Originally created 07/21/02

A robe, and kid gloves



There is a definite madness to the methods of terrorists anyway. But the madness continues when you get them in the courtroom.

Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker who was nabbed prior to Sept. 11, is giving everyone fits with his bizarre and unpredictable courtroom rantings. This past week, he abruptly attempted to plead guilty - which most of us would welcome, but which U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema must ensure is a plea knowingly entered.

Thus, she ordered him to stew about it for another week.

The justice system isn't always prepared for mea culpas; the usual routine is denial to the death. A defendant wishing to plead guilty as charged is almost looked at askance, sadly.

But in this case, Judge Brinkema's hesitance to accept Moussaoui's plea is more than wise: The case is critical, and the defendant is attempting to represent himself in a foreign land. Just to be safe, Brinkema also may re-examine whether Moussaoui is competent to represent himself.

What the judge may find is that Moussaoui, while insanely misguided, is competent enough to know if he is guilty.

But that he has a fool for a client.