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Guest Opinion: Moussaoui’s bad deal

Zacarias Moussaoui will not live. The 9/11 conspirator will die. In Colorado. The only man on trial for the worst mass murder on U.S. soil will not die by lethal injection, surging currents in Old Sparky, stringing him up or a bullet between the eyes. Unless a Jack Ruby emerges on the way to the clink. No, the life sentence delivered by hardworking jurors Wednesday insures all bloody penal fantasies are dashed. Instead, while you’re paying for his room and board, he will die a slow, bad death. First, his dreams of martyrdom die. The jury disagreed with defense arguments that Moussaoui was mentally ill or wanted to die for his radical Islamic honor of murdering others. And while his psychotic dreams are slowly dying, the hated, hate-filled man will get a daily look right in the eyes of Americans. Guards. Inmates. Wardens. Jailers. Other murderers. Criminals. Perverts. Rapists. Can you picture Zacarias Moussaoui hangin’ with the blood he wants to spill? Not for long. I think he’ll be lucky to live the rest of his natural life. Like the Butcher of the Balkans Slobodan Milosevic and Dapper Don John Gotti, Moussaoui just may develop a little poisonous stomachache or come down with a touch of deadly cancer. The dead man will be walking a life behind bars in our fine and patriotic state. He will spend his days in federal maximum prison near Pueblo – not too far down I-25 from military installations in Colorado Springs, home to true heroes. “America, you lost. I won,” Moussaoui said, and clapped his hands after Wednesday’s decision. He really does want to die, doesn’t he? In letting him live, three jurors said Moussaoui had only limited knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot, and three described his role in the attacks as minor, if he had any role at all. Nine found Moussaoui’s father had a violent temper, and physically and emotionally abused his family. Nine jurors also found he had an unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family. So that’s why he gets to live? In Florence, at the Alcatraz of the Rockies, SuperMax, the place where the Federal Bureau of Prisons keeps its most dangerous customers, like the 1993 World Trade Center criminals, shoe bomber Richard Reid and Mohamed Selemah, who was caught writing letters to a Spanish terror cell and Arabic newspapers praising Osama bin Laden. Why don’t we just give ’em a treehouse for their murderous little coffee klatch? Or a blanket fort behind the couch? I can see his homecoming prison parade now, with al-Qaida operatives high-fiving him, holding “Welcome home, Mou” signs. Heck, Osama could round up the old team. I appreciate the jury’s hard work, but life for Moussaoui is hard to swallow. It’s also still hard to digest what the trial revealed – the first public airing of the last half-hour of cockpit recordings on United 93. I’m trying but still can’t see the movie. The real life version is not on pause. The start button on my mental memory tape of that cloud of dust while people were jumping is never far from play. Unfortunately, the jury’s decision brings no closure. There may never be closure for many. There is no real military satisfaction. We still don’t have bin Laden’s head. Moussaoui lives. And we are still at risk. Our only imaginable victory comes in celebrating and practicing our hard-won freedoms of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, to petition our government for grievances, to vote and exercise every letter of that remarkable document called the United States Constitution. America lives. Moussaoui dies – one way or the other. Bonnie Behrend is a local resident and former television news reporter.


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