Jury Convicts Padilla

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CNN is reporting that former "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla was found guilty of conspiracy to support terrorism:

The verdict came after less than two days of deliberations, according to a U.S. District Court official.

Padilla and two co-defendants were convicted on all counts.
Padilla pleaded not guilty. At his trial, defense attorneys argued Padilla went overseas only to study Islam.

During the trial, prosecutors played more than 70 intercepted phone calls among the defendants for jurors, including seven that featured Padilla, 36. He is a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam originally arrested as a suspect in a "dirty bomb" plot.

FBI agent John Kavanaugh testified that the calls were made in code, which Padilla used to discuss traveling overseas to fight with Islamic militants, along with side trips to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

In closing arguments, Padilla's lawyers argued he never spoke in code. His voice is heard on only seven of 300,000 taped conversations.

Full story here.

Matt Welch on Padilla here.

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  1. Wait, I thought that, unless we had indefinite military detention, these civilian juries were going to let the terrorists go free to plant dirty bombs and destroy middle America? A guilty conviction isn’t how the narrative is supposed to go.

  2. he he he….as opposed to an innocent conviction….sorry ’bout that.

  3. Well, evidence of a terrorist plot was shown to a jury, and the jury found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless there’s some error in the case, one that the jury could not see through, it would appear that preservation of due process and punishment of terrorism are compatible goals.

    Score one for the Constitution and the rule of law.

  4. Perhaps they just took pity on him, so he can go to regular old prison now, instead of the military brig.

  5. Well, it was “conspiracy to support terrorism” which seems to be less than an actual terrorist plot. I never believed he went to the middle east solely to study Islam. All that “dirty bomb” business appears to have been complete bullshit, but also not necessary to the charge.

    So, despite Bush’s suspension of the 5th Amendment, John Ashcrofts howler monkey act and the right-wing echo chamber’s shrill reverberation….the old system worked and justice was done.

  6. “Perhaps they just took pity on him, so he can go to regular old prison now, instead of the military brig.”

    I am not sure regular old prison is preferable.

  7. Lamar,

    When Ashcroft hurls a handful of his shit at you, you’ll regret that howler monkey crack.

  8. All that “dirty bomb” business appears to have been complete bullshit,…

    I don’t know. I can readily believe that someone talked about a “dirty bomb”. I doubt that anything concrete was done.

    Somehow I doubt that Padilla could ever have acquired enough material to do any damage.

    In fact that’s part of the point, I think.

    It doesn’t matter that most of these plans are implausible. All it takes is for the word to be spread and enough people will be terrorized just by their own irrational fears.

    All this without the terrorists even firing a shot or lighting a fuse.

  9. Somehow I doubt that Padilla could ever have acquired enough material to do any damage.

    I am not so sure of this. If he was a vetted AQ member, why would AQ not supply the material?

  10. When Ashcroft hurls a handful of his shit at you…

    Nah, right now, he’s rolling in it. Or should be…

  11. Unless there’s some error in the case, one that the jury could not see through, it would appear that preservation of due process and punishment of terrorism are compatible goals.

    Thoreau, I’m sympathetic to your point, but due process requires a lawful arrest. As Padilla was arrested here by civilians, that worked out fine. The million dollar question has been what to do where soldiers don’t read miranda rights, don’t need probable cause, etc. when they detain someone on the battlefield. In those cases, due process would not be compatible with arresting terrorists in a place like Afghanistan.

  12. Abdul,

    The Geneva Conventions call for a “regularly constituted tribunal” to be held when someone captured on the battlefield is accused of criminal acts of war.

    If the bogus “military commissions” being held (and reheld if they get the “wrong” result) were reformed into legitimate courts of law which provided adquate due process, that would be a perfectly appropriate way to try accused terrorists captured by the military.

  13. The million dollar question has been what to do where soldiers don’t read miranda rights, don’t need probable cause, etc. when they detain someone on the battlefield. In those cases, due process would not be compatible with arresting terrorists in a place like Afghanistan.

    On the battle field you are not arresting an opposing soldier, you are taking that soldier prisoner. POWs are held until the war is over with. There are no “Miranda” rights on a foreign battle field. I am no expert, but I don’t think there are Miranda rights even if the battle field is in the US. There are “rules”, e.g. the Geneva convention, but those only apply if your adversary is a signatory to the GC. Gitmo is filled with these guys, and I don’t think they are going anywhere. Why would you want to introduce POWs into the civilian American legal system?

