In a recent speech at the American University school of law, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who presided over the trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, said that the government’s decision to seek the death penalty against Moussaoui appeared to be politically motivated. Judge Brinkema also stated that because Moussaoui’s case involved the death penalty, it unnecessarily exposed classified information and interfered with the gathering of other information that could have been useful in investigating terrorist networks.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring with al-Qaeda in 2005, and at the sentencing phase of the trial he was permitted to submit into evidence statements from captured al-Qaeda leaders. These statements said that Moussaoui only played a small part in their terrorist plans. Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

Judge Brinkema also stated in her speech that Moussaoui would have likely cooperated with authorities and given them useful information. She said that if investigators “could put up with his ramblings, that they could have gotten some information from him because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.”
(“Moussaoui judge says prosecutors’ pursuit of death penalty made more evidence public,” Associated Press, February 2, 2008). See New Voices and Federal Death Penalty.