The Corner

The Verdict

Zacarias Moussaoui is the only person to be charged with crimes related to September 11. He pled guilty to involvement in the plot. We have been told that if the FBI had authorized a search of Moussaoui’s computer, seized a month before the attacks, we would have been able to prevent the attacks.

Having judged that he was a participant in the September 11 planning, jurors nonetheless ruled that Moussaoui was not responsible for the deaths on September 11 — though they apparently acknowledge his involvement in the planning of the attacks. And they have chosen to impose a life sentence — presumably because some of the stiff-necked among them would not yield to those who wanted to impose the death penalty.

There is only one justifiable reason for a juror to make this choice. That juror has to believe the death penalty is wrong under any and all circumstances. To imagine that there can be any mitigating circumstance regarding Moussaoui’s actual guilt is moral idiocy of the highest order.

Alas, that moral idiocy was clearly at work in the jury deliberations. I would guess we will hear from some jurors who sought a different outcome over the next week that will cast some uncomfortable light on the goings-on inside the jury room.

Of course Moussaoui is crazy. He wanted to commit suicide by being a participant in the hijacking and destruction of an airborne plane. No one but a crazy person could desire such a death.

The problem is that the world has seen at least two thousand such madmen and madwomen make a choice to kill themselves in order to kill others in the past 15 years. Is their hunger for death to be “understood” and explained away in this fashionable fashion — by invoking a cruel mother and a father with mental illness?

This is a deeply disheartening day.

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