Has The Bush Administration Blown the Moussaoui Trial?
This is where the Bush Administration’s alleged proficiency in fighting the war on terror runs smack dab into their outright disdain for being told what to do, and their chronic incompetence. Could these morons have blown their only prosecution of an Al Qaeda member tied to 9/11?
An angry federal judge unexpectedly recessed the death penalty trial of confessed al-Qaida 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 had informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration had coached four Federal Aviation Administration witnesses in violation of the rule set by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The rule was 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.
“With this amount of mess in the record, it is difficult to go forward,” she added. “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.
And why is this a big deal?
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.
Keep in mind that prosecutorial missteps have already blown a case the Bush Administration had against four Detroit terrorism suspects. And Moussaoui is the only person associated with 9/11 that the Bush Administration has brought to trial, so he was the big fish. And now they have blown this case as well, and for a second time. This judge has already tossed out the death penalty against Moussaoui once due to the government violating the judge’s directions, only to be saved by the appeals court. But will the appeals court bail out the government a second time for the same transgressions?
Now we know why they have chosen to make the pursuit of Al Qaeda a war, rather than a criminal investigation and prosecution: because the Bush Justice Department and that of Abu Gonzales is so f*king inept at basic stuff that you see done every night on "Law and Order."
Thanks to MSNBC.com for the image