the sunlight of a public trial
July 27, 2005 5:20 PM   Subscribe

..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. ...We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections. ...--U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour, while sentencing "Millennium Bomber", Ahmed Ressam. With 60 Terror Plots foiled in the past 10 years, and pretty much none foiled due to the DHS and Patriot Act, it has to be asked-- Why isn't regular law enforcement and all the rest enough? (a little more inside)
posted by amberglow (38 comments total)

 
more of the Judge's comments during sentencing: ...
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. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:22 PM on July 27, 2005


Good way to look at it.
posted by Dean Keaton at 5:27 PM on July 27, 2005


Damn activist judges...
posted by greatgefilte at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2005


Boy, do I like that judge. Those are words to respect.
posted by Malor at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2005


I personally think the terrorists will NEVER be able to overthrow US of A.

However, the moment when our daily lives are affected, they have already accomplished their goal.

Well, damn, we already lost. (via boingboing)
posted by countzen at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2005


Oh, oops.

I also was gonna throw in that that judge is awesome.

I would have his love child, except I am a man.
posted by countzen at 5:46 PM on July 27, 2005


Countzen,
A few pills Some cutting a wee bit of organ donation and you could....
posted by Elim at 5:54 PM on July 27, 2005


I look forward to Bob Novak's report of classified information about that judge's wife any day now!
posted by scody at 6:02 PM on July 27, 2005


During the Clinton administration they also caught and prosecuted the people responsible for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. They caught and tried them without pissing on the Constitution. I believe they also busted up a plot to blow up a bunch of airliners over the Pacific. Pretty good for a liberal.
posted by marxchivist at 6:03 PM on July 27, 2005


Good post Amberglow. I've been waiting for something positive like this.
posted by furtive at 6:04 PM on July 27, 2005


It's good to see this hasn't yet degenerated and is still a civil discussion. I too wonder what all these new laws and regulations have accomplished.

I don't consider "lack of a major terrorist incident" a good measuring stick and am dismayed it's the only "proof" anyone ever seems to give in support of PATRIOT.
posted by wakko at 6:10 PM on July 27, 2005


They sure don't make great judges like that anymore.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2005


A google search for Coughenour's name brings up a list of several nice things he's done in the past too. Seems like a pretty great judge.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 6:15 PM on July 27, 2005


Exactly what I've been thinking (no, countzen, not that).

The sentiment was expressed by some brits, as well. They identified 4 of the 5 bombers of the first attack within about a week, without making everyone carry ID cards.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:17 PM on July 27, 2005


They do make great judges like that--they just don't belong to the Federalist Society.
posted by rdone at 6:17 PM on July 27, 2005


They do make great judges like that--they just don't belong to the Federalist Society.
I know. Better someone like this, who actively works to protect and follow the Constitution, than someone who works to subvert and disregard it to give the Executive branch more power.
posted by amberglow at 6:21 PM on July 27, 2005


Thanks, amberglow. Ther is a lot to be said for the independence of the good, old school federal district judge.
posted by rdone at 6:29 PM on July 27, 2005


amberglow, you ask the question 'why isn't regular law enforcement and the rest enough?'

two words: FEAR, CONTROL

welcome to fascist america. great post. thanks!
posted by brandz at 6:54 PM on July 27, 2005


Awesome judge.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 PM on July 27, 2005


Wow.

Except, what's with the headline: "Judge sentencing Ahmed Ressam Slams US"? Coughenour is standing by the US Constitution while others desecrate it. How is this slamming the US?
posted by CrunchyGods at 7:02 PM on July 27, 2005


STOP MAKING SENSE - you anger our new overlords!
posted by evilelvis at 7:30 PM on July 27, 2005


Well, if I can play the tddl role here, removing unnecessary hoops the feds have to jump through to get info on people doesn't seem like a present risk to liberty.

I look at it from just doing their job standpoint. A lot of the judicial oversight seems like bullshit anyway, how many requests are denied? Zero?

True, there's the potential for abuse, and there's plenty of crap I disagree with like the silly No Fly lists and the airport kabuki show in general, but I've yet seen anything in PATRIOT that is sacrificing essential liberties.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:35 PM on July 27, 2005


privacy, search and seizure without a warrant...

and what about Guantanamo and extradition of people without any charges? and the secret flights of people all over the world, also without charges/trials/lawyers/etc?
posted by amberglow at 7:46 PM on July 27, 2005


I'm curious, what was Ressam's "justification" for trying to blow up LAX during its most crowded time of year? I mean, it's not as if Al Qaeda affiliated Islamic extremists were actively trying to murder Western civilians back in 1999, too, years before Bush and Iraq and all that...right? (Wrong.)

Well, at least those jackboots in the American government didn't have to do any of those fascistic searches or evil profiling in this case... (Oh wait, no, that's exactly how they caught him.)
posted by Asparagirl at 8:03 PM on July 27, 2005


and what about Guantanamo and extradition of people without any charges? and the secret flights of people all over the world, also without charges/trials/lawyers/etc?
posted by amberglow at 7:46 PM PST on July 27 [!


All those things are devoid of judges.
posted by Balisong at 8:08 PM on July 27, 2005


All those things are devoid of judges.

