Following up on yesterday’s jury verdict, Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced Zacarias Moussaoui to six terms of life imprisonment. The sentencing included what the Associated Press described as a “tense exchange” between Moussaoui and the judge:
Moussaoui walked into the courtroom flashing a victory sign. “God save Osama bin Laden – you will never get him,'” he said.
“You have branded me as a terrorist or a criminal or whatever,” he said. “Look at yourselves. I fight for my belief.”
Judge Brinkema limited Moussaoui to a brief statement, then responded:
Brinkema firmly refused to be interrupted by the defendant as she disputed his claim that his life sentence meant America had lost and he had won.
“Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun … hear the birds … and they can associate with whomever they want,” she said.
She went on: “You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It’s absolutely clear who won.”
And she said it was proper he will be kept away from outsiders, unable to speak publicly again.
“Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory,” she said, “but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper.”
At that point, Moussaoui tried again to interrupt her, but she raised her voice and spoke over him. “You will never get a chance to speak again and that’s an appropriate ending.”
At Blog of the Week Real Clear Politics, John McIntyre has thoughts on the Moussaoui verdict, in the context of the movie United 93, which he saw last week:
Almost from the beginning I found myself on the edge of my seat… When I see pictures of Moussaoui, I see him in that movie flying that plane. I think every American should go to see ‘United 93’. I think our media that takes such perverse pleasure in showing pictures of Abu Ghraib ad nausuem and griping about the conditions in Guantanamo should have the guts to show the American people what happened on September 11, 2001.
PAUL adds: As I wrote yesterday, the decision to give Moussaoui a life sentence is defensible, just as a death penalty outcome would have been. Moussaoui did not commit the acts of Sept. 11 and his testimony about his precise level of involvement and knowledge was not particularly credible.
However, the jury apparently based its sentencing recommendation in part on Moussaoui’s tough childhood. A decision based on that consideration is indefensible in my view.
America didn’t “lose” by not executing Moussaoui. But if Americans are so soft and muddled as to think that a tough childhood is an extenuating circumstance for involvement in a successful plot to commit mass murder, then the prospects of winning the war on terror don’t seem too bright.