View Full Version : "Thought Crime, and Preventive Dentention"

08-18-2007, 12:50 AM
I am posting this here, alright.

A note: I am not criticizing the American response. I am merely stating that this is what one news person is claiming. And that this may be true.

Padilla Case Offers a New Model of Terror Trial (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/18/us/nationalspecial3/18legal.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin)

The central charge against Mr. Padilla was that he conspired to murder, maim and kidnap people in a foreign country. The charge is a serious one, and it can carry a life sentence. But prosecutors needed to prove very little by way of concrete conduct to obtain a conviction under the law.

“There is no need to show any particular violent crime,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University and the author of a recent law review article on conspiracy charges in terrorism prosecutions. “You don’t have to specify the particular means used to carry out the crime.”

Indeed, the strongest piece of evidence in Mr. Padilla’s case was what prosecutors said was an application form Mr. Padilla filled out to attend a training camp run by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2000.

“It is a pretty big leap between a mere indication of desire to attend a camp and a crystallized desire to kill, maim and kidnap,” said Peter S. Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University who has also written on conspiracy charges in terrorism prosecutions.

The conspiracy charge against Mr. Padilla, Professor Margulies continued, “is highly amorphous, and it basically allows someone to be found guilty for something that is one step away from a thought crime.”


Before allowing Mr. Padilla to be tried in the federal courts, the administration justified holding him as an enemy combatant in part by saying he would be dangerous if let go. Criminal prosecutions, by contrast, are almost always focused on conduct already committed.

But the sharp split between military detention and criminal prosecution starts to blur as conspiracy charges are added to the mix.

That is because conspiracies aim at the future. A successful conspiracy prosecution looks both backward, to punish the crime of conspiring, and forward, to stop dangerous people from completing their plans. The weaker the evidence of conspiracy is, the more such a prosecution can look like a request for judicially sanctioned preventive detentions.

Please forgive me if you find the article biased. It probraly is. Even so, the charges of the government doing something wrong do exist. They are worrying. Filling out an Al-Qadeah request form does not necersially mean you should go in life imprisonment. But well, nothing you can do. And the government's logic is logical. Eh.

08-18-2007, 03:32 AM
I don't agree with this. I'm surprised to find myself saying it. Okay, the man should be watched. Prevented from leaving the country. No fly list, etc, etc, etc. But we've got no evidence he ever did anything other than fill out a form.

Web Rider
08-18-2007, 03:19 PM
Honestly, I've heard alot of different things about this case, and I'm not sure which one are true. NYT generally has a good reputation for accurate news reporting.

Aside from the "thought crime" possibilities, moreover I think this case more throughly furthers the argument that our courts are not so biased or ignorant to reality that we need special military courts to try special military prisoners.

To be honest, the conviction is less than surprising, and the manner in which it was achieved is not surprising either. Remember Scott Peterson? They barely had any evidence on that guy other than he was suspicious and married to the dead woman and father of the dead child. Yet he got the death penalty. Anyone seen the Brother's trial? Again, he was suspicious, having an affair, and married to the dead woman and father of the dead children.

I'm less worried about the odd thought crime possible case, I mean, lets be serious, how many people are the cops going to be arresting for thinking about a crime? Hm...I'd say, very few, since the cops have no way to prove that I thought about that crime.

Minority Report was a great movie, and in theory, with psychics or some sort of mind-reading device, we could achieve a state of pre-crime. However, I think that this will not be precedent setting outside of very extreme cases, like Padilla.