The Jose Padilla Trial: Weak Evidence Vs. Fear Factor

Closing arguments are done in the Jose Padilla trial.

Padilla is charged with conspiracy to murder, kidnap & maim people overseas. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

I’ve followed the press reports of the case and, by all accounts, the evidence against Padilla is weak. The case almost completely relies on this (PDF file) “Mujahideen Data Form.”

The form, in and of itself, expresses no intent to commit murder, kidnapping or terrorist violence. While Padilla’s fingerprints are on the front and back of the form, they are nowhere else on it. His attorney argues Padilla handled it but that there is no evidence he even filled it out. Moreover, there’s a handprint by the signature line and the government didn’t even bother to test if it was Padilla’s (indicating that they know it is not).

There were no witnesses placing Padilla in Afghanistan much less attending a terrorist training camp. A government witness – one of the Lackawana Six – who attended a camp after filling out a similar form, backfired on the government when he testified on cross examination that the camp was a military boot camp and did not engage in terrorist training for acts of violence against civilians. This allowed Padilla’s attorney to argue that even if you believe Padilla went to such a camp, there is no evidence that all attendees went with an intent to murder, maim or kidnap civilians.

Of the government’s 300,000 wire taps, Padilla only appears on 7, uses no coded language and only says innocuous things consistent with his lawyers claim that he went overseas to study and make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Remember also that the government’s “dirty bomb” allegations that were used to demonize Padilla and scare the American public have been dropped from the case.

You can see why the Bush administration never wanted him tried. The evidence shows Padilla was more a PR prop for false alarms of iminent terrorist attacks in America and they knew it. Best to lock him up in solitaire until he goes nuts or their sickening use of him for their personal gain is forgotten.

The prosecutor did get to say Al Qaeda a lot and show the jury a picture of Padilla wearing a checked Arab headdress, so maybe fear will win out. As the saying goes … the jury’s still out.

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