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Recap: Law And Order S 16 E 17 America Inc
Four men watch a basketball game in a hotel room. They cheer as their team makes a basket, and argue about 'Baby' Bird's skills. Their party is interrupted, though, when a bullet shoots through their TV from the neighboring room.

A uniformed officer tells Fontana and Green about the bullet hitting the TV, and shows them a body in the neighboring room. The corpse was named Jeffrey Pope, but there isn't any wallet or cell phone in the room, nor are there shell casings. Pope checked in alone, according to the downstairs clerk. Green finds a condom wrapper, and Fontana finds three more, so the cops conclude that Pope had a female visitor.

"Looks like he had a Hell of a party."
"Eh, that's one way you can look at it."
—Uniformed officer and Joe Fontana

The hotel clerk tells the detectives that the dead man is definitely Pope, and that he checked in at 1:15 that afternoon. She gives the detectives a copy of Pope's driver's license, which says that Pope was from South Carolina. Fontana asks if the hotel got Pope's credit card, but he paid in cash. He made no calls, the hotel doesn't keep track of guests visiting their clients, and there aren't any security camera's on any floor besides the lobby. Pope didn't have any hotel employees come up to his room (such as room service or the maids). The clerk recalls, though, that Pope used the guest computer.

Green notes that the computer has a lot of hits on the local Craigslist erotic services section. One profile in particular was accessed multiple times.

"Little comparison shopping."
—Joe Fontana

Green reads that this profile belongs to 'Alex.' Fontana asks if they can get a room.

Later, Alex shows up at Fontana's hotel room.

"You gonna invite me in or what?"
"That's why you're here, baby."
—Alex and Joe Fontana

Fontana agrees to pay Alex $300 for the hour, but Green comes in before he can finish paying. Alex says that threesomes are extra, so the cops show their badges and Fontana takes back his money.

"Oh, son of a bitch."
—Alex

Alex sits down as Fontana attempts to reassure her that she's not in trouble. Green asks if she was in Pope's room earlier, and after Fontana assures her that they'll release her if she cooperates, she admits to seeing a man named Jeffrey in that room. She was there for an hour. Green asks if he brought a friend, and when she says no, he asks if she did. Alex is confused by this, so Green mentions that they found multiple condom wrappers. Alex says that she insisted that Pope use two condoms at once because he hadn't had sex in a while, and furthermore, they had sex twice.She asks if something happened to Pope.

"Yeah, he's dead."
—Joe Fontana

Alex insists that Pope was fine when she left, and that he called her later to see if she wanted to set something up for the next day. An Officer Davies takes Alex away as the detectives look at Alex's phone, which indicates that she did get a phone call after she left Pope's room. The area code is 88216, which Green recognizes as a satellite phone. Those, he says, can be used anyone in the world, which indicates that Pope may have been abroad. Green says he'll call Pope's phone.

On the street, a traffic worker says that he found Pope's phone in the garbage. The cops don't believe him, but he insists that this is true. As he stacks traffic cones, the worker says that he saw a man throw something away; when he looked closer, it was the phone. Green asks why he kept the phone.

"Do you know what it costs to call the Ukraine?"
—Traffic worker

He was on his shift during the time of the murder, so he has an alibi. He didn't get a good view of the man throwing out the phone; all he can say is that the man was white and six feet tall. The car was dark red, and had a broken headlight. The detectives go to look at the trash can, but it's been emptied.

Fontana tells Van Buren that they tracked down the garbage truck, and a detail from the Police Academy is searching the bags.

"How'd you swing that, Fontana?"
"Somebody owed me a favor."
—Anita Van Buren and Joe Fontana

The bullets that killed Pope were fired from a 9 mm gun. Fontana notes that, since the bullet shell casings were missing along with Pope's identification cards, the killer was probably trying to slow them down. Van Buren asks about next of kin; Fontana says that Pope moved away from his South Carolina address years ago and has no known family. Green comes in and says that Pope's phone was on a network based in Dubai, and the phone was only available in southern Asia and northern Africa. Van Buren tells him to check flights coming in from the Middle East, and Green says that a Detective Rivera is doing that. Green also looked at Pope's fingerprints; Pope was honorably discharged from the Navy two years ago, and he used to go to SUNY Maritime. Van Buren tells them to check if anyone at SUNY kept in contact with Pope.

