The jury is now deliberating. I was not at the trial and the jurors have the last word. But the Padilla case, as the Christian Science Monitor's editorial today explains, is more than about one terror suspect and one trial. It's about the meaning of America, and the lengths to which we will destroy our system of government in order to save it. The Monitor's three-part series on the travesty of justice behind this prosecution is well worth a read. The final part is here. Parts One and Two are here and here. Money quote:
In the court of public opinion, Padilla stands convicted. His name is almost synonymous with dirty bomber. Yet, when it came time to put Padilla on trial, the government's case in Miami included no mention of a dirty bomb...
Although they seek a life sentence, prosecutors introduced no evidence of personal involvement by Padilla in planning or carrying out any specific terrorist plot or violent act.
There is a reason the government's case is so thin, legal analysts say. If prosecutors brought the dirty-bomb plot or other alleged illegal actions by Padilla into the Miami case, it would open the door for courtroom scrutiny of the government's use of coercive interrogation techniques against Al Qaeda suspects, including Padilla. And that would have taken jurors deep into the shadowy underside of America's war on terror a journey in Padilla's case that wends its way from his cell on an isolated wing of the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., through covert CIA interrogation sites overseas to an alleged torture chamber in Morocco.
This is a part of the war on terror the Bush administration would rather keep quiet. But details are emerging. What they reveal is the aggressive and at times, ruthless pursuit of intelligence information, and the selective public release of some of that intelligence when it serves the administration's goals.
What they reveal are war crimes against an American citizen by the American government. What they reveal is a government that claims the power to torture its own citizens in order to protect them.
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