  14. “Wait, I thought that, unless we had indefinite military detention, these civilian juries were going to let the terrorists go free to plant dirty bombs and destroy middle America? A guilty conviction isn’t how the narrative is supposed to go.”

    Wrong again. The concern is that due process would allow terrorist’s lawyers access to sensative material.

  15. I don’t know the man, but the stench coming off his prosecution was pretty rank. He should get credit for time served.

  16. “I don’t know the man, but the stench coming off his prosecution was pretty rank. He should get credit for time served.”

    He will get credit for time served. His time will be applied to his life sentence. Seems about right.

  17. “He will get credit for time served. His time will be applied to his life sentence. Seems about right.”

    You just don’t get it. BUSH IS EVIL.

  18. but those only apply if your adversary is a signatory to the GC.

    No, that is incorrect. The Geneva Conventions include standards for the treatment of real soldiers who act within the laws of war, but also for the treatment of criminal combatants who act outside of them.

  19. Hey, look over there! Over there! It’s people who don’t like George Bush!

    No, no, over THERE!

    Why aren’t you looking over there?

    Pretty please?

  20. Anybody notice how much electricity Al Gore uses?

    Well, do you notice?

    See, he’s over there. Look!

  21. wayne

    The original story was that one of Padilla’s jobs was to buy the radioactive material (the “dirty” part of the “dirty bomb”) and the explosives (the “bomb” part?) in the US. I find that part plausible.

    What becomes implausible is that once someone like Padilla started to try to buy the stuff he would have set of about a thousand alarms. And considering his prior criminal history it seems unlikely that he would have succeeded at stealing them.

    I’m leaning to the theory that guls like Padilla, Richard Reed and the English “liquid bomb” guys are patsy.

    Sent out as sacrificial lambs by AQ leaders to not so much succeed “at the mission” but to be arrested.

  22. Padilla has some pretty nasty associations, and they were apparently significant enough as were his “substantial steps” to get him convicted of conspiracy by a jury. Fair enough. I think any American is entitled to the same opportunity to plead his case.

    As for people who are not citizens who are captured overseas, we need some new mechanism for dealing with them. Something other than the torture good, indefinite detention also good system.

  23. “Sent out as sacrificial lambs by AQ leaders to not so much succeed “at the mission” but to be arrested.”

    What’s the putative benefit?

  24. Whether they succeed or not the populace is still terrorized by the publicity surrounding the arrests.

  25. “You just don’t get it. BUSH IS EVIL.”

    Yeah, I know. So is Jose.

    “No, that is incorrect. The Geneva Conventions include standards for the treatment of real soldiers who act within the laws of war, but also for the treatment of criminal combatants who act outside of them.”

    I will defer to your expertise. Are the enemy combatants being treated poorly? They are being well fed, so well in fact that some of them have become obese. They are housed, clothed, fed, allowed to worship as they wish. They are just not being allowed to kill Americans. Seems OK to me. What is the problem.

    Does the Geneva Convention allow POWs to be released while the war still rages? I don’t think so. Why should these guys be freed?

  26. “Whether they succeed or not the populace is still terrorized by the publicity surrounding the arrests.”

    But wouldn’t success provide an exponentially greater benefit?

  27. “Sent out as sacrificial lambs by AQ leaders to not so much succeed “at the mission” but to be arrested.”

    Maybe so. In that case Jose succeeded; he got arrested and now he will spend the rest of his life in the klink.

  28. “Maybe so. In that case Jose succeeded; he got arrested and now he will spend the rest of his life in the klink.”

    Just another victim in Bushes illegal war.

  29. The idiots are Team B. First they send Team A to do something, since they have the best chance of success. Then, once everybody is scared, they send Team B. If Team B happens to succeed, well, then they succeed, and that’s bad for us. But even if Team B gets caught, we’ll still see Team B and be like “OMG! They’re still out there!” and freak out and flail around in response.

    If Team B is sent first, we’re likely to catch them and scoff because we haven’t been primed for fear by Team A.

  30. But wouldn’t success provide an exponentially greater benefit?

    [in preview: what thoreau said]

    Terrorism is never about the x actual victims, but the y newspaper readers & CNN-watchers whom you wish to terrorize. The dead folks ain’t scared, they’re just dead.

    Achieving real success is difficult, but sending the camp doofus to get himself arrested is pretty damn easy. Especially when the US gov’t is all to happy to oblige in grossly overstating the threat he presented, due to their own political goals.

