Moussaoui appears on September 11th charges
January 2, 2002 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Moussaoui appears on September 11th charges
Surprised not to see this posted, given the amount of coverage the attacks have been getting here at MeFi. "In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plead," Mr Moussaoui, a French citizen said. "I enter no plea." The judge took this as a not guilty plea which was entered into the record.
posted by tomcosgrave (29 comments total)

 
I guess people figure they'll just get it off CNN.
posted by luser at 12:34 PM on January 2, 2002


I will derive a special satisfaction if this guy is duly convicted and executed. Europeans make me ill for arguing that, under no circumstances, is capital punishment appropriate. OBL? We have him on tape acknowledging his WTC scheme, but the French, et al, don't think he should be executed. I would be willing to pull the switch. I suspect the French are especially anti-death penalty as a legacy of their complicity with the Third Reich.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:37 PM on January 2, 2002


Europeans make me ill for arguing that, under no circumstances, is capital punishment appropriate.

A vast majority of the civilized world are made ill by Americans' fondness for state-sponsored murder. Which group's nausea is more justified.

OBL?

Aside: I realized last week while channel-surfing that "OBL" is a FoxNews-ism, and often a dead giveaway to one's political leanings. I'm just saying is all.

posted by jpoulos at 12:57 PM on January 2, 2002


I guess one reason one might oppose the death penalty is Holocaust guilt. There might also be other reasons, such as religious and ethical objections, doubts about the deterrent effect, and the adequency of representation for many capital defendents.

But yes, certainly, suppression of latent Nazi sympathies might be one reason. Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by luser at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2002


I suspect the French are especially anti-death penalty as a legacy of their complicity with the Third Reich.

No I hate France as much as the next red-blooded American, but "complicity"? Come on. That's just not fair. Not only did the French have the largest underground resistance during the war, but the actions of certain French leaders during the Nazi occupation was no worse than in other countries, like Norway.

As far as France's disenfranchisement with capital punishment, I think it started with the excesses of the Revolution.

And at least the French don't have to say that they have executed an innocent man, or that they execute young black men with a frequency far exceeding that demographic's size.

They are still cheese-eating surrender monkey's though.
posted by thewittyname at 1:16 PM on January 2, 2002


Holocaust guilt.

I was thinking more along opposite lines: that to rationalize moral culpability, moral ambiguity/murkyness must prevail; in other words, "since" "everyone" can do, favor, or collaborate in evil things under the "right" circumstances, no one really deserves to face the ultimate punishment. (admittedly, not the best of explanations, but the interstices of work allow me to offer nothing better).
posted by ParisParamus at 1:22 PM on January 2, 2002


The French resistance was a sham. It's even more of a sham than Swiss "neutrality."
posted by ParisParamus at 1:24 PM on January 2, 2002


Well, if we can get away from the French-bashing for a minute, I'd like to say that I was kind of surprised by the fact that Moussaoui is getting a public trial. I would have figured him to be the poster boy for one of Bush's sekrit tribunals. Was it because he was arrested on US soil?
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:30 PM on January 2, 2002


Given that the French resistance sabotaged more miles of railroad, destroyed more supplies, and killed more Nazi officers than any other resistance group in any country during the war, I'm going to ask you ParisParamus, to back up your claim that the French resistance was a "sham."

Not to mention that the French resistance helped hundreds of Allied pilots escape back into England, and they also provided intelligence on Nazi troop movements and supply levels.
posted by thewittyname at 1:34 PM on January 2, 2002


No, Mrbalihai, I believe it was a recognition of the controversy stirred up by the tribunal idea -- since modified by a committee of Washington legal eagles appointed by Donald Rumsfeld to "fix" the directive. (for instance, death penalty must be by unanimous assent.)

Ashcroft didn't want to fan the flames.
posted by luser at 1:37 PM on January 2, 2002


Actually, I suspect the difference is that this guy was in the United States.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:41 PM on January 2, 2002


jpoulos said:

"Aside: I realized last week while channel-surfing that "OBL" is a FoxNews-ism, and often a dead giveaway to one's political leanings. I'm just saying is all."

