By lunchtime today, the Government will rest its case in the Jose Padilla trial. Ten weeks, lots of phone calls, expert witnesses, CNN videos, mentions of Playboy, jurors dressing up, reporters being threatened with contempt.... What's next? The defense will argue for judgments of acquittal on Tuesday. If those motions are denied, the jury will return next Thursday.
UPDATED -- THE GOVERNMENT RESTED AROUND NOON TODAY.
Yesterday, an FBI agent said that Padilla was evasive when he was arrested. This from the NY Times:
On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who arrested Mr. Padilla testified that he was evasive about the four years he spent in the Middle East and Pakistan. The agents said a lengthy interview in an airport conference room yielded nothing substantive about his time overseas.
Special Agent Russell Fincher said Mr. Padilla, an American born in Brooklyn, disclosed which neighborhood of Cairo he had lived in for two years and the first name of his roommate there. But he said he had forgotten the address and his roommate’s last name — a suspicious lapse, Mr. Fincher said, since Mr. Padilla, then 31, could recall where he had lived as a child in Chicago.
Mr. Padilla, who had just returned to the United States on a flight from Zurich, also told the agents that he had married an Egyptian woman but could not remember her telephone number.
“It led me to believe that Mr. Padilla was being evasive with regard to his answers about his travels overseas,” Mr. Fincher said.
Under defense questioning, Mr. Fincher conceded that Mr. Padilla could not recall his mother’s phone number or his most recent address in the United States.
Mr. Padilla was carrying a picture of his baby sons at the time of his arrest, Mr. Fincher said, and a piece of paper with his mother’s contact information. Mr. Padilla told the agents that he had never been to Afghanistan, but that he had gone to Pakistan to study Islam on the advice of a Pakistani he met in Saudi Arabia.
And the Government tried to shore up its position on the training camp form:
Earlier Thursday, a government expert in document analysis testified that Mr. Padilla could have filled out the training camp application in July 2000, the date written on it. But under defense questioning, the expert, Gerald LaPorte, acknowledged that there was no way to determine who filled it out or when.
“I can’t render a conclusion at all,” Mr. LaPorte said.
And this from the AP:
Also Thursday, a Secret Service document analyst testified that the form attributed to Padilla was consistent with others recovered by the CIA in a binder in Afghanistan in December 2001. The forms appeared to be authentic and to have been copied from a single original on the same copying equipment, analyst Jerry LaPorte testified.
There were two types of ink and two different pens used to fill out the supposed Padilla form, he added. LaPorte testified he couldn't tell when the entries were completed, although the form bears a date of July 24, 2000.
Prosecutors expect to rest their case Friday, the end of the ninth week of testimony. Defense lawyers are scheduled to begin next week on their case, which will likely continue into August.
I really think the case against Padilla comes down to whether the jury believes that he filled out this form with the intent to go overseas to join a terrorist camp. If the jury has doubt about how and when Padilla's prints were left on this form, he walks. Thoughts?
If the jury can see this for what it is, a shabby attempt by a desperate government to something to show for their ineffectual war on terror, then he will walk.
By their very nature jury verdicts can be so perverse, the guilty walk, and others head up the river based on the flimsiest of evidence.
But my true thoughts are probably best represented by this graphic.
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