Moussaoui: Dead or Alive?

I admit I was surprised when Debater Will asked, "what is the controversy?" when it comes to punishing terrorists. Debater D. responded to yesterday's post in no uncertain terms: There's nothing murky about it, he said -- terrorists should definitely be punished.

Thanks for clearing that up, D.

Okay, obviously we're not debating whether terrorists should be punished or simply given a lollypop and sent on their way. The question this week is how they should be punished and under what judicial framework should they be tried.

Will, for his part, answered his own question by opining that Zacharias Moussaoui should be put in prison for life.

That is indeed the controversy. Unlike Will, many Americans believe Moussaoui should pay the ultimate price for his involvement in the 9/11 plot -- and for withholding potentially life-saving information from the FBI. As of this writing, a Wall Street Journal online poll and a CNN online poll both show a clear majority in favor of execution. In the Crime Library site's poll, less than one quarter of respondents think Moussaoui should be kept alive. This online poll came up with roughly the same results. Then there's this poll, which has entirely opposite results, with 70 percent of respondents favoring life in prison.

On the side advocating life in prison, we have Richard Cohen, the Star-Telegram editorial board, the Post editorial board (which is against the death penalty, period), the Los Angeles Times editorial board ... let's just say there's no shortage of editorials and op-eds arguing against the death penalty for Moussaoui, many based on the idea that he should not be granted his wish of martyrdom.

Daniel Freedman, blogging for the New York Sun, refutes this familiar argument. He points to Marwan Barghouti, the accused terrorist leader who is so popular that he once decided to run for the Palestinian presidency from inside his Israeli prison cell. He says terrorists who get executed are considered embarrassments and are quickly forgotten. The Daily News Record editorial board members agree that capital punishment is the right answer here, but for them, it's more a matter of justice. Moussaoui killed -- if indirectly -- so he deserves to be killed.

Debaters -- if you were on the jury in the Moussaoui case, deciding whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison without parole, which way would you go? What factors would influence your decision?

By Emily Messner |  April 11, 2006; 5:15 AM ET  | Category:  National Politics
Previous: The Facts: Punishing Terrorists | Next: Moussaoui to FBI: I Plead the Fifth


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[NOTE FROM EMILY: Che pastes an article titled "Rudy Giuliani slavering witness for Moussaoui prosecution" by Jerry Mazza. Could be topical, but still violates the rules set out here:
Headline and link ONLY, Che. Or else, I will continue to delete your comments, as I have been doing.]

Posted by: CHE [cropped by Emily] | April 11, 2006 07:50 AM

It's nice to know the Post editorial board is against the death penalty, period, but still supports a preemptive war nonetheless. What's a few hundred daily sacrifices for such noble cause? Richard Cohen is a fine columnist, most of the time, but once in a while he shows his weak will liberalist tendency.

Listen Moussaoui is a two bit terrorist martyr wannabe according to press reports. He's a criminal and should be dealt with based on criminal laws. By even considering his wish for martyrdom and thereby denying it by withholding the death penalty, people like Cohen play into Moussaoui's own hand which is nothing to begin with. If the jury hands down the death penalty, hang the sob and move on. This issue ain't worth the press the guy is getting.

The problem with the people who declare 9/11 to be war is that they themselves elevate these terrorists to the rank of soldiers or even combatants, which gives these thugs undeserved status both here and back in their own land. In this regard the Europeans may have been right all along by treating these as criminals.

The problem with the Bush administration is that they are all over the place on this issue. They try Moussaoui in criminal court, hid Jose Padilla, a US citizen, in army brig till they realized the court would go against it, run secret prisons all over the world, lock up Afghan fighters in Guantanamo as enemy combatants, treat Iraqi insurgents as terrorists, etc. It should be very simple until these guys make it complicated. People captured on the battle fields are prisoners of war. And if they are found to engage in illegal warfare practice, they should be tried for war crimes. All the rest who engage in terrorism should be treated as criminals. And if US laws are found wanting in dealing with this new band of criminals then get Congress to create laws to deal with it. But to create such an unnecessary mess ...

Che on the other hand should be declared an enemy spammer and be sent back to Cuba immediately for reassimilation.

Posted by: Borg | April 11, 2006 09:34 AM

Right! What he said. More or less.

Posted by: Jazzman | April 11, 2006 09:40 AM

Execution for sure. Who cares if he wants to be a martyr? In whose eyes? I know where he'll end up after he's killed, and it's not at the right hand of Mohammed with 50 wives.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | April 11, 2006 10:06 AM






[Dear Che,
Now please stop it. Your spam is just creating more work for me.
I refer you again to this:
Seriously, cut it out. If you want to cut and paste other people's articles in their entirety, do it on your own blog.

Posted by: che [cropped by Emily] | April 11, 2006 10:25 AM


Even IF he passes Babe Ruth's record, Moussaoui will NEVER reach Hank Aaron!

Posted by: PETE TENNEY | April 11, 2006 10:33 AM

Does anyone out there seriously believe that the death penaltyhas any deterrent effect on religious fanatics who think they are executing the will of Allah, or God, or Jesus, or Mohhamed, or any othe other incredibly diverse Deities worshipped by so many deluded people on this planet?

Posted by: Jaxas | April 11, 2006 10:34 AM

Many , if not most , of those seeking the death penalty seem to be more interested in vengence than justice. Since the actual hijackers died and the "masterminds" have not been captured or tried, many people want "someone" to pay for these horrible crimes, regardless of who that might be.
Moussaoui is the convenient target of choice.He is in custody, admitted he was part of the plot, even if he wasn't,and has some serious mental health problems. He's a whacko ! But if his execution satisfies the revenge/vengence need so many Americans have, will that end it all or will we need to find other suspects, no matter how dubious their involvement, to "bring closure" whatever that means?
Or will we as a society keep reaching lower and lower in our need to seek "justice" ?

Posted by: jmsbh | April 11, 2006 10:35 AM

I'll assume few people share my belief, but I don't think that withholding evidence is sufficient grounds for execution. I support the death penalty in many cases, just not this one. Moussaoui did not plan these attacks, as far as I know, so he is not in the bin Laden category (or any other planners) and he didn't execute the attack (like Atta). Saying that he should be executed is tantamount to saying that anyone convicted of ATTEMPTED murder merits execution. And the argument that he knew of plans before they happened would support the argument of execution for Terry Nichols (and he not only knew of McVeigh's plans, but assisted him). There seems to be a need for vengeance and Moussaoui is the closest thing we have to capturing one of the 9/11 masterminds. It all seems inconsistent with the current application of our legal system.

Posted by: cg | April 11, 2006 10:44 AM

You know, one must thank Che for his contributions. For all the diverse political opinions expressed on this blog, we all seem to be united in that we find old Che's posts ANNOYING.

Just post a link dude.

Che...a uniter not a divider!

Posted by: | April 11, 2006 10:45 AM

Here's an outsider's perspective. Using the same logic as Cohen --which I fully appreciate--India jailed a few terrorists. Their friends hijacked a plane and forced a weak government into releasing those guys. Today they are the kingpins of outfits like JeM and LeT. So here's my considered view: if you are prepared to see a loved one taken hostage by a terrorist's cronies (which might never come to pass), by all means opt for a life sentence. Otherwise, let him die.

Posted by: Madhavi | April 11, 2006 10:51 AM

last year, 12,000 people died from firearms.

we passed a law excusing firearms manufacturers from being sued for negligence or culpability, because we as citizens needed that.

how many people will die this year because they are getting $360 a year from social security for medical benefits?

how many people died on the highway last year? How many died because the manufacturer designed an unsafe car, and it cost too much to design a safe one? Is that culpability?

How about cigarette manufacturers? Didn't they threaten the people that were going to expose them? They got fined and the President exused their 4 Billion dollar fine...