    As much as this whole thing stings to high heaven, I fear if he had been acquitted Bush would have said, “see, this is why we can’t ever have nice things” and thrown him back in Gitmo. And that would have been a truly ugly precedent.

  31. Hey – they’re spies like us!

  32. “””Whether they succeed or not the populace is still terrorized by the publicity surrounding the arrests.”””

    Padilla didn’t terrorize the public, the government did with the dirty bomb story. They wanted to use the story for the own ends. If the Bush admin was concerned about not terrorizing the public, they would have kept it hush, hush.

  33. “””Does the Geneva Convention allow POWs to be released while the war still rages? I don’t think so. Why should these guys be freed?”””

    I don’t know any reasonable person that thinks they should be freed at a whim. Most I know just want the truth to be used. We can’t just call a guy a terrorist, it needs to be true. The current way of doing things at Gitmo is not geared for truth, it is set up for hearsay. If the government can not convict someone in Gitmo just because Afghan farmer Brown said the guy’s a terrorist, you will see a number of those held being found not guilty.

    I agree with Lamar, today is a victory for our form of justice, but I don’t think the government should get a free pass for usurping a citizens constitutional rights.

  34. The Jack Nicholson impersonation in 3-2-1

  35. This is just as well. If the jury found Padilla innocent, the Bush admin. will concoct some other way of keeping him in detention.

  36. Well Wayne, if they’re POW’s, then they shouldn’t have been subject to the interrogation regime we created to try to gain intelligence. And the Red Cross should have had continual access to them without limits other than those set by the Conventions.

    If they aren’t POW’s, but were common criminals apprehended in the Afghani war zone, and they weren’t tried by the time Afghanistan had an internationally recognized government again, they should have been returned to Afghanistan for trial. That actually would have been the best solution.

    And if you can’t successfully try someone because you aren’t willing to produce your evidence because of a reason of your own, then tough – you get to let the person go. So screw your sensitive information argument right up its own ass.

  37. Jose’s mom – “I’m not surprised by anything in this place anymore,” she said. “This is a Republican city.”

    So, if the Democrats were in charge of Miami, terrorists would be free to maime and kill in Allah’s name? Shame on Jose’s mom. I’m sick and tired of neocons like her questioning the patriotism of every Democrat or non-Republican.

    I guess this indirect endorsement of Democrats falls under the category of “endorsements nobody wants”. Kinda like Marilyn Manson’s proclamation he is a Republican.

  38. dick: you said “wrong again” about the first thing I posted. Also:

    “The concern is that due process would allow terrorist’s lawyers access to sensitive material.”

    Like what? The case against Padilla? And since it didn’t come to pass, your supposed counterexample actually supports the idea that due process, or some semblance of it, isn’t contrary to national security.

  39. wayne,

    Are my actual arguments so terrifying that you must make up less intimidating ones to refute instead?

    This is a thread, and mine was a comment, about the judicial or quasi-judicial process that should be followed in the case of accused terrorists. Accused, wayne. Tell me, if you were locked in Gitmo for several years despite being completely innocent, how many calories would you have to consume for you to conclude that you were being treated well?

  40. And since you asked, prior to and shortly after being released from military custody into the civilian prison system, he was treated in such a manner that left him psychologically incapable of standing trial.

    Call me crazy, but I think we should maybe have something other than the guy who caught the prisoner’s say-so that he is guilty before we do that to a person. Like, say, having a neutral party find that he isn’t a completely innocent man. Maybe we can even have a guy in a robe and a dozen citizens skim over the government’s case to make sure.

  41. I wonder what folks on here think sould be done if we catch Bin Ladin.Where would he fit in the justice system,P.O.W,civilian court,or just shoot him?

  42. Rikers, general population, under his own name.

  43. I have to agree with Joe here.

    Rikers Island.

    Something about the image of bin Laden being taken to Rikers is just appropriate.

    Let him sit there picking the shit out of his meals while awaiting trial and see if he decides he wants to talk to the US Attorney instead.

  44. Orange jumpsuit. And a shave.

  45. Sucks, don’t it?

  46. You would really put him in our justice system?I think I ‘d rather see him shot on sight and spare us the circus.

  47. The mere fact that a US citizen is put in prison for 3.5 years without access to anything (let alone a lawyer) is very scary. As a (legal) resident alien of the US, I have far less protections than US citizens. Why should I trust the system? Frankly I am freaked out by the prospects.

