Padilla Convicted, but the Media Still Can’t Believe he’s Guilty!

-By Warner Todd Huston

Since the news came out that Jose Padilla had been convicted of being a terrorist by a US Court, many in the Media seem to refuse to acknowledge that the verdict is in. With a typical example, the AP, for instance, wants to focus more on what it feels the government did wrong than what Padilla did. I guess the AP thinks the US government is more guilty than is a convicted terrorist.

Even after his conviction, the AP fills their report with “supposedly,” “possible,” and other mitigating verbiage to describe Padilla and the other terror suspects in the news. But even as they want to give Padilla a pass they cast the Bush Administration’s efforts as their “zeal to stop homegrown terror.” The story makes Padilla seem put upon and mistreated while the Bush Administration is cast as the overwrought party. This AP story gives a lot of space to Padilla’s defense and little to the government’s proven case. Apparently they just cannot make themselves believe that Padilla is really guilty of any thing.

Starting off with a slam on the Bush Administration, you can just feel the AP’s desire to say “allegedly” after every sentence.

Padilla Is Convicted in Terrorism Case

MIAMI (AP) – Jose Padilla was convicted of federal terrorism support charges Thursday after being held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration’s zeal to stop homegrown terror.

“Zeal to stop homegrown terror,” AP? With this the AP acts as if the Bush Administration is out on a lark or maybe indulging an unhealthy obsession to stop terrorism. Zeal is a note of passion, not one to describe a lawful and necessary, even grim, duty. And the Padilla indictment was no effort to stop only “homegrown terror” it was an attempt to stop ALL terror. Further, isn’t that the government’s job? Is a flippant “zeal” the proper way to describe the effort?

The AP also used a lot of mitigating verbiage when describing the proof used against Padilla to convict him. They wanted to make sure that the reader doubted the mounting and proven evidence, apparently. Language like the following prefaces each claim made by the government:

  • The three are accused of being…
  • …was supposedly…
  • …a five-page form Padilla supposedly filled out…
  • …purportedly used code…

That’s a lot of purportedlys and supposedlys, there AP. Especially when you take into account that Padilla has been convicted and the supposedlys are now accepted as proven facts.

But, not for the AP. In the AP’s minds Padilla still deserves the benefit of the doubt.

They also take a lot of time to detail all the charges that were not ultimately pursued against Padilla and never once mention that these charges might have been dropped to keep secret any information gained from Padilla concerning them to assist in further terror investigations.

But, worse than all this, the AP gives the Padilla defense people several times to speak to Padilla’s innocence and lists all his possible defenses but the prosecutor’s words are only given one line of space.

Here are all the mentions of how innocent Padilla and the other three are:

The defense contended they were trying to help persecuted Muslims in war zones with relief and humanitarian aid.

The charges brought in civilian court in Miami, however, were a pale shadow of those initial claims in part because Padilla, 36, was interrogated about the plot when he was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years in military custody with no lawyer present and was not read his Miranda rights.

Padilla’s lawyers insisted the form was far from conclusive and denied that he was a “star recruit,” as prosecutors claimed, of the North American support cell intending to become a terrorist. Padilla’s attorneys said he traveled to Egypt in September 1998 to learn Islam more deeply and become fluent in Arabic.

“His intent was to study, not to murder,” said Padilla attorney Michael Caruso.

“It wasn’t a terrorist operation. It was a relief operation,” said Jayyousi attorney William Swor.

Here are the paragraphs that call him guilty with the one quote from a prosecutor.

The form, recovered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan, contains seven of Padilla’s fingerprints and several other personal identifiers, such as his birthdate and his ability to speak Spanish, English and Arabic.

“He provided himself to al-Qaida for training to learn to murder, kidnap and maim,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier in closing arguments.

In fact, most of the story is laying out Padilla’s defense, how badly he was supposedly treated and how so many of the government’s charges were dropped. Consequently, one gets far more a feeling that Padilla was mistreated than that he was found guilty by reading this AP story.

But, to the AP, it seems that Padilla and those like him are the Davy to the evil US government’s Goliath.

It all makes you wonder: does the AP remember 9/11?

It doesn’t seem so.
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as,, men’ and among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a guest on several radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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