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Fava Beans and Babies

tmpphptdryim.jpgFederal prosecutors have based all of their evidence against Jose Padilla on one document with his signature and his fingerprints. Message to each juror being, “We are from the Justice Department – would we lie to you?”

In the 10 weeks that this conspiracy trial has taken place, where Padilla, Hassoun and Kifah are charged with conspiracy to murder, kidnap or maim people outside the United States, there have been some remarkably creative plays on many vague words, innocuous syllables, virtuous letters, said to reform in crafty variances of pure evil. You – ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the press, the citizens tuning in at home or abroad – are supposed to be convinced of their guilt based on intuition, guesswork.

You – we – are supposed to believe that phrases and words like “playing football”, “eating cheese” and paying $3,500 for “zucchini”, were code for nefarious, illegally evil terrorist deeds and actions for which these three should spend the rest of their lives in jail. Indeed, there was no sting operation which managed to collar these men inside a house with stockpiled weapons, documented plans or poisons. Instead of Semtex, they netted an endless pile of syntax.

The prosecution would have us all believe that words, perhaps millions of surreptitiously tape recorded words, have suspicious, duplicitous terrible hidden meanings. The Feds have 300,000 taped phone calls. Two hundred and thirty of those conversations form the core of the prosecution’s case, of which 21 make reference to Padilla. Of those tapes, Padilla’s voice is heard in only seven of them, and not a single time is Padilla discussing violence. The prosecution hasn’t produced one weapon used for murder, not one blindfold to be used in a kidnapping, not one knife to be used in a maiming.

The government has not allowed the jury or the public to view eighty-seven video tapes of Padilla being questioned in solitary confinement where we could see him, blindfolded, his ears muffled. This could prove that he was or wasn’t handed a piece paper or told to scribble his name in exchange for an extra ten minutes in the exercise yard. Why hasn’t the prosecution shown those tapes?

It doesn’t matter that the Feds have brought in their translators, a CIA operative-in-disguise, and one expert in terrorism whose expertise seems available only to governments. The case boils down to 300,000 telephone conversations with the jury listening only to a teeny-weeny,itsy-bitsy portion of the transcriptions. The prosecutions have made their selections. Here’s one of mine.

Here is part of one phone call on one day –2/08/97 August 2, 1997 never before revealed.

Among the participants in the call are:
ADHAM’S mother-in-law)
HAJJ, (Nahid’s father in law/Adham’s father in law)

First Adham and Umm note it was the holiday of Eid, the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

UMMM SAMIR Did you lose weight or are you still the same?
ADHAM HASSOUN No, I’m pretty much the same
UMM SAMIR Yeah Praise me to Allah
ADHAM HASSOUN the same, the same, losing weight…my wife is not feeding me at all [sarcasm]

Then Hassoun and Umm discuss work-related vacation time.

ADHAM HASSOUN I an entitled to two weeks per year
ADHAM HASSOUN I would have been there for one year
ADHAM HASSOUN And besides, I am tired. I have been working almost 6 or 7 days a week.
UMM SAMIR Yea, that’s right
ADHAM HASSOUN It’s work/work, work/home…They don’t even leave me alone when I’m on vacation…they keep calling me.

Later they talk of marriage

HAJJ Is she taking care of you?
ADHAM HASSOUN Her? Whatever Allah wishes…she is fixing me fava beans this morning.
HAJJ She is a righteous girl, a righteous girl, just like you.
ADHAM HASSOUN May Allah keep you.
HAJJ May Allah keep you
ADHAM HASSOUN By Allah, she comes from a prominent family, Hajj
HAJJ May Allah keep you
ADHAM HASSOUN May Allah send you one just like her
HAJJ Allah willing, Allah willing.
ADHAM HASSOUN Funeral! [popular interjection in Palestinian dialect which means Damn!”]
HAJJ By All, honor the honorable. May Allah keep you in good health keep away the evil doers…Allah willing.
ADHAM HASSOUN May Allah keep you Hajj.
HAJJ May He keep your children and may He keep your bride, Allah willing.
ADHAM HASSOUN May Allah keep you, may Allah always keep you…and the bride is already married…
HAJJ She is my beloved, she will always be a bride
HAJJ To me she will always be a bride.
ADHAM HASSOUN Why? Could you be thinking about someone else Hajj? [Laughs]
HAJJ [Laughs] May Allah forgive me…by Almightily Allah…she will always be a bride in your presence..yeah
HAJJ You will always be her groom, hovering over her head…Allah willing…

Later they talk of children.

ADHAM HASSOUN No but every month she tells me, I think..uh..I might be pregnant.
HAJJ By Allah
ADHAM HASSOUN So every month, I tell her..
HAJJ Hopefully she will bear you twelve children.

There you have the subject matters of another part of those 300,000 telephone taps: gaining weight, the need for more vacation time, fava beans and marriage, brides and the hope for twelve children.

Judge Cooke said at the beginning of the trial that the evidence was thin. Her exact words were, “Very light on facts.”

Thin? Light on facts? If you substituted the words “Jesus” for Allah, the conversation is more like a segment from The View.

(With Christopher Austin)

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Lewis Z. Koch

Lewis Z. Koch