U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema’s decision Monday to block the Trump Administration travel ban is important, at least in part, because she is a judge who has handled plenty of terrorism-related cases, including prosecution of a 9/11 terrorist.
Brinkema, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1993, presided over the case of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. She sentenced him to life in a supermax prison, telling him he would “die with a whimper.”
“You came here to be a martyr and to die in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead, you will die with a whimper,” she told him. When Moussaoui attempted to respond she silenced him saying, “You will never again get a chance to speak again and that is an appropriate and fair ending.”
In 2003, she sentenced al-Qaeda operative Lyman Faris to 20 years in prison for providing material support to the terror group.
In 2009, Brinkema determined that Guantanamo Bay detention camp detainees could be prosecuted in the U.S. civilian justice system.
She is currently presiding over a claim by detainees of notorious Abu Ghraib prison who say a private contractor for the U.S. government engaged in torture and abusive treatment of detainees in violation of Geneva Conventions.
Late Monday, Brinkema ruled the President’s executive order on immigration violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the order in Virginia, which includes Dulles Airport.
“Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she said in her order.