Moussaoui and Life

I don’t know, Jim Henley’s take on it seems appropriate to me.

You Ain’t Even Worth Killin’


It may count as cruel and unusual punishment, but I would approve sitting him in a hard chair in a small room. An endless line of Americans would file past. Each would look at him scornfully for a moment, scoff, “Tool!” under his or her breath, and spend the rest of the day doing better things.

Radley Balko has a similar take,

Martyrdom would have been the best thing we could have done for him.

The jury effectively rolled its collective eyes, shrugged, and dismissed Moussaoui as a bumbling fool.

Update (James Joyner): I don’t disagree with those sentiments. I would maintain, however, that the jury was charged with determining whether Moussaoui’s crimes merited capital punishment under the law, not whether life in prison was a more grueling fate in this case. Indeed, jurors in capital cases are typically required to affirm that they have no moral reservations about handing down a death sentence if it is legally appropriate.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Terrorism, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Jazz says:

    Just a thought, James, and at least one of the reports I read on this inferred without directly stating that this came up in the jury room… while the laws as read to the jurists may have been clear enough, there was apparently talk about the fact that the defendant, at the end of the day, didn’t actually commit any direct actions resulting in anyone’s death.

    (And before anyone jumps on me about conspiracy, plotting, etc… “direct” in this case would have been flying one of the planes, planting a bomb, something like that.)

    I have no doubt he would have desperately *liked* to have been “one of those guys” but apparently he was too much of a loon for even the terrorists.

    That said, I’m personally in favor of capital punishment where appropriate and where guilt is certainly without doubt, and I wouldn’t have shed any tears had they pumped the guy full of Drano. Sure, it might have made him a martyr, etc. but then again, they’ve already got more martyrs than anyone could count. What’s one more?

  2. Boyd says:

    I just had to respond to this comment, Jazz:

    That said, I�m personally in favor of capital punishment where appropriate and where guilt is certainly without doubt…

    Theoretically, someone who’s convicted would already meet that standard (yes, I know it’s technically different, but “beyond a reasonable doubt” means, by definition, that any lingering doubt is unreasonable, and would seem to meet the quoted clause’s requirements).

  3. RA says:

    Those idiot jurers. This man will now be an alstar recruiter for Muslim terrorists IN OUR COUNTRY! Watch his graduates as they leave prison and start blowing people up.

  4. legion says:

    Yeah, RA – ’cause this jackhole makes it look soooo glamorous to be a failed wannabe suicide attacker. Sheesh.

    By the letter of the law he was charged under (the prosecution’s decision, by the way), the gov’t had to show that Moussaui’s lying directly caused deaths that could have been otherwise prevented. The FBI & CIA’s own poor communications about known facts leading up to 9/11 made proving that an impossibility; something (IMHO) the prosecution should have damn well known about before pushing so hard for death. DOJ shot themselves in the proverbial foot with this case.