The Transitive Property of Judicial Tyranny & Confirmation

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You may recall that last week the Algerian national who wanted to blow up LAX was sentenced to 22 years in prison (including time already served) by District Court Judge John Coughenour, who then went on to make a rather emotional mini-speech about how

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.

For this, Michelle Malkin branded Coughenour "the terrorists' little helper," but I was more interested by Hugh Hewitt's reaction: Namely, that it was "a reminder of why Democrats should not be allowed to obstruct President Bush's effort to place serious people on the bench."

Sounds normal enough, until you consider that Coughenour was appointed by Ronald Reagan. So how exactly does the special logic work? Hewitt expanded: "Yes, this judge was an early Reagan mistake–quite obviously a gimme to a GOP Senator, and an example of how not to conduct judicial appointments. But this president isn't making those sorts of mistakes."

NEXT: The Moon Is Aglow

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  1. I don’t understand why people like Hewitt place GW on a pedestal and think he can do no wrong. Placing so much trust in one man is dangerous.

  2. As the judge observed, the system works. We don’t need to circumvent it, we just need to use it.

  3. So let the judge run for Prez if he’s so damn smart.

  4. so this guy serves approx. 30 days for each person he was trying to murder. that’s a system that works?

  5. Yeah, Thoreau. But if you grant that suspected terrorists have rights, us uppity peons might think that we do too.

  6. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Sometime prior to the 2008 general election, we are going to see a sitting official of some kind — a Senator, a Representative, perhaps a judge or a mayor — charged with and tried for treason. It’s going to happen. The slobbering hordes of warmongering Malkins and Hewitts and Glenn Reynoldses and Charles Johnsons are desperate to make an example of some “liberal traitor,” and any old traitor will do. Mark my words, we will see it.

  7. “Memo to Judge Coughenour: This is a war. Not a ‘struggle.’ Not a constitutional law seminar.”

    Malkin needs to get with the program. The Global War Aginst Terrorism is now the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.

    How can she be so off message?

    Why does Michelle Malkin hate the president?

  8. Somebody’s either smoking something or needs to start

  9. Authoritarians like Malkin always make me chortle.

  10. Phil,

    Given the rhetoric of the hawks that wouldn’t surprise me.

  11. Phil:

    Duly marked. I gotta wonder, though: “slobbering hordes of warmongering Malkins and … Glenn Reynoldses”

    Sure, like the slobbering hordes of Michael Moores and Kevin Drums? Dude, get a grip.

  12. Matt Welch,

    There was a federal judge in Boston who made a similar from the bench statement two or three years ago. I have the speech in some file somewhere.

  13. What do Michael Moore or Kevin Drum have to do with anything that I said?

  14. Matt Welch,

    It was the judge in U.S. v. Reid.

  15. I pretty much agree with the judge’s sentiments, but 22 years is not long enough. Why give the guy a second chance?

  16. Real Bill — My understanding, which is glancing at best, is that the dude pled some cooperation thing, and then backed out of it after a while (and after providing at least some). This was taken into consideration. Other than that, I know nothing about the facts of the case, and generally I’m in favor of people who want to blow up my airport being treated on the maximal side of sentencing….

  17. I loved this line, “This comparison is not intended to excuse or minimize the sentences handed down in these cases, all of which I assume represent justice.” Yup Hugh, no excuses there.

    Or this one, “Either you succeed and get to your version of heaven, or you’ll get a second chance 22 years later after spending a couple of decades setting up networks that can help you with round 2.” I love how the uberhawks somehow think that this guy will be able to get right back in the alQueda mix after spending 22 years behind bars. How, may I ask is this guy going to coordinate terror attacks in the federal penitentiary? I have no clue. Shit, I would think that after 20+ years, he won’t have an organization to go back to, but that’s just me.

    *note all emphasis mine

  18. Of course Reid will be in prison for the rest of his life barring his sentence being commuted. So there is a difference between Reid and this fellow. Thus, I can see why someone would be upset about the guy’s sentence, but to argue that the judge’s statement offers succor to terrorists is flat out silly.

  19. gee, it’s too bad judge coughenour wasn’t around at pearl harbor. we coulda sent the cops to arrest tojo, and then convicted him and made him do community service.

  20. Phil:

    My points were (1) your prediction seems unlikely to come true, and (2) the people you were lumping together cannot rationally be so lumped. Malkin’s a frother, about as far right as Moore is left; Reynolds is more akin to Drum. You undermine your point when you fail to make the distinction.

