Mussawi Gets Life

I am generally opposed on principal to the death penalty.  It is my only liberal position.  My reasons are religious.

Nevertheless, in this case I would have voted for the death penalty.  Why?:

-He will proselytize in prison, if he lives.

-He will become the focus of Jihadi operations seeking to release him

Pat Lang

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36 Responses to Mussawi Gets Life

  1. zanzibar says:

    “It is my only liberal position.” – PL
    Liberalism is such a maligned word here in the US now. Liberalism in the classical sense is what I understood to stand for principles of individual liberty and what represented the ideals of our constitution and the founding of our country.
    Its interesting that in contemporary America, conservatives who carry the mantle of limited government now run a government with rampant growth in government spending relative to GDP, exploding fiscal deficits and parabolic debt, government interference in personal choices of life and death and erosion of protections of individual liberties and privacy from intrusion by the state.

  2. Eric says:

    I can’t get excited about it one way or the other.
    I think the jury probably made the right decision, based upon the accounts I read.
    I imagine everyone, including the baddies, will forget about M and the shoe-man over time.

  3. ckrantz says:

    I’m more liberal that conservative but had it been KSM and others in a public trial I think the death penalty could have been proper. Now you have a failed terrorist being turned into a symbol. In this case it seems more like convicting a capone foot soldier for the crimes of capone.
    Why if we have the planners of 9/11 in custody can they not be prosecuted? Or how about the financiers of both al quaida and 9/11?

  4. CJ says:

    I’m not so worried about his proselytizing – he’ll likely be isolated from the general populace or dead within it. Your last reason is a sticky one… I’m against the death penalty myself, though not for religious reasons. However, I’m guessing anyone bent on taking hostages – to which I assume you are referring – has a plethora of causes to justify their crimes. Hell, if we’re going to use the death penalty on every person we have imprisoned, right or wrong mind you, as a terrorism prophylactic, we’ve got a lot of killing to do. As yours are personal reasons, it is your prerogative to qualify them as circumstances dictate in a bloggosphere exercise. Aside from all the theory, I agree with Eric – it seemed the jury made the right decision from the accounts I read…
    Are religious scruples “liberal”? Don’t tell that to the religious right….

  5. Peter Brownlee says:

    What would Osama BL – or his Saudi brethren – do to this pathetic clown Moussaoui?
    Just another head in the sand?
    So doing something else may not be a bad place to start.
    Surely executing Moussaoui would have made him far more of a rallying point for low-grade jihadists.
    The senior grades surely don’t need or want people like Moussaoui – except symbolically.

  6. Jerry T says:

    I think it was exactly right. He wanted martyrdom; now he gets to spend his life frustrated. The last thing we need from this event is to create a martyr. Last, I expect this verdict will be read as “justice” and “mercy” in the region, not “weakness” and not “blind rage, anti-Muslim vengeance”. we’ll have to wait and see on the last. If so, it is a good thing.

  7. kky says:

    My guess is a) His sermons will be heard by few b) His execution date would be more attractive than a breakout attempt, for terrorist actions.

  8. ali says:

    Kill him you make a martyr, jail him he becomes a symbol. Either way they’ll be selling T-Shirts with his unrepentant face on them in the souk; I suspect those would move faster if another inmate gets close enough to shiv him.

  9. Sonoma says:

    “Pssst.. Kacynzki, have you thought about what I said”?
    And the focus of Jihadist operations?
    I assume you mean as a celebrity figurhead for new recruits, and as someone whose incarceration means hostages will sooner or later forfeit their lives.
    On that score, it seems to me if not this wretched dingbat, it would just be someone else. Such as (however many) real McCoys may be found in the lock-up at Gitmo, for example.

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You need to know more about prisons AND Muslim zealots. A missionary’s zeal will find it way to express itself among the prison population. Islamic zealotry has spread wide among minority prisoners.
    As for the second point, WE made him a celebrity. pl

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The “shiving” is the likely outcome. On balance I think he is more dangerous alive. pl

  12. searp says:

    On the other hand, it seems like the jury simply couldn’t see the justice in executing someone because he lied, especially someone who strikes me as crazier than Richard Reed.
    Sure, it would be more convenient to execute him, but sometimes the right thing isn’t convenient.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In this man’s case the moral factors seem so balanced to me that I think practical considerations should govern. pl

  14. Paul says:

    My guess is he will fade away as has the “blind sheikh” who was a rallying point for awhile. Not sure how much proselytizing he can do from solitary confirnment and his one hour per day exercise, again solitary, I believe.

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    They will never keep him in solitary for life. He has access to the courts.
    He may become the subject of an “exchange” some day, a furry faced Rudolf Abel. pl

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mr. Moussaoui has not committed a capital crime in the United States. He had intended to do so (conspiracy to commit murder.) As such, he does not deserve the Death Penalty, in my opinion.
    On the other hand, he is clearly a threat to the United States. Therefore, locking him up for life could be considered an acceptable alternative.

