Saturday, August 18, 2007

US citizen found guilty of aiding terror groups...

Jose Padilla and captors...

Rather than face an embarrassing Supreme Court review of his incarceration in 2005, the Bush administration hastily charged Padilla and co-conspirators Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi in a federal court. The trio was charged with conspiring to murder, kidnap and support terrorism overseas and two counts of providing material support to terrorists.

The verdicts did not address the allegation by then-attorney general John Ashcroft, who accused Padilla of planning a radiological attack on the United States, for which he was held without charges in almost complete isolation for 43 months.

Padilla’s defense lawyers claimed that three-and-a-half years of military detention, interrogation and alleged torture have left the 35-year-old unfit to stand trial. Judge Marcia Cooke ruled that the defendant was competent despite claims that Padilla – who was isolated and put under 24-hour surveillance – suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although his mental health may no longer be in question, 72 hours of video footage containing Padilla’s final interrogation went "missing". The lawyers say Padilla was subject to 24-hour video surveillance during his entire military detention – except for 72 hours of missing tape.

"What could have been done to Mr. Padilla in those seventy-two, or so, hours that the government turned off the camera when for almost four years every one of Mr. Padilla's bowel movements were videotaped?"

-- Anthony Natale, assistant federal public defender for Padilla

Padilla's defense called no witnesses on his behalf and introduced no evidence. His lawyers adopted the risky strategy of suggesting to the jurors that prosecutors failed to prove he conspired with the others or provided material support to terrorists.

Failure to achieve a conviction would have been a major embarrassment for the Bush administration, given its portrayal of Padilla over the last five years as an extremely dangerous terrorist.

"We commend the jury for its work in this trial and thank it for upholding a core American principle of impartial justice for all. Jose Padilla received a fair trial and a just verdict."

-- Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council

"You need to understand, this is a Republican city. I'm not surprised of anything in this place any more."

-- Estela Lebron, Padilla's mother


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