Partial Statements Made By Moussaoui's Accusers Released

by TChris

Two of the government's key sources of evidence against Zacarias Moussaoui have told conflicting stories. Under the best of circumstances, stories told by informants are unreliable. When the stories don't match, it's time to look for better evidence.

[Ramzi] Binalshibh, the self-described coordinator of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, said he sent $14,000 to Moussaoui in July 2001 on instructions from [Khalid Sheik] Mohammed that he understood to be "part of the 9/11 plot," the commission's report says. The report says "there is good reason to believe" that Mohammed was preparing Moussaoui as a potential substitute pilot because one of the 19 hijackers was considering dropping out.

The language is a bit speculative, but this would be powerful evidence if it could be corroborated. Mohammed would be the logical source of corroboration if Binalshibh is telling the truth, but Mohammed has a different story.

Mohammed, who was al Qaeda's operations chief, "denies that Moussaoui was ever intended to be part of the 9/11 operation," the report says. Instead, it says, Moussaoui was being groomed for a second wave of attacks on the West Coast after Sept. 11. That wave fizzled, and Mohammed said the two other pilots who had been recruited for it already had backed out before Moussaoui was arrested in August 2001.

The government's theory may be that Moussaoui conspired to do something (even if it's not quite sure what), a theory that Moussaoui may be able to refute if he's allowed to question Mohammed and Binalshibh. The government hasn't been inclined to let that happen (TalkLeft background on the issue collected here). Not only has Moussaoui been denied the right to see the complete statements, but his ability to have a fair trial (if he ever has a trial) has been compromised by the public disclosure of portions of statements that don't tell the whole story.

Sources close to the case said the detainees' statements released by the commission are incomplete, adding that Binalshibh indicated at different points in his interrogations that Moussaoui was not part of the Sept. 11 plot. Both the federal judge overseeing the case in Alexandria and a federal appeals court have found that the detainees gave interrogators information that could help Moussaoui's case.

If the public gets to see evidence that hurts Moussaoui's case, shouldn't Moussaoui be able to see evidence that helps him?

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