The U.S. government has refused to produce a key witness in the case against Zacarias Moussaoui, meaning that a judge will likely dismiss the indictment against the only person charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Washington Post reports.
The action raises the possibility that the case against Moussaoui could move to a military tribunal, but Justice Department officials say they will appeal any dismissal of the charges. First, prosecutors must go before the federal judge who ordered that they produce Ramzi Binalshibh, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema could dismiss the charges, remove the death penalty as an option, reduce the charges or strike all mentions of Binalshibh from the indictment.
Yesterday, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld, 7 to 5, an earlier decision that afrirmed the ruling requiring the witness. Chief Judge William Wilkins Jr. said, “Siding with the Government in all cases where national security concerns are asserted would entail surrender of the independence of the judicial branch and abandonment of our sworn commitment to uphold the rule of law.”