This Will Probably Be My Least Popular Post

DC has given me precious little to whine about over the last couple of days. Everyone has been polite to me, I have figured out how to properly walk off of an escalator, and the weather has been super. So, what that means for you, dear reader, is that you have to bear with me as I rant about a legal or political issue for a couple of paragraphs. I know a lot of people hate these posts, but it's better than not posting at all! Um, right?

I, like many of you I'm sure, have been following this Zacarias Moussaoui farce for quite a while. It's really entertaining stuff. This "trial" highlights some of the ugliest qualities of the American character: A gruesome combination of reality show carnival with an unhealthy lust for revenge (which some people are ignorantly calling "closure"). Frankly, this whole ordeal makes me sick.

Full disclosure: One of the few absolute positions I hold in terms of law and politics regards capital punishment. I'm against it in every situation. I'm against executing Saddam. I'm against executing Osama. So it goes without saying that I am certainly against executing Moussaoui. I understand if you disagree with my position. I just subscribe to the belief that if America is truly the greatest country, we should act damn well act like it. One way to act like it is to treat our society's scum, our weakest links, as human beings. It's a position that holds a great deal of moral superiority.

Even capital punishment supporters will admit (if not, they should) that killing a killer is a cloudy moral issue. Which brings me to this: Who exactly did Moussaoui kill? I understand that he was affiliated with terrorists. That right there is worthy of some severe punishment. But what did Moussaoui actually do? We're not entirely clear. We know what Mossaoui pled guilty to, but I'm less than convinced that we should take him at his word. Everything he has testified to has rung utterly false.

Of course, what really happened is secondary to what has happened in the eyes of the court. Moussaoui pled guilty to conspiring with 9/11 hijackers. We know this is false. This is something that even other terrorists admit is laughable, but whatever. We found our scapegoat! Now let's have some fun!

(This all reminds me of that guy who will point guns at cops hoping that the cops will take a shot at them? Suicide-by-cop. Well, this is worse. This is suicide-by-government. Even worse than that: martyrdom-by-government. And it's working. We're totally falling for it.)

All in the name of closure. Or revenge. or whatever you want to call it. This trial is such a joke that I'm surprised we haven't thrown Moussaoui in a glass cage and scattered his ashes in the Mediterranean yet. It's so bad that the mere act of defending Moussaoui has become grounds for criticism. Just look at Michelle Malkin hyper-retarded article comparing defense counsel to jihad sympathizers. Hey, Michelle, defending people is their job. It's kind of required in the Constitution that you love but do not understand.

And, just because this all isn't ugly enough, we have to add a healthy dose of melodrama to the proceedings. Let's drag victims' families into this mess. Let's open the wounds of probably the worst day of all of our lives and use it to kill an inconsequential terrorist. What kind of closure is this anyways? The kind of closure where we remember how awful 9/11 was? Where we get to see pictures of the buildings crumbling? Where we see the video of falling victims hurdling towards the pavement? This kind of closure sucks.

Well, in a few weeks Moussaoui will, more likely than not, be sentenced to death. And people will celebrate. And we'll have a new martyr on our hands. We'll be killing someone not for any particular crime, but because it makes us feel good. We will be killing because those 19 hijackers killed themselves. We need something, and Moussaoui is the best we can do. Sick.

And it won't matter. There will still be that horrible scar in Lower Manhattan. Moussaoui's death will not erase the memories of lost loved ones. Nothing will change. We'll just be that much closer to the very terrorists we hate so much. Killing not out of necessity, deterrence, or protection, but rather to make a political point. Sounds kind of like Hamas and al-Qaeda, doesn't it?


  1. Well done Rusty. You kind of glazed over one thing that i think is important, HE WANTS TO DIE. So lets get some revenge by giving him what he wants. Brilliant....

    Reminds me of a song I once heard, of course it isn't from the 60-70's so it probably sucks but I'll share it with the group anyways..

