FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cat and Moussaoui

Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have asked Judge Leonie Brinkema to dismiss all charges against Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th September 11 hijacker. The unusual move comes with their impatience with her for not making a decision as to how she should sanction them for disobeying her orders.

She told the prosecutors that they must produce three government witnesses for Moussaoui and his attorneys to question. She believed that these witnesses might have information that would exonerate Moussaoui in some measure, or at least provide fertile material for his defense.

Moussaoui’s lawyers also asked for a dismissal. This puts Judge Brinkema in the position of virtually having to dismiss the case. What will happen when she does? The government will appeal the dismissal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, which may very well overturn Judge Brinkema’s orders to produce witnesses. Recall that earlier this year the Court said that the government was premature in appealing her order. The court said, defy her, then get back to us.

This is the same Court of Appeals that handed the government a huge win in the case of Yasir Hamdi, the American who has been detained for over a year without being charged with a crime under the rubric of being an “enemy combatant,” U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar refused to buy the government’s argument that President Bush can name any citizen an enemy combatant and lock him or her up incommunicado forever. Forever! Doumar was outraged, as we all should be. The 4th Circuit panel was unmoved. Who were they to question the almighty George W., they mused? Their ruling was more political polemic than reasoned law.

That the Moussaoui case should end this way is no good for any one. Surely, immediately upon dismissal the government will spirit Moussaoui away from his jail cell in Alexandria to a military brig somewhere–or perhaps to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Once there, he will be forever out of the jurisdiction of any federal court, according to a precedential opinion handed down earlier this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

If the 4th Circuit agrees with the government and says Moussaoui does not get to question witnesses, the decision may be moot. The government is not likely to ever bring Moussaoui back to federal court. The next we hear about Moussaoui may be news of his summary trial and execution. And the truth about what Moussaoui did or did not do will never see the light of day.

Ashcroft may have gambled and lost in Alexandria. He drew the wrong judge. Almost any other judge on the bench there would have given the government whatever it wanted. But if Judge Brinkema does dismiss the case, it will be a pyrric victory for the justice system, the Bill of Rights, and those who support the rule of law. As long as the courts stand by and let the government seize, detain, try, and execute people under ad hoc rules, none of us is safe, none of us is free.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

 

More articles by:

November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail