Justice, Not Vengeance

by TChris

John Farmer, the former attorney general of New Jersey and a death penalty supporter, writes about the absurdity of the government's efforts to put Zacarias Moussaoui to death.

Through a perverse confluence, Mr. Moussaoui's interest in becoming something in death that he never was in life -- important -- has combined with the government's interest in executing someone for the 9/11 attacks. The likely result is an odd form of assisted suicide, in which Mr. Moussaoui will claim martyrdom as he is executed, and the United States will claim that the rule of law has been vindicated by bringing a terrorist to justice for 9/11.

Farmer reminds us that "Atrocities cry out not for vengeance, but for justice." The government's unjust quest to kill Moussaoui, at best "a fringe character," shouldn't distract from the larger issues arising out of the administration's war on terror:

What is clear is that the administration has struggled in many contexts to define how -- or whether -- it will vindicate the rule of law in the war on terrorism. Its effort to hold suspected terrorists classified as "enemy combatants" indefinitely without due process was roundly rejected by the Supreme Court.

Its effort to hold Jose Padilla, an American captured in America, first as a criminal suspect, then as an enemy combatant, and finally, when the case appeared ripe again for Supreme Court review, as an indicted defendant, would be laughable if its manipulation of due process weren't so transparent. The government's condoning of aggressive interrogation has been castigated at home and abroad as support for torture.

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    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 07:43:10 AM EST
    Moussaoui will be sent to his death to satisfy Bush's needs. But he will have had "due process." My limited interactions with lawyers and judges involve a cabal of interests more desirous of avoiding facts, avoiding thought, avoiding common sense, and playing lawyer games with wording of statues, legalistic smears, how to avoid the spirit of the law, and billing, than it does with any search for justice. But hey, though I have been deprived of my children by these legal (and false) smears, and my inability to pay to fight them, and thus have lost substantial elements of my life and liberty and happiness, all any of us are guaranteed is due process. And boy oh boy, to lawyers and judges hide behind that minimal guarantee to avoid their responsibility in this mess.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#2)
    by Beck on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:07:27 AM EST
    Earlier TalkLeft mentioned the victim impact statements. Now even the judge says they are going overboard:
    Judge Leonie Brinkema cautioned prosecutors to be careful in the volume of victim impact evidence and not to rely too heavily on emotional testimony. "The government is approaching shaky ground," Brinkema said Monday, warning prosecutors they could risk causing a "prejudicial impact" on the jury that may affect "the rationality of the verdict."

