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Gitmo-bashing judge rebuked; lax sentence for millennium bomber rejected

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 2, 2010 05:30 PM


Hell has frozen over. Pigs are sprouting wings. The left-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has removed a moonbat judge from the botched LAX millenium bomber case and ruled that his sentence was too short, unreasonable, and in blatant violation of federal sentencing guidelines.

The story is breaking. Seattle P-I reports:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that Ahmed Ressam, a convicted terrorist arrested in December 1999 in Port Angeles with a car full of explosives, be sentenced again. And this time, the court has ordered that U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, who presided over Ressam’s trial and his sentencing and re-sentencing, not be involved.

Ressam also will likely face a much longer sentence, given that the appeals court noted several times how much lighter his 22-year sentence was than what sentencing guildelines call for. In a 2-1 decision, the court’s majority said Coughenour’s sentence — 43 years below the low range of the federal sentencing guidelines — was “both procedurally and substantively unreasonable.”

It concluded: “The district judge’s previously expressed views appear too entrenched to allow for the appearance of fairness on remand. For these reasons, we direct that the case be reassigned to a different judge for resentencing.” A new judge could be assigned in three weeks, prosecutors said. Ressam’s attorneys could appeal, and they have not responded to requests for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, which has sought a longer sentence, greeted the appeals court ruling with approval,

“Our primary mission is to protect the public. We are gratified that the Court of Appeals recognized the importance of public safety at sentencing and that Mr. Ressam remains a threat to the public.” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a statement. “We have the greatest respect for Judge John Coughenour and his hard work on a difficult case. However, we maintain that to protect the public, and deter others, a longer prison sentence is necessary.” In December 2008, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle appealed the 22-year sentence imposed Ressam. Ressam, an Algerian, had intended to set off the explosives at Los Angeles International Airport around New Year’s Eve 1999.

And from the LA Times:

Ressam was detained in Washington state in December 1999 when he attempted to smuggle explosives into the United States on a ferry from Canada with plans to detonate them at LAX. He initially cooperated with interrogators and provided what Coughenour termed vital insight into the workings of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda.

But Ressam ceased helping federal agents and retracted his statements implicating other terror suspects after being subjected to solitary confinement and what he considered interrogation excesses.

Coughenour twice rejected the federal sentencing recommendation of 65 years in prison for the terrorism conspiracy offense, a position the 9th Circuit panel said constituted procedural error. The judge also failed to consider the potential national security consequences for the U.S. public if Ressam were to be released after only a 22-year term, as he would be only 53 years old, the appeals panel said. Ressam, now 42, has remained incarcerated the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colo., throughout the legal appeals of his sentence.

I’ve reported on Coughenour’s antics over the years. He’s a notorious terrorist’s little helper who engaged in brazen grandstanding during Ressam’s sentencing in 2005 — using the occasion to pat himself on the back, express his opposition to military tribunals and detention of enemy combatants, and argue in support of applying the full panoply of constitutional rights to foreign al Qaeda conspirators.

More recently, as Morgen Richmond at Verum Serum reported, Coughenhour spoke at George Soros’s Open Society Institute and shrugged off the prospect of Gitmo detainee releases as the “price we pay” for granting them the full panoply of constitutional rights in civilian trials.

His retort: “So be it.”

There are more like him in the judiciary, and you can bet the Gitmo detainees’ lawyers at Eric Holder’s old law firm, Covington and Burling, are court-shopping for them.

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Categories: Ally McBeal approach, Eric Holder, Gitmo

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