Jose Padilla Finally Catches a Break

Jose Padilla, the once-upon-a-time-but-not-really "dirty bomb" suspect, was sentenced today in federal court in Miami to 17 years and four months for his role in a terror conspiracy that barely got off the ground. The sentence is shorter by far than the 30-years-to-life sentence recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines.

Why the break for the guy introduced to us in 2002 as the face of terror? Easy: U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke, a Bush appointee, was never convinced that the government had a strong case against Padilla and two other convicted in the case. As she said today, "There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere."

The government's lawyers opposed her every step of the way, but Cooke did what she could to even the playing field for the hapless Padilla, a former Chicago gang member. But in the end had to accept an unseemly quick verdict rendered by a jury of Floridians rushing to get out of court after a long trial. She was a genuine judge in a kangaroo court case; a model of reality in a sea of surreality -- and if you don't believe me, just ask the CIA officials who destroyed interrogation videotapes that were material and relevant to Padilla's defense.

Cooke, you may remember, dismissed the terror conspiracy charges against Padilla a few years ago, only to see the federal appeals court reinstate them. Today Cooke took full advantage of her last opportunity to place her mark upon this unfortunate case. The relatively lenient sentence -- it's three years less than the one imposed upon poor John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" -- tells the feds this was never the major league terror case they wanted us to think it was after they abandoned their "dirty bomb" allegations against Padilla.

Cooke may get overturned on appeal, but she's always been right about this case and was again today. And that means that Padilla, the U.S. citizen who became the second "enemy combatant" in our legal war on terror, the man who had to wait years to talk to a lawyer let alone face charges, finally gets a good day from his own country's justice system.

By Andrew Cohen |  January 22, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
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And I say: HAIL TO JUDGE COOKE. FINALLY, we see a FEMALE federal judge, who, instead of blindly following whatever her self-serving, disingenuous and misleading prosecutors tell her about any matter involving a so-called "terrorist" suspect, instead of operating outside the norms of judicial conduct and making decisions and statements based on emotions and ugly personal pique, actually issues a VERY just and fair sentence!

Justice was indeed served today in Padilla's case. Would that every federal judge look closely at this ruling and how this case was handled as a model for the future!

Posted by: | January 22, 2008 01:25 PM

Tha damn judge should be hanged, and Padilla should be shanked in prison on the day before he is to be released. What the hell is wrong with you people? These animals are out to destroy us, and you quibble about the lack of a stron case. I mean the guy is scum and doesn't deserve to walk free - ever.

Posted by: Adrienne Najjar | January 22, 2008 01:44 PM

All we have proven with the Padilla case is that if you torture someone long enough, lie about the charges, make up evidence and keep them in solitary until they go nuts, you can probably get a conviction. We've spent almost a trillion dollars, started a war, killed a million Iraqis, made the whole world hate us, lost nearly 4,000 fine young service men and women, and this is the best we can do? What a travesty and what a joke.

Posted by: Dr. Randall Norris, Ph.D. | January 22, 2008 01:56 PM

Since Padilla's case was based on lies, it should be Bush who is facing prison time for violating the rights of an American citizen without cause.
First Padilla was supposed to have been plotting to use a 'dirty bomb', then he was supposed to have plotted to blow up an apartment building. Finally, sending money to the Middle East was all he actually geys charged with. Disgusting.
To plot to destroy the Constitution of the United States is TREASON pure and simple. Bush and Company should face a firing squad for being traitors to our nation.

Posted by: FrankBoy | January 22, 2008 01:56 PM

One can hope Bush and Cheney will spend their lives in prison for destroying the lives of Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh. At least, they should.

Posted by: Jojo | January 22, 2008 02:04 PM

Any American could be Jose Padilla.

Any American could be accused of a thought crime and be tortured for years before getting access to a lawyer.

Any American could be slandered and abused by the might of the federal government, and consider himself lucky to get "only" 17 years in a gulag, while Australian terrorists go free to buy diplomatic complicity in unrelated illegal wars.

This country is not free.

IMPEACH. NOW or LATER.

What are we fighting for?

Posted by: feckless | January 22, 2008 02:04 PM

Posted by: Singing Senator | January 22, 2008 02:17 PM

Isnt that special. The judge feels sorry for Padilla having to be in that nasty prison. I wonder how sorry she would feel for the victims of the dirty bomb that might have gone off if this crowd would have been sucessful. some of those people would have to spend eternity in their nasty graves. It just goes to show you that when you try to do the right thing, those with paranoid delusions rise to the occasion.

