Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Another Activist Judge

"...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
-- U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour, at the sentancing of Ahmed Ressam.

But Your Honor - 9/11 changed everything!


Blogger Management said...

'Millennium bomber' Ressam gets 22 years in prison

By Reed StevensonWed Jul 27, 3:01 PM ET

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Ahmed Ressam, the "millennium bomber" convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles airport, to 22 years in prison for conspiracy to commit an international terrorist act, explosives smuggling and other criminal counts.

U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour had been expected to sentence Ressam, who stopped cooperating with federal authorities in 2003, to 35 years behind bars.

Prosecutors had asked for the longer sentence, saying that Ressam's failure to work with them further jeopardized cases they were building against other terror suspects.

Ressam, who will get credit for the more than five years he already has spent in jail, did not speak at the hearing but offered a slight smile as he shook hands with his attorneys and interpreter after the sentencing.

"This period of confinement recognizes the seriousness of the crimes and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam," Coughenour said in sentencing Ressam, adding that he hoped the decision would reflect the fairness and transparency of the U.S. justice system.

Ressam's earlier deal with prosecutors would have resulted in a 27-year sentence in exchange for his testimony and information about other cases.

"We're disappointed that the court did not accept our recommendation of 35 years," U.S. Attorney John McKay told reporters. The judge also imposed a 5-year period of supervision after Ressam's release.

The 38-year-old Algerian was caught on the U.S.-Canada border in December 1999 with nitroglycerin in the trunk of his rented car, and he told authorities he planned to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the new millennium.

Ressam's lawyers had asked for leniency and a shorter sentence, citing the 400-plus hours of testimony that Ressam had provided since his arrest.

"He's relieved," said Thomas Hillier, the public defense lawyer representing Ressam.

Hillier said that Ressam could be out of prison in as early as 14 years with good behavior in prison and including time already served.

Prosecutors said Ressam's failure to cooperate further was "fatal" to other pending cases against terror suspects.

U.S. authorities were seeking to extradite Rachid Boukhalfa, known as Abou Doha, a radical Muslim imam being held in Britain, to stand trial for allegedly masterminding the plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport. Doha's alleged co-conspirator Samir Ait Mohamed was facing extradition from Canada.

"Without Mr. Ressam those cases in the United States will not go forward," McKay said, "We're left wondering what else he knew."

Ressam was convicted in 2001. He initially provided testimony that was used in the briefing paper "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.," which was given to President Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Ressam's sentencing for his conviction on nine counts, including conspiracy to commit an international terrorist act and explosives smuggling, comes amid heightened security in the United States after the bombings in London's transit system earlier this month.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Judge sentencing Ahmed Ressam Slams US

U.S. vs. Ressam

(Court's comments.)

THE COURT: Okay. Let me say a few things. First of

all, it will come as no surprise to anybody that this sentencing

is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any

other sentencing that I've had in the 24 years I've been on the


I've done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement

that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended

offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties'

positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even

though it did terminate prematurely.

The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is

two-fold: First, that we have the resolve in this country to

deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it

should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in


Secondly, though, 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


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.

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my

body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of

the United States.

We will be in recess.

7:28 PM  

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