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News :: Globalization
a jury of clowns
22 Aug 2007
Keep this one as an analysis of a major step in the destruction of
civil liberties and the institution of a police state. Frightening, isn't
Padilla Jury Opens Pandora's Box
By Paul Craig Roberts
08/20/07 "ICH" -- -Jose Padilla's conviction on terrorism charges on August
16 was a victory, not for justice, but for the US Justice (sic) Department's
theory that a US citizen can be convicted, not because he committed a
terrorist act but for allegedly harboring aspirations to commit such an act.
By agreeing with the Justice (sic) Department's theory, the incompetent
Padilla Jury delivered a deadly blow to the rule of law and opened Pandora's
Anglo-American law is a human achievement 800 years in the making. Over
centuries law was transformed from a weapon in the hands of government into
a shield of the people from unaccountable power. The Padilla Jury's verdict
turned law back into a weapon.
The jury, of course, had no idea of what was at stake. It was a patriotic
jury that appeared in court with one row of jurors dressed in red, one in
white, and one in blue (Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post, August 17, 2007).
It was a jury primed to be psychologically and emotionally manipulated
by federal prosecutors desperate for a conviction for which there was
little, if any, supporting evidence. For the jury, patriotism required that
they strike a blow for America against terrorism. No member of this jury was
going to return home to accusations of letting off a person who has been
portrayed as a terrorist in the US media for five years.
The "evidence" against Padilla consists of three items: (1) seven
intercepted telephone conversations, (2) a 10-year old non-relevant video of
Osama bin Laden, and (3) an alleged application to a mujahideen (not
terrorist) training camp with Padilla's fingerprints. We will examine each
The International Herald Tribune and Associated Press reported in detail on
the telephone intercepts (June 19, 2007): "Accused al-Qaida operative Jose
Padilla was never overheard using purported code words for violent jihad in
intercepted telephone conversations and spoke often about his difficulties
in learning Arabic while studying in Egypt, the lead FBI case agent
testified Tuesday. The questioning of FBI Agent James T. Kavanaugh by
Padilla attorney Michael Caruso focused on seven intercepted telephone calls
on which Padilla's voice is heard mostly talking about his marriage and his
studies but never about Islamic extremism. . . . Caruso asked Kavanaugh
if Padilla ever was heard using what prosecutors say were code words for
violent jihad . . . 'No, he does not,' Kavanaugh replied. . . . Caruso
asked Kavanaugh if Padilla was ever overheard discussing jihad training. 'No
jihad training that I've seen,' Kavanaugh said. . . . 'He's not referring
to anything here but studying Arabic, correct? Study means study, right?'
Caruso asked. 'That's what they're talking about,' Kavanaugh testified."
Despite the FBI's testimony that the intercepted telephone messages
contained no incriminating evidence, the "patriotic" jury accepted the
federal prosecutor's unsupported accusation that there were hidden code
words in the message indicating that Padilla was a terrorist. After all,
who but a terrorist would want to learn Arabic?
The video of bin Laden had no relevance whatsoever to the charges in the
case. The video is 10-years old and makes no reference to any of the
defendants. Moreover, none of the defendants were accused of ever being in
contact with bin Laden. The only purpose of the video was to arouse in
jurors fear, anger, and disturbing memories associated with September 11,
2001. The fact that the judge let prosecutors sway a fearful and vengeful
patriotic jury with emotion and passion rather than evidence is obviously
grounds for appeal.
Whoriskey reports that in their closing arguments prosecutors mentioned
al-Qaeda more than 100 times and urged jurors to think of al-Qaeda and
groups alleged to be affiliated with it as an international murder
conspiracy. Padilla "trained to kill,' Assistant US Attorney Brian Frazier
misinformed the jury in his closing statement.
Who Padilla wished to kill was never identified, but according to the
prosecutors he had been wanting to kill persons unknown since 1998. Padilla
was convicted for harboring alleged intentions, not for committing any acts.
Indeed, no harmful acts are charged to Padilla. The incompetent jury fell
for the prosecutors' wild tale of a murder conspiracy many years old that
had no results.
As Andrew Cohen put it, Padilla and the two co-defendants were convicted on
the charge of "terrorist-wannabes" on the basis of "evidence that federal
authorities did not believe amounted to a crime when it was gathered back
before 2001." Cohen concludes: "it's further proof that if you can convince
an American jury that a man in the dock had anything to do with al-Qaeda,
you can pretty much bank on a conviction no matter how tenuous the evidence"
(washingtonpost.com, August 16, 2007). [
The training camp application form is as suspect as any evidence can be.