An instructor says that Pope was an average student and a great athlete. Pope, he says, qualified for the Navy Seals, which was a big deal. Green tells the man that Pope was found dead, which surprises him. He tells the detectives that one of the staff members received a post card recently, informing them that Pope had left the Navy and had joined a private security firm called 'Diamond' something.

At Diamond River Group, a manager says he doesn't want to talk to the detectives.

"Hey, if you worked here, would you want me telling your life story to whoever walked in that door?"
—Diamond River Group employee

Green says that Pope died the previous night. The employee doubts this, arguing that someone would have told him. Fontana asks where that someone would be from. The man yells at Fontana that he should take a hint, so Fontana threatens to arrest the man and chain him up at the precinct. The man backs down, but still won't believe that Pope was murdered in New York. He only acknowledges this when Green shows him a photograph. Green asks what Pope did, and the man says that Pope was part of a security team in Iraq.

"He was a mercenary."
—Joe Fontana

The man takes offense and says that Diamond River is a private military firm, and that 1 in 8 soldiers in Iraq on important missions is from the private sector. He explains how important they are and how many people have died, and Green gets fed up.

"…and we've had about a thousand casualties."
"Is there anybody we can talk to besides you that knows what he was going through over there recently?"
—Diamond River Group employee and Ed Green

The man says that a Kevin Boatman, who worked with Pope abroad, just came in to get his back pay because he was quitting and joining another firm. The man doesn't know why Boatman quit, but thinks that he had problems with Pope. He explains that one of Pope's convoys was attacked in Iraq and two people in his squad died; Boatman lived but was angry at Pope afterwards. The cops ask where Boatman is staying, so the man says that Boatman is flying to Jordan that night, and tells them his exact flight.

At the terminal, the detectives ask a clerk if Boatman checked any bags, and are told that he hasn't. They ask for Boatman, who eventually identifies himself. The cops ask to talk to him. He doesn't want to, as his flight leaves shortly, but the cops pull him away.

Boatman and the detectives go into an interrogation room in the airport. When asked what he was doing in New York, Boatman says that he works private security. Green points out that he worked in Iraq, which Boatman acknowledges. He says that he came back to New York to sign up with a different company.

"You had to travel seven thousand miles to do that."
"Yeah."
—Ed Green and Kevin Boatman

Fontana asks why Boatman changed; Boatman responds that his new job has better pay and hours. The cops bring up Pope, so Boatman tells them to get to the point. Green brings up the ambush, and insists that Boatman talk about it, so Boatman says that they had to guard a truck from Ramadi to Baghdad. Boatman was in the rear SUV with the interpreter, and two soldiers named Jamie Cortez and Nick Howell were in the lead. The lead SUV hit a roadside bomb and was swarmed by insurgents. The other vehicles, including Boatman's, fled, but Cortez and Howell were stranded and died. Fontana says that they left their friends behind, but Boatman says that they would have died if they'd stayed. Fontana asks if he blames Pope for getting Cortez and Howell killed, so Boatman asks if something happened to Pope. Green says that, according to their passports, Boatman left Ramadi within one day of Pope's leaving. Boatman says that Pope was having an affair with someone from his hometown, so they should look at that person's husband. Fontana asks for an alibi, but Boatman reiterates that they should be looking at a jealous husband. He gets up to catch his flight, but the cops do too and won't let him leave. Boatman asks what he's being charged with.

"Fragging your boss. Sit down."
—Joe Fontana

Boatman looks between the cops, then sits again.

Green tells Van Buren that Boatman flew into town one day after Pope and then tried to flee the country once Pope died. Van Buren wants to know what the motive is, so Green tells her about the deaths of Cortez and Howell. Van Buren is skeptical.

