Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dishonoring memories, part II

Here are the three mitigating factors the federal jury used in deciding the sentence of Zacarias Moussaoui:

1. He had a dysfunctional upbringing.
2. He was abused by his father.
3. He was subjugated to racism as a Muslim youth growing up in France.

While these three factors may bring to light Moussaoui’s modus operandi, they do not by any means excuse him from the grave significance of his involvement in the plot to attack American sovereignty.

One of the more prominent comments I have heard in conciliation of Moussaoui’s life sentence in lieu of the death penalty is that he would be labeled a martyr, and that’s what he wanted anyway. So we are taking away his last desire.

I’ll cry fowl to that argument. First of all, who cares what Moussaoui wanted? Further, who cares what the rest of his radical extremist colleagues make of him? He could just as easily still be called a martyr simply because he got caught. This is not about a label; this is about justice amidst a great war on terrorism.

Second, shall we then apply that same precedent to Osama bib Laden someday? A man responsible for the deaths of thousands, but we won’t want him to viewed as a martyr? Why give the death penalty to anyone if we do not—by precedent—give it to the worst of those in the world?

Death is, and always will be, the ultimate price to be paid whether for good or for evil.

I do not take the death penalty lightly. This is a serious thing, and a hard decision to make if you are a judge or juror. But keep in mind Moussaoui’s involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy:


  • He was trained to fly commercial jets for the purpose of carrying out the same detriment his cohorts caused;
  • He lied to federal agents regarding any knowledge he had about the 9/11 plot;
  • He was involved in a plan to fly a fifth plane into the White House that day until he was arrested on a visa violation.

    I agree with the many who have said that this sentencing should not be about vengeance. But it should be about justice.

    This man was involved in the worst attack on American soil ever. Thousands died leading to a war that has cost the lives of thousands more. For that, there must be a judgment that requires his life. For such a horrible tragedy, one man’s life shall be only the tip of what justice serves.

    I am more than disappointed at the jury’s quiet decision. Unlike many politicians, pundits and diplomats, I do not ‘respect’ that decision. I believe it is an awful one that is, to reiterate my last post, horribly dishonoring to memories of those who innocently paid the ultimate price that day for being regular Americans.

    It is not enough—it is never enough—to skirt justice because of a hard knock life. While that is sad, tragic and unfortunate, never should excuse one from committing the gravest of sins. Human nature is flawed. We are not perfect. We do horrible things in this life; commit horrible transgressions against each other and against God. However, we will always be accountable for those actions despite our circumstance.

    Our true grit as a nation defines us equally as much as our grace and eloquence. The grit demands our basic freedoms. The eloquence makes that freedom great. I think we tend to forget that the two are codependent. When we forget that, we forget that freedom demands justice. It appears that we have done so here.

    My hope now is that our mistakes a people in delivering justice will not be repeated. Until then, Moussaoui’s real justice will be before God following a life sentence at Supermax with the Unabomber and actor Woody Harrelson’s dad.
  • 2 comments:

    Lorraine said...

    Matt Cole from Whitworth...were you by any chance on my ill-fated College Bowl team a couple of years ago? I found you on Sound Politics. My husband is Timothy Goddard, one of the contributors. Our political blog is http://www.timothygoddard.com/blog. It's great to see you're still around in the state. Do you work for EFF?

    Forrest said...

    Is crying fowl like complaining about the bird flu or something? You cad.