Unfortunately, having watched the Bush administration operate as they wish for five years now, the revelation today that a lawyer working for the prosecution had coached witnesses in what to say during the Moussaoui death penalty hearing is hardly surprising.
"In all the years I've been on the bench, I've never seen such an egregious violation of the court's rule on witnesses," U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema declared angrily.
Brinkema, visibly upset, said she had decided to put the trial on hold until at least Wednesday because she needed more time to decide whether to dismiss the case.
The surprise development could derail the government's effort to put Moussaoui to death as the only person convicted in the United States in connection with the hijacked airliner attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
"This court is faced with a very serious taint of a key portion of this case," Brinkema said. "It is very difficult for this case to go forward."
Now, whether it leads to the dismissal of the case or not, remains to be seen. And it won't set Moussaoui free, as he will receive an automatic sentence of life in prison even if the case is dismissed. However, what it shows is the utter disregard for the law that we have seen time and again from this administration.
We saw it at Abu Graib. We've seen it when a terror suspect was kidnapped off the street in Milan, in a Democracy with which we have friendly relations and flown to Egypt, for interrogation. We've seen it with other so-called 'renditions' (whether justified or not). We've seen it with the wiretapping episode. We've seen it with the Padilla case. We've seen it with political fundraising. We've seen it with the Plame leak. This administration is willing to either ignore or rewrite the law as they see fit and then gamble that the court will uphold it.
But then, last year, it was reported by Capitol Hill Blue that the President called the U.S. Constitution "just a goddamned piece of paper" during a staff meeting on the Patriot Act.
Is anyone surprised about today's revelation? It's no longer unusual, for this White House, it's par for the course.
cross posted at The Divided States of Bushmerika