Meet the lawyer defending Osama bin Laden's son-in-law

It's never an easy thing to defend a terror suspect, but this is not Philip Weinstein's first time around the block. Known for his "aggressive" courtroom presence, Weinstein, an attorney at Federal Defenders of New York, entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of his client Sulaiman Abu Ghaith this morning to charges that Abu Ghaith conspired to kill Americans.

Weinstein declined to comment to us and other reporters today, but he's been in the spotlight before for defending Faisal Shahzad, the so-called "Times Square bomber" who attempted to detonate a car bomb in 2010 before it malfunctioned, and Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, a Somali man who pled guilty to conspiracy and hostage taking in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in April 2009," according to the New York Times.

Weinstein's newest case, involving al Qaeda's former spokesman and Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, has already become politicized as Republican lawmakers criticize the Obama administration for holding the trial in federal court as opposed to a military tribunal, where Abu Ghaith would be afforded fewer rights. However, according to a glowing Times profile of Weinstein in 2010, he appears to be more than prepared to handle the case. The graduate of Cornell and the University of Michigan Law School used to run Legal Aid's criminal appeal bureau for nearly 10 years and has worked on at least two dozen federal trials. 

In 2010, here's what Times reporter Benjamin Weiser found out about him:

William E. Hellerstein, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who had earlier run the appeals bureau and remains a friend, said Mr. Weinstein's appellate background gave him an eye for the mistakes lawyers make and how to avoid them. He said Mr. Weinstein was a methodical and precise lawyer who did not make himself the focus of a trial.

"He doesn't break the furniture," Professor Hellerstein said. "He is a careful, thorough student of the game."

In a narcotics trial in December, Mr. Weinstein represented a client who was convicted, but the jury rejected the government's position on the amount of drugs involved, allowing for the man to receive a mandatory five-year sentence instead of a mandatory 10-year term.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the story is a flattering comment from Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York, who just so happens to be taking a lead role in the prosecution of Abu Ghaith. Speaking of Weinstein and his colleagues, Bharara calls them "formidable adversaries who always hold us to our proof, as they should." "They have earned their reputation as among the finest public defenders in the country," he adds. Well, looks like he's got his work cut out for him.


Hugo Chávez, and 7 other perfectly preserved dead world leaders you can visit

Traditions aren't traditions if they're not a little weird, right?

"We have decided to prepare the body of our 'Comandante President,' to embalm it so that it remains open for all time for the people," Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro declared on Thursday, in announcing plans to preserve Hugo Chávez's body and showcase it in a glass tomb at a military museum near the presidential palace. "Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong."

In fact, it turns out Maduro was missing a few names. The practice of embalming national (mainly communist) leaders and boxing their bodies in glass for posterity may have gone out of vogue with the end of the Cold War, but Chávez still has distinguished company. Here are the most notable members of the exclusive club: 

Vladimir Lenin, Russia

Died: Jan. 21, 1924

Call him a trendsetter. Lenin was the first communist revolutionary to be encased in glass upon his death, and his body is now on display in Moscow's Red Square at Lenin's Mausoleum, commonly known as Lenin's Tomb. But that might not last forever given public opposition to the memorial. In 2011, for instance, a member of the ruling United Russia party created a website where people could vote on whether to bury the former Soviet leader (the vary majority of respondents voted in favor of burial).

AFP/Getty Images

Mao Zedong, China

Died: Sept. 9, 1976

The founder of the People's Republic of China ruled the nation from its establishment in 1949 until his death. Though he reportedly wished to be cremated, the chairman's mausoleum went under construction immediately after Mao died and was completed by the following May.

AFP/Getty Images

Kim Il Sung, North Korea

Died: July 8, 1994

Like his neighbor to the north, Kim Il Sung ruled the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its inception in 1948 until the day he died. Draped in a Workers Party of Korea flag, his body is on display at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, also known as the Kim Il Sung Mausoleum.

AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong Il, North Korea

Died: Dec. 17, 2011

Kim Jong Il, who led North Korea from his father's death in 1994 until his own demise nearly two decades later, was put on display in the same shrine that houses his father. Dennis Rodman visited the remains of both former leaders during his recent trip to North Korea. 

AFP/Getty Images

Ho Chi Minh, North Vietnam

Died: Sept. 2, 1969

The communist revolutionary established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 at Ba Dinh Square, where his body now rests. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was inspired by Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow, and his body is watched over by an honor guard.

Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images

Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines

Died: Sept. 28, 1989

Marcos was president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, but died in exile in Hawaii. Nonetheless, his remains were returned home in 1993, and his body was put on display inside the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in the city of Batac. This week, the mortician who embalmed Marco offered some advice (and his services) to Venezuela. "They must not delay" choosing an embalmer," he told AFP, adding that he would not use resin to preserve Chávez as was done with Lenin. 

Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

Pope John XXIII, The Vatican

Died: June 3, 1963

Angelo Roncalli led the Catholic Church from 1958 until his death, and his body is now on display at St. Peter's Basilica. He was known for forging better relations with other religions, and was beatified on September 3, 2000. In 2001, the BBC reported that Vatican officials had found the pontiff's bodily remarkably well-preserved when they opened his coffin after nearly four decades as part of an effort to transfer his remains from a Vatican crypt. His body was soon put on display in St. Peter's Square, with the pope's face covered in a thin layer of wax.

Of course, we could go further back in time. You could always visit King Tut.

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