Appeals Court Hears Argument in Moussaoui's Bid to Withdraw Guilty Plea
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held oral argument Monday in the appeal of Zacarias Moussaoui, who is trying to withdraw his guilty plea.
Moussaoui's guilty plea was invalid because he was confused about the charges and didn't know that other al-Qaeda members had given information to interrogators that could have cleared him.
The WaPo reporter was unimpressed with the arguments which he calls "dry" and says the chief judge's response was "skeptical."
She pointed out that he testified in open court that al-Qaeda had instructed him to fly a fifth hijacked plane into the White House.
"Isn't it a little disingenuous for you to claim that there was no factual basis for the plea?" asked Williams, part of a three-judge panel that will decide the appeal.
How is that disingenous? Moussaoui maintained from the beginning he was not a part of the 9/11 attacks. He was in jail when they happened. He admitted to being part of al Qaeda and a plan to fly into the White House that was to occur at some unspecified time in the future, not on 9/11. (See here, and the statement of facts he admitted to when he pleaded guilty. And here's the transcript of his 2002 hearing the first time he tried to plead guilty and the judge refused to allow it.)
Moussaoui is in Supermax in Colorado. He was not in court, but a mother of a 9/11 victim was:
Phyllis Rodriguez, whose son, Gregory, died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, said she attended the hearing because she felt that Moussaoui might not have gotten a fair trial and because there was no evidence that he was involved in the attacks. "In honor of my son and in his name, I would like to trust justice to be done,'' she said, "not something to feed the anger and vengeance of the public."
As I wrote in an earlier post linked above, this case has been like a game of What's My Line? Meet Zacarias Moussoui. Is he:
- The 20th Hijacker
- The Fifth Pilot
- A financial drop for Ramzi Binalshibh,
- A Manipulative Defendant or
- A Mentally Unbalanced Defendant?
One thing the Government never established was his participation in 9/11, and that's the crime for which he's serving a life sentence. (The jury rejected the death penalty. Here's an account of the defense closing argument.)
It's unlikely Moussaoui will prevail. However, it should be noted he is a bumbling holy warrior serving life not for being a part of the 9/11 attacks, but for being a member of al Qaida, belligerent, stubborn, foolish and wanting to be a martyr.
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