This Week's Debate: Punishing Terrorists

What is the appropriate punishment for Zacharias Moussaoui? Should he be put to death for his involvement in the 9/11 plot? Or would it be a more severe punishment to put him in prison for the rest of his life, denying him the martyrdom he so desires?

We'll debate the Moussaoui case and related issues this week as we examine the complexities of punishing terrorists.

How should suspected terrorists be tried? By military tribunals? In the U.S. justice system? By an international court designed specifically for this purpose?

What sort of punishment would serve as an effective deterrent against terrorism? (Can any punishment deter terrorists?)

I will be relying heavily on your discussion as we try to navigate these murky waters. Any other big questions we should debate while we're on this subject?

By Emily Messner |  April 10, 2006; 9:46 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
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Why treat terrorists any differently than any other criminal? What "murky waters" are we navigating here? If you plan on taking part of activities designed to kill innocent civilians and you get caught, you merit punishment. There's nothing "murky" about it.

Posted by: D. | April 10, 2006 11:33 AM

I tend to agree with D. on this one. What is the controversy?

My personal opinion is he should spend a lifetime in jail. I was sufficiently compelled by his testimony that this man wants nothing more than to become a martyr for his faith and religion. I am not inclined to give his lunatic --murdering lunatic-- what he wants. There's nothing heroic about spending a life time in Federal Prison.

Posted by: Will | April 10, 2006 11:41 AM

I have no problem with whacking the guy. The 'ol "be afraid of killing any Muslim killer because you only martyr them!" line doesn't bear out as we have shot, blasted, burned tens of thousands of these guys in Afghanistan and Iraq...and not a few of their "innocent Jihadi wives, kiddies, and babies: as colateral damage.

Same with Israel, China, Russia's practice of whacking them rather than give them a lifetime of 3 hots and a cot. And "martyrdom" seems to have little lasting impact where radical Islamoids are regularly killed in combat in corners of the world we don't pay much attention to - like Algeria, Egypt, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan's Frontier, KSA.

If it is wrong to kill Moussaoui, then what shall you do if we get Osama, or decide to try the 9/11 Facilitator Binalshibh or the 9/11 creator, mastermind, and project head - Khalid Shiekh Mohammed??? Will it be 3 hots and a cot for them? And what will you do when their team of ACLU lawyers file their 1st Amendment lawsuits saying like Mumia and other celebrities, they have a right to pen their speeches, life story, addresses to the spirituality of their followers and the politics of resistance to the Crusader Zionists? Shall we be as accomodating as Hitlers tolerant democratic jailers were when he was given paper and research books in jail to help pen "Mein Kampf??"

That said, there are 3 paths of law we could take and we are using the worst fit with unlawful enemy combatants in Moussaoui's case...our civilian justice system. And if we are willing to give death to a person not aware of or involved in any direct way with a conspiracy to kill - then we pervert both the military justice path, the international path, AND most of all our civilian justice system.

I will explain why in a subsequent post.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 10, 2006 12:12 PM

a lifetime without parole will be the best way to pierce the veil of the 'corporate' terrorist. This evil business will only recruit on the back of the death penalty.

Posted by: liam forde | April 10, 2006 12:55 PM

Sentence them to death but then keep them alive to use as intelligence assets and/or trading pieces if they play along.

Posted by: Mike Deal | April 10, 2006 01:08 PM

One of the tactics of Al Quaida is to kidnap people to exchange for prisoners.

If Moussaoui is given life in prison, there will be kidnappings of people by Al Quaida to get Moussaoui freed from prison.

Moussaoui needs to be executed as soon as possible, for that reason.

If Moussaoui becomes a Martyr that will not make much difference in the Muslim world.

Al Quaida will attack non muslims whether or not Moussaoui is a martyr.

With respect to deterrence, there probably is no way to deter Al Quaida.

The only effective response is to first cut off the source of funds that Al Quaida receives from Muslim charities.

The second is to stop the training of Muslim extremism to children in the madrasahs.

Those children trained by Muslim extremists become the next generation of suicide bombers.

Muslim extremism is not in the best interests of many Muslim regimes, such as the Saudis, yet Muslim extremism continues to be taught in madrasahs in Saudi Arabia.

Also, Muslim charities that funnel money to Al Quaida receive much of their money from citizens of Saudi Arabia.

The monarchy of Saudi Arabia needs to learn that permitting this kind of support for Al Quaida is not in the best interests of the monarchy. Al Quaida will overthrow the monarchy if it can.

We need to help the Saudi monarchy shut off the funds flowing to Al Quaida from its citizens.

Also, the Saudi monarchy needs to moonitor the content of the instruction at the madrasahs, and shut down those that do not comply.

We will probably need to give the Saudi monarchy a great deal of help to accomplish this.

We will also need to give a great deal of help to other Muslim governments to accomplish this.

Posted by: Charles Butterfield April 10, 2006

Posted by: Charles Butterfield | April 10, 2006 01:29 PM

I think that executing Moussaoui in the most humiliating manner possible (hanging him from the visitors' goal posts at a preseason Redskin game at halftime) is the answer. After he dies, we should let wild dogs feast on his remains on national tv. Or, maybe we should do that before he dies.

