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Terrorist Sentenced

by TChris

Ahmed Ressam, "who plotted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium," received a 22 year sentence today. Fortunately for Ressam, he wasn't charged with delivering a small amount of crack as a repeat offender, or he might have been looking at some serious time.

Update: U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour, tacitly criticizing the Bush administration, made these compelling remarks at sentencing:

I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

"I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

"Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

"Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

"The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

"Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won."

Thanks to this post at Daily Kos for calling attention to the judge's important statement.

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  • Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:40 PM EST
    Finally a victory for Bush's war on terror! Oops! I forgot, he was caught on Bubba's watch.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#2)
    by Beck on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:40 PM EST
    I guess Mr. Coughenour won't be expecting a phone call when Rehnquist retires.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:40 PM EST
    I don't suppose Bush would consider making that call.

    Very astute statement by this Judge.

    Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.
    I could not agree more.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#4)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:41 PM EST
    I see that TL fails to distinguish between a person caught in the US by police, and an ununiformed fighter caught in a battlefield environment. Pray tell, what criminal charge would you propose that we use?

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:41 PM EST
    deleted, commenter banned.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:41 PM EST
    His sentence should be for life. It is obvious that this guy is a wanna be pychopathic murderer and he'll be the same 22yrs from now. I've brought back fireworks from Canada in the past but this guy was really serious about his fireworks!

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#7)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:42 PM EST
    Let me see...When captured.. He had two 22 ounce jars 3/4 full of nitro, 110 pounds of urea, a box full of homemade timers, a quantity of HE triggers... Yep. Twenty two years sounds about right for plotting to blow up the second busiest airport in the US and killing probably 10,000 or so people. Uh-huh. TL is right. They should have charged him with something else… bank robbery? Who is this judge? I guess he knows his name is on no one’s short list for the AC or SC.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:42 PM EST
    James Robertson, you hit the nail on the head! Being that we haven't really been in a war (outside of Iraq) since Vietnam, people seem to have forgotten that you take prisoners during war and that they have a completely different set of rights than people who we arrest here.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:42 PM EST
    I see that TL fails to distinguish between a person caught in the US by police, and an ununiformed fighter caught in a battlefield environment.
    Actually, many of the people held in the camps were not caught in a battlefield environment, but were rather captured at home or in otehr civilian settings. If they were caught in a battlefield environment, I would say that they should be treated as prisoners of war. A concept fully covered by the Geneva Conventions (III).

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:42 PM EST
    people seem to have forgotten that you take prisoners during war and that they have a completely different set of rights than people who we arrest here.
    It's true that prisoners taken during war in a foreign country have a different set of rights than people arrested at home. Those rights are clearly described in the Geneva Conventions (more precisely III and IV). However, the US have not lived up to the rules that applies as per the Geneva Conventions.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#11)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:43 PM EST
    Looks like Ressam was able to weasel out of his bargain:
    Ressam signed an agreement to co-operate with U. S. authorities in exchange for a reduction of his sentence to a minimum of 27 years' imprisonment


    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#12)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:43 PM EST
    Kristjan writes:
    If they were caught in a battlefield environment, I would say that they should be treated as prisoners of war. A concept fully covered by the Geneva Conventions (III).
    Actually, if you will read the GC, Articles 4 and 5, you discover that they do meet the requirements for being a prisoner of war. Sorry for bringing reality into this.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#13)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:43 PM EST
    Hmmm, sometimes things get missed. The above should read : "...they do not meet....."

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:44 PM EST
    Hmmm, sometimes things get missed.
    Indeed. You seemed to have missed this part from Article 1:
    The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.
    Alberto Gonzales...quaint... 'Nuff said.

    Re: Terrorist Sentenced (none / 0) (#15)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:44 PM EST
    And this part from Article 5:
    Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.
    Where are these competent tribunals, Jim?