Remember Richard C. Reid, the would be shoe bomber? Here
is Judge William Young’s sentencing statement. I do not agree with the Judge’s
speculation that the shoe bomber hated our freedom. I don’t actually know
anything about him or his motivation specifically but there is strong evidence
that almost all suicide terrorist attacks since 1980 (if not earlier) were in
reaction to foreign occupation of the terrorists’ homelands (See Prof Robert
Pape’s book “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”). But the
good judge has spoke eloquently and powerfully and is worth reading.
Ruling by Judge William Young, US District Court.
Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant 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.’
Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:
January 30, 2003, United States vs. Reid.
Judge Young: ‘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 an d 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
This is the sentence that is provided for by our
statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous
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
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
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 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 discretely. 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.