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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ham sandwich indicted

Judge Sol Wachtler, the former Chief Judge of New York State, was quoted as saying that "A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich." And while Jose Padilla is a real person, not a ham sandwich, his indictment today likely wouldn't have changed Judge Wachtler's opinion. AG Torture Gonzales and the NY Times also stayed in character, misrepresenting and withholding information as they see fit.

Here's a section from the Times article today:
The formal charges against Mr. Padilla are the latest development in a case that has been controversial from its very beginning, when he was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport on his return from Pakistan, and that promises to remain controversial.

The attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, announced with considerable fanfare that Mr. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, had hoped to set off a radiological "dirty bomb" and carry out attacks against hotels and apartment buildings in the United States.
Judy Miller and Jason Blair may be gone, but the Times' ability to pack falsehoods into two small paragraphs remains. To begin with, the case was not controversial from its very beginning, when Padilla was arrested on May 8, 2002. This is because nobody knew about it until a month later, on June 10, when Ashcroft announced it. And Ashcroft only mentioned the "dirty bomb" BS in his announcement; the stuff about apartment buildings wasn't mentioned until almost two years later. And now, three and a half years later, his indictment involves neither charge. Now it is charged that
he had conspired to send "money, physical assets and new recruits" overseas to engage in acts of terrorism.
Jeez--if that was his goal, he could have just run for Congress.

And not only does the Times engage in revisionist history, it adds some snark (emphasis added):
The Bush administration position that it has the right to hold Mr. Padilla without formal charges as an enemy combatant, despite his citizenship, was upheld two months ago by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, which threw out a lower court ruling to the contrary.

But some lawyers continued to insist that keeping an American citizen in a Navy brig with limited access to legal counsel was a violation of civil rights and the spirit of the Constitution.

Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor, who specializes in national security, theorized that the government had secured the indictment against Mr. Padilla so that it could sidestep a Supreme Court showdown over when and for how long American citizens could be held in military prisons.

"That's an issue the administration did not want to face," Mr. Silliman told The Associated Press.
I'll bet the Times could have found several lawyers in New York or Washington (the dateline for the article) to defend the Constitution, but going to Duke to find "Mr. Silliman" fits the snark so much better!

And then there's Torture Gonzales:
Although today Mr. Gonzales described Mr. Padilla as a violent jihadist, there was no mention of the earlier "dirty bomb" accusation, which was never the subject of formal charges. Nor was there a mention in the indictment of any violence that Mr. Padilla had hoped to wreak in the United States.

Asked by a reporter today if the "dirty bomb" accusations against Mr. Padilla were now "off the table," Mr. Gonzales declined to comment.

"There are limits to what I can say outside the indictment," he said. He also declined to talk about Mr. Padilla's original designation as an enemy combatant, under which he had been held in the brig without formal charges.

At his news briefing here, Mr. Gonzales credited the USA Patriot Act with helping to make the prosecution of Mr. Padilla possible.

Passed by Congress shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the act broadened government surveillance powers. Mr. Gonzales said the measure had been effective at "tearing down the artificial wall" that had impeded information-sharing among certain law-enforcement agencies.

Asked whether the indictment might have been timed to bolster support for the Patriot Act, which is being debated in Congress as some of its provisions are up for renewal, Mr. Gonzales replied, "Absolutely not."
Of course, Padilla only gets a new cell out of this--his right to a speedy trial continues to be violated. The article says his trial is expected to begin in about a year.