I'm not into punishment for punishments sake, but I like to be effective when I act.

how many people died because they lost their jobs, no one cared about them, and they killed themselves or caused someone close to them to die because of emotional issues?

how many people died in Africa, because German, English, British and Americans sold them arms?

how many people will die because we ship our insecticides, medicines that are illegal here to other countries to sell?

how many children will be sold into sexual slavery because we don't enforce our laws on our citizens when they are in other countries?

just curious....

knee jerks don't impress me.

someone who stands up for themselves and other people

when it's not a knee jerk response impress me.

when I wrote to the Washington Post people who broke the story about the Delay withdrawal from running for reelection this time,

I _accused_ them of being asleep during the rest of the time,

they said they were there when the Abramoff stuff started breaking and they were responsible for getting that out........

they thought I was cheeky, I said, in effect, yeah, you can make a call to go ahead and _report_ when someone indicts him,

but when he does something _WAY_ obvious, like VIOLATE his Constitutional oath of office, while the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being destroyed by this administration...

I said:

"you just sit there and watch, hoping someone else has the courage or the guts to call him on it..."

but you just watch.

most of you are like that.

I'm not okay with that.


as for what you do with Moussaoui

it's not even relevant.

and that's a fact.

compared to what else you're ignoring,

it's like asking do you want a side of eggs with that destruction of civilization?

grow up, and shut the eff up.


Posted by: as far as killing people, | April 11, 2006 11:04 AM

Unfortunately, Che is correct. Whether Moussaoui deserves death or not is just "the man behind the curtain", it really isn't the point and doesn't come anywhere close to bringing just desserts to those accountable for the crime, on either side of the Atlantic. Why is "closure" such a good thing? If we bump this guy off, we can all shake each others hands for a job well done and go back to sleep, convinced that "its all over now". We ought to give the guy a lollipop and drop ship him back to the middle eastern country of our choice. That will serve 3 things:
1. Graphically show that there just might be something to this Christian thing we so loudly ballyhoo about.
2. Since he will be of no use to any terrorist organization now, he will simply become a living reminder of the terrorist's ultimate failure. And whatever country he gets dropped into will now have to feed and house the sob. His life expectancy in, say, Afghanistan ought to be less than an hour, but that will be their problem.
3. Deny closure to us, so that each day we wake up with a stinging reminder that "he's still out there" and maybe, just maybe, he might be comming back, so we better stay awake this time.

Posted by: OhYeah | April 11, 2006 11:07 AM

Dear Namby Pamby Readers;
The best way to handle a convicted terrorist is the death penalty. Period. That way their other "gang" members cannot hold a "cruise ship or air liner hsotage" demanding their exhalted leaders release.
Let's be ruthless when we need to be. by the way, after another year in the Middle East my ideas on ruthlessness, which were taught to me by a highly placed staff offcer of one of our staunchest Moslem allies, are stronger then ever. Certain opponents only understand one concept. Ruthless reprisal. Ok boys and girls this Scoop Jackson Democrat, and veteran of 3 wars awaits your inside the Beltway and Montgomery County PC replies.

Posted by: Mike | April 11, 2006 11:11 AM

I applaud the silencing of Che.

And for whomeever the tard was that said "Tani is just Chris Ford using a woman's name", a), I'm nbot Chris Ford, b) Tani/Taniwha isn't a woman's name, it's a mythological name from my Maori ancestors.

So shove it.

Posted by: Taniwha | April 11, 2006 11:11 AM

Giving a terrorist death does NOT deter further terrorism, does NOT reclaim the lives lost and leaves the United States in a murky moral position--one already familiar to us--but it DOES breed fanatical hatred and the impetus to murder more Americans. Why is this even a question?

Posted by: Ragsie | April 11, 2006 11:12 AM

what the pro-war, faction wants you to not catch on to

which is treasonous...

AND _actually


is that,

when we can not be sure of meeting our energy needs if the Middle East goes into effing meltdown...

what will we do?

will we be as prepared as for Katrina? Will photo ops solve it? Have they solved it yet?

start using more ethanol? that would be a no-brainer.

start recycling? the same.

start investing in _more_ alternative energy research? again a no-brainer.

if you want to show someone that you're serious, you show the folks at home and abroad, by extracting the _need_ from the equation, you enact measures to forestall certain disaster...

before, we go over there effing around,

someone has their head up their ass,

and it ain't me.

I suggest you put this on the front page.


Posted by: what the pro-war, faction wants you to ignore... | April 11, 2006 11:14 AM

I know this was mentioned in another Blog, but has anyone addressed the concept of the fifth amendment and this situation? Sorry if someone's already talked about it, and if you can point me in the right direction, I'll be on my way.

Posted by: Geb | April 11, 2006 11:16 AM


Nice job meshing Marwan Barghouti,a political hostage in Israel, with the slimy nutcase, Zacharias Moussaoui. There will be a little extra in your pay. Helping the Zionists to keep the Palestinians from having effective leadership is obviously very important to you. Have you ever considered the United States' interests in the Middle East, or you just blinded by your own Arab hating Zionism. Yours in Christ, Bernardo

Posted by: Bernardo | April 11, 2006 11:27 AM

yours in christ,

yours in judaism,

yours in muslameity....

you're all knee deep in patriarchial,

dualistic, good vs evil



woman hating,

thoughtless little,

conceived in the days of like,

not now...

to me, you're all little primitive tribesmen, going around waving your stupid "belief" systems because you can't effing think...

may gawd/allah/yaweh grant you your religious freedom by freeing your minds from your punative belief systems...


and quit making it hell on earth for the rest of us, who have more reasonable attitudes..

eff off little sheep.


Posted by: hey kids, | April 11, 2006 11:36 AM

Moussaoui wasn't a terrorist ... he was "almost" a terrorist.

So instead of the death he readily embraces, he should be punished with
"almost" the death he seeks ...

life in prison without parole will serve that goal, perhaps with mock executions randomly sprinkled in ... surely there's a number of waterboard experts in the military who are up for the task

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 11, 2006 11:57 AM

with no one knowing when the real one would strike...

a reality show,

ratings would be through the roof.

we could use a portion of the money to repay the victims families and even open a childrens hospital with the exta money...

just kidding, you fools.

ha ha ha...

Posted by: yeah, random mock executions televised... | April 11, 2006 12:00 PM

we could fly in New Yorkers and small asian men, to pull the switches...

like you know, slot machines...

who would get the big payoff, you know whoever trips the switch, gets 1 MILLION DOLLARS and a lifetime supply of cheez whiz to be used _only_ for sexual purposes!

yeah, _this_ is important...kraft cheez whiz, no unamerican imitations.


Posted by: actually I like the mock executions thing... | April 11, 2006 12:04 PM

I'm not in favor of the death penalty except in cases of serial killers and mass murderers. In this case Moussaoui conspired to commit and abetted mass murder. If after seeing the results of his handiwork he had expressed regret or contrition I would be in favor of life in prison. However he has expressed his joy and continued commitment to more such acts. If it was a rapid dog we would put it down. I say execute him.

Posted by: kchses | April 11, 2006 12:22 PM

If I was on Moussaoui's civilian court jury, I would sentence him to life for his actual "civilian crimes"...but not to death for a vague conspiracy charge that all in a criminal group or political movement are collectively guilty for a specific capital offense done they had no direct knowledge of. Especially if the act under the 5th or on lawyers advice and remain silent.

On the other hand, If I was on a military tribunal jury, he is a crystal clear candidate for the death penalty, and I would vote for it. Moussaoui, outside the expanded RICO criminal law they are trying to create in his case for the satisfaction of the Almighty Victims Families of 9/11, clearly is an unlawful enemy combatant operating outside the international treaties governing warfare. And he may be legitimately tried by military tribunal and then executed as such, by the stipulations of both the Hague and Geneva Conventions regarding the death penalty for unlawful enemy combatants to help discourage others from violating the laws of war. ( as we in fact did in America and Britain to Nazi spies and saboteurs after the sentences were reviewed and unanimously endorsed as Constitutional by the USA and UK's highest Court).

3 aditional observations:

A. The idea that the FBI was so competent in days before 9/11 that if Moussaoui had voluntarily named all his associates without a lawyer available to get a plea deal - just did it out of the goodness of his heart - then the FBI could have easily "tied the dots" together...well, the evidence appears to show the jurors should have considerable, substantial doubts about the competence of the FBI to do that, based on their unbelievable bungling and lackadaisical CYA approach prior to 9/11.

