It’s been two years since Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested and charged as a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks, and though the case has dropped from the headlines it is hugely important because it is testing the principles of our legal system.
Moussaoui and his lawyers want access to three of the biggest catches in the war on terror, among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They say Mohammed has information that will show Moussaoui was not part of the attacks.
The government argues that Moussaoui should not be allowed access to the detainees because he is a self-professed member of Al-Qaeda, and doing so would jeopardize national security.
Wednesday, a three-judge panel in Richmond, Virginia heard an appeal by the government. The hour-plus discussion centered on 1) whether the 6th Amendment right to confront witnesses extends to an enemy combatant held abroad and 2) if Moussaoui can't have access to these witnesses, is striking the death penalty a good solution?
The Deputy Solicitor General said that there is no Constitutional right to force the government to produce enemy combatants held abroad for the Moussaoui trial, especially when there are national security concerns at stake.
But Frank Dunham, the Federal Public Defender representing Moussaoui, said that prosecutors would have Constitutional rights "take a vacation in this case," adding that the judges should take a step back and look at the bigger issue of ensuring fair trials for defendants.
Dunham said, " We will not bend the rules... because this is America, because in the end this is more about who we are than it is about Mr. Moussaoui."
A decision is expected within a month's time. Call it crazy, but this case really speaks volumes about the strength of our system — perhaps only in this country could an admitted terrorist be afforded so many legal protections.
Catherine Herridge is the Homeland Defense Correspondent for FOX News.
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