The Insanity Defense

‘A Lunatic behind Bars’ by Francisco de Goya y LucientesZacarias Moussaoui’s trial is in its sentencing phase, and his lawyers are finally hitting their stride in their attempts to keep the needle out of his vein. According to today’s Washington Post,

Michael First, who edits the standard diagnostic manual for the mental health profession, testified in federal court in Alexandria that Moussaoui suffers from delusions and disorganized speech – two of the five symptoms of a paranoid schizophrenic.

First’s diagnosis followed testimony yesterday from clinical psychiatrist Xavier Amador that Moussaoui has paranoid schizophrenia and is delusional. Amador pointed to Moussaoui’s belief that his attorneys are conspiring to kill him.

Moussaoui is the only person charged in the United States in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists. He pleaded guilty in April 2005 to conspiracy charges, and his defense has been trying to convince the jury he should be spared a death sentence because he is mentally ill.

So Moussaoui is a nut-case, and therefore shouldn’t be executed. Additional experts have testified that he had an unhappy childhood, was abused by his father, and suffered from post-natal stress syndrome (all right, I made that last one up, but you get the idea).

His attorneys are providing him with the standard All-American red-white-and-blue legal defense – “I’m not responsible for my actions because I have X Syndrome” – but Moussaoui isn’t buying it. “It’s a lot of American BS,” he said.

We’ve come to a strange pass, when a statement of the most lambent clarity has to come from an admitted Al Qaeda terrorist.

And, yes, it’s come to this,
It’s come to this,
And wasn’t it a long way down,
Wasn’t it a strange way down?

                    – Leonard Cohen, “Dress Rehearsal Rag”

Isn’t it about time to say good-bye to the law-enforcement approach in the war on “terrorism”? If nothing else illustrates the farce of this strategy, surely the fatuity of the Moussaoui trial does.

If the modern human-rights sensibility holds sway in our dealings with Islamic terrorists, it leads us to the following:

  • You can’t shoot them.
  • You can’t intern them at Guantanamo.
  • You can’t return them to their dusty fly-specked countries of origin, because the repressive Islamic regimes there might not treat them right.
  • They get the same legal rights as a full-blown American citizen in a court of law.
  • They get a court-appointed lawyer, paid for by you, the American taxpayer, a lawyer who can make motions and petition for change of venue and do all those lawyerly things for years and years until his client dies of old age, or the Shari’ah is finally instituted here in the United States, whichever comes first.
  • Failing all the above, they can be declared insane, and then
  • In five or ten years’ time a compassionate federal judge can intervene to order their release.

But I’ll buy the idea that Moussaoui is nuts. Heck, I’ll buy the idea that the entirety of Islam is nuts. Whether you think the Twelfth Imam is calling the shots from the bottom of a well, or that 72 virgins await you in Paradise if you just shred some Jews with nails and rat poison, you’re pretty crazy. Maybe Islam needs to don a collective straitjacket and undergo intensive psychotherapy for several centuries in order to get better.

And maybe anybody who really believes in their religion is nuts.

But somehow Christianity and Judaism must have evolved a cultural version of an anti-psychotic drug, so that their followers can look and act sane, and lead normal lives as productive members of the community. So that believers like me can go out in public without scaring the children or peeing in the potted plants.

But not Islam. The only Muslims who are regularly taking their medicine are the ones who live in the West, or have come into long-term contact with it. And not even all of them.

So, insane or otherwise, let’s stop dealing with the mujahideen as criminals. Insane or otherwise, people who conspire to fly passenger jets into our skyscrapers are not criminals.

They are the Enemy, and this is the Long War.

16 thoughts on “The Insanity Defense

  1. I like, very much, the idea that they go into therapy for a few centuries.

    In fact, I am going to be quite literal about this.

    Think about it:

    1)We know that the Islamic world can not be trusted to produce decent government.

    2) We know that the Islamic world produces a disproportionate amount of bad human beings, from terrorists to honor killers, to anti-Semites.

    3) We are beginning to see that our Democracy Project in Iraq and Afghanistan is not yielding fruit.

    4) We know that Realpolitik (he may be a thug, but he’s our thug) does not work in the Islamic world.

