Moussaoui to FBI: I Plead the Fifth

Debater JUDGITO wonders how the government could have reasonably expected Moussaoui to tell the FBI everything he knew about Al Qaeda's plans. "Doesn't the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination apply in this case and, if not, why not?"

An intriguing question.

The defense has made this point, arguing that Moussaoui was under no legal obligation to confess anything.

Mike at agrees. He can't see how increasing "Moussaoui's legal liability because he refused to confess his crimes and fully cooperate with the FBI" would not be a violation of the Fifth Amendment. (The Old New Englander notes that the government attorney caught improperly coaching witnesses in the Moussaoui case has invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.)

The relevant clause of the Fifth Amendment reads: "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself...." Of course, Moussaoui wasn't a witness until about a week ago (at which point, granted, he did not seem particularly concerned with avoiding self-incrimination) and he was not indicted until December 2001. Was it a criminal case when he was interrogated months prior? Given these circumstances, did the Fifth Amendment even apply?

Peter G, commenting at the Talk Left blog, says the amendment -- specifically, the right to remain silent that is derived from it -- doesn't apply because Moussaoui did not remain silent; he lied to the FBI. Defense attorneys contend the FBI failed to use the information it already had, which they say was significantly more than their client knew. So how, they ask, can Moussaoui be put to death for those investigative lapses?

I appeal to those Debaters with expertise in the legal field to shed more light on this role of the Fifth Amendment in this case.

By Emily Messner |  April 12, 2006; 5:06 AM ET  | Category:  Your Take
Previous: Moussaoui: Dead or Alive? | Next: Enigma in an Orange Jumpsuit


Please email us to report offensive comments.

my legal expertise is more limited to IP - but as an attorney, I'm willing to add my two cents to this ongoing debate.

to put him to death would be a perversion of the justice system. the man, at best, is guilty of conspiracy and an accessory before the fact. so he chose not to spill the truth when confronted by the FBI - hundreds of persons sitting in interrogation rooms across the country do the same every day. in our court system, it is up to the government to provide proof of guilt or criminal activity - the accussed is not required to supply evidence of his guilt.

to sentence Moussaoui to death would result in more harm to our justice system than it would make people feel better. furthermore, a death sentence would only open up the pathway to automatic appeals for Moussaoui, continually reopening the wounds for the victims families.

Convict him to life in prison - fitting the crimes he has committed. note that his crimes do not warrant isolation - put him in general population. after a short while, given the realities of prision life, he will cease to be a burden to the govt.

and for the record, I support the death penalty - when applied fairly. some people by their actions show they do not deserve to be part of humanity and society.

Posted by: nancy | April 12, 2006 10:26 AM

At English common law, until the Evidence Act of 1898, the defendant not only had no obligation to testify but could not testify, as it was assumed that anything the defendant said would be self-serving. Thus, the British colonial government's practice of putting defendants on the stand was an affront to what British citizens considered proper at the time of the First American Revolution, and their testimony was generally considered, at least by the American colonists, to be coerced and undependable.

There has been a recent trend to prosecute all statements made to investigators or prosecutors with which the government disagrees. Thus any one who speaks to a federal agent puts his liberty and property at risk unless he simply repeats the statements that he has been coached to say by the government. Even then, he had better have a clear record as to what that he was instructed to say, or if the case blows up, the Dept. of Justice will prosecute the witness even though its agents suborned perjury.

Under Alberto Gonzales, DoJ and FBI operate more like enforcers for a mob than the representatives of justice. They have become simply a bunch of thugs in socially acceptable colors.

Posted by: Mike Deal | April 12, 2006 01:10 PM

I'm not a lawyer, but I stayed at a Holiday, that doesn't count much...but I had a good grounding in military law (several UCMJ cases and a general court martial of a soldier in our unit) and the basis of rules of engaging (and killing) the enemy.

What is wrong is trying to fit an enemy soldier or agent in as a "criminal".

To be "criminal" there should be some widely held opprobium to the act. In most instances, what the criminal does should be at least conceeded as lawless by most of the criminals. Yet we laude our spies and WWII saboteurs. We write movies about them, give them medals...consider them very brave people because it is usually death if they are caught. The enemy who sheds his uniform and penetrates lines is the greatest potential force multiplier of all....from spying and sabotage, able to inflict enormous damage. From blowing up a heavy water plant in Norway and killing dozens to the French spy that allowed Napoleon to massacre 10,000 unprepared Spanish troops. Or having 19 warriors able to dispatch 3,000 and cause 1.5 trillion in damage for an operation that only cost 2 million. On the other hand, the 19 9/11 Jihadis - if they fought engaging our forces or forces of Afghan allies in the open, distinguished from civilians - just might be able to kill 1 or two soldiers before they are whacked. So hostiles find use of Attas, Moussaouis, OSS agents, Rosenberg spy rings strongly alluring, even vital, in wartime.

But long before even Nathan Hale and Major Andre were hanged, caught spies were always dealt with by military justice. Same with saboteurs. Because we wished to strongly discourage enemy penetration gained by shedding uniforms. THe Hague and Geneva Conventions recognized the legitimacy of this because the other danger of fighting out of uniform and blending with civilian populations is the threat between foe and non-combatant becomes indistinguishable to Armies...and in truly desperate, existential war...the surest way to win is to target all in a population if the enemy refuses to separate and fight in the open. People with no familiarity of the Military or the centuries of brutal war where killing all was the answer to not being able to pick enemy soldiers apart from enemy civilians fail to understand that military tribunals and laws allowing the interrogation and swift dispatch of enemy soldiers out of uniform is first and foremost intended on sparing civilians who they seek to hide amongst. That is one of the central objectives of Hague and Geneva - requiring soldiers to distinguish themselves from civilians in return for protections if they surrender or are captured - or be punished with no POW rights and eventual execution.
In military law, in wartime, the rights and fate of a Moussaoui are about as cut and dried as they can get. Even backed by a 9-0 US Supreme Court verdict from 1942 saying that no POW rights, no habeas corpus, and death were proper for Nazi saboteurs, inc. American traitors.

But the "enemy rights" crowd in America, led by the liberal Jewish attorneys running the ACLU, and many civilian lawyers in holding office in Congress were absolutely convinced that their profession is the crown jewel of America, liberal activists judges just aching to take the conduct of military justice away from the military and grab it as their own - began howling and screaming for "enemy rights" while the deathpit in NYC still smoked. And said civilian courts must "show the world", especially the noble people of the Religion of Peace...just how many "rights" we wish to generously give terrorists, spies, and saboteurs. To be more like the Euros who wished to give Slobodan Milosevic and cronies 10+ years of unlimited due process to show "how much we care for the rights of genocidal people"..And those Eurowenies gave strong backing to their US friends that distinguishing between a Jihadi terrorist and a Freedom fighter soldier can only be done by an International Court or a civilian criminal court...if moral relativism can be surmounted to even give authority to such courts...given the objection of many Muslim nations to calling any act of terror on Crusader Zionists a crime...

But we are finding how much pounding it takes to fit square peg soldier Moussaoui into a round criminal civilian hole. Everyone agrees Moussaoui was here to kill thousands by unlawful combat, and ought to be held accountable for America's bloodiest day on our own soil since Antitiem. Anyone in favor of the death penalty sees it should go to Moussaoui, anti-death people say killing unlawful soldiers only "gives them what they want". But those same people also blubber for the welfare of Mumia, Tookie, and Tim McVeigh.

1. The main problem is you can't tie a terrorist, without direct involvement in a specific act of murder, to the death sentence the Almighty 9/11 Victims Families and many others demanded. Not without massive convolutions in presumption and expanding RICO to holding all members of a group responsible (and Moussaoui precendent would expand that to domestic groups since he is not being tried as a soldier in a war but as an undifferentiated from any American - criminal) to any action committed by the group - even while lacking direct knowledge.

2. The other problem is that a saner and savvier Islamoid warrior than Moussaoui - the next ones - would have followed the Al Qaeda textbook on interrogation resistance tactics that Moussaoui disregarded. If captured, use your cover story you have rehearsed if captured by military, and otherwise remain silent and demand counsel - resist interrogators who could ruin your Jihad if you break by barring Paradise to you. If captured by civilians, remain silent and demand lawyers from the ACLU if in the US, or in Europe...demand lawyers supplied by several groups listed in the Al Qaeda Handbook.