"So, he's here less than one day and comes up with a car and a gun?"
—Anita Van Buren

Fontana says that Boatman must have had help, but they don't know who — the security video from the hotel lobby was useless, and the description of the car and suspect were extremely vague. Fontana says that Boatman's luggage included a business card of a lawyer. The two are heading there next. Van Buren wants to know what happened to Boatman, so Green says that he's being held pending a background check. She turns to Fontana.

"So you called in another favor, Fontana?"
—Anita Van Buren

Fontana protests that, if they release Boatman, he'll flee the country, and Green adds that the case is starting to develop. Van Buren gives them twenty-four hours to make a case before they have to release Boatman.

Justine Rosen says that she had no idea that Boatman was in town, and she doesn't want to tell them what business he had with her, citing attorney-client privilege. Green asks what Rosen does, and she says that she handles civil litigation like personal injury and industrial accidents. Green says that the only accident they know about involving Boatman was in Iraq. Rosen won't answer. Fontana says that Jeffrey Pope was murdered.

"You're serious?"
"Oh, we're very serious."
—Justine Rosen and Joe Fontana

Rosen says that she contacted Boatman to be a witness in a civil suit. The Howell family wanted to sue Pope personally, and Diamond River as well. Green is surprised.

"Because the insurgents killed their son?"
"Not just killed. They beheaded him."
—Ed Green and Justine Rosen

Fontana asks if the company and Pope can actually be sued for that, so Rosen says that Diamond River isn't the army, and so can be sued. She argues that the convoy was a suicide mission.

Mrs. Howell, Nick's mother, says that no one from the company would answer their questions about Nick's death. Vernon Howell, Nick's father, says that, had Nick remained with the national military, there would have been notices in the paper and probably celebrations of Nick's life in town, but Diamond River wouldn't do anything for them. They say that they went to Rosen to try to determine what happened to Nick. Green points out that they were also trying to collect money, so Mrs. Howell says that they aren't doing well financially.

"The only reason Nick took the job with that company was so he could help us get out of debt."
—Mrs. Howell

Mrs. Howell adds that she has multiple sclerosis, and that Vernon had to switch to part-time at work so he could help take care of her. Upset, Vernon says that their son is risking is life, and meanwhile he and his wife are risking losing their house because they have no health insurance. Fontana asks about Pope, and Vernon says that Nick talked to Robbie Howell, his brother, about him.

"Said he was a real idiot."
—Vernon Howell

Robbie lives a few blocks away, and works as a stockboy at a local grocery store.

While stocking produce, Robbie says that his family doesn't need people coming around and asking about Nick — he thinks they need to get over what happened. Fontana asks if he supports his parents' lawsuit, so Robbie sighs that Rosen told them that they probably couldn't touch Diamond River or Pope because the incident happened in Iraq. Another employee comes by to tell Robbie to clean up a spill. Green and Fontana ask about Pope.

"Two things I know about Pope: Nick worked for him, and Nick's head came home in a box."
—Robbie Howell

Green says that they're sorry this happened, and Robbie says that he'd love to hear Pope's comments about the assault. The detectives ask him for an alibi, so Robbie responds that he went home at the end of his shift, about 8 PM. They verify that he lives alone, then ask about his car. He drives a Jeep Cherokee, but when the detectives ask if Nick had a car, he says he has to go clean up the spill. Green says that they can look at the DMV if he won't cooperate. Robbie admits that Nick had a maroon Honda. It's currently in his parents' garage.

Vernon allows the cops into the Honda, though he doesn't know what's going on. The Howells are the only people with access to it. He lets Green turn it on. Green does so, to reveal two working headlights. Leaving the car, though, Green finds a 9 mm shell casing.

"We're going to have to have a talk with your son."
—Joe Fontana

In interrogation, Robbie denies knowledge of the shell casing, but Green says that it matches the bullets used to kill Pope. Fontana tells Robbie that he was in Vietnam and saw his friends get killed due to incompetent officers, so he sympathizes. Green tells Fontana not to baby Robbie; Robbie, he says, killed Pope for revenge and now won't even admit it. Fontana tells Green that Robbie deserved revenge.