    Today the paper say Timothy McVeigh's in hell
    So everything's okay and all must be well
    I remember Oklahoma when they put out the blaze
    And put Islamic terrorist bombing, on the front page
    It's like saying only gays get AIDS, propaganda
    Like saying the problem's over when they locked that man up
    Wrong! It's just the beginning, the first inning
    Battle for America's soul, the devil's winning
    The President is Bush, the Vice President's a Dick
    So a whole lot of fuckin is what we gon' get
    They don't wanna raise the babies so the election is fixed
    That's why we don't be fuckin with politics
    They bet on that, parents fought and got wet for that
    Hosed down, bit by dogs, and got blacks in to house arrest for that
    It's all good except for that - we still poor
    Money, power and respect is what we kill for, for real
    -Talib Kweli

  2. Maybe you should read this:

    "Victims' Family Members Testify to Have Moussaoui's Life Spared"


  3. It's not about closure as it is about justice.

    You wrote:
    We'll be killing someone not for any particular crime, but because it makes us feel good. We will be killing because those 19 hijackers killed themselves.

    Facts of the Case:
    Osama bin Laden selected Moussaoui to fly a plane into the White House. Al Qaeda paid $14,000 to send Moussaoui to flight school to learn to pilot big planes. When he was detained on immigration charges in August 2001, Moussaoui had two knives and other paraphernalia similar to that used by the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers.

    In his guilty plea, he admitted that he lied to the FBI in order to enable others to carry out the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy, conspiracy to destroy aircraft, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to murder government employees and conspiracy to destroy property.

    The jury is still out on this one. Small pun intended. If he is to be executed, it's not fair to say a crime wasn't committed.

  4. I don't disagree, but your last line about "deterrence" has some flaws. Remember, deterrence is still one of the major reasons why we still use the death penalty here (even though it's not proven to work). No doubt, some of those in favor of putting Moussaoui to death are operating under the assumption that this will deter other would-be terrorists.

    Deterrence isn't the equivalent of "necessity" or "protection." I wouldn't lump them together.

  5. First, I don't agree with the death penalty either. I agree with your reasons for not supporting it.

    However, let's be clear about what the prosecution is resting its case on: Mousshitty knew the attacks were coming but did nothing to stop them. Therefore, he is complicit in the deaths of 3,000.

    And let's not mischaracterize his role either: he wasn't some average terrorist tool, but was training to fly planes into buildings. Yes, I've read about Khalid ToolBox Mohammed saying Moushitty was an inept terrorist, but he was still paid by Al Qaida to attend flight school in the US.

  6. Its not your least popular post by my standards. I'm 100% behind you (at least as it relates to the Moussaoui trial). I hate seeing the news coverage of this but hey if closure is what people need, they are about to get it.....I guess.

  7. In before the bashers to say this is a fantastic post. The entire trial (read: circus) sickens me as well. And "closure" is quite possibly my least favorite word of all time. Life doesn't form a nice little narrative arc where all the loose ends are tied up, and the bad guy gets it, and there's a musical-montage-denoument. Deal with it.

  8. I applaud you for your honesty. I think that terrorists, like all disturbed individuals, need psychological help.

  9. I read it. I think those families are very brave for testifying on Moussaoui's behalf.

  10. moderation it is, weak. powerful weak in fact...

  11. And, Stern, I agree Moussaoui is a criminal terrorist who deserves a lifetime in jail. But if he's executed, it will be so Americans can feel good about themselves.

    Also, don't be so quick to buy into that guilty plea. Moussaoui will admit to anything to get his wish, which is to die at the hands of our government.

  12. Rusty is officialy deleting comments that are not offensive.

    fuck this.

  13. I also read that he's using reverse psychology on the jury. He says he wants to die, but he really wants to live. He is one tricky fuck!

  14. I miss you ranting about DC...

  15. I miss you ranting about DC...

  16. Michelle Malkin's commentary was extremely ignorant. An incompetent defense would be grounds for an appeal, no? Therefore, the defense attorneys are part of the overall effort toward execution.