  21. I disagree, Shelby — look through Glenn’s site and see how often he has accused other Americans – or tacitly or explicitly agreed with others who accuse other Americans – of being “on the other side,” of “giving aid to the enemy,” of being “objectively pro-Saddam” (or ” – terrorist”), and so on. He may not be the loony nutbag that Malkin is, but he wants to see him a traitor strung up, and none too soon.

  22. Fair enough, Matt.

  23. Hey, what’s all this about traitors? Do you mean how Bush and various members of Congress and the SCOTUS are traitors for violating their oaths to defend the constitution?

  24. Somebody’s either smoking something or needs to start

    Yeah, but you could say that in just about any thread on this forum!

  25. Yeah, seriously thoreau, I don’t even know who “somebody’s” supposed to be!

    So this judge has put a wanna-be terrorist in prison for 22 years, and helped turn him into an intelligence source. What the hell have Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, or jimmy the angryranter up there done for the War on Terror, other than turn their fire on their own side?

    That god that, for all their noise, they don’t actually pick up weapons for the cause they so ferociously back.

  26. I see the judge closed with “the terrorists will have won.”

    Nevermind. Rag on him all you want.

  27. Come now, joe. You wouldn’t want to see Malkin, Hewitt, etc. take up arms and go to Iraq?

  28. I don’t get Miss Malkin’s logic here – if this is a war, then obviously the enemy guys should be released when the war is over. There are plenty of ex-German soldiers living out their old age in the US, and nobody cares except for those who actually guarded death camps.

    And I mean, if we haven’t won this war in 14 years, we are screwed.

  29. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Sometime prior to the 2008 general election, we are going to see a sitting official of some kind — a Senator, a Representative, perhaps a judge or a mayor — charged with and tried for treason.

    I don’t think you give the Republican strategery folks enough credit. They played the Gay marriage issue beautifully. They didn’t go overboard with it, just enough to rouse up the base and get them to the polls. Since then, Bush has backed off and pretty much hasn’t said a word about it. They knew exactly where the breaking point was on that issue, and I’m pretty sure they know that doing McCarthyism II would be over the breaking point on this issue.

  30. You wouldn’t want to see Malkin, Hewitt, etc. take up arms and go to Iraq?

    Only if they come home in body bags.

  31. The judge’s comments are vaguely similar to Scalia’s dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Does this mean Scalia is helping the terrorists too?

    Seriously, did Scalia ever catch any flak from Malken and her ilk over the Hamdi decision?

    Just curious.

  32. You wouldn’t want to see Malkin, Hewitt, etc. take up arms and go to Iraq?

    Only if they come home in body bags.

    Man, that’s a little harsh!!

    But considering her neo-fascist defense of chucking innocent Japanese Americans into internment camps, I think a more fitting punishment for Malkin would be to be on the receiving end of a 1000-man HIV-infected bukkake fest in Tokyo …

  33. “to be on the receiving end of a 1000-man HIV-infected bukkake fest in Tokyo”

    Thanks a lot. I checked the internet to find out what that was and now I have to burn my computer.

  34. Hey I’m all for rights and all but not when we are talking about terrorism. There has got to be some way to be sure to convict anyone suspected of terrorism. To do otherwise is treason. This judge is a traitor, 22 years is but a mere slap on the wrist.

  35. The judge is a traitor? What a sick fuck you are.

  36. ‘There has got to be some way to be sure to convict anyone suspected of terrorism’

    There is something somehow…unAmerican…with the above statement. Am I wrong?

  37. Vinnie and Steve M-

    I’m pretty sure that you’re just feeding a troll.

  38. Jimmy:

    Because we sure punished the Emperor.

  39. If I differ with Malkin and Hewitt do I have to listen to some nitwit who thinks 22 years suffices for trying to blow up LAX?

  40. Mo,

    For questions on how to organize and pursue ciminal enterprises, organizations, and leadership planning refer to some of the prison gang manuals.

    It is somewhat referenced in the movie ‘Blood in Blood out’ I think.

    Anyhow, there is a doctrine for using the right to have testimony on your behalf and the right to confidentialy consult with lawyers to pass information, and to pass orders to underlings, to gather information, and have edicts.