  17. Sally says:

    Our government “failed to act” yet no one has been so much as reprimanded. Rather, the President was reelected and others in high places promoted to even higher positions. Moussaoui has mental problems; to what problems do we ascribe our leaders’ gross failures in failing to act on all the information they had on the plot and in not recognizing the seriousness of the threat when told of it? Moussaoui’s trial and conviction have not been a great day for America or for justice.

  18. tequila says:

    The current crop of jihadis don’t seem too worried about getting back their captured brethren. If I were one of them, I’d be grabbing hostages for KSM, not for some wannabe loser like Moussaoui. That we haven’t seen anything like that suggests that returning POWs is not a priority for this generation of terrorists.

  19. JustPlainDave says:

    It’s an interesting question whether this gentleman is more dangerous alive than dead. I believe Marc Sageman noted that he had had an unusual degree of connectedness into the various jihadi nodes for someone of his level. A crazy potential liability shuttled between various groups, or someone very good at playing a role – I’d give a buck to know.

  20. taters says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Permission to speak freely, sir. I usually try not to harbor these type of feelings but opposed to a shank shiv, I wouldn’t mind for Moussaoui to get in touch with his feminine side, prison style.

  21. W. Patrick Lang says:

    either way he is going to get it in the end. pl

  22. CJ says:

    Nice play on words, Pat…

  23. tequila says:

    JustPlainDave – I think I read somewhere that KSM thought Moussaoui might be useful due to his French citizenship and passport, but this kept running up against him being an idiot.

  24. Daniel S says:

    I too am against the death penalty (one of many liberal – and religious – positions I hold 🙂 )However – beyond that I have issue with the trial in that it seems the essence of the government’s position was that he should be given the death penalty for not incriminating himself…

  25. ali says:

    Richard Reid is an interesting parallel. He actually tried to set off a shoe full of PETN and TATP on a airliner rather than simply being a fringe 9-11 conspirator like Moussaoui. Reid got off rather lightly 3 consecutive 20 year stretches.
    Both men had unsettled, alienated, childhoods in urban Europe, both attended Finsbury Park mosque. Reid is an archetypal low watt loser, Moussaoui has a MA, both appear to be lose lipped flakes. I doubt Slab Murphy would have trusted them to watch his pigs let alone with an ounce of Semtex.
    But they were good enough for AQ, that’s the really scary part with the Kamikaze approach to terrorism, the bar is so low. Reid nearly killed a couple of hundred people on a budget of less than $20,000. A type like Moussaoui nose diving a Jumbo into the White House was very possible.

  26. taters says:

    Dear PL,
    I agree with CJ – a great play on words. Not to belie the seriousness but I believe that puns/play-on-words can be a pretty elevated form of expression. Mercutio, “Tomorrow you will find me a grave man…” Louis Rukeyser – RIP – possessed the gift in spades.

  27. Sonoma says:

    “What is a Supermax prison”? (Definition culled from
    “Supermax” is short for “super-maximum security.” It is a
    place designed to house violent prisoners or prisoners who might
    threaten the security of the guards or other prisoners. Some
    prisons that are not designed as supermax prisons have “control
    units” in which conditions are similar. The theory is that
    solitary confinement and sensory deprivation will bring about
    “behavior modification.”
    In general. Supermax prisoners are locked into small cells
    for approximately 23 hours a day. They have almost no contact
    with other human beings.
    There are no group activities: no work, no educational
    opportunities, no eating together, no sports, no getting together
    with other people for religious services, and no attempts at
    There are no contact visits: prisoners sit behind a
    plexiglass window. Phone calls and visitation privileges are
    strictly limited. Books and magazines may be denied and pens
    restricted. TV and radios may be prohibited or, if allowed, are
    controlled by guards.
    Prisoners have little or no personal privacy. Guards
    monitor the inmates’ movements by video cameras. Communication
    between prisoners and control booth officers is mostly through
    speakers and microphones. An officer at a control center may be
    able to monitor cells and corridors and control all doors
    Typically, the cells have no windows. Lights are controlled
    by guards who may leave them on night and day. For exercise
    there is usually only a room with high concrete walls and a chin-up bar. Showers may be limited to three per week for not more
    than ten minutes.
    “Prisoners are confined to a concrete world in which they
    never see a blade of grass, earth, trees or any part of the
    natural world.”

  28. jan g says:

    I think he wanted to die and reduce the long hours he will spend imprisoned behind tried to taunt us into the death sentence. I am so glad he is deprived of what he wanted so badly. I do not believe for one minute his hystrionics…he wanted to end his prison sentence by death. I, for one, feel that it is a far worse punishment for him being denied a quick end to his tedious hours behind bars. Is that too cruel or what?

