Friday, August 17, 2007

Blogger Reaction To Padilla Conviction

Give Ed Morrissey credit for being just about the only right-wing blogger willing to criticize the Bush administration for stripping Jose Padilla of all his legal rights under the Constitution for over three years. But John Cole says Ed is still inexcusably letting Bush off the hook, and he's absolutely right:

This was not a mistake. It was intentional. It went on for YEARS. It was only stopped at the threat of accountability via the Supreme Court. And they won’t be held accountable, they won’t explicitly admit to their “mistake,” and the next time they do it, the same folks who looked the other way and threw up red herrings about liberals loving terrorists and having Bush Derangement Syndrome will do the same God Damned thing. Christ- check the right-wing blogs. They are claiming VINDICATION.

There is no admission of error or wrongdoing (the closest we will get is someone in 2010, long after they are all in the private sector, will pen a book that states something along the lines of “we could have handled Padilla better”) , there is no accountability, and the only lesson to be learned from this whole debacle is that a certain brain-dead segment of the population is so partisan and so short-sighted they can be counted on to run cover for anything done in defense of “their” President. Well, we also learned that a good portion of the right wing only really cares about the Constitution when it looks good in sound bites and when it protects abortion protesters. Otherwise, TIME TO GET YOUR TORTURE ADVANCED INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES ON.

And in response to a reader who takes John to task for "singling out the one guy who is actually drawing the right conclusions, as opposed to all the conservatives who are cheerful and proud about what we did to Padilla":
I am not trying to be unfair to Ed- as I have stated repeatedly, I like him and think he really does try to be a straight shooter and tries to call things as he sees them. Does he occasionally say some hackworthy things- sure, but if a perfect record were required for blogging this site would have been closed 4 years ago. And in this case, he is right about what should be done, but failing to accurately state what this administration did and why they did it, as well as to openly acknowledge the bullshit spread by the Bush administration lackeys is to give them a pass for their wretched AND intentional behavior in the Padilla case.

Padilla’s treatment was not an accident. It was by design. And this administration got everything they wanted out of it and more. ...

John also links to a scorching commentary by Lewis Z. Koch at Firedoglake, written after closing arguments in the trial, but before the jurors reached a verdict:
In Chicago, we don’t have many stars. Al Capone was a star criminal. Almost single handedly, with a baseball bat and machine gun, he created the nation’s first permanent criminal enterprise which almost eighty years later runs smoothly. Mayor Richard J. Daley (the older guy) was a star politician, creating, maintaining and even strengthening the nation’s smoothest running political machine, so powerful that it could hand John F. Kennedy the Presidency by holding back the vote in Chicago precincts till he knew exactly how many ballots would have to be created out of thin air to win. Michael Jordan was a star athlete, the Baryshnikov of basketball, bringing millions of Chicago victory-starved sports fans trophy and trophy after trophy.

But when Assistant United States Attorney Brian K. Frazier called Jose Padilla, Chicago’s not-very-bright–wanna- be, a star recruit for Al Qaeda, he gave hyperbole a whole new meaning. Then the prosecution dug back in their paltry bag of cookies to the original indictment to proffer three chilling acts, telling jurors that Mr. Padilla attended a training camp in Afghanistan “to learn how to kill, kidnap and maim according to Al Qaeda’s techniques.”

In case the jury had forgotten 9/11, the prosecutor produced this outrageous bit of bigot-theater:
On Monday, the prosecution set up a a slide projector showing black and white pictures of the three defendants wearing kaffiyeh, an Arab headdress, as 12 jurors heard the closing arguments.

”What al Qaeda did writ large, these defendants did on a smaller scale,” Frazier said.

Get it?

Al Qaeda big! Twin towers collapsing. Defendants: small: zucchini Busch Gardens. All wearing kaffiyeh.

There was not one shred of testimony, not one witness who testified to Al Qaeda drill sergeants teaching Padilla anything.

Worse, was the crime of being evasive.
Mr. Frazier recalled how the F.B.I. agent who arrested Mr. Padilla at O’Hare International Airport had testified that Mr. Padilla had been evasive. Mr. Padilla acknowledged living in Egypt, the agent said, yet claimed not to remember simple details of his time there, including his wife’s phone number.

“Why wouldn’t he give simple information at O’Hare?” Mr. Frazier asked. “Why would an official Al Qaeda document be recovered from Afghanistan with his prints on it? These are not coincidences.”

No, they are not coincidences. They are the normal kinds of responses almost any kind of American citizen would give when abruptly arrested and taken into custody without being allowed – as is his constitutional rights – the Miranda warning.
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at interrogation time and at court.

I didn’t read about the Supreme Court ruling that Miranda applies to everyone except for Padilla.