1. The civilian approach to get maximum punishment for Moussaoui and make him pay for 9/11 has expanded "presumption" into death penalty cases. (If he talked, the presumption is the geniuses at the FBI would have run out and located his 9/11 involved associates in record time after connecting the dots, even though he had no knowledge of the Plot). And worse, it says when any member of a government-designated "violent extremist group" like environmental, animal rights, ethnic extremists, violent abortion protestors are arrested, they may not have the right in the future to the 5th, the right to confidential lawyers counsel...but are now "bound" to implicate themslves and name names or suffer prosecution for any crime committed by any other member of the group that "would be presumed to have been stopped by the heroes of government law enforcement" if names were immediately spilled. Even if the terrorist is given a lawyer to work out a formal "plea deal" those things are not set up to happen quickly. and a savvy Islamoid has to weigh likelihood of the enemy figuring out a plot if he just stays silent, the likelihood that stalling in a plea deal will allow his confederates time to react to his capture and alter plans so his info gets him both leniency and allows Jihad operation completion or time for them to get away..

Which is why the denial of the 5th to Moussaoui in the penalty phase, or the implications on future enemy soldiers or PETA why I think he will win on appeal if he gets death.

2. A savvy future Islamoid has to weigh likelihood of the enemy civilian prosecutors and cops figuring out a plot if he just stays silent, the likelihood that stalling in a plea deal will allow his confederates time to react to his capture and alter plans so his info gets him both leniency and allows Jihad operation completion or time for them to get away..Despite the TV dramas about cops demanding the kidnapper reveal the confederates and the plot immediately in return for leniency...courts have ruled that it denies suspect rights not to have a lawyer take the time to fully brief the suspect on law and rights until the suspect acts with best legal advice and a formal plea deal goes through the various levels of drafting and approval. And even if that takes days, courts have said that if the "process was moving forward" the allegation the suspect was "not cooperating with authorities" cannot be used as an aggravating factor.

In military law, Moussaoui would know within minutes from his captors that he was dead certain to be considered an unlawful enemy combatant with no POW protections, no right to civilian habeas corpus, and liable for execution per the Hague and Geneva Conventions if found guilty by a competent military tribunal. Morover,he would be allowed to be interrogated without freedom to lawyer up or claim POW protection from interrogation. And he could be told right from the start he had a very short time to take any offer of leniency from his military captors.


Bottom line? BIIIIIG mistake by Congressional Democrats, Bush, and Ashcroft to put an enemy soldier in civilian court to face death for a "crime" he knew nothing about, rather than let the military prosecute on certain grounds he was an unlawful enemy combatant. Worse, to make new death penalty law that in certain cases the 5th must be waived in application, and that law enforcement is omniscience in plot-stopping if they have the right to extract all information unrelated to a plot from any member or supporter of a group or enemy cell - and all those people may be threatened with death unless they talk, if other members of the group who could have been ID'd go ahead and kill in a plot the arrestee knows nothing about...

Does anyone think that will pass Constitutional muster, or that Congress will expand the death penalty - to all members of a conspiracy under a broadened RICO of a capital offense "could have been prevented", according to the cops or FBI agents that failed to stop a plot??

Boy, will the 9/11 Victims Families be pissed when issues surrounding protecting the 5th for all American civilians in the future shield a foreign enemy combatant planing a military strike following his fellow Islamoid's victory. As well as lots of other Americans, even a considerable number opposed to death sentences.

If Zack was tried by a military tribunal, the trial would have been over with in a month or so back in 1993. He would be on death row with Harvard and Yale Law working with the ACLU to find tangential legal arguments to save the "brave, crazy man" through esoteric arguments, or at least using due process to let Moussaoui live far longer than FDR let the Nazi enemy agents live (FDR ordered their execution the day SCOTUS upheld the saboteur's Military Tribunal Verdict. He would have been identical to the Nazi saboteurs in judicial review that would probably have to address the Lefty fetish that war does not exist except when two nations formally declare it, but otherwise be guided by the 9-0 Ex Parte Quirin decision the SCOTUS made against the Nazi saboteurs...unless the "Internationalists" say wiser European laws and higher Euro morality should overturn the unanimous Quirin verdict, US law, and the Constitutional War powers of Congress and the President.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 12, 2006 01:21 PM

A law student's take: Like all constitutional rights, the right of a criminal suspect "to remain silent" can be waived if not exercised. The problem with arguing that Moussaoui's 5th amendment rights were violated is that it appears that after being advised of his right to remain silent upon arrest, he started talking and answering questions. In doing so, he effectively waived his rights under the 5th amendment. (There is nothing illegal about investigators advising a defendant of his/her right to remain silent, and proceeding to ask questions. The burden is on the suspect to keep his mouth shut.)

The real problem with this case is the death penalty issue. Generally speaking, no one has a legal obligation to act and prevent the crimes of another, unless some special duty is owed to the victims of the criminal act. When talking about the death penalty, the Supreme Court has made it clear that when prosecuting a person who did not actually "pull the trigger," the death penalty is an appropriate punishment only where the defendant's actions were a "major factor" in the resulting deaths. Given the speculative nature of the causal chain linking Moussoui to the events of 9/11 ("had he told us X, we would have done Y, thereby resulting in Z"), it is difficult to see how the prosecution can meet this burden.

Nonetheless, Moussoui will probably be executed. He has served as a convenient scapegoat for the horrors of that day, and his execution will, in theory, provide some closure for the families of the victims of 9/11 while taking the attention off of the ineptitude and utter failure of leadership that allowed 19 men armed with box cutters to kill 3000 people. 9/11 happened because Bush & Co. ignored the threat until it was too late.
So we execute Moussoui for his failure to act, and we'll all feel better, even though there are a lot of other people out there who could have done a lot more to stop 9/11 than Moussoui ever could have.

Posted by: Devin | April 12, 2006 01:39 PM

It really is ironic - he doesn't tell the FBI what they want him to - presumably when they could have prevented the tragedies, but he confesses to conspiracy in court which will probably put him on death row.

No one is required to tell the police anything about impending crime unless they hold specific professional burdens - like a physician or social worker or teacher who knows a client is abusing a child.

Ordinary folks - engaged in conspiracy or not - citizen or not - have no specific obligation to talk to the police/FBI/govt at all.

Had he warned of the conspiracy in a timely fashion, and it happened still, I speculate he'd still face the consequences he does today - how many terrorists have the US put to trial again ...?

Had he helped avert the tragedy, he probably would have some plea bargain deal - but still face dramatic negative consequences.

On the other hand, had the FBI chain of command not been utterly deaf to the numerous appeals out of the minneapolis office to check this guy out, his computer and all the rest ... had the nation's private airlines had security worth the name instead of low-wage immigrant workers ..... but remember, it's all Moussaoui's fault for not spilling the beans. A guy who sees himself at war with us.

Pathetic man, but there's a lot of screw up to account for by many more than just this one low end conspiratorial loser.

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 12, 2006 01:55 PM

what is most relevant is why his name is being splashed all over the place,

9/11 tapes are being played as the presidents popularity plummets.

it would seem to me to be a simple ploy by the president and the defense department to give credibility to their


which if you looked here:

you would see that they people in charge had decided that preemptive strikes would be in our best interest in 1997.

Cheyney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfield, Jeb Bush and about 12 others have signed and agreed with it.....


Before 9/11.

It's also a known fact that the WTC buildings went down like a Las Vegas demolition.

With planes hanging out the side of them.

It's also a known fact that the Bin Laden royal family was flown out of the United States, while all of the airports were shut down, immediately after the incident, as if it were pre-planned.

I could care less what Moussaoui is or isn't...but a common ploy when you commit a robbery is to cause a distraction _in_the_crowd_ while you change, remove, or steal something...

so I'd ask you this:

what is going on _right_ _now_ that they, meaning

your leaders don't want you to look at?


Posted by: what happens to him is irrelevant. | April 12, 2006 02:23 PM

Let's be clear - an American citizen - and no matter how you like it, Moussaoui qualifies - is under no obligation to break his Fifth Amendment rights - ever.

Why not punish him by locking him up forever, and not giving him the martyrdom for his cause that he wants, the martyrdom that will rally even more terrorists to al-Qaeda's side worldwide?

That would be the prudent thing. It would also be vicious payback, and I'm for that.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 12, 2006 02:31 PM

you can grind him up for sausage, or give him an all_expenses paid vacation to purgatory...

I don't care.

He's nobody.

He's not responsible in a big way.

You want who's responsible for 9/11, check the CIA, the bush family involvement in government, the connection with the Bin Laden family, the UAE...

do an accountants forensics search of the bush families, going back to Zapata Oil...and his(george h.w.bush) connection with the Mafia, and CIA.

'course, that would mean you'd have to give up the assumption that we'd been attacked but you know,

kids have to grow up.


Posted by: my position is this... | April 12, 2006 03:08 PM

but how many movies do you see where someone takes a fall to protect

the family, even if the family is the mob, a gang or a branch of the government?

not that this is the case here,

but I get bored with people that just,


"the framing,"

Kaiser Bill, Hitler they had their own framing.

