Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Evidence Against Padilla

The New York Times runs an informative article about the government's evidence against Jose Padilla.

As you might recall, Padilla was detained without charges for three years. His case was due to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. When the administration saw that its practice of detaining whoever it deems to be an "enemy combatant" -- for as long as it likes and without review -- was going to be put to a legal test, it quickly switched Padilla to the criminal as opposed to the military track, so as to avoid such an accounting.

Now the Times reveals what it says is the bulk of the administration's case against Padilla: seven largely inconclusive wiretapped conversations. The Times quotes from some of them. To say there is no smoking gun is to be charitable. Of course, Ashcroft's claims of a 'dirty bomb' plot have disappeared into the ether.

The issue of guilt or innocence may be rendered moot if a psychiatric evaluation this week finds that torture and solitary confinement have rendered Padilla incapable of aiding in his own defense, as his lawyers claim. The article quotes Deborah Pearlstein from Human Rights First as describing this case as "the most gross deprivation of human rights that we’ve seen in this country for a long time."

One day soon America will rediscover its conscience and reclaim its principles.

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