Eight Years For Al-Marri: Sleeper Agent Given Low Sentence by Judge Outraged by Abuses of the United States

220px-Ali_Saleh_Kahlah_Al_MarriIn a potentially important ruling for detainees held by the United States, Illinois U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm rejected prosecution demands and sentenced Qatar native Ali al-Marri to just eight years in jail — with a possible release in less than six years. The reduction from 15 years was expressly tied to the abusive conditions and treatment of al-Marri by the United States while held as an enemy combatant in South Carolina.

Al-Marri admitted he trained in al-Qaida camps and stayed in al-Qaida safe houses in Pakistan between 1998 and 2001. He also had regular contact with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attack, and with Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, who allegedly helped the Sept. 11 hijackers with money and Western-style clothing. He was arrested while a student at Bradley University. He was described as a “sleeper agent” without a current mission. President Bush declared him to be an enemy combatant and sent him to a Navy brig where he was abused in custody by U.S. officials.

Despite al-Marri’s claim of contrition in joining Al Qaeda, Mihm did not buy it: “I believe based on everything that I have heard that you truly do not regret what you did and that you would do it again after you go home.” That statement actually makes the decision more useful for defense lawyers. The reduction was clearly not based on contrition but on the judge’s obvious revulsion at the conduct of his own government: “My personal belief as a judge is that that was totally unacceptable. That’s not who we are.”

Al-Marri, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Material support is a favorite charge of the Justice Department because it was written by Congress so broadly that virtually any act can be defined as material support.

MIHM2009-08-25-1251208918The Justice Department has suggested that it may appeal, though these decisions are laden with discretion for the trial court. Mihm is a Reagan appointee and a conservative jurist who grew up on a farm in rural Illinois. He recently announced his retirement from the bench.

With hundreds of detainees still held (and reports of similar abuse and torture by the United States), Mihm’s approach could well be duplicated by other civilian judges. It was not the approach taken with Jose Padilla, who was also held in South Carolina. He was given 17 years for conspiracy and the Justice Department moved aggressively to bar the consideration of his abuse in U.S. custody.

For the story, click here.

11 thoughts on “Eight Years For Al-Marri: Sleeper Agent Given Low Sentence by Judge Outraged by Abuses of the United States”

  1. I’m falling short of understanding what it means to be a “sleeper agent” — it seems to mean that al-Marri “trained in al Qaida camps and stayed in al Qaida safe houses” and had “regular contact” with two of the endless fleet of people we’re told were 9/11 masterminds, all long before 9/11/2001. Having known and spent time with these people is his crime? It seems to me that this is literally guilt by association, and that the only thing I’d call a crime that could bepinned on al-Marri is his apparent involvement in credit card fraud, mentioned only way, way down at the bottom of this article: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=7090152

  2. Mike A. and Jill,
    I agree with both of you that the Justice Department is worried about the embarrassement for prior officials who authorized the illegal torture.

  3. Just so that you friends understand that what I am writing is not meant to cause more problems but in fact I suggest that any solution must be a win, win situation;our leaders have paid their way to positions of great power and perhaps they are indeed great leaders and if we were to change things they could confess and reveal their corrupt misgivings and show how they might correct their actions in an rightious open and honest ideology, where they really do look-out for the best intrests of the people and not just their own.
    I suggest these people know exactly how to save us…
    May God Bless all

  4. Remember the Dick Tracy movie when day after day people walked by what they believed was an empty lot? And then one day when the fog cleared he got a glimpse of a huge evil tower? It can happen; one day I went to a huge sporting goods show specifically to see a giant trophy polar bear. I circled the gym twice and finally I ask at one of the many booths; “where is the big bear?” The guy said “look up”. I almost shivered.
    When I look up now I see what might be a secret that does give me the shivers. A most despicable unspeakable secret that we must keep in order to maintain the status quo. The agenda of giant corporations, driven by Human Beings who have no conscience. People who believe it is their right to cheat.
    As the fog clears we can see; what has caused the most problems around the world? Money, oil, corruption, deceit, how about all of the above but at the top of the list is the Man-made idology that this is God’s will. That this is ok.
    How come we can’t buy our oil from those third world countries that sell their gas for 15c/gal??
    How come our cars get the same MPG as they did in the 1940s??
    Is it our energy cost at the foundation of our economy?
    Is the company store getting too greedy? Watch the pump prices, where is the real competition we had when I was a kid?
    Maybe a stiff breeze set up by the new net can now blow away the fog that our leaders create and have supported since my friend JFK was eliminated??
    God Bless all

  5. Jill, you are absolutely correct. The concern is political exposure rather than security.

  6. You can believe this is one reason why the govt. doesn’t want detainees in civil court. There aren’t too dangerous to try, the actions of our govt. will be exposed. Judges who once supported the war on terror have changed their minds after seeing the actual evidence on these “worst of the worst”. The public might doubt the word of our leaders should actually information be openly released.

  7. Theodore Daw:

    “Is the free world being smothered by an illegal and dastardly monopoly that has siphoned the life blood out of our economy?”

    Absolutely yes, and it is called the United States Government and they do it through usurious taxation and regulation.

  8. Jonathan,
    I’ve been digging deep in this landfill of legal and political debauchery around the world in search of what must be the answer to the big question. “Why?” Why are we all stuck in this current of destruction? We live in a world of the most intelligent people who have ever walked this earth and we seem destined to destroy ourselves and maybe the entire planet. Is it some mysterious outside force that drives us? Or maybe it is just a lack of “common sense?” Maybe our high tech and mountains of amassed knowledge will reveal that we Human Beings have not changed that much since Adam? That is physically, oh yes we change our mind daily.
    Maybe our digital imaging will reveal that we all need the same things to survive? We all want to live, to love and be loved, to procreate and do something good for our own. We all want to be the best that we can be.
    When I look around the world I see millions of young people who just want to love each other. And I see our elders and leaders must school these young folks with our religion and political views to know who is bad. It’s the other guys who are bad and dangerous according to who is talking.
    The bad guys think differently than the good guys.
    I was disgusted when I heard the complaints about the President speaking directly to the young people. Are we afraid some one will tell them the truth?
    I say maybe if we want lasting and immediate world peace, maybe all we have to do is tell everybody the truth? Maybe all we have to do is change our minds?
    Is it possible that the billions of problems that we face around the world are mostly caused by the same thing? Deceit? Maybe some have taken advantage of our inherent trust? Is the free world being smothered by an illegal and dastardly monopoly that has siphoned the life blood out of our economy?
    Could we change our energy policy? Could we teach our children that it is wrong to kill other Human Beings, and cheat and lie and take advantage of others?
    We live in a society of separation; everything about our ideology is competition to the death. What if we all tried to save Mankind and our planet? It would have to begin with unity, changing our mind.
    May God Bless all Teddy Daw

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