May 7, 2006

McCarthy on Moussaoui

I must admit that Andy McCarthy is making me rethink my earlier statement that denying Moussaoui his martyrdom "is perhaps a more fitting punishment" than death.

Even granting the "mitigating factors" cited by the panel -- his father's bad temper and young Zac's brushes with racial discrimination -- how could such unremarkable straits be thought to mitigate, much less outweigh, the anguish of 9/11's real victims? Victims driven, for example, to leap a hundred stories to their deaths, the preferable alternative to immolation in hellish fires.

It was a verdict in defiance of reason. Such a result is far from unknown in our judicial system; inevitably, courtroom justice and cosmic justice are sometime strangers. That's how we want it. The judicial process is intentionally skewed against the state. It wears proudly the credo: better for the guilty to go free than risk a single innocent's wrongful conviction. This philosophy, rightly, is cherished by freedom-loving people, but only in its place: the realm of domestic law enforcement. It has no place in warfare. For all the high-minded rhetoric about an "international community," the international realm remains a comparative state of nature. On a battlefield, enemies may be captured or killed without judicial sanction. War cannot be won by presuming them innocent and preferring government's failure to the specter of a single one's errant conviction...

...For those of Panglossian bent, this is all to the good: our system functioning, its enlightened fairness on display. They're dreaming. Who knows what a debacle this might have been had Moussaoui not helped matters along at critical junctures by pleading guilty and testifying disastrously? Meanwhile, an unrepentant combatant who continues to long only for a reprise of our nightmare, will live out his years, at our enormous expense, because the civilian justice system we wisely sidelined after 9/11 could not summon the gumption to execute him.

This is no way to fight a war.

Posted by dan at May 7, 2006 2:25 PM