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Thread: At Satellite Courthouses, 9/11 Relatives Will Watch Moussaoui's Sentencing

  1. #1
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    At Satellite Courthouses, 9/11 Relatives Will Watch Moussaoui's Sentencing

    At Satellite Courthouses, 9/11 Relatives Will Watch Moussaoui's Sentencing

    Published: March 5, 2006

    WASHINGTON, March 4 — When lawyers make their opening statements on Monday in the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in a Virginia courtroom, Sally Regenhard intends to be in Lower Manhattan. Against the advice of friends, she is planning to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television at the Moynihan federal courthouse, just blocks from where her son died on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Sally Regenhard with a photo of her son, Christian. The Moussaoui trial, she said, is "our only opportunity to get a modicum of justice."

    Mrs. Regenhard is among more than 500 family members of 9/11 victims who have signed up to watch the first and possibly only trial in the United States of someone charged with direct responsibility for the attacks.

    Federal criminal trials are not generally broadcast, but the government has set aside rooms for the family members to view the proceedings in courthouses in Manhattan; Central Islip, Long Island; Boston; Philadelphia; Newark; and in the same building in Alexandria, Va., where Mr. Moussaoui will be tried.

    Mrs. Regenhard, whose 27-year-old son, Christian, a probationary firefighter, was killed in the attacks, said her life remained consumed with mourning and efforts to understand what happened that day. Her son graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and was a marine, writer, artist and world traveler, she said.

    "The families are focused on this man Moussaoui, this trial, because it is our only opportunity to experience some accountability," Mrs. Regenhard said. "Our only opportunity to get a modicum of justice."

    Mr. Moussaoui did not participate in the attacks; he was in prison at the time on immigration charges. Prosecutors have argued, however, that he was part of the conspiracy to fly airplanes into buildings, and that if he had not lied to investigators about his reasons for taking flight lessons, the plot might have been uncovered.

    Mr. Moussaoui has said that he is a member of Al Qaeda, despises Americans and was training to fly an airplane into the White House on a different day.

    "He's a proxy," said Mrs. Regenhard, who believes it is appropriate to view him as a stand-in for the 19 hijackers who died that day. "If this man would have been called up that day, he would have accepted the assignment in a heartbeat."

    David de Vere, who lives in England and whose daughter Melanie died in the World Trade Center, declined an invitation to view the trial as a representative of British citizens who were killed. "Apart from the logistical and cost problems of crossing the pond," he said, he chose not to attend the trial because he did not view Mr. Moussaoui as representing the entire conspiracy.

    In an e-mail message, Mr. de Vere said he felt that Osama bin Laden and most of the organizers of the attacks would "never be captured."

    "I certainly could never accept Moussaoui as a proxy for the whole," he wrote.

    Mr. Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan heritage, has pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy in connection with the attacks in New York and Washington. As a result, the trial will be solely over whether he is put to death by lethal injection at a federal prison in Indiana or spends the remainder of his life in jail.

    Most of the family members interviewed said they did not have strong feelings about which penalty he received.

    "What happens to him is of no matter to me," said Jane Pollicino, whose husband died at the World Trade Center. "I've tried to take part in anything that is connected to 9/11."

    Mrs. Pollicino, who plans to watch the trial from the Long Island courthouse, said she still had little expectation of escaping what she called a suffocating grief.

    "There's no end to this," she said, adding that last month the New York City medical examiner's office returned a toothbrush used by her husband, Steve, that she had turned over for DNA identification purposes. She said her husband's remains were never found.

    Lois Diehl, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center, plans to watch the trial from Newark with her 19-year-old daughter. Ms. Diehl said she did not mind if Mr. Moussaoui received a life sentence instead of a death sentence. "I would like him to be in solitary, not watching TV in prison and having a grand old time," she said.

    Ms. Diehl said her daughter surprised her by expressing an interest in watching the trial. "She would like to see the man who is partially responsible for her father's killing," she said.

    As for her own motives, she said they were difficult to explain. "We used to fall asleep at night holding hands," she said.

    Mrs. Regenhard said that she would not mind if Mr. Moussaoui were put to death, but that her son would have believed in showing mercy.