"Pope got this kid's brother's head chopped off, and there isn't a jury in the world that would convict him!"
—Joe Fontana

Green says that Robbie isn't noble and isn't even taking responsibility for his own actions. Fontana tells Robbie that he needs to confess in order to save himself. Green acts exasperated, saying that they already know that Robbie got the headlight repaired at a particular garage, and that they have a witness who saw Robbie dump the phone in the particular garbage can they found it in. Robbie says that he couldn't have been seen because he wasn't there. Green gets up, saying that Robbie is still denying responsibility, but Robbie says that Boatman took the car that night. Robbie admits that he picked Boatman up at the airport, and lent him the car to drive into the city. Robbie insists that he didn't go with Boatman, but admits to lending Boatman Nick's old gun. He adds that Rosen told his family that she wouldn't be able to help them, and that Boatman said that this wasn't right and that someone should pay for what happened to Nick. Fontana asks what Boatman meant, so Robbie responds that, if Pope wouldn't help the Howells with their lawsuit, Boatman was going to 'get justice.' Green asks why they blamed Pope anyway, so Robbie tells them that Pope was informed that the road was too dangerous to go out on, but Pope insisted on going anyway.

"He said they had a contract, that the reason they got a fat paycheck was to take risks."
—Robbie Howell

After the lead SUV was destroyed, Boatman radioed for help, but Pope wouldn't send anyone.

"He left Nick out there for those animals."
—Robbie Howell

In court, Boatman and Howell are being represented by Danielle Melnick. Judge Janice Goldberg tells them that they are entitled to separate council, but they both wave any conflict. Goldberg says she'll look into that more after the arrangement. After this, Melnick pleads them not guilty. Borgia, when asked about bail, says that Boatman was attempting to flee the country. Melnick responds that Boatman had a job to get to. Borgia then says that they obtain admissions implicating both defendants. Goldberg asks about motive, so Borgia says that they held Pope responsible for Nick's death. Goldberg asks if Nick was fighting over there, but Borgia says that this isn't exactly true. Melnick interjects that Nick was killed during an ambush while working for a private militia, Diamond River. In the audience, Vernon stands up and yells that Diamond River are the real criminals.

"They got my son killed!"
—Vernon Howell

Goldberg asks who this is, and when told that he's Robbie's father, threatens him with jail time if he has another outburst. Melnick says that he's upset that his son died due to Diamond River's incompetence, but Goldberg doesn't care. Boatman is remanded, and Robbie is given a one million dollar bail.

Outside, Branch tells the other lawyers that Melnick must have some agenda. Borgia says that she's going after Diamond River and private military contractors in general, so Branch responds that both Pope and the defendants worked for the same company, so he's still not clear on her angle. McCoy responds that she'll call the defendants victims of Diamond River, and will say that Pope's death was collateral damage of Diamond River's activities in the war. Branch notes that this is a run at jury nullification, and he doesn't think it's a good one. Borgia tells them that Melnick has scheduled a press conference.

"The beginning of her campaign to work the media and the jury pool."
"Blue city, blue state. Could have some traction."
"Well, let's don't go paws up because some self-serving defense lawyer wants to get up on a soapbox."
—Jack McCoy, Alexandra Borgia, and Arthur Branch

In jail, Melnick and Robbie meet with the prosecutors. McCoy tells Melnick that she just couldn't let this one go. Melnick agrees.

"They've outsourced an ill-advised, mismanaged war, and now it's spilled over into New York City."
—Danielle Melnick

McCoy says that they aren't arguing the war, but only one case. He says that they're willing to offer Robbie some consideration.

"Really. Becoming a softie in your old age, Jack?"
—Danielle Melnick

McCoy says that he could be convinced that Robbie didn't really know what Boatman was going to do. In exchange for his testimony, McCoy is willing to offer Robbie a reduced sentence. Borgia asks if there isn't a conflict in Melnick representing both defendants. Melnick says that they waived the conflict, but McCoy responds that she should have acknowledged the inherent conflict. Melnick says that she'd withdraw as Robbie's council if she suspected Robbie wanted a plea. McCoy tells Robbie that he'll offer a 10-year sentence.

