United States v. Moussaoui

382 F.3d 453 (2004)

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United States v. Moussaoui

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
382 F.3d 453 (2004)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Zacarias Moussaoui (defendant) was an operative of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. In late February 2001, Moussaoui arrived in the United States and began taking flight lessons in Oklahoma, engaging in conduct similar to that of the men responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2002, the United States government charged Moussaoui with six conspiracy offenses and sought the death penalty for four of the offenses, including conspiracy to commit international terrorism. At the same time, as part of ongoing efforts to eradicate al-Qaeda, the United States military captured three members of al-Qaeda, so-called enemy-combatant witnesses. Classified reports for each witness, based on the witnesses’ statements, were prepared for military and intelligence purposes. The reports were redacted, summarized, and excerpted for disclosure in the Moussaoui litigation (the summaries). As disclosed in the summaries, the witnesses had stated that Moussaoui was not involved in the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui sought to depose the three witnesses as part of his defense, and the district court found that the testimony could eliminate the death penalty in sentencing. The court twice ordered the government to provide access to the enemy-combatant witnesses for purposes of a deposition. The government refused to produce the witnesses and appealed the court’s ruling. In April 2004, the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion. Moussaoui timely petitioned for rehearing, and the court of appeals ordered additional responses and briefing.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, C.J.)

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