U.S. judge to let Moussaoui testify to Congress and jury
Tom Jackman The Washington Post
Friday, July 5, 2002 WASHINGTON A federal judge will not stop Zacarias Moussaoui from testifying before Congress or a federal grand jury about his knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks, as he asked this week, and prosecutors apparently are ready to open the grand jury door for him.
Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court said Wednesday that she did not have the authority to control who was called as a witness by grand juries or congressional committees. But she warned Moussaoui that anything he said could be used against him at his trial. He is accused of conspiring with Al Qaeda and 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Brinkema ordered that a copy of her ruling and Moussaoui's request to appear before Congress be delivered to the chairmen and ranking minority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House intelligence committees, raising the possibility that the only man charged in the Sept. 11 attacks could appear before them.
Congress already is investigating what the FBI and intelligence agencies could have known before the attacks. Moussaoui has said in a series of handwritten motions that the FBI was following him and the hijackers before Sept. 11 and that the government wanted the plot to go forward so the United States could later destroy Afghanistan.
"If he has any information, he should be sharing that with law enforcement authorities," Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said through a spokesman.
The senator said he had no interest in delaying the trial by calling Moussaoui to testify and was confident that the rest of the committee would agree.
Moussaoui has said that because Brinkema and his court-appointed standby lawyers will not let him pursue his theory in court, he must take it to the public. "I have relevant information and proof relating to conduct of the FBI regarding the Sept. 11," Moussaoui wrote Monday in seeking permission to appear before Congress.
In a separate motion to speak to a grand jury, Moussaoui has agreed "to be chain, handcuff, leg cuff, stun belt, 20 or so marshals, as long as I can say what I know about Sept. 11 attack."
Federal prosecutors responded with a motion that is sealed because grand jury proceedings are secret. But Brinkema's order says the government "does not object to the defendant appearing as a witness."
Grand jury witnesses may not have a lawyer with them, but may step outside to confer with counsel. Brinkema ordered that one of Moussaoui's standby lawyers be present. Moussaoui refuses to speak to the federal public defender, Frank Dunham Jr., or to Alan Yamamoto, another lawyer whom Brinkema appointed to advise the defendant as he mounts his defense.
Since Moussaoui would not be under subpoena, he could refuse to answer questions from either a prosecutor or a grand juror. He likely would not be allowed to make speeches unresponsive to a question, and the grand jury could issue a new indictment with additional charges if members thought Moussaoui incriminated himself or others.