Sentence remanded in 1999 L.A. bomb plot

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Among the seven judges who voted to overturn the sentence, three said in a concurring opinion that the case was not that of a typical crime and they were hesitant about whether it provided any precedent for ruling whether a sentence was unreasonable.

“Acts of war are indeed different from ordinary crimes, and our current war with terrorism is indeed different from ordinary wars,” said the opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court’s most liberal justices. “I am far from certain that our government or our citizens have yet determined how to deal with these differences.”

Dissenting judges argued that the court majority was treating terrorism differently from other crimes and was not basing its decision on the legal merits. They argued that the sentence was reached properly and should stand.

“Even if we have to grit our teeth to do so, we should let it be,” said the opinion written by Judge Mary M. Schroeder.

“In our everyday lives, we often say that we should all practice what we preach. As an appellate court, we are bound by law either to practice what we have preached, or to repudiate it. The majority does neither,” Judge Schroeder wrote.

According to court records, Ressam provided information for two years to the governments of the United States and six other countries and provided the names of at least 150 people involved in terrorism. He testified against a millennium plot co-conspirator, identified 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui as someone he had met at a terrorist training camp, and helped with the probe into so-called “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

He stopped cooperating with authorities in 2003 and recanted some of his testimony and information, prompting the government to dismiss charges against two alleged terrorists.

The case took a tortuous legal turn and at one point went to the U.S. Supreme Court after Ressam’s conviction on one of nine charges was overturned on appeal. The high court reinstated the conviction and ordered resentencing.

Prosecutors argued for life in prison during a 2008 hearing during which Ressam told the judge: “Sentence me to life in prison or anything you wish. I will have no objection to your sentence.”

But for a second time, Judge Coughenour sentenced him to 22 years in prison.

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