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Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian'

by TChris

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema was able to reduce sentences she imposed on three Muslims, but mandatory minimum sentencing laws required her to impose sentences she still considers unjust. The men were guilty of playing paintball to train for a holy war.

As a result, Khan's sentence was reduced only to life plus 45 years. Chapman, 32, had his sentence reduced from 85 years to 65 years. There is no parole in the federal system, so both will have to serve the vast majority of their terms.

"I have a limited ability to impose what I consider to be an appropriate sentence," Brinkema said. "These statutes are really draconian. I've said it before and I'll say it again."

The sentence reductions could be useful to Khan and Chapman only if the firearms convictions are overturned on appeal. If that occurs, each would serve only a 10-year sentence, which Brinkema said she considered appropriate.

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  • Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#1)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:46 PM EST
    The men were guilty of playing paintball to train for a holy war.
    Hmmm, somehow I don't think I want these guys wandering around. I mean, what do they after training is complete?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:46 PM EST
    PPJ...how are these guys any different than Randy Weaver, who was turned into a folk hero by congressional Republicans? There are plenty of white separatists and militia members training for a war against the U.S. government or a future race/holy war. Should they all be thrown in jail for that?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#3)
    by chemoelectric on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:46 PM EST
    Prison seems to me inappropriate for people who are just training for a 'racial holy war'. Commitment into the care of specialized psychiatrists would be better. Exactly how to make that work I do not know.

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#4)
    by unbill on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:46 PM EST
    I agree that the sentences are draconian, but I object to the way this story is presented. It sounds like they were convicted for merely "playing paintball". There is a bit more to it, although it appears that the weapons charges are bogus.
    The three were part of what prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network" that played paintball games in 2000 and 2001 in the woods near Fredericksburg as a means of training for holy war around the globe. Some group members turned their attention against the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At a meeting on Sept. 16, 2001, the group's spiritual leader, a Fairfax Islamic scholar named Ali al-Timimi, warned that an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and nonbelievers was at hand and urged the group to engage in holy war. He specifically said fighting for the Taliban against U.S. troops was a legitimate jihad, according to some witnesses who struck plea bargains. Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, was one of four people who traveled to Pakistan shortly after that meeting and trained with a militant group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. Several of those who made the trip said their goal was to receive training that would allow them to cross into Afghanistan and join the Taliban. None made it to Afghanistan.


    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    The guy who was apprehended on his way to LAX from Canada late in 1999 with a car full of explosives was found guilty and sentenced to 22 years in jail. He had the means, the motive and the intent to kill - as many people as possible - on the eve of the new millineum. In my opinion, his crime is not only attempted mass murder, and attempted willful destruction of property and attempted inciting mayhem but also a violation of our - all of our - basic rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (Who isn't happy to get out of LAX in tact?) Bombers who indiscriminantly take 10s, 100s, or 1000s of lives, deprive the victims of life, and attempt to deprive the rest of us of our liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If this is a clear cut case, proven in court, that this guy was going to bomb LAX, I don't think he deserves to regain his freedom anytime before his natural life ends. If there is some question of his intent to kill with the explosives, then the shorter sentence is merited. I don't understand why his sentence is only 22 years - He'll be getting out of jail in 2027. I'll be 67 (and I'll be within 3 to 8 years of qualifying for social security benefits.) Upon his release, will the FBI and Homeland security follow him around the USA paid at taxpayers' expense? Will he be deported?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#6)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    Mandatory minimums hurt national security, because they prevent the prosecution from recommending a lower sentence in exchange for valuable intelligence. Not that many prosecutors would likely see that...I'm surmising that they are mostly in favor of mandatory minimums.

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#7)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    Ernesto - The people you reference haven't flown airplanes into buildings, aren't members of world wide terrorist organizations that are well financed, and not members of a religion that appears reluctant to condemn them. Your continuing ability to try and excuse the radical Moslems who have attacked us is truly breathtaking. Now, if you want to condemn them, along with the Moslem radicals, it is fine with me. But at least condemn the radicals and quit comparing them to our government officals.
    Posted by Ernesto Del Mundo at May 21, 2005 10:40 PM “True, but the problem is that they are being represented to the world by a bunch of terrorists.” (Written By PPJ) That's our problem too, as US citizens, PPJ. The Neocons are every bit as bad as our former CIA asset Bin Laden. Hell, they've killed thousands more than him. The rest of the world sees this obvious reality, while you spin backwards at the speed of light defending them and their murderous policies.


    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#8)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    The people you reference haven't flown airplanes into buildings, aren't members of world wide terrorist organizations that are well financed, and not members of a religion that appears reluctant to condemn them.
    No they have only blown up a federal building and killed a radio show host in Denver that they didn't like. And they are Christians...and other Christians have been no more or less reluctant to condmen them than any "Moslems" have condemned the jihadists...so please let go of that canard, will you?
    Your continuing ability to try and excuse the radical Moslems who have attacked us is truly breathtaking.
    What's really breathtaking though, is your hypocrisy of excusing the Christian radicals while condmening the Muslim radicals. For the record...I condemn violence in the name of any religion...or empire for that matter.
    But at least condemn the radicals and quit comparing them to our government officals.
    Sorry but our government is currently run by lying, murderous thugs every bit as dangerous as any terrorist out there. It's too bad the jihadists and the Neocons couldn't kill eachother off without any "collateral damage" isn't it?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    If this is a clear cut case, proven in court, that this guy was going to bomb LAX, I don't think he deserves to regain his freedom anytime before his natural life ends. He gets his freedom back because legally there is a great difference between a crime committed and a crime that might have been, and that is as it should be. Also, good for this judge. Mandatory minimums are an insult to our legal system. Why even have a judge if they're going to be hog-tied when it comes to sentencing?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    And my inability to use the blockquotes is an insult to talkleft.

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#11)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    c-law - I believe he confessed as to what the plans were. So I guess you could call it planned mass murder. et al - You don't want to fight'em outside the US. You don't want to put'em jail for long periods of time in the US. Just what do you want to do?

    Re: Judge Calls Harsh Sentences 'Draconian' (none / 0) (#12)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    PPJ...let's at least be consistent. If you are going to make it a crime to train for a holy war then you must also make it a crime to train for a race war, etc. Sound fair? G. Gordon Liddy: "If the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms insists upon a firefight, give them a firefight. Just remember, they're wearing flak jackets and you're better off shooting for the head." LINK Why don't we call Liddy an enemy combatant and toss him in jail for 50 years? You down with that, PPJ??