And I could presume that you're from Europe (based solely on your post), but I've grown out of that sort of pettiness and stick to the "meat" of the post. Incidentally, I watch/listen to/read news from a variety of sources. If it happens that someone believes they know my political slant based on my usage of a fairly common acronym, they have much larger problems than their concern my political choices. Sheeesh...
posted by sharksandwich at 1:48 PM on January 2, 2002


No, Mrbalihai, I believe it was a recognition of the controversy stirred up by the tribunal idea

i doubt that was the primary reason. they have pollsters. they knew tribunals were going to be controversial. the fact that Bush has the power to convene a military tribunal doesn't mean that he has the incentive or desire to do it at every possible opportunity. they're supposed to be 'available if needed'; not *the new standard* for dealing with crime by non-U.S. citizens.
posted by lizs at 2:14 PM on January 2, 2002


For all you know, the tribunal idea (and its austere due process provisions) was geared for the consumption of the terrorists--to scare them.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:23 PM on January 2, 2002


maybe the tribunals are only for people not in the media eye :) you know, all those thousand people in detention now... also the first time i saw the acronym OBL was on the government transcript of that video that was hard to understand. so maybe it came from fox before that, but i doubt it.
posted by rhyax at 2:26 PM on January 2, 2002


I'm going to ask you ParisParamus, to back up your claim that the French resistance was a "sham."

I think Paris was referring to the official French government and not to the unofficial underground resistance of which you speak.

Given that the French resistance sabotaged more miles of railroad, destroyed more supplies, and killed more Nazi officers than any other resistance group in any country during the war

As to underground resistance groups in WWII, the Soviet partisans logged a much larger number of kills and damaged much more equipment than that which was ever on French soil.
posted by RevGreg at 2:35 PM on January 2, 2002


I could presume that you're from Europe...but I've grown out of that sort of pettiness...

A. Apparently you haven't, since despite your "meat of the post," you managed to avoid entirely the topic at hand.

B. Having said that, I admit I painted a bullseye on my chest with the OBL comment. Generalizations suck, and I suck for having used one.

C. I'm an American, for the record.

For all you know, the tribunal idea (and its austere due process provisions) was geared for the consumption of the terrorists--to scare them.

To allow the use of tribunals, and then not to use them, would be pretty stupid, don't you think? You'd take a lot of political damage, and miss out on the benefits of trying your enemies in secret.
posted by jpoulos at 2:35 PM on January 2, 2002


Jpoulos: no. Because, as has been said, there's nothing wrong/illegal about killing someone in the course of a war. And getting messages through to terrorists in Afghanistan, or wherever, requires simplification of messages. That's why the President has adopted the term "evil ones." Or, think of it as compensating for the specter of a trial a la OJ.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:40 PM on January 2, 2002


Paramus: Executing prisoners of war violates every code in the book. If we're going to call this a "war" we should have to follow the rules of war. If we're going to look for criminal justice, we should have to follow those rules. If we think we can have it both ways, we'd better be prepared to pay the piper. Secret tribunals resulting in the execution of foreign nationals are not only a clear violation of the principles of the US justice system, but also, one could argue, war crimes.

Or, think of it as compensating for the specter of a trial a la OJ.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you're saying it would be better to keep these trials secret, to avoid an unprecedented media circus (and possible terrorist reprisals) that's one thing--but it goes counter to your assertion that there won't actually be any tribunals.
posted by jpoulos at 2:54 PM on January 2, 2002


One question that needs to be asked with regard to the whole death penalty issue is why the US would want to give a martyr his/her greatest wish. Seems like locking them up and subjecting them to this for the rest of their lives would be much more apropos.
posted by MrBaliHai at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2002


I'm not sure what you mean by that.

That it would be possible through clever manipulation of the fact trier (the jury) to beat an indictment/conviction for terrorism.

I didn't say there won't be tribunals. I implied they will have more due process procedures in place than initially promised.

The other rationale for initial promising tribunals is bargaining for later compromise with the Senate and civil libertarians.

his greatest wish

Because it's reasonable to believe that, while a number of looneys may actually want to die, a far greater number of looneys only say that, but don't really feel it; and an even larger number of people don't wan't to die (see OBL tape on which he implies that some/most of the 9/11 terrorists didn't know they would crash into buildings). So there is, ultimately, a deterence effect at work. As well as, in the eyes of most people, justice being done.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2002


PS: see also how things have quieted down now that the Israeli government has started to play hardball.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2002


Executing prisoners of war violates every code in the book.

