Less than a week after being sentenced to life imprisonment at the most unpleasant federal super-max in Florence, Colorado, convicted 9-11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui filed a surprise motion seeking to vacate his guilty plea. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 11 would not permit a withdrawal of a guilty plea after sentencing, and Judge Leonie Brinkema immediately so held. Doubtless, Moussaoui will appeal to a most unsympathetic 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
Moussaoui now says "I was lying" when he previously swore out a lengthy affidavit as to his involvement in the 9-11 plot as part of his guilty plea... he has now determined that he can receive a "fair trial" in an American court, and now, of course, has decided that he wants one. The thing of it is, that's probably right factually... he probably was a side-show, too nuts even for Al Qaeda to make him an intimate of its main plot... but legally, his actions have taken on a life of their own.
My recollection is that, among other things, Judge Brinkema tried to order psychiatric evaluations of Moussaoui, who resisted them. Among other things, she had to determine if Moussaoui's earlier plea was actually voluntary (i.e., he wasn't too much of a nut-job to knowingly waive his rights... as alluded to here, that's an open question...)
Oddly enough, rules are rules: the defense counsel, Judge Brinkema and the jury (though not the prosecution) have played by the rules, and it is very hard to argue that the trial Moussaoui had was not "fair"... the complaint of those unhappy with the result is that it was too fair... that somehow we get to bend the rules for defendants we don't like (a thought process shared by too many Americans, btw, and an attitude that should rightly be considered a cancer on the national psyche.)
But under those fairly applied rules, Mr. Moussaoui has... waited too long. He's also preaching out of the wrong hymnal in any event: he'd have to allege some sort of mental incapacity back when he pleaded guilty... not that he "thinks he can get a fair trial now"... and even then, I doubt he'll belay that one-way ticket to Florence, CO and the John Gotti Suite. As Judge Brinkema told him-- he's used up his opportunities to pontificate in public. He can retire to his small, isolated cell, alone with his madness and his hatred, and die with a whimper some day.
While the rest of us can ponder why such a pathetic (and probably insane) bit-player from the sideshow was offered to us as the only legal prosecution resulting from 9-11, even as purported kingpins are being
tortured interrogated somewhere, rather than brought before a proper and fair tribunal to face justice. As if we didn't know.
They had to convict somebody, and it appears that Moussaoui, an insane person, is the best that they are going to be able to do.
Posted by Dean at May 9, 2006 8:31 AM