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11th Circuit Rules Jose Padilla's Sentence Not Long Enough

Jose Padilla, the al-Qaeda suspect held in military detention for more than three years before being transferred to federal court where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to 17 years, got off too easy according to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The three-judge appeals panel voted 2-1 to reject the lower-court judge’s opinion that Padilla will be too old to pose a threat upon his release from prison. “Padilla poses a heightened risk of future dangerousness due to his al-Qaeda training,” the appeals panel wrote. “He is far more sophisticated than an individual convicted of an ordinary street crime.”

I find the opinion (available here) demeaning in tone to the trial judge. It reads like a parent scolding a child when the parent thinks it knows best and the child should know better. [More...]

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Jose Padilla's Torture Suit Dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed Jose Padilla's torture lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates saying he has no right to sue for money damages.

The ACLU says:

The court today held that Donald Rumsfeld is above the law and Jose Padilla is beneath it. But if the law does not protect Jose Padilla, it protects none of us, and the executive branch can simply label citizens enemies of the state and strip them of all rights — including the absolute right not to be tortured. If Jose Padilla is not allowed his day in court, nothing will prevent future administrations from engaging in similar abuses.

Jose Padilla is an American citizen. He was arrested on American soil. He is serving his 17 year sentence, imposed by a federal court, at Supermax in Colorado. The decision is here. [More...]

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11th Circuit Hears Arguments in Jose Padilla Apppeal

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments today in the case of Jose Padilla, accused of being a "dirty bomber" and held for years in a S.C. brig before being charged and transferred to federal court in Miami for trial. He was convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim overseas and sentenced to 17 years. Two co-defendants were also convicted and are appealing.

Attorneys for Padilla, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi say the trial was forever tainted when the videotape was played because it linked the defendants to the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil even though they were charged with other crimes.

"The error in the admission of the bin Laden video arose out of tying the architect of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, to a case that, as to all defendants, involved conduct which predated these attacks," Padilla's attorney, Assistant U.S. Federal Defender Michael Caruso, argues in his brief.

Another big issue: [More...]

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Judge Rules Jose Padilla Can Sue John Yoo in Torture Suit

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco yesterday ruled Jose Padilla can sue former Bush terror policy maker John Yoo.

Mr. Padilla was held as an “enemy combatant” in solitary confinement for more than three years in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. Mr. Padilla, who was convicted of supporting terrorism and other crimes, demands that Mr. Yoo be held accountable for actions that Mr. Padilla claims led to his being tortured.

....In the 42-page ruling, Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco characterized the conflict as one that embodies the tension “between the requirements of war and the defense of the very freedoms that war seeks to protect.”

Judge White refused all but one of Yoo's immunity claims, finding "Yoo set in motion a series of events that resulted in the deprivation of Padilla’s constitutional rights.”

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Jose Padilla Sent to Supermax

Jose Padilla has been shipped to Supermax in Florence, Colorado, known as Alcatraz of the Rockies. He'll be joining Ted Kaczinski, Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard "shoe bomber" Reid, OKC conspirator Terry Nichols and others. Padilla was convicted in August and sentenced to 17 years. He's got 13 years left.

Padilla attorney Michael Caruso said in an e-mail Friday that Supermax is "a living hell" where inmates spend most days in 7-foot-by-12-foot cells and have little contact with the outside world. Caruso noted that others convicted of supporting terrorism, such as the "Lackawanna Six" group in upstate New York, were not sent to the nation's toughest prison.

Caruso called the decision "yet another example of Jose being treated differently and in a more punitive fashion than others who have been accused of similar crimes. I genuinely fear that Jose's mental health will erode to an even greater degree."

More on the life awaiting Padilla at Supermax below:

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Jose Padilla's Co-Defendant Also Gets Sentencing Break

Congrats to Michigan lawyer Bill Swor, lead counsel for Jose Padilla co-defendant Kifah Jayyousi. (Background on Jayysousi here and here.)

In yesterday's sentencing decision, the Judge found the terrorism enhancements applied to his sentencing guidelines, raising them to a range of 30 years to life. Bill had presented the defense sentencing case and the Judge ultimately departed downward and imposed a sentence of 12 years and 8 months.

Another mild rebuke to the Bush fear and terror machine.

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Jose Padilla Sentenced to 17 Years, 4 Months

In a blow to the Bush Administration which sought a life sentence, a Miami federal judge today sentenced Jose Padilla to 17 years, 4 months.

The judge factored in Padilla's "harsh" sentencing conditions.

'I do find the [prison] conditions were so harsh that they warranted conditions for sentencing in this case,'' Cooke told a crowded courtroom of attorneys, family members and media.

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Jose Padilla Sues U.S. Over Mistreatment During Confinement

Jose Padilla has sued 59 goverment officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, over his mistreatment during his confinement in the S.C. military brig. His primary claim: psychological torture.

He's not doing it for the money: He's only asking for $1.00 damages from each official:

"Mr. Padilla suffered gross physical and psychological abuse at the hands of federal officials as part of a scheme of abusive interrogation intended to break down Mr. Padilla's humanity and his will to live," the 30-page complaint says.

"The grave violations suffered by Padilla were not isolated occurrences by rogue lower-level officials," the suit says. Besides Mr. Rumsfeld, it names Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lowell Jacoby, among others, who "personally ordered and/or approved Mr. Padilla's detention and interrogation program."

