The Devil's in the Details

Complex cases often are decided in simple ways. That is to say, the simplest explanation for a series of events -- say, a murder or a robbery or the defrauding of stockholders -- usually is the one jurors will grab ahold of when they begin to deliberate.

So, as a rule, when lawyers focus on niggling details during closing arguments, it's usually a sign of desperation: They're behind on points and need a knockout if they are to prevail at trial. And focusing on details is what Jose Padilla's lawyers were doing earlier this week.

In the the terror conspiracy and support trial of Padilla and two co-defendants, defense lawyers were the ones begging jurors to look at minor details in the evidence while prosecutors asked them to look at the big picture. Defense lawyers were the ones dissecting the significance of the way the defendants were laughing on some of their wiretapped phone calls.

Sure enough, just a few hours ago, we saw the swift and sudden conviction of all three defendants.

Following a bitter, complicated trial that lasted three full months, it took jurors less than a day and a half of deliberations -- they made sure to stay for their free lunch on the second day -- to declare to their government and to the world that the men were terrorist-wannabes. The defendants illegally walked and talked like terrorists back in the 1990s, the jury decided today, and even though that was long before any of the rest of us had heard of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, and even though there was a paucity of good evidence, it was enough.

For this jury, the simplest explanation was that these guys were up to no good. They were acting suspiciously (or at least not innocently). They were talking like spies (or at least not like relief workers). Teenagers are expected talk and text in code so that their parents don't know what they are up to. Makeshift humanitarians are not.

None of this in my view necessarily justifies today's verdicts -- but it certainly in my mind helps explain them.

For the government, it's a verdict that brings a huge sigh of relief. Now the feds don't have to worry about what to do with Padilla, the once-upon-a-time "dirty bomber." Now they can declare victory even though the people who have followed this case closely know that Padilla ultimately was convicted on evidence that federal authorities did not believe amounted to a crime when it was gathered back before 2001. Now the folks at the Justice Department can claim we are safer from terrorism even though the constitutional mess left over from the initial Padilla affair -- his designation as an enemy combatant -- could hamper terror law efforts for years to come.

For the defense, it's further proof that if you can convince an American jury that a man in the dock had anything to do with al-Qaeda, you can pretty much bank on a conviction no matter how tenuous the evidence. And in this case, all the government's resources were brought to bear upon this trio of (let's face it) losers who were so inept as terror "trainees" that the feds gave up their trail in 2000.

If this is a grand victory in the war on terror, I do not look forward to seeing what a defeat looks like.

By Andrew Cohen |  August 16, 2007; 4:20 PM ET
Previous: Padilla Convicted on All Counts | Next: Free, Free, Set Them (Cases) Free


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Consider for a second that this is not a "grand victory in the war on terror" but indeed a defeat. America has lost something, and its not a dirty bomber on the loose.

Posted by: WOW | August 16, 2007 06:28 PM

Someone explain to me why they couldn't have gotten this same conviction years ago, without denying Padilla his rights and torturing him. We've lost so much respect in the world with our conduct in Padilla's case. Remember, we are supposed to be a nation of laws, one that can stand on high moral ground. Unfortunately, W didn't get the memo.

P.S. Padilla was indeed a loser. Reminds me of all the other losers that W touts as being such threats to our precious homeland. If these clowns are the best al-qaeda's got then we are much safer then we thought.

Posted by: dan | August 16, 2007 06:36 PM

I agree with your conclusion. And the only thing I think we haven't seen from those big bad AUSAs is their post-verdict "crowing" about this so-called "victory" on this so-called "war on terror."

It's pathetic, and such verdicts as this, with the asinine and overly simplistic al-Qaeda at the core of all activities, fear-factor equation, this "paint-by-numbers" analysis that these AUSAs plug in with the jury to produce the desired result, is a corrupting influence on what is known in the abstract as "justice."

And what about that "venue" for the trial, huh? DOJ picked that because I think they thought they'd have a hell of a lot easier time persuading jurors in downtown Miami than they would in say, other parts of the country? Just wondering about the forum-shopping there!

Posted by: | August 16, 2007 06:49 PM

Great comments. I have no clue as to the merits of the case. I do know Padilla was denied due proces. This wasnt even a David vs Goliath case. It was more like 39 Goliaths with Uzis vs David without even a slingshot or stones. It was the US vs 1 guy who wasnt even allowed an attorney to defend himself ... for years!!!! Nope ... Padilla may be a loser on many counts and may even have been guilty of what he was accused of ... but our Constitution was the real loser today

Posted by: AL | August 16, 2007 07:29 PM

I would love to see the President and Vice President convicted of crimes against this citizen, as I believe they are guilty, and I believe that their crimes are far more of a threat to the welfare of typical American citizens than anything Mr. Padilla even imagined.

