Convicted Sept. 11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison for his confessed role in the attacks. Some bloggers call the verdict well-balanced; others contend that it's the decision of sniveling cowards.
Life: Zacarias Moussaoui taunted the court Thursday at his sentencing hearing with declarations such as "God save Osama bin Laden—you will never get him," while Judge Leonie Brinkema told him he would "die with a whimper." Reaction was split among family members of Sept. 11 victims.
Meanwhile, loads of indignant bloggers are decrying the decision. "If Moussaoui doesn't deserve to die for his crimes, almost no one currently on death row does. Those who argue that the current system of capital punishment is arbitrary and capricious have much more ammunition now," argues former defense wonk James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. "Moussaoui deserved death. This is a travesty of justice," laments Rusty Shackleford on the Jawa Report. "As Moussaoui was led away after the verdict, he shouted: 'America, you lost!' He's right, in a bigger sense than just the outcome of his trial where he was essentially pardoned for the murder of 3,000 innocents," writes Emperor Darth Misha I at The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, opening the door for some serious jury bashing on the post. "We've lost our way. We've lost our will and ability to fight to WIN." Thomas Joscelyn, who dubs himself a "counterterrorism researcher," harbors no doubt that Moussaoui was in cahoots with the Sept. 11 organizers—and he lists the reasons why.
Will Collier at Vodkapundit argues that the verdict makes America look weak in the face of terror. He points out that the criminal courts were not the place to try Moussaoui anyway. "This waste of oxygen never should have set foot in a civilian court. He is an agent of a hostile foreign power, (albeit not a nation-state, but that's hardly exculpatory) caught red-handed in the act of planning violent attacks on American civilian, military, and government targets," he writes. Walid Phares at the Counterterrorism Blog explains at length why American criminal courts are ill-prepared to prosecute terror crimes. And Mary Madigan at Exit Zero agrees. "Terrorism is an act of war. Treating terrorists as civil criminals has already been proven to be completely ineffective," writes the neo-con.
Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters is outraged that the French government might petition to have Moussaoui extradited so he can serve his sentence Euro-style. "If the French get their hands on Moussaoui, we will only wake up a few years later to French pronouncements of miracle cures and rehabilitation, and watch the video of the AQ terrorist gleefully leaving the French prison over the protests of the American government," he protests. Lefty Kemp at Bush Whacked League worries that "it would be possible that after a few years of being held in a French prison, the French government, claiming he had been rehabilitated or served an adequate amount of time for his crimes, would release Moussaoui and we would see and hear him once again laughing at America."
At least one blogger finds her feelings about Moussaoui at odds with her opinion about the death penalty. Although she concedes that Moussaoui may not have played a direct role in the Sept. 11 attacks, lefty radio host Taylor Marsh claims the jury spared Moussaoui's life because it felt sorry for him. "Our Oprah society wouldn't allow anything more," snipes Marsh, who says that she advocates the death penalty only for terrorists who "want to rip our lives from us." And, while the Bloodthirsty Liberal has no problem with war or even "aggressive techniques" to get intelligence from captives, he writes, "[t]he Islamists say that they love death more than Americans and Israelis love life, and I think they're right on both counts. No one can temper or excuse Moussaoui's crimes, no decent person would mourn his death. And I don't give a crap about his abusive upbringing. But we don't kill when we have the choice not to."
Yet other bloggers are glad that Moussaoui will be denied his shot at martyrdom and the proverbial virgins. On the Real Clear Politics blog, John McIntyre nods at Froma Harrop's assertion that Moussaoui "wanted to be immortalized as one of the devious masterminds behind the 9-11 attacks. The worst punishment we could have rendered was to declare Moussaoui a head case. Throw him in a dungeon, and lose the key. He is now on his way." Pro-war blogger Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish agrees that killing Moussaoui would have merely given him his druthers. "The silver lining is that we do not make this monster a martyr. The rule of law was followed; our society allows even this murderous religious fanatic due process," he writes.
Life in Heck's Karen Heckler puts it this way: "As despicable, contemptible & reprehensible I find Moussaoui to be, the emotional frenzy of the trial did not truly prove his direct accountability. (It did, however, put a face & a character to terrorism.) While I am glad that Moussaoui's voice has been silenced, I hope the U.S. Government will base its future cases firmly on evidence rather than emotion." Brooklynite The Talking Dog calls the verdict "legally correct" and is glad that the jury "declined to accede to the bloodlust of our Imperious Leader." Finally, Matt at Matt's Journal sums up a widely expressed appreciation for a jury that was forced to make a hard decision the American way: "Zacarias Moussaoui didn't win; the system that he tried to destroy won."
Here's more commentary on the Moussaoui sentence.