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Judge William Young sentencing the shoe bomber

Judge William Young sentencing the shoe bomber

I had heard this before, but stumbling upon it this afternoon, I thought it worth reprinting because few people are aware of it.

It’s the sentencing of shoe bomber Richard Reid by U.S. District Court (Massachusetts) Judge William Young in January 2003, in full:

Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

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 consecutive one with the other. That’s 80 years.

On Count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you on each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the 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 the $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 not go any further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where 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 it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat 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’re a big fellow. But you’re not that big. You’re no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you’re no big deal. You’re no big deal.

What your counsel, 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 individual 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 winds carry freedom. They carry 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 discretely.

It is for freedom’s seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. 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. 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 still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.

REID: That flag will be brought down on the Day of Judgment and you will see in front of your Lord and my Lord and then we will know. (Whereupon the defendant was removed from the courtroom.)


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It was amazing and rewarding to read this. I had not read it before.It gave me chills

Thank you for posting

can I link this and post about it on Free Republic?

DINORightMarie | August 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I love that the judge used Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to make the point, along with all the rich truth he spoke.

Reid is an American by birth, but one who hates his country. I

His nation is Islam. Islam, which means “submission.” Islam is his country, his heart, his life. Islam is evil, IMHO, if this how their followers respond.

That is inspiring.

When Judge Young said, “I know warriors,” he could say that truthfully and with pride, having served as captain in the United States Army.

I could kiss you, your honor.

I had the great pleasure of listening to Judge Young speak a few years back. Here’s a short clip of one of Judge Young’s clerks introducing him and describing the scene of the sentencing of Richard Reid. It’s as close as you could come to getting the true inflection in Judge Young’s voice as his sentencing charge is retold. Apparently, Richard Reid is enormously tall, so the line, “You’re a big fellow. But you’re not that big” was a reference to his height.

And, Judge Young has a magnificently booming voice, which you can hear in this second clip.

In this second clip, he’s talking about the nature of oath taking for public officials. Something that ALL elected officials everywhere should need to hear. It’s a compelling listen.

A great, great man.

If only I could hope that something similar would be said at the sentencing of Major Nidal Hassan. He wore the uniform and took the paycheck of the U.S. Army. He put “Soldier of Allah” on his personal business cards.

He should face ignominy forever because he was never a soldier, as evidenced by his actions. He took arms against people whom he knew were unarmed. He slaughtered soldiers in the uniform he wore.

He was a traitor and a coward. He deserves to face the penalty for traitors and have everyone know what a coward he was.

A man who actually had faith would have honorably resigned, traveled to another land and signed up to serve in uniform. A coward attacks the unarmed by stealth.

Any deity that would claim pride in such a coward isn’t worth doodley squat.

What makes you think Nidal Hasson didn’t do exactly what he was sent to do? What really bothered me about that tragedy, aside from so many deaths, was the fact that none of these soldiers were armed. How can it be that soldiers on a military base were in a “gun free zone”? I had thought that soldiers kept their weapon with them at al times in case of necessity.

We need more judges like Judge Young. Willing to pronounce judgment on traitors and terrorists and to call a spade a spade. And not coddle the very people who wish to destroy us.

    Kerrvillian in reply to BarbaraS. | August 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I don’t answer the question of who sent Nidal Hassan on his mission. I can’t sit in judgement of another man’s soul. I can, however, judge his actions on this planet and I have judged him and found him wanting.

    He is a cowardly traitor. I can not respect whatever or whoever sent him on such a mission.

    The soldiers were in a “gun free zone” because they were on U.S. soil and their weapons were supposed to be secure. Outside of a war zone our service members are usually disarmed. It’s the way of the military, which is a major “nanny state” within it’s own sphere.

    Within the ranks, on active duty, a service member has given up a lot of their civil rights. That’s why service members are often so protective of their rights as citizens when their duty is over. They realize what they temporarily gave up in order to protect.

    People who don’t serve, like Obama, don’t understand anything.

[…] Judge William Young sentencing the shoe bomber […]

And Obama nominated two light weights [Sotomayor and Kagan] to the Supreme Court and not this guy? I would also blame Bush [remember, everything is his fault], but he made 2 spectacular appointments in Roberts and Alito. Obama chose very poorly as is his mark or stain on history.

Judge Young’s statement is a strikingly eloquent statement about freedom, and I don’t want to take away from that. But the problem with freedom and its consequent capitalism, as I understand it, is the power — truly imperialistic power — that corporations then obtain, and with which they then control news media and the political realities of peoples who do not have the military power of the west. How many democratic governments has the US toppled because of the CIA? How many Allende’s disappeared and Pinochet’s enthroned? I do believe in the same freedom of which Judge Young spoke, but should he not also speak of the carnage it causes? Does he not see that this young man’s life is — partly — one result of that carnage? That this young man’s choice to take life sits in a wider cultural reality in which freedom itself has much blood on its hands?

@marc700, your comment would be a wonderful archetype of concern trolling but for its flawed argument attempting to causally link capitalism uniquely to freedom. The Chinese now have rich capitalism, with its benefits and problems, but they are not free. Germany, Italy and Japan all featured capitalism in the 30’s and 40’s, but the subjects of those imperialist powers had neither freedom nor liberty.

Freedom doesn’t cause carnage and has no blood on its hands. It’s lack of freedom that enables power-seekers of all kinds to pursue their agendas without serious challenge. What model of human comportment do you propose supplant freedom? And when rogues snatch power under your system (as they always will), how will a people lacking freedom snatch it back?

As for the relativism expressed by your statement “That this young man’s choice to take life sits in a wider cultural reality in which freedom itself has much blood on its hands?”, I can only offer that it’s a shame you haven’t receive a better education.

Send him to one of those new supermax prisons where he will have nothing but his cell and isolation 23 hours a day. Better yet, send him down to Texas where we know how to deal with his kind.