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tmpphpawd9ev.jpgAnthony Natale, Padilla’s attorney these past tumultuous five years, cooly informed US Federal Court Judge Marcia Cooke this week that he would not be calling no witnesses on his client’s behalf. None.

It was a not-very-subtle way of signaling that the paucity of the government’s case against Padilla isn’t even worthy of a rejoinder, that he wouldn’t even dignify the credibility of the charges against his client and their unconvincing witnesses by providing no rebuttal witnesses. It appears that closing arguments will be the week of the 13th.

So suddenly the terrorists conspiracy case against Jose Padilla, and his two relatively unknown alleged co-conspirator is coming to a very anticlimactic end–not with a bang but a whimper.

This seemed to be the single sloppiest, high-stakes case in Federal Court ever. But I learned, to my surprise, that many government cases alleging terrorism with the Justice Department in charge have a record of failure and mismanagement.

Laura Parker at USA Today consulted legal scholars and terrorism experts about government allegations of terrorism. statistics.

“What we see time and again is a big press conference and Justice Department statements about how we’re prosecuting the war on terrorism, and then the cases either fizzle out or the charges are reduced to relatively minor guilty pleas,” says David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who specializes in national security.

And the Department of Justice track record?

A “terrorist report card” prepared in September by the Center on Law and Security at the New York University Law School found that in 510 cases since 9/11 that the government said were terrorism-related, only 158 defendants have been prosecuted on charges of terrorism or giving material support to terrorism. The rest have been prosecuted on lesser charges, and no link to terrorism was proved in court. The figures are the most recent available from NYU.

The report found a 29% conviction rate in terrorism prosecutions, compared with the Justice Department’s 93% conviction rate in other criminal prosecutions.

After the twelve weeks of the prosecution’s case against Jose Padilla, one wonders if it will join the 71% of Justice Department terrorism prosecutions which ended in failure to convinct. The evidence–or lack thereof–has been extensively reviewed in this column–the alleged fingerprints on a document allegedly obtained from an Afghanistan “stranger” and handed, gratis, to a mysterious CIA agent, the 7 out of 300,000 wire taped conversations in which Padilla was involved, with different translators offering different interpretations of his mention of “zucchini”–vegetable or roadside bomb?

Was Padilla working with _______planning to murder, kidnap and maim people outside of the United States on behalf of Al Qaeda? Who were they planning to murder, kidnap and maim? What steps had they taken in that direction? What methods were they planning to employ? Busch Gardens.

With such a paucity of evidence, why did the Feds pursue this case for five years and break a half-dozen or more laws? FDL reader “mack” offered a reason last week:

You float the lamest as the trial balloon. That establishes precedent.

In other words if that can nail Padilla they can nail anyone.

Let’s look at where the FBI stands, since they, along with the Justice Department, were responsible for pursuit of this case.

According to ABC’s Justin Rood

The FBI is taking cues from the CIA to recruit thousands of covert informants in the United States as part of a sprawling effort to boost its intelligence capabilities.

Ah yes, Americans spying on Americans. How…East German of them.

Even Pravda acknowledged there had to be a limit to that kind of intramural spying, pointing to East Germany as the logical end of that kind of citizen-spys-spying-on-its-citizens.

By the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, it was estimated that 91,000 full-time employees and 300,000 informants were employed by the Stasi.

In other words, about one in fifty East Germans collaborated with the Stasi—one of the highest penetrations of any civilian society by an intelligence-gathering organization.

William Arkin of the Washington Post, (cited by Watson) points out the CIA and NSA are old hands at this kind of spying a long time, with the military working furiously to catch up.

Billions, trillions, even quadrillions, hell, quintillions of wire taps– go for it if that’s what takes to defeat terrorism and preserve the American way of life!

The National Security Analysis Center (NSAC) would bring together nearly 1.5 billion records created or collected by the FBI and other government agencies, a figure the FBI expects to quadruple in coming years, according to an unclassified FBI budget document obtained by the Blotter on (Emphasis added)

Let ‘er rip!

…the FBI’s stated hopes to “pro-actively” mine the data to find terrorists using “predictive” analysis…

In theory, predictive analysis involves mapping a known pattern of terrorist behavior — for instance, the sequence and timing of such mundane activities as bank transactions and travel purchases — against a massive collection of such records like the NSAC databases. If an individual’s actions match the pattern, they can be considered a suspect, even if they
have no known ties to any suspected terrorists or known terrorist groups.

Such a method would help identify “sleeper cells,” the FBI claims

Sleeper cells, indeed. Nice thought to put yourself to sleep with tonight. Counting potential spies not sheep.

(With Christopher Austin)

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Lewis Z. Koch

Lewis Z. Koch