    Here is an article that put my fears in very concrete terms:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/?last_story=/opinion/greenwald/2007/08/16/padilla/

    Much of the readers’ comments stem from a very libertarian point of view. I recommend reading the first few pages in the readers comments.

  48. No, joe. Bin Laden should go into witness protection.

    Send him to the same neighborhood as all the NY and NJ mobsters. Introduce him to the other guys in the program. Let him get to know his peers.

    They can take him fishing.

  49. The idiots are Team B. First they send Team A to do something, since they have the best chance of success. Then, once everybody is scared, they send Team B. If Team B happens to succeed, well, then they succeed, and that’s bad for us. But even if Team B gets caught, we’ll still see Team B and be like “OMG! They’re still out there!” and freak out and flail around in response.

    If Team B is sent first, we’re likely to catch them and scoff because we haven’t been primed for fear by Team A.

    Huh? Too many metaphors for me.

  50. Tell me, if you were locked in Gitmo for several years despite being completely innocent, how many calories would you have to consume for you to conclude that you were being treated well?

    Well, if it were ME that was locked in Gitmo, then I would be COMPLETELY innocent. Me and all those other COMPLETELY INNOCENT guys would mill around all day plotting our revenge on our tormenters. I am sure that we would have as many Fatwas as inncoent guys there, maybe even more.

    Just by way of metaphor, Joe, if you were among a group of Koreans held captive by the Taliban, how many of your of your fellow captives would you need to see summarily executed before you concluded that you were being treated poorly?

  51. If Bin Laden is captured he should be tried by military tribunal and sentenced accordingly.

  52. Actually, I see the Padilla case as completely different than the Gitmo detainees.

    Padilla should have been handled as a criminal, and should not have been treated as an enemy combatant. He was a US citizen arrested on US soil. The only explanation is that it was a crazy time in US history (shortly after 911) and mistakes were made. Similar mistakes were made at other crazy times in US history.

    The Gitmo guests on the other hand do not fit that description. They were all captured elsewhere and were engaged in waging war against US and allied forces. All things considered, they are being treated pretty well.

  53. One more point. Padilla was not held at Gitmo. After his arrest he never left US soil, to my knowledge.

  54. Joe and Thoreau, I think your suggestions regarding Bin Laden are half in jest, but think about if for a minute. You are proposing a kind of “domestic rendition.” If you really do oppose torture and extralegal punishment, you don’t get off the hook morally because the government puts people in a position where criminals do they dirty work.

    And Joe, inmates at Rikers, which is primarily used for pre-trial detention, don’t wear orange jumpsuits and are not shaved as part of initial procesing.

  55. It’s ok, wayne. I didn’t expect you to come up with a serious answer.

  56. They were all captured elsewhere and were engaged in waging war against US and allied forces.

    And you kow this, how? Becasue the government said so? You’re so certain of their guilt that you object to making the government demonstrate that guilt.

    Quite the libertarian, aren’t you?

  57. parse,

    I don’t want bin Laden tortured. I want him humiliated by having him treated like a common criminal.

  58. parse-

    Yeah, yeah, I know, the rule of law is the rule of law. I was mostly joking. I’m still tempted to say that Bin Laden should be dropped off in lower Manhattan and left to his own devices, but I guess we can’t really go down that road.

    joe’s point is a good one, however. The self-styled leader of a global war, reduced to eating bad jail food in an ordinary jail uniform, surrounded by a bunch of other murderers. It would be the ultimate put-down for him. No last stand in a blaze of gunfire, no martyr’s death at the hands of torturers so that a generation of followers can vow vengeance, no illegal execution that can give other people a chance to argue that there was something wrongful about his death. Just the same fate as any other murderer.

    Even more than bloodshed, he seeks glory and chaos. Subjecting him to law and order, and stripping him of all pretensions of grandeur, would be the ultimate punishment.

  59. Joe,

    My answer was as serious as the question.

    “And you kow this, how? Becasue the government said so? You’re so certain of their guilt that you object to making the government demonstrate that guilt.”

    I am convinced of their status because the military conducts reviews of the evidence against them and holds them as enemy combatants when the evidence warrants it. In fact, some have been released.

    The Gitmo guests are not “civilians”:
    1. they were nabbed while conducting warfare; 2. they are in fact illegal combatants because they represent no state;
    3. they adhere to no code of conduct themselves;
    4. they certainly don’t treat their prisoners with anything remotely similar to the kindness they receive at Gitmo.
    5. We did not conduct “trials” for the German, Japanese, or Italian prisoners we took during WWII. We simply incarcerated them until the was was over with. Why should we do differently now?

