Zacarias Moussaoui's Water Play

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Speaking of paranoid schizophrenics, the Zacarias Moussaoui trial seems to be ending the way it started, with claims that he is mentally ill because he is "delusional" (believing the FBI tracked him through a device embedded in an electric fan) and "grandiose" (predicting he will be released as part of a prisoner exchange). You may recall that the defense attorneys Moussaoui did not want unsuccessfully argued that he was incompetent to represent himself, a claim he vehemently rejected (which was further proof of his insanity). Moussaoui's grandiosity, including his sudden recollection that he was supposed to have taken part in the 9/11 attacks after all, is undeniable, and it dovetails with the government's desire to inflate his significance, despite contradictory testimony from leaders of Al Qaeda. Even the story of the GPS-ready fan helps the government by making the FBI look more competent than it really was. Still, the prosecution is basically right that one man's paranoid schizophrenic is another's Muslim fanatic. Moussaoui's open contempt for the victims of 9/11 and their relatives is harder to fathom than the water he reportedly spat at a visiting psychologist, but it's the product of an evil ideology, not a brain disease.

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  1. The whole mess seems like a big joke to me. Good job on screwing up again, Mr. Government. Maybe if we get him executed all the terrorists will go away and we’ll have won.

  2. You might like this. It has a link to the J. Rauch article:

    The War On Islamic Imperialists

    Moussaoui fits.

  3. As far as mental disorders go, schziophrenia is usually one of the more clear-cut ones. It’s also not really as wishy-washy as anxiety, depression, etc. If he really is schziophrenic,

    Moussaoui’s open contempt for the victims of 9/11 and their relatives is harder to fathom than the water he reportedly spat at a visiting psychologist, but it’s the product of an evil ideology, not a brain disease.

    Then that is completely off base. Anyway, there is no reason for us to find out one way or the other, so I’m sure we wont.

  4. The prosecution owes Moussaoui a debt of gratitude.

  5. I think it’s dangerous to assume our enemies are raving lunatics. As much as I hate these bastards, it was a stroke of pure, calculated genius that it only took 19 of them to bring this country to it’s knees.

    That’s why I’m believing that this Moussaoui character was an odd man out, and even the animals he associated with saw that he was useless.

    Moussaoui is a pathetic wannabe. His only shot of redemption is to become a martyr, and in a very, very public way.

    What we SHOULD do is quickly end this farce trial immediately with little fanfare, and lock away this loser for good. And yeah, I do enjoy thinking about him spending the rest of his days unprotected in Genpop. Let’s see how mouthy he is in there.

  6. “quickly end immediately”..

    Forgive my repeating redundancy.

  7. Moussaoui is going to be shanked in prison anyhow.

  8. Moussaoui’s open contempt for the victims of 9/11 and their relatives is harder to fathom than the water he reportedly spat at a visiting psychologist, but it’s the product of an evil ideology, not a brain disease.

    Though you attempt to claim that they are, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. One can indeed be schizophrenic and follow an evil ideology. Indeed, that ideology might be a trigger (as any stressor can be) for the schizophrenia.

  9. MP:

    Aren’t inmates isolated on death row?

    I want this guy sharing a cell with skinheads.

  10. Zacharias Moussaoui will die for your sins, Mr. Nice Guy.

  11. it only took 19 of them to bring this country to it’s knees

    To our knees? Are you talking about the country where people lined up around the block at most blood banks to donate for the relief effort? The country that raised more than a billion in private charity for the victims virtually overnight? The country where a band of ordinary citizens thwarted this new tactic about an hour after it was unveiled? (Flight 93, where the passengers demonstrated that hijacked planes could no longer be used as guided missiles.)

    9/11 showed that even a really, really clever terrorist tactic can only work for about an hour before ordinary Americans find a way to thwart it. And that ordinary Americans will band together and help those in need without any coercion.

    I don’t see how this country was “brought to its knees.” The American people showed just how good they really are that morning, and I wish our government understood that.