B. Attempting to extend RICO to collective death penalty for all members of a group when civilian murder is charged, even for acts they are unaware of unless they waive the 5th Amendment and lawyers advice to stay silent is an incredibly dangerous path to take. To use an older example, Black Panthers were sentenced to death for killing suspected informers and for killings in a few robberies. The Feds would have it, if they tried the RICO expansion back then - that all Panthers who refused to name names would also be eligible for death if associates they knew about but didn't name committed murder later...even while that person was unaware and actually already in prison at the time. It may be tempting to chuck existing law or have RICO expand to make all in a group severally liable for the actions of some in civilian criminal cases because the "9/11 Victim Families Demand It Be So!". But doing that is bad justice driven by victim emotionalism, happening in absence of legislative intent.

C. There is ample precedent and leeway for lieniency in the military justice system we have used throughout our history on enemy combatants discovered behind our lines in unlawful belligerant combat status or accused of war crimes. We are far more interested in Many, many spies, saboteurs, and direct war criminals have been spared the death penalty, even let go if they cooperate. So it is nonsense to think that only the "cops and ACLU attorneys" Law Enforcement Approach to enemy in custody can manage the rights and prosecution of enemy soldiers out to kill Americans. 2 of 8 Nazi saboteurs were spared death because they cooperated and helped roll up the other Nazis and a few US traitors on the periphery that knew they were Nazis but didn't tell.

We are far more interested in killing and defeating an Islamoid enemy operating outside all laws of war than in the "enemy rights cause" liberal Jews at the ACLU push so hard. Of the ones we capture, we want them to talk, and we have, or should have little interest in starting 10s of thousands of trials for their "crimes" ranging from jaywalking in Kabul to glorious infidel butchery. We want to hold them at as little expense as possible to the US taxpayer, and selectively prosecute a few for war atrocities, but otherwise just hold the enemy to neutralize the harm they can do to Americans and allies...

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 11, 2006 12:24 PM

"If it was a rapid dog we would put it down. I say execute him"

The problem with this line of thinking is that it treats him as if he isn't human (which many would argue he isn't). That said, by popular definition, he is. To treat him otherwise is to be no better than he and other terrorists. I'm not saying don't execute him (though I am against the death penalty). I'm simply saying don't stoop to the level of treating anyone less than human.

Posted by: Freedom | April 11, 2006 12:25 PM

Let him rot in jail for the rest of is long life. Better to have a live rotting terrorist than a dead martyr. Pick the worst max security jail and let the inmates enjoy his ass.

Posted by: John G Nolet | April 11, 2006 12:28 PM

I am in favor of the death penalty but not for moussaoui.

Death penalty: he instantly becomas a matyr. That is what he wants. Bliss.

Prison: He becomes someone's love slave for the rest of his life.

Which is the worst punishment?

Posted by: Keith | April 11, 2006 12:32 PM

Executing Moussaoui will be just as barbaric as anything he did. To think that there are adult human beings in this country who will seek "comfort" by strapping another human into a chair and injecting him with poisons until he dies breaks my heart. May God save you all. The government served nothing but bloodlust by even pursuing this sentencing. I am ashamed for us.

Posted by: jim preston | April 11, 2006 12:34 PM

"I'll assume few people share my belief, but I don't think that withholding evidence is sufficient grounds for execution ... Moussaoui did not plan these attacks, as far as I know, so he is not in the bin Laden category (or any other planners) and he didn't execute the attack (like Atta) ... It all seems inconsistent with the current application of our legal system."

I second this sentiment. I tend to believe one should be punished for actions, not thoughts. While Mousaoui did withhold information from the FBI, I don't believe that should be a capitol crime, even if it did result in the deaths of others. What he did seems more like willful endangerment and obstruction of justice.

Posted by: ken | April 11, 2006 12:48 PM

Personally, I like the idea of keeping the guy alive *forever*. Anything it takes. I like the symmetry of a ancient, senile brain, trapped in a body that's more machine that human, forever denied the possibility of a martyr's death. He should experience being totally forgotton, which he can't do if he's dead.

Posted by: Phil | April 11, 2006 01:04 PM

"Executing Moussaoui will be just as barbaric as anything he did. To think that there are adult human beings in this country who will seek "comfort" by strapping another human into a chair and injecting him with poisons until he dies breaks my heart. May God save you all. The government served nothing but bloodlust by even pursuing this sentencing. I am ashamed for us.
jim preston"

Gosh, you're so right Jim. Killing Nazis made us as bad as the Nazis! Bloodlust! Killing an Islamoid enemy operating outside all international laws of war makes you ashamed? Twists your panties up? You feel like weeping for Zack or Binnie if they are harmed?


Sounds like the Christian Peacemakers Teams are something you could get behind. Can I help buy your plane ticket so you can join them and test your sentiments out in the Northwest Frontier or Al Anbar Province in Iraq?

As they saw through your neck with a kitchen knife or slowly beat you to death, reflect on their mercy rather than Evil Amerikkka's.

As for Binnie, would I feel a sense of "comfort" on his death? As I watch on the day when we eventually get him - with a warhead or some Special Forces guy puts a pistol round through his head for an on the spot summary execution to frustrate the 100+ lawyer team the ACLU assembles to defend him and try America in a 5 year long trial?? Why, yes, Jim, I will feel considerable comfort!!!

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 11, 2006 01:33 PM

A tertium quid:

Sentence him to life in prison. Be a little sloppy with his security. Find him dead in his cell/shower/whatever.

Benefits: Our courts need not endorse (questionable) vengeance. People who want blood still get it.

Posted by: Pragmatist | April 11, 2006 01:41 PM

How odd these are the same people who advocated the death penalty for the murderers of Matthew Shepherd. Apparently, robbing and murdering a gay man is so much worse that planning attacks on a country that kills 3000 people. Does anyone wonder why the left-wing media is becoming a dinosaur?

Posted by: Karen | April 11, 2006 01:48 PM

If Moussaoui is jailed, how long before a plane full of Americans is held hostage for his release? Does anyone remember the Olympics, the Achilles Loro, The Rome Airport, all the highjacking in the 70s? The PLO and their ilk have always used terrorism to get their buddies released. Can't release a martyr.

Posted by: Karen | April 11, 2006 01:54 PM

Sorry you feel that way Chris. Some of us want to live in a civilized country in a civilized world. You are welcome to join us any time. If you think that killing Moussaoui will improve the world in any way, you can certainly believe it. I strongly disagree. If you think that killing him will make you a happier person, I pity you.


Posted by: jim preston | April 11, 2006 01:55 PM

Certain forms of deliberate evil should be punished with death. Emotionally and intellectually, I have to agree.

However, there is a moral obstacle in this viewpoint that has clawed at me over many years, and it has never been adequately resolved in my mind. That is, the fundamental problem with capital punishment is that it makes killing people a state monopoly. The amoral and terrible implications of this, to my thinking, are worse than the idea of a criminal suffering an involuntary punishment of death.

While once in a discussion on the topic, a friend pointed out to me that the State of North Carolina has another tangent regarding horrendous "outlaws." In their archiac law, which drives civil libertarians mad, is the power of the state to declare a fugitive "outlaw" and thus legally allow anyone who wishes to shoot them on sight. By some calculus, this actually appeals more to me than the horrible idea of the state having a monopoly on killing anyone. Let the actual victims have the power to decide, not the state.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 11, 2006 01:56 PM

Wow. Thank you for writing the most amusing thing I've read all day:
"Apparently, robbing and murdering a gay man is so much worse that planning attacks on a country that kills 3000 people. Does anyone wonder why the left-wing media is becoming a dinosaur"
Theres a difference between planning an act and executing said act. If there wasn't, more men would have been executed alongside McVeigh, as mentioned in a prior post. I'm curious as to why you chose that particular incident,as opposed to other attacks, murders, etc. It can say a lot about you, whether you intend or not.

Please explain your link to the Nazis to refute Preston. I'm not seeing the link. Are you talking about Nazis killed in war? Or are you talking about Nazis killed after ruling by military tribunals? If the latter, please explain the reasons that they were executed? Was it for not giving information regarding Germany's plans? Or was it for actions against the allies?

