Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"20th hijacker" gets life

Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison today, the jury still split after seven days of deliberation.

Edward Adams, a court spokesman, announced the verdict outside the courthouse and said the 12 jurors "were not unanimous" in favor of a death sentence for Moussaoui, meaning that he automatically gets a life sentence without possibility of parole. He said the verdict does not indicate how many jurors voted for a death sentence and how many opted to keep the defendant in prison.

Works for me. The guy is a nutter, IMO. Not in the legally defensible sense of not knowing right from wrong, but certainly in the colloquial sense of not being rational. He was clearly guilty, so a death sentence would have been defensible. But life in prison serves justice. And as I'll argue below, it has other benefits, too.

"America, you lost. I won!" Moussaoui yelled as he was escorted from the U.S. District courtroom in Alexandria after the verdict was read. He clapped his hands as he left.

He's mistaken. We won. Anyone can execute a widely hated criminal. Only a free and democratic country gives that criminal a fair trial and then spares his life. The fact that he cannot understand that speaks volumes about the gulf between his worldview and ours.

But speaking of nutters:
"A travesty of justice"
"I hope this ends our little experiment in judicial trials"
"Imbecilic asswipes."

And then there's the illogical:
"Moussaoui just made a chump out of the United States"

These folks don't understand the difference between strength and savagery. All execution takes is fear or vengeance. But it took confidence and strength to let him live. Today we made clear that we do not fear him or his ilk, which is a powerful message to send to a watching world.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Jack H said...

Disagree, cordially. He's perfectly sane, by his lights. His culture is insane. And again, I'm sure we did not win, here. My reasoning is here:

http://forgottenprophets.blogspot.com/2006/05/half-measures.html

We do not have to prove that we are free and open. That's a given, among the fair-minded. We need to pursue justice as we see it. You and I seem to disagree about what exactly justice would be in this case, but we must agree that it is a goal higer than what we can spin or sell to the rest of the world.

That he speaks as a fool, "I win," or that others express themselves infelicitously, should not disuade us from a relentless pursuit of justice. I do understand the difference between justice and vengence, strength and savagery. But just because they may look the same, sometimes, shouldn't make us shy away. Again, we seem to differ. Cordially.

Best,

Jack H

5/04/2006 3:29 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Fair enough. To be clear, I don't think the jury should have taken politics or world opinion into account as it deliberated. But I do think forebearance shows strength, not weakness

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

5/04/2006 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the reasoning behind wanting to sentence someone to death for something he was supposed to take part in but didn't. I think it would have been ridiculous to put Moussaoui to death for "wanting" to kill a bunch of people. Are we going to let blind rage dicate actions?
The jury was right; life in prison was the rational verdict.
- Caracarn

5/04/2006 10:02 AM  

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