Posted by: FRAUDCOP | January 22, 2008 02:32 PM

Jose Padilla was ILLEGALLY kidnapped by the US government and ILLEGALLY held in a Navy brig for 3 1/2 years without due process.

Jose Padilla was ILLEGALLY tortured and mistreated while being ILLEGALLY held.

He should be sentenced to time served and released immediately from custory.

And John Yoo should be detained and sent to Gitmo for waterboarding.

Posted by: TomIII | January 22, 2008 02:52 PM

Dear Adrienne,

I am sure this may be too subtle a point for you, but what the heck. The way you are talking is the way the enemy talks. --"Infidels are not human. They have no rights. No unprovoked savage act against them can be considered unethical."

The whole idea is that we are different from them, and that we actually care about the values that most religions --including Christianity --claim to care about. Kindness to strangers. Decency. Humility.

And of course, since we are America, we are also supposed to be about the rule of law. Not just "getting" people we do not like.

Posted by: Tim Connor | January 22, 2008 03:01 PM

First off, I think Padilla got off pretty easy.

The reason this took so long, is because when Padilla's attorneys were petitioning the Supreme Court to determine how terrorist suspects should be tried, this same Supreme Court refused the case in favor of arbitrating Anna Nicole Smith's inheritance.

Posted by: Deaniac | January 22, 2008 03:15 PM

I'm confused. If Padilla was "framed" for being a terrorist then 17 years seems like a long time to spend in prison for being "framed". If he is guilty of associating with terrorists then why all the support for him on this blog? In my opinion you make the bed in which you sleep,

Posted by: RD | January 22, 2008 03:16 PM

Padilla was first abused and then convicted on the flimsiest of evidence. I'm surprised that Paddila's attorneys opted to have him tried before a jury instead of just a judge.

President Bush, who pardoned Scooter Libby, should immediately pardon Padilla.

Posted by: Joel A. Levitt | January 22, 2008 03:35 PM

Judge Cooke needs to prepare. She's next in the gun sights to be slandered.

Posted by: CRF | January 22, 2008 03:47 PM

...destroying the lives of Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh. ...

Man, you idiot Lib-tards are beyond belief. JWL was on the battlefields of Afghanistan fighting alongside the Taliban!
Anyone who would sympathize with such an individual is a traitor at best.

On second though, maybe he'd make a great VP for Barak Osama.

Canada awaits you ...

Posted by: | January 22, 2008 03:58 PM


We aren't measured by how we treat the best of us, but rather how we treat the worst of us.

Padilla was never all that he was made out to be. The government did itself a disservice with it's hysteria dealing with him.

Posted by: Nym, by the sea | January 22, 2008 04:16 PM

Justice would also at least require that Padilla get credit for the time he has served.

Posted by: Lawrence Denman | January 22, 2008 04:24 PM

I have never thought that there was so many that is agaist justice for being a internal enemy of tthe USA.

Posted by: Jockey75 | January 22, 2008 04:35 PM

If judge Cook feels so strongly about this case she should be willing to put her name on the line. If after this person is released from our prison system and does any type of terrorism she should go on trial with him as an accomplice. Secondly he should be held in solitary confinement for the next seventeen years just think how many new members he can get on board in that amount of time! That's how he got into the business. Open your eyes America this is why all terrorists should be held at Gitmo and tried there. Because in this judges eyes till he sets the bomb off he is innocent! He didn't KILL anyone. next time it might be your child's school he aims for.

Posted by: Justice? | January 22, 2008 04:53 PM

Libby wasn't pardoned. His sentence was commuted. The conviction, the fine and terms of probation continue.

Posted by: DC | January 22, 2008 05:06 PM

Exactly what was Barrak Hussein Obama's relationship with Jose Padilla?

Posted by: 102060 | January 22, 2008 06:13 PM

It's always a pleasure to know that some of my fellow citizens would have fit right in in the Middle Ages. The rack next time?

Posted by: Sid Chesnin | January 22, 2008 07:08 PM

This is why I don't participate in these things much anymore. The world seems to fall into two camps: Those who understand nuance, principles and ideals; and those who would bring a picnic basket to a lynching.

Posted by: Dave | January 22, 2008 08:22 PM

FRAUDCOP wrote: "I wonder how sorry she would feel for the victims of the dirty bomb that might have gone off if this crowd would have been sucessful."

You must have missed the part where the government quietly and suspiciously dropped the dirty-bomb charges against Padilla.

Posted by: Craig | January 22, 2008 09:32 PM

Seventeen years is still an injustice. It might upset many readers, and I am fairly conservative, but I think at worst he should have gotten sentenced simply to time-served. Everything about the case, the military confinement, trumped up charges, the whole kangaroo court aire to all of this makes an absolute travesty of our rule of law. I'm sorry, but I do not see any threat from Mr. Padilla and I do not see a crime worthy of 17 years, nor any sense of due process. This is America, we can do better.

Posted by: Matthew | January 22, 2008 10:05 PM

Can we now classify Mr. Padilla as a political prisoner? I do look foward to future war crimes trials against Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and all their minions who have ordered the kidnap, imprisonment, torture, denied basic human rights, U.S. and established rules, such as the Geneva Conventions. I wonder if the judge herself, can be held culpable for playing along?

Posted by: Matthew | January 22, 2008 10:12 PM

it appears the traitors are out in force to support their hero padilla who after time served will serve not enough time. may those of you who support padilla know whats it's like to lose a loved one when he gets out of prison. maybe a good American will do us a favor and take care of him while he is in jail but considering the crime, he will be in a supermax prison, slone but monitored for the time he has to serve.

Posted by: Dwight | January 22, 2008 11:27 PM

So our "kangaroo court" and jury composed of "Floridians rushing to get out of court after a long trial" rendered a guilty verdict against the "hapless" Padilla in this "unfortunate case". This opinion piece is hideous and illustrates the author`s bitter contempt for his fellow Americans who dutifully served on this jury and reached their considered decision. Flailing at prosecutors for dropping charges is silly on its face...coming to court without enough evidence for conviction would be pointless and certainly does not mean the charges had no merit. Padilla was convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. Quit assuming you`re smart.

Posted by: Bendertele | January 22, 2008 11:52 PM

Yes, DOJ, that's right: "appeal" those sentences, but don't look at the REAL ISSUE: THE REAL ISSUE IS, THAT YOUR PROSECUTORS DISTORT THE TRUTH, AND MISLEAD JURIES ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT'S EVIDENCE IN VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE SO-CALLED "TERRORIST" CASE ACROSS THE NATION-EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!

It's about time that the federal judges in this country started cracking down on these federal prosecutors, as district court judge Cooke did, and not buy their horse manure arguments about the "threat" that these defendants pose to the US-hard evidence is one thing-but DOJ HASN'T HAD ANY CASE WHERE THEY HAVE HAD ANY HARD EVIDENCE LINKING A DEFENDANT IN THESE TRIALS WITH CARRYING OUT ANY KIND OF A TERRORIST ATTACK AGAINST THE US, OR ANYONE ELSE, FOR THAT MATTER-ITS ALL INNUENDO INNUENDO INNUENDO!

It's disgusting, how federal prosecutors in this country get away with literally murder, and no one, does a THING about it, least of all, the Department, who clearly aids, abets, and encourages such unethical behavior on the part of its prosecutors!

Posted by: | January 23, 2008 12:17 AM

For the anonymous friend above:
If I may point a giant finger at the obvious,one doesn`t have to commit murder to be convicted of conspiring to commit murder. Padilla`s fingerprints and signature were found on an incriminating terrorist document in Afghanistan. That discovery led to his wiretapped conversations with terrorists captured later by people who are trying to protect you and yours. That`s hard evidence, sir/ma`am. Planning or abetting murder is a crime. Lind was captured along with other Al Qaida fighters on the battlefield and spoke repeatedly to media, gov`t agents and various psychologists/interrogators about his commitment to martyrdom and defeating the U.S. and the Northern Alliance. Reed had explosive shoes on and was trying to light them before brave Americans wrestled him to the floor of an airplane. To say there is no hard evidence against these traitors is preposterous.

Posted by: Bendertele | January 23, 2008 12:55 AM

I was not a party, a witness, a lawyer, a juror, nor a judge associated with the Padilla case. So I will not second guess any of it.

