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Federal Prosecutor Says 'No Point' in Continuing Moussaoui Trial
Because Martin didn't testify yesterday, it was impossible to determine why she violated Brinkema's order. She did not return calls to her home or answer the door at her apartment.
Friends and former colleagues said she was a career Federal Aviation Administration attorney who moved to the new TSA in 2002 largely because of her work on the case of the Pan Am Flight 103 explosion in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Martin represented the government at a civil trial in which victims' families sued the airline. She was there to make sure that sensitive information was not discussed in open court.
In the Moussaoui case, her name appears on some court documents that are specific to aviation security.
Martin graduated from the University of Tennessee and went to law school at American University, beginning to practice in 1990. She was a flight attendant for several years before she went to law school, said Gary W. Allen, who knew Martin when he supervised aviation litigation at the Justice Department.
The problems that triggered yesterday's hearing emerged Monday, when prosecutors informed Brinkema that Martin had violated a court order by e-mailing trial transcripts to the seven witnesses -- all current and former federal aviation employees -- and coaching them on their testimony. Brinkema had ruled that most witnesses could not attend or follow the trial and could not read transcripts.
Martin's e-mails criticized the prosecution, saying its opening statement "has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through." She questioned an assertion by prosecutors that the government could have stopped the Sept. 11 attacks by taking steps such as having the FAA focus airport security on short-bladed knives. The Sept. 11 hijackers used such knives to take over four airplanes.
Lynne Osmus, the FAA's assistant administrator for security and hazardous materials, testified yesterday that she reported Martin's e-mails to prosecutors Friday because she thought they were "an odd communication."
Asked by defense attorney MacMahon whether it alarmed her that Martin wrote in one e-mail "please don't respond," Osmus said: "Yes, it did. I didn't want to have secret discussions with her."
Osmus and the four other senior FAA and TSA officials who testified yesterday said their communication with Martin would not have affected the testimony they would have given. Osmus's deputy, Claudio Manno, said he brushed aside Martin's e-mails "because I can only testify about what I know."
The witnesses portrayed Martin as an obsessive lawyer who e-mailed them repeatedly -- and called them over the weekend after prosecutors began investigating her conduct. Only then did she tell them not to read her earlier e-mails and to stop following news coverage of the trial, they said.
"Ms. Martin sometimes had a tendency to go off on tangents that were not all that relevant, and it was really taking up a lot of time," Manno testified.
He said Martin, who had been the liaison between the prosecution team and aviation witnesses, was replaced last week at the request of Osmus, Manno and other officials.
As the hearing wore on, it became clear that Martin was extensively involved in key portions of the government's case. She helped prepare witnesses and coordinated searches for documents, some of them classified.
"Her involvement in that portion of the case so taints everything she touched," Brinkema said. "How can any rational trier of fact rely on any representation she had made?''
Staff writers Michael Laris, Carol Morello, Paul Schwartzman and Ian Shapira and staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.