Posted by: Freedom | April 11, 2006 02:04 PM

First of all because of the in-eptness of our intelligence groups, it was noted that even if Moussoussoui had told the FBI everything he supposedly knew (which I highly doubt he knew much of anything), they would have continued to sit on their lazy butts and did nothing. His interrogator repeatedly sent e-mails and requests for action to his superiors stating the exact thing that happened on 9/11, to no avail, as his superiours fail to respond to his concerns. Besides I really think Moussoui was just a decoy. if he had completed his training that much better for Bin Ladin.

Also one must understand the thinking behind the Muslim religion. Even if he is not made a martyr to the rest of the fanatics, he believes he will go to his heaven because he died for his cause, as that is the Muslum belief. The best way to deny him any satisfaction is to let him remain in prison for the remainder of his natural life thereby giving him no satisfaction for the deeds he comitted, and denying him his place in his heaven.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 11, 2006 02:08 PM

I am a Christian primarily because of where I was born and system of belief that I grew up in. Had I been born in another part of the world I likely would have adopted the religious convictions of that society since all other beliefs would be contrary to my upbringing. I find it difficult to reconcile the modification of one of the ten commandments to read, "Thou shall not kill unless thou thinkest that someone deserves it" with the words of the original. Even if I managed this reconciliation, I would still have difficult labeling giving someone something they want as a punishment rather than a favor.

Posted by: Jim Murrell | April 11, 2006 02:20 PM

It seems to me the real issue here is that Moussaoui participated in a criminal conspiracy to murder thousands of people. The law allows for this act to be punishable by death. Mr. Moussaoui willfully decided that these people shouldn't share this earth with him and his followers. In a court of law, with all the rights of any accused, he has been found guilty of this crime. It is just that we decide we do not wish to share this earth with him. There is no emotional satisfaction in this decision. No comfort to be found in it. My neighbors will still be dead. Nothing can replace the hole he and others like him helped tear in my city. But it is just.

Posted by: kchses | April 11, 2006 02:25 PM

I don't care if he lives or dies, but I must object to the argument in favor of execution that posits a future terrorist action to secure this nut-case's freedom.

Does anyone doubt that all of Al Qaida would rather never see this man again? He sounds like that co-worker everyone has that you're happy to share credit with on every project even when he does nothing just so long as you don't actually have to work with him.

Posted by: Pragmatist | April 11, 2006 02:34 PM

Again, correct me if Im wrong, please, as I don't understand the appliation of the Fifth Amendment here, but;
Kchses, if its the right of the accused to not implicate themselves through the fifth element, doesn't your statement not hold water? As he's been charged with withholding information that could have prevented 9/11?

Posted by: Geb | April 11, 2006 02:34 PM

...fifth element? WOW. My bad. Thats meant to be Fifth Amendment. Can you tell I liked the movie?

Posted by: Geb | April 11, 2006 02:36 PM

I have an Idea!!!!!!!!!!
While we are deciding what to do about moussaoui why don't we round up king George and queen Cheney and the rest of the Iraq Group and subject them to the same punishment. How many people have died because of their need to start a war with a country that was no threat what so ever to us. It is pretty obvious that they cooked the intelligence and presented it in a way to make most Americans believe there was a link to Bin Laden and nuclear weapons with Iraq. To this day they are still trying (especially Chenney) to link Bin Laden to Iraq, use legaleze to put their spin on the cooking of intelligence, trying to weasle their way out of taking responsibility. I say better to have a firing squad for them, as they were the ones entrusted with protecting this country and they were the ones who allowed 9/11 to happen so they could start a war.

Posted by: Lab Rat | April 11, 2006 02:42 PM

So we're rooting for someone to die because of things he didn't say ??!! I guess "taking the
fifth" is about to be abolished ? or will we still
reserve it for white-collar crooks ?

Give us a break, with the Fed's "terrorist prosecutions" dropping like flies under the
insecticide also known as "legal scrutiny" we're supposed to believe that there's a shred of evidence against Moussaoui that warrants execution ? If we're to believe that then we might as well believe the Bush Gang's soon to come nuking of Iran for their (perhaps) development of a nuclear bomb sometime after the next 10 years. And there's a precedent for that: the final rationalle for invading Iraq now stands at this: Saddam was intending to reconstitute his WMD programs right after the sanctions on Iraq were lifted.

What a joke of a country have we become ?

Posted by: New American | April 11, 2006 03:04 PM

Punish terrorists? Of course. But we must first decide just who is a terrorist. Moussaoui? Sure. Sharon? Ask the survivors of the refugee camps in Lebanon, who saw Sharon sic his Phallangist allies on them, killing 800+ inncocent men, women, and children. The IRA? The guys whom Magaret Thatcher implored Ronald Reagan to stop raising funds in the US, but who Reagan let carry on so he could win the Irish vote? The death squads in Central America armed by the Reagan administration to terrorize the peasants into accepting their status as peons forever? The terrorists in Mozambique unleashed by then-Sen. Jesse Helms because he didn't like the results of the elections in Mozambique? The Israeli killers of 240 innocent Palestinians at Dier Yassin and other Palestinian villages in 1947/48?

Of course we'll punish Moussaoui. He's gulty as sin. The real question is whether we'll punish other terrorists also guilty as sin, including those in favor at the White House and Congress. Maybe the defendants could get the blame-America-first crowd of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and their allegedly-Christian friends to say we got what we derserved for allowing gays, abortion, and atheists to exist in America.

Posted by: W | April 11, 2006 03:29 PM

kchses - "It seems to me the real issue here is that Moussaoui participated in a criminal conspiracy to murder thousands of people. The law allows for this act to be punishable by death. Mr. Moussaoui willfully decided that these people shouldn't share this earth with him and his followers. In a court of law, with all the rights of any accused, he has been found guilty of this crime.."

No, he hasn't. He has pled guilty and been found guilty of trying to kill infidels to advance his version of Islam by warfare, but he has not been guilty of being directly involved in the 9/11 Plot itself. His goal was to participate in a future West Coast Islamoid attack that never happened.

Despite his claims, top Al Qaeda officials said he was a low-ranking soldier not trusted with being involved in 9/11, but was sent to train in the USA - because other Islamoids had done it in perfect safety with little fear of detection given our sorry FBI - and he was told he may be ordered on a future Islamoid martyrdom operation. But that operation never happened.

As an unlawful enemy combatant, it is clear under international and military law he is executable. Direct involvement in a "crime" against civilians is not needed to execute a spy or saboteur. Just being an unlawful combatant operating outside all Hague and Geneva protections for someone who kills but within the laws of war -- is enough to execute Zack. The Nazi saboteurs we executed had not had a chance to harm a single hair on the head of a single American. Just being caught here out of uniform with plans and explosives was enough to fry 'em.

The overiding problem is we are trying to "fit" this soldier into the existing body of civilian law and execute him for a crime (complicit in the 9/11 Attack) he had no involvement in. He was in jail at the time. And doing so by saying that expanded criminal conspiracy under RICO makes Miranda Rights obsolete. That anyone in a political group or organized criminal enterprise has no right to the 5th or to remain silent - even by lawyer's counsel to remain silent for a lieniency deal...if other members of that political or criminal group commit crimes later on that could have been prevented by implicating oneself and naming names right away...Despite those that say the "CLOSURE" of the Almighty 9/11 Victims Families and their desire for revenge trump out! This is real, truly dangerous precedent...not the fake kind the "enemy rights" lovers wish to give terrorists to save them from "mean military judges".


I predict if the jury submits to the 9/11 Victim Families demands, the death penalty they give will be overturned on appeal because of implications the 5th Amendment was voided by jury and civilian prosecutors.

There are right ways and wrong ways to justice. Trying to fit an enemy soldier into being a civilian criminal and stretching the Constitution for prosecuting unlawful acts of war he would easily be found guilty of by a military tribunal in a civil court where his fate is decided by civilians makes as much sense as trying Fast Andy Fastow for securities fraud in front of a military tribunal where they have to stretch military law to "get" Fast Andy on behalf of the Enron Victims Families.