Independent from "Padilla", I will criticize Yoo and Addington for having sold the notion of the unitary executive, with presidential powers unlimited except by impeachment or election.

We who believe in the rule of law, in three equal branches of government, and in the Bill of Rights should be assessing the candidates in the light of their commitment to the traditional principles of limited power and justice for all. These are issues of identity for us. These issues define our national character.

Posted by: | January 23, 2008 08:54 AM

Fraudcop:

There was no "dirty bomb".

Posted by: R Bingham | January 23, 2008 09:17 AM

Having paraded arround Jose Padilla as the dirty bomber and the poster boy for the war on terror the government HAD to convict him of SOMETHING, and conspiracy is so nebulous a charge that anybody can be convicted of it. I hope that the 17 years includes time already spent in solitary confinement under torture in the navy brig. In fact he really should get double credit for time spent in solitary confinement undertorture

Posted by: Bob | January 23, 2008 09:37 AM

"He didn't KILL anyone. next time it might be your child's school he aims for."

---Justice?, I think you miss the point entirely. This isn't about damning evidence against Jose Padilla. This is about damning evidence against our own government.

Item: Jose Padilla was picked up at an airport on suspicion of creating a dirty bomb. Wouldn't it have been nice if investegators WAITED before the arrest. You know, build a case. Wait to see who he contacted. Arrest them too...

This doesn't seem odd to you, Justice?

Item: Jose Padilla was denied visitation BY ANYONE for 3 1/2 years. What happened in those years? Who knows? Certainly not you or I. Justice?, in this country, even our most bottom of dwelling scum gets a lawyer...RIGHT AWAY.

Item: Years ago, an ATTORNEY FOR OUR GOVERNMENT gave a press conference...essentially TAKING OUT ANY PROSPECT OF PROSECUTING PADILLA ON ANY ALLEGATIONS he outlined during his conference. What...was he a prosecutor, or a guest on Jerry Springer? That was outrageous.

Item: When it was evident that the Supreme Court would take on Padilla case on Presidential Enemy Combatant status...the President punted! Padilla was attached flimsily to another case???? Are you kidding me??? Talk about lacking the courage of your convictions.

Item: WE, sir/ma'am, are SUPPOSED to be a COUNTRY who champions THE RULE OF LAW. You tell me what despot dictator is going to take us seriously about rules of law and democracy. If you have heard about this case happening in any former communist country, I'm betting you'd be up in arms about the unfairness of that country.

But if didn't happen in a dictatorship. It didn't happen in a communist country.

IT HAPPENED HERE!

Here.

I think I read in school about a bunch of gentleman farmers RISKING THEIR LIVES to promote freedom and the rules of law in this country. Where is THAT kind of courage, Justice?

If Jose Padilla IS every bit the terrorist the government says he is, then he's won more than just a lighter prison sentence.

His case has shown, with the world as witness, that a group of people are above the rule of law. All in the name of "National Security".

May I humbly submit that our "National Security" is heavily dependent on A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Something not in evidence in this case.

Bin Laden is still at large.
Al Queada is growing and thriving..and we can't step one foot into the area because our buddys in Pakistan won't let us.

But hey, at least we got Jose Padilla, a person heavily armed with the harshest of language against us.

Sleep well.

Posted by: Kevin | January 23, 2008 11:07 AM

After reading some of the comments above, I decided to go to the local mosque and convert to Islam so that when civilzation surrenders, I don't lose my head. I do agree that the investigators seem to jump the gun on these u/c ops too quickly instead of letting the case play out. Padilla was scum anyway, a gang banger who found religion. Another problem with a lot of Americans these days, is that they will only believe the worst of this nation. Sitting in a brig for years, three meals a day, etc. is not that bad, considering that captives of the terrorists are tortured to death and their bodies mulitated and left on doorsteps. So, let's surrender now and get it over this. Living in the seventh century sounds so exciting. My wife will look great in a burka.

Posted by: Bill | January 23, 2008 12:58 PM

I have never believed our govt in this case and why should I? They have LIED about everything for the last seven years. And how many times did they change their story in this case? Many times. Padilla is more than likely in prison over a pack of lies cooked up by a govt that would do the same thing to any one of us.