However, NO appeals should be allowed from the jury's verdict in this case. This way, we wouldn't have to pay $35,000 per year for twenty or 30 years to keep him alive in jail, or for 15 years while waiting for his appeals from a death sentence to run.

Posted by: mike rind | April 10, 2006 01:37 PM

He wanted to be a martyr. Why reward him? Let him rot in jail forever, and laugh out loud at his failure?

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 10, 2006 01:47 PM

We should not steer away from the American justice system just so we see justification that he did not die as a martyr. If someome was found guilty of assisting in the murder of 3,000 people then they would most likely be put to death, his case should be now different.

Posted by: Ross in Charleston | April 10, 2006 02:34 PM

We should not steer away from the American justice system just so we see justification that he did not die as a martyr. If someome was found guilty of assisting in the murder of 3,000 people then they would most likely be put to death, his case should be no different.

Posted by: Ross in Charleston | April 10, 2006 02:35 PM

Death may be too good for him, so would life in prison with a gay roomate who lost a relative in 911. I think he should be blindfolded and turned over to some relatives that lost a dear one, then deliver his head to Osama via video tape, and tell him "you're next".

Posted by: Joe in Haddonfield | April 10, 2006 02:59 PM

First, I admit I haven't been hanging on every detail of the Moussaoui case, but what I gather from the media blurbs is that the government wants to condemn him primarily for not informing authorities of the plot in advance.
If this is so, my line of questioning is: How could he have done so without incriminating himself? Doesn't the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination apply in this case and, if not, why not? Because the public is particularly upset by this crime and has no other living person to punish? Where is that exception mentioned in the Constitution?
Perhaps my legal reasoning is flawed, but if you think it is and wish to respond, please provide precedents where other defendants who did not actually participate in the commission of a crime they had knowledge of received the maximum sentence merely for not informing the police in advance, with no guaranty of immunity.

Posted by: JUDGITO | April 10, 2006 03:02 PM

Life in jail, no parole. He isn't important enough to the Al Queda organization that anyone is going to purposely kidnap americans to get him freed (or sure, they'll use it as an exuse, same way they'll orchestrate "revenge" bombings if we off him), I prefer not to give him the satisfaction of believing he has "martryed" himself and besides, how long do you think he'll last in prison anyway?

Posted by: D. | April 10, 2006 03:02 PM

People seem to either believe that this guy Moussaoui had the connections, insider knowledge, and will to commit a terrorist act himself or the public seems to be unaware of the role of unwitting indocrination in terrorist training. Like the child soldiers of Uganda, many participants probably had little choice. Punishing Moussaoui without figuring out why he was targeted, who groomed him into a pawn, and for what purposes--sacrifices a learning opportunity for revenge. How do we expect to prevent future Moussaouis if we delude ourselves into thinking he is the source of evil instead of recognizing him as a victim of it as well? Certainly there are criminals intent on horrific acts who know very well what they're getting into from the very beginning. But there are lots of others who are drugged, coerced, brainwashed, blackmailed, framed. If we are serious about stopping terrorism, we should consider interrupting the puppetry between the masters and their endless stream of disposable pawns. The masters of power, of course, will be reluctant to share their tips on how the Moussaouis of the world are baited and set up. Keeping Moussaoui around weaving baskets or something could be useful as long as nobody renders him useless before he offers constructive insights into terrorism recruitment and training.

Posted by: Revenge doesn't serve prevention | April 10, 2006 03:11 PM

I completely agree with the majority of the posters who want severe punishments for terrorists.
To prevent partiality from their own governments, the accused should be brought before the International Court in the Hague and if found guilty should be given long prison sentences.
Long jail terms are the only answer for the despicable terrorists like the Israeli Army officers who murdered American Rachel Carrie, and Britons James Miller and Tom, I'm in the wrong blog.

Posted by: Robin Bather | April 10, 2006 03:37 PM

Iam muslim ,and iam saying that as in islam ,terrorists have to be killed for there horrible crimes,because killing innocents is unacceptable by any means "Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. "(5:32) Noble Quran

Posted by: ASHRAF | April 10, 2006 03:38 PM

Mike Rind: "I think that executing Moussaoui in the most humiliating manner possible (hanging him from the visitors' goal posts at a preseason Redskin game at halftime) is the answer. After he dies, we should let wild dogs feast on his remains on national tv. Or, maybe we should do that before he dies."

I tend to agree with Mike's way. Only problem is I refuse to go to the "new" stadium. Let's alternate between RFK and FedEx.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 10, 2006 03:44 PM

There are 3 methods of justice. There are three others. Two direct battlefield justice methods approved by laws of war, but not relevant here - (summary execution by command of the ranking officer for unlawful combatants, a lawful "take no prisoners order" under exigences of combat situation.) A few people have pushed a 3rd - trying civilian terrorists as soldiers under a nations military code meant to discipline and regulate it's own soldiers (the Lindsay Graham UMCJ approach)

The 3 most discussed methods are the ones Emily mentioned. International Court, Military Tribunals, civilian court.


