Padilla: Not Exactly a Nuclear Physicist

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A New York Times story about the interrogation of Al Qaeda "personnel director and hotelier" Abu Zubaydah mentions everyone's favorite "dirty bomber," Jose Padilla, whose trial in federal court, which follows three-and-a-half years of detention by the Pentagon, is scheduled to begin in January:

Zubaydah dismissed Mr. Padilla as a maladroit extremist whose hope to construct a dirty bomb, using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials, was far-fetched. He told his questioners that Mr. Padilla was ignorant on the subject of nuclear physics and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material.

The Justice Department left the dirty bomb plot out of its indictment.

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  1. Maybe the Institute for Creation Research could give Padilla a job teaching nuclear physics in their “graduate school”.

  2. If that’s true, Padilla’s own interrogators missed a golden opportunity by failing to tell him his toilet bucket/Koran holder was filled with fissionable material.

  3. This is the guy who presented such a threat that we needed to abandon the ancient writ of habeas corpus?

  4. Ah, but if Abu Zubaydah says he’s NOT important, then by logic of “whatever terrorists say is wrong”, then we were right to lock this (admittadly idiotic) American Citizen away sans charges for years…

    I’ve always been surprised that there’s been so little clamoring by either the ACLU or the ‘progressive left’ about this guy… like a post 9/11 version of “free mumia”

    There’s (to my view) been far more concern over foreign al qaeda being held in secret prisons – which is strange, since there seems to be far more clearer domestic issues re: Padilla – he’s an American, it’s clear he never came close to carrying anything out, so why wait 3 years to charge him? and then with overlapping issues that got some charges tossed out. I know there’s a lot of noise about this on the internet and shit… but I mean street level stuff. I’ve never heard him mentioned once by anyone as an issue that civil libertarians should be concerned about.

    JG

  5. The sort sight says only losers side with the bad guys. Many don’t understand the issue or what’s at stake. So few care to read the Constitution.

    For fun, ask everyone you run into this question. Article 1 of the constitution applies to which branch of government? You are more likely to hear something more like, “the government has branches?” than you will “the Legislative”.

  6. I’ve always been surprised that there’s been so little clamoring by either the ACLU or the ‘progressive left’ about this guy…

    Well, the ACLU did all it could. Namely Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 03-1027.

  7. …..and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material……

    Whats so strange about that? Thats how I do it!

  8. …..and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material……

    Whats so strange about that? Thats how I do it!

    Comment by: fish at September 11, 2006 01:11 PM

    Sure, if your the Flash, fish

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_(comics)

  9. generally speaking, LEGALLY SPEAKING, it is completely irrelevant as to inchoate crimes, as to whether one’s belief that one could (or is ) carrying out said offense is actually grounded in reality. it’s all about, to borrow a lawyers term – mens rea. see: legally blonde.

    example: johnny plans to murder sally. johnny enters sally’s room at 3:00 am. unknown to johnny, sally actually had a heart attack and died an hour ago. he shoots her.

    what is the crime? attempted murder. but she’s ALREADY dead. murder would be impossible.

    totally irrelevant. the issue was the act he attempted to commit, and HIS belief he was doing so, and that he took a substantial step – shooting the corpse- towards its execution

    in the case of padilla, even if he had NO ability to do what he intended to do, that has exactly jack#A$(A#$(#A( to do with the fact that he’s guilty as hell if he intended to do it, and carried out a substantial step – competently or not.

    this is simialr to conspiracy or criminal attempt charges where the other conspirator or the subject of the attempts is in fact an undercover agent (child sex acts for instnace where the UC cop is in fact a 40 yr old male agent not a 11 yr old female ). doesn’t matter. mens rea. it’s what’s for breakfast.

  10. “”in the case of padilla, even if he had NO ability to do what he intended to do, that has exactly jack#A$(A#$(#A( to do with the fact that he’s guilty as hell if he intended to do it”””

    I guess you are assuming he did “intend” to set off a dirty bomb, but we don’t know if that’s true.

