is unclear why federal Judge Lynn Hughes has not acted on the motion. For Edwin Wilson, now 74, the outcome will likely determine whether or not he dies in prison. Seeking an answer, his lawyer has requested a status hearing. Wilson resigned in 1971 from the Central Intelligence Agency, where he had worked since 1955. He worked for Naval intelligence the following year. Whether Wilson then became a rogue operator, misusing his CIA connections, has been hotly contested. CIA documents that he obtained while he was in prison disclose that from 1972 through 1977 the agency often used him for its purposes around the world. Wilson was indicted on multiple felony counts for exporting 20,000 tons of C-4 explosives to the Libyan government. He maintained that he was acting at the behest of the CIA and that he sold the explosives as part of a plan to gain the confidence of Libya in an intelligence operation. The CIA claimed he was working on his own for profit. The petition filed by his attorney succinctly frames the issue: Should Wilson be freed because the CIA and the Justice Department, as he alleges, offered a perjured affidavit to win his conviction? U.S. v. Wilson, No. CR-H-82-139 (CA-H-97-831) (S.D. Texas). The CIA testified by affidavit that Wilson had never been asked to perform or provide any services for the CIA after 1972. The affidavit was signed by Charles Briggs, then the CIA’s No. 3 man. CIA DISCLOSURES However, CIA documents obtained by Wilson and his attorney in discovery and freedom of information requests disclose the following: � Wilson after 1972 had at least 80 “contacts” with CIA personnel seeking to use him for agency work. One, for example, was a request that Wilson “provide an anti-tank weapon for a sensitive Agency operation.” � The agency used shell corporations set up by Wilson to, for example, procure equipment for foreign intelligence services. � Libya was often a central topic when Wilson and CIA employees met, although none of the 300,000 CIA documents Wilson’s lawyer examined mention sending C-4 explosives to Libya. � Besides the official contacts, Wilson often entertained agency employees and middlemen at his home. Houston solo practitioner David Adler, a former CIA operative, was appointed to represent Wilson in 1997 by Hughes after Wilson unearthed a document supporting his claim that he had continued to provide services to the CIA. At Wilson’s trial, Judge Ross Sterling refused to allow him to base his defense on his claim that the government had condoned his acts. The government offered the Briggs affidavit to forestall the so-called CIA defense. Wilson had no documents to offer and could not cross-examine an affidavit, and Sterling quashed his subpoenas to call CIA officials, Adler said. The affidavit clearly influenced jurors. One was quoted in a Feb. 5, 1983, news story as saying that the affidavit eliminated any doubt in jurors’ minds about CIA involvement. After retiring, the jury asked that the Briggs affidavit be reread. About an hour later, the jury returned a guilty verdict in U.S. v. Wilson, No. H 82 139. Adler said he doesn’t know if the CIA was complicit in the sale of explosives but he sees the possibility. “Ed was trying to determine what efforts Khadafy was making to build an atomic weapon, something the CIA really wanted to know,” he said, referring to the Libyan leader, Colonel Moammar Khadafy. “We’d given Wilson other things to sell to Libya to trade for information.” But the plan did not go well, according to Adler. Someone working with Wilson in Libya disclosed the sale to government officials who knew nothing of it, he said. “Now it was outside the circle,” Adler said. “So the CIA had to act … But only Wilson and certain people inside the agency will ever know the whole story.” Adler alleges in motions to vacate Wilson’s conviction and to hold certain officials in contempt that not only is Briggs’ affidavit false, but that many government officials knew it was false, including lead prosecutor Theodore Greenberg. Asked for comment, Greenberg, who is still with the Justice Department, said, “I’m not going to answer any questions. And I’m going to hang up.” John De Pue, a Justice Department trial attorney defending the government against Wilson’s motions, was not permitted to comment. The CIA insists that it has found no documents indicating that Wilson had been “tasked,” or given an assignment officially, after 1972. Tasking requires that a CIA manager approve a request for services. But the approval is often not in writing and is otherwise indistinguishable from a direct or indirect request for services, Adler said. Adler alleges that in an effort to cut off Wilson’s potential defense and to mislead the jury and the court, CIA and Justice Department officials conspired to commit perjury. They allegedly decided to say that Wilson’s assistance to the CIA never happened because it wasn’t officially tasked. The government’s answer to the motion to vacate the conviction concedes that Greenberg worried that the jury would misunderstand the word “tasked.” He and other officials decided at a strategy meeting that “asked or requested” would be substituted for it in the Briggs affidavit. “Mr. Greenberg then indicated,” states a CIA document quoted in the government’s answer, that “he did not want to leave the implication that Wilson was indirectly tasked to perform any services. Thus was created the language that ‘Wilson was not asked or requested, directly or indirectly, for the CIA.’ “ Stanley Sporkin, then the CIA’s general counsel, objected to the use of the word “indirectly” and to using the affidavit at all, the quoted document says. Greenberg responded that use of “the Declaration was vital to his case and he intended to use it,” it says. Adler has asked the court to hold 17 current and former government employees in contempt because of their part in conspiring to shape and use the affidavit. Seven are from the CIA and 10 are from DOJ. Three of the latter group became federal judges, and two are still sitting. More than a year has passed since Adler warned Hughes by letter that he would file a writ of mandamus to force his hand, but Adler said his client has been reluctant to go that route. “This is the only hope he’s had for many years,” Adler said. “He’s afraid that any judge would not take kindly to a writ … so he doesn’t want to risk having the judge look at the evidence with a bias.” Hughes would not discuss the pending case, but denied that anyone had asked him to stall it. “If anyone had tried to pressure me, I would have made a public record of it,” he said.

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