MIAMI — For a defendant whose name is known around the world, Jose Padilla has become almost a bit player in his terrorism support trial.The dirty-bomb charge was dropped long ago, of course, and the government has decided not to share the confessions they obtained from Padilla while they held him incommunicado for those three and a half years!
Prosecutors rested their case Friday after nine weeks, 22 witnesses and dozens of FBI wiretap intercepts played at trial, most of them in Arabic with written translations for jurors. Defense lawyers for Padilla and his two co-defendants begin presenting their case next week.
Much is at stake for the government, which once heralded Padilla's arrest as a success in the war on terror, accused him in an al-Qaida "dirty-bomb" plot, and held him for 3½ years as an enemy combatant.
Padilla's voice was heard on only seven intercepts, a tiny fraction of the 300,000 collected by the FBI during the long investigation.
Padilla was never linked to any specific acts of terrorism or murder and, unlike his co-defendants, he was not accused of using purported code words such as "tourism" for "jihad" or "eggplant" for "rocket-propelled grenade."
Why? Because everything is in the framing: if this story included the conditions under which Padilla was held, the feds would look even worse than they already do. And if his defense attorneys were given an opportunity to talk about how he was tortured ... well, who are we kidding? Holding somebody in isolation for that long without a hearing or a trial or anything resembling due process is torture in itself.
Nonetheless, the feds could have used confessions obtained under torture, and the fact that it was their choice is a terrible crime in its own right. It's a crime against longstanding and honorable traditions in American justice, and we're all victims, but we don't have the legal standing to do anything about it in a court of law, so please don't get me started on that one!
Former Miami U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis said prosecutors often are forced to present a "watered-down" case when much evidence is classified to protect national security.More on this in just a second.
"It's a loose-knit conspiracy with very few overt acts," Lewis said. "You didn't catch them committing a terrorist act. Talk only, and talk is cheap."A very few overt acts, indeed. The main -- if not the only -- evidence the government seems to have against Padilla is a form allegedly obtained by the CIA in Afghanistan that allegedly has Padilla's fingerprints on it.
The key to the case against Padilla, according to attorneys and legal experts, is how much weight jurors give to the five-page "mujahedeen data form" he allegedly filled out in July 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. Seven of Padilla's fingerprints are on the form, which the CIA recovered in Afghanistan in December 2001.It seems almost too obvious to point out, but didn't the mujahadeen work for the CIA?
"The question is whether the defense has a plausible theory for how Padilla's fingerprints got on the form that doesn't implicate him," said Stephen Vladeck, law professor at American University in Washington, D.C.
It's been well-documented; Zbigniew Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor and they decided to give a bit of money, some weapons, and radical ideology to this rag-tag bunch. Then Ronald Reagan got elected and he cranked open the spigot ... Do you remember all this? We talked about it -- and an essay by Juan Cole called "Fisking The War On Terror" -- not long ago.
The CIA, helped by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, funded the so-called Freedom Fighters who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The same group -- with the same backers -- came to be involved in Kosovo, and Chechnya, and elsewhere in the Islamic world.
Professor Cole's essay gets interesting right about here:
In 1998, al-Qaeda and al-Jihad al-Islami, two small terrorist groups established in Afghanistan as a result of the Reagan jihad, declared war on the United States and Israel (the "Zionists and Crusaders"). After attacks by al-Qaeda cells on US embassies in East Africa and on the USS Cole, nineteen of them ultimately used jet planes to attack the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.Whoa! Run that by me again?
In view of what we now know about 9/11, in view of what we always knew about 9/11, in view of what we now know about the uses of false flag operations, it seems quite appropriate to ask:
When did the relationship between al-Q'aeda and the CIA end? Did it ever end?
And is it any coincidence that the purported leaders of al-Q'aeda pop up just when Bush needs them, saying exactly what he needs them to say?
Chris Floyd has been tracking this scent lately: Wednesday he pointed out how
Arrowhead Ripper has been tearing through Diyala's capital city, Baquba, since June 18 [...] The announced goal of the operation is to cleanse the area of "al Qaeda terrorists" [...] But just as in the destruction of Fallujah in late November 2004 [...] the long, noisy PR build-up to the Diyala operation gave the leaders of the "al Qaeda associated groups" plenty of time to melt away into the night, safe and sound to fight another day. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of U.S ground forces, admitted cheerfully that 80 percent of what he called upper-level al Qaeda leaders fled before the attacks began [...]This from Saving Al Qaeda: Collective Punishment and Curious Policy in the "Surge", more fine work from Chris, and I'm really shredding it here, throwing away valuable asides and links and so on, because I need to get to the point soon -- or else you'll click elsewhere, won't you?
From Fallujah, the curiously untouched "al Qaeda" leaders [...] spread mayhem elsewhere while American forces were attacking hospitals, raining chemical weapons on residential areas, and driving 300,000 people from their homes in the city. In similar fashion, the curiously untouched terrorist leaders from Diyala are obviously raising murderous hell elsewhere -- perhaps in previously peaceful Amerli, where more than 150 people were killed last week in one of the worst terror bombings of the war.
