The whole story goes, if Mr. Moussaoui had told the truth, then the government would have stoppped the plot and 3,000 people wouldn't have died.
That makes no sense to me. The government couldn't do its job because of some crazy Frenchman?
It seems to me that the 9/11 commission showed the government failed to do its job. This doesn't make Moussaoui or the other hijackers or even bin Laden are innocent, they are not. But it's not the government's job to rely only on the testimony of one lunatic; they are supposed to do their job and put all the pieces together.
In light of yesterday's testimony by Moussaoui that pretty much signed his death warrant, the Los Angeles Times urges in today's editorial that the French Muslim shouldn't be excuted for more than simple humanitarian reasons:
Would-be suicide jihadists want to die in their struggle against us in the deluded belief that God will reward their murderous cowardice. Once they are in our custody, they lose the power to achieve that goal. Capital punishment gives them the martyrdom they crave, making them symbols of sacrifice to would-be followers rather than powerless, humiliated prisoners passing the decades alone and increasingly forgotten in a cell.
More important, if Moussaoui is indeed an important cog in a broad conspiracy, then he certainly has information that could potentially be useful both in further Sept. 11 investigations and in our fight against Al Qaeda, whether now or in 10 years. We may or may not get this information from him if he lives, although life in prison is a very long time. But we will certainly not get it from him if he dies.
All good points that I agree with. Moussaoui gave his jaw-dropping testimony yesterday because he wants be killed by US government and become known as a martyr. Why should we give that? Why should we play into the hands of bin Laden and his ilk by using Moussaoui's death as recruitment tool? It's better to let him spend the rest his life in a cell, where he is out of sight and also out of mind.
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick brings up another point that has bothered me about this case. The belief that Moussaoui's death would bring "closure" to those who were affected by 9/11. Closure has become the pop culture belief that some event will basically end all the saddness.
Let me share a short story. It was 13 years ago this week, my grandmother died. She died unexpectantly of a stroke while my mother watached. My mother was devasted. Nevermind that my grandmother was 90; my mother saw her mother die in front of her. What I saw from that experience is that grief doesn't just go for a while and end. Instead it continues for a long time. My mother has learned to live with her saddness, but there was no closure or getting over this. How the hell could you "get over" losing a parent? If that's hard, then is it even possible to offer "closure" to someone saw a loved one leave for work on that September day five years ago and never came back?
The government is offering victims a cheap thrill instead of helping them cope with their loss. These people won't "get over" the loss of their loved ones, and even Moussaoui's death won't make things better for them either. There will still be hurt and anger and saddness and to think killing some nut is going to magically make people better is just plain wrong.
I'm all for justice and for punishing Moussaoui. I just don't think we should be giving into a madman's desire for martyrdom or trying to give vicitim's family a band aid to ease their pain.