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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The NY Times on Padilla

Lead editorial today. Excerpt:
Mr. Padilla was added late in the game, and in a minor role, to a continuing case against four other men. He faces serious charges that carry a possible life sentence, but they do nothing to clear up the enormous legal questions created by this case, nor do they have the remotest connection with the original accusations.

The Padilla case was supposed to be an example of why the administration needs to suspend prisoners' rights when it comes to the war on terror. It turned out to be the opposite. If Mr. Padilla was seriously planning a "dirty bomb" attack, he can never be held accountable for it in court because the illegal conditions under which he has been held will make it impossible to do that. If he was only an inept fellow traveler in the terrorist community, he is excellent proof that the government is fallible and needs the normal checks of the judicial system. And, of course, if he is innocent, he was the victim of a terrible injustice.
Innocent or not, Padilla's treatment has been and continues to be a terrible injustice. Not just to him, but to others who may have already plea-bargained their freedom away under threat of being treated as an "enemy combatant." Indefinite detention and torture have been added to the death penalty as unconscionable sticks prosecutors use to extract pleas.