  12. Aren’t inmates isolated on death row?

    Sure, but if he wasn’t put on death row and just got life, he be on virtual death row anyhow. This whole Death Penalty process just strikes me as being of no more importance than the Scott Peterson trial.

  13. The insanity stuff is a red herring. Moussaoui is being punished severly because of his “evil ideology” rather than anything he actually did.

    The thing that makes this different than the killing of a Jewish person in the Holocaust is that Moussaoui’s ideology really is evil and the ideology of a typical Polish Holocaust victim was not evil. Oh, and Moussaoui gets the benefit of an expensive trial, such as it is.

    However, both cases are similar in that the accused is being killed without an actus rea. That is a problem. People around here would probably term this as a thoughtcrime type problem. It is easy to condemn thoughtcrime prosecutions in the abstract, but just wait til one of the accused has thoughts that you find truly abhorrent — that is the test of the intellectual courage of one’s convictions in this area.

  14. 9/11 showed that even a really, really clever terrorist tactic can only work for about an hour

    Actually I believe it was 2 hours between the time the first tower was hit and the crash of the (supposedly not intercepted) plane in Shanksville.

  15. Dave,

    No thoughtcrime tangent is necessary. Plotting mass murder of innocents is evil, regardless of the motivations.

  16. Plotting mass murder of innocents is evil, regardless of the motivations.

    Plotting should not be punishable. Only doing or trying. The plotting was especially harmless in Moussaoui’s case because he was too incompetent to kill anybody.

    If Moussaoui really did give Al Queda info that helped them get away with 9-11, then he crossed the line into helping. I don’t think he really did that. I certainly haven’t heard evidence of that.

    If Moussaoui really had info that could have helped authorities stop 9-11 then again, I would say that he helped. I don’t think he had that kind of knowledge. I certainly haven’t heard evidence of that other than from Moussaoui (who I do not believe).

  17. should have been — doing or trying or helping–

  18. Plotting should not be punishable. Only doing or trying.

    You really don’t think “Conspiracy to Commit…” should be a crime? I’ll need to mull on that one for a while. I see how that logic can flow from a libertarian analysis of criminal law, but typically the “imminent danger” logic does not require someone to be in the act of executing their conspiracy.

  19. Good one thoreau. “The American people showed just how good they really are that morning, and I wish our government understood that.” Indeed.

  20. You really don’t think “Conspiracy to Commit…” should be a crime?

    Generally I do, although conspiracy is one of those elastic ideas that has a tendency to overexapnd and scoop in thoughtcrimes (like when Hitler talked about the Jewish conspiracy.

    In this case, I don’t believe that Moussaoui conspired on the 9-11 hi-jacking crimes. I believe that he neither conspired directly on these particular attacks, nor do I think he conspired in any way that helped these attacks along.

  21. I accept the criminalization of involvement in the planning of a crime, though I don’t think it should be punished at the same level as actual commission of the act. I understand the reasoning and dynamics behind punishing “criminal masterminds”, but who’s the bigger threat to society — the people who sit around talking trash, or the people willing to go out and get their hands dirty?

    “The thing that makes this different than the killing of a Jewish person in the Holocaust is that Moussaoui’s ideology really is evil and the ideology of a typical Polish Holocaust victim was not evil. Oh, and Moussaoui gets the benefit of an expensive trial, such as it is.”

    While I follow your point, Know Your History, the Nazis weren’t targeting Judaism as an ideology, but rather as a “race”. Belief was more-or-less irrelevant to them.

  22. thoreau,

    Great post.

  23. While I follow your point, Know Your History, the Nazis weren’t targeting Judaism as an ideology, but rather as a “race”. Belief was more-or-less irrelevant to them.

    I was going to try to pre-empt this kind of comment, but decided to just let it come. The answer is a bit complex, I am afraid.

    I don’t think Hitler (or the Jewish people for that matter) believed that race is separate from thoughts or intellectual abilities or intellectual proclivities. For example, I don’t think a Jewish person could have defended against Hitler’s charges on the grounds that her physical appearance was less Jewish than Hitler’s own. If race isn’t about physical appearance then it must be about something mental.