WE created Hitler with our unfair treatment of Germany after WWII,

we're creating the terrorists with our uneven work with Iraq,

and defending Israel no matter what.

hello yugoslavia!

I'll be seeing you tonight.


Posted by: I'm not saying he is... | April 12, 2006 03:15 PM

Let me say right from the beginning that I like almost nothing this Administration has done. Their war on terror is more a war on the American people. That said, if Moussaoui doesn't qualify as a foreign terrorist, then no one does. As a terrorist, I view him in the same light as we would have viewed a German saboteur during Waorld War II. He has no Fifth Amendment rights and I cannot see why we bothered to try him to bein with. He deserves a quick death by firing squad and nothing more.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | April 12, 2006 03:39 PM

I was enjoying Chris Ford's treatise on the Fifth Amenment implications of Mousawi's falsehoods to the FBI, when I came across one statement that I cannot let pass without comment. He refers to the "liberal Jews" that run the ACLU. That remark is gratuitous and offensive to many. I understand that Chris Ford has the First Amendment right to spout such stupidity, and it is my right to call him on it, lest it be overlooked and assumed to be inoffensive.

Posted by: Sam Gordon | April 12, 2006 03:48 PM

He gave up his 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination because he spoke to the FBI after being arrested and he took the stand in his own defense.

Posted by: JAR | April 12, 2006 03:50 PM

Sam -
People make offensive comments all of the time. They are generally idiots. In Moussaoui's case, he was acting as an enemy saboteur. His citizenship or lack thereof ought not be an issue at all. He was acting as an enemy agent, bent on taking the lives of American's, and as such fall under a special circumstance and set of laws (international laws, mind you) that govern spies and saboteur's. The penalty is death by firing squad.

The FBI, for my fellow liberal collegues, are about all we have left for competent intelligence gathering and I would much rather support them than smack them around. The FBI people I have met are generally honest law enforement professionals who do the best they can. Of course they interrogated Moussaoui! They knew full well what he was up to, they were simply trying to prevent a whole bunch of people from dying by trying to unwind the plot he was involved in. That does not denigrate the FBI and it certainly doesn't mitigate what Moussaoui was up to. The field agents involved deserve a "thank you" and Moussaoui deserves death in front of a firing squad.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | April 12, 2006 04:01 PM

Devin wrote:
"A law student's take: Like all constitutional rights, the right of a criminal suspect "to remain silent" can be waived if not exercised. The problem with arguing that Moussaoui's 5th amendment rights were violated is that it appears that after being advised of his right to remain silent upon arrest, he started talking and answering questions. In doing so, he effectively waived his rights under the 5th amendment. (There is nothing illegal about investigators advising a defendant of his/her right to remain silent, and proceeding to ask questions. The burden is on the suspect to keep his mouth shut.)"

I'm neither an attorney or a law student but this particular formulation you provide is most troubling.
1. "can be waived if not exercised".....waived by whom? Are you suggesting that a criminal suspect waives his right "to remain silent" by breaking his silence? In any way, shape or form? He is asked, "How do you plead to the charge?" He says, "Not Guilty." Prosecutor turns to the Judge and announces he wishes to call the defendant to the stand as he has clearly broken his silence and must therefore answer relevant questions put to him. At a minimum, I am convinced you have a lot more explaining to do here Devin.
2. I frankly do not know whether he invoked his 5th Amendment rights when interrogated by the FBI. And I do not know precisely what questions the FBI actually put to him. As I understand it from the reporting I have read, he lied when answering some or all of those questions. As I understand it, it is a crime to lie to an FBI agent. That is not what he is charged with in this trial. What he is charged with is causing the death of at least one person on 9/11 as a consequence of having lied in answering specific questions put to him by the FBI, i.e. of having failed to answer them truthfully. Unfortunately, it appears as though none of these questions, if answered truthfully, would have in and of themselves directly exposed the 9/11 plot. So it is necessary for the government to conjecture that administrative actions and an investigation based on truthful answers would have led to its exposure or prevention. One thing is for sure. I will never voluntarily answer a question put to me by the FBI. Mike Deal's post explains why I won't.

Devin wrote.... " The real problem with this case is the death penalty issue."

I beg to differ. The real problem with this case is that he is charged with a crime he did not commit, i.e. the deaths consequent to the events of 9/11, in addition to the crime he did commit, and for which he has already plead guilty. As usual, this administration just can't help itself in going a charge too far.

Devin wrote..... "So we execute Moussoui for his failure to act, and we'll all feel better,"

Wrong again. I won't feel better at all; in fact I will be dismayed. Not because Moussaoui will be in Allah's hands, but because we will have perverted and corrupted our own judicial system to serve the passing needs of politics. This is dangerous for all the reasons specifically outlined by Chris Ford.

Once again I ask, why has the government failed to bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed to trial before either a Military Tribunal or a civilian court? Why are we bypassing those who were directly responsible for 9/11 and who are in our custody? Can anyone explain this in rational terms?

Posted by: Cayambe | April 12, 2006 05:37 PM

Your position that the Moussaoui matter is appropriate to a Military Tribunal is one I agree with. The problem is that the administration has chosen to indict and try him under our civilian court system under the rules and standards that come with it. In order to get the death penalty here they must pervert that system. Corrupting our system of justice is not acceptable in any circumstances.

You wrote.... "The FBI people I have met are generally honest law enforcement professionals who do the best they can."

Some are, some aren't; unfortunately I can't necessarily detect the difference in advance. In addition, and in any case, it is not the field agent who has the last word; it is the US Attorney's following the directions of their politically appointed supervisors in the Justice Department.

As to the agents who interrogated Moussawi.... actually they didn't know what he was up to, they suspected what he was up to and did everything they could to investigate what they suspected. Their roadblock was the Attorney General's Office, which refused to apply for a search warrant on the agent's behalf.

Posted by: Cayambe | April 12, 2006 06:06 PM

Mike Brooks - While there is merit in "valuing" the service of all cops, the patriotism of generals, and recognition that "most" are fine upstanding folks trying to do the right thing, we cannot excuse boobery, CYA behavior that thwarts the purpose of an organization, or rank incompetence. Especially if it costs lives. We cannot kneejerk defend the cop that violates shooting protocols because he is scared and trigger-happy and kills clearly unarmed suspects wantonly. Nor a general that ignores intel reports and massacres his own Division through stupidity or desire to suck up and get promoted. Or FBI officials whose ineptness, use of upgraded secretaries as "intelligence analysts" despite no formal training, and threats made against subordinates to discipline them if they pushed disclosure of embarassing facts about a terrorist that conflicted with "Headquarters assessment".

I have said that trying enemy soldiers in civilian court is a colossal error, generating some real subversions of Constitutional protections we all care about that may bite the common American citizen in the future if the right against self-incrimination is removed for one Islamoid flake - but I do note that the openess of the courtroom has exposed elements of the FBI's string of incredible errors before 9/11 that have been with held for over 4 years by the Executive Branch from even the 9/11 Commission investigators - and the contents of tapes made on 9/11 that the Executive thought "best" to with hold from the general public.

I too treasure the Courts as a check on the ambitions of every Administration to keep as many people in the dark as possible and cover up embarassments like the FBI, Gorelick's "Wall", and tapes of the "evildoers" who "hijacked the Religion of Peace" heard praying and praising "Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate" almost through the entire hijacking..

But civilian courts and the laws they administer were never crafted with a purpose of bringing enemy belligerants to justice. We easily forget that the idiots in charge pre-9/11 were so wrapped up in a law enforcement approach to terrorism and enemy combatants that we had a commando team almost sink a billion dollar warship, blow up an Air Force base killing 19 and wounding 300 of our troops and our *no kidding!* response was to send cops with warrants to Yemen, and Pakistan to demand the "criminals be extradited to the US for waiting lawyers." Of course the gumshoes and the hundreds of warrants issued by Big, Important Lawyers in Robes and Justice Dept lawyers on 80 dollar a sheave paper embossed with big portentous seals were laughed at by the Jihadis, Saddan, the Iranian Ayatollahs, and Taliban.

Imagine our humorous reaction if Islamic religious police showed up here with impressive-looking Fatwa documents demanding we turn over various members of our troops to Sharia Courts for killing Holy Martyrs and offenses against the Prophet.

And the other thing is our notion of civilian justice is to presume innocence of the enemy combatant, if civilian courts are so misused - and give full credence to "defense lawyers" arguments about enemy justifications, how American root causes are behind all unlawful Islamoid combatant incidents, trying to establish "precious enemy civil liberties", demands that evidence have a custody chain, and that secrets be revealed...and in the open so that Al Qaeda and their ACLU friends can determine what they did wrong and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

What a wonderful way to fight a war...make what to do to enemy a divisive public debate conducted by lawyers - rather than the Ameican people, our leaders, and our troops forging a wartime consensus of what should be done!