But vital institutions of justice - military and civilian - are harmed if we insist on putting enemy soldiers in civilian court or civilian con artists in front of a military one.

Ulysses Grant wrote Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War demanding to be allowed to try and hang a number of civilian swindler camp followers. Lincoln refused, saying common civilian criminals should be tried wherever, whenever possible by civil courts for common civilian crimes...Just as US Grant would never countenance civil courts to grab any of his soldiers or captured enemy Confederates and try them for crimes of murder, theft, rape, or desertion. That justice for friendly or enemy soldiers was always best left for military justice.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 11, 2006 03:36 PM

What about Nelson Mandela?

Posted by: Nelson | April 11, 2006 03:38 PM

The strange case of Zacarias Moussaoui: FBI refused to investigate man charged in September 11 attacks

The case of Zacarias Moussaoui raises many questions about the conduct of the FBI and other US intelligence agencies in the period leading up the September 11. It is the clearest example of the almost inexplicable refusal on the part of these agencies to take any action that could have prevented the bloodiest terrorist attack in American history.

Posted by: che [cropped by Emily] | April 11, 2006 03:50 PM

Many good points made so far in the debate. I agree with Mr. Jazzman's concurrence of our Mr. Borg's assessment.

As for Moussaoui, I am not sure I believe his court room testimony, but I do believe he wants to die and become a martyr.

For some reason, Moussaoui does not impress me as a bright bulb or a kingpin in the terrorist network, maybe he is, I don't know, but I would not kill him and make him a martyr if it serves the terrorists' greater purpose of turning more people against America.

It would be cruel and unusal punishment to do a "Geronamo" on Moussaoui and strap him to the hood of a monster truck at local tractor pulls through out the country, but to deny him his 40 shimmering virgins (which I am sure he believes are waiting for him) for a greater political purpose would be okay.

As far as killing, I am against it, but would shoot a mad dog without hesitating. Dogs, man's best friend, kill more people than any other animal in the world after humans.

Once a dog gets the taste of blood, then there is no forgetting. The hard part, is identifying the human "mad dogs" and getting rid of them, not putting them in jails were they can continue to run their criminal enterprises of extortion and protection using the threats of violence, mayhem, terror and murder.

Problems with our legal system, its costs, its inequities as to poor people, its favor of rich people, bad lawyers, the political need for a murder to solved, over zealous prosecutors that don't have ethics, uneducated people, all make finding the mad dog hard, so its not a good idea unless these problems with the legal system are first addressed.

Just my opinion

Posted by: Richard Katz | April 11, 2006 03:59 PM

Recently released Iraqi documents. Saddam targeted US assets for terrorism.

Posted by: NM | April 11, 2006 04:16 PM

Why do we kill people who kill to show that killing is wrong?

Posted by: We're all hypocrites | April 11, 2006 04:45 PM

Richard Katz wrote:

"Dogs, man's best friend, kill more people than any other animal in the world after humans."

Actually, more people are killed by deer than dogs. Dogs, however, probably hold the top spot for maiming.

However, on to another point: If the vengence motive is taken out of the equation, what is the objective value of using execution to assure a killer does not kill again? This includes consideration of the prevention of their killing a fellow inmate. After all, once we incarcerate anyone, there is a level of humane responsibility to provide for their safety in prison.

If the terrorist is going to be the "mad dog" in prison that he wants to be in the general population, then that realization gives weight to capital punishment as the prescription. Caging them alone until they die of natural cause, employing isolation to prevent them from killing, does not seem to be a remedy that is the responsibility of society. On the other hand, if the killer/conspirator is chemically made harmless (so that their highest ambition becomes doing good yard work), then that opens up the life option again. But society then would need to graple with the moral issues of a chemical lobotomy for vicious criminals, with the possibility of its misapplication, as is the possibility with many determination of capital punishment. Then the issue might be, is the chemical lobotomy reversible in case the verdict is later found to be incorrect.

Handling criminality is like war. The necessary moral compromises (and mistakes) made in order to maintain a civil society can be very troubling.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 11, 2006 05:00 PM

Che, seriously do you have any idea what it takes to fight a war on terrorism, you must treat terrorists the same way Fairfax Police treat unarmed compliant optometrists who bet on football games, you got to sneak up on them and shoot them right in the middle of the chest, video tape it, then just tell everybody it was an accident. Pow, point blank range, oooops, you can say he was either betting on football or a terrorist. Either way in Fairfax County it's perfectly legal, cause the D.A. says so...

Posted by: FFPD | April 11, 2006 05:06 PM

Leave Che alone. And, what is with the dog conversation, if a dog taste blood, simply put it down, just like you would an optometrist in Fairfax County, or Zaccharious Moussaiou. Put them down. Perhaps we can have Fairfax Detective David J. Baucom lure Moussaiou outside and have SWAT Officer Deveal Bullock just shoot him right in the chest... Robert Horan can say it's legal than it's all good.

Posted by: Che Supporter | April 11, 2006 05:13 PM



Posted by: Che | April 11, 2006 05:15 PM

I am dissappointed with the POST I would like to believe they would have taken a different position on the death penalty, I believe that sometimes people need to believe that society will do the right thing, and the justice system will hold people accountable for their actions. I have read some of the latest postings, and wonder what's with Fairfax County Police shooting optometrists?

Posted by: T. Munson | April 11, 2006 05:16 PM

September 11 cover-up crumbles: Who was covering for Moussaoui, and why?

Posted by: che [cropped by Emily] | April 11, 2006 05:20 PM

Che, I too supported the invasion of Iraq, and liberation of Afghanistan. I continue to support the troops. I don't believe you should be mentioning the Halliburton garbage, because it's just that garbage. If you knew anything realistic about President Bush you would know that he did not ride on his Father's financial coattails, and if anything you should be bashing losers such as Kerry and Clinton for that garbage. I don't understand FFPD correlation between Moussaiou and a Fairfax Optometrist, he must be talking about that unarmed Doctor that was killed by that SWAT guy in which I heard nobody was charged. It's amazing that more people are not concerned more about the justice in their own county as opposed to how Zaccharius is going to be treated, my god simply turn on the news you can see he is getting his fair shake. FFPD, with that District Attorney they have clearly have set a pattern that allows for corruption.

Posted by: J. T. | April 11, 2006 05:22 PM

We need to execute Moussaoui in order to show those fundamentalist Islamic states that we stand arm-in-arm with them in terms of ideology and moral values. Those foreward-thinking theocracies were no doubt troubled last year when one of their last allies in the practice of EXECUTING CHILDREN abandoned them with that Supreme Court ruling. An execution (preferably a dramatic beheading in a soccer stadium, rather than these milquetoast backroom injections) would re-assert our solidarity with the dwindling list of countries that still honor the great Medieval Values.

Likewise, we must continue to stand firm with the Taliban and other practitioners of Sharia Law in our oppression of gays and lesbians -- in the face of this troubling, rampant recognition in the rest of the world that these people have the same rights as the rest of us. The Imams of the fundamentalist world appreciate our moral steadfastness on this issue, but worry that the growing liberalization of the US on this will soon have us abandoning them on that one, too.

I sincerely hope that the Christian Right will invite the Taliban to their annual conventions soon, for a meeting of the minds on their many SHARED MORAL VALUES. Perhaps their brethren from the East can even get them back in touch with their traditional wisdom of wife-beating, which they have so recently forgotten.

So many bridges are right there, if only the great theocracies of the world could cross them and shake hands in glorious celebration of the More Godly Times of centuries past.

Posted by: Mark | April 11, 2006 05:23 PM

I'm not really that impressed by the splitting of hairs that Mossaoui wasn't directly involved in the 9/11 plot. He was here in the United States as part of a criminal conspiracy to commit mass murder. The fact that his end of the conspiracy did not come to fruition does not seem relevant. His thread of the same conspiracy contributed to the eventual success of a different thread. I am also singularly unimpressed that he wasn't involved in the planning of any of the threads. He willfully participated in a conspiracy to commit mass murder. Full in the knowledge of the participation of others in the conspiracy. Aware that he or others might be detected but even that might contribute to the eventual success of others. No, he has done nor said anything to give any of us pause to stay the hand of justice from administering the ultimate punishment. As he would wish unto the rest of us so let it be done unto him.