"Because I tried to help my parents?"
—Robbie Howell

McCoy says that Robbie was looking for revenge. Robbie says that, when the jury learns about Nick, they'll let Robbie off. McCoy says that he trusts that Melnick told him that the events in Iraq aren't relevant and may not even come into evidence.

"There's where we part company, Jack."
—Danielle Melnick

Melnick gives them a motion to enter video evidence of Nick's ambush and beheading.

In Judge Keith Fischer's chambers, Melnick has just finished playing the video. McCoy says that the first problem is that the video lacks authentication and can't be trusted to be real. Fischer asks where the video came from. Melnick admits that it was first posted on a terrorist website (prompting McCoy to argue that it could have been staged), but then says that Al-Jazeera confirmed the tape and broadcast it. McCoy says that Al-Jazeera is not credible either, and then goes on to argue that what happened to Nick Howell is not relevant for the case.

"Irrelevant? It provides the context for this case!"
—Danielle Melnick

McCoy says that Melnick's statement implies that she's conceding her clients are guilty, and that the only rational for introducing the tape then is jury nullification. Melnick says that the ambush demonstrates that Pope was incompetent and got people under his command killed, and any of their friends or relatives, or other soldiers who were endangered by Pope, could have killed him. McCoy says that this could be established by Boatman's testimony, but Melnick says that this is 5th-amendment blackmail (because Boatman would have to testify, possibly against himself, to get the jury to consider it). She insists that the video is the most objective rendition of what happened. Fischer agrees, to McCoy's dismay.

"I cannot believe you would even contemplate screening a beheading for a jury!"
—Jack McCoy

Fischer agrees with this too, and tells Melnick to truncate her tape so that it stops just short of the beheading. He adds that the tape should be pre-edited, so that she doesn't 'slip' and let the tape play on. He also insists that proper foundation be provided.

In court, Vernon Howell testifies that Nick went to work with Diamond River, but that he was killed a few months ago. Nick was killed, he says, when his SUV hit a bomb while on a job for Diamond River. Melnick says that she'll show him a video, and that he should indicate if or when he sees Nick.

The video begins with a camera pointed at a road and a line of cars beginning to pass. The camera is several yards to the side of the road. The lead car, an SUV, is suddenly enveloped in flame as it hits a bomb. People begin screaming in Arabic and gunfire begins as Vernon, Robbie, and Boatman look away from the screen. The truck and the following SUVs make it past the ambush, and one terrorist is hit and collapses, but the lead SUV is flipped. The terrorists run to the wreckage of the car to find Cortez, who was flung from the SUV and killed on impact, and Nick, crawling out of the vehicle. Vernon says that this is Nick. Half of Nick's face is red and bloody, and he's dragged from the vehicle by two terrorists. Meanwhile, gunfire sounds in the background. Nick is restrained by the terrorists, and one brandishes a knife with a heavily serrated edge. Mrs. Howell, in the gallery in the courtroom, covers her eyes. The terrorists yell some more in Arabic, the man with the knife begins his swing, and the tape cuts out. Vernon gets up to leave. The bailiff tries to stop him, but Judge Fischer says to let him leave. Mrs. Howell follows him.

Branch says that the tape was disturbing, but they have to stop the trial from turning into a colloquy on Iraq. McCoy and Borgia say that the tape was extremely effective. Branch says that the contractors knew the risks before they took the job, but Borgia doesn't think the jury saw it like that. McCoy points out that the images in the video were new to the jury, who haven't seen that kind of bloody footage, but Branch says that the images have nothing to do with the case. McCoy thinks that the jury will feel sympathy for the defendants, so Branch tells him to expose Melnick as an opportunist to discredit her message. Branch asks if McCoy won't do this because Melnick is his friend.

