Moussaoui, Sept. 11 and Vengeance
SCOTT SIMON, host:
I have a friend who lost two loved ones on September 11 and has been following the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui for a distance. He says the Justice Department has thoughtfully kept his family informed about the trial. But he's grateful for his distance. He does not know what to make of his emotions. My friend said he's always been against the death penalty, but if he saw Osama bin Laden, Kalid Sheik Mohammed or anyone else tied to the crime, he is quite certain that he would kill them with pleasure. He use to have dreams in which he saw his loved ones' last moments. Now he has dreams in which he recognizes the faces of the hijackers and beats them with his bare hands.
In fact, he vividly describes the feeling in his hands. He does not call those dreams nightmares. Usually he awakes after beating only one or two and tries to go right back to sleep, hoping to catch up with them all. He says he has friends who ask But isn't that against you've always believed? Sometimes he says, Yes, but I never believed something like this would happen.
Sometimes he just says, So? He says anyone who has ever had a loved one murdered will tell you they may not believe in the death penalty but they do long for revenge. I know now why it's in the Bible, he says. He's come to believe that anyone who's certain that they wouldn't take some pleasure in seeing those who helped kill their loved one put to death is playing a role. They aren't being honest about something that presides in every human soul, including their own.
This man has declined the invitation of prosecutors to witness any of the Moussaoui trial. He says he tries to stay genuinely busy, and besides, he just does not want to see Zacarias Moussaoui mock the men, women and children who died. He says it would be like grinding glass into my eyes. He says he wouldn't lose a moment's sleep if Moussaoui were executed, but he also doubts he would feel any satisfaction.
He says the trial has revealed Zacarias Moussaoui to be, in his word, a fruitcake. Not even a punk, he says, just a fruitcake. It would be getting rid of damaged goods, he says, and wonders if the maximum penalty should be applied to so marginal a human being.
My friend has gotten to know and like some of the young prosecutors. He understands that if jurors deliver a death sentence, the prosecutors would feel that their years of hard work had accomplished all it could. But really, he says, I'd rather know he's suffering. I don't want to see any candlelight vigils in his last hours or see him become a martyr. I asked my friend what he hoped the jury might decide about Zacarias Moussaoui and he paused and said, I try not to waste my hopes now.