It would seem consistant to me that Moussaoui and any others caught be tried as illegal enemy combatants and tried before a military tribunal and not in a criminal court. However this would require a minimal amount of competance on the part of this Presidential administration and I have long lost that expectation.

Posted by: kchses | April 11, 2006 05:23 PM

Foreknowledge of 9/11: Cover-up of important information revealed by FBI Whistle-blower
Agent: FBI Rewrote Moussaoui Request
by John J. Lumkin

Associated Press, 25 May 2002
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), , May 2002

CRG's Global Outlook, premiere issue on "Stop the War" provides detailed documentation on the war and September 11 Order/subscribe. Consult Table of Contents

An FBI whistle-blower contends that the bureau's headquarters removed important information from a search warrant application whose rejection kept the government from learning more about terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui before Sept. 11.


Posted by: che | April 11, 2006 05:23 PM

"Many , if not most , of those seeking the death penalty seem to be more interested in vengence than justice."

Welcome to America, 2005. 85% of our soldiers in Iraq are there "retaliating for Saddam's role in 9/11".

Reality and truth doesn't matter anymore to these red-state type Americans. All that they honor now is their many primitive, stupid instincts. No wonder many of them don't believe in evolution. They are the "missing links" themselves. Unfortunately, we are stuck with them and the rest of the world blames us for the messes they wreak.

Posted by: Mark | April 11, 2006 05:28 PM

43. August/September 2001 - According to a detailed 13-page memo written by Minneapolis FBI legal officer Colleen Rowley, FBI headquarters ignores urgent, direct warnings from French intelligence services about pending attacks. In addition, a single Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) in Washington expends extra effort to thwart the field office's investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, in one case rewriting Rowley's affidavit for a search warrant to search Moussaoui's laptop. Rowley's memo uses terms like "deliberately sabotage," "block," "integrity," "omitted," "downplayed," "glossed over," "mis-characterize," "improper political reasons, "deliberately thwarting," "deliberately further undercut," "suppressed," and "not completely honest." These are not terms describing negligent acts but rather, deliberate acts. FBI field agents desperately attempt to get action, but to no avail. One agent speculates that bin Laden might be planning to crash airliners into the WTC, while Rowley ironically noted that the SSA who had committed these deliberate actions had actually been promoted after Sept. 11. [Source: Associated Press, May 21, 2002]


Posted by: CHE | April 11, 2006 05:31 PM

barghuti is hardly popular BECAUSE he's in prison, it's rather the other way around. if he hadn't been such a big figure in palestinian politics to begin with, israel would never have bothered to give him a trial; he's one of the singularly few granted that luxury. as a result of his popularity, he won't be released anytime soon either, in one of those prisoner-swaps or jail-clearing spewouts; he's held (for crimes he probably DID commit, btw) until such a time as he can be released for political advantage. which is clever.

moussaoui, on the other hand, is not popular with anyone except the al-qai'da-style nutcases he belongs with, and they certainly won't change their mind on the merits of the american legal system based on his case.

what's important is that they can make a poster-boy martyr of him if he's killed; that militates against executing him, even if you in principle favor the death penalty. learn from israel, both its rights and wrongs: DO give him a fair trial, and show america's detractors that even the ultimate enemy is treated as a human being; but DON'T grant him the martyrdom he covets, and help his lunatic fringe buddies in saudi arabia to another public relations victory. a dead prisoner is far more valuable to them than a live one - also, there's always the possibility that ten or so years in prison breaks the fellow and makes him spill some al-qaeda secrets. has happened before.

Posted by: alle | April 11, 2006 05:33 PM

Alle, I am not sure if I believe that he should be sentenced to death, perhaps life in prison, maybe even general population in a New York City prison would do the trick. Or I guess as posted above we could tell Fairfax County Police that he is betting on sports, than Detective Baucom could lure him outside where a fully competent SWAT unit led by Officer Bullock could be waiting to squeeze the trigger. "So you want to bet on sports in the Fairfax County, and you want to be a hijacker." This would certainly make the problem go away sooner. BTW, does CHE work? or our you a professional plant by the Democratic party? probably on Senator Clintons payroll.

Posted by: D. J. B. | April 11, 2006 05:47 PM

Hey Mark,
Bashing on the Red States, try and remember stupid it was the red states that helped make this country what it is today. People from those "Red States" as you put it, paid for the rights you have today with their red blood. You refer to people as missing links and say the military is in Iraq for vengeance for Saddaam, hey, dumbass, Iraq played as much a part in 9/11 as Saudi Arabia, they harbored terrorist, financed them, and continued to do so up until the U.S. went in and removed Saddaam. I realize you are the epitomy of coward but perhaps you can go look and see how much money Saddaam was funnelling to Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as allowing Al Qa'ida to traverse freely throughout his country. FYI, if that coward Clinton had actually held Saddaam to the U.N accord then we would not be in the situation we are in now, nor would we have been in Afghanistan if your Democrat President had shown any balls whatsoever and done anything, anything, anything at all to any of the terrorists organizations that attacked U.S. citizens at home and abroad. God, where in the world did we get so many cowards and people without integrity in this country. We have turned into a country of Susan Sarandon's, god help us.

P.S. to the people who keep mentioning that unarmed Doctor that was killed by Officer Bullock? Sorry to hear about your loss, I believe they should have done something legally to Officer Bullock, but apparently the District Attorney says it's okay. Sorry again.

Posted by: Remember 9/11 | April 11, 2006 06:04 PM

Go to

And feel free to voice your displeasure.

Posted by: D.J.B. | April 11, 2006 06:07 PM

Go to

Feel free to comment on Detective David J. Baucom, SWAT Officer Deveal Bullock, Fairfax Police or District Attorney Robert Horan.

Posted by: D.J.B. | April 11, 2006 06:16 PM

Life in prison with no parole as a member of genpop! No isolation and no special protection circumstances. We don't make him a martyr and I'm fairly sure he'll be taken care of by the prison population.

Posted by: D~ | April 11, 2006 06:21 PM

Life in prison, in New York, general pop, yeah, I am sure they will love him. Prepare to squeel zac...

Posted by: Jeet | April 11, 2006 06:24 PM

Remember 9/11:
"FYI, if that coward Clinton had actually held Saddaam to the U.N accord then we would not be in the situation we are in now, nor would we have been in Afghanistan if your Democrat President had shown any balls whatsoever and done anything, anything, anything at all to any of the terrorists organizations that attacked U.S. citizens at home and abroad."

Hmm, funny you should mention this. You seem to blame Clinton for a lot. But who originally financed and trained members of the Taliban to push out the Soviets?
Or how about how George HW Bush was their to oust Saddam originally but decided to leave him there to balance power in the region. If your boy had done his job originally, we wouldn't be in this mess at this time. Convenient how you leave out that.

And could you please post your backed evidence of the link between Saddam and 9/11? You see, theres a good deal of people (I like to call them the citizens of the United States of America) who would like to see this information. Last I heard, the government was still looking for a link.

Remember 9/11? Try Remember basic history.
But thanks for playing.

Posted by: Geb | April 11, 2006 06:26 PM

And not withstanding that no member of this case's jury was seated without avowing (I'm not sure what perversion of justice that is) that they favored the death penalty, the jury is still likely to exhibit more wisdom than politicians in general. I guess we'll have to await the verdict.

Posted by: Jazzman | April 11, 2006 06:39 PM

From all I have seen, Moussaoui is guilty of refusing to talk to an FBI agent. I have never heard of putting someone to death for refusing to talk before. But then, I hadn't heard of holding people for more than 48 hours without charging them, or Americans torturing prisoners, or pretending that Guantanamo Bay was a jail without a country before either. Maybe I am just not cruel and unusual enough for this country anymore.

Posted by: ondelette | April 11, 2006 07:23 PM

ondelette wrote:

"I have never heard of putting someone to death for refusing to talk before."

The case is not about any police or judicial processes not being customary, although completely proper; it's about a grave conspiracy that was carried out by foreign enemies in actuality.