  29. Sally says:

    jan g., yes. It might help if those of you so eager to see Moussaoui in a dungeon or dead were required to listen to the evidence, or lack thereof, as the jurors were required to do. Perhaps even then you would not want to be confused by the facts. Perhaps historians will get it right.

  30. ked says:

    I’ve always viewed opposition to the death penalty as a super-conservative position, based not upon party or religion, but the fact that the State cannot be trusted with the ultimate sanction, in light of erroneous verdicts.
    In the case of Moussaoui, one would hope our citizen’s verdict would help to bridge the gulf between the West & Islam. Unfortunately, nothing seems to impact AQ & their ilk except destruction.

  31. jang says:

    You are absolutely correct, Sally. My impression of the man was gleaned from seconds of his utterances on what cable TV showed the masses. So what do I really know? I just did not want to see him unilaterally condemmed to death because he seemed to be working toward that end himself. I did not want him becaming the sole target of 911 fury.You are much closer to the situation than I am. Best, Jan G.

  32. linda says:

    the man is clearly mentally disturbed and his role in 9/11 was marginal at best. my understanding is the supermax prison he’s going to, he’ll have extremely limited interactions and limited to guards — who don’t even have direct contact when meals are delivered. he’ll be in his cell (no window) 23 hrs a day with 1 for exercise. his isolation will contribute to and accelerate his mental deterioration.
    the prison is also ‘home’ to sheik abdul rahman and ramzi yousef — perpetrators of the first attack on the world trade center. (tracked down, tried and convicted — all without invading a sovereign country that had nothing to do with the first attack. imagine that.)
    michael isikoff has an interesting angle on this show trial worth consideration. via hardball:
    “Isikoff: This entire Moussaoui trial was a side show. The Justice Department indicted him at the time, they thought he might have been the 20th hijacker. They later learned he was not. But there was a feeling, that for altogether understandable reasons, that the country needed a trial, the cathartic effect of a trial to deal with the most horrific crime in American history. What this trial ought to do at this point provoke a debate and discussion and concentration on why we haven`t tried the people who were responsible for 9/11. But there was a feeling, that for altogether understandable reasons, that the country needed a trial, the cathartic effect of a trial to deal with the most horrific crime in American history.
    But the point is that after the time that they indicted Moussaoui, we came to get into custody the people who were directly responsible for that crime, the architect, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (pictured here at top), Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was Mohammed Atta`s collaborator at every step of the way — twice in 2001, Atta leaves the country to consult with Ramzi bin al-Shibh about the for the attack — the financier who was also in custody, Qualli bin Atassh (phonetic) who helped planned it at the Malaysia meeting.
    But the government has been completely stymied about what do to with these people. Why — and this is the one where it is really worth connecting the dots. It goes straight into the White House, the Oval Office and the vice president`s office because key decisions were made about aggressive interrogation techniques that were going to be used on these people.”
    i suggest the death penalty be used against traitors. you know, the kind of people who out covert intelligence officers.

  33. zanzibar says:

    linda, the same Hardball you quoted had Kristin Breitweiser, an outspoken 9/11 widow. Below a comment she made on the show.
    “now that the Moussaoui penalty phase is over, I certainly hope that the information will be flowing freely to the American people. For four years, I and many other 9/11 family members have fought very hard to have information released go the public, information about governmental failures. We were always told that we couldn‘t have that information because it would harm Moussaoui‘s right to a fair trial.
    Having said that, I would appreciate someone asking either Senator Biden or former Mayor Giuliani, if their standard for death is withholding information from the FBI that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks—how then are we excusing FBI agents Maltbie and Frasca, who were accused, or allegedly accused in the Moussaoui penalty phase itself, of being criminally negligent with regard to giving a FISA warrant.
    How would you explain George Tenet, who withheld information about two of the 9/11 hijackers for 18 months from the FBI—information that certainly would have gone a long way into preventing those attacks. And I‘d like to know, where are we drawing the line here, what is the threshold, and why are we not holding those types of people in our own government accountable? ”
    Hardball transcript

  34. linda says:

    zanzibar: kristin breitwieser is one of the most remarkable people i’ve seen wrt the 9/11 investigation. if only she had been in charge of the commission instead of the compromised ass-coverers who were.
    she puts to shame any media or government shill who dare to appear with her. too bad the medal of freedom has become so degraded and devoid of meaning — the service she and the other families have provided in their attempts to seek the truth are deserving of the country’s highest recognition and appreciation. no wonder she has been so marginalized.

  35. Sally says:

    zansibar, from the site: “The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: Instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”-Bertrand Russell. Lovely.
    Imagine if the tables are turned and the label “conservative” becomes the “enough said” mantra.

  36. Freeman says:

    Perhaps the court actually did give the correct sentence to Moussaoui. As opinion in the Daily Telegraph so appropriately put it: “Life in the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Colorado will be several virgins short of a good time”.

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