The International Court is tainted by politics - it is dominated by Leftists and UN-lovers who wish to go after a few right wing butchers, but otherwise give butchers on the Left like Castro and Pol Pot, and members of the 22 nation Arab voting bloc - a pass. They are also slow, provide a global stage for the person on the docket. The example of Slobbo was that 3 1/2 years passed on "trial" after 2 years of prep. His speeches galvanized Serbs who became more convinced of his correctness...and he died of natural causes before any verdict was rendered. And even if it had been, he would have been jailed in luxury, as the Hutu nuns from Rwanda were. Worse, the ICC removes justice from the offendees and places it with "neutral nation judges". Why should Gaboonian, Ecuadoran, and Syrian judges decide the fate of war criminals who killed in the USA? That would have been like barring the Allies from judging Nazi War Criminals and handing justice over to the "neutral" Swiss, Spaniards, and Swedes to determine. Or saying the Iraqis cannot judge Saddam for crimes against his people, that should be done by 3 lawyers in robes from Nigeria, Honduras, and Belarus.
Best the ICC stays limited to prosecuting war criminals from shattered countries unable to prosecute themselves in their recovery from war.


Military tribunals are approved under Hague and Geneva and have a long history of success..though those on the losing side naturally call it "victors" justice. Tribunals were used in several US wars against spies, assassins, saboteurs, and other unlawful enemy combatants. They were found Constitutional unanimously by SCOTUS in 1942 in "EX PARTE QUIRIN" and applicable to American traitors serving the enemy as well as to foreign enemy found here out of uniform. Under the tribunal system, there is absolutely no doubt Moussaoui would be convicted as an unlawful enemy combatant, and subject to the death penalty simply for being an unlawful combatant unprotected by Geneva Conventions. As the "Lion of Civil Liberties", William O Douglas said in a 1962 interview of his approval of the tribunal that gave 6 of 8 Nazi saboteurs captured inc. one American a ticket to death ---"It (Quirin) was a very easy Constutional ruling - a no brainer." No one doubts Moussaoui is almost indentical to the Nazi saboteurs in legal status, and that a death sentence or life imprisonment is almost routine in wartime for enemy combatants caught behind lines out of uniform. The Moussaoui case would be routine there. But the Left and ACLU types demanded Al Qaeda soldiers be tried as civilians so the "world could see America's Crown Jewel - our civilian due process system - at work". Moussaoui is our SOP to the Democratic-controlled Senate and their powerful liberal Jewish donors. And we all see how wonderfully his 8 million dollar plus 4 1/2 year long "crown jewel" legal process is going.

Use of the civilian criminal courts for prosecuting soldiers involved in enemy military operations conducted outside international mitary law are far more problematic. And, the Moussaoui case is dangerous for the precedent it would set if RICO is extended to giving the death penalty to anyone involved in a conspiracy..even if they had no knowledge or involvement in the activity that caused a capital offense.

My opinion? Moussaoui should escape the civilian death penalty for "conspiracy crimes" - while I'm certain that Moussaoui would be easily convicted and justly executed under international military law not for "crime" - but by being an unlawful military combatant caught while operating outside all international protections afforded enemy soldiers.

My second opinion, if Moussaoui is convicted of a death sentence - despite all testimony that he was bonkers, cut out of the 9/11 plot by more rational AQ enemy planners and leadership, on grounds that he "hurt" the Almighty Victims Family Network of 9/11 (TM) - and caused them "pain" equal to the saboteurs that blew up a Ferry in Norway in 1941 carrying heavy water and killing hundreds of innocent passengers - he has numerous paths of appeal.

Two huge concerns:

1. If we treat soldiers as civilian "criminals" we are right back to the Japanese executing B-25 bombers as criminal conspirators, or executing them because they failed to "cooperate" with Japanese authorities on being captured and alerting the Japs of their base locations, fleet resources so the "alert" Japanese equivalent to the FBI could assemble the evidence and "stop" further crimes.

2. If we do give Moussaoui civilian status and say simple membership in a group entitles all members of that group to death if they fail to disclose all info, despite the 5th Amendment or lawyers advice, we open other criminal conspiracies severally liable to universal death or penal penalties for a crime they were ignorant of and not involved in.

An example would be a bank robber gang. Members who knew one another, but only a minority involved in specific jobs...but a few past jobs done by a few had hurt and killed civilians. The Moussaoui argument is that if someone like a wife or an erratic is cut out of any specific knowledge or involvement of the next bank robbery, and it goes horribly bad with a dozen hostages killed...then that wife or con picked up on other charges months before the botched bank robbery turned massacre is every bit as liabile for it as the 4 people doing the crime - out of the 50 in the bank robbery ring - because if only the wife or con had "confessed" and revealed all the members...well, then the massacre could have been prevented by clever police who "connected the dots!!".


If we wish to kill Moussaoui for something he actually did - being caught as an unlawful enemy combatant plotting to kill infidels - fine. No one disputes the evidence that Moussaoui was an enemy saboteur and agent.

But killing him for a plot he had no direct knowledge of? It smacks of revenge and is no different than the collective punishment visited on any identified member of a group or supporter of the group involved in armed resistance. What Moussaoui is, is just one of hundreds we could make the same tenuous legal case about - "He didn't know, but he was a bad guy. His buddies actually involved are dead or cut deals with intel people..Someone has to swing. We can say that if only he had spilled the beans we would have uncovered a plot he wasn't knowledable about...therefore he is guilty.

That infects the civilian courts with sweeping new RICO powers to mete out death for any member of a group if any other member kills without the "conspirators" knowledge or approval..

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 10, 2006 03:45 PM

Oh, and I have an old pit bull that I would gladly donate for the second phase of the execution.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 10, 2006 03:49 PM

thats agood thing Moussaoui is facing justice and he may be hanged ,but what about american soldiers crimes in iraq, will we see Bush facing justice for his war crimes, what about israel ,will we see its rulers facing justice for there crimes, i hope oneday eternal justice will prevail in this world, as if killing less than3000 americans is acrime, and killing thousands of thousands in iraq or palestin isnot.

Posted by: ALI | April 10, 2006 03:56 PM

What war crimes are you talking about Ali?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 10, 2006 04:40 PM

The fabricated kind.

Posted by: D. | April 10, 2006 05:36 PM

Obviously everybody wants justice served. The question is what kind of justice and does it make a point. If we execute Moussaoui, justice will be done just as if we put him away for life, never to see the light of day again. The difference in my mind is do we strengthen the oppositions hands by executing him and making Moussaoui a martyr? If he is sentenced to life without parole, we disappears just as effectively as execution.

On a gut instinct, I want this man dead as much as Bin Laden, but it may not work and actually help to toughen the resolve for the terrorists. I am pro death penalty, but it may not help in this instance.

Posted by: Papaphilly | April 10, 2006 05:55 PM

Maybe ALI is outraged that members of his suicide bomber cell on their way to blow up a Shiite Mosque full of "sacred Qu'rans" and "innocent Islami babies and puppydogs" was shot up at a Marine checkpoint, without due process.

Funny how silent Islamoids like ALI are (or gay American Lefties posing as Islamoids named ALI) are, when it's Muslims blowing up Mosques, gassing Muslim civilians, or kicking executed Shiite prisoners Korans to the curb like trash. More innocent Muslims or infidels are killed by Muslim terrorists or Muslim dictators in an average decade than infidels have killed since the Crusades. In the Iran-Iraq War, all the Korans and blessed verses strung as placards on the soldiers were simply dumped in battlefield trash pits without ceremony. The seething, angry Arab street is typically as silent as when Hezbollah thugs kill Sunni thugs in Beruit...but let the Zionists kill a Muslim terrorist, or an American soldier be determined to desecrate a Holy Quran found next to 25 executed Shia police recruits by touching the book with his Bare, Filthy, Infidel Hand - and - they - EXPLODE!!!

It must be a tribal thing.

Sort of like blacks in DC not caring too hoots if black drug-dealing gangsta thugs whack each other all over town, but if a white police officer kills one in a shootout....."Oh, Lawdy!! Hold a press conference! Bad as a 30 foot cross being burned in front of the DC Council!!"

Way I see it, if the Taliban had handed over Al Qaeda for trial, there would have been no Afghan War. If Saddam had complied with UN Res 1441 and fessed up he had no WMD, no invasion. If the radicals and diehard Saddamites had commmitted to rebuild Iraq and be in a Federal structure working with the other 80% of Iraqis - and had not started an insurgency and worked towards total civil war by targeting Shiite and Kurdish Islamoids need have been beaten up in US run prisons or innocents inadvertently whacked at checkpoints..

The real onus is on Islamoid terrorists and other Muslim bad guys for bringing it on. Not us, the Israelis, the Christian Peacemakers, or the Beslan children.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 10, 2006 05:59 PM

I am sitting here in my office, watching the protestors for illegal immigrants walk by (coming from the Mall). They have finally got it straight and are carrying US flags! Touched me a little.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 10, 2006 06:46 PM

Most of the posts donot address the fundemental problem.It is ISLAM.It teaches every honest muslim to kill the KAFIRS, INFIDELS and so he is doing what his religion teaches him to do.Again Islam asks him to have four wives in this life and it promises 70 virgins in heaven in case he is a good muslim.How he is going to get FOUR WIVES?he has to kill the infidels.
Every american must think about life BEFORE 9/11.Why he was shouting from rooftops about humanrights.will any witness give evidence against Osama,Shinh,or kaliullah sheikh?Is not America violating human rights by keeping all those enemy combatants in guaonomobay or Abughraib? What America should do?These people take pleasure in killing innocent civilians of other religions because they are taught to do do it.Even they have a Tareeque a system where they are allowed to tell LIE ON OATH!!!!!!!!!Mossaqui did it proudly!!!! India, Isreal have been victims of this assault from time immemorial and Americans must wake up to this reality instead of talking about death sentence or life sentence?

Posted by: captainjohann | April 10, 2006 11:50 PM

perhaps, since they've been coached _this_ time, as to what would endear people to them, rather than alienate them...

you're seeing their coached side.

900,000 wait in line each year, 500,000 get in legally from Mexico.

the Catholics need more money coming in, they're backing them.

I know people whose jobs they take, if they could get yours they would....

let them wait in line like your parents, or forefathers did...

letting someone get away with stealing is not going to help your country when your leader,

who knows nothing about "paying the price," let's them get away with a free ride, because he knows what that is like...

you're paying for him to have a good life, maybe he's a good guy, in a way.

he also started a war on false pretenses and Jose still painted my townhouse and someone who was a citizen didn't get that opportunity, because the realator that hired the painters while I was out of town took the cheapest bid...

someone in Reston, VA lost a painting job. I paid full price, someone pocketed some change.


Posted by: touched you? | April 11, 2006 12:18 AM

You hit the nail on the head captain. It's a goddamned cult.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 11, 2006 12:23 AM

That was a bit of tongue in cheek, MNP. Smart of them to change gears.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | April 11, 2006 12:26 AM

last year, 12,000 people died from firearms.

we passed a law excusing firearms manufacturers from being sued for negligence or culpability, because we as citizens needed that.

how many people will die this year because they are getting $360 a year from social security for medical benefits?

how many people died on the highway last year? How many died because the manufacturer designed an unsafe car, and it cost too much to design a safe one? Is that culpability?

How about cigarette manufacturers? Didn't they threaten the people that were going to expose them? They got fined and the President exused their 4 Billion dollar fine...

I'm not into punishment for punishments sake, but I like to be effective when I act.

how many people died because they lost their jobs, no one cared about them, and they killed themselves or caused someone close to them to die because of emotional issues?

how many people died in Africa, because German, English, British and Americans sold them arms?

how many people will die because we ship our insecticides, medicines that are illegal here to other countries to sell?

how many children will be sold into sexual slavery because we don't enforce our laws on our citizens when they are in other countries?

just curious....

knee jerks don't impress me.

someone who stands up for themselves and other people

when it's not a knee jerk response impress me.

when I wrote to the people who broke the story about the Delay withdrawal from running this time I accused them of being asleep during the rest of the time........

they thought I was cheeky, I said, in effect, yeah, you can make a call when someone indicts him,

but when he does something obvious, like violate his constitutional oath,

you just sit there and watch, hoping someone else has the courage or the guts to call him on it...

but you just watch.

most of you are like that.

I'm not okay with that.


Posted by: as far as killing people, | April 11, 2006 12:29 AM

correction, my stupidity.


christian peacemakers? that's an oxymoron.

where did the current christian church come from?

oh yeah,

the christians were giving the romans a hard time....

so constantine, a roman emporer, decided to establish an or should I say "the authentic christian church," which they called oddly enough

The Roman Catholic Christian? Church.

the one "true religion"

in the sense that if you didn't do it their way, you'd be burned at the stake.

basically, to nullify the effect that the christian religion was having on their lands and people that they were trying to conquer they bought it and repackaged it...

all modern day christianity descended from the lineage of the RCC.

the protestants were PROTESTING at the way the church handled business....luther was the first

the methodists split from the protestants over methods....

but _in general_

the goal of the RCC was to control people and to give over to the priests control of peoples souls....or at least make them feel that they had control....

you know, like using the word patriotism to rape other countries....

invading countries, telling the inhabitants that you were the good guys while stealing their gold and giving their women syphillis....or having inquisitions..

yes the christians have a long history of denying people rights, and stealing their lands...

not that the muslims are nice guys but hey...

dualistic, primitive religions are the same the world over right? especially if they premises were laid down when having slaves and women not being anything much more than property is _the way it was_

but you know asking a christian to think?

that's like asking a muslim to not have a jihad.


Posted by: Hey Johnny, thanks for the | April 11, 2006 02:57 AM

The United Nations should get it together and come up with a suitable punishment for the number one terrorist organization in the world in my opinion, i.e., the United States of America given all of its terrorists deeds for the past half-century.

No other organization or nation in the world spends more money and time to terrorize other people or nations than our good old USA. A case in point, the terorist action that has been and is currently going on in the once soveriegn nation of Iraq, in deference to the will and timing of the United Nations.

Oh, and lets not forget the most recent terrorists threats against the so-called axis of evil, particularly Iran and N. Korean. Evil defined in the USA Lexicon: policies or acts that are not sanctioned by the United States of America are evil.
I thought that only God could define evil. Can anyone out there tell me whether or not the USA is really God or not? For lately I have begun to wonder...

How does one nation with more nuclear weapons than any other nation, tell another sovereign nation that you cannot have even one nuclear weapon? And oh, to those other nations, if you acquire a nuclear weapon or the capacity to build it, we will come in and destroy you.

Now to a white supremacist, he does not see any contradiction at all. For to say so he would have to look back at the disgraceful origins, history and legacy of white supremacy in this land, i.e., invasion, theft, genocide, rape and molestation, slavery, confiscation, threats, night-patrols and hegemony, i.e., forcing its will upon the former indigenous people of this land.

The USA has the largest terrorist budget in the world and the most sophisticated terrorist-military, and spy organizations to carry out its terrorists designs on the world, i.e., when we are not relying on Israel, and other nations friendly to the USA like the Brits, the Saudi's or otherx to do or support our terrorists missions.

The Bible says that the truth will make you free, but I suspect that the USA will never be free given it's own history, not to mention the fact that truth seems to have long since left the building, even before Elvis did. Consider our lying President right now, and the tales that has spun and is spinning right now.

If terrorism is wrong for Moussaoui, Saddam or any other organization, person or nation, it has long since been wrong for the good old USA. On 911 the USA was terrorized (or counter-attacked), then shortly after the USA terrorized (unprovoked) the soverign nation of Iraq. Oops, no we don't call it terrorism when we terroize another nation do we? We call that fighting terrorism, right? And Dr. Martin Luther King was a communist too, right?

When will the arrogant white supremacist's of the USA, and the sympathizers amd supporters of white supremacist worldwide-terrorism, wake up? Well, you could at least call it what it is; I believe that God does!

Help us Lord!

I woke up a long time ago.

Posted by: Rev. C. Solomon | April 11, 2006 10:33 AM

Moussaoui was not thought competent by his Al-Quaeda bosses to gain martyrdom. He wants it very much. This is a unique case of committing suicide by court order. We in the West (I am not a U.S.-American) should not grant him his wish. He should be punished, and life imprisonment without parole is a punishment for him. Death penalty is not. By executing him we are helping him to get a victory in the propaganda war.

Posted by: Endel | April 11, 2006 11:54 AM

I've got to thank Emily here. She has put in play a subject that continues to trouble me a great deal. Your take on it in your first two posts is impressive. As is often the case, I find much more to agree with than disagree with.

You wrote:
"If it is wrong to kill Moussaoui, then what shall you do if we get Osama, or decide to try the 9/11 Facilitator Binalshibh or the 9/11 creator, mastermind, and project head - Khalid Shiekh Mohammed???"

I think it is probably wrong to kill Moussaoui, more about that in a minute, but I wouldn't have any problem whacking the three others you named. In fact, the real question is why the government has not tried the two out of the three it has had in custody for how long now? Seriously, why are we trying so hard to whack the peripheral figure of Moussaoui when we have the actual 9/11 director Senor Khalid in hand? I just don't get it.

I was frankly surprised with the jury's first verdict. Of course I haven't actually heard all the evidence they did so I don't condemn them for it, but still I have a hard time comprehending it.

1. I have a hard time with the concept that he is responsible for the 9/11 deaths because he failed to rat out his buddies with what he knew, which wasn't much more than what the FBI already knew. He didn't know the date, the people, all the targets. The idea that had he provided what little he knew, the attack would have been prevented has enough doubt to it to drive a truck through. The FBI already knew he was trying to learn how to fly a commercial airliner, not to include taking off or landing, and this wasn't even enough for them to get an application for a search warrant out of the Justice Department. Give me a break.
2. As near as I can tell from what I've seen reported, he was not actually a part of the 9/11 operation. He was in training for a similar attack on the White House which may or may not have been scheduled for 9/11, and probably not, since the government provided no evidence of it from either Khalid or Benalshibh who should know.
3. His own testimony makes it quite clear that he would have been a part of it if he could have been, that he certainly approved of it and celebrates its success. Still, it is contrary in certain specifics with what he has said before, so we are assured that he has been or is a liar. It is also quite clear that he wants to be associated with that success, to lay some claim to being a part of it, that he is committed to his cause and wants to be seen as such. The question is, is his testimony credible proof that he was a part of that specific operation?

To me it is not a question of whether he is guilty or not, it's a question of what he is guilty of. Some things are by law whackable while others are not. It just seems to me that the government is doing its damnedest to stretch the matter to a whackable offense just to have someone whacked. I'm not a 9/11 victim or the family member of one, but if I were, this ain't the guy whose whacking would satisfy me. I would want Osama, Zawahiri, and a couple already in custody whacked. Stretching the law this way in this case is just very bad policy, good political policy maybe, but a corruption of the legal process none the less. Or a perversion of it as you point out in your paragraph following.

Now to your three paths to justice.

International Courts.......
I agree with you on the matter of an International Court. I've no faith in such courts at all and I'm unwilling to cede the execution of Justice to an institution so remote from "the people". Certainly the three and a half year farce you provide as an example (Slobo) is the outstanding illustration of why not.

Military Tribunals.......
In principle, Chris, I have no problem with Military Tribunals per se. But where I do have a problem with them is how their rules and procedures are formulated, and the process by which someone is subjected to them.

I cannot accept the wholly arbitrary declarative designation of "unlawful enemy combatant" as an adequate rationale for Military Tribunal jurisdiction. Clearly, a fair number of the people interned at Guantanamo as "unlawful enemy combatants" weren't, and aren't. Equally clearly, from the transcripts recently released, the military tribunals established to provide hearings to determine that status are a mockery. Seriously, expecting a prisoner in Guantanamo to somehow present evidence of his innocence with no access to it whatsoever is patently absurd. Indeed, I find it really difficult to understand why the Defense Department does not seem to see it in its own best interest to get the innocent bastards out of that hell hole as fast as they can. It just baffles me, but it seems pretty clear from these transcripts that they don't see it that way. What is missing here is the equivalent of a grand jury proceeding or a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient cause to classify this prisoner as an "unlawful enemy combatant" and therefore subject to the jurisdiction of a Military Tribunal. I'm just not comfortable with the administration making up its own ad hoc rules in this regard to suit themselves as they go along. If we are going to have Military Tribunals it seems to me that the rules for them and the process for establishing their jurisdiction need to be formally formulated and codified in advance, and preferably by an independent body, such as Congress.

