The Moussaoui verdict

I’ve recently had to resurrect a line when discussing Zacarias Moussaoui that I originally used when discussing Timothy McVeigh — that is, I’m morally opposed to the death penalty, but you wouldn’t catch me with a sign protesting the night this particular guy got the hot shot.

So I was pleasantly surprised last week, wandering by a CNN broadcast at the CFP hotel, to see that our national drive for blood revenge took a brief recess. As I’ve discussed before, much of our military action since 9/11 has been as much (or more) driven by a need to “get the bastards” as by a real understanding of what needed to be done to protect ourselves in the future, or to bring the right bastards to justice. I assumed that Moussaoui, as the only 9/11-related case to be brought to trial, was toast.

And that’s the tricky thing about justice — it just gets so messy when you involve judges and juries and the need to make a coherent argument. Especially when your prosecutors taint the evidence. But thanks to Mark Kleiman for pointing out an interesting blowback effect from our war on terror and its concomitant war on legality.

As Michael Isikoff notes in the linked video, Moussaoui isn’t the only guy we have in custody, but he’s the only guy who’ll be going to trial. And that’s because our trial system doesn’t allow for waterboarding, genital electrocution, or imprisonment without trial. By our own definitions, it’s impossible to bring the rest of the 9/11 conspirators to justice, because we ourselves have violated our standards for justice.

Kleiman shows he has a great sense of humor by suggesting that we can send these people to the International Criminal Court for trial for war crimes. Anyone care to lay me the odds of that happening before 2009?

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