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#3)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:42:52 AM EST
    And nearly guarantee a successful appeal.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:49:50 AM EST
    Moussaoui will be sent to his death to satisfy Bush's needs. But he will have had "due process."
    With an unhealthy dose of extreme jury nullification.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:47:55 AM EST
    Narius, His death will do nothing. Except make him a martyr and a hero. That only serves the purposes of those we oppose. Vengeance is a natural instinct, but a useless one in a civilized society supposedly in the business of being better than those we oppose. Sinking to an uncivilized level will solve nothing, achieve nothing, and will only hurt our cause. That to me is obvious. How about if Moussaoui goes to prison and actually has time to reflect and think and realizes what he did was wrong? May not happen, but the chance of it is a better bet than killing him will do anything.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 10:29:06 AM EST
    The only way to solve this problem is to kill enough of the terrorist so that they are so disorentied they can mount sufficient attacks against us. This strategy works with the Nazi and works with the Taliban. May be we should attack their fanaticly beliefs too. They believe they are getting virgins in heaven. We need to lace our bullets, needles and bombs with enough pig fat that they will believe if they oppose us, they will go to hell.
    Once again you demonstrate that you have nothing intelligent to add to any conversation.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:02:39 PM EST
    Like you said, vengeance is a natural instinct. So killing him will do something - makes lots of people feel better. In this case, that is reason enough to execute him. I think it is such a cliche to say we want to be better than who we oppose. I say we don't want to be better, we just want to win.
    Once again, you demonstrate that you understand nothing about the laws of this country. Fortunately the founders anticipated the need to protect against people with opinions like yours, and created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#11)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:44:51 PM EST
    Narius, Sorry, can't respect that opinion. If you feel safer in killing Moussaoui, or anyone does, then I have to conclude there's a great deficit of logic and rationality overcome by fear. It makes sense, but it's a recipe for failure, as it already has been. Also, in this kind of conflict (which is NOT a war brought on by a foreign invader), to believe that killing is the only solution is just plain sad, cynical, and hopeless to me. What's it gotten us in Iraq? What did it get us in Vietnam? I ask you. What did it get the USSR in Afghanistan? We were not invaded, this is not a war of anything involving protecting America. We were the victim of an organized crime, and until we have the brains and imagination to deal with that reality -- instead of the misdirection and deceit and worthless chest-thumping about military might this administration has idiotically made our entire policy -- we'll keep shooting ourselves in the foot, killing more people, and creating more and more violence. That I can guarantee you. We CHOSE this moronic road of pre-emptive bullsh*t, it has brought us NOTHING in the way of what was predicted by the administration. And if making irrational people feel safer (and, hence, more irrational) is all an execution will do in this case, then I amend my previous claim: it is doing LESS than nothing.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:48:12 PM EST
    Add Narius, How can you possibly win anything, a game, a debate, much less a "war" without being better than your opponent? Explain this.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#13)
    by Dadler on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:52:33 PM EST
    Last Add Narius, How do you know ANYTHING about the needle being civilized? The person is paralyzed so they don't react. In other words, you just don't see the pain and suffering, but it sill exists. Killing someone and making it LOOK nice is hardly a morally superior position.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#14)
    by Joe Bob on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 01:42:36 PM EST
    If Moussaoui is executed, I can't help but wonder if the government will later come to regret it. What makes me ask this question is the case of Timothy McVeigh. After he was killed some people found there were unanswered questions that would have been nice to have an answer to. That aside, I find the whole proceeding ridiculous. Moussaoui spending life in prison is a foregone conclusion. All of the expense and effort going into killing him is just a waste. In cases like this I can't help but ask questions like 'How many kids could we send to college?' with the money we are spending for the sake of sticking a needle in Moussaoui's arm.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 04:10:29 PM EST
    Narius, since you are a supporter of the world's number tewrrorist and murderer, and a supporter of his illegitimite reign(stolen election)I believe you should be executed as much as Zacarias Moussaoui should be.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 04:19:39 PM EST
    bigunit12-Yes, anyone that relishes and takes such utter delight in the killing of others has already turned into what he craves to eliminate.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 08:56:18 AM EST
    Narius, Forget the rank immorality of your thirst for violence, the Islamic world numbers in the billions. You'd need a murder crew in the millions to slice all the throats you'd like to. Secondly, take a look at the new post on TL about lethal injection. Your statements about the difference between the suffering of beheading and the needle are void of thought. Paralyzing someone so they can't move or scream in pain is NOT any more human than slowly slicing their head off. You want to split murderous hairs, go ahead.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 02:27:15 PM EST
    Don't worry Narius, unlike Bush, I don't believe in executing people who are delusional, or have other serious mental problems.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 08:21:49 PM EST
    The terrorists took our nuts a long time ago, and we're still looking for them...That stage got set back in the early 1970s, when I was barely out of diapers, when the Arabs pulled the short curlies on our oil supply. And despite all the talk about alternative fuels, gas prices continue to climb, and will likely average over $3 during this summer nationwide. And it's not just our friends from the Middle East we have to worry about. How about veterans who come home after serving their time in the war zone? What's to say a few of them won't snap and take a shot at the very government they swore to defend? Someone mentioned Timothy McVeigh earlier. It's not far-fetched to believe it can't happen again. In fact, considering all that's gone on in this country since we invaded Iraq, I'm surprised it hasn't already. Terrorism isn't just a threat from without. It's also very real from within, too. We need to be looking under baseball caps as much as we do turbans.

    Re: Justice, Not Vengeance (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 12:56:58 AM EST
    Moussaoui will be sent to his death to satisfy Bush's needs. Bush's need to fan the bloodlust and feed the fantasies of his incredible shrinking supporters. Whatever it takes to keep them from thinking...