Jose Padilla Convicted on Terrorist Charges
Jose Padilla has finally been found guilty of major terrorism charges.
Jose Padilla was convicted of federal terrorism support charges Thursday after being held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration’s zeal to stop homegrown terror. Padilla, a U.S. citizen from Chicago, was once accused of being part of an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the U.S., but those allegations were not part of his trial.
Padilla, 36, and his foreign-born co-defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas, which carries a penalty of life in prison. All three were also convicted of two terrorism material support counts, which carry potential 15-year sentences each.
Jurors deliberated a day and a half after a three-month trial. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke set a Dec. 5 sentencing date.
The three were accused of being part of a North American support cell that provided supplies, money and recruits to groups of Islamic extremists. The defense contended they were trying to help persecuted Muslims in war zones with relief and humanitarian aid.
My guess is that the phrase “the Bush administration’s zeal to stop homegrown terror” has a much different impact on most Americans than the AP thinks.
Still, the bizarre idea that the executive can simply declare a citizen an enemy to the country and lock him away without trial is as alien to the founding principles of the country as any I can imagine. Certainly, it’s much closer to “tyranny” than most of the charges leveled against George III by Thomas Jefferson and the boys in 1776.
Ultimately, this was the right verdict. The process that got us to this point, however, was not a proud one.
- Orin Kerr: “[T]his case adds one data point in favor of using the criminal justice system to prosecute terrorist suspects. . . . Most importantly, it doesn’t change how Padilla has been treated all this time; it doesn’t erase the last six years.”
- Glenn Greenwald: “Today’s verdict offers yet more evidence of just how unnecessary — on top of illegal, unconstitutional and destructive — the administration’s behavior here was.”
- Andrew Sullivan: “The verdict is not on the original charge of plotting a dirty bomb, and it was this charge that had Padilla arrested and detained without charges and allegedly tortured for three years in solitary. The question of Padilla’s innocence or guilt on a much lesser charge is therefore less salient than the way in which he was treated by the government. That remains a travesty; and the government should be relieved its clumsy handling of the case did not lead to his acquittal. “