    We can argue that the connection that Hitler perceived between race and thought is completely off base, but I don’t think you can argue that Hitler believed he was punishing physical characteristics, rather than mental characteristics. Race served as a surrogate for thoughtcrime, probably largely because actual thoughts of others are so hard to detect well that the good Germans were convinced to accept a lousy surrogate to determine how people were thinking.

    My point is that they shouldn’t be punishing these people for mere thinking in the first place, regardless of how evil or benign their ideology may be.

  24. btw: I was using “good Germans” sarcastically, as is traditional. I must make that clear. I think te Holocaust happened and was bad. Really bad.

  25. A lot of people out there can’t handle the powerful ideas contained in religious texts.

    People with certain mental illnesses are more prone to strong religious messages, particularly the more delusional ones about Armageddon, or the deity’s preference for certian types of people and disdain for others.

    This is how you get people like that guy in LA a few years back who went into a Jewish day care and tried to shoot a bunch of kids. Claimed the Bible instructed him to. (Note: I’m not the biggest Bible fan out there, but come on. Talk about your strained interpretations…)

    Not to mention people like Andrea Yates, or that other lady who cut her baby’s arms off not that long ago. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing; maybe in some instances extreme religious ideas accelerate the onset of insanity; and maybe in some the insanity accelerates the belief, and maybe in others the two just happen to coincide.

    However it breaks down, the line about religion being an “opiate” is probably more literal than whoever said it intended. There literally is a segment of the population who just can’t handle it.

  26. thoreau,

    The country where a band of ordinary citizens thwarted this new tactic about an hour after it was unveiled?

    It wasn’t a new tactic.

    9/11 showed that even a really, really clever terrorist tactic can only work for about an hour before ordinary Americans find a way to thwart it.

    Heh. It showed no such thing. There is no reason to conclude that this one example points to a general quality of “ordinary Americans,” or that we’re so clever as to undermine any “new” tactic with such brevity each time one is tried.

  27. Independent Worm:

    There have been plenty of irreligious crazies too. We can start with the Tamil Tigers or Tim McVeigh or Eric M. Clark.

    The reason there are more religious crazies in the world is because there are more religious ppl in the world.

  28. Lee Harvey Oswald, Unabomber, Leon Czolgosz, George Metesky . . .

  29. Hakluyt,

    I am confused. What is your point again?

  30. I like the term “evil ideology.” everybody’s either a victim or crazy these days. We should hold people accountable for buying into evil ideologies. Maybe all the big fans of the Palestinians can help by rejecting their latest evil ideology.

  31. Ghost — that’s really not the point I’m making.

    I’m saying there literally is some kind of mental disease that’s either triggered or worsened in some people after they’ve been exposed to extreme religious viewpoints.

    There is something about verbally and mentally playing around with the all mighty powers of the universe that certain fragile or susceptible minds can’t handle, and it disconnects them from reality.

  32. Hakluyt, I am confused. What is your point again?

    “Thoreau is an idiot, and anything he says is wrong.”

  33. Independent Worm:

    and I am saying that secular ideas, whether they be marxism, anarchism or a dispute with the power company over legal liability for a tort can trigger the bad behavior just as easily.

  34. Hak,

    What were the other times when people hijacked American passenger planes and turned them into weapons (flew them into buildings), rather than hijacking them for some other purpose?

  35. Knowledge is Power,

    thoreau isn’t an idiot, but apparently you are.

  36. Steve,

    There were several attempts to do that in the history of airplane hi-jacks. The first attempt I can think of was that by Samuel Joseph Byck in 1974.

  37. One can indeed be schizophrenic and follow an evil ideology.

    Like L. Ron Hubbard! For a while I couldn’t decide if he was schizo or a sociopath, then decided that somehow he was both.

    A lot of people out there can’t handle the powerful ideas contained in religious texts.

    That’s a very good point. (Maybe we need some PSAs on the subject.) But surely religion as “opiate” is a misnomer. Aren’t opiates soothing rather than agitating? “Religion is the crack / PCP / meth of the few.”