And yes, Sam, the liberal Jews do dominate the ACLU's policy centers, and contribute most of the donations and pro bono legal muscle... and have for some time. No more factually incorrect than that liberal Jews, many the ancestors of todays ACLU top donors and leaders, once dominated the American Communist Party. So it is more than mildly ironic that the ACLU is the biggest defender of captured Islamoids here, abroad, and at Gitmo.

Now, that truth may be offensive and claimed by people like you best never mentioned to "avoid offense, since Jews have suffered much"...but it is like pulling out the anti-Semitism charge for anyone saying Hollywood's power elite with final approval for movies made and TV themes is dominated by liberal Jews. We seem to have no reticence to name other special interest groups "dominating" other organizations or particular politicians. Even pretensions of minority status and past victimhood are not a great defense at excluding them from all criticism as "minority victims above criticism", particularly when they have power and act against other minorities or the majority -in pushing an inamicable agenda.

Can you say " The Christian Religious Right??" Halliburton? "Trial Lawyers"? "Liberal Democratic Japanese-Americans dominate Hawaiian politics even though they are only 20% of Hawaians".?

Michael Medved, at the time of "The Passion of Christ" and Hollywood's and the ADL's failed attempt to blacklist it and block distribution - Medved, a conservative Jew himself, responded by saying Of Course Hollywood is run by liberal Jews...and they do work to make movies hew to various agendas like being pro-gay, multi-culti, while editing Muslim bad guys out of movies and TV shows while favoring showing corrupt American companies and crazed Christian evangelicals behind evil plots. But Medved said that the viewing public had ultimate power over the Hollywood power elite...and proved it by rejecting so many of Hollywoods "message" movies and TV shows. While the viewers had responded to the merits of "The Passion" and were flocking to it.

In a similar way, the overreach of the ACLU in Christian-bashing, Boy Scout bashing, and being the foremost defenders of enemy combatant rights - happens in the face of a public that recoils from their agenda and seeks to limit the ACLU's goals in Congress and by blocking appointment of liberal activist judges that subvert democratic institutions and try ruling from the bench.

If you determine a special interest group is harmful to your values and interests, and wish to defeat what they are seeking to must understand who your foe is, what drives them, where they get power, resources, and funding from....or you will likely fail in stopping them. Sun Tsu said that deep understanding of the nature of a foe was the critical 1st step, before even an assessment of their weaknesses and your strengths and preparation for combating them could happen.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 12, 2006 06:37 PM

Again, I am neither an attorney nor a law student. In fact, maybe I watch "Law And Order" (or, dating myself, used to watch "Perry Mason") too much, but it seems to me there's no LEGAL ground (emotions aside, as they must be for a judicial system to mean anything) to sentence Moussaoui to death.
Because I DO know a couple of points of law: -
1. You can never completely give up your right to remain silent, or against self-incrimination; they can always be reclaimed at any time. The only downside is that anything you said in the meantime remains on the record.
2. While lying to the police or FBI IS a crime in itself, as is perjury on the witness stand, neither carries anything approaching a death sentence, regardless of how egregious the lie.
In fact, the judge normally cautions the jury that a testifying defendant may well be lying on his own behalf; indeed, part of their job is to determine the credibility of ALL witnesses. (Interesting question: Has any defendant ever been subsequently convicted of perjury, especially after an acquittal?)
So, it seems the only pertinent question to ask to determine if the death penalty applies would go something like: Was his contribution to the crime of sufficient magnitude that, had he not been a part of it, it is reasonably certain fewer deaths would have occurred? (No need to show how many or whose - just fewer, beyond a reasonable doubt.)
Based on what I've heard and read, it seems everything about 9/11 probably would have happened virtually the same if the other 19 had never heard of Moussaoui!

Posted by: JUDGITO | April 12, 2006 06:57 PM

Read this:
No solitary and any special treatment. Stick him in with the White Supremist prisoners (whatever they call themselves). He won't last long. No grand execution, but death nevertheless.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 12, 2006 11:01 PM

kids don't grow up.

That's just a statement about how seriously everyone is taking this question while ignoring

the context, which is blatant government corruption, no proof of culpability, warning signs everywhere that say that on some level the administration _was_ and _is_ involved...

and you're all like

obviously he's a _blank_ and you know how _blanks_ are...

hang him from thet tree ovah theah...

I'm okay, about you wanting to hang him, I'm not okay with your primitive,
it's "us against them" behavior....tribalism, ethnicity, intolerance are the tools of injustice...

I'm okay with slaughter when it's justified, I eat animals, I would kill them, if I wanted to eat one. I am present with my consumption, I don't ask you to kill animals for me...I don't live in comic books.


Posted by: I guess, some | April 13, 2006 12:01 AM

I'm a little late joining this debate and probably should have wrote this days ago but now's as good a time as any.
The terrorists are clearly winning this war on terrorism. They are successfully manipulating us into doing exactly what they want us to do. Take Moussaoui, he wants us to put him to death. He want to be a martyr and he wants us to do it for him. This is why he took the stand. He wanted to incriminate himself. If we put him to death, then he gets 70 virgins in heaven. He gets paradise, at least in his mind. He clearly wants nothing more than to die at our hands and we are gladly going to do it in the name of revenge.
Not justice, but revenge. It's not justice when we give him what he wants. Its revenge because we are giving him what he wants so that we can feel better.
Furthermore, they have succeeded in forcing us to take away some of our freedoms that they so hate.
Our fear, hate, racism, and bigotry has been used as a recruiting pitch.
Our bullying foreign policy has only reinforced the idea of the great satan and created more new terrorists.
They have substantial control over our economy through our dependence on foreign oil and we are on the edge of an economic collapse as it becomes more and more difficult for the population to consume because of a lack wage growth.
We have become more isolated from the rest of the world due to this war on terror which reduces our strength and effectiveness.
We need a change of direction. A new approach to this situation and that begins with a better understanding of what the terrorists are after and what they wish to accomplish. They couldn't be happier with what has become of this nation since the attacks on 911. We must engage more effectively and most importantly we must stop giving in to what they want us to do. They clearly understand us far better than we understand them. Much like Iraq, we can't afford to lose this war.

Posted by: Publius | April 13, 2006 12:32 AM

Will in Seattle - "Why not punish him by locking him up forever, and not giving him the martyrdom for his cause that he wants, the martyrdom that will rally even more terrorists to al-Qaeda's side worldwide?
That would be the prudent thing."

There is an element of craveness in the overwhelming concern Lefties feel for the hair trigger temper of various Muslims - and how killing, imprisoning, not bowing and scraping before any Muslim prisoner "so as not to offend", or executing an illegal soldier here planning on butchering thousands of us "will only give them what they want". Something we Americans have lacked as we confronted far more formidable enemies as we DARED to piss off Germans, Soviets, Red Chinese.....Another favorite Lefty meme is that "you can't fight 1.2 billion people. You are bound to lose." Which means I guess the Lefties would run for the nearest Chinese (1.2 billion of them) or Indian (same) boot to lick if they attack us. Despite Lefty panty-wetting fear factors, we (Asia and the West) are more powerful with respect to confronting and defeating Islamoids with force than at any time in the bloody history of that aggressive, warlike faith.

I am a little sick of Lefties that tell us we can't kill Muslims because it only makes them stronger, and we can't imprison them without "trials in US civil courts" for "crimes" or we are compelled by our Constitution to let them go...because the longer we keep Islamoids behind bars - the angrier Muslims will get and they will crank out more terrorists until we run out of ACLU lawyers to succor them and thus have to declare ourselves defeated.

Lefties argue for the Christian Peacemaker approach - apologize for our evil Western Civ, turn the other cheek when they kill, and make them like us!!! (They learned that from how to behave on a nursery school playground....but wail and blubber about "enemy rights" when we send Islamoids to their "time-out room".

Everytime we capture or whack an Islamoid, by their religion, they are automatic martyrs. Every suicide run makes for revered martyrs.

So it's more than a little counterproductive to say that if only we put them in prison and show reverence towards their Qu'ran and give them tasty food, they will be content and wait for the ACLU to spring them. The Islamoids are quite serious about continuing Jihad in prison. You can be sure they seek to get their writings on the Internet, convert other prisoners to radical Islam, and will regularly attempt to injure or kill guards.


Nice posts, Cayambe.

You did ask a good question.

"Once again I ask, why has the government failed to bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed to trial before either a Military Tribunal or a civilian court? Why are we bypassing those who were directly responsible for 9/11 and who are in our custody? Can anyone explain this in rational terms?"