However, unlike Mr. Cohen, I will assume that the jury which decided this case did so honorably and intelligently, in the absence of evidence to the contrary - which Mr. Cohen does not offer.

Posted by: Doug Barber | August 16, 2007 07:40 PM

Let's also not miss the larger point here

Padilla is a US citizen, held as far away from the US criminal justice system as possible, without a lawyer, for years

If it can happen to him, it can happen to ANY US citizen on US soil

I surely hope all the W lackeys are just as comfortable with the next Dem Administration having these unchecked, imperial powers to spirit them away from all legal oversight to advance ever-shifting goals in a nebulous "war on terrorism"

W says "the terrorists hate our freedoms", then goes about subverting the US Constitution every chance he gets with slimey, legal BS like this case is all about

Just what is it about playing by the rules the Constitution sets up that's so troublesome for this Administration?

Posted by: KingCranky | August 16, 2007 08:16 PM

The washingtonpost should really post links to the Cohen blog on the front page. I missed out on many recent Cohen columns and the reprinted White House press releases in the news offer a weak alternative.

A Heavy Metal band is currently touring in a conversion camper Christened The Winnebago of Death. After they are tortured, do you think they will be placed in the same cell as Padilla or solitary confinement?

Posted by: Reader A | August 16, 2007 08:22 PM

It's one thing not to trust your President. It's something more not to trust a jury. And yes, I think juries can err...see O.J....but I think there are good explanations ready to hand to explain what was wrong with that jury. I just haven't seen anything yet to convince me that the Padilla jury was anything other than an honest and intelligent jury.

Posted by: Doug Barber | August 16, 2007 08:37 PM

A very sad day for America and the rule of Law. We have become what We claimed Our Enemy (USSR) was, a Nation of Show Trials and convictions on at best flimsy evidence. Those Who celebrate this so called Victory will rue the Day this happened when They or Their Family become the victim of the Politics involved in the violation of Our Constitution. What goes around, comes around.

Posted by: MikeL | August 16, 2007 08:39 PM

The previous posts and Mr. Cohen's blog are prime examples of why I support the Bush administration's war on terror. You all would like to have seen this terrorist released. You speak of torture. Where is your proof that he was tortured? The government provided proof that he was a terrorist. Where's yours? He was convicted by a jury(which Mr. Cohen derides for getting a free lunch).

Liberals cannot be trusted with the security of this nation and this blog is stark proof of that.

You all hate Bush so much that you would have a terrorist turned loose on the country. Shame on you all.

Posted by: Chris | August 16, 2007 08:58 PM

Well Chris, let's take a look. A government whose annual budget runs to the trillions of dollars says the man was not tortured, and was a terrorist. And against that behemoth, we have....what?

Posted by: Doug Barber | August 16, 2007 09:02 PM

I want to say form the start that I don't blindly support this administration.

That said, aren't there areas in which one can attack(rightfully so) this administration without supporting who I truly believe to be a terrorist who would have liked to have done harm to this country?

Should we release all terrorists simply because the governments budget runs in the trillions? Please, I beg you, do not let disappointment in this administration bring you to the point of wishing defeat in everything they do. A jury found this man guilty. If we can't trust the government, can we not trust that the jury was impartial and believed Mr. Padilla guilty based on the evidence?

What Mr. Cohen said about the jury and their "free lunch" was over the top and over the line.



Posted by: Chris | August 16, 2007 09:13 PM

Mike L's words are very very accurate. A Nation of Show Trials, first Moussaoui, and now this travesty.

No I don't hate Bush, I hate the corruption of the rule of law where the so-called "war on terror" and the fear of al-Qaeda is injected into every trial of this nature by the AUSAs who try them in order to get a conviction, at any costs.

And I do mean that: the AUSAs in question mislead juries, they fudge facts in terror cases, because they do have this "win at all costs" mentality. Judges let them get away with it FAR TOO OFTEN (not to mention the DOJ, for political reasons) and someone's life is taken from them, forever. This is a corrupting influence on our Constitution, and the rule of law.

