Padilla’s Conviction “One Step Away From a Thought Crime”

(Don’t forget that Ashcroft’s original ‘dirty bomber’ charges were dropped since the evidence either didn’t exist in the first place, or fell apart)

The central charge against Mr. Padilla was that he conspired to murder, maim and kidnap people in a foreign country. “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.” “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.”