chapter  23
16 Pages

The Constitution Besieged

The War on Terror Cases (2000s)
WithMelvin I. Urofsky

The war on terror, however, is a different kind of war, and as a result the courts do not have the luxury of postponing decisions until after the fighting has stopped. In the war on terror the fighting may never stop, so courts will have to rule on constitutional questions when they arise, and hope that their decisions will have no adverse repercussions on war-related policies. The most notorious of all the terrorism cases involved Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen who had been arrested prior to September 11 but then charged with a terrorism-related crime: he allegedly would have been the replacement for the twentieth hijacker. Moussaoui demanded, as a constitutional right, to be allowed to question a senior al-Qaeda leader held in US custody, on the grounds that the man’s testimony would clear him of terrorism charges.