I don’t know Jose Padilla, but I think he may be a very bad man. He probably is a very, very bad man. He is alleged to have wanted to explode a dirty bomb that might have killed thousands of innocent Americans. That’s what President Bush says, and federal agents.
But what if . . . not that I’m saying they are wrong or anything, mind you, I don’t know but, what if they were somehow wrong? What if they got bad intelligence? What if it was a mistake and he’s shockingly innocent? Well, in America it must all come out at trial. He’ll be able to defend himself. In America, no one can be imprisoned on a maybe. Not even on a probably. We are all rich or poor, well-connected or not innocent until proven guilty. Or, anyway, it used to be that way. Not anymore.
Jose Padilla, an American citizen, though granted he may talk funny and didn’t come from the Emerald Isle like my family, is in prison. In prison without a charge, without any right to an attorney, because he’s been named an “enemy combatant” by the President, which is longhand for “bad man.” We can fight and beat terrorism, but not by regularly violating our own soul with these authoritarian tactics.
Jose Padilla’s unjust, un-American incarceration is a defeat for freedom, democracy and the American way. We cannot ever forget that this war, like all wars, is about hearts and minds. Which means that it is about being right and doing what’s right.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.