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.

UPDATE: Others:

  • 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. “
FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Terrorism, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ugh says:

    The process that got us to this point, however, was not a proud one.

    Quite, which is why Padilla’s sentence should be time served.

  2. Triumph says:

    Ultimately, this was the right verdict. The process that got us to this point, however, was not a proud one.

    In fact, what is most troubling is the fact that the Padilla example has not been entirely successful in deterring Islamic terrorist activity in the US.

    For instance, the administration has been curiously silent after the recent murder of a journalist by radical Islamic terrorists in Oakland two weeks ago.

    It is indicative of the administration’s lack of concern that no high-level representatives attended yesterday’s memorial service for the latest victim of radical Islamic terrorism.

  3. Andy says:

    I’m all for putting Padilla in jail, along side the treasonous officials who repeatedly violated his Constitutional rights.

  4. bains says:

    Oh my heart bleeds…

    People have spent 30 years in prison only to be uncermoniously released when new info is uncovered/revealed – h3ll, the Duke Lacross team was smeared for a year with entirely unfounded allegations just so Nifong could run a ‘racially compassionate re-election campaign’. And yet these same folks wailing about Padilla are as unconcerned about other transgressions as they claim the Bush Admin was regarding Padilla.

    This is not to say that the Administration dropped the ball with Padilla, merely that the Sullivans and Greenwalds of the world could not give a damn other than how a situation furthers their agendas.

  5. James Joyner says:

    these same folks wailing about Padilla are as unconcerned about other transgressions as they claim the Bush Admin was regarding Padilla.

    Nifong’s handling of the Duke case has been almost universally assailed and Nifong has been disbarred and will likely face criminal charges and a civil suit. The others got due process.

    Sometimes the system fails. This wasn’t that: It was an outrageous circumvention of the system by the executive. The no man shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process is at the foundation of our country. Padilla was denied his basic rights on the whim of the government for three years.

  6. bains says:

    Sometimes the system fails. This wasn’t that:

    I’ve long criticized the Bush Admin for their handling of the GWOT. But along with the ineptitude is a recognition that whatever they did, people like Sully and SockPuppet (and a host of congresscritters) would play the blame game. Given his conviction on all counts, it is fairly clear to me that the Admin felt that Padilla was a willing combatant against the country. In other wars, he would have been charged with treason – without the gnashing of teeth we’ve seen from the media and left. And that’s my point. To them, Padilla was merely a bludgeon with which to pummel Bush. (BDS is an apt description – there are far to many people whose visceral hatred of Bush prevents rational thought.)

  7. James Joyner says:

    In other wars, he would have been charged with treason – without the gnashing of teeth we’ve seen from the media and left.

    I’ve got no problem with charging enemy collaborators with treason. I just think even accused traitors are entitled to the rights we deemed inalienable in our Declaration of Independence.