back to article Warrantless snooping on American man was LEGAL in terrorism case, rules US judge

A US judge has ruled that warrantless electronic surveillance is legal when he upheld the terrorism conviction of an Oregon man. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was convicted of attempting to blow up a van he thought was full of explosives at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, tried to get the ruling overturned because …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only a lawyer

    Would attempt to defend terrorism.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Only a lawyer

      To be fair, the defendant must have legal representation with the skills and knowledge necessary to defend the accused. Hilariously, that Constitutional Right is upheld consistently, too bad some of the other Rights aren't...

      If the accused doesn't have representation we're no better than the dictatorships we sponsor. Running around with secret orders, kidnapping people and private courts and covert nationwide surveillance. That sort of behavior is simply unbecom.... Damnit.

      1. phil dude
        Pint

        Re: Only a lawyer

        mod up. Govt's cannot be trusted. Govt's have the resources (your taxes!) to fit anyone up (and it goes wrong when they're wealthy). Provide the best defence for worst alleged crimes, and we all benefit.

        P.

    2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Only a lawyer

      Wouldn't a troll icon have been better?

      Or don't those accused of terrorism deserve a lawyer?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only a lawyer

      Not the point.

      Constitutional law is set in place to protect the CITIZENS, not the government. When the government starts to violate peoples rights, it is a slippery slope that will end up justifying any act to fight "terrorism".

      “The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”

      ― James Madison

      "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

      ― Thomas Jefferson

    4. Canopus

      Re: Only a lawyer

      Your logic is misleading dear.

      Only a lawyer.... would attempt, because only a lawyer can attempt to defend anyone in court :-)

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Only a lawyer

      "A society is best judged not on how it treats its finest, but on how it treats its worst." (or something like that)

      In this case, legal representation and a comfortable prison cell for the next few hundred years. Job well done I think.

    6. Chad H.

      Re: Only a lawyer

      No, a lawyer attempts to defend the people.

      The defence lawyer is the last person standing against the powerful state... Saying "no, you will not take this person unless you can show to all of us, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he did the things you say he did"

      He is the last person standing who says to the state "No, you don't get to act like a criminal. You too must play by the same very laws you say you're here to enforce"

      Yes, in a case like this it may be tilting a bit at a windmill, but no matter the circumstances he dusts off his jacket, and goes back into the arena, demanding again the State account for itself every time before stripping someones liberties.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The defence lawyer is the last person standing against

        No, he's the last person looking to get his take from the stupid crooks.

        Most defense lawyers won't admit it on record, but get them talking where they think it won't do them any harm and they'll tell you they don't think they've ever defended an innocent man.

    7. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Only a lawyer

      One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

      1. Joe User

        Re: Only a lawyer

        Trying to blow up innocent people at a tree-lighting ceremony is not my definition of "freedom".

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

          Re: Only a lawyer

          @Joe User

          Blowing up a Christmas tree lighting is not my idea of freedom either. However, what you are suggesting is that as soon as the government ARRESTS you for terrorism, then your rights go out the window and the show trial can begin.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Only a lawyer

          And? What makes your definition special? What makes your worldview the One True Worldview? The whole purpose of a trial is to allow all evidence to be presented and only then have a judgement passed.

          Governments label all sorts of people terrorists, including those fighting asymmetrical battles against an occupying force that has invaded their nation and those who are struggling for independence for their piece of a nation from a larger entity that demands they not be allowed autonomy.

          Labeling someone a "terrorist" should not remove their rights. There are causes i would become a "terrorist" for. A foreign nation invading my country, for example. The Maquis of the French rebellion during World War II were "terrorists" by pretty much any modern definition. Should they be hanged and damned, to the last of them, because the occupying Nazi government termed them "terrorists?"

          What about the Chechnyans, fighting for freedom from Russia? Or the Taliban, fighting to drive out an occupying army? What about the Indian resistance to the British Empire? The Cypriot resistance to the same? The USA's war of independence was waged by terrorists rebelling against the legitimate government of the era.

          Which causes are just, and who are you to judge? Using the label "terrorist" is no justification for disengaging one's brain, or for stripping someone of their rights.

