Monday, March 13


Angry judge recesses Moussaoui trial. Why is she angry? Because over the weekend the prosecution informed her that, contrary to her prior order that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance, an FAA lawyer actually coached four government FAA witnesses.

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

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

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

The government's success rate in convicting terrorists is less than impressive. Inflated charges, flimsy evidence, and prosecutorial/governmental misconduct have characterized most of the cases tried so far. That robust, critical U.S.A. Patriot Act and NSÃ… domestic spy program sure are making me feel safer, how about you?

An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law -- and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months.

Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government's effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested."

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