Friday, October 06, 2006

Jose Padilla - Terrorist or Thug?

By Marc David Seitles

Interesting article in the Miami New Times about Jose Padilla. Author Trevor Aaronson gathered the information for this story from the federal courthouse in Miami, the Broward State Attorney’s Office, and through conducting witness interviews. He concedes, however, that much of the federal government’s evidence against the alleged terrorist remains under seal.

Aaronson basically concludes that “[i]n portraying Padilla as an evil mastermind behind a plot to kill thousands, the federal government forgot one thing: He’s just a punk. Federal and state court records prove that much.” The article details Padilla’s past criminal history in Chicago, his marriage, his conversion to Islam, and his alleged travels to the Middle East.

Probably the most interesting part of the article is the section related to Padilla’s detention by the FBI in 2002 while leaving Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and thereafter being declared “a continuing, present, and grave danger to the national security of the United States” by President George Bush.

While the article does not interview any of Padilla’s current lawyers, the author interviews Stephen Vladeck, who worked on the amicus brief that questioned the legality of Padilla’s detention at a navy brig. Mr. Vladeck claims that the government’s story has changed many times regarding Padilla’s role in this alleged terrorist conspiracy and he profoundly adds that “[w]hether Padilla is who the government says he is this time, whether he did what he’s charged with doing or not, there are scary ramifications for the American justice system.”

With very fine lawyers for both the government and the defense, it should be one heck of a trial.

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