    She said her friends had exhorted her not to view the trial, as it would only increase her grief and anger. She will be among about 170 people watching from Manhattan, the largest contingent at any of the sites, and will also travel to Virginia to be in the courtroom, where prosecutors have reserved at least a dozen seats for family members that will be available on a rotating basis.

    Mr. Moussaoui's mother, Aisha el-Wafi of France, will also be at the Virginia courthouse. She is scheduled to watch the trial from a separate room with an interpreter who will translate the proceedings into French. Leonie M. Brinkema, the presiding judge, arranged for the room so the translation would not disrupt the proceedings.

    One family member who will not attend is Stephan Gerhardt, whose brother, Ralph, was killed in one of the World Trade Center towers. He said he had intended to go but decided "there was nothing I could gain there."

    "I hate the word 'closure,' and I wasn't looking for closure," Mr. Gerhardt said. "I was looking to understand a little bit why the hatred is so strong in Moussaoui and others like him."

    On Monday, a jury pool of 85 people will be whittled to the 12 who will decide Mr. Moussaoui's fate and 6 alternates. Opening statements are scheduled to begin in the afternoon, with the prosecutor emphasizing Mr. Moussaoui's failure to tell investigators what he knew.

    Mr. Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers, with whom he does not speak, are expected to argue that the government knew a great amount about Al Qaeda's plans and that Mr. Moussaoui's failure to speak was not as important as prosecutors contend.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    Sentencing process for 9/11 defendant getting under way

    By Matthew Barakat

    5:37 a.m. March 6, 2006

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. – After more than four years of wrangling and delay, the death penalty trial of the only man charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is ready to begin.

    Final jury selection was scheduled for Monday in the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, a 37-year-old French citizen who has admitted his loyalty to the al-Qaeda terror network and its leader, Osama bin Laden, but denies he has anything to do with Sept. 11.

    A jury pool of 83 was called to the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Prosecutors and defense lawyers will whittle that group to a jury of 18 – 12 plus six alternates – using peremptory strikes, which allow each side to dismiss jurors for any reason they choose except race or gender.

    Each side gets 30 peremptory strikes. Defense lawyers asked for additional strikes last week, but the judge denied that request Friday.

    The jurors scheduled to report for service already have been qualified to serve during a two-week jury selection process in which they were quizzed individually by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema and filled out 50-page questionnaires asking their views about the death penalty, al-Qaeda, the FBI and their reactions to the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Opening statements are scheduled for Monday afternoon, and the first witness is also expected to take the stand Monday.

    Arrangements for the trial have been years in the making. Among the plans are provisions for victims of the terror attacks and their families to watch the trial on closed-circuit television at federal courthouses in Boston, Central Islip, N.Y., Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and in Alexandria, thanks to legislation passed in Congress.

    Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al-Qaeda to hijack planes and commit other crimes. The trial will simply determine Moussaoui's punishment, and only two options are available: death or life in prison.

    To obtain the death penalty, prosecutors must first prove a direct link between Moussaoui and the Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui denies any connection to 9/11, but says he was training for a possible future attack.

    Prosecutors will try to link Moussaoui to 9/11 by arguing that the FBI would have prevented the attacks if only Moussaoui had told the truth to the FBI about his terrorist links when he was arrested in August 2001.

    The defense argues that the FBI and other agencies knew more about the hijackers' plans before 9/11 than Moussaoui and still failed to stop the attacks.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    Moussaoui's lies led to 9/11 deaths-prosecutor

    By Deborah Charles
    Mon Mar 6, 2006 10:28 PM GMT

    ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors argued on Monday that even though September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was in jail during the attacks he should be executed because his lies led directly to the deaths of 3,000 people.

    But one of his court-appointed lawyers said that executing Moussaoui would only make him a martyr because many al Qaeda members only "live so that they can die."

    Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, pleaded guilty in April to six counts, three of which carry the death penalty. The charges included conspiracy to commit terrorism.

    "Please don't make him a hero," argued defence attorney Edward MacMahon in opening arguments at the trial to determine his sentence. "He just doesn't deserve it."

