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U.S. ATTORNEY CALLS MOUSSAOUI TRIAL �SHINING EXAMPLE’ OF RULE OF LAW To the editor: In a May 21 article entitled “ At DOJ, a Hard Job to Fill” [Page 1], reporters Jason McLure and Emma Schwartz refer to the prosecution of 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui as a “largely bungled effort.” That is a gross mischaracterization. To the contrary, the Moussaoui prosecution is a testament to the ability of the criminal justice system — and the extraordinary career prosecutors in this office — to provide a fair trial to the most repulsive of defendants, in the most trying of times. To date, Moussaoui remains the only person convicted for his role in the 9/11 attacks and currently serves a life sentence in the U.S. Penitentiary at Florence, Colo., the most secure correctional facility operated by the Bureau of Prisons. Inmates there are individually housed in cells measuring 75.5 square feet in size that contain a toilet, sink, and concrete bunk with mattress. Moussaoui has minimal contact with other human beings. Facing a lifetime in such conditions, Moussaoui likely would not describe the prosecution as a “largely bungled effort.” The prosecution of Moussaoui certainly took far longer than anyone anticipated and endured numerous unanticipated twists and turns. Much of the delay occurred because the case was brought in the midst of the war on terrorism, which spawned novel issues of national security that demanded appellate review before trial. As Chief Judge William Wilkins of the 4th Circuit wrote when deciding these issues: “We are presented with questions of grave significance — questions that test the commitment of this nation to an independent judiciary, to the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial even to one accused of the most heinous of crimes, and to the protection of our citizens against additional terrorist attacks. These questions do not admit of easy answers.” Yet these issues were fully addressed by the court system in a manner that concomitantly protected our national security and Moussaoui’s right to a fair trial. Indeed, the Moussaoui prosecution serves as a shining example of this country’s commitment to the rule of law, even when confronted with the most challenging of circumstances. The prosecution obviously believed that Moussaoui deserved a death sentence; yet we understand that justice is served when the community (here, the jury) has an opportunity to speak. In this case, according to press reports, 11 jurors believed that Moussaoui deserved a death sentence, but one juror chose to spare his life. The fact that one juror elected to exercise his or her right under the law to prevent a death sentence hardly constitutes a “largely bungled effort to win a death sentence for Zacarias Moussaoui.” Some believe terrorists should be tried in military tribunals instead of courtrooms — and that debate should occur. But for your reporters to cheapen the argument by unjustly disparaging the Moussaoui prosecution shows a lack of understanding of the case and demeans the great sacrifice made by the men and women from both the prosecution and the defense, as well as the court system, during the more than four years that the case was litigated. As U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, the trial judge, said at the conclusion of the case: “This trial and this verdict are clear evidence of the enduring strength of this nation and its core values, which do not focus on hatred, bigotry, and irrationality. Rather, we believe that all persons are created equal and that when they appear in one of our courts of law, they will be treated as equals, regardless of their background or their political beliefs. So every American, . . . those who wanted to see this defendant executed and those who did not, should feel at this point satisfied that the system worked and this defendant received a fair trial and the American people were well represented by their institutions.” Journalists who attended the trial understood this and uniformly praised the prosecution; journalists who did not completely missed the lesson and the point. Chuck Rosenberg United States Attorney Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria, Va.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY: ANOTHER FLAW IN HATE CRIMES BILL To the editor: Stuart Taylor rightly criticized the new federal hate crimes bill (“The Kind of Villains We Prefer,” May 28, Page 62). But he left out its biggest flaw: double jeopardy. Federal hate crimes law allows people found innocent of a crime in state court to be reprosecuted in federal court. As a supporter put it, the federal law serves as a “safety valve in case a state hate crimes prosecution fails.” The idea that the justice system has “failed” when a jury votes “not guilty” is scary and contrary to the presumption of innocence. Yet many support federal reprosecutions. Former Attorney General Janet Reno once said that federal hate crimes legislation was needed to provide a federal “forum” in case a prosecution failed in state court. A lawyer speaking for the NOW Legal Defense Fund told Congress that reprosecution is appropriate if state prosecutors had “inadequate resources” or were of “questionable effectiveness.” Hate crimes prosecutions are sometimes driven more by politics than evidence. Another lawyer supporting reprosecutions perversely cited the Duke lacrosse case. He claimed that the defendants escaped justice because prosecutor Mike Nifong was ineffective and overzealous. But they were innocent, as DNA evidence showed. So far federal reprosecutions have been rare. This hate crimes bill would surely change that. Hans Bader Arlington, Va.

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