    If you can get your hands on a ‘constitution’ of one of the latino prison gangs, I recommend it. They have a very well written rules. They establish how to maintain a chain of command, that is uninterruptable by prison officials, how to find out if someone is being a narc.

    They use the rules of due process to have the state pay for their communications between prisons.

  41. What amazes me is how idiots like Malkin and Hewitt keep getting work.

  42. Coughenour, Malkin, and Hewitt, are all wrong. The latter two are just hysterical, and I think there is broad agreement on that point around here, so I will not elaborate.

    However, Coughenour is a bit off, too. Comparing the crime that he judged to the crimes committed by the Gitmo prisoners is somewhat misleading. The former was committed on American soil and the evidence can readily be collected by normal police channels and investigative techniques. Hence, a normal trial fits perfectly. This is not true for the Gitmo boys, who were generally captured in the middle of a war zone, leaving little time or capacity for evidence gathering. Much of the physical evidence we do have was gathered by means we would rather not reveal, as our ability to gather future information via those channels could be inhibited.

    I am not justifying the Gitmo situation, but I also feel that it IS different from the normal situation, and that the balance between being fair and being safe is not as easy as it usually is.

  43. With names like Malkin and words like “traitor” popping up in this thread, I wonder how long it will be before resident Judaeophobe Rick Barton sees the hand of Israel in all this.

  44. Chad,

    This War-on-Terror, has no precedent. Enemy combatant detention was fine in past wars, but not when you have no defined enemy and a never-ending conflict.

    Sooner or later, were going to need some sort of ruling on this situation to set a precedent and eliminate the legal-ambiguity of detentions.

    Any bets that the “Padilla” becomes the new “Miranda”?

  45. Will,

    “If I differ with Malkin and Hewitt do I have to listen to some nitwit who thinks 22 years suffices for trying to blow up LAX?”

    The guy talked. You and I will never know, but the judge and prosecutor decided that the information he provided was worth reducing his sentence from life to 22 years.

    Would you rather took what he knew to the grave? Would it be worth a terror attack happening, rather that beign foiled to keep him in jail as long as you’d like?

  46. “The judge’s comments are vaguely similar to Scalia’s dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.”

    Scalia’s a traitor too? Who knew?

  47. “gee, it’s too bad judge coughenour wasn’t around at pearl harbor. we coulda sent the cops to arrest tojo, and then convicted him and made him do community service.”

    Well, actually, we *did* send the cops to arrest tojo (military police are cops too), convicted him, and hanged him. Without any star chamber trial either.

  48. TRAITORS! YOU’RE ALL TRAITOTS! TRAITORS, I SAY! TRAITORS, TRAITORS, TRAITORS!

    (Sigh) Christ, I need a drink…

  49. What Chad said. I think the noncombatant and the combatant not wearing a uniform is a situation needs to be cleared up, but I’m not so sure I would agree with the general approach that full citizenship rights of protection and procedure apply. It strikes me as more similar to a prisoner of war situation than a standard criminal prosecution.

  50. First, for the sake of argument let’s assume that we agree that you can not make post hoc laws. This was a year 2000 thing, right? Before 9-11, so we have to go with the laws on the books. If you want to argue that atempted terror should have a higher sentence, that is a different argument. There was no actual damage, other than the cost associated with disrupting this event.
    If I have my facts right, the prosecutor offered a deal with this guy for 25 years to ensure the case, and it was declined. Subsequently, the detainee had a “realization” (carries no weight with me) that he was wrong and became an informant, reportedly in ways that were very helpful to future terror operations, and now he has refused to talk.
    The judge, believes he should make sure there is an incentive to informing (must be better than the plea deal that did not involve information), but wants it to be as serious as possible. It is quite a needle to thread. As far as I can tell, he does a pretty good job.
    Of course, my facts could be completely off…

  51. Jason,

    The Weathermen were convicted in criminal courts, as were the SLA, Sacco and Vanzetti (see, wingnuts, we can even kill innoncent people through that venue for you), the Puerto Ricans who shot up the Capitol, and Timothy McVeigh.

    I don’t want us to be more lile Columbia and Peru. I want us to be more like America.

  52. “The Weathermen were convicted in criminal courts, as were the SLA, Sacco and Vanzetti (see, wingnuts, we can even kill innoncent people through that venue for you), the Puerto Ricans who shot up the Capitol, and Timothy McVeigh.”

