Ever see this? This isn't known to "everyday" people...
Ever see this? This isn't known to "everyday" people...
Oh yeah I agree. I thought you were raising some objection on point of law or something. For sure, they've probably done the same with all the prosecution's witnesses, but of course (ahem) 'they haven't'. As if they would do such a thing like that! ;-)Originally Posted by Gold9472
No... I'm no legal eagle. I wish Se7en were here.Originally Posted by Partridge
Moussaoui trial lawyer on administrative leave
TSA attorney violated witness rules, caused case to be halted
Updated: 11:08 a.m. ET March 16, 2006
WASHINGTON - The lawyer whose coaching of witnesses in the death penalty case of Zacarias Moussaoui caused his trial to be halted was placed on administrative leave from her job, the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday.
That decision was confirmed by agency spokeswoman Yolanda Clark.
The TSA lawyer, Carla Martin, violated federal witness rules when she sent trial transcripts to seven aviation witnesses, coached them on how to deflect defense attacks and lied to defense lawyers to prevent them from interviewing witnesses they wanted to call, a federal judge Tuesday.
Martin's attorney, Roscoe Howard, did not immediately return calls seeking his comment on his client being placed on leave.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said that Martin's actions and other government missteps had left the aviation evidence "irremediably contaminated," and the judge has excluded virtually half of the prosecution's case against the confessed al-Qaida conspirator.
The only person charged in this country in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al-Qaida to fly airplanes into U.S. buildings. But he denies any involvement in 9/11, saying he was training for a possible future attack.
The trial in Alexandria, Va., is to decide whether he is executed or spends life behind bars.
Is 'adminsitrative leave' some kind of euphamism for 'suspended with pay'?
Judge accepts government compromise offer on Moussaoui evidence
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - The judge in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has decided to allow the government to present substitute aviation security witnesses.
The decision partially reverses her ruling Tuesday to bar all aviation security testimony after the prosecution admitted a government lawyer coached witnesses.
The judge has issued a written order that says prosecutors can present exhibits and a witness or witnesses if they are untainted by contact with Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla Martin.
The partial reversal helps prosecutors.
They have said it would be a waste of time to continue if couldn't present evidence about aviation security measures that could have been taken to prevent 9/11.
Missed 9/11 clues that mean life or death
Foreign Editor's Briefing by Bronwen Maddox
ALL that is now at stake is whether the US will execute Zacarias Moussaoui for his role in the September 11 attacks, or whether he will spend his life in jail.
Since his guilty plea, the so-called twentieth hijacker, who never made it on to the planes, has had no other future.
The life imprisonment option became more likely this week when the Government suffered a big blow to its case for the death penalty. That draws attention to the weakness of its central claim that it could have prevented the attacks, if it had just known a little bit more.
The trial was never going to be a quiet affair, given the stakes. Moussaoui, who stumbled into US custody a month before the attacks, having attracted attention at flight school by asking to learn to land and take off a 747 jet, is the only clear prosecution target, who was firmly in the legal system from the start, and not in the limbo of Guantanamo Bay. The drama this week is that Leonie Brinkema, the US district judge, threw out about half of the prosecution’s key witnesses because one of the prosecution’s lawyers had committed serious errors.
US television news yesterday was buzzing with pictures of Carla J. Martin, the federal attorney who single-handedly brought half the Government’s case crashing down. Ms Martin, a large woman with a curtain of platinum blonde hair, refused to speak as she strode out of the Alexandria courtroom in her unwanted starring role. She has taken on a lawyer of her own and been advised not to testify in court.
Her offences included telling defence lawyers — wrongly — that two witnesses would not speak to them, and briefing aviation security witnesses by showing them transcripts of the trial so far. Judge Brinkema said: “I don’t think in the annals of criminal law there has ever been a case with this many significant problems.”
The Government badly needed the aviation witnesses. To secure the death penalty, it needs to show that Moussaoui was responsible for at least one death on September 11, 2001.
The core of its case is that the FBI could have prevented the hijackings by tightening airport security and telling baggage checkers to look for knives, if Moussaoui had not “lied” by not revealing his terrorist connections when he was arrested in August.
If only he had told them he had links with al-Qaeda, then they would have been alarmed, and tightened security. That’s the gist of this part of the case.
But it is disingenuous. It goes without saying that if all kinds of people had told them more, they would have been prepared. It also ignores the many clues which had been missed. As George Tenet, the former head of the CIA, told the 9/11 Commission, by August, “the system was blinking red”.