"Or do you have a problem with that?"
"Of course not."
—Arthur Branch and Jack McCoy]

Borgia says that they're getting ahead of themselves; Boatman is testifying next. Branch wonders why. Borgia guesses that he'll complain more about Diamond River, but McCoy thinks that Melnick has something else planned.

Boatman testifies that the escort job was bad, and the contents of the truck were just files to be used in the war crimes tribunals. He says that Diamond River got the assignment because the private contractors are superior to the reserve troops that are stationed over there.

"That's why the defense department hires them."
—Kevin Boatman

He testifies that he and Nick told Pope that the road was too dangerous, and that they had to send a decoy, then go in with five times the firepower that Pope wanted. Pope, he says, screamed at them that they should not tell him how to do his job. Mlenick points out that Boatman was being insubordinate, but Boatman says that Pope wasn't risking his life going with the convoy.

"When your boss tries to send you on a suicide mission, you speak up."
—Kevin Boatman

Boatman says that Pope endangered everyone's lives at one point or another, and that everyone hated him. When he and Howell complained, Pope told them that they made a lot of money, so they need to do their jobs. They did so, and Nick and Cortez died.

"Nick… um, well you saw him get captured."
—Kevin Boatman

All they could find of Nick later was his head. Melnick asks if Pope suffered any consequences, but Boatman says no. Pope wasn't in the military and so could not be court-martialed, and no American court has jurisdiction over events in Iraq.

"The private companies can do anything to anyone. There's no accountability."
—Kevin Boatman

McCoy tells Boatman that he decided to be judge and jury and execute Pope. Boatman denies culpability. McCoy asks if he denies following Pope from Iraq, borrowing the car and gun, and killing Pope, and Boatman says he does. McCoy points out that Boatman just testified to many reasons why he would hate Pope, but Boatman still denies killing him. McCoy demands to know if all the evidence they have is just coincidence, but Melnick objects on the basis that McCoy is being argumentative, and Fischer sustains this. McCoy asks Boatman why he didn't just quit. Boatman says that he wanted to serve his country. McCoy points out that Boatman left the military for a pay increase and better benefits.

"I still put my ass on the line every day. For you. For all of you."
—Kevin Boatman

McCoy asks if killing Pope was part of the mission.

"How dare you stand there in your safe little job and judge me!"
"You'll be judged because you tracked down Pope and murdered him!"
—Kevin Boatman and Jack McCoy

Melnick yells an objection, but Boatman continues, asking if McCoy wants to know why he followed Pope to the country from Iraq. McCoy says that Boatman wanted to avenge Nick, but Boatman says that Pope was in New York to sell an Iraqi prisoner for ransom — he and some of his compatriots caught a high-level terrorist, but rather than turning him over to American forces, were trying to sell the prisoner to the Israelis for fifteen million dollars. .

Borgia tells Branch that the supposedly captured terrorist is Abu Zayeed, a Jordanian terrorist who has been fighting for thirty years. Branch asks if Boatman might be telling the truth, and Borgia says that Zayeed has been mentioned in various reports, so he at least exists. Branch wonders why Melnick waited until now to bring up Zayeed, and while Borgia guesses that she waited for maximum impact, McCoy guesses that Boatman never told her. Branch says that he wants to check with the FBI to see if the story is credible. McCoy is reluctant, but Branch insists.

An FBI agent, Kyle Guardino, says that Zayeed set up suicide bombings and was responsible for over twenty-four fatalities before he even got into Iraq. Borgia and McCoy ask how they can know that Boatman's story is true, so Guardino says that he'd also like to know, so he invited Melnick to the meeting. He asks Melnick if Boatman mentioned this when he retained Melnick, but she tells him that it isn't his business.