          I personally agree that someone who tried to blow up innocent people at a tree lighting ceremony is employing methods that are outside the bounds of acceptability. But I absolutely do not agree that the mere fact this individual is accused of such a crime means that due process should get thrown out the window. Or that the accused should be stripped of his rights. I also don't presume to judge his cause...only the methods he allegedly used.

          If mere accusation is enough to remove our rights, then I submit to you sir that we have no rights.

          1. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: Only a lawyer

            We can't expect the American courts to take the view that someone attempting to blow up ordinary American citizens is a justified freedom fighter instead of a criminal. This would be the case even if that were true. And there were times in the past - such as when Negro slavery was in effect - when it was true.

            However, given the history of the Middle East - how the state of Israel came into existence because of violence against Jews, how its borders expanded each time as a result of attempts to drive it into the sea, how living under Muslim rule would likely have put them in the same situation as the Coptic Christians suffer under in Egypt - the notion that the current crop of terrorists has a legitimate cause seems to me laughable. Thus, I am unaffected by accusations of believing I have the "One True Worldview".

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Only a lawyer

              You miss the point entirely. Whether the cause is just or not, the individual still deserves rights.

              That said, this conversation is over because you have quite adequately demonstrated that your rationale for justifying the abject removal of rights is that you are prejudiced against Muslims. There's zero point in continuing past that point, because racists can't be reasoned with.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Potty Re: Only a lawyer

                ".....because racists can't be reasoned with...." Islam is not a race.

                1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: Potty Only a lawyer

                  Ok, not a racist, but a bigot. Feel better now?

                  1. Rastus

                    Re: Potty Only a lawyer

                    Much better. But just don't forget, someone lost a couple of towers, and around 3000 people lost their lives, because of people just like him. I think we have just cause to dislike Muslims, especially when added to their other atrocities.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only a lawyer

        So Hitler was a freedom fighter eh? And if only those damned dirty Jews had been good upstanding citizens everything would have been fine?

        Relativism never works.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Only a lawyer

          You really don't see what you did there? Jesus man.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Only a lawyer

          What are you on about? Hitler wasn't a terrorist, at least not by modern definitions in which "terrorist" = "non-government entity that uses terror to achieve it's aims". Hitler was the duly elected leader of his nation. He did not seize power through a coup. He did not run his nation with a junta. He was democratically elected to office.

          It's really important you understand that. The Nazis did not come out of nowhere and were suddenly in power. There was over a decade of bubbling, roiling, downright toxic social strife in Germany during which the Nazis went from fractional percentage of votes to running the place. This strife included clashes in the streets by the supporters of different political parties, with deaths during riots occurring on all sides.

          Germany was a shambles and the Nazi party build a massive grassroots support system, which Hitler used to come to power. Once in power, he consolidated that power.

          Hitler was a monster, and he utilized terror to achieve his aims, but he was the legitimate leader of a nation-state exercising power he obtained through the democratic process. It doesn't make what he did right, but if you want to include Hitler amongst "terrorists" then you have to open the door to the ruling administrations of all nation-states.

          The Nazi rise to power's closest modern-day western equivalent is the Tea Party. Massively funded, relying on propaganda to drive a grassroots movement based on lies, xenophobia and fear of losing one's job. The difference is that enough people supported the Nazis to hand them the country. The Tea Party never made it that far.

          Now, did Hitler's Nazi Germany use terror to achieve it's aims? Absolutely. But if we are going to include the legitimate governing body of a nation-state in the definition of terrorism then I demand that you include the United States of America. There are at least 10 different administrations that have used terror to achieve their aims, not the least of which were Truman, Nixon, Bush the lesser and Obama.

          Your moral absolutism doesn't work when your chosen pillars of morality are also guilty of using the tools of terror.

  2. Don Jefe

    Special Needs

    He said the anti-terror apparatus has 'special needs'. Ha! Following the guidelines established by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice we have a moral and legal responsibility to care for those inside the anti-terror system in a compassionate way that provides a safe environment for those in need as well as the general population.

    Therefore, I make the motion that we provide that environment as quickly as possible and get these special needs personnel into surroundings where they can do no more harm to themselves or others. We can have this wrapped up by October if we get started now.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Special Needs

      Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between:

      a.) Exuberant optimism.

      b.) Deep cynicism.

      c.) Bourbon.

