The Padilla Conviction
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: August 22nd, 2007
It would be a mistake to see [the verdict against Jose Padilla] as a vindication for the Bush administrations serial abuse of the American legal system in the name of fighting terrorism. On the way to this verdict, the government repeatedly trampled on the Constitution, and its prosecution of Mr. Padilla was so cynical ... that the crime he was convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorism overseas bears no relation to the ambitious plot to wreak mass destruction inside the United States which the Justice Department first loudly proclaimed. When Mr. Padilla was arrested in 2002, the government said he was an Al Qaeda operative who had plotted to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb inside the United States. Mr. Padilla, who is an American citizen, should have been charged as a criminal and put on trial in a civilian court. Instead, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and kept him in a Navy brig for more than three years. The administrations insistence that it had the right to hold Mr. Padilla indefinitely simply on the presidents word was its first outrageous act in the case, but hardly its last. Mr. Padilla was kept in a small isolation cell, and when he left that cell he was blindfolded and his ears were covered. He was denied access to a lawyer even when he was being questioned. It was only after the Supreme Court appeared poised last year to use Mr. Padillas case to decide whether indefinite detention of an American citizen violates the Constitution, that the White House suddenly decided to give him a civilian trial. He will likely never be brought to trial on the dirty-bomb plot. The administration did everything it could to keep Mr. Padilla away from a jury and deny him impartial justice.