Posted by: Casey | January 23, 2008 02:19 PM

Bill: I think that's a terrific idea! Your wife can probably find a much better deal online than at one of those fancy burka stores at the mall. Try this: http://www.hijabgirl.com/

Posted by: Dave | January 23, 2008 04:08 PM

Najjar writes:

"Tha damn judge should be hanged, and Padilla should be shanked in prison on the day before he is to be released. What the hell is wrong with you people? These animals are out to destroy us, and you quibble about the lack of a stron [sic] case. I mean the guy is scum and doesn't deserve to walk free - ever."

I can only hope that Najjar is arrested for conspiring to murder the bush, thrown in jail, held for a couple years with no lawyer, finally brought to trial after being tried in the press, and then is given the death sentence. It doesn't matter that he might not even know the bush or that he could be totally innocent.

I just want him to stand in the docket as Padilla did, so he can speak more authoritatively on arbitrary incarceration.

It was Attorney General Edwin Meese (Reagan administration) who told FBI agent Clarence Newton that an incarcerated prisoner was guilty, "They arrested him, didn't they?" Meaning the arrested person was obviously not innocent! Why waste time with the formality of a trial as guaranteed by our constitution?

If I were a policeman, I would arrest Najjar and charge him with any crime my imagination could conjure.

Posted by: Frank A. Walter | January 23, 2008 07:06 PM

Adrienne Najjar: I think it you who be prosecuted. People like you are simply the "sucker borne very minute" willing to believe anything the administration puts out regardless of how ridiculous and dangerous it is. Whoever you are, get the h*** out of _my_ country. Further, the real scum are our military personnel, who must know by now that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are unjust. The U.S. is capable of doing so much damage around the world--we've damn near reached full potential in that regard.

I not at all sure Padilla should have been imprisoned for anything. Al-Qaeda's cause is just--they simply want us out of Muslim countries. In response, we take over more Muslim countries, murder their women and children and hope to someday declare victory. We may claim they are terrorists, but the U.S. is the biggest exporter of terrorism in the world and has been for most of this century.

The problem with countries of the Middle east and south Asia--they don't recognize how essential it is to unite and present a united front against U.S. imperialism and terrorism. So, one by one, they will be destroyed by the U.S. and NATO.

Execute Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, completely disband the CIA and the NSA, along with about 10 other U.S. Intel agencies, leaving one or two agencies, and we'll once again have freedom in this country.

In the end, the American people are responsible for this mess. We, but not I, voted for Bush. You get the government you deserve.

Posted by: maddog56 | January 23, 2008 08:46 PM

It is ridiculous in my mind to send someone to prison for 17 years. I regard it as far too long. Four or five years would have been plenty including time served. What can be gained by sending someone away for such a lengthy period of time?

The US is too punitive when dealing with people that it does not like. This sentence is out of proportion with what can be achieved with a much shorter sentence.

The US is not very strong on human rights when one considers its sentencing laws and its sentences. The US would do well to look at how the rest of the world handles these matters.

This attitude of throwing away the key is vindictive. It is designed to satisfy the animosity of those who hate. It has nothing to do with justice.

Posted by: Robert James | January 24, 2008 04:34 AM

The trial of Jose Padilla was a farce. This man should never have been charged in the first place. Make no mistake this was a political trial to save face for an Bush White House who knows only how to lie to and manipulate the American people. It should shock all Americans that an American citizen can be seized on American soil and held for over three years in solitary confinement and possibly tortured. It should shock all Americans how an American could be publicly branded as a terrorist planning to detonate a dirty nuclear device without a shread of evidence being produced to support such an outlandish charge. Wake up! Padilla was a test case to see how far the Government could go in destroying basic constitutional rights.

Posted by: andrew | January 24, 2008 09:13 AM

I am taking the unusual (for me) step in making a second post.

To me, this is the most disturbing case I have ever followed...in my entire life.

Can anyone who's really...really followed this case not be in slack-jawed wonder? How blatant. How brazen.

My fiance was born in a communist-controlled country. That she finds parallels to communist methodology HERE IN THIS COUNTRY shakes me to the core.

I've never considered myself to be a man who jumps at ghosts and latches onto any conspiracy theory. I hold an opinion that politics...Democrat,Republican, or otherwise, isn't pretty. It is sauasage making of the highest order.

But this...this isn't politics. I consider this an erosion of our most basic court rights: Speedy Trial. Facing one's accusers. Having an attorney present during questioning. Being Mirandized (sp).

