Tuesday, March 28, 2006


My $0.02 on the latest in the Moussoui case

I don't necessarily think Moussoui's outbursts are bad for the defense: it all depends on the mindset of the jury.

If the jury are the same sorts of people who crapped their collective pants on 9/11 and blindly voted for Bush in 2004 "'cause Osama wanted us to vote for Kerry" ... well, then hearing Moussoui take credit for every act of terrorism since the Berserker raids will move the jury to vote for the death penalty, that's for sure.

OTOH, can the defense now claim that Moussoui is not fit to stand trial or even to have entered into a plea? He is obviously, as some on various blogs have put it, "a few terrorists short of a cell". Even if they cannot force a competency hearing or something of that sort, what Moussoui is saying, unlike what the prosecutor will have you believe, actually undermines the government's argument in the case:

The government is essentially trying to hang Moussoui for 9/11 since they are not able to hang anyone else. How are they doing this? They are claiming "if only he would have told the truth to investigators ...", etc. -- a prosecution for hypothetical sins of ommission that would have the President also in deep trouble ("if only he paid more attention to the 6 Aug PDB ...") as well as something which, if I were a policeman/G-man, I would find insulting as it would imply I am so naive/lazy/incompetent I need the criminals to tell me the full truth about things in order to break up conspiracies. The problem with this claim is that it assumes that, if Moussoui had told the full truth as he knew it, it would have helped the government stop 9/11. Now if we are to take Moussoui's contradictory outbursts at face value -- if he were to have been frank and told the government everything he (thought he) knew ... it would have been about as useful as Bush's unconstitutional data mining projects because what Moussoui thinks are facts are a bunch of confusing pieces of wishful thinking that would have been a bunch of false leads anyway!

So if the government's case is that this guy deserves the death penalty because if he cooperated with investigators, they would have cracked 9/11 open ... well, I got a bridge to sell them -- 'cause Moussoui seems to be so confused between facts and fiction that whatever he would have said, even if he were sincerely cooperating, would have been useless. So the government's case regarding the death penalty is, actually, destroyed by Moussoui's testimoney.

Of course, there is a third explanation -- that this is all just a stunt to convince us Moussoui is loonier than a toon and hence his cooperation would have been meaningless anyway even if he might not quite reach the standards of incompetence to enter a plea and certainly is not insane in the sense needed to plea insanity.

On the other side, we also need to worry about the prosecution's dedication to this case. If Moussoui were imprisoned simply for being part of a second wave that didn't end up materializing, that makes the case that standard law enforcement procedures have a key role in keeping us safe against those criminals we call terrorists. This is not what Bush & CO want: they want to have a war or at least have a roll back of the Bill of Rights.

So the defense actually has an incentive to play with fire and risk the jury reacting with their gut and voting for the death penalty even though any consideration of what Moussoui is saying undermines the federal government's case ... and in the end, if the feds overstate their case and loose big (if they win, they get to claim credit for executing "the 20th hijacker") as it merely makes the larger case of Bush & CO regarding how to fight the war on terror (it's great to be king, er, president -- you can manage to change reality to match your rhetoric).

The trial might get really interesting.

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