    Moussaoui, 37, was arrested the month before the 2001 attacks after raising suspicions at a flight school and was in jail on September 11. Prosecutors said if he had not lied to investigators and told what he knew, the hijackings might have been averted.

    "Even though he was in jail on September 11, 2001, Moussaoui did his part ... as a loyal al Qaeda soldier," said lead prosecutor Robert Spencer. "His lies permitted his al Qaeda brothers to go forward and that's what they did."

    "Had Moussaoui just told the truth on September 11, 2001, it would all have been different," he said.

    Moussaoui, dressed in a green prisoner's jumpsuit and a white cap, spent most of his time leaning back in his chair rubbing his long, bushy beard. In the past he has disrupted some court appearances, but this time he watched and took notes with little expression.

    Earlier, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema seated 12 jurors and five alternates in the only trial to be held in the United States in connection with the attacks, which killed about 3,000 people.

    The jury must first decide whether his actions led directly to at least one death on Sept 11. If the jury finds they do, then he can be executed, but if they find the opposite he would receive life in prison.

    MacMahon, one of several court appointed attorneys who Moussaoui disdains, called the government's argument "entirely speculative."

    "This trial cannot be viewed by you as jurors as part of the war on terror," he said. "We must give this man a fair trial no matter who he is, what he thinks of us and who he represents."

    A few relatives of those who died on September 11 were in the court audience and others watched at special viewing rooms in Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and at the Alexandria courthouse.

    At the Manhattan federal courthouse, Barry Zelman, 51, wearing a large badge with a picture of his brother who died in the World Trade Centre, said it would be hard watching Moussaoui and his trial

    "There's going to be a lot of anger and a lot of emotion," Zelman said. "He's al Qaeda in the flesh."

    "For most of us I hope it brings some peace and healing," said Eunice Hanson, who lost her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter on one of the planes that struck the trade centre. "It will be painful, very painful."

    Brinkema said evidence from six enemy combatants may be presented during trial. The trial was delayed for years due to appeals over Moussaoui's demands for access to al Qaeda detainees he said could help his case.

    The charges against Moussaoui were conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, commit aircraft piracy, destroy aircraft, use weapons of mass destruction, murder U.S. employees and destroy property.

    Although he said he was not meant to be part of the September 11 attacks, he said Osama bin Laden had picked him to fly a plane into the White House as part of a broader conspiracy.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    Jan 2005
    FBI Agent Admits Hints Of 9/11 At Moussaoui Trial
    Zacarias Moussaoui's lawyers are trying to suggest that the FBI knew more about al Qaida's plans than Moussaoui did.


    ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) -- In cross-examination, a defense lawyer got FBI agent Michael Anticev to admit that the FBI was aware years before Nine-Eleven that al Qaida planned to slam planes into prominent buildings.

    Earlier, Anticev read excerpts from an al Qaida training manual on how to deceive investigators in an interrogation.

    Prosecutors say if the confessed al Qaida member had told investigators the truth, Nine-Eleven would have been prevented.

    Prosecutors are pushing for a death penalty for the man who pleaded guilty to conspiring with al Qaida to hijack planes and commit other crimes.

    Meanwhile Moussaoui's mother, Aicha el-Wafi, is talking about her strained relationship with her son. In Moussaoui's on-again, off-again association with his lawyers, el-Wafi says Moussaoui once asked his mother not to talk to the defense team. When she did to try to help him, he got mad at her.

    Moussaoui's mother also suggests she's concerned about her son's demeanor, saying he appears to be someone else. She says she thinks her son is on medication to calm him.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    Words from 9/11 flight rivet courtroom
    FBI knew years earlier of al-Qaida's plans, agent testifies

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006
    Michael J. Sniffen
    Associated Press

    Alexandria, Va. -- Reading from radiophone transmissions, a federal prosecutor transfixed the courtroom at Zacarias Moussaoui's sentencing trial Tuesday with a minute-by-minute account of al-Qaida's hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 and the plane's journey into the north tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low," flight attendant Amy Sweeney told ground controllers who had asked at 8:44 a.m. where the plane was. Then a few seconds' pause, and finally: "Oh my God, we are way too low!" The phone went dead at 8:46 a.m. as the Boeing 767 jetliner hit the tower in the first of four crashes by hijacked jetliners that day.

