Friday, August 17, 2007

If this is a grand victory in the war on terror...

In following up in reading more information on the Padilla verdict, I came across this line, If this is a grand victory in the war on terror, I do not look forward to seeing what a defeat looks like..

I can't claim to understand what happened yesterday when the jury decided that Jose Padilla was guilty of all three charges. I was not there for the three months of evidence, but some of the statements made in this post by Andrew Cohen raise some questions:

For the defense, 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.

Following a bitter, complicated trial that lasted three full months, it took jurors less than a day and a half of deliberations -- they made sure to stay for their free lunch on the second day -- to declare to their government and to the world that the men were terrorist-wannabes. The defendants illegally walked and talked like terrorists back in the 1990s, the jury decided today, and even though that was long before any of the rest of us had heard of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, and even though there was a paucity of good evidence, it was enough.

Many of us have suggested our current jury system is broken, part of this because we do Monday Morning quarterback trials at times without knowing all of the details and at times because our jury system doesn't work the way it should. I can't say which is the truth when it comes to Padilla except to know that some of things that happened to him are not how our justice system is supposed to work:

For nearly two years, Jose Padilla was denied all access to his lawyers, his family and the court system...

As court filings indicate, Padilla was allegedly subjected to sleep deprivation, stress positions and extreme temperatures. Worse, he was held without human contact, without a clock or even natural light -- with no way to know how quickly or slowly time was passing. When he was removed from his cell to visit a dentist, goggles and earmuffs were placed on him.

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