Although we're stepping on the toes of everyone's favourite federal blogger, David O Markus, we think the ruling of Judge Cooke is significant enough so that we reprint part of the NY Times article here.
MIAMI, Feb. 28 — A federal judge found Jose Padilla competent to stand trial on terrorism conspiracy charges Wednesday, granting a significant victory to the government in the high-profile criminal case of a United States citizen who was initially designated an “enemy combatant” and held without charges.
After three and a half days of an intensely argued hearing, Judge Marcia G. Cooke of Federal District Court rejected the defense lawyers’ request that Mr. Padilla be sent to a hospital for psychiatric treatment so that he could be “healed” from what they said was post-traumatic stress disorder caused during his three years and eight months in military detention.
“This defendant clearly has the capacity to assist his attorneys,” Judge Cooke said, adding that Mr. Padilla’s case was “unique” and that “he understands that.”
Judge Cooke, who allowed limited testimony from brig officials during the competency hearing, said that her ruling should not be construed as a finding on Mr. Padilla’s claims of mistreatment during his detention and interrogations at a military brig in South Carolina.
“Those claims are for another day,” she said, referring to another pending motion by Mr. Padilla that the charges against him be dismissed because of “outrageous government conduct.”
Throughout the competency hearing, Mr. Padilla, wearing a tan prison jumpsuit and wire-rimmed glasses, appeared alert. When the brig officials testified Monday, he dropped his head and “hunkered down,” as one of his lawyers described it, but at all others times he sat erectly and calmly, without displaying the tics and grimaces that his lawyers described as manifestations of his disorder.
Judge Cooke remarked on Mr. Padilla’s attentiveness in court and noted that “everyone discussed that Mr. Padilla is polite almost to a fault.”
The defense lawyers also said that Mr. Padilla opposed their efforts to have him found incompetent to stand trial, which they said was further evidence of his irrationality. He would rather spend his life in prison than spend a few months in a psychiatric hospital, they said.
With a trial scheduled for mid-April, Mr. Padilla and two other defendants are accused of participating in a “North American support cell” that provided money, goods and recruits abroad to assist “global jihad.”
The government took this man Padilla into custody and systemically set out to crush him-mind, body, and soul. From the looks of things, they may accomplished what they set out to do.
We live in difficult and dangerous times. Some of you may feel that it's better to have the government apply whatever pressure is necessary to prevent a terrorist act. Others may feel that trading liberty for security sacrifices one without gaining the other.
Without jumping into this sticky wicket, we simply note that when our government lies to us- as this government surely has- they forfeit the right to also tell us to trust them in knowing what is best for all of us.
See You In Court.