I hate to make everything a WWII analogy, but it really is the best example. We had many Nazis in captivity, many from as far back as 1940, before war's end. Rudolf Hess was the most famous, but the US had over 2 million German POWs (not assigned a single ACLU lawyer oddly enough!), and the Russians had thousands who they planned to shoot as atrocity committers or staunch anti-communists and class enemies.

But the trials waited until wars end...the value of keeping the prisoners available for interrogation and cross checking fresh capturees and eventual testimony of the Nazis in unlawful enemy combatant status against other Nazis captured later or taken after surrender was too high in value to do "trials" while the war was going on. Even the Soviets generally waited, though they didn't mind a passel of Nazis being worked or freezing to death in the meantime. (Nazis were even more murderous and brutal to captured Soviets because Stalin stupidly had refused to sign the Geneva Conventions as an "imperialist capitalist artifice")

Which brings up your man, KSM, who was the one who was the guy who thought up 9/11 and served as it's organizer, planner, and commander after the CEO (Binnie) said it all sounded good and let KSM run with it. KSM still has high value in cross-checking stories and would love a team of ACLU lawyers so he can claim Toooooooorrrrttuuuuuure!!! Deny fault, blame US "root causes" for 9/11 and other attacks, and while in deluxe civilian jails here with all his priviledges, write what would sure to be the #1 bestseller in the Muslim world and maybe even in the US. KSM would be sure to outsell David Berkowitz's books, have more groupies seeking to have sex with him or just pour their love out for him in letters than Ted Bundy, and more tribute websites by Lefties than they gave Tookie or Mumia.

But what I would like is rock solid confidence 1st that the ACLU can't rescue him in US courts...then try and get a censored interview or something similar out to the US public and the Islamic world...if his comments are productive. I'd like to have a text of his remarks on why he did it, if he has any regrets or sadness about the victims, how he transformed from a well-liked college student in his 4 years in North Carolina to transformed into embracing Jihad and supporting the butchery of all infidels, even women and children. What he remembers of his American friends...what his religious views are. What his captivity is like, how he feels about breaking and giving info that kills or captures more Islamoids.

The Bush Administration is far too secret in disclosing what they know of 9/11 and Iraq's atrocities long after what they found has lost immediate intelligence value. They, as in so many other matters where their excessive secrecy has alienated the American public, foreign allies, even members of Congress of their own Party - have an obligation to be more forthcoming about matters of high importance to voters and policy-makers.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 13, 2006 12:36 AM

It's amazing that people who have no knowledge of the law don't let that fact get in the way of their prognosticating about this case. He waived his 5th amendment rights when he willingly started talking to the FBI. There is nothing tricky here. Just because you watch CSI or Perry Mason doesn't mean you are qualified to blabber on incessantly about this.

To the idiots who still maintain that the buildings were demolished by the gov' a freaking clue. Pschologists believe that conspiracy theorists are bascially maladjusted twits with an inferiority complex. How else to explain their continuous need to "know something that no one else knows". Uh-huh. Read the freaking studies:

Posted by: | April 13, 2006 12:45 AM



E-VOTING 2006: The Approaching Train Wreck
Our Elections are Now Officially 'A National Disaster in the Making'


Our Elections are Now Officially 'A National Disaster in the Making'

By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org Normally this space is taken with my ideas of what are the "Top 5" voting news stories for the week. Today I am going...

By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

Normally this space is taken with my ideas of what are the "Top 5" voting news stories for the week. Today I am going to use this space to talk about what I see as the beginning of a disaster in the making with our elections. This isn't the election fraud that some point to when they talk about the vendors and some elections officials. It's not about recounts or audits. This is a real, get your hands around it, happening problem that will disrupt our election process if we do not do something about it now. While we have been involved in all of our issues about Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or "touch-screen") voting machines or paper ballots the electronic voting machine vendors have been wreaking complete havoc across the country.


Posted by: CHE | April 13, 2006 03:51 AM




Posted by: CHE | April 13, 2006 03:52 AM

Unknown wrote:


What's the implication? We all know the same things (preposterous), or that it is reserved for those with superority complexes to know what others do not (sounds like the definition of a conspiracy).

Posted by: On the plantation | April 13, 2006 07:55 AM

Unknown's quote:

". . . conspiracy theorists are bascially maladjusted twits with an inferiority complex. How else to explain their continuous need to "know something that no one else knows".

Somehow this didn't post first try.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 13, 2006 07:57 AM

The right to lie is a first amendment protection and the law of it being a crime to lie to the government is unconstitutional. The biblical prohibition is to not bear false witness AGAINST thy neighbor not FOR thy neighbor or against or for thy self. Slander and Libel are both bearing false witness against your neighbor and immoral. But lieing not against your neighbor is protecet speech by either or both the first and fifth amendments. I know of at least one State jurisdiction in which the defendent is allow to testify as a witness without being sworn, thus allowing the jury to hear his story and decide if he is truthful or not. It is up the government to prove that a person committed a crime without any assistance from a defendant. A defendent has a right to lie to prevent violation of their fifth amendment rights. Unless a person has sworn that it is the truth, they have the right to lie to the government about one own actions and under the first amendment the right not to swear to the truthfulness of any statement.

Posted by: Freedom of Speech | April 13, 2006 11:22 AM

I would like to make a point that I haven't seen presented by either side nor been brought up in this forum. Was an attorney present during questioning of the defendant by the FBI? I would kind of take it that there was not. Under the Maranda rights notification process, was he even informed of his right to an attorney? More than likely not. The most likely scenario was he was picked up by an FBI agent, brought in for questioning, under what law was he arrested for? suspicious behavior, taking a course without reveling where the money came from to pay for it. The last time I knew these, or acting suspicious was not a crime. Therefore it really should not have made any difference what he said to them as long as he did not confess to a crime, under U.S. law they had no reason to hold him. Oh but I forgot under this administration U.S. laws are valid unless it suits the government, and the President is exempt!

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 13, 2006 11:53 AM

Sorry I ment to say " U.S. Laws are invalid unless it suits this administration otherwise and the President is exempt from all laws."

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 13, 2006 12:16 PM




April 13, 2006 -- Bill Frist uses IRS-like forms to lure contributions just days before taxes are due. First it was Elizabeth Dole who tried to con voters with a mailing that suspiciously resembled an IRS form. Now, just days before taxes must be filed, Bill Frist has resorted to the same tactic. These mass mailings are particularly targeted against senior citizens. The Federal Election Commission should investigate this ruse but as with all regulatory agencies, they are mere puppets doing the bidding of the GOP.

Posted by: CHE | April 13, 2006 12:47 PM

It seems to me that the entire premise of this debate is false. How can Moussaoui possibly have "rights" under the US Constitution, when he is not an American citizen?

Posted by: MDP | April 13, 2006 12:52 PM

Lived through the Cold War - You ask about lawyers. As I understand it, Zacharias was held as an illegal alien and questioned about his activities but - like with Atta and the other unlawful enemy combatants - was not held on any crime charge because to overt crime had yet been committed other than some FBI agents suspicions, quashed by higher-ups, that he was part of a group of Islamoids out to harm infidels.

He was not furnished a lawyer because he hadn't been charged with anything under the existing "civilian law enforcement model" for dealing with terrorists. Most of his questions were about his visa status and if he was here doing legit things. I loved the court testimony part about how FBI gumshoes visited his Islamoid associates in Norman Oklahoma, after taking Moussaoui into immigration hold, and noted posters displaying Osama Bin Laden and other prominant terrorists in two of his friends apartments - but had nothing to "arrest them on", feared no Mighty Lawyer in Robes would issue a warrant, and let them go.

When a foreign power sends unlawful combatants into enemy country to scout, find targets, assemble resources, do sabotage attacks like the WTC bombings or in WWII critical telephone exchanges in Chicago the Nazis wanted to hit - they ordinarily put their agents, spies, and saboteurs at high rish of military tribunals and death if caught. Except that the civilians in charge of many Western countries came to believe that Civilian law enforcement and a plethora of "Rights" given to enemy combatants was the way to go. And that since all the world respected the rule of "law" even US law as plead in Pakistan, Sharia Law as plead in Europe, or Israeli law in the Occupied West Bank - then all terror could be deterred by cops with warrants. Just such warrants were issued in NYC showing up in Yemen demanding remanding all the commandos involved in attacking a US Warship to NYC Courts, and presented to bewildered Talibani reps in Pakistan 30 or so times demanding, double demanding, double extra special demanding that their Al Qaeda guests be handed over for "FBI questioning" back in the USA.

The folly of the "law enforcement approach" to organized military attacks on us appeared obvious after 9/11, but in the years since the cries and bleats of the ACLU and other enemy rights advocates about the Poor, Poor noble Jihadi - all the sobbing over Islamoids at Gitmo - have drawn our enemy-loving activist lawyers, civilian courts, and judges and bumbling FBI back into saying final war fighting responsibility on the Homefront and prosecuting captured enemy is theirs.

