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U.S. Argues Against Access to Operative in Sept. 11 Trial

The government has told an appellate court that the judiciary should not interfere with the executive branch’s war on terrorism, arguing that alleged Sept. 11, 2001, conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui has no right to secure trial testimony from a key al Qaeda operative because the detainee is overseas and “simply beyond the reach of the courts.” The argument was made by federal prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers in briefs to the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Heavily redacted copies of the documents, which were filed last month, were released yesterday. Sources previously described the government’s argument, saying that prosecutors were invoking unprecedented national security powers in saying that courts should not interfere with military decisions. At issue is whether Moussaoui’s attorneys will be allowed to interview Ramzi Binalshibh, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Moussaoui had sought to question him, arguing that the operative had information that could help the defense. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema agreed, and in a sealed late January order told the government to allow Moussaoui’s attorneys access to Binalshibh. Full Story

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