The commission, set up by Congress and President Bush, calls Moussaoui “an al-Qaeda mistake”, because he was “an unreliable operative”. He was a “missed opportunity”, it says in its report, which became a national bestseller.
But he was not missed out of extreme neglect. Agents were pressing ahead on his case; Paris and London passed on new details as they came in, although too late. The report believes “a maximum US effort to investigate Moussaoui” might just have pointed to the plot. But the better chance, it suggests, was that more publicity about his arrest might have derailed the plotters.
The commission’s subtle chronicle of the slips of that summer, which also shows how easily they were made, has the force of plausibility. But the case the Government wants to bring against Moussaoui seems to depend on overstating its ability to have prevented 9/11.
Judge Accepts Compromise Deal on Moussaoui
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and MATTHEW BARAKAT
Published: Friday, March 17, 2006 2:51 PM CST
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The federal judge in the death penalty trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui accepted a government compromise Friday that will allow prosecutors to present new witnesses about aviation security.
Judge Leonie Brinkema in a written order said prosecutors could present exhibits and a witness or witnesses if they are untainted by contact with Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla J. Martin, cited by Brinkema for misconduct earlier this week when the judge decided to exclude all aviation security evidence.
"The government's proposed alternative remedy of allowing it to call untainted aviation witnesses or otherwise produce evidence not tainted by Ms. Martin has merit," Brinkema wrote.
Her partial reversal of an earlier order was a boon to prosecutors who had said it would be a waste of time to continue the case if they were not allowed to present some evidence about possible defensive aviation security measures the government might have taken to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos signaled that the prosecution was prepared to resume its case on Monday. "We're pleased to be able to move forward with this important case on behalf of the thousands of victims and their families," Scolinos said.
Defense lawyers had argued Thursday that Brinkema was fully justified in concluding that evidence about U.S. aviation security was tainted beyond repair.
Moussaoui's lawyers also had said that there was no reason for her to agree to a request by prosecutors on Wednesday that she revoke her order or at least impose less severe penalties on the government.
Brinkema has sent the jury home until Monday while she decides what to do.
The only person charged in this country in the Sept. 11 attacks, Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al-Qaida. But he says he had nothing to do with 9/11 and was training for a possible later attack.
To obtain a death penalty, prosecutors must prove that Moussaoui's actions _ his lies, in this case _ led directly to at least one death on Sept. 11, 2001.
Martin's lawyer, Roscoe Howard, said Thursday she had been "viciously vilified by assertions from the prosecution" and is preparing a response he said "will show a very different, full picture of her intentions, her conduct and her tireless dedication to a fair trial."
Meanwhile, in New York, lawyers representing plaintiffs in a liability lawsuit stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks have asked a judge there to conduct an inquiry into whether Martin, or any other TSA lawyers, engaged in witness tampering or other acts to favor American Airlines and United Airlines, defendants in the case.
"We are particularly concerned that TSA may not have acted with the total impartiality required of that Agency in decisions it has made that affect our cases," lawyers Marc S. Moller and Beth E. Goldman wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who is overseeing the civil lawsuit over property damages that resulted from the terrorist attacks.
On the Net:
Court's Moussaoui site: http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notable...oui/index.html
Lawyers: Coaching was to aid 9/11 airlines
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN and LESLIE MILLER
The Associated Press
3/17/2006, 2:59 p.m. PT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for two airlines being sued by 9/11 victims prompted a federal attorney to coach witnesses in the Zacarias Moussaoui death penalty trial so the government's case against the al-Qaida conspirator would not undercut their defense, victims' lawyers allege.
A United Airlines lawyer received a transcript of the first day of the Moussaoui trial from an American Airlines lawyer and forwarded it to Carla J. Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, the victims' lawyers, Robert Clifford and Gregory Joseph, claim.
Martin's attorney, former federal prosecutor Roscoe C. Howard, acknowledged that his client and United attorney Jeff Ellis were close friends and had talked about the two cases. "But I don't think there is any collaboration between them," Howard said.
He dismissed the Clifford and Joseph letter as the work of aggressive lawyers who "want to take a look at all the documents in the Moussaoui case" to see if they might help their clients.
Martin forwarded that day's transcript to seven federal aviation officials scheduled to testify later in the sentencing trial of the 37-year-old Frenchman, in violation of an order by Moussaoui trial judge Leonie Brinkema.
Martin's e-mailing of the transcript and her efforts to shape their testimony prompted Brinkema to toss out half the government's case against Moussaoui as contaminated beyond repair.
American Airlines attorneys denied on Friday that the government position in the Moussaoui case would have undercut their defense in the civil suit and said that none of their attorneys had any direct contact with Martin about the Moussaoui trial.