    5) We know that MAD won’t work, because they crave martydom.

    6) We know that containment won’t work, because they are more than willing to cross borders and kill us using terrorist tactics.

    7) We know that we don’t want to nuke the entire Islamic world.

    So, forgive me if I haven’t forgotten any options, but it seems to me there may be only one option left; longterm colonization of the Islamic world, with a strict rule against any Muslim immigration in the West.

    In fact, it seems to me that, at a certain point (say, for instance, if we get hit with a nuclear or biological terrorist attack), we might even entertain the idea of mass deportations to go along with our colonization.

    Call these, Thoughts Out of Season, if you will.

    But, if we look at the lesson of 9/11, which is that they will do whatever they can to kill as many of us as they can, then we can see where this may very well lead.

    What do you think, Baron?

  2. I don’t know, Pastorius. Every time I really look at our options, I can’t see any course of action that doesn’t leave millions of people incinerated, one way or another.

    One goal at a time. If I were running the show, #1 goal would be to take out the Iranian regime (regime, mind you), by any means necessary.

    But it’s probably a good thing that bozos like me aren’t running the show.

  3. Well, as you likely are aware, I also think we need to take out the Iranian regime.

    I don’t think there is any other option that won’t end up with millions dead.

    But, after that, it seems to me that, if we don’t want millions to end up dead, then the other option is longterm occupation/colonization, just like the old days.

    But, if you are a Bozo, I am Chuckie the maniacal serial-killer clown, so take it with a grain of plutonium, or whatever.

  4. It’s true that M(utual) A(ssured) D(estruction) wouldn’t work with the Islamo-fruitcake element because MAD is a strategy for maintaining the status quo. Pre-emptive nuclear annihilation would make more of an impression, but is probably not feasible at this point.
    I suggest that those of us who are Christians return to the instructions given to us by the Master before He left: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.
    The Muslims are not going to change their behavior as long as they are Muslims. For them not to be Muslims, we would have to either kill them or evangelize them and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.
    Killing them may well be necessary, but evangelism is what we are called to do.

  5. I note that US soldiers charged by
    courts martial do not appear to be
    availing themselves of the insanity
    defense. It is because the USCMJ
    does not recognize it or because US
    soldiers don’t want to use it?

    Certainly a more compelling case
    could be made that a soldier was
    ‘temporarily insane’ as a result of
    his recent combat experiences. I
    mean the fact that you may have had
    a IED go off 50 feet in front of
    you and kill someone you know is a
    lot more pyschologically stressful
    in the immediate days ahead than
    whether you dad was mean, mom got
    drunk while pregnant, or some other
    variant of childhood trauma defense
    lawyers dredge up to explain some
    action taking place decades later.

    No doubt if everyone with a less
    than optimum childhood started
    killing people how many of us would
    be left?

  6. Whatever arguments may be made regarding the maniacal character of the present Iranian regime, and I certainly don’t discount them because MAD and all other models of nuclear deterrence assume rational actors, Iran and the west cannot set up a deterrence regime because Iran lacks both the megatonnage and delivery systems to threaten assured destruction.

    As an aside, that is one of the very large mistakes made by peace activists in the 80s…I won’t get into the details here, but cutting back substantively on the number of warheads each side has actually increases the risk of an exchange.

    In the case of Iran, it can’t hit back; it can only hit first, and in doing so can only piss off the US. It can’t destroy the US. In fact, there is very little practical value for Iran to have nukes. It is only the paradigmatic horror of nukes that the US has traditionally encouraged that gives Iran any power at all in the having of nukes.

    Right to the end, for instance, soviet strategic doctrine called for tactical use of nukes…the soviet regime, while paying lip service to MAD, saw nukes as merely bigger than usual bangs and harboured no particular distaste in using them if push came to shove with the US.

    That is why Bush is trying to change the paradigm…he can’t enter a MAD-like stance with Iran, and he can’t reasonably threaten boots-on-the-ground invasion, so he is attempting to make nuclear first strike a credible threat.

  7. Think about “Mad Mitch” fighting the Mau-mau.


    Use the same logic. Just a suggestion. I haven’t heard of any other solutions here.

