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Moussaoui Verdict: "Hell Can Wait"

The New York Post has the best tabloid headline on the Moussaoui case: HELL CAN WAIT. The Daily News has the wordy, slightly argumentative, borderline tendentious You'll STILL Go To Hell.

But The Daily News still takes today's fire-and-brimstone prize, thanks to its editorial, "He'll Burn After He Rots":

"Zacarias Moussaoui will live. This is not justice. This is an abomination. This is a reprieve from hell for a soul who deserves eternity in flames no less intense than the infernos that brought down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

"That Moussaoui will suffer the tortures of damnation after a life in prison is of no comfort. No matter how entombed in concrete and steel he is, Moussaoui will breathe the air that Al Qaeda denied to almost 3,000 murder victims. Until, to his everlasting surprise, he is greeted not by willing virgins but by a vengeful maker."

Why can't my paper have editorials like that???? Why do we always have to use words like "mull" and "ponder" and "plenary session" and "elucidate" and never get to use words "damnation" and "vengeful maker"?

For what it's worth, I'm glad Moussaoui got life. He'll suffer more this way. He won't be allowed to pretend he's a martyr. The death penalty for Timothy McVeigh may have been fully justified, but it wasn't sufficient punishment for what he did. He just went to sleep, by lethal injection, feeling validated in his belief that he was a martyred political prisoner. There are worse ways to die -- such as in solitary confinement in the SuperMax prison in Colorado.

Moussaoui will reportedly spend 23 hours a day in an 8-by-5 cell. (I saw one account that said 22 hours). He'll be allowed brief forays into a small walled courtyard that has a narrow view of the sky. The New York Post quotes trial testimony by a former prison warden named James Aiken:

"We are not preparing him for a return to society. We are not even preparing him for a return to the general population. The mission here is incapacitation." He said isolated inmates deteriorate.

"Times takes its toll and they just rot."

In Hell on Earth.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 4, 2006; 2:38 PM ET
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