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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Celebrating Our Court System

Not to get political (sure!) but the copy and paste from my e-mail box that I am posting today is a reminder that our soil is in fact the best place to try and keep terrorists. Obama has it right. He knows our judiciary system. That system does make mistakes occasionally. And sometimes when it does there are severe ramifications. But our system still does it better than any (most?) and if we can't trust it, we need to reconsider what our soldiers are fighting for. Please read it all the way through before you get ticked off and please notice the words in bold. The bold is mine. Those words are about tolerance. Notice the shades of Lincoln's Gettysburg address here, too. I'm thinking about it and I hope others will, too.

Subject: Remember the Shoe Bomber?-- you have got to read this...

Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it?

Did you read what the judge said at his sentencing back then?

Ruling by Judge William Young, US District Court.

Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant, Richard Reid, if he had anything
to say. His response:

After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stating, "I think I will not apologize for my actions," and told the court "I am at war with your country."

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General... On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively.
(That's 80 years.)

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to
be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you
for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 that's an aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines...The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment.
The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just
sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for
individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any
war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not----- you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist---a species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State
Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane
and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews
were, and he said: 'You're no big deal.'

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have, as honestly as I know how, tried to grapple with is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search
your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individua freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discreetly. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America , the American
people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done... The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on
which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America . That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag
stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down."

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence. Find it at

1 comment:

Kristi Holl said...

As a military mom, I was glad the judge didn't allow the man to call himself a soldier. My daughter is a soldier, and a very good one. That man was simply a terrorist, as the judge said.