The sentence seems a little light....death would be a better option if he is guilty.
Anderson court-martial begins today
By Melanthia Mitchell
The Associated Press
Spc. Ryan G. Anderson was a tank crewman.
Spc. Ryan G. Anderson is shown on videotape willingly sharing military information with federal undercover agents he believed to be al-Qaida members.
The evidence will make it challenging for Anderson's defense as the Washington National Guard soldier now faces a military trial on charges he tried to help the terrorist group.
Anderson's court-martial is set to begin today at Fort Lewis. It is expected to last five days.
The 27-year-old Lynnwood man, a tank crewman with the Guard's 81st Armor Brigade, now in Iraq, is charged with five counts of trying to provide the al-Qaida terrorist network with information about U.S. troop strength and tactics, as well as methods for killing American soldiers.
If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole. A conviction requires agreement by two-thirds of a panel of commissioned officers, unlike a federal trial that requires a unanimous decision.
Anderson, a Muslim convert, pleaded not guilty to charges Aug. 9. He requested his general court-martial be heard by commissioned officers rather than a judge or a mixed panel of officers and enlisted soldiers.
"He's making a tactical decision. They believe the officers, given this type of charge, will give him the fair shake," said David Sheldon, a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in military law.
Specifics of the case have been guarded, with Anderson's attorney, Maj. Joseph Morse, and military prosecutor, Maj. Chris Jenks, refusing to comment.
It's not known what evidence the defense will offer or who will testify on Anderson's behalf.
In June, Morse was denied a request that the government pay for a psychologist to help prepare his case. Judge Col. Debra Boudreau said the defense was free to pay one on its own.
Fort Lewis officials have not said whether Anderson has undergone a psychological evaluation.
Anderson was raised in the Lutheran faith but began studying Islam while attending Washington State University. He's been described by high-school classmates in Everett as a paramilitary enthusiast who was passionate about guns.
Anderson caught the attention of federal agents last year with help from a Montana city judge.
The judge, Shannen Rossmiller of Conrad, Mont., testified at Anderson's Article 32 hearing in May that she monitors the Web for signs of extremist or terrorist activity. Rossmiller contacted the federal Homeland Security Department, which put her in touch with the FBI.
Soon Anderson was text-messaging a federal agent he believed was a member of al-Qaida. The conversations culminated in a face-to-face meeting with two undercover investigators in Seattle. The hourlong discussion was secretly recorded Feb. 9, just days before Anderson was to deploy to Iraq.
Three days later, Anderson was arrested at his home.