Free Moussaoui!

The U.S. government has said that it will defy the Court’s order in the Moussaoui case and refuse to allow Moussaoui and his defense team access to Ramzi bin al-Shibh. For those of you who don’t know, bin al-Shibh is a caputured al-qaeda member that the court determined had evidence that would materially assist Moussaoui in his defense.


Now the betting is that the feds will shift Moussaoui’s case to one of its military tribunals. But I see two big problems with that.

First, the military tribunal dodge was only originally even theoretically acceptable because “enemy combatants” did not come under the jurisdiction of either the American court system or the federal constitution. In other words, if they were not American citizens and never set foot on U.S. soil, the judicial branch never acquired jurisdiction over their cases. Obviously, this doesn’t apply in Moussaoui’s case. The federal courts do have jurisdiction and he is entitled to the protection of the U.S. Constitution. The executive branch simply has no authority to divest the courts of jurisdiction by waiving a pen.

Second, and more fundamentally, Moussaoui ought still to be entitled to Ramzi bin al-Shibh’s evidence even in a military tribunal. The problem the government has here is that this is not some dispute over procedure, it’s an issue of basic fairness. As I read it, Brinkema, the trial judge, has found that Moussaoui is entitled to the disputed evidence on grounds of fundamental fairness. In other words, Ramzi bin al-Shibh’s evidence is necessary to Moussaoui’s defence.

The government has, to turn a colourful phrase, screwed the pooch. If the military tribunals are fair, they, too, will have to allow Moussaoui access to this evidence. If they don’t, the entire military tribunal system will lack any shred of legitimacy and be derided as a kangaroo court the world over.

My solution is to make a big deal about American fairness and judicial independence and simply cut Moussaoui loose. Maybe they can fit Moussaoui up with one of those tracking collars they use on whales and turn it into an intelligence coup. Somehow I doubt that Lord Protector Ashcroft and the administration will see eye-to-eye with me on this.

Two factual questions before I decide get involved in the thread:

Is the government using evidence obtained from bin al-Shibh against Moussaoui?

Is Moussaoui being denied all access to bin al-Shibh, or will he be allowed to question him in open court?

A volatile statement… SCREW any Arab who is implicated in the Twin Towers Massacre, or Pan Am 101, or the embassies in Africa, or the baracks in Lebanon, or…need I go on?

From theCNN article on the matter:

You want this animal free?

The sonuvabitch admits to being a terrorist. Why we are jumping through all these legal proceedings? Just off him, and be done with it. Al Queda members must be giggling their asses off at this whole circus. Oh no! If captured, they may have to go through years of fucking with the legal system! Hardly a deterrent, or an effective way of dealing with terrorists.

What seperates us from terrorist regimes *is * our “fucking legal system.” I, for one, think that it’s of paramount importance that this man gets a * fair * trial, and that his rights be respected just as they would be for any other criminal defendant.

Yes, the crimes of which he is accused are henious, indeed. It strikes me that the more despicable the individual, the more we show how civilized we are by not resorting to a kangaroo court just to extract our revenge.

If the legal system will protect the rights of someone as horrible as this man, then you can rest assured it will protect you, should you ever be a criminal defendant. Should we have a seperate system for those whose crimes are particularly egregious and deplorable in the eyes of our society?

Al Qaeda will laugh indeed if their acts can cause us to abandon our standards of justice in our desire for punishment. At that point, they will have truly won. They will have changed America in a fundamental, horrible way. The * last * thing they want is for us to proceed with quiet dignity in dealing with the perpetrators. The worst outcome for them is for us to stand firm in our ideals in the face of pain and anger.

Not particularly.

Technically he admits he’s a al-Qaeda supporter and was looking to become a terrorist. No plausible evidence he actually ever did anything, other than act wierdly. He may very well not have been, as he says, part of the 11 Sep. plot per se.

It raises the issue of the Feds over-charging him so as to get a marquee 11 Sep conviction. Politics.

Because we’re not some shithole Balkans petty dictatorship that goes around engaging in political killings because our institutions are for shit and we lack basic respect for the rule of law.

The opposite.

Offing people, secret assasinations, etc. etc. - worked so very well for the French in their late unpleasantness in Algeria.

