Those Were the Days
"A key piece of evidence in the case against alleged terrorism operative Jose Padilla was brought to the CIA in Afghanistan by a man who said he found the document in an al Qaeda safe house" ("Key Padilla Evidence Got to CIA in Afghan Pickup")
Those were the days, my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd live the life we'd choose
We'd fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days
--Those Were the Days, Mary Hopkins
According to the CIA description, this document was acquired in a December 2001 meeting.
Ranger senses that this is March 2007, so the government has been sitting on what, if proven authentic, is a key piece of legal evidence that will put the nails in Padilla's coffin.
How could any working legal system allow evidence to sit on a shelf for over five years? What is the shelf-life of unsworn, unverified evidence?
Bear in mind that CIA agents are not federal law enforcement; they are intelligence agents. As such, they are not trained in "chain of custody" regarding evidence, nor are they qualified to evaluate legal evidence. This is a Department of Justice function attended to by government attorneys. Intelligence agents do not necessarily process legal intelligence.
Everybody seems to accept the original documents as legitimate al Qaeda resources, but one should remember that only a trial can determine the relevance and legitimacy of all evidence. It is not reliable evidence without a legal chain of custody.
For example, what were the motives of the person turning in this supposed evidence? Who was he, and from where did he originate? Where are the sworn statements that it indeed came from an al Qaeda safehouse? After 5+ years languishing in a dusty room, this is a questionable item. Further, intelligence agents live and tell lies, yet we expect them to tell the truth when they are in federal court, in disguise?
Somehow it seems overblown to call Padilla a terrorist operative. He may be a terrorist, but he is as pathetic as our government which had supposed definitive evidence, yet failed to bring Padilla to trial. Somehow throwing him in an undisclosed location without habeus corpus and with a good dose of torture is the new, improved version of American justice.
Everybody used to get a fair trial in America. Those were the days.