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Al-Qaida’s Gomer Pyle

On April 3, a jury ruled  that Zacharias Moussoui was eligible for the death penalty for his role in the Sept. 11 bombings. But the weight of evidence continues to show that, despite Moussaoui’s own claim  that he was originally tasked that day with crashing a fifth plane into the White House—a mission he couldn’t carry out because he was in jail—Moussaoui really didn’thave any role in the Sept. 11 bombings. Anyone even casually familiar with Moussaoui’s case has surely noticed that Moussaoui is mentally unstable, and eager to die for his cause. That doesn’t oblige a United States court to grant his wish.

Obviously Moussaoui belongs in jail. Without question, he is an al-Qaida soldier; before his arrest, he was apparently on tap to participate in a second round of plane crashes. (Among the targets under consideration were the Sears Tower in Chicago and, yes, the White House.) But the following document, a summary by the Central Intelligence Agency of statements made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operations chief for al-Qaida, argues persuasively that Moussaoui’s advance knowledge of Sept. 11 was sketchy at best. Annotated excerpts appear on this page and on the following seven pages. To read the footnotes, roll your mouse over the portion highlighted in yellow. If you want to read the document in its entirety (and without my explication), click here. (The PDF file comes via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which posted it on its Web site.)

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Read: waterboarded (i.e., simulated drowning). The CIA's inspector general has said this technique violates the Geneva convention.
Sheikh Mohammed has reportedly given up the names of many Al Qaida operatives.