When Deputy Attorney General James Comey held a news conference June 1 to discuss the evidence the government says it has amassed against the alleged “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, “the impropriety of his actions seems to have passed largely unremarked,” writes attorney-author Scott Turow in the Washington Post. Comey suggested that Padilla is a dangerous al Qaeda associate intent on taking untold American lives. Comey acknowledged that the government did not expect to offer Padilla any forum in which to refute or question its alleged evidence. “To me, as a former federal prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer, Comey’s performance constituted one more legally and ethically dubious maneuver by our government in a case that I already regarded as one of the most troubling in memory,” says Turow.
“In my 25 years of practicing law, I cannot remember the government ever making such an inflammatory presentation about a pending case before the Supreme Court,” writes Turow. “The proper course was to wait for the court to issue its opinion. The fact that Justice officials chose not to do so reinforces the suspicions about their motives. I do not know what Jose Padilla did, and it’s quite possible that Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, is not just a two-bit thug in a kaffiyeh, but a major menace. Yet the problem all along has been that the government does not have admissible evidence to prove that.”