A Portrait in Cowardice: Judge Denies Citizen Rights because to Exercise Rights would cause a Spectacle

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José Padilla was held without charge, a blatant violation of the U.S. constitution, for three and a half years. (Ultimately he was charged and convicted with conspiring to kill, maim, and torture— the government dropped all charges that might require physical evidence including the dirty bomb claim that was pretty much constant in the media, but the flimsiness of his conviction is not the issue here. His right to justice for the three and a half years he was denied any legal process is the issue.)

Judge Richard Gergel, the BBC reported, ruled that US laws did not offer clear guidelines on the detention of enemy combatants. (There's a good reason for this. In the legal system as it once existed, you are one of three things: a civilian, subject to civilian courts for any crimes which you are accused of; a prisoner of war, protected by the Geneva conventions; or a soldier, subject to the military courts. There is no such thing as an enemy combatant. According to this judge, our government can make up phrases and anything that is done, goes, because there are no clear guidelines.)

But don't worry; this is backed by sound legal reasoning:

Any trial, he wrote, would be "an international spectacle with Padilla, a convicted terrorist, summoning America's present and former leaders to a federal courthouse to answer his charges".