    Moussaoui, the confessed al-Qaida conspirator who is facing a life-or-death decision, was as electrified as the jury and the audience.

    As a recess was called moments later, the 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent surged from his chair, pumped his right fist in the air and shouted: "Allah Akbar! God curse America! Bless Osama bin Laden!" He usually mutters these invocations when leaving court.

    The actual audio recordings of radiophone calls by flight attendants on Flight 11 have been played in public before. But to avoid inflaming the jury at this sentencing trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed instead to read an account of the flight, including major sections of the phone call transcripts.

    Nevertheless, the reading by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin riveted the jury and audience -- all the more so because it came after two hours of intricate testimony by FBI agent James Fitzgerald about how the bureau tracked the hijackers after Sept. 11.

    Around the courtroom, heads had been left nodding by Fitzgerald's detailed and precise description of innumerable hotel receipts, phone call records and financial transactions for 19 men with unfamiliar Arab names, which the FBI gathered to reconstruct how they circled the globe and arrived in the United States.

    Nearly all communicated with an al-Qaida cell in Hamburg, Germany, and got money wired to them in this country from one of three al-Qaida operatives.

    At some point, prosecutors will bring on witnesses to show that Moussaoui also got money from the same source, but Fitzgerald never mentioned Moussaoui in his testimony.

    Nor did he say there was any contact between Moussaoui and the 19 hijackers, a point the defense has already stressed.

    Earlier, defense attorney Edward MacMahon got FBI agent Michael Anticev to acknowledge on cross-examination that the FBI was aware years before Sept. 11 that al-Qaida had plans to fly airplanes into prominent buildings. Moussaoui's lawyers are portraying him as a pathetic loner who dreamed of becoming a terrorist but was shut out of Sept. 11 planning and considered by one al-Qaida leader "cuckoo in the head."

    Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al-Qaida to hijack planes and commit other crimes. The jury will choose between execution or life in prison without possibility of release.

    To obtain the death penalty, prosecutors must first prove Moussaoui took an action that led directly to deaths on Sept. 11. Moussaoui denies he had any role in Sept. 11 and says he was training for a possible future attack on the White House.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #6
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    Jan 2005
    "Release of the document responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request would threaten to interfere with the criminal prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person to be brought to trial in the United States for the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The process of selecting prospective jurors for the penalty phase of Moussaoui's trial is expected to begin in late 2005. Therefore, the FBI withheld the responsible record, a CD-ROM of time-lapse images from Pentagon security cameras, pursuant to Exemption 7(A) because its release could reasonably be expected to interfere with that law enforcement proceeding. Federal prosecutors may ask the Court to impose the death penalty. Widespread dissemination of this record could present significant harm to the government's criminal case."

    That is the reason given to Scott Hodes of as to why they won't release the videos of the Pentagon. That reason no longer has merit because as we just found out, "to avoid inflaming the jury at this sentencing trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed instead to read an account of the flight, including major sections of the phone call transcripts".

    They're not going to be needing the tapes, so why not release them?
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #7
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    Jan 2005
    AP Review: Gov't Missing Deadlines, Limits

    By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer 1 hour, 9 minutes ago

    Many federal agencies fall far short of the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, repeatedly failing to meet reporting deadlines while citizens wait ever longer for documents, an Associated Press review has found.

    Requests for information ranging from historical records to federal contracts usually take months and sometimes take years to be filled; most departments missed the Feb. 1 deadline to send legally required annual reports to the Justice Department (and many still haven't been submitted) and the Justice Department hasn't produced an annual summary of FOIA reports for two years.

    "Federal FOIA is the water torture. It's just drip, drip, drip. You wait and you wait and you wait," said Charles Davis who heads the National FOI Coalition.

    The Freedom of Information Act, signed 40 years ago by President Johnson, dictates that federal records must be shared with the public unless they involve national security or private information about an individual or business.

    Johnson's statement at the signing — "A democracy works best when the people have all the information that the security of the Nation permits" — has been echoed repeatedly by lawmakers in both parties in recent years, who have updated the law periodically with deadlines and restrictions to prompt quicker responses.