    We might also add that the last time the United States was attacked by a foreign non-state terrorist force — Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico — we didn’t indulge in any of this “we’re-at-war-therefore-we-should-treat-them-as-unlawful-combatants-not-criminals” nonsense. Even though the U.S. armed forces were mobilized to a greater extent than at any time since the Civil War (yes, even more than at the time of the Spanish-American War), when Pershing’s men caught any of the participants in the raid, they weren’t tried by secret “military commissions,” but were sent to New Mexico to stand trial in state court for murder and other crimes. Some were executed, and others sentenced to long prison terms.

  53. joe:

    We already know that you and I will disagree on how similar the situation is to an SLA or Weathermen. One off kook groups are just not the same as trans national terrorist organizations that enjoy popular support and financial backing in places that are not motivated whatsoever to bring them to justice.

  54. One off kook groups are just not the same as trans national terrorist organizations that enjoy popular support and financial backing in places that are not motivated whatsoever to bring them to justice.

    Weren’t the Rosenbergs tried and convicted in court? Or did the KGB not count as a trans-national organization with foreign support?

  55. Wow, Seamus, how’d you do that?

    Jason, I’m incorporating Seamus’s comment into may answer, in its entirety.

  56. Actually, I guess the KGB wasn’t really “trans”-national. But their operatives had foreign support, some of them (e.g. nuclear spies) were a HUGE threat to national security, and yet we managed to survive without shredding the Bill of Rights.

  57. joe-

    We libertarians oppose the incorporation doctrine! 😉 You should have to separately ratify and post each of his statements with an explicit statement that it applies to your post as well.

  58. Well, uh, read with an eye towards the changing circumstances over the past five minutes, my post does exactly that.

  59. joe, there’s no indication that Seamus’s original intent was for his post to be incorporated into yours. Really, your “living forum” theories are part of what is wrong with this place!

    I’m cancelling my subscription!

    🙂

  60. thoreau,

    You are a Nazi.

  61. but I’m not so sure I would agree with the general approach that full citizenship rights of protection and procedure apply.

    Jason, not to nitpick, but in terms of protection and procedure, there is no difference between a citizen and any other person on American soil.

  62. Godwin! Godwin!

  63. thoreau and others:

    Of course we have history convicting spies working on American soil. The key elements that seem to make this different from my point of view are:

    1) We are looking for collaborators that operate entirely in other countries. If you want to persue the right way to do things and reference the cold war, look to the way the CIA handled counter espionage operations outside of US soil. The KGB could not have been countered by treating every agent working against American interests regardless of country as US citizens.

    2) Domestic kook groups have a domestic chief kook and a domestic kook infrastructure which can all be disassembled domestically. Or somthing like that. Point is, you can investigate, prosecute, and end the threat locally. Not so AQ. Everyone is hiding them.

    3) We have moved beyond a point where there is something special about wearing a uniform. In my view, the GCs and international laws in general are poorly configured to deal with this situation. I just don’t think that conspiring to blow us up from a location where we simply won’t be able to conduct an investigation should be a magic shield against all consequences. It is precisely this problem that makes me think that the only plausible solution involves the military. Once the military is employed to violate the ‘sovereignity’ of whatever dictatorship, I think it is hard to act as though it is suddenly a criminal case where the SEALs have to read Miranda and so forth.

  64. Nice to see thoreau is applying himself to his new job in the traditional fashion of the taxpayer-subsidized. 😉

  65. David,

    Noted. I didn’t think we were talking about those captured on American soil …

  66. R C Dean-

    I do my best work after 5pm. Before then it’s mostly reading and thinking.

  67. In my view, the GCs and international laws in general are poorly configured to deal with this situation.

    i think, mr ligon, you might consider that the GCs are not there only to protect the imprisoned. forfeit them, and you forfeit almost any claim to a moral high ground or civilizational superiority.

    the willingness of desperate societies in decline to imitate the barbarian raiders that are fighting and beating them has a long history of being a huge step away from the light of law and into the abyss.

  68. gaius:

    Quickly identifying one of those areas where we just don’t see eye to eye – I see almost no connection between specific internatonal agreements and Civilizaton writ large.

    Aside from that, I am not arguing that there should be no agreements, but:

    1) that international law utterly fails when attempting to deal with states that don’t want to play along with the ruse, and

    2) the agreements we have are not equipped to deal with terrorism or its prosecution. We are in new territory.

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