      For me it tends to be a cycle: b > c > a > b > c . . .

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Special Needs

        "c.) Bourbon."

        That way lies trouble. Other biscuits are available. Try a HobNob?

        1. dan1980

          Re: Special Needs

          "Trouble", "salvation" . . . it's a fine line.

          To biscuits/cookies, I find that a nice shortbread goes very well with a suitably complex Bourbon. The butteriness of the shortbread really works nicely.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Special Needs

          A hobnob? You philistine! what the poor soul really needs is a jammy dodger !

          1. dan1980

            Re: Special Needs

            With a Jammy Doger I believe I would have a brandy. Perhaps even a Chambord . . .

          2. hplasm Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Special Needs

            A Jammy Dodger would be nice.

            As would a Nice.

            1. wowfood

              Re: Special Needs

              What ever happened to the good old malted milks. Perfect for any occasion.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Special Needs

                > What ever happened to the good old malted milks.

                Ah. "Cow biscuits" as the kids used to call them.

              2. Don Jefe

                Re: Special Needs

                What is malted milk? Is that like malt liquor? That stuff might work for Lando Calrissian, but all I ever got from it was a headache.

            2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Special Needs

              Oddly enough, I think I know a defense attorney who responds to "Jammy Dodger".

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Now THAT is what surveillance is for

    Would-be terrorist tries to become operational and blow up children and families at a XMas event, gets caught by surveillance and sting operation.

    That is what is supposed to happen. That should be the result of targeted surveillance, and in this case the surveillance was warranted and acceptable.

    This is not the kind of thing people are getting riled up about. This guy got what he deserved, and the judge rightly upheld the judgement.

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

      I thought the point was that it wasn't warranted?

      As in they quite literally were without a warrant. If they had a warrant, I don't think many here would complain, you have to be able to do that kind of thing, but judicial oversight is a safeguard.

      What you need to be asking is how many innocent people had their rights violated because this kind of warrantless tapping was/is going on?

      Reasonable suspicion, go to a judge, get your warrant, get the baddie (or not if it turns out they're innocent). That's how it's supposed to work. A judge will say "yes, this looks like reasonable grounds" or "No, you're just fishing, stop it."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

      > Would-be terrorist tries to become operational and blow up children and families at a XMas event, gets caught by surveillance and sting operation.

      You have the benefit of hindsight.

      Before the trial, he was a presumably innocent man accused of a crime.

      It is a crucial trap to declare *after the fact* that it was all OK because as it turns out he obviously did it.

      If a disgruntled police officer murdered him before the trial, is that OK because they later found that he was guilty? Well he deserved it after all didn't he?

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

        He was communicating with an al-Qaeda type outside the US, and expressed a desire to become "operational". The sting was based off that - and he clearly and willingly went through with it.

        An analogy would be if you were tapping the phone of a mafia boss, who received a call from someone offering to be a hitman.

        If you set up a fake hit for the guy to carry out, and he did, is he now guilty? Or do you hope that he never gets round to killing someone? Or assign a team of FBI agents to follow him 24/7 to make sure he never kills anyone?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

          Which is all just one long winded way of saying "they had probable cause which should have been good enough for a warrant, but believed themselves above the law and didn't get one." I think the plod in question should be thrown in jail right alongside the wannabe bomber.

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

            The whole concept of giving somebody a bomb then arresting them for having a bomb is just fucking stupid. It is not only a disgusting perversion of the law, it's insanely dangerous.

            No matter how you cut it, the lawmen are manufacturing a terrorist, prosecuting him, then claiming to be protecting us from terrorism. The logic gap there is worthy of its own scientific study, but more importantly, this sort of thing is ignoring the very systems most of us bitch about. Strangers don't just show up at your pub looking for accomplises and bombs for a Christmas bombing. Don't believe me, go to the absolute roughest, most dangerous place you know and say: 'I'm Mohammed Mohammed bin Mohammed and I want to detonate a bomb at a Christmas event. Can you help me find a bomb?' I don't give a fuck where you are, if the patrons don't kill you instantly then the police are still going to need a wet/dry vac to round up what used to be your legs. Even extra stupid would be terrorists know that's a stupid way to martyr yourself.