The utter folly of trying a captured enemy soldier in a civilian court - with full US Constitutional Rights assigned to Moussaoui - should reawaken people to the nuttiness not just of "Zack" but the whole discredited "law enforcement concept".

And if you think Zack was bad, wait until we get some smooth, highly intelligent enemy agents that can better use the ACLU and other activist resources to go free or tie the courts up in knots for a decade and cost the taxpayers millions per enemy soldier in our custody and put in our "cost is no object as long as we in the legal community still write the laws mandating enriching all us lawyers" legal system.

Generally, when you need military to protect against and defeat people using high explosives, automatic weapons, and seeking WMD...vs cops and are fighting against an enemy in real war..not against "criminals". And you must use military tribunals, not civilian courts geared to swindlers, wife-beaters, rapists, and those who murder when a drug deal goes bad.

To a man, the Islamoids do not consider themselves criminals in violation of any law. In fact, they are following the commands of their holy law to fight and kill infidels. And believe their holy law is higher than any international laws on warfare, humane treatment of captives, not deliberately targeting civilians as long as they are infidels with no rights outside those given by superior Muslims when subjugated races and individuals accept dhimmitude and 2nd class existence in the Ummah, which is to eventually be the whole world, by their Islamic Totalitarian thinking.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 13, 2006 01:13 PM

Er, another tedious, didactic, semi-readable drivel from Chris Ford...

How to deal with terrorists in general and Moussaoui in particular? Hasn't
the government already have the solution by keeping them indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, secret CIA prisons around the world and U.S. ran prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan? Murder Israeli-style is an option as well.

No need for Legalese: All the fellow needs is psychiatric help and, possibly, some S&M style punishment from a cruel but fair dominatrix.

U.S. Legal system? Fifth Amendment? What's the joke?

Posted by: Kevin Chrysler | April 13, 2006 02:14 PM

You see Chris to me you either aren't old enough to have lived through the Kiss your ass good-bye drills ie: Duck & Cover in case of a nuclear attack, during the early 60's Cuban Missle Stand-off, nor did you ever get your ass nearly shot off in the jungles of S.E.Asia (Vietnam), while watching the newbee's come into camp trying to figure out which one or two out of the 10 or so were going to make the cut, they flew in as replacements for your buddies who was taken out by a "Bouncing Betty" or a "Booby Trapped set of maps" or shot going into tunnel as my best friend from High school was doing the "Rat" thing. I aslo can almost bet you were never spit on and called a "baby killer, mother & child rapist" when you got back to the world.
This is how I know this because you feel nothing but Hate and Intolerance. I have read several of your posts and that is all that spew's forth in your thoughts and writing. You group all members of a race , society, religion together without knowing really what you are talking about. In fact I would almost bet that you are probably Southern Baptist, agree totally with the the Republican philosophy, and hate the thought of evolution being taught in schools instead if Creationism. You only see the world in just two colors Black and White, but in reality it isn't. I think you should experience a little of these things I have, but if you are a Bush Republican that will never happen as they think that laws are only good if it suits their cause, Bush considers himself above the law, and the cowards are good at picking the fights, but are scared to fight them,

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 13, 2006 02:39 PM

I am pretty sure I've got Ford Pegged. I figure he is probably just out of the know-it-all teens, lives in Ga, Al, Ms, N or S Carolina in the hills. A southern Baptist Republican who attends Church twice on Sundays and Wednesday nights has a "Fire and Brimstone" preacher and has never been out of his hometown of less than 10,000 and everyone in the town is somehow related.

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 13, 2006 02:50 PM

9/11 is such a huge crime that if Moussaoui had told them the whole thing and they had failed to act, then we would not learn of that fact either. In fact, no one saw a photograph of Moussaoui until after 9/11, so the idea that he could be a complete fabrication isn't as preposterous as saying the passengers didn't die, which some popular web sites claim.

Now I believe most of what I see regarding the trail, but I do not believe that our government could ever admit it if Moussaoui had told them part of the plot or the whole damn thing and they did not act upon it.

And if they cannot admit to failing to act on clear warnings from Moussaoui, then there is an incentive for them to destroy exculpatory evidence that Moussaoui may not know he provided to them.

So they cannot admit to having received from Moussaoui anything that could have prevented 9/11, They surely have no incentive to spare his life because in years ahead he might recall that he gave them a name or a phone number during a conversation that isn't in the existing record. Maybe Moussaoui doesn't remember it because the information he provided, although during the phase when he was cooperating, didn't seem important to him.

Moussoaui's wish to die as a martyr and the government's desire to escape accountibility for pre-9/11 negligence will work together to provide him with a speedy execution. And the public loses as a result.

Posted by: J. M. Deutch | April 13, 2006 03:15 PM

MDP - "It seems to me that the entire premise of this debate is false. How can Moussaoui possibly have "rights" under the US Constitution, when he is not an American citizen?"

Unfortunately, the Lefty crap that held power in the 60s and 70s and still today in academia, the media, the legal system conspired to create a panoply of "Rights" for aliens, including the illegal type, even, to hear them, including unlawful enemy combatants sneaking in.

The "enemy rights crowd" began their mass bladder voidings as soon as they heard the words "military tribunals" because that would undermine their efforts.


Imagine if the Jewish ACLU and cronies had had their way by the War of 1812. Any British soldier here would be an "undocumented immigrant". Burning down the White House would not be an act of war, but a "crime" limited to only those Redcoats that participated in the "crime" of arson, or knew about it. In the meantime, if the Brit Regiments had brought their wives and children in, the wives would be eligible for a range of welfare benefits from American taxpayers if their soldier Limey husband was killed or otherwise disabled, their children would get free schooling, and any new Regiment babies popped out on US soil would be instant US citizens entitled to stay and perhaps allow the Redcoat & family to stay if they lost the War of 1812. All this would have been foisted on the public without a single vote...thanks to the Lefties, activist lawyers, and judges with Lefty sympathies issuing Court decrees. Though the elderly Founding Fathers, many still alive in 1812, may have stopped it by calling for the hanging of any ACLU member and for the People to rise up and tar and feather such treasonous judges and run them off to Canada or Mexico.

Meanwhile, if a party of British spies was discovered down by New Orleans, instead of Andy Jackson's normal 1-day spy-hanging military tribunals, the Brits back then would have had the right to millions in taxpayer-funded lawyers, court-ordered "authentic English meals" as proceedings went on for years, and free dental & medical care. All while high-paid lawyers argued about the Brits Right to the 5th Amendment, if drawings of unclassified battlements, troop barracks, and measurements of ranges of New Orleans drydocks to Royal Navy warship cannons was simply open information any American or Brit there illegally was entitled to as "open public sourced information", and thus no "crime" was committed by the Brit soldiers out of uniform.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 13, 2006 03:32 PM

As a western military bombs or invades a foreign country, it's a common and safe practice to obliterate entire villages, mosques, etc. in order to kill a few bad guys.
I'm concerned with a deeper issue: what precisely makes a murder santioned by the US or say, Israeli, government, executed by those governments' employees and paid from US taxpayer money legit, yet the one commited by private Arab individuals - a horrible crime? Some Legalese, anyone?

Posted by: Kevin Chrysler | April 13, 2006 03:37 PM

Constructing a strawman I see.

Posted by: | April 13, 2006 03:46 PM

One thing that I do agree with Chris Ford about is that the war on terrorism and 9/11 is more about America than it is about Muslim extremism.

The legal procedures we've constructed to promote justice are processes that we design to work for us today. If our current legal system had existed during the War of 1812, then there would have been a different historical record. Of course, because the newly formed nation was essentially a theocracy that did not afford voting rights to non-property holders or women, and permitted humans from Africa to be owned as slaves, returning to those days of yore would not make us a better nation.

I think the British spies captured in New Orleans during the War of 1812 would receive meals fit for Christians, just as Muslims and Jews in American jails receive meals based on their religious affiliations, not their country of origin.

So we must find our way to the future with today's values as our guide.

Andrew Jackson negotiated anmesty for pirate Jeanne Lafite and his men in return for their help in defense of New Orleans.

Why wasn't Moussaoui offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for his full and complete cooperation?

3,000 died so they could prosecute 1 half-crazy Muslim. I wish it had gone the other way.

Posted by: J. M. Deutch | April 13, 2006 04:12 PM

Most of the comments have completely missed the point. The current proceedings are not about whether Moussaoui ("M") committed a crime but whether he meets the criteria for the death penalty. M pled guitly to a conspiracy charge. Conspiracy is the act of agreeing to commit a crime. One of the outs for conspiracy or for reduced sentencing it to show that the person rescidend the agreement and made active steps to prevent it.

