April 4, 2006

THEN WHERE'S #20? (via Pepys):

When You Wish Upon a Scar: Zacarias Moussaoui finally makes his dreams come true. (Dahlia Lithwick, April 3, 2006, Slate)

Put aside the uncomfortable fact that Moussaoui was always willing—even eager—to die as a martyr. Put aside also the fact that Moussaoui told the prosecution that he wanted to be executed. And that he was willing to testify against himself if it would mean avoiding a life sentence—because it was "different to die in a battle ... than in a jail on a toilet," as he put it.

Why shouldn't his jurors make his dreams come true?

This was what negotiators describe as a Pareto-optimal result: a win-win, in which Moussaoui, the government, and Americans craving vindication all got what they wanted. In the end, the verdict's only casualties are a few impossible-to-explain facts. Facts that should have added up to just this: We don't execute people for fanciful happenings that may have followed from imaginary conversations.

Nobody will dispute that Moussaoui would have happily done anything at all to help the 9/11 plot succeed. But he did nothing to help it succeed because, as everyone but Moussaoui now agrees, he was flaky, wifty, and weird. It's not a capital crime to be flaky, wifty, or weird. Nor is it a capital crime to wish you were a hero instead of a dud.


Folks like Ms Lithwick, who oppose the death penalty, have had to lie about the nature of the evidence against Moussaoui for years now, but they haven't gotten any more convincing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2006 12:09 AM
Comments

I understand that, in the British criminal system, most perpetrators confess. In America, we have more of a sporting theory of prosecution. I kinda like the British system in Moussaoui's case. OK, so he's a little crazy and maybe a little off in terms of the precise theories of prosecution. But he's good for the underlying evil; intent and capability is enough for me, in his case.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at April 4, 2006 2:25 AM

At last a real win-win situation.

Posted by: erp at April 4, 2006 7:48 AM

The death penalty foes typical moral superiority smugness will be put to the test when they stage their usual death penality vigil when the time comes outside the federal prison in Terre Haute, and have to deal with the 9/11 victims' families gathered on the other side of the street (well, maybe with the exception of the Jersey Girls).

Posted by: John` at April 4, 2006 9:32 AM

Well if he truly is wifty he should be set on fire and thrown off the Empire State bulding to see if he can really fly.

Posted by: Genecis at April 4, 2006 11:51 AM

Folks like Ms Lithwick, who oppose the death penalty, have had to lie about the nature of the evidence against Moussaoui for years now, but they haven't gotten any more convincing.

But if you're an author, it's okay to lie about your opponents in the immigration debate.

Posted by: Ptah at April 4, 2006 12:32 PM

I heard some silly nun going on about the death penalty on NPR last night. She certainly affected my opinion, which shifted some what more toward supporting the death penalty after hearing the bizarre mix of illogic and moral vaccuum she needed to support her argument.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 4, 2006 12:44 PM

"They" protested the death penalty when Timothy McVeigh was executed for his crime, and they'll do it again when Moussaoui is.

Posted by: Dave W at April 4, 2006 4:50 PM

they protest when stone cold killers get the zap so who wouldn't they protest in favor of ?

Posted by: toe at April 4, 2006 6:18 PM
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