Posted by: | August 16, 2007 09:26 PM

The only person who injected Al-Qaeda in to this situation is Mr. Padilla when he attempted to train at one of their camps in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Chris | August 16, 2007 09:36 PM

Heard from our listening post outside the cave:

UBL: Well, I see Jose got convicted. Lending material support to terrorists. By a Miami jury. Didn't Capone buy a Miami jury once?

AAZ: No, it was a Chicago jury. In the movie, anyway.

UBL: Oh. Well, I was reading Cohen's blog. A bunch of people on there think it was a miscarriage of justice.

AAZ: A what?

UBL: (Talking with mouth full of roasted marshmellow.) A miscarriage of justice.

AAZ: What, wasn't he guilty?

UBL: I don't know, Sherlock, what do you think? He came over here. I gave him a spot in my camp, and you know how coveted those spots are. He registered. I think we lost the form somewhere, but I know he did register. I interviewed him, remember? Is doing terrorist training lending material support to terrorists? You're the U.S. law expert, you tell me.

AAZ: I'm telling you, the goofball was guilty.

UBL: Then why are all these Americans up in arms over it?

AAZ: Because in a weird way, they get it, oh murderous one. They're mixing up his criminal prosecution with his being held without habeas rights, but for our purposes, that doesn't matter. Bush's suspension of habeas, and I think their Congress even went along with that, and his warrantless wiretapping, the way his people lied up and down about it, the way they beat the hell out of Ashcroft on his hospital bed--"

UBL: Stop. They did not beat the hell out of him. In fact, Card said they just went there to wish him well, and I, for one, believe him.

AAZ: Whatever. The Division Street punk is guilty but he's sort of a poster boy for all the stuff Bush has done to that country, and all its high and mighty ideals. When you get right down to it, they are no better than us. And it is you, Usama, the one who loves death, who has made them that way, all because they are so ridiculously afraid of death.

UBL: Yes. When I said that the towers coming down was a result far better than I could have hoped for, what an understatement that turned out to be. Habeas. I have a sister named Habeas.

AAZ: You do not. Hey, do you see Rove is leaving?

UBL: No!

AAZ: Don't worry, he'll still be in the background, I think, at least through '08, maybe keep those clowns in power another four years, more headway for us.

UBL: Yeah, a vote for a Democrat is a vote for Usama, huh? (Laughs loudly and bends forward, slapping his knees.)

AAZ: Yeah. What a bunch of idiots.

Posted by: ExAUSA | August 16, 2007 09:54 PM

There was never any claim that Padilla actually did anything; rather there were phone conversations that were claimed to be using code talk, which virtually allows the prosecutors to claim whatever they choose is being said. Then there was evidence that Padilla applied to go to an Al-Qeada training camp..but I heard of no evidence that he was actually went there or that he had any training.

In any case, I see nothing to justify destroying the Constitution, nothing to justify the inhuman treatment, nothing to justify the rethoric of this criminal regime who are admitted constitutional felons, nothing to prevent the prosecution of the justice department for acts of Treason!

Posted by: Chaotician | August 16, 2007 10:06 PM

If this is supposed to be a victory, then our democracy is truly lost. Please. It isn't like Stasi were ever going to release Padilla. Face it, they tortured that guy into mental illness and counted on the prejudice of some people keep him locked up. At least, he doesn't have to go back to the brig where he was tortured.

Posted by: Simon | August 16, 2007 10:11 PM

Poor terrorists. I'm starting to get a tear in my eye.

He's going to prison where he belongs and thankfully there isn't thing one you can do about it. No way Jose.

Posted by: Chris | August 16, 2007 10:22 PM

Chaotician's points are key, and they are completely consistent with respect to what AUSAs are allowed to get away with in front of juries-misleading them into thinking something is one way, when it isn't. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT PADILLA ACTUALLY DID ANYTHING, BUT A LOT OF EVIDENCE PRESENTED THAT THE PROSECUTORS "EXTRAPOLATED" INFORMATION, AND THEN MISLED THE JURY IN ORDER TO GET A CONVICTION-AND HOW WAS THE JURY TO KNOW OTHERWISE THAN WHAT THE GOVT. TELLS THEM TO THINK? That is the key fact to take away from the verdict. Insinuations of the threat of al-Qaeda and another 9/11 that government prosecutors can use to masterfully mislead juries with. I don't know how you can see that other than a corruption of our system of justice. But since there is really no one minding the store at DOJ, what do you expect?

Posted by: | August 16, 2007 11:06 PM

I'm not going to second-guess a jury when I haven't sat at the trial myself. I don't have a problem with Padilla being convicted. I think our criminal court system is the most effective place to deal with terror suspects.

