Three-month trial, “hundreds” of wiretapped conversations to sift through, and yet they’ve reached a decision after fully one day of deliberations. Anyone think they’re going to convict?
[P]rosecutors didn’t present any direct evidence, such as an eyewitness, to prove Padilla actually attended al Qaeda’s training camp in Afghanistan. So, they called a convicted terrorist to testify that he filled out the same Mujahedin application and completed the terror group’s training camp — one year after Padilla allegedly committed the same crime.
Although Padilla’s Mujahedin form itself appears to be solid, the overall case against him is riddled with circumstantial evidence. In other words, there’s no proverbial smoking gun.
He’s accused of conspiracy to commit murder abroad, a.k.a. jihad, and two lesser charges of providing material support for terrorism. I haven’t followed it but it sounds like the case against him hinges on whether his relationship with two AQ recruiters plus the mujahedeen application form(!) he filled out adds up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill. There’s no dirty bomb charge, even though that’s what he’s famous for.
In theory, even if he’s acquitted Bush could send him back to military prison by designating him an enemy combatant, but Bush already has enough of a stench about him for doing things extrajudicially that he’s not going to disregard a jury verdict. Besides, what would be the point of putting him on trial if you’re only going to send him back to the brig?
Stand by for verdict. Exit question one: Assuming he’s acquitted, which celebrity “journalist” lands the coveted “what would you like to say to the president” Padilla interview? And exit question two: Will Sully be able to watch it through the tears?
Update: MM has a copy of Padilla’s “application form.” Why AQ would want to leave a paper trial is beyond me, but the Herald says it looks pretty solid.
Update (bp): One of the key points against Padilla all along is that he was fingered by captured al Qaeda big Abu Zubaydah, and turned up in Chicago where Zubaydah said he would on his mission to dirty bomb and blow up Chicago area apartment buildings. That’s circumstantial, but surely damning. If Padilla is innocent, how did Abu Z know where he’d be and when he’d be there?
Sullivan will surely cry that Zubaydah in all likelihood gave up Padilla after being water-boarded. I don’t consider water-boarding torture, and don’t care at all about the health and welfare of an animal like Abu Zubaydah. His head was full of al Qaeda facts, and we needed access to those facts in order to save lives. I see it as the closest thing we’ll get in the real world to the true ticking time-bomb scenario. You had a captured terrorist aggressively interrogated to give up the name and location of another, who was (allegedly) on a terrorist mission at that very moment. No water-boarding of the capture terrorist, and you don’t stop the terrorist who’s still in the field, and innocent people die.
Update: Heart-ache in nutrootsland — they got him on all three counts. Big win for Bush. A win too for Bush critics, in a sense: this will “prove” that the administration doesn’t need military tribunals to convict jihadis.
The AP salvages defeat from victory:
The charges brought in civilian court in Miami, however, were a pale shadow of those initial [dirty bomb] claims in part because Padilla, 36, was interrogated about the plot when he was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years in military custody with no lawyer present and was not read his Miranda rights.
Do they know he’s looking at an almost certain life sentence?
Update: Like the Herald said, that form was pretty solid:
The key piece of physical evidence was a five-page form Padilla supposedly filled out in July 2000 to attend an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, which would link the other two defendants as well to Usama bin Laden’s terrorist organization.
The form, recovered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan, contains seven of Padilla’s fingerprints and several other personal identifiers, such as his birthdate and his ability to speak Spanish, English and Arabic.
“It was a relief operation,” said one of his co-defendants’ lawyers.
Update: A grumpy Salon reminds us that they didn’t prove jack about dirty bombs, just that he conspired to kill people for Al Qaeda. Keep moving those goalposts, wingnuts.
Update: HuffPo’s got a thread up now and the comments are piling up. My favorite thus far, from a Gutfeldesque subversive:
It’s really a hell of a slow news day otherwise so I’m wondering what this verdict was meant to “distract” us from. Well, stick with HuffPo. We’ll find out soon enough.
Update: Your quote of the day:
After the decision was announced, Padilla’s mother, Estella Lebron, told CNN her son will appeal the verdict.
“I’m not surprised by anything in this place anymore,” she said. “This is a Republican city.”
Update: Another HuffPo subversive — or just a liberal who takes her own rhetoric seriously? — floats this humble suggestion to her disappointed nutroots cohorts:
forgive me…but dont we want to fight terorists and terrorism using law enforement–and not the military?
Update (bp): A blast from the past. Yeah, I’m the guy who started the Padilla/OKC John Doe #2 speculation when Padilla was first arrested. My old blog is on a new server since then and the original comparison image I did back then got lost in the transfer, but this post is where it all started.
And we never could rule Padilla out of (or in) the OKC bombing. I don’t think he was involved in that, but not being able to definitively rule him out by placing him in prison or some place else at any key moment of the OKC timeline has always bugged me.
Update: Ace mitigates the hatred of America he’s demonstrated by taking joy in the conviction of a terrorist with a conciliatory gesture.
Update (bp): Oh, the humanity! We truly lost our soul upon Zubaydah’s capture.