Koch has been covering the Jose Padilla case since the start five years ago; an archive of his reports about the trial just ended is here. Note this paragraph in Siun's post at the top of the page:
The evidence presented by the prosecution was sparse at best – taped wiretaps of Hassoun and Jayyousi captured discussions of vegetables and family life – discussions the prosecutors claimed were code for terrorist activities rather than humanitarian aid work as claimed by the defense. [Without any supporting evidence for that claim, of course.] For Padilla, the hyped charges that initially presented this “jomoke” (to quote Lew) as a “star recruit” for Al Qaeda amounted to a supposed “application” to AQ with seven Padilla fingerprints on it. Blocked from the trial was evidence of the torture of Padilla during the 3 1/2 years he was held as an enemy combatant.

Here is the three-part Christian Science Monitor series published August 13, 14, and 15 that revealed the full extent of what was done to Jose Padilla. The link above is to the first story in the series. The second and third are linked from the bottom of the first screen of that article, and below:

"U.S. Government Broke Padilla Through Intense Isolation, Say Experts"(Aug. 14, 2007)

"Beyond Padilla Terror Case, Huge Legal Issues" (Aug. 15, 2007)

And there is this editorial in Wednesday's (Aug. 15) edition of the CSM, titled "A Verdict on Padilla -- and the U.S.":
A critical legal case shedding light on President Bush's antiterror tactics will soon come to a head. A jury will decide in coming days if an American citizen, Jose Padilla, is guilty of aiding Al Qaeda. The verdict will signal whether US civic values must be bent to win a war.

A three-part Monitor series reveals the troubling ways in which the administration shifted charges against Mr. Padilla, tried to avoid judicial review of his case, and likely damaged his mental health by using extreme isolation to extract information from him. (See final story.)

The ordeal of this former gang member and Taco Bell worker born in Brooklyn, who allegedly met with Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to plot a radiological "dirty bomb" attack on a US city, has taken on implications that will shape the American campaign against Islamic terrorists for years to come.

At its root, US treatment of Padilla shows the inclination to do anything to break the silence of a suspected terrorist, even it means violating such basic citizen rights as protection against self-incrimination and harsh interrogation, as well as the right to a trial.

In short, the US military used terror – Padilla had little or no human contact for more than three years – to fight terror. Many mental health experts say his severe seclusion in a Navy brig impaired his thinking. A judge confirmed the disability but let the case continue, refusing to probe the government's hand in altering Padilla's ability to defend himself.

Forensic psychiatrist Angela Hegarty, who spent 22 hours with Padilla, says he has radically changed since his arrest in 2002. Whenever she tried to talk to him about his case, "he would just stop, change the subject, and twitch."

The odd trajectory of this case also shows the bob-and-weave tactics used by the administration to avoid constitutional challenges to the way it handles terror suspects.

At first, Padilla's rights were protected because he was detained under the criminal-justice system. But then he was labeled an enemy combatant and put under military control, like noncitizen detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. When the courts appeared close to challenging his status, the Bush administration switched him back to a criminal court and lessened the charges to one of merely supporting Al Qaeda.

Guilty or not, Padilla deserves the same rule of law that any US citizen can expect. America can't win a global war to defend its values by stepping on them. As Army Capt. Ian Fishback wrote to Sen. John McCain after witnessing US military abuses in Afghanistan: "I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is America."

One protection from Islamic terrorists lies in clinging to the civic virtues that terrorists seek to end. Such values are a source of safety and should not be eroded in trying to kill, capture – or prosecute – suspected terrorists.

One of America's strengths in this war lies in being able to rally other nations to its side by upholding universal principles. That same strength also weakens terrorists.

The jury may well find Padilla guilty, but it may also see the injustice done in his case, and decide otherwise.

Victory in war is sometimes a victory simply for the rule of law.

Unfortunately, that did not happen here. It still might if the verdict is taken up for appeal on the grounds that Padilla's being tortured for almost four years made a fair trial impossible.

Barbara O'Brien takes a look at the response to the verdict among the America-haters on the right:
I wouldn’t have a quarrel with the verdict had Padilla’s rights as a citizen been observed. If there was evidence showing him conspiring with terrorists, certainly an arrest and trial was warranted. But his rights as a citizen were not observed. There is no justice here.

Utterly oblivious to what has actually happened here, and that what was done to Padilla is a betrayal of everything this country used to stand for, Michelle Malkin is having an orgasm of celebratory righteousness all over her blog. Don’t look unless you have a strong stomach. She doesn’t come out and say that the verdict justified shredding the Fourth Amendment and almost four years of torture, but she sure as hell isn’t showing any remorse either. And her Hot Air partner Allahpundit cheers — it’s a “big win for Bush.”

Malkin and Allahpundit hate America.

Allahpundit also believes that Padilla was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. One oar short of a rowboat, that one.

1 comment:

george said...

The really sad part of all this, aside from Mr. Padilla and his family, is that the world will never know if he was guilty of any more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.