September 13, 2011
The fingerprints of the CIA have surfaced in a controversial federal criminal case pending in Chicago against Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, an alleged kingpin in the Sinaloa “drug cartel.”
US government prosecutors filed pleadings in the case late last week seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), a measure designed to assure national security information does not surface in public court proceedings.
“The government hereby requests that the Court conduct a pretrial conference … pursuant to CIPA … at which time, the government will be prepared to report to the Court and defendant [Zambada Niebla] regarding the approximate size of the universe of classified material that may possibly be implicated in the discovery and trial of this case,” states a motion filed on Friday, Sept. 9, by US prosecutors in the Zambada Niebla case.
CIPA, enacted some 30 years ago, is designed to keep a lid on the public disclosure in criminal cases of classified materials, such as those associated with CIA operations. The rule requires that notice be given to the judge in advance of any move to introduce classified evidence in a case so that the judge can determine if it is admissible, or if another suitable substitution can be arranged that preserves the defendants right to a fair trial.