Victims' Rights Caucus


Richard Reid

Jul 21 2005

Mr. Speaker, as a former criminal court judge, I always thought it was necessary and important at sentencing to let the defendant know and the victim know what society thought of the criminal behavior. I know the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) who is here and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) also did the same thing when they sentenced individuals.

Judge William Young of the United States District Court sentenced the so-called shoe bomber who took a shoe and made a bomb out of it and got on an airplane. He sentenced this terrorist and did a similar thing, letting the defendant know what society thought of his criminal behavior.

Prior to sentencing, as all judges do, Judge Young asked Richard Reid if he had anything to say. First he admitted his guilt and then, for the record, he pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam and to the religion of Allah, and defiantly stated in open court, ``I think I will not apologize for my actions,'' and told the Court, ``I am at war with this country.''

Judge Young then delivered the following statement. ``Mr. Richard Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes on you. Court has found you guilty of all crimes committed and sentences you to first, 3 life sentences, 4, 20 year sentences stacked, which means that is 80 years, 1 30-year sentence and one $2 million.'' He also ordered restitution to the victim and to American Airlines.

Then he told the defendant the following: The life sentences are real life sentences, so I need to go no further. These are fair and just sentences. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain to you this, Mr. Reid. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. Here in 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 just a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature in this court. If you think you are a soldier, you are not. You are just 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.

You are a big fellow now but you are not that big. You are no warrior. I have known warriors. You are just a terrorist, a species of criminal that is guilty of multiple murders or attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you were first taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press was and where the TV cameras were and he said to you, you are no big deal.

Well, sir, you are no big deal. I have listened respectfully to what you have had to say and I ask you to search in your heart and ask yourself what sort of hate led you to do what you are guilty of and that you admit to being guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as far as I am concerned, in this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious to me and to our country. You hate freedom. You hate our freedom, our individual freedom, our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come as we go, to believe or not to believe. And here in this society the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea and even across the seas. 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 and have filed these appeals.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that this is the way we t