Cohen was among the first U.S. diplomats to meet Taylor when he was fighting to depose Samuel K. Doe in the early 1990s. Later, following the leader's election as president in 1997, he counted Taylor as a client of his lobbying firm, Cohen and Woods.
The tribunal, which ran from June 2008 until November 2010, cost American taxpayers $81 million, according to U.S. officials. It also provided Taylor a platform to rewrite his own biography. Over five and half months, the former president retraced the narrative of his political career from his jailbreak in Plymouth to training in the Libyan desert with Muammar al-Qaddafi's sponsorship through the Liberian civil war and his rise and fall as president.
Taylor also used his testimony to promote the persistent rumors of his connections to intelligence services, including the CIA, whom he claims engineered his escape from jail. (The Plymouth House of Corrections, a chronically overcrowded and out-of-date facility, had suffered a series of escapes prior to Taylor's.)
The reports of Taylor's alleged CIA connections continued to draw scrutiny. In January, the Boston Globe pulled back from a front-page story that had suggested that Taylor was a U.S. intelligence asset during his rise to power.
For now, there's not much evidence to substantiate the story. Cohen, who served as the head of the Bureau of African Affairs until 1993, said "I've seen no evidence that the CIA was in liaison with him -- in fact the only one who was really a liaison with him [from 1990-93] was me."
Nor was Taylor working for the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to Robert Ferguson, who worked under two defense attaches in Monrovia: "He was not a DIA asset. Period."
These may turn out to be questions for historians rather than prosecutors. Judging by the muted reaction the verdict received in Monrovia, it seems that Liberians aren't particularly interested in delving into the remaining mysteries of the Taylor era.
"Even the Barcelona and Chelsea game had more excitement than this," a former Taylor commander and current intelligence official told me. "The country has outgrown this guy. The country wants to develop. Everyone wants to get their life back in order."