The main problem I see is what Padilla was put through to even get a fair trial. There is fairly clear evidence that he was tortured and held without charges.

The fact that Padilla was successfully convicted should prove our current criminal court system is fully able to deal with terror suspects and that we don't need places like Guantanamo.

Posted by: Will | August 16, 2007 11:37 PM

Cohen, this column is disappointing. Your editor let you down and you let us down. You write of the verdict that "it's further proof that if you can convince an American jury that a man in the dock had anything to do with al-Qaeda, you can pretty much bank on a conviction." What else should a jury do when convinced that a defendant in a terror trial collaborated with Al Qaeda? Acquit? How would that make any sense? Terrorist "wanna be" you write. Terrorists I say. Are we supposed to wait until they actually prove they can blow up something before they can be prosecuted?

What the heck does it matter that they were Al Quaeda before "most of us" heard about them, that makes it even worse. (BTW, I was in NYC when the first bombing of the WTC and heard about Osama way before 9-11). And what do you mean "terrorist wanna be?" Two of the defendants recruited Padilla to be a militant, Padialla flew to the other side of the world where he filled out an application to train at an Al Quaeda training camp, then he flew back to the U.S. The application had his fingerprints on it, for pete's sake. This case was about Al Quaeda, it was about terrorism. Just because we do not agree with how the Administration handled it in the beginning does not mean that we should ignore what the trial concluded.

A "show trial" this was not. If you think that, tell it to the teams of defense attorneys that fought hard for their clients, tell it to the jury that sat for 3 months, tell it to the judge that made several important rulings against the prosecution (including one that the prosecution had to successfully appeal because it gutted their case). Show trials are short and decided by a judge, they don't last three months before an impartial jury. And oh, by the way Miami juries acquit people all the time. If this was jury shopping, it could have been held in Broward County where Padilla used to live, or in West Palm Beach (even more conservative) or in West Texas with a hang'em Texas jury.

This jury went through the evidence to such an extent that their verdict included a finding that one of the defendant's participation in the conspiracy ended earlier than charged. As for the free lunch comment, that is infantile. The jury announced they had a verdict BEFORE lunch. You are supposed to be a reporter. CNN reported that the verdict would be a 2PM (are they clarevoyant?) Don't you know that it is common in trials (especially ones with media interest) for the verdict to be held to allow defense attorneys, judge, family of defendants, and the press, to gather to receive the verdict. That is what happened here. It was announced in the late morning the veridict would be read at 2PM.

These defendants got the best that the United States has to offer: a trial in federal court, before a jury of their peers, represented by teams of competent committed attorneys, overseen by an impartial judge, with all the protections of the Constitution and the federal laws, including the right to confront the witnesses against them and present their own evidence. This trial was a resounding victory for the United States (us, not just the prosecutors) and the Constitition. I take it as further proof that the approach taken by the Administration in chosing to keep Padilla out of U.S. court was wrong. Remember, it was the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to give the Padilla military detention review that led the Administration to move Padilla to federal court from military custody. The Bushies chose to do this before the Supreme Court ordered them to. The system ultimately worked. The trial and verdict are proof that the U.S. system will survive both the threat of Al Quaeda violence and the Bush/Cheney administration incompetence totalitarianism.

My views are generally liberal, but I gotta tell your column and most of the commentary is as wrongheaded and irrational as anything you hear on Fox News or from the most sycophant Bushie.

Posted by: Eric | August 16, 2007 11:44 PM

Eric says: "These defendants got the best that the United States has to offer: a trial in federal court, before a jury of their peers, represented by teams of competent committed attorneys, overseen by an impartial judge, with all the protections of the Constitution and the federal laws, including the right to confront the witnesses against them and present their own evidence."

The best that the US had to offer? What planet are YOU living on? Not by a long shot! Putting aside that he was tortured and held for years without counsel -Padilla- a US citizen- A US CITIZEN-when he finally DID get counsel, and a jury trial, got the benefit of the same old fear factor over-exaggerations by the federal prosecutors which lead them to go over the line in making their case time after time after time.

A certain subset of federal prosecutors just can't seem to try a case without having to seriously exaggerate and insinuate, even deceiving juries with flat out inaccurate information which they know can't be proved up by the evidence. But they say it anyway, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT. And the jury is none the wiser for it, because by and large, juries are going to trust what a federal prosecutor says about the evidence, no matter how they mislead them.