Moreover, the prosecution had no evidence that Padilla actually attended
such a camp. Padilla was held illegally for 3.5 years and tortured. At any
time during his illegal detention and torture, Padilla could have been
handed a form, thus tainting it with his fingerprints.
Amy Goodman, the forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty, the Christian
Science Monitor and others have described how US interrogators abused
Padilla and destroyed his mind. To expect a person as badly tortured and
abused as Padilla to retain the wits not to touch a piece of paper handed to
him, or forced into his hands, is unreasonable.
[ http://www.alternet.org/story/59958/ ]
When Padilla was arrested five years ago in 2002, the US government charged
that he was about to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city that
would kill tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans. The story was a
total lie, a fabrication designed to keep the fear level high after 9/11 in
order to keep support for the Bush regime's wars and domestic police state.
None of the charges on which Padilla was illegally held, during those years
before the US Supreme Court intervened and ordered the Bush regime to
release Padilla or bring him to trial, were part of the charges on which
Padilla was tried.
There is little doubt that Padilla's conviction, and probably also the
convictions of the two co-defendants, is a terrible injustice. But the
damage done goes far beyond the damage to the defendants. What the red,
white, and blue "Padilla Jury" has done is to overthrow the US Constitution
and give us the rule of men.
The US Constitution and Anglo-American legal tradition prevent indictments,
much less convictions, based on a prosecutor's theory that a person wanted
to commit a crime in the past or might want to in the future. Padilla has
harmed no one. There is no evidence that he made an agreement with any
party to harm anyone whether for money or ideology or any reason. The FBI
testified that the telephone calls were innocuous. The bin Laden video was
evidence of nothing pertaining to the defendants. The piece of paper,
alleged to be a personnel form recovered from an al-Qaeda camp in
Afghanistan is nothing but a piece of paper and an assertion.
As Lawrence Stratton and I demonstrated in our book, The Tyranny of Good
Intentions (2000), the protective features of law had been seriously eroded
prior to the Bush regime's assault on civil liberty in the name of "the war
on terror." The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights rest on Blackstone's
Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone explained law as the
protective principles against tyranny--habeas corpus, due process,
attorney-client privilege, no crime without intent, no retroactive law, no
Jeremy Bentham claimed that these protective principles were outmoded in a
democracy in which the people controlled the government and no longer had
reasons to fear it. The problem with Blackstone's "Rights of Englishmen,"
Bentham said, is that these civil liberties needlessly limit the
power and, thus, its ability to protect citizens from crime. Bentham wanted
to preempt criminal acts by arresting those likely to commit crimes in
advance, before the budding criminals entered into a life of crime.
Bentham, like the Bush regime, the "Padilla Jury," and the Republican
Federalist Society, did not understand that when law becomes a weapon,
liberty dies regardless of the form of government. If they do understand,
they prefer unaccountable government power to individual liberty.
The incompetent "Padilla Jury" has done Americans and their liberty far more
damage than will ever be done by terrorists, other than those in our
criminal justice (sic) system who now wield the powers that Bentham wanted
to give them.
The Padilla case was the way the Bush Justice (sic) Department implemented
its strategy for taking away the legal principles that protect American
citizens. Padilla is an American citizen. He was denied habeas corpus and
his rights to an attorney and due process. He was tortured in an attempt to
coerce him into self-incrimination. In treating Padilla in these ways, the
US Department of Justice (sic) violated both the US Constitution and federal
law. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Justice (sic) Department
committed far more crimes than did Padilla.
By the time the Supreme Court finally intervened, Padilla was universally
known as the demonized "dirty bomber," an "enemy combatant" who was
arrested before he could set off a radioactive bomb in a US city. The
Injustice Department could now simultaneously convict Padilla and enshrine
Benthamite law simply by appealing to fear and patriotism. And that is what
Under Benthamite law, the individual has no rights. The new calculus is
"the greatest good for the greatest number" as determined by the wielders of
power. On the basis of this new law, not written by Congress but invented by
the Injustice Department and made precedent by the "Padilla Jury" verdict,
the US can lock up people based on the percentage of crime committed by
their race, gender, income class, or ethnic group.
Under Benthamite law, people can be arrested and prosecuted for thought
crimes. Under Benthamite law, it is the government that protects the
people, not the Constitution and Bill of Rights that protect the individual.
Benthamite law makes "advocacy speech," for example, a call for the
overthrow of the US government, upheld in the 1969 Supreme Court decision,
Brandenburg v. Ohio, a serious federal crime.
The "Padilla Jury" has opened Pandora's Box. Unless the conviction is
overturned on appeal, American liberty died in the "Padilla Jury's" verdict.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in
the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street
Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is
coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
This work is in the public domain