Trying To Maintain Rationality

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Judge Delivers Important Message At "Millenium Bomber" Sentencing

Thanks to Crooks & Liars for the heads-up on this one...

The following comments by U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour at "Millenium Bomber" Ahmed Ressam's sentencing nicely summarizes how we should/should've simply let the Unites States' legal system deal with terrorists.

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 bench.

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 confinement.

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 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.

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.

Judge Coughenour - I applaud you, Your Honor.


  • I, too, applaud His Honor Judge John Coughenour. Excellant statement from the bench about the Constitution and terrorists and their rights.

    Ya think any of the idiots in DC read or heard any of this? Hopefully somebody there did and they will sit up and take note, and not just refer to the Judge as just another "activest judge."

    We need more men and women on the bench like this, from the smallest Circut Court all the way up to and including the Supreme Court.

    By Blogger Grandpa Eddie, at Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:14:00 PM  

  • eddie -

    it got some mention on air america today, both on the majority report and on malloy's show... i guess we'll have to see how it plays out on the major news sites...

    as far as the 'activist judge' thing goes, i hope the neocons jump on this one and call him exactly that - it'd be another one to chalk up to their hypocrisy and utter silliness...

    By Blogger EconAtheist, at Wednesday, July 27, 2005 8:28:00 PM  

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