"Well, your resume speaks for itself."
"Meaning?"
—Kyle Guardino and Danielle Melnick

Guardino says that Melnick has a history of representing people who the FBI is after, but Melnick responds that this is her job. She continues, saying that a Diamond River Group force was sent to escort a politician to a meeting. They were given the wrong address and stumbled into Zayeed's hideout. They recognized him and took him into custody at a secret detention facility. Guardino acknowledges, when Borgia asks, that private military firms have been known to construct private jails in Iraq. Melnick says that Pope and his group put out feelers to a Mossad contact in New York. McCoy asks if the home office of Diamond River was involved, but Melnick says that it was just Pope and a couple other people in his unit. Pope came to New York to get a down payment. Melnick says that Boatman was outraged by this, so he came to New York to stop the transaction. McCoy says that Boatman should have contacted someone in authority, and Melnick agrees, but says that this is still Boatman's motive. She asks Guardino if they want Zayeed.

"We'll check this out. If they have him, we want him."
—Kyle Guardino

Melnick meets McCoy at a restaurant, where he asked her to meet him. She asks what's so important as to call the meeting.

"I thought we could at least exchange some pleasantries first."
—Jack McCoy

Melnick orders a scotch on the rocks, and McCoy asks Melnick if she engineered Boatman revealing what he knew about Zayeed. Melnick is offended that McCoy would think that she would do something like that. She insists that she didn't set it up.

"Even if you didn't, I still think you're playing with fire."
"What's my alternative, sit around and bitch about things?"
—Jack McCoy and Danielle Melnick

She says that she's taking a stand against the Iraq war. McCoy says that it's not fair to put her political opinions ahead of her advocacy of her client, so she responds that she took on a doomed case for free, and that she can make her point and possibly win the case. McCoy says that Melnick has her priorities reversed and that Robbie doesn't seem like the type to want to sacrifice himself for a political ideal. Melnick argues that burying one's brother's head can change one's political views. McCoy says that, for all they know, Boatman just wanted a cut of the ransom. Melnick says that she doubts this, but if it's true, Boatman would just be as big of a cynic as McCoy. She says that the war and whoever wins or loses is all about a payday for someone — Diamond River Group, Haliburton, or other big corporations. Zayeed, she says, is just a commodity to be sold for a windfall. McCoy asks if this is her mission statement, so she just says that McCoy is the one making it about money.

"But if you're questioning Boatman's motivation, why aren't you questioning this country's?"
—Danielle Melnick

Later, Borgia asks McCoy if he thinks Boatman set them up from the beginning. He says that they'll never know. Borgia points out that, if the Zayeed story is true, it plays into Melnick's hands — it will show that Diamond River was out of control. McCoy says that Boatman's denials were transparent. Borgia guesses that this is why Boatman panicked and threw a Hail Mary. McCoy hopes that it's just a desperation play. Then a clerk comes over and tells McCoy that Branch wants to see him.

Branch introduces McCoy to General Clark Ronson. Ronson is in charge of the Zayeed problem. The Defense Department thinks that Boatman's story is credible. Eyewtiness accounts confirm a firefight near Zayeed's hideout on the day Boatman said, and also that Diamond River personnel left the area with a prisoner. Ronson adds that three Marines vanished on a work detail in the Sunni triangle, and that they've heard chatter that Zayeed's people have them.They need Boatman's cooperation to find Zayeed. McCoy responds that Zayeed probably doesn't know where the Marines are, and nor does he have a reason to cooperate.

"Well, that's what interrogations are for."
—Clark Ronson

Branch tells McCoy that they need a deal with Boatman as soon as they can get one. McCoy says that it isn't all under his control, but Ronson tells him to do whatever he needs to.

"There are American lives at stake. We need this guy… to spill his guts."
—Clark Ronson

Melnick tells McCoy and Borgia that Boatman will cooperate if all charges are dismissed. McCoy objects.

"He doesn't get a walk on a murder."
—Jack McCoy

He offers first-degree manslaughter. Melnick says he has no leverage, so McCoy responds that his leverage is refusing to make a deal. Boatman says that this will compromise the American war effort in Iraq. McCoy becomes angry.

