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Sirens & Gavels

A 9th Circuit ruling that might surprise you

For all that grief that 9th Circuit appeals judges take from those who consider them too liberal, here's a ruling, issued this morning, that might come as a surprise: 22 years too lenient for al Qaida-trained bomber captured in Washington state with a vehicle full of explosives while on his way to blow up LAX. Here's the initial AP brief from the speed wire:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court says the 22-year prison sentence is too lenient for al-Qaida-trained terrorist convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport at the turn of the millennium.

A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the sentence Tuesday. It also removed the Seattle trial judge from the case and assigned the re-sentencing of Ahmed Ressam to another federal judge.

Border agents in Washington state arrested Ressam in December 1999 after he entered the United States from Canada on a ferry with a car packed with explosives.

A judge cited Ressam's cooperation with investigators in meting out the original sentence. But since Ressam recanted his cooperation after two years, the appeals court says he deserves a longer sentence.

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David Wasson oversees coverage of politics and state and local government and assists with editing on the City Desk.

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