    But an Associated Press analysis of about 250 annual FOIA reports submitted to the Justice Department between 1998 and 2005 found that:

    _Backlogs are increasing at most agencies. Overall, the total number of requests pending at the 15 executive departments at the end of Fiscal Year 2004 was 147,810, a 24 percent increase over the previous year. Nine of the 15 federal departments reported an increase in their backlogs from Fiscal Year 2003 to Fiscal Year 2004.

    _Many backlogs are lengthy. The most recent reports available from the 50 worst laggards show the median wait for a request to be handled ranges from about three months to more than four years, depending on the agency. The slowest federal agency is the National Archives, where officers explained most of their requests, pending for an average of 1,631 days, have to be reviewed by the originating agency for declassification before they can be released.

    _Agencies involved with national security are clamping down on the amount of information they release to the public. The FBI, CIA and Defense departments, all agencies that have considerable investigative branches, again reduced the percentage of requested information released in full in 2005, continuing a trend dating back at least seven years. The Justice Department, however, showed a slight increase in the amount of information it released in full for the first time since the 2001 terror attacks.

    _A full month after the Feb. 1 deadline, about 30 percent of federal agencies and departments required to submit annual FOIA reports to the Justice Department had failed to do so. Those with late reports included the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services which, all together, received about 88 percent of all FOIA requests in the country in 2004.

    Paul McMasters, ombudsman of the nonpartisan First Amendment Center and one of the nation's leading authorities on freedom-of-information issues, said Congress tried to remedy the lagging response times in 1996 by extending the amount of time agencies have to respond, from ten to 20 days.

    He said that remedy seems to have backfired, prompting agencies simply to delay even longer. In addition, because there are no consequences for missing FOIA deadlines, McMasters said few FOIA directors seem to take the legal requirements seriously.

    "There is absolutely no incentive for federal government employees to act with any sense of urgency on FOIA requests, and there are every sort of incentive to delay and delay," he said. "Those incentives are a culture of secrecy that has always existed in government, from 40 years ago when FOIA was passed to the present time."

    FOIA does not require agencies to release information within a certain amount of time. The law does, however, mandate that agencies respond to requests in some way within 20 days. These responses often come in the form of a postcard acknowledging that a request has been received.

    Actual processing often takes much longer. The most recent figures available show that a third of Cabinet departments had at least one agency where requests were pending for more than a year.

    Even requests that are stamped "expedited" based on an exceptional need or urgency can lag for many months. The Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, which is in charge of administering FOIA across the federal government, kept an expedited request pending for 185 days last year.

    Daniel Metcalfe, who directs the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, said that when a request is expedited it heads to the front of the line. But complicated requests can take a long time to complete, he said.

    "Even though the agency is trying its hardest to process the request as soon as practicable, it could take a long time because of the scope, volume or complexity of what is being sought."

    Congress introduced the "Faster FOIA Act" last spring, and President Bush issued an executive order in December, calling on agencies to take several consumer-friendly steps. Among them: streamlining the handling of requests under the FOIA and appointing senior officials to monitor compliance with the law.

    To date all 15 cabinet level agencies have appointed chief FOIA officers as required, although only seven of those agencies appear to meet Bush's specific requirement that these appointees be "at the Assistant Secretary or equivalent level."

    Bush also ordered agencies to streamline the handling of requests under the FOIA and appointing senior officials to monitor compliance with the law.

    But Bush's directive stopped short of modifying a 2001 policy issued by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft requiring agencies to carefully consider national security, effective law enforcement and personal privacy before releasing information. Ashcroft cited security concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks as the reason for the changes to open government laws.

    "The Bush-Cheney Administration sent a powerful message government-wide with the Ashcroft FOIA policy in 2001," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., a leading FOIA reform advocate who has several bills pending in Congress to modify the law.

    "That shifted the upper hand in FOIA requests from the public to federal agencies. The new policy says, in effect, 'When in doubt, don't disclose, and the Justice Department will support your denials in court.' It undermines FOIA's purpose, which is to facilitate the public's right to know the facts, not the government's ability to hide them," he said.

    His colleague, Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, said "more remains to be done to ensure that American citizens have access to the information they need and deserve."

