Say what? Did that really happen?

August 1, 2006

In a totally unexpected move, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia put up a website to publish exhibits from the trial of convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. This sets a precedent of such magnitude that its affects on American jurisprudence will likely be not be fully known for years. One has to wonder what motivated such as action. Could it be that the case against Moussaoui was so shaky and the arguments against him so weak that the Administration feels a continuing need to lobbying the American public for support? It’s not like the posted material, taken by itself, is likely to convince anyone of anything. It’s more likely the intention in publicizing the material was simply to dazzle the public with complexity, hoping that an impressive show would shift public opinion in some measurable way.

Of course the awake among you will point out that Moussaoui plead guilty, so what would the quality of the case, or public opinion of it have to do with anything? Well, that’s a good question. I can only imagine that someone in the Administration was looking down the road, trying to anticipate challenges in successfully trying those currently held at Guantánamo Bay. If publishing the Moussaoui documents can be demonstrated to effect public opinion, then they’ll have identified a potential new tool for the government’s arsenal of tools to control public opinion. Sure it sounds perfectly Machiavellian, but hey, it’s Washington, could we expect anything less?

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