Related: Lindsay of Majikthise has a new article in In These Times, Perverse Justice, questioning whether detainees who are subjected to long periods of extreme isolation can receive a fair trial.

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Deliberations to Begin in Jose Padilla Trial

Bump and Update: Deliberations begin Wednesday in the trial of Jose Padilla and his co-defendants.

Here are the jury instructions (pdf), made available on PACER Tuesday.

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Defense Closing Arguments in Jose Padilla Trial

Lawyers for accused terrorism supporters Jose Padilla and co-defendant Kifah Wael Jayyousi gave their closing arguments today.

Shorter version from Jose Padilla's lawyer: He was a student, not a terrorist. As to the mujahedeen form with Padilla's fingerprints:

The critical piece of prosecution evidence is a "mujahedeen data form" Padilla allegedly filled out in July 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. The form bears seven of his fingerprints, but Caruso said they are found only on the first page and the back of the final page — consistent with Padilla simply handling the form, rather than writing on it.

Of the 3,000 taped telephone calls, Padilla's voice was only on 7 of those introduced at trial.

As to the use of code words, Padilla didn't use any on the taped calls. The Government wants the jury to believe that when the other two defendants used words like "tourism" and "football" they meant "jihad" and that the words "eggplant" and "zucchini" were references to military weapons and supplies.

Bill Swor, Jaylousi's lawyer, told the jury the government was fear-mongering.

More....

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Closing Arguments in Jose Padilla Trial

The Government gave its closing argument today in the terrorism trial of Jose Padilla. The AP reports intent is key.

Was Padilla the "star recruit" of a terrorism support cell run by Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi whose ultimate goal was violent establishment of fundamentalist Islamic regimes around the world, as prosecutors claim?

Or did Hassoun and Jayyousi intend to provide relief and charity for innocent Muslims suffering in global conflict zones? And was Padilla simply an American who had recently converted to Islam and traveled overseas not for terrorism but to learn Arabic and the Quran?

The lawyer for one of the three defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun, also gave his closing today:

But Hassoun attorney Kenneth Swartz said in the first of three defense closing statements that "this case is all about speculation. It is not about proof of a crime. There is no intent to murder. The only intent is to provide relief."

Lawyers for Kifah Wael Jayyousi and Jose Padilla will close tomorrow. More on today's defense closing is here.

The Christian Science Monitor takes a long look at the case in tomorrow's paper. It says

Despite warnings, officials used 43 months of severe isolation to force Jose Padilla to tell all he knew about Al Qaeda.

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Defense Begins in Jose Padilla Trial

The defense begins its case today in the terrorism trial of Jose Padilla and two codefendants.

How big are the holes in the case? Journalist Lew Z. Koch, writing at Firedoglake, counts the ways. He concludes:

Ashcroft, then Comey, and now Gonzales, Frazier, Shipley, Killinger and Pell have built a case on fantasy, supposition, prejudice and fear mongering. Can the defense make the jury see the shocking inadequacies of the prosecution’s case?

The Christian Science Monitor asks, Without a Plot, Is Padilla Guilty?

More....

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Gov't. Rests in Jose Padilla Trial

The Government has rested its case in the Miami terrorism trial of Jose Padilla and his two co-defendants.

The Southern District of Florida blog has a wrap-up of coverage.

Journalist Lew Koch has been writing about the case for Firedoglake. His latest is here, focusing on the jurors playing dress-up.

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Jose Padilla Jury Shows Up Dressed in Red, White and Blue

Via Discourse.net and the SDFL blog:

In the Jose Padilla trial, jurors showed up today all dressed up. Row one in red. Row two in white. And row three in blue. I’m not kidding.

This reminds me of when when the Scooter Libby dressed in red shirts for Valentine's Day.

The Padilla jury has dressed in coordinating colors before:

One time it was all black. Last Friday all the women wore pink and the men blue.

Analysis, anyone?

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Padilla Co-Defendant Avoided Violence

The trial of Jose Padilla and two codefendants continues in Miami.

Today, Kifah Jayyousi's attorney, Bill Swor, brought out how his client avoided violence.

William Swor sought to prove his client Kifah Wael Jayyousi was driven by his compassion for his fellow Muslims, a defense that began last week when an attorney for co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun began cross-examining the case's lead FBI agent, John T. Kavanaugh.

And when Jayyousi was dissatisfied with political situations, his attorney argued, he dealt with it in the most civic-minded of ways.

Jayyousi phoned and wrote newspapers, his congressman and the State Department, Swor said. When he was offended by newspapers' publishing of cartoons he believed were insulting to Muslims, the attorney said, Jayyousi participated in letter-writing and phone campaigns. And when a Lebanese radio station employee encouraged him to threaten the Lebanese government, the defendant did not, his attorney said.

Jayyousi also published newsletters that eschewed violence. He attempted to get a hospital built for refugees in Chechnya.

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A Bumpy Road for Prosecutors in Jose Padilla Trial

There were three days of testimony this week in the terrorism trial of Jose Padilla. The prosecution's evidence may or may not be what it claims.

My interest was piqued by the testimony of one the Lackawanna (formerly known as Buffalo) Six defendants. He's testifying for the Government in hopes of reducing his own ten year prison sentence. You may recall in that case there were threats to have the defendants declared enemy combatants and moved to Guantanamo if they didn't plead guilty.

The issue now: Is miltary training at a camp in Afghanistan necessarily terrorist training?

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