The Law Is Silent

May 31, 2007 at 9:05 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | Leave a comment

Lewis Koch blogs about the Jose Padilla trial, and again another well written post about the absurdity of the government’s case.

This is a trial every American should pay attention to. Jose Padilla, an American citizen, accused first of planning to plant a dirty bomb, held without charge for over three years, tortured and abused, and now charged with unrelated charges of meeting with Al-Qaida, the best the government can do. The obvious question is, why was he accused of planting a dirty bomb, held without charge, and tortured? Where did the government get the information that he was a “dirty bomber?” My bet is that it came from a confession down in Gitmo under the pain of torture.

As Mr. Koch states:

The Roman statesman Cicero put it this way a very long time ago: silent enim leges inter arma – the law is silent in wartime. (Cited by Howard Zinn in Peter Irons’ “A People History of the Supreme Court .”

So – let us consider the law’s silence in terms of our current war on terror–and then what passes for law in wartime, which is, in the Padilla case, more aptly termed “noise.”

The law is silent, now, about the previous charges that Jose Padilla was a “dirty bomber.” The jury will hear none of that. The jury has also been deliberately prevented from hearing anything having to do with Padilla’s alleged plans for destroying U.S. apartment buildings. Consigned to the “silent” category, at least for now, are 87 taped confessions extracted from Padilla during his 1,000 plus days in solitary confinment, undergoing interrogation in the Charleston Naval brig. This is where, according to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, Padilla confessed to conspiring to blow up high rise apartment buildings via the use of gas stoves.

But Federal Judge Marcia Cooke, presiding over the Padilla trial, has issued a gag order. (A couple of years too late to stifle Comey’s exploding stove’s charges.) The jury will not be allowed to view those taped confessions, though the tapes have, in fact, been turned over to the defense. The jury as well as the defense won’t see tape number 88, the last taped taken. It’s..missing. Perhaps its in the same silent place as the missing 18 1/2 minutes of Nixon’s Watergate tapes? Some day we’ll have a lawyer of Dante Alighieri’s quality to categorize the levels of silence when justice must be carried out in the inferno of war..

The hard evidence in this conspiracy case (forget the “dirty bomb,” forget exploding apartment buildings) consists of 300,000 taped telephone conversations. Of those 300,000 exactly 230 taped phone conversations make up the evidence, the so-called “heart” of the “conspiracy.” Of those 230 conversations, 21 of those calls made reference to Padilla, with only seven phone calls with Padilla’s actual voice on the line. And those seven calls make no specific references to terrorist plans, ideas or thoughts– unless the prosecution comes up with convincing proof that the word “zucchini” is code for destruction.

Another crucial piece of “hard evidence” is Padilla’s al Qaeda application form, originally in Arabic, produced by a disguised CIA agent. (See my “One of these is not like the other? ” column) ABC News has the five-page document in both English and Arabic. Remember, the CIA agent discovered the document only in Arabic but claimed to have made out Padilla’s birthday and nick name, Abu Abdallah Muhair. Very fortunate for someone who was given a truck load of documents and a non-Arabic reader., to encounter that form.

And who would have expected the Mujahadeem to have an application form that looks like it’s been developed by the al-Qaeda H.R. department? As Dinocrat ruefully notes, it’s “pretty funny if it weren’t for the annoying fact that these people want to kill us.”

Indeed.

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