In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. 6th Amendment
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to interfere with the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in connection to the 9-11 attacks. The courtâ€™s rebuff of Moussaouiâ€™s appeal remands his case to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and deprives him of his 6th amendment rights. When Moussaouiâ€™s case resumes, he will be barred from his fundamental right â€œfor obtaining witnesses in his favorâ€; a right that could very well acquit him of the crimes for which he is being prosecuted. Once again, the Bill of Rights is being savaged in full view of the American public without a whimper of dissent. And once again, the Supreme Court is eviscerating basic Constitutional protections in the name of national security.
Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested before 9-11 when his suspicious behavior at a flight-training school drew the attention of FBI agents in Minneapolis. He has been in solitary confinement ever since. He has never denied his connection to the 9-11 conspirators, only that he was not personally involved in the Sept attacks. It was John Ashcroft who decided that Moussaoui (who is not an American citizen) should be provided with all the protections afforded to an American citizen. He foolishly believed that the case would be a â€œslam-dunkâ€ and would demonstrate the munificence of American jurisprudence.
It hasnâ€™t turned out that way, and the Justice Dept has had to compensate for its own incompetence by battering the Constitution at every turn. For one thing, itâ€™s doubtful that keeping a suspect in solitary confinement without bail for 4 years meets the 6th Amendmentâ€™s requirement that â€œthe accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trialâ€. In reality, Moussaouiâ€™s incarceration probably violates the 8th Amendmentâ€™s directive against â€œcruel and unusual punishmentâ€. At the very least, it makes a travesty of our purported commitment to due process.
Moussaoui maintains that terror-suspects Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustapha al-Hawsawi can provide testimony that will exonerate him of involvement in 9-11. The government has steadfastly refused Moussaouiâ€™s request saying that producing the witnesses would endanger National security. Obviously, video testimony of the 3 witnesses could have been provided without any danger to national security by deleting questionable sections of the tape. Presiding Judge Lonnie Brinkema has consistently ruled that Moussaoui must have some access to the witnesses or the charges against him must be mitigated by way of compensation. The DOJ, however, has rejected Brinkemaâ€™s compromise and continues to press for the death penalty. They have offered to provide written testimony from the 3 suspects (entirely supervised by the state) that they claim will satisfy Moussaouiâ€™s 6th Amendment rights.
Think of how absurd this is? The prosecution is asking to oversee the testimony for the defense, (presumably) omitting whatever they choose. In other words, they are asking to be trusted to honestly prepare the defenseâ€™s case. Itâ€™s complete lunacy.
The remedy denies Moussaoui of the only chance he has to acquit himself of the charges against him, which reduces the trial to nothing more than a sham.
The refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the Moussaoui case shows that they believe that the death penalty is appropriate EVEN when citizens have been deprived of basic rights. How?
How can any court seek the death penalty when the accused is refused witnesses for the defense?
What other defense is there? It defeats the very purpose of having a trial at all. If this is how the Bush-state (with the implicit support of the Supreme Court) chooses to interpret the Constitution, weâ€™d be better off tossing the Bill of Rights on the burn-pile and summoning a firing squad straightaway.
The Moussaoui case is a window into the increasingly tyrannical workings of the state, thatâ€™s why itâ€™s buried on page 14a next to the Wall-Mart ad. For those who follow these cases, the pattern is clear and troubling. Personal liberty is being stomped out by a right-wing Supreme Court determined to undermine the â€œinalienableâ€ rights of the people. With every ruling (or refusal) they continue to enhance the already extraordinary powers of the President.