Friday, April 20, 2007

The Padilla Trial Begins

The trial of Jose Padilla has begun with jury selection at a U.S. District Court in Miami, presided over by Judge Marcia Cooke. Gary L. Norton over at NION has an important analysis of how Bush's long-time threat-mongering about terrorism has influenced the potential jury pool.

One can get a taste of how the mainstream media is going to publicize this case reading the inane commentary of Andrew Cohen over at CBS.com, who calls the Padilla trial, "the first true-blue American terror trial since the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001". And the Moonie-owned Washington Times reports that "Prosecutors in the trial of terror suspect Jose Padilla can make references to the September 11 attacks, but they cannot assert that Padilla and two co-defendants were involved in planning or executing them, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke ruled yesterday before beginning jury selection in the case."

After a somewhat heated exchange between Judge Cooke and prosecutor John Shipley, the judge stressed that "any idea, through inference or otherwise, that these defendants are connected to 9/11 is not available to the government."

The various legal and leftie blogs have barely begun to report on the beginning of the trial, as the country is enthalled by the Gonzales-U.S. Attorney scandal and the hideous mass killings at Virginia Tech. But make no mistake, this is a very important trial, with major implications about justice and the use of torture in America.

I've written before on the Padilla case, and will do my best to cover it here, albeit from the distance of a continent away. Meanwhile, read my past articles to catch up -- Federal Judge: Torture No Reason to Stop Padilla Trial; and Government admits interrogation tapes "missing" in Padilla case.

One blogger who has written on the opening phase of the trial is rangeragainstwar.

Does Padilla have a snowball's chance in hell? The prosecutor and former Attorney General Ashcroft have already judged him in the press before the trial (''Jury Selection Begins for Padilla Trial.'')

"They [Padilla and other Gitmo defendants] certainly supported al-Qaida, there's no question about that," Shipley said. "We're not going to try them for their specific involvement in 9/11."

So much for the concept of innocent until proven guilty for the federal courts.

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