Federal prosecutors have a high credibility factor with a jury when it comes to terrorism cases-and federal prosecutors abuse and take advantage of that credibility ALL THE TIME.

In Padilla's case, a theory held together by gossamer threads was presented to the jury as a fait accompli-and that is a gross mischaracterization of the factual evidence that was used to convict him.

Something has got to be done about the level of prosecutorial abuse of power in this country. You have NO IDEA how prevalent and unchecked it truly is. And you don't have to sit in on the Padilla trial day after day to know that. Just listen to the opening statement and see how much misleading and inaccurate information is put before the jury, and see how well it's proved up during the course of the trial. It certainly wasn't in this case, but artful deception by federal prosecutors is the Department of Justice's stock in trade, particularly in any case where they can raise the red flag of "al-Qaeda" before a jury.

If that's what you call "justice" then we ought to be very very afraid-it's the Soviet show trial all over again-the Govt. has to justify its abuse of civil liberties somehow, so it finds the right scapegoats and the rest is a foregone conclusion. But don't confuse these show trials with the notion of "justice"-the two are mutally incompatible.

Posted by: | August 17, 2007 01:50 AM

Padilla didn't actually DO anything against the law. He filled out an application. He talked and laughed over the phone. Those were his "crimes" for which he was tortured and sentenced to life in prison. None of us are safe from this Nazi government.

Posted by: karenlaw | August 17, 2007 03:26 AM

Regarding the case of Jose Padilla, people can harp on the aspect of Padilla being a terrorist or a terrorist wannabe all they want, the simple facts are that this was a United States Citizen who had his RIGHTS to due process stripped by an out of control President and administration, including an dishonorable DOJ administration.
Secondly, the most damaging piece of evidence was the application? Any of you brillian tacticians ever consider the number of times the Government and those Marine Guards had the opportunity and most probably did, hand the paper to Padilla as part of their personal TERROR campaign?
Remember this is a relative dumb person, subjected to over 3.5 years in total isolation, with only his MARINE GUARDS and DOJ inquisitors to interact with and then only intermittently. That is the standard for torture, isolation, fear disorientation and eventually dependency on the very scumbags who are doing the torture.
Anyone with an ounce of deductive reason, who has been exposed to ANY of the Bush administrations lies and destructive attacks on our Constitution, would understand that the piece of paper they claim Padilla completed in the OBL training camp was bunk with a 99.8% chance of being a put up job.

Do I trust this government and especially the Bush/Cheney cabal? Not on your life. They have proven themselves to be dishonorable, untrustworthy and a danger to the American way of life.

Did Padilla get a fair trial, only in the sense that it was conducted by civilian courts rather than the kangaroo courts that are typical in the military juntas.

Was he railroaded, tortured, and found guilty by fiat and distortion? You bet your life he was.

Was he guilty? We will never know for sure thanks to the sleeze balls who run our justice system and our executive administration. Through their insidious attempt to do away with our democratic system of checks and balances, and to invade our personal privacy at every turn, they have cast a considerable doubt on this conviction and every conviction of this type to ever happen in the future.

But hey, we put a dangerous terrorist out of the way, RIGHT. WRONG, we the citizens of the United States of American will NEVER know for sure, and that is the truly sad part of this whole fiasco.

Posted by: Oldsoldier41 | August 17, 2007 07:39 AM

Terrible what is occurring but what are we as individuals to think?

We may never know until those involved write those fabulous tell all books.

Suspicions are rampant and should be. We are all worried and concerned.

I am still grateful to have a place being my home that values laws and justice and me as being more than just another human lost in what is a very dangerous world wanting to defeat and destroy people.

I thank you all for having shared your views with me and all the others that will read about what we have and do to keep us all able to live with OUR freedoms and liberities and each other.

Posted by: Concerned | August 17, 2007 09:34 AM

right on Chris.....

I'll de more specific...once he joined the terrorist "crowd" he abdicated all rights and entitlements as a US citizen as far as I am concerned. I could care less about sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation. that the word torture has been so emotionally charged and politicized is not my concern.

blogs like this are worth their weight in gold......they begin to clarify the true breadth of the term "enemy". we have a language war underway here - just as we will have accountability battkes downstream once the accusing passes beyod the White House and to other sectors of our goevernment and our (using our lightly) society.

Posted by: lmao | August 17, 2007 11:22 AM

I followed the Padilla case from the day he was spirited away without due process; I was appalled then and I was appalled when I read about his incarceration (which amounted to torture practices as far as I am concerned). I am still appalled today. Terrorist my ass; this guy was nowhere near being a terrorist and Cohen is right, juries are far more susceptible to that label now, even without proper evidence for terrorist activities.

