MIAMI - 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.
The original "dirty bomb plot" that the administration hyped for propaganda proved to be a fantasy, and has been left in the dustbin of history.
Padilla was first detained in 2002 because of much more sensational accusations. The Bush administration portrayed Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert, as a committed terrorist who was part of an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the U.S. The administration called his detention an important victory in the war against terrorism, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The fact that he was held and tortured for years without charges merely because the administration called him a "terrorist" should scare all of us. This conviction doesn't change that fact.
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.
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