    Instant justice.

    No prisoners, no lawyers, no trials.

  8. I take it the reference is to Lt. Colonel Colin “Mad Mitch” Mitchell and his Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
    Although it’s true that the British did put down the revolt, the ended up losing the place anyway.
    I see the conflict between us and them (whoever “they” are at any particular moment) as one front in the larger war, the war between good and evil. As long as they are Muslims, they will act like Muslims. While violence is probably necessesary, it will be an ineffective long-term solution to a theological problem.

  9. I’ve been paying taxes on our nuke arsenal since 1958, served two tours during the Vietnam “police action” and have observed the same muddled thinking ever since.

    MAD is valid only if both sides are willing to use them. We don’t seem to be willing, so why have them? Why spend the billions every year to support a failed weapon system?

    Viet Nam would have been over in a week, if we had leveled Hanoi. Instead, we expended 50,000 brave souls, only to withdraw as losers?

    Our prosecution of war now directly contradicts the axiom: Victory is peace on the winner’s terms. Apply overwhelming force until they give up! Being nice didn’t help us at all, after Gulf War 1. The Powell Doctrine apparently only applies to starting the war, not to finishing it.

    Amadingdong has “publicly” put us on notice that 40,000 homicide-bombers are awaiting any action we take to eliminate the Iraninan efforts to obtain nukes; so they can then be free to use them pre-emptively. What’s not to believe?

    Nukes = No troop loses
    Heavy conventional = Few troop loses

    The moral choice = US or them

    So, I would suggest we demonstrate, soon, to Iran and the Muslim ummah that we’re fed up with this Islamic BS.

    Put Teheran on notice…evacuate this _____ city. Broadcast to the Iranian people that on June 15th, the US will neutralize that location. Any response by Iranian or client forces we deem to be militant, will cause another Iranian city to evaporate; except no further evacuation warnings will be issued.

    Let’s give the Iranians a real reason and opportunity to fight for their lives, against the regime that leads them ever-faster down the death spiral. We know this tactic works, yet Nagasaki & Hiroshima are now both thriving, democratic cities.

    Given the conflict looms and the enemies are continually upgrading their war-making skills and weapons, let’s make this “long war” short.

    Otherwise, we waste ever-more of our blood and treasure in defensive mode. It’s clearly impossible to defend against everything, and all such efforts just forever expand the government at taxpayer’s expense.

    Or less drastically, let’s actually embargo Iran with no-fly, no-cross-border traffic, no-oil shipments, no-electricity, no-communications and no military activity. Seige from above.

  10. Uncle Pavian…You seem to forget that Islam, Christianity and Judaeism all worship the same God–that god is Yahweh…the only difference is in which prophets are considered the most holy.

    Please tell me you know that…please.

  11. HitTheBid —

    I deleted your comment with the f-bombs in it. You can re-type it again, if you want, but this time more politely.

    F-bomb us again and I’ll delete all your comments. We’re old-fashioned here at Gates of Vienna.

    The older children from The Common Room come over here to read us, as a part of their education. I don’t want the Headmistress to keep them away because of your rudeness.

  12. Actually, HitTheBid!, I know no such thing.
    As far as I’ve been able to determine, the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of the Koran have nothing in common. Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried, then rose from the dead on the third day, an idea that is rejected by Islam, if I understand the Koran correctly. Likewise, Muslims deny that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, a point central to Christian belief. Muslims, as near as I can tell, reject the Trinity, Christians believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally and entirely God. While it is generally agreed that Christians are not commanded by Scripture to kill people who reject their religion, opinion as to the requirements of the Koran seems to differ.
    Nope. Same names, different referents. Islam and Christianity and Judaism are different things.

  13. He should get the best defence he possibly can.

    If all he has left is to throw himself on the mercy of the courts then that is what his lawyers need to do.

    We do not want to try this over due to inadequate council. Let him have every benefit of civilization now that he is on trial. Because, we are better than he is.

  14. uncle pavian,

    I’d be even more perverse than that. I’d teach them Judaism. If it was good enough for Jesus…..

    But Christianity is a good fallback position.

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