The jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui case has sentenced the al-Qaeda terrorist to life without parole.
As much as the bastard deserves to fry for his complicity in al-Qaeda attacks against the United States, including the 9/11 plot, that would be exactly what he truly wants. Martyrdom is what someone like him strives for – and what was denied to him after his arrest in the month before the September 11 atrocities. Better that he spend the rest of his life rotting in a small hole, condemned to live out the rest of his life in darkness and silence. No self-aggrandizement, no chance at martyrdom, no chance of escape.
Let the bastard rot – he’ll be frying soon enough as it is, and I suspect anything we might do to him would pale in comparison to what awaits him.
UPDATE: Over at Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air blog, they’re rather skeptical of the whole “martyrdom” argument. They have a point, but ultimately I don’t see a death verdict as being any better than life in prison. For one, a death sentence would have gone through years of appeals, made Moussaoui an even bigger public figure than he was – think another Mumia – and generally given him more of a forum for his insane rantings.
Locking him away denies him all that. I suspect the guards will not be very kind to him, nor should they be. My instincts would be to make sure he spends the rest of his days in solitary, alone and forgotten.
Will al-Qaeda make an issue of him? Will they demand his release? Have they yet? Moussaoui always struck me as a small fry, a useful tool for al-Qaeda in the 9/11 plot, and little else. Al-Qaeda has plenty of justifications for barbarity other than him.
This is a case where there are no good options. Killing Moussaoui makes him a martyr – and only then after years of legal appeals and publicity. Putting him in jail means that he’s denied the ultimate punishment he richly deserves.
What Moussaoui wants is publicity and remembrance – and he’d get that by a death sentence. Despite his crude attempts at a head-fake by saying he’s “won”, he may have his life, but he should have nothing else. Let him rot and be forgotten.
The one and only good thing to come out of this fiasco is that it reveals once again the pointlessness of treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. It’s not about crime. It’s about war. This waste of oxygen never should have set foot in a civilian court. He is an agent of a hostile foreign power, (albeit not a nation-state, but that’s hardly exculpatory) caught red-handed in the act of planning violent attacks on American civilian, military, and government targets. There is no doubt of his guilt; he himself proclaims it with a pathetic sneer.
Like the Nazi sabateours captured during World War II, Moussaoui should have been turned over to the military, tried by a tribunal, and executed. Look at it this way: if we had captured Japanese forward observers just before Pearl Harbor, would they have deserved full constitutional protections and access to the civilian courts?
Giving Moussaoui a traditional trial never seemed like a very smart move to me – he should have been given a military tribunal and never been alllowed to turn our justice system into a circus. One would hope this will highlight the essential foolishness of treating terrorism like a criminal matter – but then again, some people still haven’t seemed to grasp that concept yet.
There’s a bit of class for you. I’d expect that of Democratic Underground, not of a site that at least has some pretense of avoiding the kind of silly ad hominems associated with the left of the blogosphere.
I’ll be blunt: Moussaoui wants attention. The man is a meglomaniac. A sentence of death will ensure that Moussaoui gets plenty of attention. A sentence of life in prison denies him that – the prison he’s going to is one of America’s most secure SuperMax prisons. He’s not going to profit from his complicity in the atrocity of September 11, he’s not going to be leading any Islamic prayer groups, he’s going to be thrown into a deep, dark hole, and that’s where he belongs.
I understand the anger that Moussaoui isn’t going to die for what he did. But we can’t let emotionism cloud our judgement. There’s a war on, and it’s being waged in the media. I don’t want a damn bit of sympathy going to that monster, and I sure as hell don’t want to make a martyr or a symbol out of him. A sentence of death would make him a symbol both with the Islamists and the anti-American left. He’d be another damn Mumia.
Putting him in prison for the rest of his (hopefully short and painful) life is the last thing a narcissistic psychopath like Moussaoui wants. He wants attention, and he wants a forum to spread his hateful filth around. Our priorities should be strategic, not emotional. There are plenty of bigger fish to fry (literally). The mistake of a public trial was already made, and while it should have never happened, it did. We have to do what is in the best interests of winning this war, and that doesn’t involve letting this freak show continue any longer than it must.
If that makes me “dopey” then so be it.
UPDATE: Rusty at the Jawa Report makes the following argument:
Ayman al-Zawahiri shouldn’t be killed because that would make him a martyr. Osama bin Laden’s cave shouldn’t be bombed because getting 72 virgins is what he wants anyway. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wants to be a martyr, making him live in the empty quarter is a far harsher punishment.
In order to be a martyr, people have to know you’re dead. I don’t believe a public execution would be good in either of those cases. My preference if any major al-Qaeda figure is captured is to extract any information that can be extracted, or simply shoot them and let their bodies be consumed by the desert. That’s what should have happened to Moussaoui. However, once he was given a trial, the interests of this country are best served by making sure that he doesn’t get what he wants – and he already made a choice to trade death for notariety. Sentence him to death and in 10 years he’d probably be alive and have activists cheering his name. Throw him in a hole, and 10 years from now he’s a historical footnote whose name most people can’t even remember. Honestly, which alternative would truly be worse for someone like Moussaoui?
After being caught, Moussaoui did his best Richard Ramirez impersonation to get his martyr’s death. He openly proclaimed his hatred of the US, tried to fire the lawyers who worked tirelessly to save his life, and practically dared the jury to give him a death sentence. Had he received it, he would have been transformed into a global cause celebre, the new poster boy for American cruelty for our use of capital punishment. His appeals would have garnered headlines for years, and human rights groups would have lit candles and held vigils for him. In a few years, the US would have put him to death, accompanied by worldwide protests and endless publicity — all focused on this one sociopathic misfit who would have achieved his greatest victory through this mastery of manipulation.
Now, however, he faces a very long time in prison and the gradual oblivion he deserves. Forty years from now, Moussaoui will die in this supermax facility of old age, and newspapers will have to explain to half of their readership exactly who this man was. Human rights groups will have no interest in him, and while a few lunatic terrorists will salute him in the near term, they will quickly move their focus to other martyrs and more intelligent and dangerous leaders. Hollywood celebrities will not hold benefits for his defense. Publishers of childrens’ books will not offer him book deals. Candles will not be lit for his benefit. He gets to live in a cage for decades, and die almost anonymously and unremarkably.
It’s hard to argue with that sentence, in the long run.