Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Moussaoui Wowie
September 26, 2003 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Drop charges against accused 9-11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui? In a statement, the Justice Department said, "We believe the Constitution does not require, and national security will not permit, the government to allow Moussaoui, an avowed terrorist, to have direct access to his terrorist confederates who have been detained abroad as enemy combatants in the midst of a war." Confused? I know I am.
posted by hairyeyeball (19 comments total)

 
This is just a procedural tactic. The government wants these issues heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, but that won't happen until the lower judge makes her final decision. She's already ordered the government to allow Moussaoui to question others, and the government has refused. The ordinary remedy for that refusal is to drop the charges, at which point the appeal can go forward. They're not asking that the charges be dismissed permanently -- they simply hope to prevail on appeal sooner rather than later.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:56 AM on September 26, 2003


They don't "hope" anything - if the prosecution is willing to do this, after violating two court orders, it's because they know they will be able to steamroller a conviction through the appeals court.

I smell coverup. The government is afraid that answers they don't want to be released will be given in response to Moussaoui's questions, and therefore are willing to do dumb things, like violate court orders, and stupid risks, like dismiss the case against the only alleged 9/11 conspirator we have in custody, in order to prevent this from happening.

Even those who aren't conspiracy nuts have to be wondering what the government's trying so hard to hide...
posted by FormlessOne at 7:07 AM on September 26, 2003


it's because they know they will be able to steamroller a conviction through the appeals court.

This has nothing to do with a conviction. Neither the trail judge nor the court of appeals will be deciding that issue. The question is whether Moussaoui should be allowed to question others with al Qaeda connections in preparation for his defense.

And I don't think your conspiracy theory holds water. Isn't it far more probable that the government genuinely believes allowing Moussaoui (an admitted follower of bin Laden) to speak to high-ranking al Qaeda prisoners will be too great of a risk? Also, disregarding or ignoring the orders of a trial judge is not that uncommon, no matter what the case. Litigants often believe they will ultimately prevail when the issue is appealed.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:24 AM on September 26, 2003


Isn't it far more probable that the government genuinely believes allowing Moussaoui (an admitted follower of bin Laden) to speak to high-ranking al Qaeda prisoners will be too great of a risk?

Risk of what, exactly? The prisoners are in the pokey. Moussaoui is likewise. What are they going to do, swap "don't-drop-the-soap" jokes?
posted by SPrintF at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2003


pardonyou?, I have always respected your opinion, and I want to believe that you look at this whole thing rationally--I really do. This discussion needs a rational representative of the Center, but you *so* readily swallow this propagandistic horseshit that I have a hard time doing so. "An admitted follower of bin Laden"--yeah, so what? "Too great a risk"--as SPrintF said, a risk of what? That the terrorist boogeyman will be sending coded messages under his breath?
posted by jpoulos at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2003


I think it's entirely possible that pardonyou? is right, jpoulos - that the government is afraid of communcation between Moussaoui and other Al Qaida. I also think it's entirely possible that these fears are totally blown out of proportion.

Thus far, the government's response to terrorism has been fearful and unsteady -- orange alerts, duct tape, Guantanamo, etc... The people who would tend to gravitate toward a career in an Ashcroft Justice Department are by definition going to be quite frightened of nearly everything.

It reminds me of Mitnick, who was not even allowed to have access to computers that were by definition completely useless for cracking, because the prosecution (and in that case, the courts) were so afraid of him that draconian measures were considered far preferable to rational thought.

This is not the action of a conspiracy. It is the action of fear.
posted by Vetinari at 8:24 AM on September 26, 2003


but you *so* readily swallow this propagandistic horseshit that I have a hard time doing so.

Fine, but the same logic applies to any conspiracy theory that the government's real motivation is concern that the al Qaeda prisoners will reveal some unknown embarassing fact. That's just rank speculation. It'd be much easier to swallow an argument that the government is trying to avoid having al Qaeda members deny Moussaoui's involvement in, or knowledge of, 9/11, which would obviously hurt its case. That at least has some evidentiary basis, based on U.S. intelligence reports.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:29 AM on September 26, 2003


[From Slate's What You Think You Know About Sept. 11…but don't]
What's wrong with the story [that Zacarias Moussaoui was the "20th hijacker"]:
"There is no actual evidence that Moussaoui was supposed to be on Flight 93 or the other planes. Moussaoui had no contact with any of the Sept. 11 hijackers and took his flight training long after they did. According to Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding's Masterminds of Terror, Binalshibh has said that while he contemplated Moussaoui as an understudy for 9/11, he was never part of the plot. Binalshibh said he was glad that he kept Moussaoui, who was not really trusted by al-Qaida, away from the other hijackers. (Incidentally, it is Binalshibh who was a failed hijacker: He couldn't get a U.S. visa.) This does not excuse Moussaoui, a truly bad guy who was apparently preparing for some act of airplane terrorism."
posted by mojohand at 9:03 AM on September 26, 2003


"Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. "


Those damn liberal America-hating Founding Fathers and their pesky ideas of fair treatment under the law, didn't they know there's a war on?!

Inconvenient and all, I know, but it applies to non-citizens as well dontchaknow.
posted by Cerebus at 9:20 AM on September 26, 2003


The solution as I see it - Written interogatories.

With a panel inbetween. One group to say 'secret/relevant', one group to say 'not so' and the 3rd to say 'if this queston doesn't get asked...then Zac walks' - to nudge 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:29 AM on September 26, 2003


Why? I just dont get what could possibly be so secret that it can't be dragged out in the light of day. Anybody want to offer an opinion?
posted by Irontom at 9:51 AM on September 26, 2003


"......draconian measures were considered far preferable to rational thought."

This sums it up for me.

And once you leave rational thought behind in an effort to justify draconian measures, the two paths diverge *very* rapidly. In the War On Terror™, much like the War On drugs™, you either drink the Koolaid or you don't.

There's no point in looking at these things objectively because there's a war on. And the world has changed. And our way of life is under attack. And this is the greatest threat to democracy the world has ever known.

Expect even more silliness in the coming year from the fear and pain crowd as their need to wallow in 9/11 leads them further and further
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:52 AM on September 26, 2003


.......from reality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:53 AM on September 26, 2003


Anybody want to offer an opinion?

I think the administration is afraid that Zacharias will implicate certain "allies". Specifically: members of the Pakistani and Saudi Arabian governments.
posted by bshort at 10:25 AM on September 26, 2003


If the charges are dropped, what's to stop the government from whisking him away to Guantanamo for a quick military tribunal?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:44 AM on September 26, 2003


what's to stop the government from whisking him away to Guantanamo for a quick military tribunal?

Public outrage? I don't know... "Free Zacarias" doesn't have the same rhythmic goodness as "Free Mumia"...
posted by Vetinari at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2003


I think crash hit it. The government is regretting bringing him into the court system in the first place and want to bump him over to a military tribunal. If the charges were dismissed does anyone think Moussaoui would walk?

I figure Ashcroft wants the trial to be a circus in order to support his claim that military tribunals are more effective in combating terrorism.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:59 AM on September 26, 2003


"Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial....

posted by clavdivs at 6:40 PM on September 26, 2003


But we know he's guilty, right? Trials are for suckers.
posted by bshort at 8:02 PM on September 26, 2003


« Older This one time, at band camp.......   |   The New Republic... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments