Thursday, May 04, 2006


Jihadis spend a lot of time talking about how they want to become martyrs. They want to die for their cause. Fine. If they think that dying in this life will mean paradise in the next, let them.

General George S. Patton remarked thusly:
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
These terrorists and jihadis want to die for their cause. Americans, and American soldiers, want to live - knowing innately what Patton said to be true.

Therefore, we should make every effort to speed the jihadis to their goal. The more dead jihadis the better, because that means that those are less living jihadis who can inflict harm on the rest of us.

As Walid Phares notes, this was the wrong court, and the wrong argument.
The Moussaoui trial is not about the principle of common criminal sentencing per se; it is about criminalizing Terrorism and its root ideologies.
He suggests that we train specialized prosecutors and judges in the task of terrorist prosecutions. We already have an ad-hoc arrangement of prosecutors who specialize in terror-prosecutions. That arose out of the 1993 WTC bombing trials. It's the NY office of federal prosecutors who have developed expertise in trying these cases, but we're still a ways away from having judges who understand the issues. Just as we have specialized courts for patent law or bankruptcy, it is time that we either consider military tribunals or establish a specialized civil court for the express purpose of dealing with terrorism. Since the tribunals already exist, that is my preferred option.

Terrorists and jihadis who end up being captured by US forces should not be turned over to the civilian legal system for adjudication as it currently is formulated. They were, are, and continue to be, enemies of this country that should rightfully be tried in military tribunals and dealt with accordingly. They are not individuals who should receive rights accorded to US citizens. Those captured in the US are akin to spies of a foreign nation. The way the civil justice system has been brought into this conflict goes against precedent and grossly distorts the status of these individuals so that they receive rights granted to citizens when none should be conferred.

We would also avoid the absurd notion that Moussaoui's relatives might push for him to be transferred to France under treaties signed by the US and France.

For all the talk about Moussaoui wanting to be a martyr, he was doing everything possible to avoid that sentence. Crazy like a fox. And his strategy worked. Stephen Green echoes my sentiments. That isn't to say that he wouldn't have become a martyr if the opportunity presented himself. After all, it's easy to declare yourself a martyr, but it's even easier for someone else to say that you are one.

We should care less what Moussaoui considers himself or his supposedly rough childhood, and worry more about how the civil legal system, in a case that, if there was ever such a case to merit such use, failed to implement the ultimate sanction of the death penalty.

What we are now left to ponder is the question of whether the death penalty is now off the table for other jihadis who are captured in the US and tried in civil courts?

Moussaoui's statements, the verdict, and fallout are obviously big stories throughout the punditocracy and blogosphere. Peggy Noonan thinks that the jury got it wrong. Quite a few bloggers agree, including Political Pit Bull, Kim at Wizbang, T.Longren, and Hyscience, Ace of Spades.

Others weighing in: Indepundit, Flopping Aces posts a moving video along with his thoughts on the verdict. He thinks that the jurors should sit down and watch United 93 and then report why they voted not to give Moussaoui the death penalty. Sorry, but that wont change their minds. Nothing will. Texas Rainmaker thinks that "the life in prison will be a better punishment than giving the guy an easy death by injection."

Mahablog notes that life in prison gives us the possibility of finding out new details about terrorist operations at some point in the future. That's certainly a consideration, but one that presupposes that information gleaned from Moussaoui 10-20 years down the road will have any value whatsoever. From his commenters, comes a link that notes that the likelyhood of al Qaeda bigwigs ever facing a trial is slim.

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