  38. http://www.kjbbn.net/911planes.htm

    The idea was implicit in this (admittedly fictional) show pre 9/11. Unlike in real life (?), in this fictional show the hijacking was a ruse. Other people thought of it, too.

    What Hak said is correct whether or not any such attack was actually successfully carried out pre-9/11.

  39. A lot of people out there can’t handle the powerful ideas contained in religious texts.

    But if there were no religion, these people would probably find something else to go insane over. I remember reading that this whole idea that certain people are being abducted and sexually abused by space aliens didn’t really come about until the late 1940s, when ideas of UFOs started appearing in popular culture. Back in the Middle Ages, when religion played a much bigger role in everyday culture, such people instead claimed nighttime visits by incubi or succubi. So you’ve got certain people who for whatever reason believe “I’m getting nocturnal sex-visits from beings that most people can’t perceive,” but the specific details of these visits change based on the larger culture.

    Pat Robertson is a Christian nut because he’s a nut who happened to be raised in a Christian environment. He probably would have been just as nutty had he been raised in a Muslim country, or an atheist Communist country; it’s just that his delusional remarks would take on a different flavor. And Moussaoui probably would have been vile no matter which ideology he hung his ideas on.

  40. “As far as mental disorders go, schziophrenia is usually one of the more clear-cut ones. It’s also not really as wishy-washy as anxiety, depression, etc.”

    Comment by: Jor

    Uh, I dont know how relevant my comment is to this thread, but you couldnt be more wrong in characterizing Schizophreia as more ‘clear cut’ than these other conditions. Quite the opposite.

    Schizophrenia is like a miscellaneous grab bag of otherwise undiagnosable symptoms all interconnected by the fact that schizophrenics often see/hear/imagine things that ‘arent there’. It’s the principal connecting factor. Kind of makes sense, because depending on what you see/hear/imagine that is (isnt) there, you may accordingly respond differently to it.

    Most seem to imagine a world full of malicious persecutors, however. Says something about how boring our imaginations really are.

    Aside from the convinction that something (that ‘normal’ people disagree) is *real*, schizophrenia can manifest in so many different ways that it’s not even properly considered a single condition. Its a meeting of many various, more-specific symptoms which can be either positive or negative, acute or chronic.

    See here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia

    “…there is ongoing and heated debate about whether the diagnosis necessarily or adequately describes a disorder, or alternatively whether it might represent a number of disorders. For this reason, Eugen Bleuler deliberately called the disease “the schizophrenias”, plural, when he coined the present name…”

    My younger brother has been in treatment for ~10 years now. All of his friends now are ‘in program’. I spend a lot of time around them. Makes for amusing conversation

    but to reiterate – my point is that schiziophrenia is the least generalizable and most complex mental illness to diagnose, and 2 patients rarely exhibit the same condition, even in equal degrees of ‘severity’.

    JG

  41. Can’t wait for the cluecless lefty arguments to begin: “We can’t execute him, that will just provoke the Jihadis to kill their prisoners!”.
    Maybe they’ll even start cutting off people’s heads or bombing medical clinics.

  42. Can’t wait for the cluecless lefty arguments to begin: “We can’t execute him, that will just provoke the Jihadis to kill their prisoners!”.

    How ’bout, “We can’t execute him because he doesn’t really seem to have been too involved in 9/11”?

  43. It isn’t an absolute that ZM would be shanked [cut with an illegal home made knife] if he got a life term in a US jail. Sirhan Sirhan has been in jail in Ca for killing Bobby Kennedy for a long time.
    Let us not go into the reasons why Bobby Kennedy was a controversil character or why a number people did not & do not mourn Bobby Kennedy’s death. I have no idea of what precautions are taken to keep Sirhan alive.
    As for ZM, some would say he is crazy like a fox.

  44. Good one thoreau. “The American people showed just how good they really are that morning, and I wish our government understood that.” Indeed.

    Yeah, I think Bush should have pushed for another “Hands Across America” instead of all this crap about the war on terror. Sending out good vibes is definitely the best way to deal with violent extremists.

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