Thursday, May 04, 2006

We Win, You Lose

I heard on the news what Zacarias Moussaoui shouted as he left the courtroom yesterday after the jury returned its sentencing verdict: "America, you lost... I won!" He got that exactly wrong in my opinion, Bush. I heard it said that this was a great embarrassment for you and your federal prosecution team, who have been working so hard to have the man executed. That may be so. But it's a win for us.

It's a win because despite those hell-bent on revenge, any kind of revenge for the attack on the World Trade Center and the dreadful loss of life, America comes out ahead for not killing anyone in retribution. It's not that I don't commiserate with the feelings of those who lost loved ones in that tragic event; it's not that I don't understand from where those feelings come. I might be feeling that same need for revenge myself, were I in their place. It's simply that the official, state enactment of that revenge accomplishes nothing except to reveal the last vestiges of barbarism in our society to the world.

On the merits of the case, so far as I understand them, the man was found guilty of having lied, and caused deaths through his lies, not of having participated in the killing. Moussaoui, it seems to me, came off as more of a clown with fantasies of mass murder than a mass murderer himself. A truly pathetic figure, who acted out the fantasy of being powerful and menacing, but proved not to have it in him to fulfill the fantasy. I think it extremely unlikely that the plotters even shared with him the details of their plans, and probable that he knew considerably less than the FBI, had they chosen to believe all their sources, put together their information and draw the right conclusion.

To sentence a man to death, not because he killed but because he might have been in possession of some knowledge that he failed to reveal--this evidently seemed as excessive to the jury as it seems to me. I see it not was a failure of justice, but rather as a triumph for America. But I'm sure, Bush, that you'll disagree. Having failed to track down Bin Laden as you promised, you had a lot riding on the image of this execution.


David said...

Perhaps the worst past of his punishment was the statement by the family member of one of the 9/11 victims that he was just a wannabe that was incapable of carrying out much of anything. He wanted to be glorified and martyred. Wannabes are forgotten. And I doubt they get any virgins in heaven, either.

Fred said...

I agree that this punishment is best. The government was trying to execute a man for what he wished he could have done, not what he did. We shouldn't execute a man because he failed to confess during interrogation to a plot he only wished he were part of, and probably knew no real details about. Congrats to the jury for showing their wisdom in this matter.

PK said...

I would venture there are only a handful of people, like Bush, who wanted to see him dead for something he didn't do. I would like to believe most are like us who don't believe in this sort of thing anymore.