    That said, I might have a few conservative clanking around in my head, but I'm equally opposed to capital punishment and have been surprised by supposedly liberal people who support it. For example, I knew a very liberal young woman who supported the death penalty (I was shocked).

    What was funny was that this dummy thought that rape was a capital crime. I laughed like hell at that.

    Capital punishment fails as a deterrent, is used unevenly and cannot be free of mistake. Plus, it's just wrong for the state to take another life, no matter the crime.

    We've got to stop thinking always of the VICTIM--we're living in a country that glorifies victimhood to the point that many young women desire desperately (at least ones I've dated) to be victims of spousal abuse... so they can rise above it and prove their independence. Don't get it.

    Hey, I'd want to kill someone if they killed my loved one. But that is exactly the reason I would be barred from serving as judge or juror.

    Even Mexico refuses to extradite criminals who face capital punishment here. Even Mexico, a Third World country with rampant crime and corruption.

    We're as bad as China.


  17. Silly boy, this is Dubya's America. You're not supposed to put logic over emotion. It makes us look weak, remember? You're just asking to be compared to Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, the entire democratic party membership, the ciritcal retired generals, and just about everyone else who lives outside the White House if you keep talking like that. Now put down that constitution and pick up My Pet Goat.

  18. Christa,

    I just read your comment. In fact, studies conducted in recent years have shown the death penalty to have no deterence value. It's simply a political issue. The science rejects that argument. Criminologists know this, too.

  19. One more response to a comment. I don't think that being a terrorist makes you mentally ill or "insane." In certain milieus, terrorism makes sense. It all depends on your perspective.

    He may have been brainwashed by organized religion, but I think insanity is something far different. No?

  20. Beginning to note signs of an embedded anti-Semitic strain here. Why was the Eichmann trial "a joke"? Why is it funny to wish "Happy Passover" to Jewish readers after making a Nazi reference?

  21. "I applaud you for your honesty. I think that terrorists, like all disturbed individuals, need psychological help. "

    Holy shit, wake up. There is a worldwide movement called Islamofacsism, which, in case you haven't read a newspaper in the last 10 years, has blown people up from Indonesia to New York. Sitting on a couch with some therapist will not stop it.

  22. I deleted one comment since doing this stupid moderation thing because someone accidently posted the same message twice.

    You, sir, are trying to stir up trouble. I promise you, nothing has been deleted.

  23. First, concerning the death penalty: if it a deterrent, why are we required to apply said penalty so many times?

    Second, concerning Moussaoui: It seems to me that he obviously wants to be put to death, to be made a martyr. Ergo, the worst punishment we could give him would be life with no chance of parole.

  24. LLB, other way around. he told the jury that he doesn't want to die.

  25. No, he told the jury that he wants to be a martyr. Rusty, what newspaper are you reading?!

  26. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......................

  27. Talib Kweli steals his beats from the 1960's and the 1970's

    You must be a newbie to hip hop

  28. This is a show trial, pure and simple. The very concept of rational justice is mocked by the prosecutor's use of purely emotional testimony in the absurdist "punishment phase" of the trial.

    And yes, the punch line is that Moussaoui wants to be a martyr; with his lies and the prosecution's blind desire for a "win", we have two malevolent parties that seem to have successfully conspired to subvert both truth and justice.

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. Sorry. Please delete that.

  31. "...if America is truly the greatest country, we should act damn well act like it. One way to act like it is to treat our society's scum, our weakest links, as human beings. It's a position that holds a great deal of moral superiority."

    I respect your opinion, but I don't think it's quite so clear what the morally superior position is. Maybe you're right - NOT executing scumbags is the morally superior way of doing things. But, have you considered that showing some support for the families of murder victims by executing those who commit particularly horrific murders might actually be morally superior? Maybe by sending an explicit message that we, as a society, are not going to allow anyone to take the life of an innocent without having to pay with his own life is actually the correct moral order.

  32. Deterrence is no reason to kill him. You kill him because it is a punishment for a crime. Either you think it's an appropriate punishment or you don't. But the idea of killing someone to keep others from committing crime is exactly why I'm NOT for capital punishment. It's PUNISHMENT, not a lesson for everyone else.

