The Jose Padilla conviction
Jose Padilla became something of a poster child for the Bush administration's abuse of civil rights in fighting terrorism. Now that he's been convicted&mdashnot of the original charge of plotting to set off a dirty bomb, but on the charge of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country—some will be tempted to see in it justification for the means the administration used. But it is not.
The New York Times, in an editorial yesterday, got it exactly right:
[I]t would be a mistake to see it as a vindication for the Bush administration's serial abuse of the American legal system in the name of fighting terrorism.
On the way to this verdict, the government repeatedly trampled on the Constitution, and its prosecution of Mr. Padilla was so cynical and inept that the crime he was convicted of—conspiracy to commit terrorism overseas—bears no relation to the ambitious plot to wreak mass destruction inside the United States, which the Justice Department first loudly proclaimed. Even with the guilty verdict, this conviction remains a shining example of how not to prosecute terrorism cases.
The crimes committed against due process of law by the U.S. government are of far more concern to me as a citizen than that committed by Jose Padilla.
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