The Pentagon and Justice Department have been at odds for a while over how best to handle the case. Defense officials, already angry that some classified documents were mistakenly handed over to Moussaoui a few months ago, do not want sensitive information released at a public trial.
Moussaoui's lawyers said they did not know if the government planned to dismiss civilian charges. Justice Department officials did not answer requests for comment.
Several Justice Department officials, including Michael Chertoff, chief of the department's Criminal Division, have pushed hard to keep Moussaoui in the civilian court system. They won out initially but it was unclear if that would change given the requests made for access to people like Bin al-Shaibah.
U.S. Intelligence Believes Most Al Qaeda Leaders Relocated to Pakistan
W A S H I NG T O N, Nov. 12 — U.S. intelligence believes most of al Qaeda's surviving leaders have relocated to Pakistan, although a few have slipped away to countries in Asia and North Africa, defense and counterterrorism officials say.
Last week's CIA strike on al Qaeda's chief operative in Yemen crossed one "top 20" target off U.S. lists. But several key members of the terror group's leadership remain alive and free, although U.S. officials believe many are laying low in Pakistan to avoid the worldwide dragnet.
Pakistan was the obvious rallying site once U.S. and anti-Taliban forces overran Afghanistan last year: It is easy to reach but difficult to police. Because of concerns that a U.S. military presence would anger the Pakistani populace, U.S. forces cannot operate with the impunity they enjoy in Afghanistan.
But some of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been on the move — presenting a danger and an opportunity, say U.S. counterterrorism officials. As mobile operatives cross borders to meet with cells to plot attacks, they often must pass through airports and security checkpoints, spend money and make phone calls, all of which expose them to potential detection and capture.
In Pakistan, al Qaeda operatives are believed to have gone either to the wild mountainous region along the Afghan border, or to the cities, particularly Karachi.
Osama bin Laden's whereabouts and status remain unknown, although many CIA and military officials say they assume he is alive. Their best bet: He is in the mountains along the border. His recent communications give no clues to their origins, and officials say it is possible they were made some time ago.
Bin Laden's chief deputy, Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahri, spent most of 2002 in limbo, finally re-emerging to speak on an audio tape released last month that referred to recent events. Al-Zawahri is believed to be in Pakistan. Officials won't say if they think he is with bin Laden.
Two al Qaeda operations chiefs are out of the picture: Mohammed Atef, killed in a U.S. airstrike near Kabul a year ago, and Abu Zubaydah, captured in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad in March. Officials have identified seven senior operatives who have been killed since the Sept. 11 attacks, and several more who have been captured.
President Bush spoke Monday of the global effort to catch al Qaeda's leaders.