Saturday, August 18, 2007

The "Real Verdict on Jose Padilla"?

I know that this is somewhat out of character--you know...a serious post--but bear with me. I promise not to do this too often.

In yesterday's Washington Post, Jenny Martinez, a Standford University law professor and lawyer for Jose Padilla (though not in his criminal trial), tries to detect the silver lining in the ruling. Setting aside that Padilla was convicted on flimsy evidence, by what appears to have been a biased jury, of a far different crime than the one that precipitated his detention and torture, Dr. Martinez spins the trial as a triumph over the Bu$hCo's attempt to dismantle our judicial system:
The trial showed that our federal courts are perfectly capable of dealing with terrorism cases... The Bush administration has claimed since Sept. 11 that the federal courts cannot be trusted with terrorism matters. It has argued that we should scrap our centuries-old constitutional protections and replace our system of checks and balances with one awarding the executive complete discretion to lock up whomever he wants, for however long he deems appropriate. The Founders rejected that kind of arbitrary and oppressive power. And the federal court in Florida has shown how weak the administration's case for abandoning the Constitution really is.
But the stark reality remains. Regardless what this trial showed, the Bush Administration does have the power to lock up Americans indefinitely and without recourse. That power was affirmed by the Supreme Court, and consider how much it worse it would have been for Padilla had he been arrested in late 2006 rather than 2002. In 2006, with its recently granted authority to co-opt the assets of anyone who opposes its so-called "wartime" policies, the administration could have decimated the Padilla family's finances long before the man ever came to trial. The net of punishment could have snared every member of his immediate family, perhaps even his friends and associates.

We now live in a nation of punishment without charges--conviction without trial--which is very convenient for the administration, as it saves them the embarrassment of bungling the prosecution of terrorism cases, and Dr. Martinez' sunny assessment does nothing to obscure that truth.

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