    While we are at war with loosely organized terrorist groups, it seems reasonable to imprison the ones we catch.

  60. joe’s point is a good one, however. The self-styled leader of a global war, reduced to eating bad jail food in an ordinary jail uniform, surrounded by a bunch of other murderers. It would be the ultimate put-down for him. No last stand in a blaze of gunfire, no martyr’s death at the hands of torturers so that a generation of followers can vow vengeance, no illegal execution that can give other people a chance to argue that there was something wrongful about his death. Just the same fate as any other murderer.

    Even more than bloodshed, he seeks glory and chaos. Subjecting him to law and order, and stripping him of all pretensions of grandeur, would be the ultimate punishment.

    I agree.

  61. Legally, bin Laden should be given the same treatment that McVeigh, Yousef and Abdel-Rahman got. Criminal trial.

    Strategically, it would probably be best if he were “killed in the crossfire” during the attempt to capture him.

  62. 1. they were nabbed while conducting warfare;

    Prove it.

  63. Does anyone believe that treating OBL as a common criminal, giving him due process and letting him rot in jail cell would prevent him from being held up as a hero, a political prisoner and (eventually) a martyr? A criminal trial would (understandably) be seen as a sham by anyone sympathetic to his cause, and also by the more cynical elements of those not sympathetic (i.e., folks like me).

    Conducting a proper trial for OBL would be damn near impossible: security for the proceedings would be a nightmare, the jury pool is irreversibly tainted, I’m sure much of the evidence against him is of a sensitive nature (i.e. revealing it in open court would compromise intelligence gathering means & methods), etc.

    de stijl has it right, if only our gov’t actually wanted to take OBL out. Unfortunately, he is too useful- if he were gone, who would be the focus of the Two Minute Hate?

  64. Padilla didn’t terrorize the public, the government did with the dirty bomb story. They wanted to use the story for the own ends. If the Bush admin was concerned about not terrorizing the public, they would have kept it hush, hush.

    Exactly.

    Who’d’ve that that Bush and Ashcroft would be on the side of the terrorists?

  65. Who’d’ve [thought] that Bush and Ashcroft would be on the side of the terrorists?

    [raises hand from back corner of room]

  66. I’m not sure if this was mentioned earlier and it might be too late for most to see it, but…

    While I emotionally like the idea of OBL being reduced to a common crimminal and worry killing him to make him a martyr, I’m not sure there are easy answers.

    For instance you would at least have to anticipate all kinds of terrorist attacks in an attempt free an imprisioned OBL. Not just highjackings, but you could also predict random violence that “won’t stop until OBL is released”.

    Assuming he can be taken alive, which is doubtful, and assuming that all details are possible – How about letting one of his former home countries try him if he’s captured alive?

  67. 1. they were nabbed while conducting warfare;

    Prove it.

    We have the same level of proof for these terrorists (soldiers) that we had for German, Japanese, Italian and North Korean soldiers. We imprisoned them for the duration. Get used to it, dickhead.

  68. wayne, unfortunately a significant number of the prisoners at Gitmo were not captured on the battlefield by American or coalition forces. They were turned over to us by our allies in the Northern Alliance.

    I have no problem with holding those who were captured by our forces as POWs. I don’t even have a problem with holding the ones our allies turned over to us if they were actually combatants. It’s just common decency to make sure they are.

  69. “I have no problem with holding those who were captured by our forces as POWs. I don’t even have a problem with holding the ones our allies turned over to us if they were actually combatants. It’s just common decency to make sure they are.”

    I have no disagreement. The military does review the facts for Gitmo guests. Some have been set free as a result of those reviews.

    What many on H&R seem to want though, is a full scale indictment and trial in a federal court with all the standard constitutional rights accorded to the accused. This is clearly not necessary and in fact is just a tactic to use our tradition as a free people against us.

  70. Many Guantanamo detainees have been released since the facility was set up after U.S. and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U. S., Whitman said.

    “But the population that remains there is a very dangerous population that, if released, could very well return to the battlefield,” he said.

    Twelve detainees who’d been released from Guantanamo had returned to the battlefield and had been re-captured by U.S. forces, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld noted during a June 1, 2005, Pentagon news conference.

    source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=14649

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