Forget about the specifics of this particular case. If upheld, we now live in a Minority Report country. You can go to prison because someone thinks you might commit a crime in the future. No proof of wrong doing needed. Just the possibility of future crime.

Padilla Case Offers a New Model of Terrorism Trial

There were two perfectly predictable schools of thought being expressed after the conviction of Jose Padilla on Thursday on terrorism-related charges. Supporters of the Bush administration said the conviction justified the more than three years Mr. Padilla spent in military detention before his criminal prosecution, while the administration’s opponents said the verdict proved that the criminal justice system should have handled the case in the first place.

The conspiracy charge against Mr. Padilla, Professor Margulies continued, “is highly amorphous, and it basically allows someone to be found guilty for something that is one step away from a thought crime.”

  1. gquaglia says:

    Ok, let me get this straight. First liberals complained that he was being held without a trial. Now he gets a trial, is found guilty and the liberals say he was wrongly convicted. I would expect no more from the ultra liberal New York Times!

  2. Alex says:

    There’s nothing new here. It’s only in the news because it’s a high profile case. But conspiracy charges have existed since the Americans were colonists. They’re as difficult to prove as any other crime (that is, beyond a reasonable doubt – and a 12 person jury heard 3.5 months worth of evidence that allowed them to go into a jury room, and in 1.5 days come out with a verdict of “guilty.)

    The problem of Minority Report wasn’t the fact that the state was detaining pre-crime. You wish you lived in a community that could stop people from committing crimes before they did it. The (legalistic) problem in the Minority Report was that those caught weren’t tried – they were essentially arrested and executed.

    These men had their day in court, long delayed though it may have been. Let the jury’s verdict stand.*

    *That being said, there’s probably some decent grounds of appeal stemming from the long duration of pre-trial detention. Perhaps not enough to get a verdict overturned, given the state of the current SCOTUS, but still.

  3. moss says:

    Conspiracy trials of this sort fit within the American tradition of thought crimes and sedition – the sort that #1 obviously favors regardless of Constitutional freedoms.

    The Smith Act trials in the McCarthy days were for people charged with “conspiring to advocate”. Literally. Folks were found guilty and often served several years in federal prisons – though they’d never broken any criminal law.

    The fact remains that conservatives who oppose the right to think, discuss, advocate – are liars when they pretend to be libertarian.

  4. doug says:

    yes, conspiracy is about as old as the criminal law itself. and it is not thought-crime or precrime. to be convicted of conspiracy, you have to make an ‘overt act’ or manifest an agreement with the intent of accomplishing the conspiracy’s goals.

    I am a liberal and a libertarian and I do not see a problem with this. the real problem with this case is not this verdict, but the wild-eyed charges they leveled at Padilla (remember the dirty bomb? the plot to blow up apartment buildings?) without apparently having any evidence. also, there was the small matter of holding him for years, insisting that a criminal prosecution was not possible, then going out of their way to prove that the whole enemy combatant thing was not necessary.

  5. Angel H. Wong says:

    Nobody cares because Padilla has brown coloured skin but when they start incacerating white ppl for the same “crimes” it will be too late to change everything.

  6. Noname says:

    Welcome to the new communism, Bush Style.

    Aside from the very dubious merits to the conviction, he wasn’t a dirty bomber and only tangentially connected to any threat.. What should be important to all citizens, is what BUSH case law is leaving for us.

    What we are left with, is dangerous to intellectuals and free thinkers. You are only safe if you are a major and significant republican contributer.

    What Americans are left with, is the loss of our previous means to direct energy of ideas into virtues for society, rigorous education and socializing with people also interested in civic virtues. This was before age of profits rule. Now, education and news media is more propaganda and indoctrination into Bushes way of thinking.

    Now we socialize people by staying in tune with the latest culture trends, sitcoms, propaganda for news and trips to the Mall, all bets are off. All is left is profits rule and fear.

    Bush has lead the effort to establish case law where ideas and property are communal to be certified by the state and directed to the state.

    it’s only going to get worse. Can you say NSA, CIA, DoD and people like gquaglia ….

  7. JimR says:

    That’s it!
    I’m not going to think any more!

  8. doug says:

    #5. Actually, conspiracy-type charges are routinely trotted out in white-collar crimes. Fact of the matter is that the Feds usually convict people of conspiring to do something, attempting to do something, or lying about having done something (think Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby) but not so much for ACTUALLY having done something.

    this is neither new nor confined to persons of color.

  9. Mister Mustard says:

    >>Ok, let me get this straight.
    >>First liberals complained that he was being held
    >>without a trial. Now he gets a trial, is found guilty

  10. ( #4 ) ¡ You nailed it, Doug !

    The more blatant, grievous ‘ thought crime ‘ was, in fact, conceived and perpetrated by Jose Padilla’s persecutors.

    Their customary modus operandi is to kidnap, sodomize, imprison and torture the ‘ terrorist ‘.

    In Padilla’s case, he, an American citizen, was imprisoned wtih NO charges being filed against him. Then, when he was charged and tried, he was charged with breaking a law that was enacted AFTER they kidnapped him.

    The mouth breathing, living brain donor idolaters, however, see nothing wrong with this picture.

    Allen McDonald, El Galloviejo®

  11. bill says:

    You can think it. Just don’t say it out loud.
    at least I think you can.

  12. gquaglia says:

    #5, #6 Bullshit

  13. GregA says:


    OMG, you couldn’t be more wrong. This proves that all the additional measures like special illegal combatant statuses, giant secret wiretapping programs, torture, secret military tribunals, gitmo bay, etc etc are not needed. The basic criminal statues are more than enough to convict terrorists.

    Case Mother effing Closed.

  14. Uncle Dave says:

    #12: “Bullshit”

    Now THAT’S the kind of enlightened, deep, thought provoking, contemplative argument that’s guaranteed to convince any open minded reader who takes even a moment to cogitate about the issue. Bravo and well said, dear gquaglia! Bravo!

  15. TIHZ_HO says:

    …an application form Mr. Padilla filled out to attend a training camp run by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2000.

    An application form for Ai Qaeda?

    What do they ask? LOL!

    Do they do a criminal check? “I’m sorry, but your application has been denied – you don’t have a criminal record…thank you for your interest…”

    “We don’t need no Steeenkin Badges” – Blazing Saddles 😀


  16. gquaglia says:

    Well its better then some long winded, half assed, liberal pontification that some here love to spew out just to show how enlightened they think they are.

  17. Johnson says:

    Amen gquaglia. Some of the windy posters here need to learn brevity is the soul.

  18. TIHZ_HO says:

    #16, 17 Bullshit


  19. MikeN says:

    Wow, one step away from thought crime. So they arrested Padilla before he even thought about committing a crime. I’m a little suspicious that he could have pulled off what he wanted to do, since dirty bomb strikes me as more an image than a reality. Nevertheless, most of these guys look like buffoons till they are caught. Al Qaeda had previously gotten their boat stuck in the sand trying an attack similar to the USS Cole attack.

  20. Ralph the School Bus Driver says:

    #12, 16, & 17, WOW


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