Schaffer clearly came prepared for the hearing. He'd even phoned Nousher the night before in preparation.
When I called him today, Jahedi, now living in Washington, D.C., told me that Schaffer had called to introduce himself and ask "when did I come here, what I'm doing, this type of stuff."
During the hearing, Schaffer, telling Jahedi that "I appreciate your taking my call last night," went on to note that Jahedi had told him during that call that Jahedi was seeking asylum in the states. Schaffer proceeded to grill him on whether he knew that the Global Survival Network, a human rights group, had guaranteed his passage back to the islands if his bid for asylum was unsuccessful, implying that Jahedi was unduly beholden to his rescuers, who were severe critics of conditions on the islands.
From there, it went further downhill. Schaffer proceeded to question Jahedi about whether he'd received money from federal officials to stage a protest with other workers on the islands against the conditions there. Jahedi said he had not. Schaffer pressed, to the point where Rep. George Miller (D-CA), then the ranking member on the committee, interrupted Schaffer and asked for the source of his accusations.
"I will tell you with absolute certainty," Schaffer said, that during his Abramoff-organized visit on the islands, he'd "interviewed a number of garment workers and others, in the case of this question, Bangladeshi workers, I was told on multiple occasions that individuals received funds, in fact, $1,200 from Federal officials to attend this rally and go rent cars, fill up the tank, and feed people."
Finally, Jahedi interjected:
And--excuse me, sir. How do you believe that the person who told you that I received the money? Because I am a victim. I suffered. I care for--as a human being, I have little respect to myself. That way, my employer make me suffer. Of course, I will join with them and I will try my best to protest against this.
Having exhausted that, Schaffer moved to another subject: Jahedi had said the night before that someone had helped him compose his written testimony. "Who helped you write your speech?" Jahedi admitted that he'd had help from someone because "I am not so good in English."
But Schaffer wasn't satisfied. In the ensuing back and forth, Schaffer sought to nail Jahedi for using impossibly elevated language:
Mr. Schaffer. Okay. Okay. So who used the word ``menial,'' for example? Is that a word you used?
Mr. Jahedi. Sorry, sir?
Mr. Schaffer. The word ``menial''? Is that a word you used?
Mr. Jahedi. No, no, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. No? What does ``predatory human trafficker'' mean?
Mr. Jahedi. Like the human being taking money from the people and take to the different place and can no way to get out of place.
Mr. Schaffer. Okay. How would you describe Washington, DC? Would you say it's ``hellish''?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. You would not?
Mr. Jahedi. No.
Mr. Schaffer. What does that word mean to you?
Mr. Jahedi. Sorry, sir?
Mr. Schaffer. ``Hellish''? What does that word mean to you?
Mr. Jahedi. Like what happen in Philippines, when I was in Philippines.
Mr. Schaffer. In the Philippines? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Schaffer concluded his questioning, evidently satisfied that Jahedi had described the Phillipines and not the Marianas as "hellish." But in his prepared testimony, Jahedi had written that he'd spent 115 "hellish days" in the Philippines before the traffickers had transported the group of Bangladeshis to the Marianas.
When the questioning concluded, Rep. Miller thought some perspective was in order:
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to submit for the record some additional questions and I would also like to submit for the record of all of the witnesses who prepared their testimonies too. Because we are in receipt of e-mails that suggest that lawyers have been working on behalf of other witnesses and I didn't know that was, you know, a problem in this country.