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Thursday, April 13, 2006

[POLITICS] The Moussaoui jury heard the Flight 93 audiotape yesterday. In half an hour, as the WaPo story tells it, the terrorists took over the plane violently, and then the passengers rebelled successfully, forcing the terrorists to crash the plane.

Real terror. Real heroism. I wonder how it compares with the movie.

The only problem with playing it for the jury, of course, is it's clear to most sane people (which emphatically does not include Moussaoui himself) that Moussaoui had nothing to do with hijacking Flight 93, much as he would dearly have loved to have been involved. Even the terrorists knew he was crazy. (It reminds me of an old Batman comic I once had -- the Joker decides not to get in a fistfight with the Dark Knight because "I may be insane, but I'm not crazy!") Of course, he wants to be a martyr, so he's told the jury that he was supposed to have hijacked a fifth plane along with Richard the Shoe Bomber. So we'll execute the crazy would-be conspirator because the real murderers went down with the plane, and we can't execute them.

I wish the people in charge of our response to the terrorist threat had a little more sense of the story we're telling the rest of the world. We're not telling the world we're strong. We're telling the world we're confused, and weak, and scared. A strong country would disappear Moussaoui into an asylum for the criminally insane for the rest of his life. A strong country would make a serious attempt to achieve consensus on Iran, rather than brandishing nukes...

The story Bush Senior told was, "Saddam is a dangerous maniac but we are all of us going to put him back in his house and make sure he can't hurt anyone." The story we're telling the world right now is that we're a herd of stampeding cattle goaded on by ignorant cowboys whose vision is bad and whose word is worthless.

Stories matter because they are how people see the world. They are what people act on. People tend to gloss over details. That's how our brains work. Only schizophrenics get hung up on details. We remember a few salient points. We assume that if you lie about finding mobile biowar labs, you can't be trusted on Iran's nukes.

We act on the stories we believe. We got into Vietnam because the story was that if Vietnam went Communist, so would the rest of Southeast Asia. We got out of Vietnam because the story was that our soldiers were committing atrocities in defense of a corrupt regime that was, ultimately, as bad as the Communists. Both stories omitted important details. But the stories were what moved the world.

Stories are Archimedes' lever, by which the world is moved.

4 Comments:

Is the Moussaoui trial about him being the 21st hijacker?

Or is about the fact that he was arrested in August, had pertinent info re the 9/11 attacks and lied to the authorities?

The attacks were followed through and people died, so isn't he responsible in some way for the mass murders? Whether he was supposed to fly a plane on that day or some other day is a moot point, no?

He had information that, if revealed, would have kick started the (hopeful) foiling of 9/11.

But he remained silent and 3,000 people perished.

So, is this about a crazy dude, or is it about a guy that witheld some serious information that led to the deaths of 3,000 people?

Don't get me wrong, I'm seriously conflicted on what is going on in the world, but this trial seems justified.

By Blogger fu-fu-man, at 7:40 AM  

Last I checked, under the 5th Amendment, you have the right not to incriminate yourself. Surely, telling the authorities all he knew about the 9/11 plot would have incriminated himself? Or have we suspended the Bill of Rights as we have suspended habeas corpus?

The Moussaoui trial is the first time I've ever heard of someone being executed because he failed to tell the FBI everything he knew about his co-conspirators.

The prosecutors would like to make the case that he could have prevented 9/11, but the FBI ignored so many crucial clues (the agent who wrote about Mohammed Atta learning how to fly but not land a 747) that executing Moussaoui seems more like an exercise in buck-passing than justice.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:26 AM  

I see you point.

By Blogger fu-fu-man, at 9:06 AM  

This may be a loaded question, but what's your opinion on screenplay contests? I entered one last year as a lark and wound up a quarterfinalist. Taking that as inspiration, I went sort of nuts and enterted I think something like 10 different conrests this year. (I've lost count and I plan to enter two more next month) Aside from shelling out a couple hundred dollars that probably I could have put to better use, my goal is not to be the grand prize winner, but hopefully to make semi-finalist in 2 or 3 contests which would not only a big boost for me but would get a few producers who currently have my script maybe a bit more interested

By Blogger Alex, at 6:18 PM  

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