Alright- I have had some time to read all the reactions (well, many of them) to the Padilla verdict, and they range from the benign to the chest-thumping on the right (bonus wingnuttery- watch Hot Air try to tie Padilla in to the Oklahoma City bombing. And no, I am not making that up), and from sanguine to thoroughly outraged on the left.
I guess where I stand is as follows- I still do not understand why it was necessary to keep this guy in solitary confinement until he was basically a grunting vegetable. I just don’t. Why was it necessary to violate his rights as a citizen? Why keep him from a lawyer? Why?
It couldn’t have impacted our current operations in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere- this guy was convicted for attempting to do undetermined bad things in Chechnya. I haven’t seen any allegations he was a terrorist mastermind or anything like that- not to pick on Taco Bell employees, but I doubt it is their planning genius that has them spending their days taking orders and handing out salsa packets. And hell, if he is that big of a threat, now that we have him convicted, let’s try him on the real charges- the dirty bomb, the apartment bombing schemes. You know- the reason we grabbed him in the first place.
The only thing I can think of is that after they realized there was no real plot to dirty bomb, or blow up apartments, the only thing they could do to save face was to lock him up forever- which I think they would have tried to do, had the SCOTUS not rumbled.
At any rate- convictions of criminals and terrorists are supposed to inspire confidence in our system of justice and our government. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am not inspired by anything that has happened in this case. Quite the opposite. I am profoundly uncomfortable with the notion that our government can grab anyone they want (Oh- but they won’t- if you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have to worry!), say whatever they want about them in the press, do whatever they want with them for years on end, and then try them for completely different things. Al Qaeda would have to come a long way and take some serious effort to hurt me- the FBI has an office a few miles from me and the feds apparently now have a license to do whatever the hell they want with someone, so long as they think he is a bad guy. Understand? For obvious reasons, that should bother every American.
Don’t get me wrong- if Padilla is in fact a threat, I want him locked up, too. You can throw him next to the Unabomber and John Walker Lindh and Eric Rudolph and other traitors, if in fact he is a terrorist. I just think the way this all went down, all of us were deprived of ever knowing if he really was a threat.
That bothers me, and it doesn’t inspire confidence in the way our government works.