Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Judge Dismisses Terror Charge in Padilla Case

As one big-time terror charge goes up, another one comes down. The case of the accused "dirty bomber" terror supporter, Jose Padilla, has taken yet another turn.

More than three years after being paraded before us as a big catch in the interminable "War on Terror", Padilla was finally charged this past November with crimes other than those mentioned in the hype surrounding his arrest. The move was widely regarded as a blatant attempt to avoid a potentially embarassing defeat on his appeal to the US Supreme Court.

The case made against Padilla was described as "light on facts" by the Judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, forshadowing what was to come.

Yesterday the judge dismissed one of the terror charges filed by the Attorney General's office, citing the redundancy of the charges and the comcomitant "double jeopardy" issues it raises.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke threw out the first count in the indictment -- that the threesome conspired to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country -- saying it repeated the main alleged "conspiracy to advance violent jihad" in two other charges.

"There can be no question that the government has charged a single conspiracy offense multiple times, in separate counts, when in law and in fact, only one [alleged] crime has been committed," Cooke wrote in an eight-page ruling released to prosecutors and defense lawyers on Monday.

"The danger raised by a multiplicitous indictment is present in the instant indictment," she wrote, stressing that it violates the "double jeopardy" clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution -- the prosecution or punishment of a defendant twice for the same offense.

The judge's ruling -- a major pretrial victory for defense attorneys Kenneth Swartz, Jeanne Baker, William Swor, Michael Caruso, Orlando do Campo, Anthony Natale and Andrew Patel -- was the latest blow to the government's case. The first count in the indictment carried a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Once again it all come back to the credibility of this "War on Terror".


Brian said...


I am not sure why you are so proud that this fact supposedly hits so hard against the war on terror. He is a self-admitted Al Qaeda trainee.

Ok, so maybe he is not charged with the dirty bomb part in technicality, there is still conspiracy to commit murder... etc involved.

Would it make you happy if the "War on Terror" here stopped, even if it is still raging according to those we fight against? Sure, the laws may need a few tweeks here and there, but in the end, it still needs to be fought.


FearItself said...


Do you have a reference to his being a self-admitted Al Qaeda operative? I've never heard that asserted before. I'd like to see link for that if you have one because I can find nothing to that effect.

At any rate, if you think I'm "proud" of any of this you're misunderstanding me completely. My concern in the Padilla case is not based so much on Padilla's guilt or innocence because, lets face it, we've been given nothing convincing to go on either way, just shifting assertions from the Bush administration, people who have lied to us time and time again. My concern is what this does to any semblance of constitutional protection. If they can do this Jose Padilla, they can do it to anyone. They could do it to you. So if I seem enthusiastic to see this process unravel, it's because of that. I like the constitution and I think you do too. We should follow it.

Here's an article from the very conservative (Libertarian) Cato Institute.


FearItself said...

Bryan, please note:

Jan. 12, 2006: Padilla pleads not guilty to charges alleging he was part of a secret network that supported Muslim terrorists. The charges could bring a life in prison sentence.

Brian said...


I said he is a self admitted trainee, not operative. It is almost the same, but not quite.

"Padilla has admitted that after filling out his application, he attended the Al Farouq (ph) al Qaeda training camp in September and October of 2000, using the name Abdullah al-Espani (ph)." from


For example... I "currently" have no fear of my constitutional rights being assaulted. There is no background to justify any such thing. I might be a little more worried if I had a gang-banger past, but I do not. Why would the government waste their time holding me? I guess I am an optimist at heart (call me naive), but I think the government is just as lazy as I am. They do not care about my boring phone calls and emails... they do not care about my everyday life. The government is not bored, therefore they do not harass me.

The slippery slope argument (I know you want to bring it up) is not valid. It would take a LOT of government officials to starting honing down into the common American's affairs. It would require a government that employs a much larger piece of the population than they currently do at the moment in order for it to really become a problem.


FearItself said...


I followed your link and what I found there was the transcript of a press conference held by the Attorney General's office in 2004 whereby it was SAID that he had admitted these things. While I appreciate your providing the documentation, I have to say this doesn't quite cut it for me. Did I remember to mention that I take what these folks SAY in their press conferences about the "war on terror" with a grain of salt? They SAY a lot of things in their press conferences that don't turn out to be less than true. At a similar press conference about Padilla they said he was plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" in the US, for example. Now we find that they think so little of that allegation that wont even include it on his indictment. That, I believe, is an indicator of how seriously we should all take it.

Does it bother you at all that despite having an admission of that significance in hand, instead of charging him on that basis they merely held another press conference? Don't you think it's odd that they chose to wait more than another year to charge him of anything at all? But most importantly, isn't it strange that after holding him for 3 years with this important testimony in hand they chose not to include any of it in the indictment they finally handed down last December?

