Much has been made of the missteps of the prosecution team in the trail of Zacarias Moussaoui, a confessed al-Qaeda operative. Because one of the prosecution lawyers illegally coached several witnesses, Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that the witnesses could not be called, severely undermining the government’s case against Moussaoui. On Friday, however, Judge Brinkema agreed to let the government substitute other “untainted” witnesses.
The great outcry over the government’s mistakes, raised by media commentators and relatives of some of the victims of the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center, disturbs me. I do understand the need to “get this right,” since Moussaoui is the only person to be tried in connection with the 9/11 attacks. And I do understand the extraordinary pain of those whose loved ones were taken from them through this hateful and horrible act directed against innocent people.
But Moussaoui has confessed, granted, not to involvement with the 9/11 attacks per se, but to conspiring to fly airplanes into buildings. He has been convicted and will face life in prison. The only function of the trial at this point is to determine sentence, and the only goal of the prosecution is to win the death penalty.
The cry is not for justice, it is for blood. What will be lost if the government fails to win its case? Moussaoui will have been apprehended and will pay for his crime with the rest of his life. He will not have “gotten away with it.” Justice will be done.
It is sad — and disturbing — that some will be satisfied with nothing less than blood for blood. Why do we require a life? What need will be satisfied in us if he is executed? Will the taking of his life compensate in any way for the 3000 lives that were taken from us? At best, we will have satisfied our own questionable need for retribution. And at worst, we will have shown ourselves no better than any of those who defend their cause, whatever it may be, by taking human life.
There are other ways of dealing with grief, other ways of responding to injury.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.
Connie Taylor’s son died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Last Sunday, at a church gathering in White Plains, New York, she met Aicha el-Wafi, the mother of Zacharias Moussaoui, and embraced her. “She is blaming her son, in part,” Taylor said. “That must be so horrible. I didn’t experience that.” Read the report of their meeting: 9/11 Mom Hugs Moussaoui’s Mother.
Choose a different path. Choose Jesus’ way …