But killing them before they're prisoners does not.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:16 PM on January 2, 2002


there's nothing wrong/illegal about killing someone in the course of a war... Discuss.
Fortunately for people who need to rationalise killing other human beings, it's relatively easy to pronounce yourself 'at war' and then go on the rampage. I object to your ideology, I 'declare war' on you, either as a State, a faction, or a disturbed individual, it is now neither wrong nor illegal to kill you. And all these years I thought the Japanese were wrong when they marched into China and slaughtered thousands upon thousands of innocent civillians. Thank you for enlightening me.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:55 PM on January 2, 2002


Thanks for reading the paper for us all.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 7:51 PM on January 2, 2002


RokkitNite, I wonder if you're making it a bit easy on yourself by using the Japanese as your example. The tougher case to make would be to say that the Japanese war machine would have been best opposed through nonviolent means. Are you going to tell us that that aggression could have been stopped without resort to violence?

The idea of pacificism is a wonderful one when you don't have to start counting how many people might die because of a refusal to violently resist a tyranny like the one you cite.
posted by lackutrol at 9:18 PM on January 2, 2002


Indiscriminately killing civilians, of course, remains wrong, whether during a declared war or not. It's quite the cop-out to declare all civilian deaths "indiscriminate", though. Deaths of civilians during airstrikes on valid military targets selected through a system of human intelligence and ground spotters as overseen by a military lawyer are not the kind of thing I'm going to lose sleep over. There are uglier necessities at other times, such as Hiroshima. Then there are needless atrocities such as Shanghai or My Lai.

It's not, as one columnist put it, about "absolving murder because it's on the federal payroll". It's about doing what needs to be done, as professionals, with the ultimate goal of completing the violent part of the war as quickly and bloodlessly as possible, thus bringing it to an end and stopping the need for things which might lead to civilian casualties. When totting up the cost of this war, the alternatives should also be considered. I've written before about how a ground offensive without an aerial bombing campaign would be bloodier and more horrible than what we've seen (house-to-house fighting in Kandahar? tanks vs. neighborhoods?), while demolishing the morale of our armed forces and drastically diminishing our chances of victory and increasing the overall length of the campaign. The commonly-cited example of an "international police force" approach to al-Qaeda neglects to specify exactly what powers that police force would have and how it would exercise them. Finally, the overall geostrategic importance of setting an example of the Taliban cannot be overstated. If we do it once, we may not have to do it twice.

The law of war, like the constitution, is not intended to be a suicide pact. It is intended as a check upon the excesses of professionally-deployed armies. Unfortunately, little in the Geneva Conventions applies well to the guerrilla army model. When combatants deliberately disguise themselves among civilians, collateral damage becomes a virtual requirement; the only alternative is a milquetoast response. "We can't blow you up, because there's an externally-defined percentage of a chance we might hurt the people you're deliberately standing next to. Grr. {shakes fist} We'll get you someday, darn you!"

I mean, here we had an army with global reach attacking us on our own shores; the proposal that we only wait at our own shores for more attacks would be laughable if it weren't so morally indefensible.
posted by dhartung at 11:37 PM on January 2, 2002


I would have figured him to be the poster boy for one of Bush's sekrit tribunals.

My thinking is that the govt. has a solid case linking him to the 911 act, and feels confident that a public trial will do justice. The tribunals likely will be used for members of cells which have not yet actually DONE anything, and would therefore be harder for a civilian court to prosecute.
posted by HTuttle at 7:31 AM on January 3, 2002


OBL: I actually heard that term used within days of the Sept 11 attacks and I believe, if I remember correctly, it was in an email sent to my by an ultra-liberal lawyer friend of mine. Using OBL simply became shorthand for a lot of people. Perhaps Fox uses it more than most (I don't watch Fox news so I couldn't tell you) but to say that using an abbreviation unmasks your political leanings seems like a far stretch.

Why is the US going to give him a trial instead of a military tribunal (not a secret tribunal as jpoulos calls it)? Not sure but when military tribunals were first announced I remember a few quotes out of the Bush administration clearly stating that tribunals would only be used in very specific cases. I believe bin Laden (OBL) was named personally.

Moussaoui is a punk, low level operative. He'll either get life in prison or a death sentence. Either way, he won't die a natural death unless the prison system puts him in solitary for the rest of his life. Criminals are criminals but even among thieves there are rules and his death is merely a formality of timing at this point.
posted by billman at 9:33 PM on January 3, 2002


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