The Fifth Amendment issue raised by other comments misses the point. The issue is not conviction of a crime, but determing the penalty. What M said or did not say to the FBI is relevant to a determination of the appropriate penalty. Put another way, the government would argue once M made an affirmative step by engaging in a conspiracy, he had an affirmative duty to attempt to stop it to be entitled to any sort of penalty mitigation.

Posted by: distant observer | April 13, 2006 04:36 PM

J.M. Deutch - "9/11 is such a huge crime...."

No it wasn't.

The people involved resolved by their oath of alliegance and faith in God that striking such a blow was worth dying for.

Before the Day, they trained rigorously and sacrificed to make it so.

Not a penny was made from their actions. Enrichment was not a motive. Personal pleasure was not a motive. The targeted, the 3,000, were not hated personally by the perpetrators.

It was just another bloody day of warfare, no different than thousands of other such days in history.

No great "civilian crime" was committed.

Just a successful military attack by brave soldiers that sacrificed their lives. It did involve war crimes of deliberately targeting civilian populations, and enemy deciding they would operate out of uniform to gain a great lethal edge over their more powerful foe - hoping the infidel Left would come to their moral aid rather than let them suffer the fate all other unlawful enemy combatants face.

It's also just a part of the psychological inability of Lefties to grasp that war is real, it doesn't just happen "over there" - and Americans are not immune from being attacked by warriors. Just our luck the ones waging war on us happen to think the Geneva and Hague Conventions don't apply - only the Will of Allah matters. As part of this psychological inability to grasp we are at war with a military force...the tendency is to call them "criminals", "misguided evildoers"...and still think it is ultimately up to cops and lawyers to combat.

Normally, enemy spies and saboteurs in wartime have no habeas corpus rights to all the privileges they get in civilian court. But once you give an enemy soldier like Moussaoui standing in civilian courts as having the same civilian trial rights as other Americans, you give him full Constitutional Rights as part of the deal. And any effort to then say..."well, he is just a foreign evildoer terrorist not entitled to the 5th, the 4th or anything else other than a swift death to satisfy the 9/11 Victim Families." Then you set up ordinary Americans not fighting for a foreign military to have their Constitutional rights jeopardized as well by one case where the zeal to "fit" enemy combatants into civilian justice. If it comes down to the "right" of FBI to ask any civilian anything and if that person does not self-incriminate by telling all the FBI wants immediately, then that person can be held liable for any crimes committed that the FBI swears could have been stopped by "FBI Superheroes" in posession of "all the details"...including getting death for a crime or plot the person the FBI visited knew nothing about...then every American is in a new scarier place without parts of the Bill of Rights protecting them..

All because some stupid people initially decided enemy soldiers had Constitutional Rights equal to those of American civilians. And begged for Moussaoui to get a civilian trial to show how we could administer justice.

Now we have to worry about how the Appeals Courts or Congress may have to step in to stop erosion of 5th Amendment protections for American civilians if the pressure and wishes of the Famous 9/11 Families twists justice to jeopardize the 5th in order to get the death sentence that would have been a Constitutional automatic for an unlawful enemy combatant, an admitted saboteur like Moussaoui under a military tribunal.

It will be nice to see what happens after the Moussaoui trial. It is on track to cost over 15 million. McVeighs "case" cost 32 million. Will the Left conceed that no enemy soldiers get into our People's Courts in the future? Will they conceed that we have better use for taxpayer's moneys than deluxe civvie trials for every Gitmo detainee or Islamoid terrorist out there, costing millions, or tens of millions for a trial when all we get is eroded Constitutional protections for innocent Americans?

Living in his long ago Druugie/Vietnam/Watergate Era Hippy Paradise Past -

(Chris Ford)"lives in Ga, Al, Ms, N or S Carolina in the hills. A southern Baptist Republican who attends Church twice on Sundays and Wednesday nights has a "Fire and Brimstone" preacher and has never been out of his hometown of less than 10,000 and everyone in the town is somehow related."

Wrong region of the USA, wrong city size, wrong religion, wrong ethnicity unless Chinese-Germans are Appalachin hillfolk in any numbers.

Funny to hear such speculations from a man who writes like a traitor writes, though.

He is right that his ilk never spit on me when our guys got back from the Gulf War. We won that one. The Left never had time to subvert us into a defeat that time or craft the media image of US soldiers as torturing baby-killers.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 13, 2006 04:59 PM

Thanks for explaining it all, Distant.

From what can be discerned from your legal mumbo, M may meet "the criteria for the death penalty" without actually committing a crime?...

Distant, you are unique,
in a bad way.

Posted by: Kevin | April 13, 2006 05:05 PM

Ford, you sound like you are frothing at the mouth in your jingoistic fervor. Who cares where you are from?.. Get yourself a straight jacket or something.

Posted by: Kevin | April 13, 2006 05:29 PM

"made active steps to prevent it"

Wouldn't Moussaoui's initial cooperation with ivnestigators be an active step?

Why wasn't Moussaoui's attempt at cooperation met with an offer of prosecutorial immunity if he continued his cooperation? Okay, maybe that's too much for just one investigator to obligate the government to, even when 3,000 lives were in the balance.

How about a donut? Did Moussaoui even receive a donut in exchange for his good faith effort to cooperate?

How can a conclusion of actual malicious intent (regardless of what Moussauoi says today) be made when an effort at cooperation was not reciprocated by the investigators?

Imagine what must have been going through Moussaoui's mind when he realized that the agents didn't want to stop the plot. To survive, he may have had to play uncooperative while waiting for someone with greater authority in the organization to take charge. When your co-conspirators and your captors both want the terror attack to occur, the four walls of a foriegn cell do not permit much room to manuver.

They're going to kill him as quickly as politically possible. He can never be permitted to speak about what happened in August 2001.

Posted by: J. M. Deutch | April 13, 2006 06:06 PM

Some interesting legal comments:

Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama in Montgomery, agrees that if the death penalty for Moussaoui is upheld, the scope of the penalty may dramatically increase.

"The difficulty," he says, "is that the judge has authorized a theory of culpability that by failing to act, Moussaoui can be eligible for a capital crime. That's almost a radical theory of culpability in the death penalty, and all kinds of other theories for the death penalty can be advanced involving such things as criminal negligence."

By their logic, anyone who knows of any illegalities by any individual who fails to inform or stop them is as guilty as the person defrauding the government, or the drunk driver facing 25-30 years max for negligent manslaughter.

In a ruling during another part of the Moussaoui case dealing with the government's initial refusal to allow depositions of government detainees, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema addressed the issue herself:

"The government's burden, however, as to the defendant's death eligibility is more of a challenge. The prosecution must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury must find, that the defendant, himself, 'intentionally participated in an act' ... or 'intentionally and specifically engaged in an act of violence'... that directly resulted in death. ... The government recognizes that the defendant's conduct must have been a substantial factor in the deaths of the victims. ...

"The government concedes that, other than his alleged lies to federal authorities, the 'other overt acts committed by the defendant may not have directly contributed to' the deaths on September 11, 2001. ...

"To withstand constitutional scrutiny," Brinkema continued, "any sentence of death in this case must be predicated on what the defendant himself actually did, not on what he may have wanted to do or on what his alleged co-conspirators were able to accomplish on their own. ... The government has not pointed to, and the court has been unable to locate, a single case in which a remote or minor participant in an alleged conspiracy, who is charged only with conspiracy, was sentenced to death." United States v. Moussaoui, 282 F. Supp. 2d 480 (Oct. 2, 2003).

If Moussaoui is sentenced to death and chooses to ask the Supreme Court to review the sentence, the court could, of course, decline. Lyon, however, thinks that's unlikely.

"It would be difficult for the Supreme Court to not hear a case that has this many large legal implications," she says. "The court would be in a position where not ruling would conceivably give a go-ahead to state legislators to start making nonmurder cases death-eligible. For instance, not acting might be interpreted as a signal that states can impose the death penalty for drunk driving, which in some states would pass in a shot. That may be something the court wouldn't like to do."

Stevenson is concerned that the emotion of Sept. 11 may affect the judgment of those involved in these death penalty decisions. "The enormity of 9/11 induces people to believe that anyone with any connection with it must be guilty of a capital crime, but there must be a direct, intentional role in the commission of the capital offense" for the death penalty to be upheld, he says.

"What worries me when people talk about these kinds of cases is that it's very easy for everyone to get so hyped up about the severity of the crime and the horrific nature of 9/11," he says, "and they forget that we're going through this process not just to decide whether Moussaoui deserves the death penalty. That's something many people might agree was appropriate for any Al Qaeda in America trying to kill thousands or millions of us."