For people already resigned to blowing themselves up, simply executing them doesn’t really have much deterent value I would say. Soldiers in the cause die…

The utility of proper trials is to make an example of the rule of law.

State secret, possibly.

I believe that’s something of an open question.

Q&A: Moussaoui trial

A rather important one, unfortunately for us debaters. The Sixth Amendment specifies:

Now, if information from bin al-Shibh is being used against Moussaoui, then he undoubtedly has a right to question him, per the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” However, though bin al-Shibh would be a “witness in his favor”, I think the “compulsory process” wording makes the issue a little slipperier, since it seems to leave room for some regulation. There is already precedent for otherwise-public info being suppressed for the sake of national security.

Doubt it. It is clear the government is trying to keep Moussaoui from questioning bin al-Shibh, but the issue is in what capacity? There is a substantial difference between the two, and it’s important to establish before making a decision on whether the government is in the wrong here.

Now as to Brutus’ comments: Utterly stupid. We do not uphold our values either for either the benefit of the terrorists or their spite. Rather, we uphold them because we believe they are objectively right. A little angry whining about “legal proceedings” does not change that fact. Now, do I believe, as Lissa seems to, that Osama bin Laden is sitting in his cave in Baluchistan, hearing about the PATRIOT Act, and saying “Ho ho, we got those Americans, now they only need one wiretap warrant per person instead of per phone”? No. Bin Laden doesn’t give a crap about the Constitution. But as I said, it’s not for spite. You are an American, so you should. This is not fucking Syria. I think the US is superior to its enemies and have no problem loudly saying so, but there is a reason it is superior, and that reason must be defended with equal vigor. In principle I have no problem with assassinating terrorists, but not those who were arrested within this country and indicted by a civil grand jury.

In any case, I don’t think freeing this piece of shit is a good solution. But the government directly disobeying a judge’s orders is dangerous; I don’t want an Attorney General that says “Judge Brinkema has made her decision. Now let her enforce it.” I think the matter of Moussaoui’s particular rights in this case is debatable, but the requirement that the executive carry out the lawful decisions of the judiciary (with the obvious exceptions of pardon, etc.) is not.

From CNN


Whether or not he is a bona fide card-carrying member is a niggling point. He seems eager enough to say that he is, and that alone should damn him. We are killing suspected Al Queda members whenever we can, with far less ‘evidence’. Nobody seems to be loosing too much sleep over them; Why the fascination with Moussaoui?


‘Shithole Balkans petty dictatorship’? Don’t make me teary-eyed with nostalgia! Maybe back in the good ol’ days. Now they are all trying to out-whore one and other for EU membership and EU funds.

An interesting topic would be, “Why is America the target of radical Islamic terrorism, when Jugoslavia (Serbia, Serbia & Montenegro, whatever they go by these days) killed so many muslims?”


That may be pertinant to our experience in Iraq (French policy does often provide many wonderfull lessons on what not to do), but has no bearing on the Moussaoui case.

I am talking about killing off an admitted member of Al Queda. A self-described follower of OBL. We have done far worse to people we knew much less about.


Well, perhaps killing terrorists has a low deterent value, and I suppose the trick is to deal with the ‘root causes’ of terrorism, but since nobody has a clue what those are, I’ll settle for killing the ones we catch.

Brutus, my dear fellow, while it may escape you - indeed it very clearly does - there is a difference between field combat and engagement, and cold bloodily killing someonein your control and custody for what are in essence, political reasons.

That’s what shitty little dictatorships used to do, you know like those in the Balkans, Yugoslavia, Croatia, etc., as well as the nastier ones in the Middle East, e.g. Syria, Iraq.

Very convenient all that, but it appears that’s your standard, eh?

Because he was arrested under US civilian law inside the States before the attacks, and is undergoing a civilian criminal trial. With all that implies in dignified, civilized nations.

Perhaps they have evolved sufficiently to aspire to civlization. The little passing fun killing each other off like animals didn’t turn out so well in the end.

America is bigger, and the people involved are different.

It has bearing on your suggestions insofar as your suggestions very much track what the French tried in re Algeria. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it, you agree with the French.