The ultimate matter of justice has to do with deliberate and coordinated actions and consequences, which were fully intended by conspirators.

The cruelty to survivors and society would lie in allowing an admitted conspirator in a successful conspiracy to mock us all, and to laugh over the graves of innocent victims. Letting this person escape justice would/should be very "unusual."

Posted by: On the plantation | April 11, 2006 07:57 PM

Don't make him a martyr -- that's what he wants. Put him in jail and throw away the key -- solitary confinement for the rest of his life.

Posted by: Ruth Helen Ryer | April 11, 2006 10:44 PM

At first I wanted him dead, but now "life" in the general prison population seems like a good alternative. That's better than death, if there is such a thing. Make him someone's girlfriend (I had to change that last word to post Ha Ha).

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 11, 2006 10:51 PM

someone posting as "9/11" if that coward Clinton had actually held Saddaam to the U.N accord then we would not be in the situation we are in now, nor would we have been in Afghanistan if your Democrat President had shown any balls whatsoever and done anything, anything, anything at all to any of the terrorists organizations that attacked U.S. citizens at home and abroad."

hmm - it wasn't President Clinton who was supplying Osama Bin Laden and his crowd with weapons in Afghanistan - during the Soviet occupation. It wasn't President Clinton who left Saddam in place after the First Gulf War was fought, it was President Bush I. Meanwhile VP Cheney was doing business with Iraq and Iraq when he was head of Halliburton prior to taking the VP office.

It was Sec. Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand during Reagan's era, as we supplied industrial production aid , while Saddam was at it with Iran in a bloody war.

All Clinton did with Saddam was keep him boxed in, harmless to us and a minor threat to anyone else (even less as hindsight reveals.)

He didn't cosy up to people we now treat as enemies, like so many Republican leaders have done at various times.

He didn't do business with the enemy either.

with an utterly hostile House of Rep for the last 6 of his 8 years, there was little Clinton could do that Republicans wouldn't rip on from any convenient side of the issue. See how much of President Bush's legislative priority would go through Congress unscathed if Bush II faced an opposition HR as rabid as the Republicans in the '90's?

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 12, 2006 12:32 AM

edit errors in previous post 12:32

supplying Osama with weapons ... that was during Reagan's era

doing business with Iraq and IRAN

(not Iraq again, as prev posted.)
oops - lat at night sloppinesz ; )

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 12, 2006 12:39 AM

Emily wrote:
"if you were on the jury in the Moussaoui case, deciding whether to sentence him to death or to life in prison without parole, which way would you go? What factors would influence your decision?"

Chris Ford has framed the question in a way with which I entirely agree.

As a juror in the criminal trial being conducted, now in its penalty phase, I would have voted Not Guilty for the same reasons Ford outlined.

As a juror in a military tribunal where Moussaouii was charged with what he has already pled guilty to, I would find him Guilty as charged. As to the penalty in this circumstance, I would probably vote for life imprisonment as he never even got close to his goal. I admit to being somewhat swayed by my perception of him as being a rather hapless and ineffectual figure and not worthy of the death penalty. Were it someone more competant I would as easily vote to whack him as Chris.

Posted by: Cayambe | April 12, 2006 04:18 AM

It's a bit naive to assume that Moussaoui would be so interesting for al Quaida that they would bother kidnapping planes. They have not done so for KSM or other high-ranking members.

Posted by: Oliver | April 12, 2006 05:36 AM

I'm not convinced Moussaoui deserves execution. The rationale is that if he would only have admitted what he was up to, the U.S. government would have surged into action and prevented 9/11.

But why that would have been a natural result is extremely unclear. Moussaoui is apparently unbalanced; why anyone should belive a thing he says is beyond me. And if the government didn't do a thing after the President was specifically warned shortly before 9/11 that "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the US" it remains unclear why the word of Moussaoui would have mattered one whitt.

Posted by: RAM | April 12, 2006 07:31 AM

Oliver makes a good point. Moussaoui is not alone; he participated in an equally vicious group that is still active. Locking him up would be an invitation for Islamists to kidnap innocents and harm them or kill them while claiming to keep them for exchange. It's the kind of flamboyancy one could say is a liklihood.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 12, 2006 07:53 AM

When we add it all up, Moussaoui is guilty of obstruction of justice and lying to law enforcement. Yes, he lied about really big things, but his involvement appears to have been limited to lying and failing to warn us. Moussaoui wasn't the 20th hijacker as advertised (that guy is alive and well in Guantanamo Bay); he basically was a groupie. Civilzied societies don't execute people for such minor crimes, even when they are related to really big crimes. It's not like he drove a getaway car, or even helped with the planning.

Hijackers and active participants in 9/11 richly deserve to die for their acts. We suffer as a society, however, when we extract vengence on such minor and uninvolved players as Moussaoui. If we go through with this, shame on us.

Posted by: Thinking Clearly | April 12, 2006 08:09 AM

I agree with Richard Cohen. Why make a martyr out of this guy? But there is a more important issue here and one that should be addressed NOW. The death penalty is morally wrong and, yes, the majority of Americans who support it are taking a morally incorrect position. The United States will never rise above the status of a banana republic until it outlaws the death penalty. It is the position that Mr. Cohen holds. It is the position that I hold. It is the CORRECT position.

Posted by: Mark | April 12, 2006 08:29 AM

I come back to my original point. In this case or in the case of any murderous fanatic who seeks martyrdom above all, what useful purpose do we serve other than to make some people "feel" morally satisfied.

We are not talking about those pathetic, furtive creatures of the night who murder children to conceal their pedophilia. We are talking about zealots whose one aim in this life is to kill the enemies and nonbelievers in Allah and to die gloriously in that process.

I can think of nothing that would more grant them their most sought after desire than to have the hated dspised enemy execute them so they can go down as martyrs to the cause.

Far better to subject them to the brutality and bestiality of our prison system and--for added measure--force them into Bible classes taught by their hated enemies.

Posted by: Jaxas | April 12, 2006 10:16 AM

Isn't it interesting. Moussaoui is as incompetent as a terrorist as George W. Bush is as a President. Fortunately, we don't execute people in this country for incompetence, but we do hold them accountable in other ways.

The problem for us as citizens isn't what we should be doing to hold Moussaoui accountable for his intention to commit a terrorist act. Our problem is what to do with a President whose incompetence has resulted in what is approaching the same number of deaths that were caused on 9-11.

And the problem for us is citizens is: Are we about to sit idly by while this President repeats in a far more cataclysmic way the same mistakes he has made in Iraq?

Posted by: Jaxas | April 12, 2006 10:27 AM

People aren't "killed by deer", they are killed in car accidents involving deer. However, dogs do kill people - directly.

Posted by: | April 12, 2006 11:17 AM

Yes, people are directly killed by deer. You are mistaken. It is not at all uncommon for a deer to become aggressive, particularly by kicking, in the field when approached wrong.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 12, 2006 11:58 AM

Another good topic here!

It is not (or it should not be anway) hard to understand the calls for capital punishment here. I have always been one to agree that such punishment is occasionally necessary but only when the fact of the matter is far beyond any other possibility and only when the transgression is most eggregious.

Well, no one can question the transgression. Being a part of the plot to murder a few thousand civilians for no better reason than you are unhappy with how the US conducts itself around the world is as bad as it gets. What about the evidence though? This headcase was only circumstantially tied to 911 and even al Qaida wants nothing to do with him. In addition, there is a fair chance we are serving our enemy's purpose and improving the organization by elliminating the man from the planet.

I say we do not kill him. This is not an opinion framed in theocratical or even practical reasons. I believe the state should kill only when there is no other choice and only to protect the public. Killing an impaired person, a child, a repentant banger, or even a fanatical hairpile is not in and of itself enough reason for me. The government needs to prove beyond any doubt that this is the man and that he represents an ongoing danger even from prison to have the right to kill him. That is a capital punishment standard I can live with.

Also, a bone for those who would seek vengence. In even the American federal prison system, this guy will be a trophy. Convicts will line up for the right to take a piece out of or inject a bit into this clown. Is death such an effective and complete retribution compared to what he will face over the next 30 to 40 years? No, let's use this guy as a warning to them all. We catch you, we will not send you to Allah. You will find your own way there after decades of misery and confinement.

