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US: Court exposes government lies in post-911 cases

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  • Andy
    Moussaoui judge questions government By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer Tue Nov 20, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2007
      Moussaoui judge questions government
      By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer
      Tue Nov 20, 2007

      McLEAN, Va. - A federal judge expressed frustration Tuesday that the
      government provided incorrect information about evidence in the
      prosecution of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and raised the
      possibility of ordering a new trial in another high-profile terrorism

      At a post-trial hearing Tuesday for Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim cleric
      from Virginia sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for soliciting
      treason, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she can no longer
      trust the CIA and other government agencies on how they represent
      classified evidence in terror cases.

      Attorneys for al-Timimi have been seeking access to documents. They
      also want to depose government witnesses to determine whether the
      government improperly failed to disclose the existence of certain

      The prosecutors have asked her to dismiss the defense request. The
      government has denied the allegations but has done so in secret
      pleadings to the judge that defense lawyers are not allowed to see.
      Even the lead prosecutors in the al-Timimi case have not had access to
      the information; they have relied on the representations of other
      government lawyers.

      After the hearing, the judge issued an order that said she would not
      rule on the prosecutors' motion until the government grants needed
      security clearances to al-Timimi's defense lawyer, Jonathan Turley,
      and the lead trial prosecutor so they can review the secret pleadings.
      Brinkema said she no longer feels confident relying on the government
      briefs, particularly since prosecutors admitted last week that similar
      representations made in the Moussaoui case were false.

      In a letter made public Nov. 13, prosecutors in the Moussaoui case
      admitted to Brinkema that the CIA had wrongly assured her that no
      videotapes or audiotapes existed of interrogations of certain
      high-profile terrorism detainees. In fact, two such videotapes and one
      audio tape existed.

      Moussaoui, who had pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, was sentenced
      to life in prison last year. Because Moussaoui admitted his guilt, it
      is unlikely that the disclosures of new evidence would result in his
      conviction being overturned.

      Turley, al-Timimi's defense lawyer, praised Brinkema for taking a
      skeptical view of the government's assertions in addressing
      al-Timimi's case.

      "We believe a new trial is warranted," he said in a phone interview.
      "We are entirely confident that there are communications that were not
      turned over to the defense. These are very serious allegations."
      Al-Timimi challenged his conviction in 2005 after revelations that
      President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to conduct
      certain types of domestic surveillance without a search warrant.
      Turley contends that the program is illegal and that any evidence
      obtained from such surveillance should have been turned over to
      defense lawyers.

      He is confident that al-Timimi, a prominent U.S. Muslim cleric who was
      known to keep close ties with radical Saudi clerics would have been a
      target of the surveillance program.

      Brinkema made no rulings during the brief, 20-minute hearing in
      Alexandria, but her displeasure at the government was apparent.
      Prosecutors did not have the opportunity to speak during the hearing,
      except to note their appearance for the record.

      Al-Timimi, a born U.S. citizen from Fairfax, was convicted after
      prosecutors portrayed him as the spiritual leader of a group of young
      Muslim men from the Washington area who played paintball games in 2000
      and 2001 as a means of preparing for holy war around the globe.

      After Sept. 11, they said, al-Timimi told his followers that the
      attacks were a harbinger of a final apocalyptic battle between Muslims
      and nonbelievers and exhorted them to travel to Afghanistan and join
      the Taliban to fight U.S. troops.

      Several of his followers admitted that they traveled to Pakistan and
      received training from a militant Pakistani group called
      Lashkar-e-Taiba, but none actually joined the Taliban.

      A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria declined to
      comment Tuesday.

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