Thursday, August 16, 2007

Padilla Guilty

Jose Padilla was found guilty on all counts. Not being either a criminal or national security lawyer, I will leave the legal analysis for others. But the Padilla case has been the one that has bothered me the most of all the habeus cases coming out of the War on Terror. Leaving aside the torture issue (which is a big aside) I am not that concerned that Guantanamo exists. Our military is capturing people on battlefields and they need to be placed somewhere. I do think there needs to be a better procedure to determine whether those people are POWs or illegal combatants, but I do not want the military in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere to be fighting a police action.

But the Padilla case was different. Here was a guy arrested by law enforcement inside the US (though, as he was at an airport, arguably legally outside the country). He was not captured on a distant battlefield holding a rifle or even in the process of engaging in a terrorist act. The fact it took the government three years to try him, and everything that happened in between is a travesty.

Don't get me wrong. From what I read about the evidence, I think he was guilty and I am glad he was found guilty. He was up to no good. My concern is that it took 3 1/2 years to bring to trial an American citizen captured in the ordinary course of activity by law enforcement inside the United States. He was not captured in some foreign land carrying a gun. In the past 3 1/2 years he has been held in solitary confinement and treated such that his mental capacity is now in question. By doing this, the government could have blown the case on Constitutional grounds. Some appeals court may still rule that way.

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