Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Padilla convicted
Jose Padilla, an American from Brooklyn, by way of Chicago, who was designated as an enemy combatant by President Bush, and who once was accused, by John Ashcroft (pre-hospital heroism) of plotting to set off dirty bomb attacks in South Florida ... an accusation later retracted because the Bush administration had no actual evidence of such a plot ... was convicted yesterday, along with two other men of providing "material support to terrorists," apparently, mostly on the basis of his having filled out -- or at least handling -- an al-Qaida job application (who knew they had paperwork? And can you imagine what the interview is like? "What would you say was your worst failure ... your greatest success ...?)

I must admit that I remain dubious about the whole Padilla situation. As in the Hamdan case, it's built on vagueries and supposition, without much substance. And as with that case, it stands on the shaky legs of the Bush administration's outsized claims to executive power, including the power to detain American citizens (Padilla) without charging them with any crime, indefinitely if the president wishes. That's frightening, and un-American.

Worse, it seems the jury, which deliberated for less than 48 hours, was rather unconcerned with the lack of evidence in the Padilla case. Apparently, the fear haze that the American public was placed under by the Bushies after 9/11 hasn't entirely worn off, at least on everyone.

Padilla and his co-defendants will likely be put away for the better part of the rest of their lives. Padilla might actually be dangerous -- he is a former member of a notorious Chicago gang, and he has shown a propensity for violence (his first stint in prison was for kicking a rival gang banger in the head -- the victim later died.) But the government has not shown to my satisfaction that he is a terrorist.

And yet, he's going to prison as one. Go figure.

Worse, I suspect that the real reason the Bush administration has gone so hard after Padilla and other so-called homegrown terrorists -- the paintball guys in New York, the Liberty City Seven (who aren't even Muslims, but are supposedly al-Qaida ... go figure...) is because they need to demonstrate -- in contravention of the contrary evidence inherent in their own prosecutorial failures -- that there really is a war on terror going on , the better to justify the various outrages against the Constitution committed by this president -- from torture to domestic spying -- and to do so, they need to convince you that there is a continuous and ubiquitous domestic terror threat. It's important that it's domestic, because they want to spread the tentacles of their data mining and spying regime into this country, utilizing the tactics that by law, are supposed to be confined to overseas operations -- and even then, the connection to international law is often tenuous at best. The Bushies originally detained Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant under the guise of the Congressional authorization to use force in Afghanistan following the September 11 terror attacks. That justification was rejected by the Supreme Court, and should be rejected by the American people.

To paraphrase a Baptist preacher, I wish I had a Constitution loving church up in here.

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posted by JReid @ 7:54 AM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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