As reported by the Los Angeles Times the judge in the Padilla case is having a difficult time impanelling a jury. Of the first 550 questioned by mail a third were disqualified. Of the first 36 questioned in person by the judge more than half have been excused. The numbers though, are not as alarming as what they have told the judge.
Fist, there is the businessman who said
"It would pose some difficulty to me to be open-minded when the subject is terrorism,"
This is not just some abstract view of terrorism. As reported by the L A Times
Prospective jurors, including a Latino highway surveyor, an African American nurse, a Jewish advertising accountant and a divorced white electrician, have repeatedly invoked the images of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as the basis for their inability to judge Muslims fairly.
And, from another,
"Being very honest, in my heart, I don't know that I can" set aside memories of the terrorist attacks, she told Cooke. She was excused after being asked whether she would want someone like her on her own jury. "No," she answered vehemently.
Isn't that frightening. This man is not charged with anything even remotely connected with 9/11 and yet Bush has so effectively constructed an edifice of fear around 9/11 that people view anything involving the mere mention of terrorism as somehow raising the specter of the 9/11 tragedy.
These jurors also illustrate how difficult it is to get people to realize that we have a Constitution for a reason. That just because someone has been charged with something does not make it so.
A department store sales clerk also of Latin American descent was dismissed after repeatedly insisting that the defendants must have done something wrong to have landed in federal court.
That was followed by these prospective jurors,
Two women whom Cooke questioned Tuesday were among the most impassioned in expressing their views that the defendants weren't entitled to the rights they have in U.S. federal court.
We know there are people like this. But to actually here people stand up in court and tear up the Constitution in the interests of some illusory concept of personal safety is truly chilling.
Also in evidence in the trial is how effectively Bush and his cohort have managed to play the Muslin equals terrorist card.
A single mother who works at a medical office was asked whether she considered Muslims disproportionately prone to violence. She replied: "Before Sept. 11, I would have said no. But from what I've heard since then on the news, I'd say yes."
What is so tragic about this sentiment is that we as a nation never learn. We went through this with the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during WW II, later to realize it was a blight on our country, a shameful episode that should never be repeated. (When I say "all" I exclude Michelle Malkin, of course). Yet here we are, sixty years later doing the same thing.
And of course it isn't just memories of 9/11 driving these feelings. From all those moronic color code episodes where we were all advised to stay especially vigilant through the parade of highly questionable "terrorism" apprehensions we have been encouraged to see plots all around us.
"From the terrorism here in this country and what I know about the background in this case, I would not be a fair and impartial juror," an advertising accountant said. "It's hard to admit that you're prejudiced and biased, but in this situation I am."
She was dismissed, as was a self-employed Miami Beach businesswoman who said that she regarded the defendants as "radical people" and believed "that they want to destroy us."
That juror mentioned the "background" of this case. Well lest any of us have forgotten, what is that background? Jose Padilla's arrest first hit the National news in June 2002 when Ashcroft announced to the world that a man who planned to attack the U.S. with a dirty bomb had been aprehended. The lies started that day. In reality, padilla had been arrested a month earlier, in May 2002, and held as a material witness. Originally jailed in New York, he was transfered to a Navy Brig in Charleston, S.C in June after Bush declared him to be an enemy combatant. He rotted there for three and a half years without charges. Then, in November 2005, in order to avoid a likely Habeas Corpus hearing by the Supreme Court, Padilla was transferred to Florida and his name was added to a pending indictment against other "alleged" terrorist. No dirty bombs, no activities in this country. Another loser who did some misguided and maybe even criminal things. But certainly not the threat that so many jurors in Florida have been conditioned to fear.