The Dirty Case on the Dirty Bomber

Deep inside a newspaper dominated by coverage of the Heat victory, the Sun-Sentinel's Vanessa Blum and Sara Ganim provide us a look at the case against Jose Padilla, the so-called "Dirty Bomber" and former Sunrise resident Adham Amin Hassoun.

It is, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said, "light on the facts."

Of course it is. There's no other reason that then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft would have stuck Padilla on a brig without charges for more than three years. The evidence wasn't there. Key passage from the short but strong 5B story:

Attorney Jeanne Baker, who represents Hassoun, said the government's allegations seem to span about seven years and involve armed conflicts across the globe, but they don't include many specific dates or places.

"We have nothing," Baker said. "We are so shooting in the dark, your Honor, I cannot believe we are in a federal trial."

Prosecutor Brian Frazier said the defense team's request was "motivated by a misunderstanding of the charges."

He compared the case, which is based largely on recorded phone calls, to a routine wiretap investigation. Frazier said the prosecution already has narrowed down 50,000 tape-recorded conversations to roughly 225 that it intends to use at trial.

"We have already particularized what those recordings are and they just have to look at it," he said.

Ridiculous. The prosecutors should be making a case, not dumping a bunch of tape recordings on the defense to figure out. Padilla's arrest made huge news around the world, largely because of the Bush Administration's posturing that they'd caught a dangerous terrorist. After isolating him and violating his Constitutional rights for years, it's looking like this is a case study in grandstanding politics overtaking investigative competence. But what does the Administration care? They already got their headlines -- and they were on the front page instead of buried in the back.

Championship Blues The Sentinel ran with "Champions" on the front. Fine, but the 36-point (or something like that) deck was pretty strange: "There'll Never Be Another Night Like This." First read makes you think the Sentinel is saying that the Heat won't win another championship, but it's only a play from ... oh hell, I'm not even going there today.

But the Herald's Dan Le Batard gives us a lesson in how not to write a championship story. Here's a passage from near the top:

The champion Miami Heat.

Hold on a second.

Let that one marinate for a second.

The champion Miami Heat.

Let's start that again.

Just to let it soak in so you know you weren't dreaming last night.

The champion, champion, champion Miami Heat is the best basketball team in the world, and it is a startling, flabbergasting, wonderful thing to say today -- and forevermore.

Spin that around in your glass for a moment before taking a drink. Yes, yes, cloying, yet also miserly. All that's left for us now is to roll around in the bonus money the Heat get for winning the thing.

And the Palm Beach Post went with an obnoxious lead photograph: Alonzo Mourning in one of his primal screams. I'm sorry, but Zo seriously works on my nerves with his stupid histrionics, specifically the finger-point to the heavens every time he scores a damn bucket. Yeah, God is totally concerned with whether Mourning hits a layup. What's a little war, famine, AIDS, and global warming when you have an NBA player to worry about?

During the game, Mourning yelled and screamed throughout, at one point flopping around on the court like a landed flounder after he got a blocked shot. If Wade had left the Mavs with any heart at all, they would have throttled the man. Afterwards, Mourning hit the champagne (Tim Hardaway, obviously sensing his ol' friend's intoxication, actually cautioned him to stop drinking on Channel 10) and started talking about his favorite subject: Zo. He regaled the press corps with how he was an inspiration to thousands of people because of his kidney transplant and how he was, indeed, a person, too. "Some people might not think I am because of what I do on that court," he said (that's a loose quote but very close), apparently addressing those that have confused him with a deity. "But I am."

Yeah we know Zo. You're all too human.

But hey, he played great. And so did the Heat. And with Wade, it's a damn good chance South Florida is gonna have more nights like this to come.

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