I live in Alexandria, Virginia. I work next door to the Federal Courthouse. When I go home, I sleep in a building next door to a police station. None of these facts are very interesting.
What is interesting is that for the past several months, Zacharias Moussaoui has been staying at a police station in Alexandria, VA, and makes a daily commute to the Federal Courthouse. My walk to work.
To those unfortunate few that don’t know who Zacharias Moussaoui is, I’m not going to tell you.
Zach leaves earlier than I do. Sometimes I hear the police sirens as they rush him by my window in the morning. Only once on my walk home from work did I see him go by. Men with M16’s and sunglasses line the street in front of my apartment complex and tell me not to move. They’re looking in the bushes for people with sinister plans. Once the perimeter is cleared, or as cleared as my apartment building’s front lawn can be, three black SUVs come speeding down my road towards the police station. Moussaoui rides fast.
For the past month the street behind my office has been lined with news trucks. Armed with crossword puzzles and coffee, TV crews sit inside most of the day and adjust the satellite dishes.
Today Zach didn’t get the death penalty. He said he wanted it. He wanted to be a martyr. He didn’t want to die like a dog in prison. His lawyers said he was an idiot. The prosecution said his silence caused the deaths of thousands of people.
The presiding judge had this to say while I was in training just several hundred feet away:
Mr Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun … smell the fresh air … hear the birds and associate with whomever they want. You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It’s absolutely clear who won.
You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T. S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper.
You will never get a chance to speak again and that’s an appropriate ending.