Here's the full text of the indictment. Read the three counts that apply to Padilla, Counts #1 -3. You wont find a mention of this admission in there. After count #3 you wont find Padilla's name mentioned again. This indictment contains a long list incidents that they cite as evidence of a conspiracy, much of which is indeed very "light on facts", but nowhere does it mention Padilla's alledged admission referenced in your link. Again it seems they felt so strongly about that part of their case that they didn't bother to include it in their accusation. But the were sure to tell the media about it, weren't they?

I have a some of competing theories as to why that may be. First is my personal favorite, that they lie in their press conferences. I'm thoroughly convinced of this one, but I have to admit it's a hard one to prove. They hold all the cards so people like you and I don't have much to go on. We only have the details they want us to have. So in spite of my own fondness for it, let's dispense with that one for now until more facts come to light.

Second, if they're being truthful about this admission they may have chosen to leave it out of the indictment because it is inadmissable in a court of law. A possible reason it would be inadmissable is that the statement, if real, was likely obtained under [i]torture[/i], rendering it useless as evidence and tainting their entire case.

Last, it is possible that Padilla made the statements attributed to him but that the AG's office mischaracterized the nature and context of them. I think it's possible that you and the Deputy Attorne General are conflating support for the Taliban in their pre-9/11 war against the Northern Alliance, or support for the Chechnyan rebels against Russia, with support for Al Qaeda's attacks on US civilians. These are not the same thing.

Consider the case of John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban". Just like Padilla, long before 9/11 he traveled to Afghanistan. He trained in camps there. He met bin Laden. Then he joined up with the Taliban's militia, not to fight against the US, not to plot terrorist attacks, but to help them fight the Northern Alliance of warlords in that country. Remember, at that time, the US was itself was aiding the Taliban. When 9/11 happened the whole context changed and there he was suddenly a part of a mititia that the US is waging war against.

Could this not have been the case for Padilla as well? In short, Padilla may very well have been there to wage "jihad" as this indictment states, but as a volunteer in a foreign civil war in Afghanistan or Chechnya or where ever, not as a terrorist looking to attack Americans. THIS would explain why the indictment is so vague as his to plans. THIS would explain why none of the dirty bomb stuff is in it.


FearItself said...


I had to break this into two responses because it was getting too long. But you may not feel you have anything to fear from the unconstitutional steps right now because, of course, are not a terrorist. But the power you are willing to cede to the President doesn't stop at this president and it wont stop at terrorists. Once you make the unconstitutional legal, you've set a precedent and precedents get applied to other situations. That's how our legal system works. It's not a "slippery slope" argument. It's a fact. The constitution says that American citizens can't be imprisoned without charge and cannot by search or spied upon without warrant. It is unambiguous on this issue. If we give the President the right to do whatever he wants in wartime, then allow him to unilaterally declare never-ending war on the world then we've created a emperor.

Yes, it does take a large number of government officials to make such a new program work. Do you doubt that we have that now? J. Edgar Hoover wasn't even the President but he was the most powerful man in Washington at one time. Why? Because he assumed for himself the power to spy on people, collect information and use it their detriment. He could blackmail anyone. He could ruin anyone either legally or by innuendo. Now we're giving that power and more to a President. Multiply the impact by 10.

We have checks and balances for a very good reason and the rush to give them up to this FOOL or any other man is a bigger threat to American democracy than Al Qaeda or terrorism in general could ever be. No matter how many plane or buildings these folks blow up, they can't destroy our democracy. They know that. This nation is too large, too diversified, to rich and too strong to be destroyed by sporadic destructive acts. The only way Al Qaeda can succeed is if they spark us to things that destroy America for them. It's a favor of which we seem all too willing to oblige.

Brian said...

Well, to "sort of" sum this up... I am glad people like you keep such close track of these things. All though I do not agree with your politics so much, I think in principle we agree on what we want the end result should be.

Yes, the government should be kept in check... Yes we do have a constitution. But, the constitution is there for interpretation, not for super literal following of the words. Imagine, there were no airplanes, no electricity, not even a press that could transmit info in a matter of milliseconds. We must follow the constitution, but at the same time adapt it to present day circumstances.

It is a scary world we live in, due to how spontanaiety and impulsiveness (excuse my abuse of the English language)can reek such havok so quickly. I agree that holding people for years without charges is excessive. But, some leniency must be given due to how quickly MASSIVE amounts of people can be killed.

Taliban John is an adult... if he chooses to fight in Afghanistan, then he obviously knew what the consequences could be (death, jail, torture, etc) whether it was from the opponent, or from the US. He fought for his "religion" and lost. If he did not know there was a war going on with the US at the time of capture... then he should have brushed up on his Arabic before he started fighting.

thx! keep up the blog.. it is a fresh dose of liberalism (although extreme) that I do not see so much of.

FearItself said...

We can always agree to disagree. I appreciate your comments here, Bryan.