It's an excellent piece and you really should read it all ... just not now! Here's Chris again:
A cynic might be forgiven for believing that at this point, the Bush Administration is happy to have an amorphous mass of violent groups out there, just beyond reach, able to keep the country in constant turmoil -- a turmoil which requires the continued presence of American forces to keep it from worsening, as Bush and his Iraqi capos have been stressing this week. It is certainly an open fact that the United States has begun giving weapons to an alarming array of groups in recent months, some of which have been involved in the insurgency, and all of them beyond direct U.S. control.I tend to favor the former explanation, but as Chris points out, both are plausible. Indeed, "the Bush Administration" consists of quite a number of people, some of whom may believe the lies while the others are pursuing a strategy -- rational or not -- whose true aims are definitely not the ones given publicly. Later Chris writes about the strategy:
No one pursuing a rational strategy of containing violence in Iraq would adopt such a policy. That leaves us with two basic choices. Either the Bush Administration is pursuing a rational strategy whose true aims are not the ones given publicly for the surge; or else the Bushists have come to believe their own lies about al Qaeda's "central" role in the insurgency.
They know the only chance they have left of accomplishing their war aims -- the bases, the "Oil Law" -- lies in keeping those cowed, weak, deeply unpopular collaborators in office. Unbridled violence aids this objective, for it "justifies" the continuing presence of the American military -- which is the sole prop for the only kind of regime that would give away the nation's oil and accept foreign bases on its soil.Maybe so, maybe not. It seems to be working pretty well so far.
If this is indeed the "reasoning" behind the otherwise inexplicable policy of embittering the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people while arming violent groups and letting terrorist chieftains roam free, then this too is ultimately a delusion.
In any case, it seems fair to repeat the questions:
When did the relationship between al-Q'aeda and the CIA end? Did it ever end?
I asked a similar question at Professor Cole's blog not long ago, by the way. But the eminent Middle East expert declined to publish my comment ... which in itself answers the question, does it not?
Onward: Chris Floyd was riding the same horse again on Thursday. In Curiouser and Curiouser: The Comeback Kids of Al Qaeda he wrote:
The situation in Iraq simply mirrors the Administration's approach to al Qaeda throughout the whole "War on Terror" -- a policy that could be very charitably described as "benign neglect" (although more sinister constructions on this policy are also quite plausible).The mention of Pakistan resonates heavily here.
For example, counterterrorism officials are now telling Congress that al Qaeda has restored its power and capabilities to pre-9/11 levels, AP reports. The curiously elusive group has been thriving in its safe haven in Pakistan – that staunch "War on Terror" ally which, with the blessing of President Bush, has curiously signed "truces" that give al Qaeda and the Taliban carte blanche to live and train on Pakistani soil.
And that's not all. This sudden reassessment of al-Q'aeda's supposedly renewed power has raised serious red flags for this cold writer, although not for Larisa Alexandrovna, who wrote that the assessment mirrors what all credible intelligence reporters have been saying for years.
Elsewhere, Larisa also writes about the sudden surge of terror fears, the bogus reporting coming from ABC lately, and the threats against the American people that have recently been made by such luminaries as Michael Chertoff and Rick Santorum. Here's Larisa again:
Consider this fine piece of propaganda from the Associated Press:Curiously, Chris Floyd hit a similar note in his piece on Thursday, speaking of a different piece of propaganda, also from the AP:"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military expects al Qaeda in Iraq to strike back with "spectacular attacks" after major U.S.-led offensives that have disrupted its activities, a military spokesman said on Wednesday."Why does this read like it is a good thing? Or is it just me? And why is the term al Qaeda coupled with the term Iraq? But wait, the last line tells us what we need to know. So the real story is that "A military spokesman said ... blah blah."
What is even more curious is the mention later in the [AP] story that the Bush Administration sees this assessment as good thing, a political winner:What does all this have to do with Jose Padilla? Plenty.The findings could bolster the president's hand at a moment when support on Capitol Hill for the war is eroding and the administration is struggling to defend its decision for a military buildup in Iraq.
If al-Q'aeda is merely a covert instrument of American foreign and domestic policy, then why should Jose Padilla be held for five years, then tried -- just for giving them his fingerprints? He should be hailed as a national hero!
Jose Padilla -- and Adam Gadahn and John Walker Lindh for that matter -- should be feted all over the country. "Civic leaders" like Michael Chertoff and Rick Santorum, who crave another terror attack to snap us all into line, should be wining and dining these guys from sea to shining sea.
That's probably not how the Padilla defense is going to present it, but
The defense says its case will focus on expert witnesses who can provide an alternative view of history, Islamic principles and global politics for the jury.In other words, the real question is whether the administration has a plausible theory for how Padilla's fingerprints got on the form that doesn't implicate them!
The defense in this case could blow the entire GWOT out of the water!
Not that the media would cover it, or anything...