Able Danger Blog

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Weldon called to testify at Moussaoui sentencing

Once again, Rory O'Connor has the scoop. Read the whole thing. Lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui have called Curt Weldon to testify at his sentencing hearing:

Last week, Representative Curt Weldon, the crusading conservative Republican from Pennsylvania who has been a leading voice in pushing for open hearings about Able Danger, received a subpoena to testify at the sentencing trial, now scheduled to begin next month....

Others connected with the Able Danger program, including defense analysts such as Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Captain Mark Phillpott, are also expected to be called to testify....

Judge Brinkema ordered the government to turn over any threat assessments immediately, especially those (like Able Danger) completed in the year before the 2001 attacks. Her order was released after government censors blacked out about five lines of it....

Moussaoui’s attorney Edward B. McMahon Jr. was unavailable for comment. But another attorney familiar with the case speculated that the defense move to subpoena Weldon and other Able Danger participants might counter the prosecution’s argument. “This could dissociate Moussaoui from the 9/11 attacks,” he explained. “The defense will argue that Able Danger found evidence of four hijackers – but Moussaoui was not one of them, even though he was in the United States at the time. This would buttress the claim that he had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and help exonerate him.”

The defense may also argue that agents already had more information about the plot than Moussaoui could have provided. “Their second argument could be that the authorities could have prevented the 9/11 attacks without apprehending Moussaoui ahead of time,” the attorney reasoned, “Since there is nothing Moussaoui could have told them that they couldn’t have learned about from Able Danger.”

If the jury agrees with the defense, Moussaoui will receive life in prison. If jurors agree with prosecutors, they will decide whether he should be executed....

UPDATE: For what it's worth, his lawyer's are making a huge mistake. If anything the prosecutor should be interested in Able Danger, not the defense. Able Danger proves Atta and Shehhi were connected to Al Qaeda well before 9/11. While Able Danger might not have identified Ramzi Binalshibh (we will never know for sure without seeing that infamous chart) Binalshibh was Atta's roommate in Hamburg! With Mousssaoui's known connections to Binalshibh, if he thinks showing the jury more information about the Hamburg and Brooklyn cells will spare his life, he's mistaken.

Here is some background from CNN in December 2001:

In February of 2001, Moussaoui arrived in the United States, opened a bank account with $32,000 in cash, and immediately enrolled in flight school. And also charged in the indictment, in early August 2001, Moussaoui received $14,000 from Germany sent to him by Binalshibh. And lastly, on August 10, as the indictment alleges, he paid for flight lessons with $6,300 in cash.

As you can see, he didn't even enter the US until after Able Danger was largely shut down, in February or March of 2001. The fact that it did not detect him is simply a reflection of the fact it no longer existed, not proof he was not connected to Atta. On the scale of desparate defense attorney gambles, this one tops the scales. On the up side, it might mean we get to hear from Phillpott after all.