Can anyone with a counter viewpoint offer as explanation as to how we can call ourselves a democracy if we can't adhere to a cornerstone of a democracy: Justice. More specific: blind justice.

Forget Jose Padilla the man (such that he is) FOCUS on Jose Padilla the CASE.

Posted by: Kevin | January 24, 2008 11:38 AM

Months ago, reading the record of torture inflicted on Padilla (taken into account by the Judge in her sentencing decision) I found myself literally nauseated, close to retching. As a citizen and lawyer, it was an extraordinarily shameful moment -- the public destruction of America's reputation as a nation subject to the rule of law. The Padilla case will forever be recognized as America's Dreyfus case. The first action of the Democratic President in January, 2009, must be to pardon Padilla and all others tortured by the United States. "Pardon Padilla" must be our national oath during the remaining eleven months of tyranny.

Posted by: One Lawyer | January 24, 2008 12:03 PM

This is a GOOD day for Padilla? He finally gets a break? 17 years in this case seems pretty harsh and vindictive to me.

Posted by: tominwindsor | January 24, 2008 01:15 PM

Bend wrote:

For the anonymous friend above:
If I may point a giant finger at the obvious,one doesn`t have to commit murder to be convicted of conspiring to commit murder. Padilla`s fingerprints and signature were found on an incriminating terrorist document in Afghanistan. That discovery led to his wiretapped conversations with terrorists captured later by people who are trying to protect you and yours. That`s hard evidence, sir/ma`am."


Uh, Bend, ma'am sir, if I may, that "giant finger you're pointing at the obvious," is decidedly quite crooked, and pointing at nothing so much as yourself and your extreme naivete about the Padilla case, and particularly how Padilla was charged by the Department.

Which is precisely the problem, because most people probably think like you, that it is just so cut and dried, these conspiracy charges against these "terrorists." As always, one has to look deeper for the truth.

The elements of a tradtional conspiracy charge have been distorted by the Department of Justice in the post 9/11 era, in order to go forward on these so-called terrorism cases without the corroborating evidence that is needed for a true conspiracy. If the charge is amorphously stated to "provide material support for terrorists" then, yes, it is understandable why, to the untutored, Padilla's signature on a document found in Afghanistan would be proof positive that the elements of a conspiracy charge had been met, and that he was engaged in same, end of story.

The Govt.'s chief evidence was a faded application form that Padilla had filled out in 2000 to attend an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan that had some of his fingerprints on it.

The central charge against Mr. Padilla was that he conspired to murder, maim and kidnap people in a foreign country. This obviously serious charge carries a life sentence. But prosecutors needed to prove very little by way of CONCRETE CONDUCT in order to obtain a conviction. There was no need, for example, to specify THE MEANS USED TO CARRY OUT THE CRIME.

It is therefore, a great giant leap in logic to state, unequivocally, that a desire to attend a camp by filling out an application form is the equivalent to a CONCRETE INTENTION to "kill, maim and kidnap," is it not? As one professor rightly put it, this is akin to the Department convicting someone for life BASED SOLELY ON A THOUGHT CRIME.

And THAT, my friends should be terrifying to us all.

Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, now the chief judge of the federal appeals court in Chicago, lamented that "prosecutors seem to have conspiracy on their word processors as Count I."

Before allowing Padilla to be tried in the federal courts, the administration justified holding him as an enemy combatant in part by saying he would be dangerous if let go. Criminal prosecutions, by contrast, are almost always focused on conduct already committed-not, as here, where there had been no prior conduct of a terrorist nature.

No one is saying that Padilla was an altar boy, he had several priors, had been in a Puerto Rican gang, and had been convicted for assault, resisting arrest, etc. but nothing whatsoever regarding any sort of "terrorist" undertaking.

A successful conspiracy prosecution looks both backward, to punish the crime of conspiring, and forward, to stop dangerous people from completing their plans. The weaker the evidence of conspiracy is, the more such a prosecution can simply look like a request for judicially sanctioned preventive detention.