    That question will never be answered thanks to the Bush administration dropping the dirty bomb charge. Padilla will never get his day in court to address that allegation.

    The problem with the Padilla case is not a question of innocents or guilt, but a question of the government’s adherence to the rule of law.

  11. Unwittingly shooting a corpse would seem to be several steps closer to murder than Padilla ever got to setting off a dirty bomb.

  12. “believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material.”

    Holy shit. Does anyone remember the Anarchist’s Cookbook? This is EXACTLY how their comical “how to build a nuclear weapon” article says how to do it…

  13. What no conspiracy theorists here? Jose Padilla and John Doe # 2 from Oklahoma City? http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/padillaJD2.html
    You think the Administration’s braintrust is above conspiracy theories?

  14. Unwittingly shooting a corpse would seem to be several steps closer to murder than Padilla ever got to setting off a dirty bomb.M/i>

    Your comment made me smile, joe. Just in case you’re trying to suggest that he therefore should not be found guilty of anything serious, I have to disagree. We put bank robbers in jail for attempting to rob banks- knowing that bank robbers are by all accounts, the dumb-asses of the criminal world. I doesn’t matter if the teller couldn’t understand the notes handwriting on the bank robber’s own deposit slip threatening mayhem if she didn’t ‘hnad ofer the muney’, he still is convicted of attempting to rob the bank.

    If that’s not your point, I defer.

  15. Poor Padilla doesn’t realize that enriching radioactive materials requires giant centrifuges, hence all the fuss over aluminum tubes.

    In other words, a uranium enrichment plant is a series of tubes.

  16. “generally speaking, LEGALLY SPEAKING, it is completely irrelevant as to inchoate crimes, as to whether one’s belief that one could (or is ) carrying out said offense is actually grounded in reality. ”

    How far do you take that? Can there be a conspiracy to murder by sticking pins in voodoo dolls?

  17. Garth writes:”Sure, if your the Flash, fish”

    Well, Rumsfeld seems to think he’s Green Lantern…

  18. actually, kevin… yes

    if YOU believe that you will kill Johnny Smith by sticking pins in a voodoo (cue: politically incorrect discussion of haitian religion) doll, or by ANY method (even if you are wrong), and you make an act towards carrying out that crime – it’s attempted murder.

    that’s what the law says. shoot a corpse (or even a rubber dummy under the sheets) and it’s attempted murder if YOU think it’s “sally jane”, even if it is not

    now, i am not saying this would get past a jury (see: jury nullification), but it is the law

    and imo, it kinda makes sense. inchoate crimes, and the theory of mens rea in general is designed to punish people for their intent and subequent action. just cause they are incompetent fools is not really relevant.

  19. whit,

    Attempted murder requires that there be a potentially effective means for carrying the deed out. Any prosecutor going for an attempted murder conviction on the basis of voodoo dolls, the evil eye, or fervent, sincere prayer for the death of another, is going to be laughed out of court long before the jury has a chance to nullify anything.

    inchoate crimes, and the theory of mens rea in general is designed to punish people for their intent and subequent action. just cause they are incompetent fools is not really relevant.

    Then why bother with “attempted murder” as a separate crime at all? If the law’s only concern is intent, shouldn’t an attempted murder be punished as severely as a completed one?

  20. the point is that the crime can be IMPOSSIBLE to carry out, so the potentially effective means is irrelevant

    see: shooting the corpse you THINK is alive. there is no way to KILL a corpse. yet, if you shoot a corpse you THINK is alive, that is attempted murder. period

    and nice strawmen. i never said that the laws ONLY concern was intent. i said that intent was key TO attempted murder.

    it is a necessary but not sufficient element.

    intent varies of course depending on crime – see: reckless, wanton, willful, knowingly, intentionally, malice aforethought, etc.

  21. Jon H wrote: “Well, Rumsfeld seems to think he’s Green Lantern…”

    He sticks his ring finger into a glowing power battery once every 24 hours?

  22. I think Rummy and Bush buy into the no evil shall escape my sight meme in the GL oath.

    G W Bush: The Kyle Rayner of Presidents!

    Kevin

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