Miscellaneous Rantings

Remember the Utah mine collapse workers who were reassigned after expressing concerns about the safety of the rescue workers due to mine instability? Guess what! They were right. There was a collapse overnight that killed three of the rescue workers and injured six others. Perhaps the rescue operation from inside the mine will be re-thought.

Jose Padilla was convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorism overseas. This is being trumpeted as a triumph of the Justice Department because "an acquittal would have been a profound embarrassment". I suppose there is some truth in that. It would have been incredibly embarrassing had the Justice Department been incapable of winning after stacking the deck in their favor. Despite having Constitutional rights, Mr. Padilla was held without charge for over three years and was not given access to legal representation even during questioning. His statements that he was abused and interrogated unlawfully were ignored. Apparently he doesn't have sufficiently rich and powerful friends for his rights to be upheld. Alas he is but a former gang member who converted to Islam and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan to further his Islamic studies.

He has been labeled a "known terrorist" by Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Presumably there is a Petersen's Guide to Identifying Terrorists or some other way to specify which humans are terrorists.) I even saw somewhere that Padilla a significant threat to national security because of his alleged funding of terrorist activity. What?! A guy without a college education or a regular job is posing a significant threat because of his ability to fund terrorist activity? Perhaps he won the lottery and is using the proceeds for that purpose. Even if the guy made $100K/year, do you really think that would be a significant contribution to the detriment of national security, upon which billions of dollars of tax money is being spent? Is our national security that insecure that Mr. Padilla is able to threaten it that easily? If that is truly the case, I think someone needs to be asking for a refund.

What ticks me off about the Padilla conviction is that the feds want to twist the military and civilian legal systems together and take only the pieces which are convenient and useful to them. They want to be able to hold someone as an enemy combatant so they can prevent legal representation and not have to charge detainees. Heck, they even tried to block the transfer to civilian court initially then decided that they wanted to try him in civilian court all along after the US Supreme Court stepped in. To me it's a bad precedent for handling persons that are embarrassing and/or can be used as scapegoats to justify Federal actions. Supposedly this individual posed a major threat to national security but the evidence against him has been described as "thin" and "deficient". Surely if this individual was known to be a major threat there would be some basis for that other than having lived in the middle east and being of the Islamic faith. It strikes me as being not completely unlike the McCarthy assaults on "communists" only now the enemy is "terrorists".


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