Our craven, incurious media treats the show trial of Zacarias Moussaoui as news instead of farce

Did Zacarias Moussaoui have anything to do with the attack on the World Trade Center, and should he face the death penalty in connection with the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans?

These questions go the very reason Moussaoui is on trial in a Virginia courtroom, yet they are largely irrelevant to the trial itself. The real defendant is not Moussaoui, but the “war on terrorism” and the official fictions that support it. The trail serves to show that the official version of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, is accurate; to show that the government is waging and winning the “war on terrorism”; and to show the American public that justice is being done in their name.

This show trial, thus, has everything to do with appearance and precious little to do with facts or justice. Small wonder it appears downright Stalinist.

In one significant sense, the trial of Moussaoui bears a resemblance to the 1938 show trial of Nikolai Bukharin. In short, Bukharin was an old-guard Bolshevik who vigorously opposed Stalin’s cruelly inefficient collectivization of agriculture, and favoured the continuation of limited capitalism.

Bukharin, whose stature in the Communist Party rivaled that of Stalin’s, whose paranoia led to a mass purge of the party ranks beginning in 1936. Party apparatchiks were arrested on trumped up charges of being terrorists and “right deviationists,” and forced to denounce themselves and others in infamous show trials.

Bukharin was repeatedly denounced at these trials and went on a hunger strike. In February 1938, he was brought before a meeting of the Central Committee. As historian Roy Medvedev recounted in his masterful book Let History Judge:

“Stalin let his aides, especially Molotov, take the lead in the denunciation of Bukharin. When Bukharin declared, ‘I…will not tell lies against myself,’ Molotov replied: ‘If you don’t confess, that will prove you to be a fascist hireling. Their press is saying our trials are provocations. We’ll arrest you and you’ll confess!’ ‘What a trap!’ exclaimed Bukharin returning home.”

At the first session of the trail of Bukharin and two others, the presiding judge read the indictment. All three admitted their guilt. In fact, throughout his “trial” Bukharin appeared relaxed and calm as he admitted his “guilt.”

What could have broken Bukharin’s will? Did Stalin promise to spare Bukharin’s family if he confessed? This is a likely scenario.

The point to this historical digression is two-fold: Bukharin’s “trial” was a fraud to serve Stalin’s persecutions, and that the accused was persuaded to deny his earlier protestations of innocence. In these respects, Moussaoui’s “trial” is similar:

In his written guilty plea, Moussaoui denied having anything to do with the events of Sept. 11, yet on the stand he claimed that Osama bin Laden selected him to hijack a plane and fly it into the White House. Both of these statements cannot be true, so why did Moussaoui change his story? Was he given some inducement?

If he is guilty, why did Carla J. Martin, lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration, feel the need to tamper with the jury by feeding them trial transcripts and coaching them on deflecting defence questions? The obsessive need to convict and execute Moussaoui suggests that his trial serves an ulterior motive.

As anyone who has studied the events of Sept. 11 knows, the following empirical facts are unambiguous and provable:

  • the aircraft that hit the Twin Towers did not cause them to collapse;
  • no passenger jet hit the Pentagon; and
  • no passenger jet crashed into a field near Shanksville, Penn.

To argue otherwise would require suspension of the laws of physics. Much has been written about the first two points, so let’s focus on the third because it bears directly on recent events.

Conveniently, the cockpit voice recorder has turned up, just in time for jurors to hear the emotional and panicked words of the passengers before they died. As Paul Koring wrote in the Globe and Mail on April 13:

“Jurors listened yesterday to the terrifying last minutes aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 as desperate passengers fought al-Qaeda terrorists but seemed to fail in their quest to get into the cockpit before the Islamic extremist piloting the big Boeing 757 rolled it and crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.”

Here, Koring directly links the Moussaoui trial with UA Flight 93.

Nothing about this juxtaposition seems to perturb Koring or his editor Stephen Northfield, both of whom told me that the idea of a mid-air explosion was preposterous and that a military shoot down could not be covered up. Yet neither of them could offer a plausible defence for the “official theory.”

Whereas Northfield was simply contemptuous and dismissive, Koring at least made a valiant effort. He said the presence of debris far from the “crash site” could be due to the plane breaking up along the flight path.

Possibly, but Indian Lake, where wreckage and human remains were found 2.5 miles away, is not on the flight path. Moreover, witnesses at Indian Lake told the local press that the falling wreckage was burning. Contrary to both Koring’s and Northfield’s assertions the press did report eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence that pointed towards an explosion.

Beyond the reflexive, incurious reporting of “the official version” the fact that the CVR recording is being made public during the Moussaoui trial is conspicuous in the extreme. It raises the question of what the FBI was doing with it for 4.5 years. We know the FBI recovered the flight data recorder, “the black box,” at 4:50 p.m. on Sept. 13, yet this data still has not been made public.

I don’t know what happened on board UA Flight 93, but I do know that it has nothing to do with Moussaoui. Given his eccentric behaviour it’s hard to believe anything he says. Until he was forced to wear a stun belt, which the Globe hasn’t mentioned, he was given to wild outbursts. He frequently shouts insults at the court after the judge and jury have left. He attacked his own lawyers for being racist and not looking after his interests.

Moussaoui should not face the death penalty, since the state has no direct evidence linking him to the Sept. 11 attack; Moussaoui’s own statements are self-contradictory; and he doesn’t give the impression of being smart enough to hijack an aircraft.

But then, the “trial” isn’t about him.