Today’s big news was the decision by an Alexandria, VA jury that Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty. From the Washington Post:
The unanimous verdict in U.S. District Court in Alexandria means that Moussaoui’s death penalty trial will now move to a second phase, in which prosecutors will try to persuade jurors to vote for execution while defense lawyers seek to spare his life.
Reading the verdict outside the courthouse, court spokesman Edward Adams said, “By this verdict, the jury has found that death is a possible sentence in this case.”
As he was being led from the packed courtroom after the jurors had left, Moussaoui, wearing his habitual white knit cap and green prison jumpsuit, glared at the remaining spectators and yelled, “You’ll never get my blood! God curse you all!”
My impression of Moussaoui has changed significantly over the last few weeks; before I thought he was a buffoonish thug, but following his comments over the past two weeks I now see him as evil personified. I’m in complete emotional sympathy with the people who want him put to death. That said, I don’t think that would be the wisest outcome from the perspective of what’s best for the global war on terror. Additional legal appeals (perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court) will keep Moussaoui in the spotlight for years to come. And putting him to death is going to make him a martyr to many radical Muslims, and increase the efficacy of al-Qaeda’s recruiting pitch. Locking him up, throwing away the key, and forgetting about him is probably the strategy that the outcome that delivers the greatest security-related benefit to the United States.