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Two Strikes Against Terror

Oklahoma Kills Black Lesbian

Why You Should Oppose the Death Penalty

John Ashcroft

Dumping Due Process

MARCH 28, 2002. Six months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft has only two things to show for himself: more than a thousand mostly Middle Eastern immigrants haphazardly questioned, harassed or detained on the chance that one of them might know something about something. And Zacarias Moussaoui.

Mr. Moussaoui, 33, a French citizen who was in jail in Minnesota on Sept. 11 during the attacks, is accused of having participated in the planning. While legal scholars can't remember any previous case in which the government sought the death penalty for a conspiracy charge, it's no wonder the ineffectual Mr. Ashcroft now wants, and needs, the execution of Mr. Moussaoui.

He's pulling out all the stops on the trial, conveniently scheduled to begin on Sept. 30 as the entire country is awash in grief, both real and manufactured. It will take place in a death-penalty friendly Virginia court. Moussaoui's guilt has been plugged in the media, which now calls him, without irony or quotes, "the 20th hijacker," the culpable term coined by the government.

Dozens of the relatives of the Sept. 11 victims will be chosen by the prosecution to relive their pain and anger before the Virginia jury and clinch the death sentence. One of them, Eileen Morello, who lost her husband Steven at the World Trade Center, told The New York Times: "Every single member that had anything to do with this slaughter, whether in word or deed, should be eliminated. They breed it. They teach their children's children."

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