    Cornyn is pressing for additional funding to address backlogs, which he said will "speed the rate at which information is given to the public."

    In its review, the AP found that in 2005, in addition to increasing backlogs, many agencies decreased the amount of information they were willing to release in full. FBI authorities gave just six out of every 1,000 FOI applicants everything they asked for, down from 50 out of every 1,000 in 1998. The CIA has seen a similar, steady decline: just 11 percent of the FOIA requests processed at the CIA were granted in total in 2004, down from 44 percent in 1998.

    Washington-based attorney Scott A. Hodes, who led the FBI's Freedom of Information litigation unit from 1998 to 2002, said there's an institution-wide inclination to avoid complying with the law.

    "It doesn't surprise me that most responses are late, and that they tend to deny a lot. Even though your higher level administration officials will say they like FOIA, there's a general dislike of FOIA," he said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    Jan 2005
    Angry judge questions U.S. death case against Moussaoui
    Judge to consider witness coaching by government lawyers

    Monday, March 13, 2006; Posted: 10:47 a.m. EST (15:47 GMT)

    ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) -- An angry federal judge unexpectedly recessed the death penalty trial of al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to consider whether government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option.

    The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial as the government informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration had coached four government FAA witnesses.

    The coaching violated the rule set by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.

    "This is the second significant error by the government affecting the constitutional rights of the defendant and the criminal justice system in this country in the context of a death case," Brinkema told lawyers in the case outside the presence of the jury.

    Defense attorney Edward MacMahon moved to have the judge dismiss the death penalty as a possible outcome, saying "this is not going to be a fair trial." In the alternative, he said, at least she should excuse the government's FAA witnesses from the case.

    Prosecutor David Novak replied that removing the FAA witnesses would "exclude half the government's case." Novak suggested instead that the problem could be fixed by a vigorous cross-examination by the defense.

    But Brinkema said she would need time to study what to do.

    "In all the years I've been on the bench, I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses," she said.

    Brinkema noted that last Thursday, Novak asked a question that she ruled out of order after the defense said the question should result in a mistrial. In that question, Novak suggested that Moussaoui might have had some responsibility to go back to the FBI, after he got a lawyer, and then confess his terrorist ties.

    Brinkema warned the government at that point that it was treading on shaky legal ground because she said she knew of no case where a failure to act resulted in a death penalty as a matter of law.

    Moussaoui pleaded guilty 11 months ago to conspiring with al Qaeda to hijack planes and commit other crimes.

    The sentencing trial is being held for the jury to choose between execution or life in prison without possibility of release.

    To obtain the death penalty, prosecutors must first prove Moussaoui took an action that led directly to deaths on September 11.

    Moussaoui denies he had any role in September 11 and says he was training for a possible future attack on the White House.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #9
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    Jan 2005
    Moussaoui's mother comforted by 9/11 mom at church gathering

    (Gold9472: Only in America.)

    March 13, 2006, 9:26 AM EST

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui was tearfully embraced by the mother of a World Trade Center victim at a church gathering.

    Aicha el-Wafi appeared at the "welcoming gathering" on Sunday in White Plains, about 25 miles north of ground zero, before returning home to France. The event included peace workers, anti-death-penalty activists and mothers from Memorial United Methodist Church.

    A sentencing trial entered its second week Monday in Virginia for Moussaoui, a confessed al-Qaida conspirator, who could face the death penalty.

    At Sunday's gathering, Connie Taylor, who lost her 37-year-old son, Bradley, on Sept. 11, stepped toward el-Wafi and embraced her. Many of those who formed a circle around them also began to cry, The Journal News reported.

    Taylor said she had concluded that el-Wafi's plight was greater than her own.

    "She is blaming her son, in part," Taylor said. "That must be so horrible. I didn't experience that."

    "The hardest suffering in the world today is that of parents who lose their children," el-Wafi said in French. "There will never be an explanation to justify this. The suffering will last forever."

    El-Wafi, who raised four children alone while working as a cleaning woman, said that she lost her son to an Islamist movement just as another mother might lose hers to drugs or a cult.

