The jury in the Moussaoui case apparently deadlocked on whether or not he should get a visit with The Silver Needle, so Moussaoui got life without parole, instead.
The Media immediately began a beautiful demonstration of one of my pet peeves: everyone interviewed thinks that Life Without Parole means he won't ever get out of prison.
"He will be in confinement, he will not be released and we can all take pleasure or gratitude in that. He's a bad man," said Rosemary Dillard
"He's going to be in jail for the rest of his life, which is exactly what this man deserves," said Carie Lemack
"Moussaoui, 37, will likely spend the rest of his years in the "Supermax" facility in Florence, Colo" according to the Fox News drone who posted the above story.
Life Without Parole -- or LWOP -- is never that. Especially in a case like Zacarias Moussaoui.
Aside from the obvious -- a LWOP prisoner has the ability to escape, while an inmate who's pushing up daisies ain't liable to -- there are other avenues available by way of the Constitution.
An inmate who is serving a Life Without Parole Sentence is still eligible to be pardoned or have his sentence commuted by the Chief Executive. That's either the Governor of the State, or the President in Federal cases like Moussaoui's.
Folks will tell you that pardons and commutations hardly ever happen. Actually, some will tell you that pardons and commutations never happen to LWOP inmates, but that's a blatant lie.
Debra Jenner-Tyler was convicted and sentenced by a jury to Life Without Parole for the crime of stabbing her three-year-old daughter to death. When she confessed to the crime to then South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow --
Let me repeat that --
when she confessed to stabbing her three year-old daughter to death to the Governor --
Governor Bill Janklow commuted her sentence to 100 years and eligibilty for parole.
She's been applying for parole ever since. One of these days she's going to get a sympathetic board member and she'll get paroled.
Life Without Parole, my ass.
There are many other little quiet scenarios just like this one throughout the nation -- and worse.
Remember Willie Horton? Sentenced to Life Without Parole, he was granted a furlough -- F.U.R.L.O.U.G.H. As in: he walked out the prison door after promising to be back later -- by then Governor Dukakis.
A stunt the good governor later regretted, because Mr. Horton took the furlough as an opportunity to commit rape and thus sink Gov. Dukakis's future White House aspirations.
"But LawDog," I hear you say, "Surely no sitting president is going to commute, pardon or furlough someone tied to the 9-11 attacks."
Allow me to introduce you to the shadowy world of international politics and the even-murkier world of counter-terrorist operations. If releasing Zacarias Moussaoui will score us points, gain us a ally, aid a negotiation, or develop intelligence, then he'll quietly walk out those prison doors.
Parole Moussaoui in exchange for intel? Commute his sentence to grease negotiations with a potential ally? Hell, yes, a sitting President will do that.
Anyone who doesn't think so is an innocent who should not be allowed to walk down an Istanbul street without a minder.
And all of this doesn't include folks deciding that Zacarias Moussaoui is a heee-ro, and a thus a reason for doing those time-honoured things that radicals do to free their heroes: hi-jackings, hostage-takings, coercion, blackmail, the usual fun things.
Zacarias Moussaoui should have been released on bail, and then quietly shot in the back of the head or had his throat cut by person or persons unknown in a mugging gone wrong that evening.
A dead Moussaoui gets a parade and nice little memorials in mosques around the wrold.
A live Moussaoui is a Hero of the Intifada, and a lovely poster-child for the next raving fanatic to use as an excuse to hi-jack, sky-jack, ship-jack or otherwise take hostages to bargain for his release.
Like I said, now the fun starts.