"Don't wave the flag in my face, Mr. Boatman. If you were the patriot you claim to be, Abu Zayeed would be in an American stockade right now."
—Jack McCoy

McCoy says that he thinks Boatman went after Pope to get a cut of the ransom money Boatman says that McCoy is wrong. McCoy tells him to prove it by telling the Defense Department what he knows about Zayeed without a deal. Then McCoy will know he is sincere and will make him a favorable offer .

"No, no, no."
"What's the problem?"
"You're in checkmate, Jack! We're not going back three moves for a do-over!"
—Danielle Melnick and Jack McCoy

Melnick terminates the meeting when McCoy again refuses to dismiss all charges against Boatman.

Branch finds McCoy as he's leaving his office and demands to know why they don't have a deal. McCoy says that he tried but that the defense wanted a dismissal. Branch says that they don't have another option. McCoy says that they represent the people of New York, not the Pentagon. Branch responds that New Yorkers have just as much at stake in finding three missing Marines as anyone else in the country. McCoy points out that Boatman's value is predicated on several suppositions, while they know he committed a murder. Branch says that they'll deal with murderers on occasion, if they have information to offer. McCoy says that they always get the information before making a deal. Branch pauses and says that he knows that. McCoy says that it's his call, so Branch tells him that they have to dismiss charges against Boatman. in court, this is done, and Boatman is released. He leaves without looking at Robbie, and McCoy says that he's ready to proceed to verdict against him. Vernon leaves the room in a hurry as Robbie and Melnick begin to quietly argue.

Outside the courtroom, Vernon stops McCoy, complaining that Boatman got to go free but Robbie is still being tried for murder. McCoy says that some things aren't in his control.

"What, like justice?"
—Vernon Howell

He begs McCoy to help him understand what happened. McCoy says that Boatman got a good deal because he could help the war effort. Vernon says that Robbie fought in Iraq too.

"One dead son, one in jail, both my boys, all they ever wanted was to be hardworking Americans. It doesn't make any sense. I don't even know what country I'm living in anymore!"
—Vernon Howell

McCoy says that he'll see what he can do.

Later, Robbie asks McCoy why he can't dismiss the case against him too.

"You don't deserve a walk, Mr. Howell."
—Jack McCoy

Robbie complains about Boatman getting a walk and that he doesn't have anything like Zayeed to trade. The prosecutors say they'll let him plead to attempted manslaughter, with a 5 year sentence. Melnick dismisses this, and Robbie complains that Boatman shot Pope, not him. He adds that his mom will die within five years. McCoy says that he can't do any better. Melnick says that the deal is terrible.

"Well, it's five years too high. Your case has fallen apart, Jack."
—Danielle Melnick

McCoy says that Robbie would be foolish to assume that. Melnick tells Robbie that the jury reacted strongly to the video of Nick's execution, but Borgia responds that juries are unpredictable. Melnick says that McCoy and Borgia are trying to salvage a guilty plea out of their case. McCoy becomes furious.

"Enough grandstanding, Danielle! It's time to stop using your clients to play provocateur! This man should have had his own lawyer from day one."
"Don't tell me how to do my job, Jack!"
"Then gamble on your own DIME! Who gives a damn what you think, anyway?"
—Jack McCoy and Danielle Melnick

Melnick assures Robbie that he won't be convicted, because the jury will be against the war and will see what Pope did to his brother.

"That is the most irresponsible statement you have ever made. Who's going to do the fifteen to life if she's wrong, Mr. Howell? And how could you ever look his parents in the eyes, if a jury finds him guilty?"
—Jack McCoy

Robbie accepts the deal.

Later, Branch tells McCoy that Zayeed was recovered. Pope's associates who were holding Zayeed were holed up about thirty miles north of where Boatman said they would be — his information was wrong. As for the Marines, they had just been lost, and showed up on their own a few hours prior.

"So much for intelligence."
—Jack McCoy

Branch says that they have to do the best they can with what they have, and that there was a greater good.

"We bought into it lock, stock, and barrel."
—Jack McCoy
Law And Order S 16 E 16 Cost Of CapitalRecap/Law & OrderLaw And Order S 17 E 1 Fame

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