|A Miami judge let reason be her guide in the case of supposed "dirty bomber" ... oh no, wait, the government never actually charged him with that ... terrorist conspirator ... um, okay, not quite ... terrorist sympathiser-type ... guy ... Jose Padilla, sentencing the former Chicago gang member to 17 years in prison for his "material support" conviction. The Bush administration had wanted a life sentence for Padilla, although they never could quite articulate what for. The key points, courtesy of the Miami Herald:
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke gave Padilla, a man inextricably linked to the Bush administration's war on terror, a prison term of 17 years and four months for participating in a South Florida-based conspiracy to aid Muslims in ``violent jihad.''Cooke essentially made the decision that Padilla was not involved in a specific enough plot to warrant life:
The judge's decision to grant far below a life sentence was a blow to the government. Cooke reasoned that Padilla's crime was not tantamount to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
''There was never a plot to harm individuals in the United States,'' Cooke said. ``There was never a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.''
Padilla, 37, a U.S. citizen accused of training with the global terrorist group al Qaeda, stared blankly as Cooke condemned his ''harsh'' treatment as an ''enemy combatant'' in a Naval brig before his transfer to Miami to face terrorism charges. Cooke deducted the time Padilla spent in military custody -- 3 ½ years -- from his total sentence.
''I do find that the conditions were so harsh that they warrant consideration,'' Cooke told a crowded courtroom of lawyers, media and family members.
Padilla's mentor, Adham Amin Hassoun, a Palestinian who had met him at a Fort Lauderdale mosque in the 1990s, and Hassoun's colleague, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, were sentenced to 15 years and eight months, and 12 years and 8 months, respectively.
On Tuesday, she called the crimes committed by the three men ''very serious.'' Still, she stressed they caused no harm to anyone or anything in the United States.A good story overall, but you've got to love this little bit of stenography by the reporter, Jay Weaver:
Cooke further said that while they conspired to help Islamic extremists abroad, they also sent food, medicine and clothing to embattled Muslims. She also said that Hassoun, 45, and Jayyousi, 46, were educated men -- one was a computer programmer, the other an engineer -- who had no criminal history. On the other hand, she noted that Padilla had a violent criminal record as a Chicago gang member before moving to South Florida.
She said the government's proposed life terms were out of sync with past punishment for more serious domestic terrorists. She cited the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the ''20th hijacker'' in the Sept. 11 assaults, who was sentenced last year to life imprisonment. She also noted the case of Terry Nichols, who also received life for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. By comparison, Cooke cited the case of Yahya Goba, a Yemeni American who trained with al Qaeda and received 10 years after pleading guilty to providing ''material support'' for the terrorist group.
She also mentioned the case of David Hicks, who was released from an Australian prison in December after completing a U.S. sentence handed down at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was caught fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2001 and spent more than five years at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba, before agreeing to be transferred to Australia to serve out a nine-month sentence.
That allegation, among other accusations, was not pursued by prosecutors at trial because of national security reasons.Riiiight... that, or they didn't have any actual evidence...
Labels: Jose Padilla, terrorism, war on terror