Point of View
Remember the shoe bomber, Richard C. Reid? Because of him we all now take off our shoes before we board an airplane. His court case was adjudicated with a ruling by Judge William Young of the United States District Court. Prior to his sentencing the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response after admitting his guilt to the court was his allegiance to Osama Bin Laden saying, “I think I will not apologize for my actions. I am at war with your country.”
Judge Young then delivered a remarkable statement from which I think all of us can learn a great deal and derive much pride in our nation and its judiciary. He said, “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. 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 any enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. 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’re no warrior. I’ve know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, the State Trooper 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 not a big deal!”
What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorney 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 guilt 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 carried 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.
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.
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.”
We need more judges and leaders like Judge Young. His words to the shoe bomber, the Times Square bomber,, the underwear terrorist, the Fort Hood massacre bomber and the latest two terrorists strike home.
On the anniversary of the founding of these United States of
America we pray that God bless America our land of the free and
home of the brave and keep our country safe.
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