In response to the Zacarias Moussaoui verdict, Peggy Noonan noted that the death penalty has meaning other than vengeance. I couldn't agree more, but I would like to add my perspective from here.
What we see in the Moussaoui verdict is not a higher compassion for the sanctity of human life, but a lack of resolve on the part of the American people in ultimately winning the war that we faced with. In hindsight, Moussaoui should have never been tried in a civilian court, but rather by a military tribunal.
By continuing to criminalize acts of war and terrorism by civilian courts instead of military tribunals is perhaps painfully representative of the fact that the majority of Americans have still not come to the realization that that we are "in fact" in the midst of a war. Of course it does no help to continuously use the ambiguous politically correct euphemism "War on Terror" instead of actually saying who we are at war against.
Can anyone imagine the ludicrousness of Hitler or one of his officers being tried in a civilian court? How about Osama Bin Laden or even Zacarias Moussaoui for that matter?
Much worse than a martyr, Moussaoui now becomes a living inspiration, a symbol of hope, to both Al Qaeda and their sympathizers who wish nothing other than to see Moussaoui's prediction that eventually President Bush will be forced to pardon him. Alive and imprisoned, Moussaoui maintains now a symbiotic relationship with Al Qaeda and their recruiting efforts around the globe.
We can now expect nothing other than Al Qaeda's new recruits inspired by America's lack of resolve and Moussaoui's predictions to go on a hostage taking spree of Americans in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe in the hopes of forcing Moussaoui's release in an exchange of prisoners.
How many videos will we have to watch on Al Jazeera of American hostages now begging for their lives unless Moussaoui is released?
And how many of those hostages will suffer the ultimate penalty that Moussaoui should have paid?