            You've got to go looking for people willing to explode themselves, and any nearby infidels, and if you do find them THAT MEANS THE SYSTEM IS WORKING. All that surveillance, all those cash bribes, searched body cavities and unlawfully leveraged parolees found the bad guy. It's illegal as shit to plot acts of terrorism you know. Preventing terrorism is the idea. If you wait until the explosion, or whatever, has taken place you're doing it wrong.

            So the safety system worked. You found the bad guy. You arrest him and be on your way. You don't go turning the would be terrorist into an actual terrorist by giving him a bomb (even if it's not real). Once you've identified the guy the maximum return on law enforcement investment has been obtained. Anything other than an arrest at that point is a waste of resources. Resources that could be used looking for more potential bad guys. The guy you just arrested is fucked already. Move on. You're not going to get any other conspirators, because the FBI is really fucking resistant to arrest and they're the source of every bit of this beyond the time the bad guy is ID'd.

            Wrapping up here. All this is insanely dangerous. If this sort of thing is allowed to stand you're shifting the focus from actual bad guys to guys who seem like they could be made into bad guys. The disillusioned person who is unhappy with their life, who feels they have nothing to live for becomes the profile. Look for the hourly wage guy who just got dumped by his girlfriend for a trust fund guy. Take vulnerable people and bend them to your will. That's a classic strategy of abusive coercion (you didn't see bin Laden blowing himself up did you). But that's not the guy to be worried about.

            The scary fucker is someone who is happy(ish) in their lives, secure in their spiritual beliefs and sees martyrdom as the bonus round. He's not looking for a way out, he's looking for a way in. The unlock code for 72 virgins and eternal annuities. He's not sacrificing himself, he's sacrificing the people he explodes as an offering to his god. That's a scary person, if he's alive it's because he's still figuring out how to get the most bang for his buck. But they'll stop looking for him if Mohammed bin Brokenhearted is handy. Ignoring the extant bad guys to focus on depressed idiots.

            If we're going to ignore the systems that uncover the bad guys, do we need those systems at all? Why? Plotting terrorism obviously doesn't matter to the anti-terror people. If the bad guy has to push the Martyr Button before he's arrested we could save a metric fuckton of money by giving free (fake) suicide vests to everybody who goes to a mosque and swooping in to arrest them when they try to use it. There are all sorts of things we can do to make everybody feel a bit better if plotting terrorism isn't going to be an arrestable crime. Something's gotta give here.

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

              Don,

              INAL, but I think part of the problem with the fake bomb trick is that it's necessary to get a conviction. I recall some cases years ago where "intent" was never proved even though there was a ton of evidence (legally obtained). Handing the guy a fake bomb and letting him press the trigger shows "intent".

              I'm wishing I could provide citations, etc., but this was back in the late 60's/early 70's and I don't recollect who or where this was. I just remember reading it in the paper and the some lawyer type saying if they'd only done this (being hand the guy a fake weapon), they would have had a conviction.

              1. Don Jefe

                Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

                Proving intent is crucial, no doubt, for everyone involved. But intent is proven, in the eyes of the court, in so very many ways and there's simply no way a single meeting or phone call led to blowing up Christmas with no steps in between.

                We'll probably never know all the details, but he was obviously under surveillance and there's not going to be evidence captured via surveillance presented to the court unless it shows something pretty damning. Matter of fact, it wouldn't make any sense at all for prosecutors to present such evidence if it didn't prove intent because they'd be jeopardizing the entire case if the judge hadn't allowed evidence gained from warrantless surveillance.

                I realize there's a fine line here, and lowering standards of proof is a slippery slope. At the same time, if the requirements of proof are set to high you get into crazy shit like this. Senseless, wholly illogical situations where breaking the law is ignored if breaking the law encourages more breaking of the law.

                You can tell something is royally fucked by the fact that last sentence even exists. It doesn't even sound reasonable. If I was typing this comment in Word the entire sentence would be underlined in mauve, which is a seldom seen prompt indicating common sense has been outsourced and anything else you type is meaningless inside this new iteration of the universe.

                I don't have all the answers, but some things are pretty straightforward. There's an enormous gap between no prosecution and life sentences. Let's make good use of that space by arresting and prosecuting law breakers when they're breaking the law. Not ignore them and enable them in breaking more and bigger laws.