Posted by: turnbulld | April 12, 2006 12:01 PM

Posted by: On the plantation | April 12, 2006 12:19 PM

Honestly, the only question that makes sense is one of utility: Does it do anyone any good to put Moussaoui to death?

If so, I don't see it. It deters no-one, protects no-one, brings justice to no-one.

Does it do any harm? Quite possibly: it gives him the martyrdom he desires, and may motivate "revenge" attacks.

The only reason to execute him is a desire for revenge. We should be better than that.

Posted by: Jonathan Sheen | April 12, 2006 12:36 PM

Honestly, the only question that makes sense is one of utility: Does it do anyone any good to put Moussaoui to death?

If so, I don't see it. It deters no-one, protects no-one, brings justice to no-one.

Does it do any harm? Quite possibly: it gives him the martyrdom he desires, and may motivate "revenge" attacks.

The only reason to execute him is a desire for revenge. We should be better than that.

Posted by: Jonathan Sheen | April 12, 2006 12:42 PM

Killing Moussaoui will make him a matyr and a scapegoat at the same time. Executing him will bring some closure to some 9-11 victims.
It will also put the spotlight on the fact that President Bush hasnt come close to catching Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive" as he said, while he dithers on about "spreading democracy to the middle east" and "removing a brutal dictator form Iraq" who coincidently had absolutely nothing to do with the events of 9-11-01.

Posted by: Cassini | April 12, 2006 12:45 PM

Kill him. There are plenty of new martyrs waiting and who cares about the twaddle of "hearts and minds". The only stipulation should be that his death be prolonged and excruciatingly painful. An alternative solution would be to use him for biological experiments. Deliver him to the pharmaceutical industry so they can test new drugs on him and make him useful.

Posted by: Santiago Matamoros | April 12, 2006 12:49 PM

Recently released captured Iraqi documents revel connection between Saddam and terror.

Posted by: NM | April 12, 2006 01:02 PM

Moussaoui should not be executed. He should be forced to live out his miserable life, in the penal facilty closest to the 9/11 terrorists greatest failure either Washington DC or Shanksville PA.
Keep the maddog alive in the "infidel" nation he dispises for as long as we can!And if we ever capture Bin Laden Moussaoui will be alive and will be aware of his capture.
So that we can exult in every triumph over the terrorists (excluding Iraq) and we can shove his snout in our victories.

Posted by: Sted | April 12, 2006 01:38 PM

if _he_ wants to be a hero for his cause then giving him a lot of attention is not a good idea.

but you really have no idea who he's working for regardless of what he says.

what about that CIA director that they wanted to question bout 14 years ago, that suddenly came down with a brain tumor and died with three days?

what about the Gomer Bin Laden that suddenly appears to "leak a tape," when the president needs some positive propaganda?

this guy could get sent to a prison in Bulgaria, get a facelift and be working on Wall Street in two years.

you guys are all _way_ gullible.

Posted by: actually, you're all missing the point | April 12, 2006 01:52 PM

i have to say, for everyone worried that if he is kept alive, then other terrorists will take hostages and demand his release: are you forgetting that the terrorists he claims to have been affiliated with submitted that he is not known to them? who would actually try and get this guy released? no one claims him. no one wants him. keep him alive in jail to remind him of that, and that he is no martyr to anyone.

Posted by: small | April 12, 2006 02:23 PM

I would really like to know the source of this so-called captured Iraqi document. This looks ever so much like more of the cooked up intelligence the Bush administration has put out. First the Forged documents about Yellow cake uranium from Africa, then the so-called mobile Bio-lab trailers, that turned out to be for production of hydrogen. The real culprits in this is the Bush Administration. The invasion of afganistan to remove the Taliban was totally justified, but the unprevoked invasion of Iraq was not. More than ample evidence has been uncovered that has both directly and indirectly pointed to the Bush administration that they were planning this war well in advance of 9/11. They were so pre-occupied with the planning of the war with Iraq that they fell asleep at the wheel and allowed 9/11 to happen even with proper warning. The evidence continues to mount that they cooked intelligence and spun the propaganda machine to convince the American people that there was some kind of connection between Saddam and Bin Laden, and the supposed nuclear program being reconstituted. What seems really strange to me is the Republican presidents have continued to arm regiemes such as Saddam, etc, Remember Oliver North? They Kiss Pakastains ass when it is proven that their top scientist gave technology to Iran and N. Korea, deplore leaks unless they are the ones commiting the leak to defame a critic (Plame for one of many), Violate the Geneva Convention by torturing prisoners, publicly deplore human rights violations while holding prisoners taken in "Black Ops" in illegal prison camps in eastern europe, violate our "Constitution" and says that he is above any of our laws because he is the "commander in chief" of the military and congress gave him the right by authorizing him to use force if necessary to combat terrorism, buy Clinton almost got impeached and thrown in jail for lying about a lousy blow job to investigaters.

What is wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 12, 2006 02:28 PM

Sorry I ment But Clinton

Posted by: Lived through the cold war | April 12, 2006 02:32 PM

Here's the problem I haven't seen mentioned:

The Government's case is that if Mouassaoui had talked, 9/11 would have been prevented. So in essence he would be executed not for something he did do, but for something he did not do--talk. Couple that with the fact that the first sentence of the Miranda rights is "You have the right to remain silent" and the death penalty seems even less appropriate.

I think Moussaoui is unreformable slime and I could see how it might be cathartic to execute him even though he didn't directly kill anyone. Although I support the death penalty as an option of justice, I do not think it is appropriate in this case.

Posted by: bumpkin | April 12, 2006 02:54 PM

I'm a strong supporter of the death penalty, but in my 50+ years I have never heard of someone in this country being executed for failing to stop a crime. Seems to me it's just vengeance on our part.

Posted by: DanielsG | April 12, 2006 03:04 PM

As a generally compassionate human being, I am opposed to the death penalty - it has been shown time and again to have no deterrent effect, it is deeply flawed in both the seeking and the application, but worst of all, it is a punishment that is irreversible when mistakes are made - and mistakes ARE made.

But even if I didn't feel that way - even if I supported the death penalty in some cases - I am opposed to it in this case, because, speaking as a lawyer, I don't think the high standard of proof for a capital case was met. Moussaoui wouldn't be put to death for what it was proven he did (or failed to do when he had a legally established affirmative duty to act - which I also don't think was proven), he would be put to death for *claiming* to have done things that the other evidence weighs against. It's not just that he wants to be a martyr - I think people should be allowed to kill themselves, if they choose - it's that, he shows our trial system to be pretty meaningless when it gets the result he wants despite all the hard evidence weighing against his desire. Why bother with a trial, then? Why not just lynch him and leave the criminal justice system unsullied?

Putting him to death would attack and undermine our legal system - kind of an abstract terrorism. He's a much more effective terrorist this way than what he's accused of being.

Posted by: Aelfric | April 12, 2006 10:02 PM

Since I haven't attended the trial and only have news reports to rely on about what has happened there I believe, in the long run, life imprisonment would probably be the better response in this case. But - that leaves open the possibility of abductions with the kidnappers demanding his release to let their captives go. This could go on for a long time. Too bad we can't sentence him to life with the option of invoking the death penalty if someone is kidnapped with the stipulation that their release is contingent on his.

Posted by: DT | April 13, 2006 07:51 AM

Since I haven't attended the trial and only have news reports to rely on about what has happened there I believe, in the long run, life imprisonment would probably be the better response in this case. But - that leaves open the possibility of abductions with the kidnappers demanding his release to let their captives go. This could go on for a long time. Too bad we can't sentence him to life with the option of invoking the death penalty if someone is kidnapped with the stipulation that their release is contingent on his.

Posted by: DT | April 13, 2006 07:51 AM

I have an idea, why doesn't somebody just call up Detective David J. Baucom with Fairfax County Police and tell them Moussaiou is placing a bet on a football game. Det. Baucom can lure him into the light and "highly trained" SWAT Officer Deveal Bullock can shoot him dead center in the chest.

Posted by: Mick | April 14, 2006 05:57 PM

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