Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was kidnapped by U.S. government personnel while in the U.S. and then held on a Navy brig without trial or representation for more than three years, has now been charged with being part of a North American terror cell that sent money and recruits overseas to "murder, maim and kidnap." Somehow absent from the indictment were the sensational allegations made earlier by top Justice Department officials: that Padilla sought to blow up U.S. hotels and apartment buildings and planned an attack on America with a "dirty bomb."
How the government's kidnapping of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil is deemed legal according to the Constitution is completely beyond me. I always thought that quaint statement about citizens having a right to a trial by their peers meant something. Evidently such rights can all be nullified by means of a circular argument claiming that the kidnapee is simply too evil to be considered a U.S. citizen.
Are we recreating the two-tiered justice system--one for brown people and another for suburban whites? We have the case of John Walker Lyndh who was arrested in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban. The government evidently felt that he had a right to a trial. (As do serial killers and cannibals). But not Padilla? I don't get it. Someone help me out here. Is my copy of the Constitution missing a footnote or something? This is the way my copy reads:
U.S. Constitution: Article III
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
And from the Sixth Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Can one of you rightwing wiz-kid sacred protectors of the Constitution explain to me how in the hell Padilla's criminal prosecution somehow doesn't fit within the scope of "all"?
Other blogments about the Padilla case can be found on Scott's Shots, Room 88, and I'm Waiting for the Robot Invasion.
Tags: News and politics, Current Affairs, and War.