                The entire system of prosecutorial performance assessment needs serious help. Successful conviction rate is an unbelievably stupid metric for assessing a prosecutors performance. District Attorneys have an unbelievable amount of latitude in determining what types of cases they want and what cases to take to trial. They want 'loss proof' cases with overwhelming evidence so their performance measurements don't slip and potentially fuck up a promotion or future political ambitions. That leaves us with a situation in which self interest and 'guarantees' are amalgamated into a slurry of of silly bullshit.

                I'm not advocating for a complete system rebuild, just incremental improvements and proactive error correction. Plugging ahead without evolving is not just dumb, it is counter to the founding principles of the country. Our entire legal system is designed with continuous process improvement built in. I say we should take advantage of that and see if some level of sanity can be attained.

      2. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

        It's certainly true that innocent people accused of terrorism have the right to a lawyer.

        So we have to let actual terrorists have lawyers too, since one can't tell which is which without a fair trial.

        However, the attempt to make this accused a free man on a technicality, when he indeed would have tried to blow up innocent people if given the opportunity, is exactly the sort of thing that leads to the understandable conclusion that something like Guantanamo is the only way to provide Americans with a reasonable level of security from terrorism.

        Limiting people's Constitutional rights by common sense would not create a dictatorship, but apparently it would be very difficult to achieve.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

          You can't enforce the law by breaking the law.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

          > It's certainly true that innocent people accused of terrorism have the right to a lawyer.

          All people are innocent until/unless the trial determines otherwise.

          For myself, I'm not that convinced that evidence obtained illegally should be automatically deemed inadmissible. That's a determination to be made by the judge as to how tainted he thinks it is.

          But at the end of the day, if a police officer breaks the law, they should be prosecuted just like any other person. In this respect, I agree with Trevor.

          It's really not that hard. If you think you want to intercept someone's communications, you ask a judge. If that process is too slow and to unresponsive, you optimise the process, not subvert it entirely.

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Now THAT is what surveillance is for

      I can't blame the government if they are watching the phone traffic of a suspected terrorist/spy overseas and they find that he is talking to an American phone number. That's wortwhile intelligence. But at that point I think you need a warrant to start surveilling the American resident.

      And also we need a focused definition of "suspected agent/terrorist". You can't just declare a whole city/country as suspects because you're sure that there's a terrorist in there somewhere.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

    I think the line is there... per the judge: “When I balance the intrusion on the individual’s interest in privacy, namely the incidental collection of US persons’ communications, against these special needs when the government targets a non-US person believed to be outside the United States, I conclude the foreign intelligence exception applies and no warrant is required.”

    Ok.. they were targeting non-US persons and this guy became a person of interest because of his communications. That's fine. I think the big stink about NSA is the blanket Hoovering up of comms of all citizens, foreign and domestic. One is targeting (allowed by law). One is trawling with a large net.

    “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

    ― Benjamin Franklin

    1. Purple-Stater

      Re: Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

      The problem I have with the judge's statement is that the Constitution does not allow for any "special needs" to violate said Constitution. I certainly don't want the would-be-terrorist to be let go, but the agents involved should be, at least, demoted for their incompetence in not getting a warrant.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Purple-hater Re: Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

        ".....the agents involved should be, at least, demoted for their incompetence....." Incompetence? Don't be stupid. They did exactly what they should have been doing - keeping an eye on foreign terrorists; picking up a new wannabe jihadi; tracing him to his location; setting up a sting to lock the nutter up before he can become a threat to the lives of possibly dozens of people. Don't forget, the nutter chose the target, not the FBI. He didn't choose a military or governmental target, he expressly chose one that was going to be largely families celebrating a Christian event. His intent was to kill women and kids simply because his interpretation of his religion said there's was 'wrong'. TBH, I really hope every agent involved gets a medal.

        1. Purple-Stater

          Re: Purple-hater Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

          @Matt

          Ah, making twisting a user-name to poke fun, very droll.

          Nobody said the agents weren't doing their job, just that they should have been competent enough to get a warrant to ensure that they were Constitutionally compliant. Instead they cost taxpayers a lot of expense for extra courtroom drama so some judge could make up some "special needs" BS exemption to Constitutional law.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Purple-hater Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

            "....just that they should have been competent enough to get a warrant to ensure that they were Constitutionally compliant...." Go read the article. The defence lawyer tried to make a technicality out of the lack of warrant, the judge ruled they did not need the warrant. So, the agents did comply with the law.