You’re talking about extra-judicial murder. It’s what shitty dictatorships do.

I suppose the nobody there refers to yourself, for it certainly can’t refer to the body of knowledge and research out there on the issues.

I’ll disregard the rest of your ‘insightful’ post for a moment. I just wanted to comment on your attempts (twice in this thread, 3 sad attempts in this one) to exact out some sort of Collounsbury-esque outburst by associating ‘Croatia’ with ‘Dictorship’, ‘shithole’, etc.

I agree. Note that I live in America, not Croatia. This was originally my parents choice, now it is my choice. One that I am damned glad I had the opportunity to make, by the way.

You will have better luck provoking an enraged response from me if you insult John Wayne or suggest that New York-style pizza is better than Chicago-style deep dish. Croatia? Eh. Refocus your efforts. You have it in you, we all know that, but if ‘hot buttons’ you seek, you need to keep trying.

I am well aware of where you reside, my dear Brutus, as I am aware you are familiar with the Balkans and its history. Thus what better way to highlight the issue of how awful your own suggestion was?

Now, in order to illustrate that your suggestion is what happens, less so now thankfully, there, I drew and draw your attention to that.

Since you indicate you’re quite aware that shithole dictatorships are the sorts of places that do these sorts of thing, just killing their opponents, even those in custody, I would hope that now that I have drawn your attention to this fact, you might, just might, reconsider your line of argument.

Enraged responses are not the object, reflection on one’s own line of thinking are.

Ah, I see. So having acted like a murderous lynchmob in the past suggests that that is the mode of operations of choice?

Here’s a hint: While you are advocating KKK methods, those stupid Europeans who have no idea how to handle terrorists have already convicted Al Qaeda members in a regular court trial using standard procedures.

Too bad you haven’t shown a shred of evidence how becoming a terrorist is going to curb terrorism. But it’s good to see that your respect for human life is about on the same level as their’s.

Europeans have nothing to brag about. A 15 year sentence for 3000 counts of accessory to murder. Almost 2 days per count. Mark me in the ‘unimpressed’ column.

The pendulum in Germany has obviously swung too far in the other direction.


I don’t need to show evidence that a dead terrorist is no longer a threat. A terrorist that gets out of jail in 15 years, on the other hand, will still be a threat.

It’s too bad that civilized behavior leaves you unimpressed. One has to wonder, though, what beef you have with the likes of Osama. One gets the impression it is merely the person, not the methods you abhor.

Or maybe the horrors of the past have become so distant for some that they are all too eager to repeat them.

The terrorist might not be a threat anymore, but having let lynchmobs of your kind deal ‘justice’ will not have reduced the overall level of threat. Whether the terrorist will actually get out of jail after 15 years remains to be seen, and whether he will still be a threat then remains to be seen.

A 15 year sentence for 3000 counts of ‘accessory to murder’ is not civilized behavior; It is hopelessly, and dangerously, naive behavior.


Why wouldn’t he get out in 15 years? Does German law have some sort of ‘gotcha!’ clause? Is he off to some secret ‘Arbeit macht Frei’-type prison? Because as it stands, in 15 years, he is out of prison. And being fairly young, he will be more than able to once again engage in terrorism.

As for not knowing whether or not he will still be a threat, see my ‘hopelessly naive’ comment above.

Hmm, Collounsbury vs. Brutus, hopeless imbalanced, no entertainment value at all, it’s like Muhammed Ali in his prime vs. Don Knotts. Now, Brutus vs. Aldebaran, I’d pay cash money to see those two go at it.

Oh, the OP? Hey, it’s up to the government to make its case according to the law. If it can’t, it can’t. For those crypto-fascist pixies advocating summary execution of people the State finds inconvenient, well, wrong country, wrong time period; sorry.

I posit that a vigilante wannabe who thinks that butchering people is civilized is hardly someone qualified to declare a behavior uncivilized.

It is telling that you would rather subvert the rule of law than accept it.

As it stands, your argumentation restricts itself to mudslinging, drooling for blood, and demonstrating ignorance about German law.

Since you are clairvoyant, what will saturday’s lottery numbers be?

I am far from naive. I know quite well where it leads if vociferous, rabid vigilantes are left running a country.