May 14, 2007, - 3:14 pm

Padilla/Al-Muhajir Walk Watch, Day One

By Debbie Schlussel
Today is Day One of the trial of Abdullah Al-Muhajir a/k/a Jose Padilla.
Unfortunately, I have visions of the Sami Al-Arian trial. I predicted Al-Arian would walk, and unfortunately I was right. Al-Arian was acquitted on half the charges, with the jury deadlocking on the rest. The Al-Arian trial took six months. The incompetent, long-winded, boring prosecutors, coupled with an O.J.-style jury made the result inevitable.
While I don’t know much about the make-up of the Padilla jury, I know that the prosecution predicts the case will take months . . . just like the Al-Arian trial.

marciacooke.jpghearts.jpgjosepadilla.jpg

Judge Marcia Cooke Hearts Padilla/Al-Muhajir

Sorry, but if you can’t prove your terrorism case in a month/month-and-a-half tops, your likelihood of getting a conviction in a terror trial is slim. Trials are not won in “everything but the kitchen sink” presentations. They are won with incisive, to-the-point cases, which don’t involve a lot of distractions. In the Al-Arian case, there were plenty of reports on the glazed-over eyes of jurors. All indications are the same here. Same style, likely same result.
Terrorism cases should be exciting and they should be disturbing. They should be like an adventure movie–the message should be clear: “This man is a terrorist villain, and I must convict him to save America and punish evil.” You don’t get that reaction with months-long monologues. And you don’t get convictions with them. Remember, the MTV generation is already two generations old. Everyone’s attention span has decreased significantly with the Internet, Blackberries, and instant messaging. The trial must be delivered with the same quickness and precision.
And it won’t be. Add to that, liberal Bush appointee, Judge Marcia Cooke–who, like the judge in the Al-Arian trial, made many rulings that hurt the prosecution, buoyed the defense. She’s already told the government that there case is weak. And based on my reading of the Indictment, she’s right–because the government self-emasculated its own case against Padilla. It’s like they don’t want to even try to win.
As I’ve written, the Department of Justice excised out most of what they had on Padilla. No mention of dirty bombs. No mention of certain other parties. Gonzales wimped out, like the impotent Attorney General that we all know he is. Instead, the case against Padilla now relies mostly on code conversations, involving discussions of football, picnics, cheese, and zucchini. The only key evidence is Padilla/Muhajir’s Muhajideen Data Form.
Then, there’s still the possibility that certain statements Padilla made while in the brig as an “enemy combatant” will be excluded by Judge Cooke, as she’s indicated she may do. If so, that will mean an even weaker case.
We’ll see what happens. But I’m not holding my breath.
I hope I’m wrong and that Padilla is found guilty on all counts. But for now, the Abdullah Al-Muhajir Walk Watch has begun.
DAY ONE and counting.

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2 Responses

Recall that AG Ashcroft announced Padilla’s arrest from Russia. I am not sure it merited that level of attention from the start and maybe that is why, and how, we got where we are today. This case has always bothered me. The positions the Administration has taken and then retreated from have caused me great concern.
Padilla should have been tried much sooner.
I think what is forgotten is that it is not about the terrorists, it is about us. We have got rules, terrorists don’t. We are civil and don’t allow ourselves to act capriciously and arbitrarily.
My personal response to certain acts of terrorism would cause Idi Amin to blush. We have rules and laws to protect us from becoming like them, though sometimes I wish we did act like them because I am sure we would have their undivided attention, we have advanced well beyond the 14th century.
‘Enemy combatant,’ whatever, do what we will with Padilla, but do it with established and accepted rules. Knowing and accepting this, we would have moved more carefully to take him down, vice arresting him coming off an airplane in Chicago and having more concrete evidence, and not have AG Ashcroft breathlessly announce from behind a podium 6,000 miles away, that the day was saved and we caught a terrorist.
I think events were moved forward in advance of confirming all the details. Sometimes we should let big city detectives do this sort of thing, wire tap, track, surveil, etc. vice publicity seeking Feds.

zyzzyg on May 14, 2007 at 4:03 pm

They better convict him…their credibility rests on that.

Highrise on May 15, 2007 at 5:38 am

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