If you think good, honest citizens can't be hoodwinked, I have a 2004 election and war in Iraq that says otherwise, and a bridge to sell you.

Every day seems to be a crappy day for the U.S. Constitution. What did Franklin say, "Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security."

Posted by: Becks | August 17, 2007 11:35 AM

Chris, this isn't about whether this idiot Padilla was a terrorist or not. It's about whether he should be given his legal rights as a US citizen. They could've tried this clown years ago without torturing him and denying his rights, which would've prevented our great country from being dragged through the mud. If you can't see how torturing and denying people their legal rights in a so-called nation of laws is counter-productive, then there is no hope for you.

What if it was you Chris who was the next citizen carted off to a dark room somewhere where you're tortured for years on end with no legal recourse to have it stopped? What's that you say, they'd never torture an innocent person? Tell that to Maher Arar, the Canadian we tortured for weeks on end due to him having an Arab-sounding name. Is that ok with you? Torturing people because their name sounds "terroristy"?

P.S. If you don't think Padilla was tortured, then you are blind to the obvious. Which would fit nicely with your 25%er beliefs.

Posted by: dan | August 17, 2007 12:08 PM

Well said and reported all round, Andrew. I think that's a good way to do it, getting closer to the source of action.

Posted by: Henry | August 17, 2007 12:47 PM

Point is, it is an automated, flow charted fait accompli now to persecute someone AND find ways to eliminate recourse (why such fear if their cause is so righteous and justified?), as long as any "associative" relation or just being in the vicinity of al-quaeda, or even just looking Islamic is enough. Yeah this dummie Jose may have been a gang banger, but THIS (and Andrew gives above several good reasons for doubt)!

Imalo: So do you also think all more heinous native born criminals-gangsters, murderers etc..- also "give up all their rights"? If not, why the big difference? Why is the blind mere label of terrorism orders of magnitude worse than brutally and remorselessly slaughtering people domestically?

Posted by: Bob | August 17, 2007 12:59 PM

If people don't know how to see and think, if someone as stable, prosperous, fundamentally and deeply rooted in America,(and not needing to kiss anyone's ..) as Warren Buffett calls this a disastrous, out of control administration that needs to be removed, well I'm not very affected by those who pretend to be patriots (in fact it is usually the outcasts and those who don't really understand or believe in the system who are so anxious about being "in" and defining society)

Posted by: Rob N | August 17, 2007 01:05 PM

I don't think what the world thinks of us is so much the issue as what the US has become, while its inhabitants get by any means every sort of material convenience for themselves. But for the many who seem determined to be near-solipsists am not optimistic..

Posted by: Reed | August 17, 2007 01:10 PM

Anon at 6:49 :Ok Padillas's lawyers were making a weak case, but are you able to shed some light how the USA's are succesful getting their desired result by a "paint by the numbers" approach? in other words, what enables them to rig not merely winning, but getting the desired verdict however disproportionate to the reality (which looks like the situation in this instance)?

Posted by: Tim | August 17, 2007 01:14 PM

per Eric, the ultimate in deluxe, five star American service : a trial in a federal court etc. etc.. You haven't really lived yet till you go through that!

Help, I want off!

Posted by: Duane | August 17, 2007 01:32 PM

Just read something that chronicles how dictators often indulge in privately what they vehemently publicly state to hate. Detest brainless profiling, as if psychological behavior is predetermined,but a real marker for a nut/dictator is shameless, flagrant HYPORISY, daring to be called on his behavior while basically flipping off the public.

(not at all a dictator, but I remember how J Mcenroe, the tennis player, always maintained to the end that it was the umpires who were at fault for not defaulting him, while the corporate sponsors were charmed by his sometimes boorish displays for filling the seats, and he would continue daring the public and the umpire in their face to do anything)

Posted by: Chazz | August 17, 2007 01:41 PM

What Doug says as far as it goes is valid- the jury did come up with the verdict, but the sentence also seems disproportionate to Jose's involvement. So?

Posted by: Phil | August 17, 2007 01:43 PM

Oh no Chris, disliking wasn't some predetermined conclusion as you falsely imply-I voted and supported him in 2000, - its been thoroughly earned over and over.

Posted by: Steve | August 17, 2007 01:46 PM

Oh no Chris, disliking Bush wasn't some predetermined conclusion as you falsely imply-I voted and supported him in 2000, - its been thoroughly earned over and over.

