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France Kills A Murderer

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AP reports:

The Belgian extremist suspected of masterminding the deadly attacks in Paris died a day ago along with his female cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, French officials said Thursday, adding it was still not clear exactly how he died.

The body of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was found in the building targeted Wednesday in the chaotic, bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis and was identified based on skin samples, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Congratulations, France.  Well done.

Now stop criticizing us when we kill our murderers.

Multiple Terror Attacks in Paris

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The face of pure evil showed itself again in Paris today.  Stacy Meichtry, Inti Landauro and Thomas Varela report for the WSJ:

PARIS--Terror swept the French capital late Friday as a series of attacks--in a bustling nightlife district and outside a soccer stadium--left more than 100 people dead in one of the bloodiest assaults in the country's history.

The sheer scale of the mayhem--six separate attacks--left authorities reeling. The government declared a state of emergency, sending military forces onto the streets of Paris, sealing off roads and reinstating border controls. Sirens blared across the city as police and emergency workers rushed to respond.

On Trial for Speech in France

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The Europeans love to lecture us for the supposed human-rights violation of punishing murderers sufficiently for the crimes they have committed, but a trial under way in France threatens one of the most fundamental of genuine human rights, freedom of speech.

Marine Le Pen is on trial for making a speech.  What did she say?  Henry Samuel has this article in the London Telegraph.  In 2010, Ms. Le Pen had this to say about mass prayer sessions being held by Muslims in the streets at the time:

"I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about the Second World War, if we're talking about occupation, we could talk about that (street prayers), because that is clearly an occupation of the territory," she said during the meeting.

"It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people."
Poorly chosen words?  Sure.  A crime?  Not in any country that understands what liberty is all about.
Is the US Attorney in Manhattan bucking for the Well, Duh! Award?

Rebecca Davis O'Brien, Christopher M. Matthews and Farnaz Fassihi report in the WSJ:

A former president of the United Nations General Assembly and five others were accused Tuesday of engaging in a bribery scheme, part of what federal authorities said was a wider probe into corruption in the top ranks of the international body.

"We will be asking, is bribery business as usual at the U.N.?" said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, at a news conference announcing the charges.
The more difficult question comes later in the story:

Messrs. Ashe and Lorenzo could be shielded by diplomatic immunity in certain circumstances, but the complaint said they can be prosecuted for crimes outside the scope of their official positions.
That is not my understanding of diplomatic immunity, but I don't pretend any expertise on the subject.

Which Prisons to Visit?

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States, having said that he will meet with, not just the powerful, but the "marginalized," including prison inmates.

One might ask a couple of questions here.  One would be how US inmates got where they are.  And the answer would be by committing crime, usually violent crime. Another might be whether the Pope plans on meeting with the inmates' victims, and the answer is "no" (at least "no" so far as has been announced). Victims, I guess, can do without Papal grace.

But the question I want to ask is aptly discussed in today's Washington Post editorial. It asks why the Pope bypassed prisoners in Cuba  --  and instead had a cordial, smiling meeting with the tyrants who put them there in order to muzzle dissent, rather than because they committed any crime, as that word is understood in the United States and the rest of the Free World.

Thus, the Post notes: explain Pope Francis's behavior in Cuba? The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.

Pope Francis met with 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community -- in or outside of prison. According to the Web site, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana's cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass.

Homeless, Therefore Start Shooting

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While decent people are outraged by prosecutorial lying, no one even bats an eyelash when defense counsel spin their yarns.  It's what they do.  The basics are easy:  The client is almost always guilty; telling the truth is thus the fast road to jail; therefore make something up.  That's how it works.  Whether it should work that way is another matter, but that is for a different entry.

This is by way of introducing today's AP story about the Jihadist who attempted, but was foiled at, mass murder on a French train. Kent wrote about it here and here.  The would-be killer, Ayoub El-Khazzani, has now lawyered up.  Counsel's name is Sophie David, and this is what she has to say:

"He is dumbfounded that his action is being characterized as terrorism," said [Ms.] David, a lawyer in Arras, where the train was rerouted to arrest El-Khazzani -- now being questioned outside Paris by anti-terrorism police.
He described himself as homeless and David said she had "no doubt" this was true, saying he was "very, very thin" as if suffering from malnutrition and "with a very wild look in his eyes."

For sure.  When you're homeless, the thing to do is grab an assault rifle and go to town.  Why would anyone think otherwise?

But wait, there's more.

Update On French Train Story

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As often happens, the initial report on the attack on the French train was incorrect in a few particulars.  It looks like four people heroically stopped this apparently terrorist attack:  two American servicemen, one American civilian, and one Frenchman. Sam Schechner and Julian E. Barnes report for the WSJ:

Authorities praised two U.S. military members and their friend who tackled and subdued a man armed with guns and a box cutter on a Paris-bound train Friday as it sped through Belgium, breaking up what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.

The three Americans were seated on the train when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass, according to accounts from one of the men and a U.S. official briefed on the attack.

Crouching behind their seats, the Americans, who are childhood friends, decided they had to act. Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23 years old, ran toward the gunman and tackled him.

"I told him to go, and he went," Alek Skarlatos, 22, a member of the Oregon National Guard who had been deployed in Afghanistan, said Saturday.