            "...Instead they cost taxpayers a lot of expense for extra courtroom drama ...." The DEFENCE LAWYER was the one that chose to waste the taxpayers' money, not the agents. There have been plenty of cases where defence lawyers have attempted to appeal on quite ludicrous grounds at their clients' bidding. This is just one that the privacy sheeple have seized on only to be told by the judge that they can go bleat elsewhere. Like you should, TBH, before you embarrass yourself further.

            1. Purple-Stater

              Re: Purple-hater Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

              Matt, you're still missing the point that if the agents had gotten a warrant in the first place, which would NOT have been a problem, then the defense lawyer never would have had any grounds on which to file an appeal.

              The defense lawyer did his job. The cost to taxpayers is still due to lazy/over-confident agents not properly covering their bases. And in all likelihood, this decision will probably continue on to a higher court(s) until it hits the Supreme, which won't be a bad thing.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Purple-hater Hmm... reading the article and betwixt the lines....

                "....you're still missing the point...." You're still missing the point the judge ruled they did not NEED a warrant as the work was covered by the initial investigation, that being the eavesdropping on a foreign national. Get your head out of your denying arse and READ THE ARTICLE. The only person trying to claim a warrant was needed was the defence lawyer.

                ".....The defense lawyer did his job...." Agreed, it was his job to try and get his client off on any technicality or loophole he could find or invent. He failed.

                ".....The cost to taxpayers is still due to lazy/over-confident agents not properly covering their bases....." The cost was due to the appeal due to the defence lawyer trying to turn it into a technicality to get his client off. You do not seem to understand the basic fact that, until the lawyer started pretending a warrant was needed because his client was an US citizen, NOBODY said a warrant was needed as the actual target of the surveillance which generated the lead was a foreign jihadi. The investigation after that call was a separate case and the FBI followed procedure perfectly, as shown by the scum's conviction. You want to baaaaah-lieve what the defence lawyer has concocted because it fits with your socio-political outlook, but the fact is the law says otherwise. Game over, do not pass go, and definitely no get out of jail card.

                "....And in all likelihood, this decision will probably continue on to a higher court....." There is a chance the defence will try that (after all his client hates Amercia, why should he worry about the cost of lawfare, and the defence lawyer gets to pocket his fees), but it is also possible that their appeal to the higher courts will be denied. What you are moaning about is the cost of due process when you should be acknowledging that the US legal system gives such opportunities for appeal to even for people like Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who had the intent to kill as many innocent American families as he could. If they had just denied him the chance to appeal on this fairytale technicality then you would probably be bleating indignantly about that instead. Either way, all you are doing is bleating.

  5. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    An AK 47

    Beats a lawyer in any trial...Damn Right!!!

    1. fearnothing
      Joke

      Re: An AK 47

      That's taking the rock, paper, scissors concept a little far don't you think?

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: An AK 47

      The AK-47 is the weapon of Terrorists. Prepare for your execution.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Don Jefe Re: An AK 47

        "The AK-47 is the weapon of Terrorists...." Er, this particular wannabe-jihadi's weapon of choice was a car-bomb....

  6. Old Handle

    Hang on a sec. Attempted to blow up a van he thought was full of explosives? This was another one of those FBi set-ups wasn't it? Why do they even need phone records for this?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Old Handle

      "....Why do they even need phone records for this?" The phone records were for the line of an overseas AQ operative. Whilst recording that guys telephone calls they overheard the local nutter offering to get all jihadi on Portland's posterior. They subsequently went through the metadata from the foreign AQ guy's calls to find the originating number in the US and hence traced the identity of the nutter, set up the sting, and no doubt laughed their pants off when the dummy fell for their trick. I would love to see video of his face when he realised his van-bomb was nothing of the sort.

  7. Richard Wharram

    District Judge only

    This will be appealed up to the Supreme Court whose job it is to determine how this sits with the 4th and 5th Amendments.

  8. Scroticus Canis

    Well he would still be roaming the streets in the UK

    If this shit had been in the UK he would not have been set-up as entrapment is not permitted by our legal system. So he would still be roaming the streets looking for a suitable target unless there was some provision of the Terrorism Act they could have nabbed him on and then probably just tagged him.