    I've always been torn. Theoretically I think it serves no purpose to kill someone as punishment. But if it were my kid that monster killed in Oklahoma last week, I'd want him dead. I'd just want to be the one to do it.

  33. Not enough hate in here so far.

    You America-hating communist pussy. Die in a fire.

  34. How does execution deter the terrorists who are already willing to crash themselves into a building?

    I don't think they give a rat's ass if we execute them.

    We should put them in prison for the rest of their lives watching a loop of Krystal Koons commercials.

  35. All hail Earl, he knows what punishment really is...

  36. Look, we all know that the best way to have closure is to make a bad movie about 911.

  37. Regarding anti-Semitism:

    1. The Passover/Nazi Germany thing was obnoxious. So, yeah. Fair point.

    2. Calling the Eichmann trial a joke is in no way anti-Semitic. The man was kidnapped, thrown in a cage, and hung. There was little evidence presented against him. Rather, evidence of the Holocaust was used. This is quite similar to the U.S. using 9/11 victims against Moussaoui.

    Eichmann (the person, not the trial) was about as bad as it got. I am not defending him or anything. He was evil and despicable. But he didn't get a fair trial.

    I read a book by two Jewish historians criticizing the trial. Are they anti-Semitic?

  38. Krystal Koons' looped comcercial... that's cold, man. They don't even go that far at GITMO.

  39. Rusty, haven't you heard that many Jewish people have been labeled as anti-Semitic and dubbed as "self-loathing" because they make assertions like these? Yes, even JEWISH people can now be called anti-Semites! Congratulations, people; we are finally certifiable.

    We can just add "anti-Semitic" to the long list of names that have been so overused as to be devoid of meaning. In our day of ignorantly abused language, an anti-Semite, fascist, or racist really just means someone you don't like. It's a shame, because when you actually encounter these types of people, you can't point them out for what they are because people are tired of hearing the boy cry wolf.

  40. "Calling the Eichmann trial a joke is in no way anti-Semitic. The man was kidnapped, thrown in a cage, and hung. There was little evidence presented against him. Rather, evidence of the Holocaust was used. This is quite similar to the U.S. using 9/11 victims against Moussaoui."

    What planet are you on? Perhaps "evidence of the Holocaust was used" because he essentially CREATED IT by giving the marching orders to the murderers of about 3 million victims and promoted the use of the gas chamber as the means.

  41. Obviously, history has proven that Eichmann was as bad as Himmler and Hitler. I am not denying or discounting that. I'm also not discounting that genocide trials are particularly tricky since there isn't much precedent for them.

    But I firmly believe that the Eichmann trial was for show. It was a way for Israel to show that they weren't fucking around. The whole thing was done for the cameras. I don't mean to sound smug, but I was under the impression that this was accepted by most historians and scholars.

  42. I guess saying "I will go to my grave happy that I murdered six million Jews" isn't sufficient?

    And as far as it being a show trial, of course it was. How could it have been anything but? The crimes this worm committed are absurd. Think about it. 6 million people gassed in large part due to him. Giving Holocaust survivors the forum to speak against this filth was a beautiful thing, even if it was a show.

  43. Of course it was a show trial...

    And the same is happening here for Moussaoui. I expect better than trials for show from my country.

  44. The family members who are testifying are not nearly as brave as you are for posting this. Keep on truckin'!

  45. The Eichmann trial was not a show trial. Yes, it commanded world attention, but the term "show trial" intimates the court is biased, the outcome preordained, regardless of actual guilt or innocence. Eichmann was obviously guilty; his sentence did not reflect badly on Israeli jurisprudence. It was commensurate his crimes. Israel had the right to have Eichmann answer for his deeds in the appropriate forum: a court of law. You're confusing catharsis with bias. People often unfairly accuse Israel of bias, and often it's because they have an anti-Semitic agenda. Not always, but too often.

  46. "...but the term "show trial" intimates the court is biased, the outcome preordained..."