Darren Boyle has this story, with the above headline, in the Daily Mail of London.

Two unarmed US Marines on board a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris foiled a terrorist attack after a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle, wounding three people.

The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.

The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 300 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.

Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition. It is feared that he was shot in the neck by the gunman.
Two unarmed Marines took down a guy with a Kalashnikov, saving God knows how many lives.  Now there is a profile in courage.  Let us pray for the wounded hero.

Update:   The headline now reads, "Unarmed US Marines foil suspected terrorist attack onboard high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris after they take down Kalashnikov-wielding Moroccan gunman known to intelligence services"

Update 2:  Turns out they aren't Marines, but the essential parts of the story are correct.  See next post.

Euthanasia in Europe

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Charles Lane has this opinion article in the WaPo, headlined, "Europe's sinister expansion of euthanasia."  CJLF takes no position on the issue, and I won't volunteer my personal opinion, at least not today, but I thought I would note this paragraph:

Frank van den Bleeken, imprisoned for 30 years for rape and murder, sought euthanasia from Distelmans, citing his incurable violent impulses and the misery of life behind bars. Belgian officials and Distelmans initially agreed; a lethal injection the murderer might have gotten as punishment in the United States would be supplied as therapy in anti-death penalty Europe.
And what do Belgian doctors prescribe for a painless death?  Sodium thiopental, the drug we are blocked from importing by the D.C. Circuit's dubious decision in Cook v. FDA.

French Surveillance Law Upheld

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Sam Schechner and Matthew Dalton report in the WSJ:

PARIS--France's top constitutional court mostly upheld a new French surveillance law that would give intelligence services broad new powers to spy in France and abroad.

The court-backed provisions of the law allow a wide range of new surveillance techniques meant for the Internet age, including the collection of "metadata" about online traffic and the use of software that can monitor every keystroke on a computer. The court said intelligence services can use these tools without approval of a judge, though the government must still seek permission from an independent body created to oversee surveillance activities.

The court, known as the Constitutional Council, did strike down a provision of the law that would allow emergency surveillance without the approval of the prime minister or another minister in the government.

Pollard Release Imminent?

Devlin Barrett reports for the WSJ:

The Obama administration is preparing to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison, according to U.S. officials, some of whom hope the move will smooth relations with Israel in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.

Such a decision would end a decadeslong fight over Mr. Pollard, who was arrested on charges of spying for Israel in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison. The case has long been a source of tension between the U.S. and Israel, which has argued that a life sentence for spying on behalf of a close U.S. partner is too harsh. Israel has for years sought Mr. Pollard's early release, only to be rejected by the U.S.

Now, some U.S. officials are pushing for Mr. Pollard's release in a matter of weeks. Others expect it could take months, possibly until his parole consideration date in November.
Such a deal for Israel.  First we sign the most toothless agreement since Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich in 1938 waving a document and claiming "peace in our time," an agreement that practically guarantees that a country determined to wipe Israel off the map will acquire nuclear weapons.  But not to worry, we will make it up by releasing one spy.
Alexandra Petri has this column in the WaPo on what crooked soccer executive Chuck Blazer (who has already pleaded guilty) chose to do with his ill-gotten gains.  For background on the more general story, see this article in the WSJ.

These international stories often involve questions of the reach of U.S. law.  Devlin Barrett, Christopher Matthews, and Aruna Viswanatha have this story in the WSJ.
Punishment for crime involves both judicial and executive discretion.  The sentence in years (or life) is imposed by the trial court, but where the convict actually is in those years is typically an executive decision.  That may involve which prison he is sent to, whether he is inside or outside prison (i.e., parole), or even which country he is in.

Khalid Al Fawwaz was sentenced today for his part in the 1998 Embassy Bombing plot.  He received three life sentences and a ten-year sentence, concurrent.  And Judge Kaplan added this:

The Court makes the following recommendation to the Department of Justice: The Court is mindful of the fact that defendant may have the ability to apply to the U.S. Department of Justice under the international prisoner transfer program to be allowed to serve some or all of his sentence in another nation. Although a decision on any such application, if one is made, would be up to the Department of Justice, the Court strongly recommends that any such application be denied. The defendant has been convicted of very serious crimes against American citizens. His punishment ought to be served in, and more particularly, always remain under the control of the United States of America.
Now that's refreshing to hear from a federal judge.

European Political Developments

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Here are a few notes from across the pond.
Pablo Gorondi reports for AP that the prime minister of Hungary is in hot water with the European Union over the death penalty.  What did he do, you might ask.  Did he restore it in Hungary?  Did it propose its restoration?  No, he did not.

He only suggested that the topic be up for debate.  And that is enough to produce a thunderstorm of condemnation in today's PC EU.

"In relation to Brussels, a debate about democracy has come about," Orban said in an interview on Echo TV. "Where are we living? In the Middle Ages, where they declare that there are taboos which are not worthy of debate?"
It is quite bad enough that the EU has bludgeoned smaller and poorer countries into abolition as a part of the price for the economic advantages of joining the big EU market, but to dictate to countries what they are even allowed to discuss -- and then claim that this censorship is in the name of "human rights" -- is gross hypocrisy.  When did freedom of speech stop being a human right?

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