The case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who may or may not plead guilty today in connection with the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shows some of the difficulties of trying suspected terrorists in established civilian courts, says the Christian Science Monitor. Moussaoui has been erratic and belligerent. The case has raised issues about the degree to which an accused terrorist can have access to the testimony of other imprisoned terrorist suspects. Judge Leonie Brinkema has ruled that Moussaoui is mentally competent to plead guilty and that he could be sentenced to death.
The nature of his ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers may remain unresolved. It may be that “everyone has come to the conclusion, including the judge, that there is no good way to get rid of this case,” says Juliette Kayyem, a Harvard homeland security and law-enforcement specialist. The federal “9/11 commission” said that all-out FBI investigation of the unreliable Moussaoui might have foiled the attacks.