Curl up with this year's Housing Guide for dorm friendly recipes, curfew throwbacks and more, click here

Moussaoui cannot represent himself

Zacarias Moussaoui should not be allowed to represent himself. I don’t care how many temper tantrums he throws in open court. He is not qualified to win a capital murder trial. If Zack is allowed to deliver opening and closing statements, I can’t help but think they’ll be diatribes against America.

I have good reason to think that Moussaoui will try to turn the trial into a pulpit for his anti-American viewpoints: He already did it. According to, in court yesterday he told the judge that he prays to Allah for the destruction of America and the destruction of the Jews. And the trial hasn’t even started yet.

Moussaoui believes that only a Muslim lawyer can understand his case. He said that his current appointed lawyers “have no understanding of terrorism, Muslims and Mujahideen.” I guess, according to Moussaoui, all Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism. If he wants a Muslim lawyer, I don’t really see a problem with that. But I disagree with his assertion that a non-Muslim lawyer can’t possibly help him. Moussaoui isn’t helping himself at all by refusing to cooperate with his current lawyers.

I wonder if Moussaoui is trying to make himself a martyr. He’s basically denying himself competent representation in a case that will likely be difficult to win. Moussaoui did request that a jury not hear his case, which is probably a good move because (one would think) it would be easier to convince one judge than 12 civilians. But if he gets convicted and executed, people who support Moussaoui get to argue that our justice system is corrupt, and we executed him only because he is a Muslim who has contrary views. I think that if he’s truly innocent, he can get acquitted, but his actions aren’t making him look very innocent.

I do get the distinct impression that Moussaoui is being guided by his hubris here. Does he really think, as an outsider, that he can waltz in and understand the legal system of a foreign country? America’s justice system is different from that of France (where Zack is from). Would you go to a foreign country and demand to represent yourself? Would you bad-mouth the country in open court? No, because both would be stupid and make you look bad. The prosecution is already seeking the death penalty, and Moussaoui is foolishly making himself look like a person who is not worth sparing.

I hope that decisions regarding Moussaoui’s case are not made simply to placate. Granting him concessions in an effort to avoid further outbursts is basically bowing to smaller-scale terrorism. Despite the fact that he is not an American citizen, he is still entitled to a fair trial. I believe it will be fair, even though I believe Moussaoui to be guilty.

It really does not matter how many legal books Zack reads; I do not think he should be allowed to represent himself. I believe he will try to turn the trial into a circus (which is the media’s job, not his) and as a platform for his anti-American viewpoints. Give him a fair trial, with a qualified lawyer he can live with, but don’t give him a forum.

Chris Ricketts is a sophomore majoring in