The contacts between Martin and airline lawyers were detailed in a legal brief filed on Moussaoui's behalf Thursday. That brief contained a March 15 letter from Clifford and Joseph complaining about Martin's actions to U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is presiding over the civil damage case in New York.
They wrote Hellerstein that the government's opening statement in the Moussaoui case "took the position that the hijackings were completely preventable and that gate security measures could have been implemented to prevent the 9/11 hijackers from boarding the planes had security been on the look out for short-bladed knives and boxcutters."
"This stands in stark contrast to the position that has been repeatedly articulated by counsel to the aviation defendants in the September 11 actions."
Because that government position could have a "devastating" impact on the airlines' defense in the civil suit, American Airlines' lawyer forwarded the transcript to a United Air Lines lawyer who forwarded it to Martin, Clifford and Joseph wrote. As proof, they cited March 7 e-mails that they provided to Hellerstein.
The e-mails they sent Hellerstein were made public in the Moussaoui case this week as part of the investigation of Martin's actions. They show that on March 7 Maia Selinger, a legal assistant at a New York law firm that represents American Airlines in the civil suits, sent the first day's trial transcript to Christopher R. Christensen, an American Airlines lawyer, who in turn forwarded the transcript to United lawyer Ellis. Ellis then forwarded the transcript to the TSA's Martin.
But none of the e-mails by airline attorneys in which the transcript was forwarded contained any text message at all, much less explaining why they were forwarding a transcript that was publicly available on the Internet.
"The TSA lawyer then forwarded the transcripts and sent multiple e-mails to government witnesses in a clear effort to shape their testimony in a manner that would be beneficial to the aviation defendants" in the civil suit, Clifford and Joseph wrote.
They then quoted a March 8 e-mail Martin sent to one of the government's Moussaoui witnesses that said:
"My friends Jeff Ellis and Chris Christenson, NY lawyers rep. UAL and AAL respectively in the 9/11 civil litigation ... all of us aviation lawyers, were stunned by the opening. The opening has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through. There is no way anyone could say that the carriers could have prevented all short-bladed knives from going through — (Prosecutor) Dave (Novak) MUST elicit that from you and the airline witnesses on direct...."
Clifford and Joseph said the developments represent "far more than appearance of impropriety" and asked Hellerstein to investigate "the mutual back-scratching relationship that appears to exist between the (airline) defendants and the TSA."
Meantime, Marc S. Moller, an attorney for 9/11 families seeking damages for deaths or injuries, wrote Hellerstein that he wanted to depose Martin and the seven government officials she contacted because "we are particularly concerned that TSA may not have acted with total impartiality ... in decisions it has made that affect our cases." Moller stressed that he was making no allegations of impropriety.
Asked about the allegations by Clifford and Joseph, United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said, "Our actions have been entirely appropriate as have those of our outside counsel."
In a letter dated Thursday to Hellerstein, American Airlines' attorneys Desmond Barry and Roger Podesta wrote that the "assertion that a government admission of devastating significance to the defense of this case has somehow been made in the Moussaoui trial is just plain wrong."
They said the airlines have always maintained that their actions on 9/11 should be measured against whatever security standard federal aviation authorities imposed at the time. They said the government position in the Moussaoui trial — that security would have been tightened if Moussaoui had not lied about his terrorist connections when arrested in August 2001 — is irrelevant to their defense because the standards they were supposed to meet were not changed.
They added, "There have been no communications between any counsel for American Airlines and Carla Martin or anyone else at the TSA regarding the Moussaoui trial." And they said Christensen specifically had no communications with her at all "in approximately one year." They noted Martin had misspelled Christensen's name as Christenson.
TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said she was unfamiliar with the allegations made by Clifford and Joseph.
Earlier Thursday, Clark confirmed that TSA had put Martin on administrative leave.
On Tuesday, Brinkema said Martin violated federal rules when she sent trial transcripts to seven aviation witnesses, coached them on how to deflect defense attacks and lied to defense lawyers to prevent them from interviewing witnesses they wanted to call.
Brinkema warned her she could face civil or criminal charges and appeared to have violated rules of legal ethics.
Martin was a government lawyer for the aviation witnesses called by both sides and liaison between them and prosecutors and defense attorneys. Beyond that, she co-signed one government brief submitted in the case, attended closed hearings on classified documents and worked closely with prosecutors preparing their exhibits.