That's what Padilla went through-preventive detention-no dirty bomb-that was fabricated in order to allow him to be held incommunicado. But all those years of isolation as a labeled "military combatant" AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AND WITHOUT ANY ACCESS TO A LAWYER caused Padilla, not unsurprisingly, lasting psychiatric problems, according to his lawyers, and that horror could not have happened in the criminal justice system, which he had no access to, but to which Padilla was moved ONLY AFTER hard questions started to be raised in the media and the legal world about the very real and on-going violation of this American citizen's constitutional rights, and the deeper questions as to just what evidence the Department had on him that supposedly justified him being labeled as an enemy combatent in the first place.

And so, for Padilla's sentencing, we see Judge Cooke, carefully going over the charges, a Judge who has neither let herself be bamboozled by the prosecutors nor intimidated by the Department's power...which makes her the rare federal judge indeed. And this case is also an example of why the Department of Justice these days can be viewed on a number of different levels as an internally corrupt organization, operating within its own peculiar version of legal ethics, creatively looking for loopholes in the laws and constitution of the US in order to "do their own thing" before the federal courts in this country, completely disregarding the public it is supposed to be serving, A DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OVERLOADED ON TESTOSTERONE WHEN IT COMES TO TERRORISM CASES, with prosecutors eagerly look to prosecuting these cases, viewing them hungrily as a career stepping-stone to bigger and better things for them personally, bigger egos, bigger paychecks, and thus they often get away with subverting the rule of law in virtually all of these so-called "terrorism cases with not so much as verbal slap or admonition, least of all from their own superiors-the overly politicized US Attorneys, and their even more ineffectual Criminal Division superiors at Main Justice.

It is a nasty, vicious cycle in the history of American jurisprudence, it is, it is.

Posted by: | January 24, 2008 02:05 PM

That American citizens could be picked up, thrown in the dungeon, tortured and convicted of a crime with no effective legal recourse is so appalling!! How can anyone who claims that the Constitution means anything stand by a support the administration that did this. All Bush supporters should be aware that, if it can be done to Padilla, it can be done to you. Shameful.

Posted by: thebob.bob | January 24, 2008 04:45 PM

To the anonymous friend commenting on my comment regarding the earlier comment of an anonymous friend,

Thanks for your input. If you type as slow as I do that took several minutes. I now feel as if the veil of naivete has been lifted from my brow, revealing absolute truth with newfound clarity. Who knew that lawyers would exploit loopholes to their advantage? Will the gov`t induced psych problems described by Padilla`s lawyers prevent him from returning to saner activities like innocently filling out terrorist camp applications? I`m just kidding you. I don`t disagree with you on several points you articulately addressed. Even so, you incorrectly assumed I thought the case was "cut and dried". I merely pointed a giant finger toward the fact that there was indeed some hard evidence. Whether you thought it was compelling or not is your own opinion. A Florida jury thought it was convincing regardless of my inclinations or your condescention toward them.


Posted by: Bendertele | January 25, 2008 12:30 AM

Like others, I do not know what Mr. Padilla actually attempted to do - he may indeed be evil incarnate, or not... His guilt or innocence are actually minor issues here...

What is of central importance is that actions of the Bush administration and of the DOJ, were/are unconstitutional... A US Citizen, no matter how depraved or dispicable, MUST be afforded the protection of the constitutional guarantees - it is what separates us from the dictators and religous fanatics of this world... Mr. Padilla did not get this... The law and the constitution were flouted, flagrantly and repeatedly, and brazenly...
I fear that I could be next under this administration... And if you do not fear the same you are living in delusion...

Posted by: Dr. O | January 25, 2008 09:57 AM

above all else stands our Constitution. Maybe some of you hard nose rightwingers should actually read it some time.

Posted by: john | January 25, 2008 12:06 PM

if the charges were flimsy, he hardly 'caught a break' here.
he was held illegally and tortured. why didn't the courts address that?

Posted by: | January 25, 2008 04:07 PM

17+ years for an accused in whose case the government destroyed evidence and the judge thought 'did not have a good case against him.' You call that a 'break'? I call it a miscarriage of justice. The US has always had the most severe criminal penalties in the world. It now has a totalitarian legal system and an 'Amen Corner' press for accompaniament.
It won't be long until we're back to hanging starving people for stealing a loaf of bread, and wondering where our cities have gone....
Who needs al-Qa'ida, when we've got the Justice Department?

