Archive for Tuesday, March 19, 2002


March 19, 2002


Washington, D.C.: U.S. to seek death penalty against Sept. 11 suspect

Government prosecutors arguing the case against Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, are planning to seek the death penalty, according to government officials and a letter sent by prosecutors to victims' families.

The Justice Department has not given final approval to prosecutors to push for the death penalty, but officials have until March 29 to make a decision, according to two officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, prosecutors are preparing to argue that the man they allege trained alongside the Sept. 11 hijackers be put to death.

The government's intention to seek the death penalty in this case was disclosed in a letter to at least dozens of victims' families.

The letter, dated March 7, said that if the Justice Department gave final approval, "the Moussaoui case will become a capital prosecution, meaning that the United States will be asking the jury to find that defendant Moussaoui should be executed should he be found guilty."

New York City: WTC vehicles' return delayed

City officials said Monday they won't return hundreds of cars towed from near the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks until they determine whether the vehicles are a health threat.

Kathy Dawkins, a Department of Sanitation spokeswoman, said officials will meet with the Environmental Protection Agency this week and that the vehicles, possibly tainted with asbestos, will remain parked at a landfill until at least then.

About 400 owners and insurance companies had been told their vehicles would be released starting Monday, but concerns were later raised about asbestos dust.

Washington, D.C.: Sky patrols to be reduced

The Pentagon has proposed a plan to reduce the number and frequency of round-the-clock combat air patrols flown over American cities since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a spokeswoman said Monday.

"We are looking at a plan ... that will employ some kind of mix of combat air patrols over certain locations," Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said.

In January, the Air Force's top civilian official said the patrols  composed of F-15s and F-16s  were putting too much strain on the Air Force.

"That was never intended to be a permanent thing," said Air Force Secretary James Roche, referring to the idea of having fighters in the air at all times over Washington and New York in case of another suicide hijacking.

London: Troops head to Afghanistan

Britain announced Monday it will deploy an infantry battle group of 1,700 in Afghanistan, its largest military deployment for combat operations since the Gulf war.

Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said the United States had asked Britain to join future operations against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that the British force  built around a Royal Marines commando unit  will be fully integrated with U.S. forces.

He said the force would go initially to Bagram air base north of Kabul, and that the first members of 45 Commando Group will be on the ground within days. It would be ready to begin offensive operations by mid-April "in support of the wider coalition war against terrorism. "

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