    She said that her older son has also joined an Islamist movement, in Lebanon. "In these movements, they look for the little cracks to get into people's minds and control them," she said.

    El-Wafi said her future might include work for peace and justice causes. In the fall of 2002, she arranged to meet in New York with six people who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.

    But for now, her life is in a holding pattern.

    "I am only a mother," she said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #10
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    Jan 2005
    Prosecutor used transcript to aid witness

    Associated Press

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The government lawyer who has jeopardized the prosecution of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui used a transcript of the first day of the trial to try to shape future testimony to meet or deflect possible defense attacks, court documents indicate.

    U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema suspended Moussaoui's sentencing trial Monday when she learned from prosecutors of e-mails sent to upcoming witnesses by Carla J. Martin, an attorney in the Transportation Security Administration.

    Arguing that Martin's e-mails tainted three government and four defense witnesses beyond repair, the defense has asked the judge to dismiss the government's bid to execute Moussaoui, the only person charged in this country in connection with al-Qaida's Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Martin could not be reached for comment.

    The judge sent the jury home until Wednesday and called a hearing Tuesday with Martin and the witnesses to decide what to do. Meantime, she ordered Martin's e-mails released to the public because "if the death penalty winds up being dismissed, the public has a right to know how and why it happened."

    Prosecutors had asked that the full text of the e-mails be kept from the public and the defense.

    In the 16 pages of e-mails, Martin criticizes the government's opening statement about how the Federal Aviation Administration would have responded to prevent the 9/11 attacks if Moussaoui hadn't lied about his terrorist connections when arrested at a Minnesota flight school Aug. 16, 2001.

    She told upcoming government witness Lynne Osmus the prosecutors' opening statement left gaps "the defense can drive a truck through."

    Martin concluded the government was going to mistakenly argue that if Moussaoui had told agents about buying short-bladed knives, like those used by the 9/11 hijackers, the FAA could have kept all of them off airplanes by airport screening with X-ray and magnetometer machines.

    "There is no way anyone could say that the (airline) carriers could have prevented all short-bladed knives from going through," she e-mailed Osmus. "Dave MUST elicit that from you and the airline witnesses on direct, and not allow the defense to cut your credibility on cross, (just as they did yesterday with the FBI witness). ..."

    Prosecutor David Novak told Brinkema on Monday that this was a harmless e-mail because the government never intended to claim airport screening was 100 percent effective.

    In an e-mail to government witness Claudio Manno, Martin notes that FAA did not know that FBI agents had found radical Middle Easterners taking flying lessons in Phoenix before 9/11 or that CIA Director George Tenet was briefed on Aug. 23 that an Islamic extremist named Moussaoui was taking pilot lessons.

    "The defense will exploit the fact that the FAA was not clued in to what was going on," Martin e-mailed Manno. "You need to assert that we did not necessarily need to wait until we got all available information, that we acted independently, indeed, we had a statutory mandate, to follow up on any issue that we thought was a threat to civil aviation."

    In several e-mails, Martin said, "Today, the FBI agent on the stand got tripped up" by defense lawyer Edward MacMahon. FBI agent Michael Anticev first asserted "I don't think anybody was looking at using aircraft as weapons." But MacMahon got him to acknowledge that the FBI knew before 9/11 that al-Qaida operative Abdul Hakim Murad arrested in the Philippines in 1995 told investigators of plans to fly a plane into CIA headquarters.

    She e-mailed Manno: "I've asked Matt to pull any unclass. Information on Murad - as I know we ran down this issue, deemed it not to be credible ... . Dave will need to go over that with you."

    Prosecutor Novak told the court he first learned of the coaching, which he called "horrendously wrong," in a voicemail from Martin last Friday evening. He told the judge he spent the weekend investigating what Martin did and gathering her e-mails.

    He said that six of the seven upcoming witnesses had read her e-mails and two of them had read the attached trial transcript. He was unable to locate one of the defense witnesses.

    Martin was admitted to the bar in 1990. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and got a law degree from the Washington College of Law. She worked in the FAA chief counsel's office but now works as a lawyer for TSA. After 9/11, Congress transferred responsibility for aviation security from FAA to the newly created TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, and a number of FAA employees transferred to TSA.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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