The question is if the civilian courts, never designed for resolving matters of war - or given laws on punishing enemy combatants by Congress - can prove they are able to do this task without undermining the Constition intended only for the People of the USA, not their enemies, and without letting unlawful enemy combatants escape consequence.
Looking up the Moussaoui charges, I found that his "crimes" of lying to Federal Officials happened when he was being questioned about his visa status and immigrant activity from Aug 16th to Aug17th, 2001. As soon as they arrested him, Moussaoui used his Miranda rights and got a lawyer, and no further "lies" occured. It is a neat law, buried in Fed Fraud statutes that says lies voluntarily made with no warning of legal consequence are a tool of every Fed official. Moreover, the law exempts any official or lawyer party to a future judicial proceeding prosecuting someone for "lying to Federal Officials". Meaning FBI agents, lawyers, Fed bureaucrats can all lie to the suspect...even one another...but are exempt from prosecution for their own lies.

Martha Stewart was caught this way. And in her trial, her lawyers pointed out one lie she was charged with was made in response to a series of lies made by SEC Fed investigators - but the judge said the charge stood and lying was sometimes necessary for investigators to do their job (ie, trap their quarry into lying by making lies of their own)

Kevin - "Ford, you sound like you are frothing at the mouth in your jingoistic fervor. Who cares where you are from?.. Get yourself a straight jacket or something."

Anti-Americans such as yourself Kevin frequently see mainstream patriotic Americans as frothing at the mouth jingoists. That is why we are slowly but surely removing hate-America type people from positions of power and influence. Your sort simply cannot be trusted with our nation's national security. The collapse of communism and the looming failure of the European social welfare state, and the loosening of the grip of Lefties on the media, academia, and the courts should all make you quite queasy...that's your sort's future being written on the ash heap...

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 13, 2006 07:04 PM

Here's something to consider. Criminal A enters into an agreement with Criminal B to kill X, otherwise known as a conspiracy. Criminal A provides B with X's location. Criminal B kills X. What should the punishment for Criminal A be? Should it be as severe as the punishment for B or less? Ultimately that's a policy question decided by legislators (and not judges). Judges simply evaluate the facts and determine whether they meet the criteria.

Posted by: Distant Observer | April 14, 2006 10:14 AM

Ford, I respect your knowledge of events. You yourself? No.

And patriotic American isn't something I'd classify you as. You call people traitors, but the closest I've ever seen to traitorous speech from either you or the two you've called traitors is from you. I've seen you say such things as 'let blue states have no anti-terror protection so that they hopefully get attacked.' I believe you rationalized it as so that they might learn to not care about others rights that way. None the less, you were wishing that Americans get attacked. You have also started to resort to calling anyone who disagrees with you a traitor or Anti Americans, in what seems to be an effort to quell freedom of speech. Add to the fact you repeatedely make disparraging comments about any racial, religous, or political group that you aren't apart of, belittling their views and opinions as if they didn't have the same right to them that you have to yours. Last time I checked, Ford, our country was founded on the tenants of "All men were created equally." You can't speak about jewish people or african americans without relying on stereotypes or attempting to blame them for all the problems in the country.

You see yourself as a mainstream patriotic American? HA. I see you as a mainstream unpatriotic bigot.

Posted by: Geb | April 14, 2006 11:14 AM

And FYI Ford, you're boys aren't doing so hot in the polls on the issues of national security and keeping this nation safe. Might want to rethink your statement:
"Your sort simply cannot be trusted with our nation's national security."

Posted by: Geb | April 14, 2006 12:14 PM

"A law student's take: Like all constitutional rights, the right of a criminal suspect "to remain silent" can be waived if not exercised. "

Wow. That's a wonderful precedent. I can see why there's a desire to propogate that thinking, since it undermines the integrity of the constitution very effectively.

If you don't speak out on every issue, you aren't exercising your right to free speech, therefore you have waived that right, and any time you speak you are now subject to prosecution.

I don't own a gun. Therefore I cannot own a gun, because since I failed to previously exercise this right, I have waived it.

I guess the professors were so focused on trying to implant these agenda-driven ideas into your head that they failed to explain the whole point of the bill of rights -- these are inalienable rights. Look up the word, INALIENABLE.

Main Entry: inĀ·alienĀ·able
Pronunciation: in-'Al-y&-n&-b&l, -'A-lE-&-
Function: adjective
: incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred

If an inalienable right is incapable of being surrendered, how can you postulate such a ridiculous claim?

Me thinks you have been duped, Devin. Your professors were not teaching you, they were indoctrinating you to serve an agenda.

Posted by: Moe Ronn | April 14, 2006 04:13 PM

"Kevin - "Ford, you sound like you are frothing at the mouth in your jingoistic fervor. Who cares where you are from?.. Get yourself a straight jacket or something."

Anti-Americans such as yourself Kevin frequently see mainstream patriotic Americans as frothing at the mouth jingoists. That is why we are slowly but surely removing hate-America type people from positions of power and influence. Your sort simply cannot be trusted with our nation's national security. The collapse of communism and the looming failure of the European social welfare state, and the loosening of the grip of Lefties on the media, academia, and the courts should all make you quite queasy...that's your sort's future being written on the ash heap...

Awesome! So when are the trains coming?

"ALL OTHERS MUST DIE" must be your mantra.

Posted by: asdf | April 14, 2006 04:24 PM

Isn't the essential problem with the Moussaoui case (and numerous others both criminal and civil) that the law, the prosecutors, and the judiciary are increasingly very remote from the mentality of the public in what they analyze and weigh. The court system has become a lottery, and certainly nothing that gives lucid guidance to an operating manual for civilized living.

After all, there is a bell curve, and nature assures us that more of us are average than outliers either way. Until we have rules and roles that are easily acquired by the vast middle, and laws and judgments that meet the test of making sense to the middle, then the whole game is loaded and somewhat crazy.

Terrorists are seriously deadly criminals exploiting our carelessness, but they are also expert comics. Consistently, our national over-reactions, or lack of actions, are the foil for their absurdities. I say, back to the basics, and Alfred E. Newman for President.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 14, 2006 04:44 PM

Was it "hate-America" types' watch during 9/11/2001? To the contrary, Ford, it was all "patriotic" America Uber Allez types in charge who screwed it up back then and have continued doing so ever since with more than overwhelming evidence, thanks to the legions of cretins like yourself who vote for them. Therefore, when it comes to the national security, the best your sort can do is keep their mounth shut.

As for all the xenophobic nonsense you regurgitate so incessantly,
the immigrants are the only ones who produce anything of a value in this country, and always have been. The rest are just trust fund, government or corporate parasites, trailer park degenerates, subsidized housing dwellers and the vast, mostly suburban, "middle-class", not exactly useless nor particularly useful either. Surely it's a simplified picture but one gets an idea.

Posted by: Kevin | April 14, 2006 05:00 PM

Timothy McVeigh than Benjamin Franklin...Patrick Henry or Jefferson...

just a small degree of difference between him and McVeigh...

he supports a vision, not our country as it is outlined in the spirit or letter of the Constitution or Bill of Rights...

and as I said before,

he can quote information,

but not think on his feet,

he is a follower,

a rabid and frightening follower,

but not a leader or a thinker...a hitleresque henchman...

the kind of chermann that does what das furherr says, the "internal furher"

sieg heil.


Posted by: actually chris ford is a lot more like | April 14, 2006 05:20 PM


like I said, terrorists?

if you regard the CIA, BUSH, Rummsfeld, Cheyney and those complicit within the various agencies as terrorists...sure.


how did 12,000,000 illegal aliens get in through our _tight_ anti-terrorists response?

there isn't any.

what does that say?

think hard.

think real hard.

how does the president know that he doesn't need to worry about terrorists....

very slowly now....t h i n k ....

maybe it _was_ a ruse?

have you ever heard that at any point he was looking for a reason to go into Iraq to begin with?

Tony Blairs name might help you to ring a bell........

come on sheeple,


Posted by: regarding terrorists... | April 14, 2006 05:25 PM

Hey, any word on whether or not the FBI or DOJ is going to investigate Fairfax County Detective David J. Baucom, SWAT Officer Deveal Bullock, Chief Rohrer, or District Attorney Robert Horan for their actions in that case involving the Doctor that was killed in Fairfax?

BTW - "Regarding Terrorists," you clearly were not held enough as a child, or after reading your posting you might still be a child, if so, sorry, when you grow up you'll realize that there's no huge conspiracy to continually wage war for the oil companies to make money...

Posted by: J. E. Hoover | April 15, 2006 12:19 AM

He threw away his rights the instant he took the witnees stand. He gave testimony against himself. If he didn't plead the Fifth the first 45 times, why should the 46th time be special? Once you waive your rights, that should be it. He had a choice. He made a decision. Period.

Posted by: Vasili Koslov | April 20, 2006 07:35 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company