Posted by: Steve | August 17, 2007 01:46 PM

Concerned, your "home " ,at least if you mean the current powers that be DOESN'T "care about you", it doesn't even know you. Frankly, I don't think your benevolent gratitude is justified.

Posted by: Gus | August 17, 2007 01:51 PM

Re Mike L, I notice how some of the most vehement supporters of the current administration were also huge fans of the USSR and of Maoist China (Condi is a Soviet specialist). Why is this, and how can they with a straight face draw such twisted, perverse lessons- most evident in their justifications?

Posted by: HC | August 17, 2007 01:57 PM

Chris to have some integrity why don't you emigrate to some regime where you'll be one of the in elite and be safe? Life is just us or them, right?

Posted by: S | August 17, 2007 02:00 PM

Anon at 6:49: I didn't see the part where you talk about prosecutorial rigging and lying? Anything else? Why is it so easy to do this with impunity? One would think making false statements would be a contempt of court thing

Posted by: Tim | August 17, 2007 02:04 PM

So Chris why WASN'T Jose tried previously?

Posted by: | August 17, 2007 02:06 PM

The only thing 25%'ers know are their own sensations, including when they contradict themselves- they are right on both sides of their own contradiction, in fact are right BY DEFINITION, by virtue of just existing.
No way their creator could have made a mistake and made anything flawed!

Posted by: Jon | August 17, 2007 02:10 PM

Big Bob......I have adopted a practical pov on the matter...but to address your immediate question: most of gang banga you have an apparent affinity for are not "in it" for mass, indiscriminate murder. poor analogy in my book.

as for the moralizing going on is borderline pathetic - pick any number of reasons:

- I'm willing to wager that no one who has posted so far has actually been directly affected by any of these "heinous" circumventions of "law" that are ineluctably sinking the good ole ship of state

- The loudest voices claiming moral authority on this are laughably corrupt themselves: Kennedy? (manslaughter) Murtha? (ABSCAM) Leahy? (can't be trusted with classified information) Byrd? (anyone need a grand wizard hood?) Reid? (need some property?) Clinton? (need some insider stock info?) Obama? (wanna snort a few lines?)....or how about the ACLU? (need a footbath in the airport?). It's a joke. You expect those of us who can see problems with Bush et al to listen to the clammoring crowd with its own agenda and faultlines? pack sand on that one. that crowd is even more likely to get us all killed. we have long passed the point of fine abstractions and selectively applied morality. the opportunity to navigate through to aprinciples end state is long gone.....time for the Left to understand how it has blown it and squandered its small window to effect change....have its voice heard and be acted upon.

- When push comes to shove...with very rare exceptions...those complaining the loudest are least invested in sharing the burden. I can tell you based on 3 decades of military service that the Left and their children do not man the rails be it in the military, intelligence agencies, fire departments. they may be citizens...but they are less than full citizens in my book. the advent of the all-volunteer armed forces was a seminal event most folks still can't fathom. the lack of risk sharing breaks out along lines that are not just income/clas oriented as recent books might have one think. it is ideological as well.

so...please...continue with your advocacy and sense of righteous propriety. but don't preach unity...the "American" way...Constitution...or any other institution the violation/corruption of which has happened a million times over BY ALL PARTICIPANTS IN THIS LITTLE CHARADE.

Posted by: | August 17, 2007 02:11 PM

GUS the saying is that we even protect and defend idiots that need to be. Gus would you prefer to be somewhere that has true, crude, raw, and final justice delievered by criminals that might kill you if you look at them crossed-eyed. Go ahead Gus do what this guy did and find out for your self what Osama or other terrorists might do to you or for you and do not come back and then tell us how great it is there instead of here.

Posted by: Concerned | August 17, 2007 02:26 PM

Concerned, maybe I got the opposite of what you wrote; I of course agree with everything you just wrote. The first time it sounded as if you wrote your "home cares about you" and satisfied that suspicions are rampant, thereby celebrating freedom to suspect, even though the crimes by the administration succeed; that would be hollow, to feel good about being allowed to suspect, but for the actions to be safely protected anyway. But you probably didn't mean that.

