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Circus closes up in Alexandria

So, the jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial decided that death was too good for him. Instead, we can look forward for literally DECADES of supporting him in prison, while waiting for the inevitable sob stories of how horrible life is for him behind bars, how misunderstood and mistreated he is, and wondering if each day is the day some terrorists take some Americans hostage to barter for his release.

In retrospect, I have to wonder if the fix was in from the outset. First, the government put forth a borderline-incomprehensible rationale for pushing for the death penalty (apparently he should have waived his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination and told all he knew) instead of the far more sensible conspiracy or felony homicide arguments. Then, a government lawyer nearly got the whole thing dismissed by coaching some witnesses on what other witnesses had said, in direct violation of the judge's order. Finally, they stuck the jurors with a 41 pages of nearly incomprehensible gibberish they called a "questionnaire" that the jurors had to answer. If a single one did not say yes to every single question, then Moussaoui was to be spared -- and he was.

I'm going to recap four points I made earlier.

First, to those who are glad that he was spared, because that was what he said he wanted: you're fools. The wishes of the accused should bear no weight whatsoever on what punishment is inflicted. Once that is taken into account, you immediately start a game of second-guessing and reverse psychology, where you have to first decipher just what it is he wants, vs. what he wants you to think he wants, and you can never be quite sure who wins that game. The whole POINT of convicting someone is to deprive them of choices, of having any control over their fate, to inflict whatever punishment society has deemed appropriate. They have forfeited any rights to have any say over the matter.

Second, this just continues to prove that our criminal justice system is incapable of handling the unusual cases. O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and now Moussaoui. In Simpson and Blake's cases, I'm not sure what the remedy is, but for terrorists, there has to be a better way. In fact, there is -- the World War II model. Several Nazis came to the United States to conduct sabotage and espionage. All were rounded up, put before a military tribunal as "unlawful combatants" (they were out of uniform), and executed. The same should have been done to Moussaoui -- as soon as it was clear he was involved in 9/11, he should have been turned over to the military for justice.

Until then, I fully expect his lawyers to file appeal after appeal, articles to be written about how unfairly he is being treated, and eventually demands that he be freed. After all, the terrorist who killed Navy diver Robert Stethem in cold blood aboard a hijacked airplane in 1985 is now free, let go by Germany.

Thirdly, there will be no "prison justice" for Moussaoui. He will most likely be kept in utter solitary, away from the general populace. Jeffrey Dahmer's death was an aberration. Richard Speck, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy are the rule. He will live a long, healthy life, at our expense, until he dies of natural causes.

Finally, to those who worried that an executed Moussaoui would become a martyr, congratulations. Now he's a LIVING martyr, one who can talk about his "repentance," one whose freedom can become a rallying cry, one who can continually remind the families of the nearly 3,000 who died on 9/11 that their loved ones are gone, but one of the plotters (and, nearly, one of the hijackers) continues to live -- at their expense.

Dead martyrs tend to fade quickly from public memory. Living ones, though, are the gift that keeps on giving. Tookie Williams is largely forgotten, but Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, on the other hand, are still battle cries to some people.


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Comments (12)

Bravo, Jay!Maybe s... (Below threshold)

Bravo, Jay!

Maybe someone, somewhere, in the Federal government has learned a lesson here...terrorists aren't criminals, and shouldn't be put into our criminal justice system.

Somehow, though, I doubt it.

We've just sent a huge message to the world that we're a nation of pussies.

Mabey they could... (Below threshold)
Tincan Sailor:

Mabey they could just send him to California
Folsom Prison where The Aryan Brotherhood
could make him feel warm and fuzzy,just a

1) The whole contention tha... (Below threshold)
John Doe:

1) The whole contention that we should have executed him due to monetary considerations is ridiculous: it costs more to kill someone (with all of the accompanying legal preceedings) than to keep them alive. Besides, we are supposed to do what is right for its own sake - right?

2) Making light of prison homicide is not funny. So-called "prison-justice" goes against the core of our democracy - sentences in a court of law must be carried-out. If we cannot enforce the decisions of our legal system - what are we?

Not only execute him but bu... (Below threshold)

Not only execute him but bury him and all Islamic terrorists with their mouths stuffed full of bacon and with a dead pig in the box with them. Desecrate their bodies in the foulest way possible, according to their standards.
It is often said that these people are going to beat us because they look forward to death. Or at least it is an advantage for them. Perhaps pork products in their coffins might make them think twice.
I dunno. The idea is no sillier than some I've heard.

Jeffrey Dahmer's death w... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Jeffrey Dahmer's death was an aberration. Richard Speck, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy are the rule. He will live a long, healthy life, at our expense, until he dies of natural causes.

Ummm, Bundy and Gacy didn't die of natural causes unless you consider a gazillion volts of electricity (in Bundy's case) or a nice lethal cocktail (in Gacy's) natural causes.

Why the need to kill?... (Below threshold)

Why the need to kill?

The more we demand retribution justice, the more we resemble our enemies.

It is much more important to demonstrate the values of our democracy that feel good, vindictive actions.

Although more of a force fo... (Below threshold)

Although more of a force for good at the time, Nelson Mandella was a perfect example of a living martyr. That backfired on the South African government in a huge way.

Why the need to ki... (Below threshold)
Why the need to kill?

Moussaoui is the human equivalent of a rabid dog. As long as it lives, it is a danger to anyone it comes into contact with, including the poor slobs at the animal shelter who have to feed it and clean its cage.

The more we demand... (Below threshold)
The more we demand retribution justice, the more we resemble our enemies.

Your logical fallacy is given away by your own words. Justice is determining the facts of the case and giving the appropriate punishment to protect innocent people. Hijacking a jumbo jet and ramming it into a building filled with innocent people is not justice, it's murder.

Having and applying a death penalty for heinous crimes is not morally equivilent to murder.

...or equivalent even.... (Below threshold)

...or equivalent even.

I say let him go free. Jus... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I say let him go free. Just announce it in the New York Times a few days in advance and then drop Moussaoui off near where the World Trade towers once stood.

Moussaoui is a sick animal ... (Below threshold)

Moussaoui is a sick animal that needs to be put to sleep. I suggest that he be used as a suicide bomber against Al-Qaeda.






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