AP Headline on Padilla Sentence: No Name or Crime Mentioned

It's hard not to think that there is lingering Old Media disappointment that Jose Padilla didn't beat the rap.

One example supporting that belief is the coverage (bolds are mine) of Padilla's sentencing, along with the supporting no-info headline, by the Associated Press's Curt Anderson.

You also have to wonder if AP is trying to have the story escape future search engine inquiries, as the AP's headline avoids mentioning Padilla's name, or what he was convicted of:

17 Years for Ex-'dirty Bomb' Suspect

Jose Padilla, an American once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb," was sentenced Tuesday to a relatively lenient 17-year prison term on unrelated terror support charges.

Prosecutors, who long ago dropped the "dirty bomb" claim that made Padilla infamous, had sought life sentences for Padilla and two co- defendants, but a federal judge said authorities never even proved Padilla was a terrorist.

"There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere," U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said. "There was never a plot to overthrow the United States government."

Cooke took into account the harsh, isolated conditions Padilla faced during the 3 1/2 years he was held in a brig, without charge, as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest. Defense lawyers claim he was tortured by the military, but U.S. officials denied that and Cooke never used the word torture.

Padilla, 37, and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun, 45, and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 46, were convicted in August of terrorism conspiracy and material support after a three-month trial. Jurors concluded they were part of a support cell that sent recruits, money and supplies to Islamic extremists worldwide, including al-Qaida.

Jim Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web noted the strange prioritization in Anderson's reporting (bold is mine):

The AP finally gets around to telling us (what Padilla was convicted of) in the fifth paragraph.

..... Also, what does that first paragraph mean saying these charges were "unrelated"? Al Qaeda has nothing to do with al Qaeda?

Taranto also points out that the judge, Marcia Cooke, who meted out the sentence Anderson described as "relatively lenient," went over the top with her "no evidence .... no plot" rant (Mukasey link in excerpt may require paid subscription; bold is mine):

But as Michael Mukasey, now attorney general, noted in an August 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed just after Padilla's conviction, there is a world of difference between "no evidence" and "no evidence admissible in court":

Although he reportedly confessed to the dirty bomb plot while in military custody, that statement--made without benefit of legal counsel--could not be used.

Anderson "somehow" managed not to mention the alleged confession. He also included a quote from Padilla's defense team describing Padilla's sentence as a "definitely a defeat for the government."

Finally, Taranto noted that the New York Times carried the story of Padilla's sentencing on Page A14 (the Times described the sentence as a "setback for the government"), and observed:

It's odd that the liberal media would dismiss Padilla's conviction and sentencing as a defeat for the Bush administration rather than play it up as a success of the law-enforcement approach to terrorism.

No, on second thought, it isn't odd.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.