Jose Padilla Back in Court

Jose Padilla, the famously former "dirty bomb" suspect who now is a run-of-the-mill alleged terror-camp trainee, was back in federal court in Miami this morning for an important hearing in his criminal case. Padilla, the former "enemy combatant" who now is a plain old defendant, is trying to have his pre-confinement statements to law enforcement officials tossed out of the case.

According to the Associated Press, a special anti-terrorism agent for the FBI named Russell Fincher met Padilla's plane at O'Hare Airport in May 2002 because Fincher "believed there was a terrorist act that was going to happen. I believed he had knowledge of that. I needed his help.'' But although Padilla was candid about his past as a Chicago-area gang member and as a recent convert to Islam, he didn't give Fincher whatever information he was looking for (it is still unknown, of course, whether Padilla had any valuable information to share). So the feds arrested Padilla first as a "material witness"-- often done to hold a suspect for a few days-- and then later, on orders from the President himself, as an "enemy combantant."

There is more at stake at this hearing than just Padilla's fate. U.S. Magistrate Stephen T. Brown will have to decide whether prosecutors can subsequently use against suspects in a criminal case the information they initially give to law enforcement officials under the guise of "intelligence-gathering" for possible terrorism. The feds have long argued that since their intelligence-gathering function in these cases gets priority over any sort of subsequent criminal action they should not be required to read a potential terror suspect his Miranda rights like they would, say, a suspect carjacker. Padilla's attorneys, and others, contend that this technique is just a back-door way to question suspects without giving them their constitutional rights.

Stay tuned.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 17, 2006; 3:20 PM ET
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I guess Andrew cannot suppress his contempt for the idea that we are involved in a war on terrorism. That's why Padilla comes off as a "run-of-the-mill alleged terror-camp trainee." Maybe we should take them a little more seriously than boy scouts at the Jamboree, but not much. (Actually, for obvious reasons, I suspect that Andrew would provide more support for terror training camp attendees and less for boy scout jamborees.)

But if that is all Padilla is, why does he need to suppress statements made before he was arrested? If he is so innocent, what could he have revealed?

In fact, Padilla, as he has admitted, is a former gang member and likely expereienced in and very savvy to the rules of the American legal system. His own behavior, as noted in the linked article, shows that he did not consider himself under arrest. `He stood up and told me the interview was over and it was time for him to go,'' Fincher said

This indicates that he understood that he was not arrested as a suspect but was being interviewed for information he might have: exactly what the government says it was doing and needs to continue to be able to do.

In addition what Andrew characterizes as "[after relating his conversion to Islam] he didn't give Fincher whatever information he was looking for..." seems to really be evaision or at least failure to cooperate. In fact according to the article he talked about his travels in Pakistan and Egypt and elsewhere. "But when his story didn't add up, Fincher said he confronted Padilla with terrorist allegations and asked if he would testify before a grand jury about his purported al-Qaida connections."

So throughout this interview, Padilla, who apparently didn't quite tell the truth, was always considered a person with some knowledge about a possible terrorist attack and knowledge of terrorist connections. Someone who could be used to identify other terror suspects or link persons of interest to crime -- why else ask him to testify before a grand jury? There is no way to avoid a grand jury if they want you.

The truth is quite a different story from the one Andrew paints here. And there are substantive reasons for going after Padillia here and using whatever information he provided.

It would be nice if Andrew would at least acknowledge there are threats out there and we have to address those threats. Not everyone arrested as a terrorist is an innocent being jackbooted by the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | July 17, 2006 04:41 PM

if you're trying to _sell_ the "war," on terrorism,

which might be more aptly labeled bs storm to keep people from seeing that their country is being stolen from them by a group of people who identify themselves as the

"have's and the have mores,"

while a former cokehead and alcoholic serves as an example of the highest leadership this country has to offer....

a permanent example of the Arabian Hooris' Society, of which you are apparently a founding member...

do tell, please go on.


Posted by: I guess | July 17, 2006 07:16 PM

that dangerous moussassi guy?

sort of dropped off the face of the earth after his very public trial where he got to rant and rave and show people the "true" face of terrorism...

go back underground, to penetrate other terrorist cells in south Miami?

.please. speaking of ignorant

Posted by: and where's | July 17, 2006 07:19 PM

not being sworn in when he testified before Congress while grinning like a coyo te'

what was that about? truth liberty and justice for all?

.get a life.

Posted by: and Alberto Gonzales | July 17, 2006 07:22 PM

individual responsible for the "other" terrorist attack on the United States

the shoe bomb er?

what about the 12 to 20 MILLION _ILLEGAL_ aliens that could just as easily have been terrorists....

that we haven't been protected from? because the whole "terrorist" thing is a sham? bs , not true, manufactured , political ploy to pull off PNAC

Paul Wolfowitz? who's that? stock fraud? gold buying? come on

Posted by: what happened to that dangerous | July 17, 2006 07:24 PM

ganja smoking sears towers, bible thumpin terrorists?

vacationing in Jamaica?

Posted by: where are those | July 17, 2006 07:27 PM

for this overwhelming example of intellectual superiority in these comments?

coul d it be superman? mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper?

no, it's me.


Posted by: _who_ is responsible | July 23, 2006 09:10 PM

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