Pilots are charging that the Bush Administration doled out $5 million as an award to flight instructor Clarence Prevost in the Moussaoui case without seriously inquiring into who was actually responsible for bringing the terrorist-wannabe to the attention of the government. Members of Congress are asking for explanations on why other instructors credited with the disclosure were ignored. Another question should be the size of this payout.
Colleagues of Prevost have charged that he was not the only who raised concerns about the interests of Zacarias Moussaoui in learning how to fly. Two other Pan Am flight instructors, Tim Nelson and Hugh Sims, also tipped the FBI. The Senate recognized this fact in 2005 in a resolution that cited their “bravery” and “heroism.”
Yet, Bush Administration officials at the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program only recognized Prevost and handed out a huge award for his actions in a closed ceremony.
The reason appears to be that Prevost testified in the Administration’s absurd trial of Moussaoui. As noted in this earlier column, Moussaoui did not prove to be the claimed 20th hijacker. Instead, he proved to be a barking lunatic. (Click here). Despite the statements from government officials and foreign intelligence services that he was not the 20th hijacker, the government continued in court to make such claims and refused to accept life in prison as a sufficient punishment. In the end, the Administration spent millions in years of prosecution only to receive the life sentence that they could have acquired soon after he admitted to be part of a terrorist organization. The government had promised that Moussaoui would die for 9-11, even if he did not play a role in the attack.
What is most disturbing about this story is that the government is still pretending that Moussaoui was a major catch in an effort to rewrite history and justify their past expenditures. When criticized for spending millions unnecessarily, the solution in the government is to spend millions more. This is not to say that a reward should not have been paid, but $5 million is clearly obscene. Moreover, if it was really about rewarding people who stepped forward, it should included these other individuals. The award shows at best a careless attitude in handing out millions of dollars and at worse an effort to keep the Moussaoui myth alive.
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4 thoughts on “Pilots Challenge $5 Million Award for Instructor Credited in Moussaoui Arrest”
Sincere best wishes, Professor.
I would love to do it, but two terrorism cases are sapping my strength and time at the moment. Thanks for the idea though and perhaps I will get some time once I get through these cases.
An expansion on the last sentence of the post above (I refuse to ever say “supra” in polite company again!)
JT, and I don’t care if you reply or not, you are in an ideal position to write a rather large book on the sometimes baroque, always tragic legal proceedings of the last 6 years that centered around the “terrorists”, terrorism, and the government’s legal response.
You participated as counsel in several cases. You know the actors and the cast of characters in supporting roles: the judges, the courts, the counsels, the accused.
It would be a vivid story, compulsively readable, and beneficial to the nation as a civics lesson in what happens when law and national security collide.
The lawyers on both sides, the judges caught in the middle, the memorandums, the unprecedented abuses of habeas and counsel/client relations, the sheer overbearing power of the Executive. From Guantanamo to San Francisco to Portland to Washington to New York, the legal battles played out. And the bad guys, our government, mostly won.
It would make a great book, justice in the age of terror. And you are actually the best scholar with national recognition to write it.
the full scope of this era:
Pleeeeease write at book length about this era Professor.
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