Military Tribunals, no less than our domestic courts, should have, as their purpose, the pursuit of justice. This begins with a presumption of innocence and a requirement that the prosecution present proof of guilt. There are a host of technical requirements in civilian courts, designed primarily to curb or preclude prosecutorial or investigative abuses, which are arguably inappropriate to military tribunals; Miranda warnings for example, or the exclusion of evidence from defective search warrants. Still, to allow the prosecution to present indirect or abstracted evidence, not subject to direct cross-examination is to pervert basic justice; is to invite prosecutorial abuse. For Military Tribunals to be an acceptable form of justice, they must provide a level playing field for both the prosecution and the defendant, they must permit the unvarnished truth to out. I have no faith at all that this administration actually concerns itself with justice, as I understand it. It is readily apparent in its attitude over leaks, in its self-serving selective prosecutions of misconduct with respect to military torture or murder, in its particular formulation of military tribunal rules, and in its practices in investigating and prosecuting "terrorists" under domestic law. This is an administration that sees justice as serving political needs, nowhere more evident than in its conduct of this Moussaoui case, as evidenced by the egregious conduct of the FAA lawyer.

In principle, I agree with you Chris. A Military Tribunal is the best forum to use for certain classes of persons taken prisoner either here or abroad. How you define those classes is a debatable subject all by itself. But until this forum is more than just a title, is codified in a manner that conforms to Justice as we could jointly accept it, is established as an institution beyond political manipulation, and has a defined place and defined relationships with our other judicial forums, I cannot support the current arbitrary expression of it.

You wrote:
"Under the tribunal system, there is absolutely no doubt Moussaoui would be convicted as an unlawful enemy combatant, and subject to the death penalty simply for being an unlawful combatant unprotected by Geneva Conventions."

I'm frankly not persuaded that simply being found guilty of being an "unlawful enemy combatant" in and of itself justifies the death penalty or should. I do think that you need to tie it to specific acts or actual preparations coherent with intent to perform specific acts before this becomes either desirable or justified. On that basis Moussaoui might well face execution, and if so I would have no objection at all, whether it served his avowed purpose of martyrdom or not. But based on the further examples you made, I don't think we actually disagree about this.

I agree with the further points you made. RICO is a troublesome statute, a troublesome concept, in our system of justice and has already been stretched far beyond its original intent, not necessarily for the good. But I would argue that limiting its application to military tribunals makes it no less unacceptable. I've always found it to be an unacceptable infringement on our individual freedoms to criminalize membership in a group without reference to specific individual actions. That harkens back to the McCarthy era. Indeed, this is the substantive reason I can't justify execution for simply being classified as an "unlawful enemy combatant".

I have to complement you on raising and addressing the points you have. These are important things, fundamental to our national values,

Posted by: Cayambe | April 11, 2006 06:33 PM

I personally do not think the death penalty is the solution to anything. Even for terrorists that kill people. Punishment is the suppresion of freedom. Lock him behind bars and let him there. If he really wants to die, he will find a way.
With regards to a post by FORD, about how effective would be a trial with judges from Honduras, Nigeria and some other poor country, I take issue to that. Would that trial be acceptable if the judges were from, say, the US, German and England?

Posted by: MD - Dallas | April 12, 2006 12:30 PM

If a western military bombs or invades another country obliterating entire villages, mosques, etc in the process, it's conveniently termed "collateral damage". Conversely, if the arabs or whoever come to a western country to perform essentially the same act, even in theory, like Moussaoui, it's an unquestionably punishable "act of terror". Am I the only one to observe the discrepancy?

Posted by: Kevin Chrysler | April 12, 2006 02:39 PM

You asked for comments from those with legal expertise. I'm a retired judge, and prior to that was a career prosecutor, so somewhere in there there's some knowledge of the Fifth Amendment.
If Moussaoui had said nothing to the FBI, that silence would have violated no law. If he chose to say something, and he lied, and that lie led to or contributed to the 9/11 tragedy, then he can be held responsible for the harm caused by his lie.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that one cannot be compelled by the government to make statements and then have those statements used against the person so compelled. The stage of the criminal matter is irrelevant to this protection. However, once a statement is voluntarily made, the Fifth Amendment has been waived, and one may be prosecuted for making a false statement.
If you think about it, that's nothing new. No one has to testify in court, but if you do testify, and you testify falsely about a material matter, you may certainly be prosecuted for perjury. It's the same general idea.

Posted by: retirednow | April 12, 2006 05:32 PM

"Way I see it, if the Taliban had handed over Al Qaeda for trial, there would have been no Afghan War. If Saddam had complied with UN Res 1441 and fessed up he had no WMD, no invasion..." writes one Chris Ford.