That's the point. If anyone is accused of a crime or of conspiracy to commit one, we get a trial, with a judge. We're also entitled to representation at that trial and in all dealings with authorities...
posted by amberglow at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2005


even the non-citizen who the judge sentenced today was entitled to those things.
posted by amberglow at 8:17 PM on July 27, 2005


privacy, search and seizure without a warrant...

what's the difference when bench warrants are issued with a rubber stamp?

and what about Guantanamo and extradition of people without any charges?

not pertaining to PATRIOT AFAIK. I'm just talking about what the PATRIOT act enables the government to do. From my perspective, like I said I don't see any essential liberties being lost.

The story of how the FBI lost the plot wrt the hijacker they caught prior to 9/11 is somewhat education, part of the failure was failur to follow through on getting a warrant to search the guy's laptop. I don't know if it was incompetence, mendaciousness (allowing the plot to continue developing), or just a normal SNAFU, but removing the overhead the investigators have to contend with just doesn't seem like that big a deal.

There are real risks involved, like Hoover's FBI becoming Blackmail Central over time, but in the here & now I just don't understand the hue & cry over PATRIOT.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:29 PM on July 27, 2005


I have to agree with you, HM. But, then again, I've never been in trouble with the law. And there's the slippery slope argument...
posted by Moral Animal at 8:49 PM on July 27, 2005


Except, what's with the headline: "Judge sentencing Ahmed Ressam Slams US"? Coughenour is standing by the US Constitution while others desecrate it. How is this slamming the US?

The judge is criticizing the Administration. Which, to some, equals criticizing the U.S. itself. It may be simple intellectual laziness or or it may be an ideological bent, but the idea that you can defend the Constitution and criticize the Bush administration simply doesn't compute for some.
posted by scody at 8:56 PM on July 27, 2005


myway phrases it like this: ... by a judge who used the opportunity to sternly criticize the Bush administration's anti-terrorism tactics. ...The sentencing hearing may be best remembered for the judge's strong remarks against the Bush administration's efforts to hold some terrorism suspects indefinitely without charges. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:35 PM on July 27, 2005


Well, if I can play the tddl role here, removing unnecessary hoops the feds have to jump through to get info on people doesn't seem like a present risk to liberty.

This is a perfectly logical statement, and I would agree completely, Heywood Mogroot, if I accepted the question begging involved in unnecessary hoops.

But I don't. I think some of the hoops were necessary. For those that weren't: sure, scrap 'em. Reasonable people can disagree on the necessity of some of those hoops, but I think it's a very big stretch to say all of what the PATRIOT act does is in that realm. The fact (?) that judicial oversight has turned into a rubber stamp in no way makes it an unnecessary hoop. Rather it points out a problem, at least to me. Fix the problem, rather than defining away the problem.

But certain parts of the PATRIOT act and US behavior post 9/11 are well beyond anything like streamlining. One can make a non-trivial case that the PATRIOT act has killed the 4th Amendment of the US constitution: that case has to be dealt with seriously. Further, the detention policy and extra-legal proceedings of the US with respect to criminals is wholly beyond any kind of streamlining or "eliminating of unnecessary hoops."
posted by teece at 10:27 PM on July 27, 2005


Very nice. Thanks, amberglow.
posted by homunculus at 10:46 PM on July 27, 2005


to murder Western civilians back in 1999, too, years before Bush and Iraq and all that...right?

still sore about those phantom wmd's, huh?
posted by matteo at 1:45 AM on July 28, 2005


"...The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."


-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
posted by alumshubby at 3:48 AM on July 28, 2005


Does this mean we don't need the "patriot" act after all?

Well, damn, this means that Asscraft, Bush and Congress has been lying to us again.

Can we nominate this judge to the vacant Supremes position instead of Federalist Society Roberts?
posted by nofundy at 5:54 AM on July 28, 2005


I'm curious, what was Ressam's "justification" for trying to blow up LAX during its most crowded time of year? I mean, it's not as if Al Qaeda affiliated Islamic extremists were actively trying to murder Western civilians back in 1999, too, years before Bush and Iraq and all that...right? (Wrong.)

There's never been any justification for terrorism. It's just that before Bush and Iraq, there was a lot less incentive to become a terrorist, and there were a lot more resources available to be commited to finding the few terrorists that were active. Now we have most of our military tied up trying to deal with the mess in Iraq, and all the new terrorists created there (who are, incidentally, sharing their research into effective terror techniques (against U.S. forces) with the rest of the world)

Well, at least those jackboots in the American government didn't have to do any of those fascistic searches or evil profiling in this case... (Oh wait, no, that's exactly how they caught him.)

According to your article, they caught him because of his suspicious behaviour - not because of a random search, and not because of his race. Suspicious behaviour has always been useful in catching criminals.

Good thing we had the PATRIOT act in place back then or he might have gotten away with something... (Oh wait, no, we didn't)
posted by bashos_frog at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2005


Some Patriot Act goodness:

In another triumph for "homeland security," 62-year-old retired schoolteacher Phyllis Dintenfass faces imprisonment and financial ruin. Her "crime"? Reciprocating the "helpful" behavior of a federal airport security screener.

What a bunch of winners we've become!
FEAR!!
Did I scare you?
posted by nofundy at 10:58 AM on July 28, 2005


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