Moussaoui's Nationality as Determinative Factor
Findlaw columnist Joanne Mariner raises an intriguing issue about the future of the Zacarias Moussaoui proceedings. If his federal case is dismissed due to the Government's refusal to comply with a court order directing it to make Ramzi Binalshibh available for an interview, he is likely to have his case transferred to a military tribunal.
Moussaoui is a french citizen. The French oppose the death penalty. When Britain complained about two of its citizens being tried by American military tribunals, Bush backed down and ordered proceedings stayed while he reconsiders. But Britain was our ally in the Iraq war. France is not. Do you think Bush will accord French citizens the same respect?
While the decision to reconsider the proceedings is good news for the British and Australians, its message to the rest of the world is provocatively clear. Military commissions are not fit for our own people; they may not be suitable for our close allies; but they're good enough for everybody else.
...To the extent that a defendant's nationality now determines the quality of justice due him, Moussaoui - citizen of a country that, notoriously, did not support the U.S. war on Iraq - loses out.
But in making this choice, the Administration should be aware of its ultimate consequences. If Moussaoui, without having had access to potentially exculpatory testimony, were to be sentenced to death by a military tribunal, France would not be alone in condemning the United States. The entire world would condemn the proceedings, and rightly so.
Very rightly so, thanks, Joanne.
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