Stevens Witness: FBI Inquiry Was Like "mental Waterboarding"

Everyone is waiting for Ted Stevens to take the witness stand today, but one of his friends provided perhaps the most peculiar quote of the trial.

Testifying Thursday morning about an initial FBI inquiry, Stevens' neighbor Bob Persons said he invited two FBI agents into his house when they wanted to discuss the now infamous renovations to Stevens' "chalet" in Girdwood, Alaska.

To say the least, Persons didn't like the FBI agent's style.

"That was the most hateful guy I've ever met in my life," Persons told the courtroom, laughing a bit on the witness stand. "That made me understand why there might be a lot of innocent people in prison."

Persons said he found the questions confusing and circuitous, making him wonder whether he was asking the questions or whether it was the FBI doing the inquiry.

"It was like being mentally waterboarded," Persons added.

Stevens' corruption trial centers on whether he improperly received $250,000 in gifts and renovations from Veco Corp., a politically connected Alaska oil services firm at the center of a statewide bribery scandal.

Persons, a personal friend and neighbor of Stevens' reiterated this morning that he had asked Veco Corp. for every bill for the renovation. Persons essentially oversaw the renovations while Stevens was back in Washington.

Stevens trial, in its third week, will hit a crescendo this afternoon with the testimony of Catherine Stevens and Stevens himself. Stevens taking the stand carries much risk if he stumbles under cross-examination, but he appears ready to take the plunge and lay his legal future and his political career on the line.