    Um, yeah. Exactly.

    And Israel had the right to have Eichman answer for his crimes? No they didn't. Germany, Austria, Poland, a world court, really any country involved in the European battle front...they all had that right. They all had jurisdiction. Israel? Israel wasn't even a country when Eichmann was slaughtering innocents. They killed someone for catharsis...they had no right to kill him. If Israel wanted a real trial, they would have turned over Eichmann to the proper authorities. Then, he could have received a real trial where the result would have probably been the same.

  47. Are you saying the Israeli court was biased to the extent that if Eichmann's innocence was established, it would have still killed him? That's what happens in show trials -- and that's not what happened in Israel.

    As for international law, it was, and still is, a developing field. At the time, no international court for crimes against humanity existed. Germany and Austria (much less Soviet-dominated Poland) barely acknowledged the Holocaust had occurred. Israel certainly had a moral imperative to try Eichmann. Giving him a fair trial was part of that imperative, too.

  48. The Nuremberg trials made the case for the Holocaust pretty air tight.

    There was never really a question of Eichmann's guilt. But that doesn't mean that Israel had the moral imperative to kill him. They had no jurisdiction over the case. The whole trial was to make a point.

    If this wasn't a show trial, why put him in a glass cage?

  49. Amen, brother. I've been traveling, and haven't read in a while, but this was a nice post to come back to. Everything stemming from 9/11 -- the Moussaoui trial, the TSA, the absurd movies (and even more absurd "controversy" surrounding them) -- has running through it the all-too-American goal of instant, simple gratification. We've got schools crumbling and people starving to death on our streets, yet we can spend billions every month on a war of no merit whatsoever. Eh? Whatever, I'm preaching to the choir here. Thanks for putting so many of our thoughts into print.

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  52. "The Nuremberg trials made the case for the Holocaust pretty air tight."

    Yes, but the general populace of the perpetrators' nations at the time of the trial barely acknowledged it. If Israel did not try Eichmann, no othe nation would have. It had the moral imperative to do so: if not me, who? If not now, when?

    "They had no jurisdiction over the case.

    Israel is a Jewish state; Eichmann participated in a genocide whose main victims were Jewish.

    "If this wasn't a show trial, why put him in a glass cage?

    The same reason his glasses were substituted with plastic frames. To make sure nothing happened to him until justice was complete.

    Perhaps your working definition of a "show trial" is confused by the word "show." Yes, the trial was dramatic, and yes, that was purposeful. Israel knew the world was watching. But there was no miscarriage of justice: that, and not drama, is the essence of a show trial. Stalin put on show trials, not Israel.

  53. This is an excellent and interesting post, Rusty. Although I am for the death penalty philosophically, I am changing my position from an implementation standpoint because of the many DNA exonerations. Otherwise, I agree with you about the Zacarias Moussaoui trial.

    The man has not killed anyone. Conspiracy to kill would be the most he has committed. Good point, Rusty...maybe he wasn't telling the truth about that.

    A post mentioned that he failed to tell law enforcement about the 911 plot, and for that he should be put to death. Not telling law enforcement about a planned crime is not a crime as far as I know. Morally reprehensible, perhaps, but not a crime.

    I also don't think he should get life in prison. I am just uncomfortable that he pleaded guilty to all counts, against his attorneys' advice. Moussaoui just refuses to understand our adversarial legal system - just as Natalee Holloway's mother refuses to understand the Aruban legal system.

  54. I think Zack was the 20th Stooge in the whole 9/11 plan. I agree that he didn't 'technically' kill anybody. Personally, I'm for the death penalty - but, I RESPECT you opinion AGAINST it.

    I don't think I really care one way or the other about Zack getting a lethal injection - but, I enjoyed your blog!!!

  55. I too am in favor of capital punishment, but in this case I'm not. It is for one reason and one reason only -- it is what he wants. This man should get nothing that he wants. My solution is simple - solitary confinement for the rest of his life. And I mean SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. 24 hours a day in a cell with no contact with another human being.