Posted by: bong_jamesbong2001 | January 27, 2008 05:36 AM

Supermax = Bastille

Posted by: | January 27, 2008 08:36 AM

The latest intercept from the cave has now been declassified:

AAZ: Hey, look at this, your friend Jose got sentenced to 17 years in an American jail.

UBL: Let me see.

AAZ: Wait, it's loading. This was supposed to be high-speed internet, they said.

UBL: Ayman, we live in a cave for Chrissake.

AAZ: I know, but that's what the man said, high speed. We paid good money for this so you wouldn't have the paperboy throwing the paper into the fire and getting soot all over your Birkenstocks, remember?

UBL: Yeah, yeah. Here it is. Judge Marcia Cooke. From O.J. Simpson to our friend the punk from Division Street.

AAZ: You're talking about somebody else. This is Marcia Cooke, not Clarke.

UBL: What's she doing these days, Marcia Clarke? She's a hot little number, let me tell you. Boy, I'd like to --

AAZ: STOP, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Can't you pay attention to anything for more than two seconds? You have ADD, I swear.

UBL: Okay, I'm reading this. Seventeen years and not 30 because the American infidels tortured him. And a lot of people think he didn't do anything to deserve the 17 years.

AAZ: He was here, wasn't he?

UBL: Yep, sat right there on that stump. He filled out an application. Had his fingerprint on it. Why do we have people fill out applications anyway, Ayman? I mean, it's a little like our brother martyr in New Jersey who wanted to get his deposit back on the van. Why do we care?

AAZ: It's a way of filtering out lesser-qualified candidates. I can leaf through the stack, see who went to the Gadhafi camps, the Pashtun camps. See what madrassa they went to, check the GPAs. GPA is important but camps are becoming more and more important these days. There's a lot of them out there but not that many good ones.

UBL: Well how did Jose get a second interview?

AAZ: Legacy. His mother used to be a secretary for somebody in Bridgeview who gave us a lot of wicker furniture.

UBL: Oh. Is it too late to kill him?

AAZ: Probably not, he sold the store and moved, but we know where he is.

UBL: No, not the wicker furniture guy. Jose. I thought I already gave the order.

AAZ: You did. We thought it was an April Fool's joke. It's too late to do anything about Jose, Usama. He's in federal custody now.

UBL: All right, then get the furniture guy then.

AAZ: Usama, it was three years ago now since that crappy chair from Pier One collapsed under your sorry a--!

UBL: I don't care. You don't see me running around buying Salman Rushdie's latest yarn, do you? We still have a good fatwa going there, don't we? Kill him.

AAZ: All right. But you're ridiculous.

Posted by: ExAUSA | January 28, 2008 01:59 AM

Bong wrote:

"Who needs al-Qa'ida, when we've got the Justice Department?"

Indeed, not as strange or unthoughtful a comment as it might at first appear. Would that AG Mukasey could understand the import of these words.

Posted by: | January 28, 2008 02:04 AM

This controversy appears to be between those who believe that anyone who is accused by someone must be guilty, and those who believe in the rule of law. How sad that the first group is so large and vocal.

Posted by: hesthe | January 28, 2008 12:24 PM

I have read all these comments and would bet that all the sob sisters ranting about Padilla getting free room and board for 17 years, have never spent one day in the military of this country or as a matter of fact done any act of beneficial sevice to this country nor never will, not even paying tax's--Padilla had a choice if he wanted to fight, the US army or the enemy. He made the wrong choice,both prison and army give free room and board but after 25years in the service he would have a nice retirement. Just shows how smart he was. Oh well, maybe the liberals will provide Padilla with a college education in chemistry.

Posted by: Bucksnort | January 28, 2008 05:55 PM

Further to the DOJ and the misconduct of its prosecutors-interestingly, the front page of the Legal Times has a subscriber-only story on "Letter to Mukasey Calls for DOJ Review on Prosecutorial Misconduct"

Gee, I wonder what that's all about, huh? Perhaps AG Mukasey will shed some light on that topic when he testifies tomorrow before the Judiciary Committee, yes?

But one thing we know for sure, whatever it is, the Washington Post will soft-pedal this subject, because, well, you know, they have to keep their symbiotic relationship going with the Justice Department, now don't they? (smile)

Posted by: | January 29, 2008 11:57 AM

Did somebody kidnap Cohen? Or is CBS paying him a lot more now?

Posted by: | January 29, 2008 05:03 PM

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