    In the good old days a show trial wouldn't have been needed, just a trip to the pig farm.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: Well he would still be roaming the streets in the UK

      Entrapment ?

    2. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Well he would still be roaming the streets in the UK

      Entrapment is strictly forbidden in the U.S. as well. However, the definition of entrapment is such that sting operations are permitted as long as the evidence establishes the staged crime was not something the victim was pressured into by the police, but instead something he could well have done himself by his own choosing if real criminals had instead approached him the same way.

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    Definition of entrapment

    Entrapment is pointing out an unguarded bicycle sitting on a lawn and telling a passerby that he should really go steal the bike "because nobody is looking". That's verboten in the U.S.

    If somebody comes to you and says he runs a hot bicycle chop shop, and do you know where he can get some "product", then you can set up the bike on the lawn and bust him when he acts on his previously expressed desire to commit theft.

  10. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    IANAL

    I wonder if there is a lawyertard lurking here to provide an explanation.

    My layman's understanding is that illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in court only in some jurisdictions. I am not sure whether it is a purely American notion, but I suspect that it might be, popular TV shows making it seem more widely applicable than it actually is. I am not sure whether it is, in fact, the norm in British courts (luckily I have not had sufficient experience). I think the prevailing notion on this side of the pond may rather be that evidence is evidence and if it was obtained illegally it's a separate matter from guilt or innocence that it proves. I may be horribly wrong and I will gladly be educated on the subject.

    This layman's conviction that warrantless untargeted surveillance is evil and must be made illegal in any country that pretends to care about individual rights and freedoms does not conflict with the feeling (disclaimer: I am not familiar with the case) that the chap deserves a very long time in jail. But then, I am not American. If I were, I might think longer about what the implications are for the foundations of my country's legal system.

  11. Nolveys
    Thumb Up

    El Reg needs to update their dictionaries, the correct word for "terrorist" and "terrorism" is now "terror".

    Why should police need warrants when they are hunting terror people and their terror bombs in their terror trucks? If there's a terror person in a house (possibly a terror house) the police should just kick the doors in and lay down some freedom and liberty. Should it turn out that there were no terror people in the allegedly-not-terror house then the occupants should be happy and relieved that they are terror free. Why involve a judge? Judges just cause more harm than good anyway.

    Magna Carta? More like Magna Farta if you ask me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      How do you do under that bridge Mr. Troll?

      The bleading innocent corpses aren't particularly happy about anything. And this has happened albeit by error. Why should the police need warrants? To stop them barging in on you by whim or just cause they don't like you. No, police can't possibly be bigots or plain stupid that's not at all possible.

  12. gsosbee

    fbi cares little for 'legality'

    Often the fbi drives a Target to neurosis, sets him up for a crime, arrests and then prosecutes the Target for the crime that the fbi orchestrated and committed.

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/affidavit2_2014.pdf

    http://sosbeevfbi.com/affidavit2007.html

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/part19a-updatefo.html

    Must understand the *real fbi and the effects of this corrupt and murderous agency on our culture.

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/dilemmafacingciv.html

    http://www.barbarahartwellvscia.blogspot.com/2014/06/extreme-prejudice-governments-war-on_12.html

    http://barbarahartwell.blogspot.com/2008/10/lies-of-wicked-persecution-of-ex-fbi.html?m=1

    * http://la.indymedia.org/uploads/2013/04/20120509-mafia.jpga0lahp.jpg

    http://austin.indymedia.org/article/2013/09/14/summary-fbi-crimes-against-me?showcomments&page=0

    http://sosbeevfbi.com/affidavit2007.html

    fbi commits crimes and sets Targets up for arrest:

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/dilemmafacingciv.html

    Additional Data On fbi/cia discreet efforts to torture, force suicide, or murder Targets see:

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/hightechassau.html

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/part16-updatefor.html

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/tooth14.html

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/tracking.html#finger

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/letterformthemed.html

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/non-consensual.html

    Guilty thugs speak from the shadows & in whispers ; the innocent brave hearts shout in the light of day from mountain tops.

    http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/Resources/safe_image-2-3.php.jpg

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