Posted by: Gus | August 17, 2007 07:56 PM

Imaho I assume: You said that Jose gave up his American rights when he committed a crime; my question had to do with any serious criminal in the US-gangsters who murder, serial murderers, brutal and calcultaing murderers etc.. So I was asking if you were consistent with that pov that any American born serious criminal gives up their American rights when they commit a crime. I suspect that you wouldn't extend that to American domestic criminals even though their actual crimes are often far more heinous than someone merely having a label of someone somewhere suspecting them of having some vague "six degrees of separation" connection with "terror" somewhere.

Posted by: Big Boy | August 17, 2007 08:03 PM

Gotta run, I'll look at the rest of your long post later.

Posted by: | August 17, 2007 08:04 PM

"Homeland" sounds like 1930's Nazi Germany.

Posted by: Bruce | August 18, 2007 07:56 AM

NIGGLING: 1. to criticize, esp. constantly or repeatedly, in a peevish or petty way; carp: to niggle about the fine points of interpretation; preferring to niggle rather than take steps to correct a situation.
2. to spend too much time and effort on inconsequential details: It's difficult to be meticulous and not niggle.
3. to work ineffectively; trifle: to niggle with an uninteresting task.

To niggle is a verb. Here it's used as an adjective. Way to go Dan!

However, it is quite ironic that such a word would be associated with you since all you do is niggle.

Posted by: | August 18, 2007 09:14 AM

big you well know there are no absolutes in the legal process. the tradespace is fairly wide from one instance to the next in terms of the risks society will accept and the rights criminals enjoy. and there is precedence for national security to trump individual rights: what this has been about all long....leading into these inane conversations by non-experts/participants (i.e., info holders) on the lesser/greater threat that padilla represents.

as for the lawlessness of the Bush admin and its disregard for the Constitution - and understanding that this blog is basically one group of sheep bleating to another - the Bushies pale in comparison to the Grant admin, FDR's eecutive end run or Lincoln's suspension of fundamental rights. so all the hot air merely suggests that the posters themselves are dishonest.

in the end...tjhis all boils down to trust. there is a large percentage of the population that does not trust the Bushies (with the fringe element that is irrational beyond all imagination). the problem is that the cast of alternatives is no more trustworthy.....leadership in this country is at a sad all-time low....IMO

Posted by: | August 18, 2007 10:06 AM

Ma Vlast-twisted application

Posted by: | August 18, 2007 01:06 PM

Lost in this entire discussion: the DOJ commends the jury for doing its job under the rule of law. But when a jury does its job and convicts Mr. Libby, when a "strict constructionist judge" applies the Federal Sentencing Guidelines impartially and objectively, the president becomes upset and commutes the sentence. Rule of law, anyone?

Posted by: muleman | August 19, 2007 08:05 PM

muleman...what can you do? precedent!!!!

Posted by: | August 19, 2007 08:14 PM

There are precedents for presidential abuses of the pardon/commutation power, viz. Clinton, Bush I, Reagan. The difference here is Bush's unquenchable thirst for power and the destruction of the rule of law.
What can we do? Demand that the next president commit to restoring that rule of law. How about someone asking about it in the next YouTube debate? (PS: Muleman doesn't have a webcam.)

Posted by: muleman | August 20, 2007 11:17 AM

I wish people would stop saying something like bush's thirst for power or "hubris". \

He's not some great man even in a negative way; he's a cheap, egotistical amoral salesman-frat boy/opportunistic looter (at the most charitable, maybe he's deluded even to himself) who takes advantage of whatever he is allowed to do until he is not allowed to, if and when, he will fold like the coward he probably is underneath. (and that isn't invective-the track record supports it if one pays attention)

Posted by: Dale | August 20, 2007 04:01 PM

Hm, what am I missing: life in prison for Padilla for "giving support", no sentence or couple years for dragging totally innocent Iraqis including women, children and grandparents out of their homes when couldn't find the suspects being looked for, executing them and making up complete lies and covering up afterwards (just for several obvious instances that we know)

Posted by: Bruce | August 21, 2007 11:05 AM

Imaho: As far as one brief thing for the moment, about as much "righteous propriety" that you mention as is involved in regularly throwing out the trash; is supposed to be basic, no effort really.

Posted by: Bob | August 21, 2007 11:07 AM

No way, the Grant admin is at all comparable, was petty bribery and such things. Ludicrous comparison. Fdr don't know for sure. Lincoln's was a different matter-was facing the death of the national entity itself by civil war; that was a fundamental crisis of national existence, to even use as a comparison at least on that basis is also nonsense. You didn't mention Wilson, maybe one of the few possible comparisons, don't know enough specifics but guarantee the ethos at that time was different.

Posted by: | August 22, 2007 01:13 PM

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