There were plenty of countries that didn't comply with UN resolutions. Following the logic, America should've invaded them all. As for Afghanistan, way I see it, the connection between Al Qaeda and the perpetrators of 9/11 is nothing but government fabrication to save the embarrassment of informing the American public that 20 lunatics with nothing but utility knives beat the entire FBI, CIA, National Security, etc combined. Hence - Al Quaeda, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran pending. 9/11 is being taken full advantage of. Speaking of which, if it wasn't for Israel, there would have been no 9/11; if there hadn't been Nazi Germany, there would jave been no Israel... Those 'ifs' are easy, aren't they?

Posted by: Rodrigo Katz | April 12, 2006 05:33 PM

The Fifth Amendment doesn't apply because he wasn't a witness until last week? It doesn't apply because he spoke? Are you nuts? Completely ignorant of the criminal law in this country? Yikes!!!!!

Criminal defense attorneys are cringing coast to coast at this type of "reasoning."

Perhaps you should consult a criminal defense attorney before posting this sort of thing.

Posted by: Elizabeth | April 12, 2006 05:52 PM

Wanting to fly a plan into the White House and actually doing so are two different classes of things. And we Americans punish people for actually doing things, not just saying I want to do them. And if thre is enough evidence that he was planning to do them, but did not, then he should be given life and not executed.

Posted by: Kurt | April 12, 2006 08:02 PM

"How should suspected terrorists be tried? By military tribunals? In the U.S. justice system? By an international court designed specifically for this purpose?... "

Terrorists? Tried? U.S. Justice system? Is that some kind of a joke?.. Doesn't the government already have the solution of keeping them indefinitely in places like Guantanamo Bay, secret CIA prisons around the world and U.S.ran prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan? Murdering them Israeli-style is an option as well.

No need for Legalese: All Moussaoui needs is psychiatric help and, possibly, some S&M style punishment from a cruel but fair dominatrix.

Posted by: Kevin | April 13, 2006 01:42 PM

Should Moussaoui be executed? I don't think Moussaoui should have even been convicted.

I'm sure everyone has been a part of a group that included one of those obnoxious people that no one liked but who always showed up to the meetings anyway. You couldn't get rid of him, he interupted, he was boastful, he couldn't be trusted to carry out even simple tasks, but you just couldn't get rid of him. Moussaoui is that guy.

Just because he wanted to be a big terrorist, doesn't mean that got to be one. Crashing into U.S. landmarks was a very important job, maybe the most important job. The very best terrorist soldiers would be selected for this mission. A crazed, mentally ill, irresponsible, clown like Moussaoui would never be given sensitive information or be allowed to participate in the planning and execution of an important mission like this.

He's a fake and a wannabe. He gave no information because he had no information. He was a hanger on. We have tried and convicted the wrong guy, not because he doesn't have the heart of a terrorist, but because he lacks the skill, temperment and brains to do the job.

I'm sure the real terrorists find this all very amusing.

Posted by: Janet | April 13, 2006 09:38 PM

I personally have had second and third thoughts about Mossaoui and death penalty. The Media in the DC area has bombarded us with this trial; it's all we hear about.

Put the fellow in solitary confinement the rest of his life and be done with it.

It's time to move on to more productive initiatives like helping to stabilze the government in Iraq and let the UN get involved in the peacekeeping mission of the Muslims.

Posted by: Mary Ann | April 14, 2006 12:04 PM

Moussaoui is not a 'suspected terrorist'; he is an avowed member of radical Islam, and his stated purpose in life is to kill Americans. He should be put to death.

Posted by: George | April 14, 2006 12:55 PM

Death penalty, NO. solitary confinement, NO. Put into general life in prison, YES.
The existing population of prisoners will make his life hell and maybe like child killers and molesters the tax payers in the America's will shortly save money.
Think about it..... He won't last long.

Posted by: ron | April 15, 2006 05:00 PM

Piss on Mousssaoui, He pisses on you. after he becomes a piece of history his piss will fulfill his Martyrdom. What a waste of time and energy on a self admitted freek that has no justification than, but a overwhelming faith , he is guided by a supernatural authority that died out in past reality. Life is guided daily by the disguusting truth of other freeks like Woolfowits's, Bushyite's, and 30 or so many other self proclaimed followers of this same guiding farce. Military justice is distinct and unrepentant, let him go down the road he belongs on. If there is a God, He shall take out his vengance upon all of us sinners. We will be deserving for killing his messenger delivering death to us all.

Posted by: EB | April 15, 2006 08:44 PM

I have a great idea since he didn't actually commit the crime but planned it why don't we just let him go. Think about it he is a suicidal person who believes he will go to heaven for his jihad lets give him the chance to do it. After he has had the opportunity to kill himself and a few Americans we can all say we got what we deserved. But if that idea doesnt work try this one. Lets leave him in jail and let him make a mockery of the court systems by changing his plea from guilty to inncocent and appeal his case mutiple times at our expense.
If you want to make a real statement remove his arms, legs and ears and brand him with A.Q. on his forehead and send him back to the mideast and let his terrorist organization fund his existence. Thats what you should do with each terrorist you catch. Wait a second that's not humane what was I thinking lets just let him free and hope that were not in the building he comes to. For some reason I doubt that he would ever make it to the ACLU building for a visit. Let's just hope he doesn't get a machete and god forbid somebody that you actually care about or better yet yourself.

Posted by: R.H. | May 11, 2006 06:59 PM

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