9/11 Families Blast TSA for Excessive Secrecy, Abuse of Power
Urge Congress to Compel Agency to Release Pre-9/11 Documents Wrongfully Kept from Families
Tuesday March 14, 10:39 am ET
WASHINGTON, March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Charging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with wrongfully denying them access to documents once in the public domain, the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism today called on Congress to force TSA to change its practices on classifying materials as "Sensitive Security Information" (SSI).
"Why has TSA provided documents to attorneys for an admitted terrorist, Zacarias Moussaoui, but denied them to us?" asked Julie Sweeney Roth of Yarmouthport, Mass., whose husband, Brian Sweeney, was a passenger on United flight 175. "Whose side is TSA on?"
"The truth is our most powerful weapon in the war on terrorism," said Alice Hoglan of Los Gatos, California, mother of Mark Bingham, one of the United flight 93 passengers who charged the hijackers and prevented the airplane from being crashed into either the Capitol or the White House. Contending that TSA would be fulfilling its responsibility to protect the nation's transportation system by releasing the information the families are requesting, Hoglan said, "It was because my son and his fellow passengers learned the truth about the hijackers' intentions that they were able to save countless lives as their final, brave act. That is why I am outraged that TSA is trying to hide the truth and making Americans less safe."
"SSI should have a different acronym -- CYA," said Dr. Stephen Alderman of Bedford, N.Y., whose son, Peter Alderman, died at the World Trade Center. "The materials we're requesting deal with pre-9/11 security procedures that have changed, making them of no use to would-be terrorists. Some aired on national television and were published in newspapers. TSA's only conceivable motive is avoiding embarrassment or protecting the airlines."
Sweeney Roth, Dr. Alderman, and his wife, Elizabeth, are among a group of 9/11 family members meeting with members of Congress today as part of an effort to educate U.S. senators and representatives about the problems at TSA and to change TSA's SSI practices.
Congress created the SSI designation to enable TSA to prevent the release of information that the agency determines presents a threat to the nation's transportation system. The 9/11 Families made clear that they are not challenging TSA's right to withhold information that could present a genuine security threat. Instead, they charged that TSA is abusing its authority by stamping as SSI and keeping secret a host of materials that clearly pose no threat whatsoever -- including many documents once openly available but now shrouded in secrecy.
TSA's classification of these documents and its insistence that its SSI decisions are essentially unreviewable brazenly violate the intent of Congress, the families charged. They cited a June 2005 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, blasting TSA for its failure to implement adequate policies, guidance, procedures, internal controls and training regarding the SSI process. Though TSA claims to have subsequently set in place a structure for reviewing SSI, the agency has still failed to offer any guidelines by which it trains its employees to determine what is and is not SSI, despite many congressional requests.
The 9/11 Families charged that many of TSA's SSI classifications "are so absurd, they turn real life into satire." For example:
When the videotape showing hijackers passing through security at Washington Dulles airport on 9/11 was aired on NBC, TSA issued a two-line press release boasting that it "strongly validates the dramatic changes that TSA has made in the world of aviation security." Now, TSA has classified the tape as SSI. Yet TSA itself released a similar videotape showing lead hijacker Mohammed Atta passing through security at the airport in Portland, Maine, on 9/11.
TSA has taken material that has long been in the public domain -- including information published in the Congressional Record and major newspapers -- and labeled it SSI.
TSA has classified as SSI the five Federal Aviation Administration warnings to the airlines issued in the months before 9/11, despite the fact that they were quoted in the 9/11 Commission's report and discussed in public testimony.
The 9/11 Families also noted that TSA's policies resulted in the dismissal of charges against a baggage handler, who had been caught stealing from a passenger's luggage, because TSA labeled incriminating materials as SSI and refused to turn them over to the Court.
The 9/11 Families are urging Congress to compel TSA to fulfill the families' requests for access to pre-9/11 documents and materials that were once publicly available. They noted that a House Appropriations Subcommittee wrote last year that it "expects the Department to try to release as much, not as little, information to the public as possible" and that U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said from the bench that TSA's conduct in reviewing SSI "is cruel and inhuman to the people involved."
Some of the 9/11 Families are plaintiffs in litigation against the airlines and are seeking documents withheld by TSA, but others who are not are joining the effort to educate Congress about TSA's abuse of its authority to keep information secret. "This is a matter of principle," said Hoglan, who settled with the Victims' Compensation Fund and thus cannot sue the airlines. "It's about our right to know the truth about why our loved ones were killed. It's about protecting our democracy and our system of checks and balances."
The 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism represents 6,161 survivors and family members of those who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The 9/11 Families are seeking to hold al Qaeda's financiers accountable for their central role in these atrocities and to make America safer by cutting off the financial pipeline fueling global terrorism.