Friday, August 17, 2007
There's something about Padilla
Rather than being gratified, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday, the Bush administration ought to be embarassed by yesterday's conviction of Jose Padilla of Chicago on terrorism-related charges. Padilla was accused of conspiring to unleash a radioactive "dirty" bomb and was captured in a highly publicized arrest that even attracted comments from then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. But five years after his arrest, Padilla was convicted of lesser charges that bore no relation to the original allegations. But Padilla's case raises more-important questions that whether he was in league with al-Qaida. Do we want the government to be able to detain U.S. citizens for years without charges, without access to the courts or even an attorney, and subject them to intrusive psychological and physical stresses designed to elicit confessions? Do we condone this? Yet this is what happened to Padilla, according to his attorneys and, the Washington Post says, papers filed in court. Nobody wants the United States to be the target of another terrorist attack, but a lot of us want the United States to remain a nation of laws and principle. Yet that is precisely what's at stake under the current administration.