U.S. Can Confine Citizens Without Charges, Court Rules
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 10, 2005
A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.
The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. The government contends that Padilla trained at al Qaeda camps and was planning to blow up apartment buildings in the United States. Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case has ignited a fierce battle over the balance between civil liberties and the government's power to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A host of civil liberties groups and former attorney general Janet Reno weighed in on Padilla's behalf, calling his detention illegal and arguing that the president does not have unchecked power to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely.
Federal prosecutors asserted that Bush not only had the authority to detain Padilla but also that such power is essential to preventing terrorist strikes. In its ruling yesterday, the three-judge panel overturned a lower court.
A congressional resolution passed after Sept. 11 "provided the President all powers necessary and appropriate to protect American citizens from terrorist attacks," the decision said. "Those powers include the power to detain identified and committed enemies such as Padilla, who associated with al Qaeda . . . who took up arms against this Nation in its war against these enemies, and who entered the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war by attacking American citizens."
Padilla is one of two U.S. citizens held as enemy combatants since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The other, Yaser Esam Hamdi, was released and flown to Saudi Arabia last year after the Supreme Court upheld the government's power to detain him but said he could challenge that detention in U.S. courts.
Legal experts were closely watching the Padilla case because of a key difference between the two: Hamdi was captured on a battlefield in Afghanistan with forces loyal to that country's former Taliban rulers, and Padilla was arrested in the United States.
Legal experts said the debate is likely to reach the Supreme Court. Andrew Patel, an attorney for Padilla, said he might appeal directly to the Supreme Court or first ask the entire 4th Circuit to review the decision. "We're very disappointed," he said.
The ruling limits the president's power to detain Padilla to the duration of hostilities against al Qaeda, but the Bush administration has said that war could go on indefinitely.
The decision reignited the passions triggered by Padilla's arrest at O'Hare International Airport in May 2002.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hailed the ruling as reaffirming "the president's critical authority to detain enemy combatants who take up arms on behalf of al Qaeda."
Richard A. Samp, chief counsel for the Washington Legal Foundation, a conservative public-interest law firm, said the court "gave the government needed flexibility in dealing with the war on terrorism. You can't treat every terrorist as though they are just another criminal defendant."
But Avidan Cover, a senior associate at Human Rights First, said the ruling "really flies in the face of our understanding of what rights American citizens are entitled to." Opponents have warned that if not constrained by the courts, Padilla's detention could lead to the military being allowed to hold anyone who, for example, checks out what the government considers the wrong kind of reading materials from the library.
The 4th Circuit decision could also play a role in the debate over whom President Bush will nominate to the Supreme Court seat to be vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The decision was written by Judge J. Michael Luttig, a favorite of conservative groups who is considered to be among the leading candidates for the nomination. He was joined in the ruling by judges William B. Traxler Jr. and M. Blane Michael, both Clinton administration appointees.
Sean Rushton, executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, which was formed to support Bush's judicial nominees, said he doubted that Luttig's ruling would affect his chances. He pointed out that Luttig has issued strongly pro-government decisions in other terrorism cases since Sept. 11, including in the prosecution of convicted conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
"I'm not sure that we really knew anything new about Michael Luttig from this case," Rushton said.
But Cover said groups opposed to a potential Luttig nomination will carefully review the decision. "This gives our group, and I think many others, very serious concerns about his views on civil liberties and presidential powers," Cover said.
The government originally described Padilla as plotting with al Qaeda to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" but has since focused on allegations that he planned to blow up apartment buildings by filling them with natural gas. Prosecutors told the 4th Circuit that he worked with such senior al Qaeda leaders as former operations chief Khalid Sheik Mohammed on that plan.
Gee, did President Bush PERSONALLY name this person as an "enemy combatant"?
I have mixed feelings about this. If we know someone is crooked, I have no problems. What scares me is when the assholes defining "crooked" aren't on the same page I am.
Dispite Sep 11th, I found it questionable.
With the "gun issue" in NO....
Aaaaaaaaaaaand we just instituted our own Brown Shirts and overnight disappearances.
Gitmo detainees will probably not be thrilled to hear about that decision
Guantanamo strike in second month
9 September 2005
A hunger strike by detainees at the US Guantanamo Bay prison camp has entered a second month, says the US military.
A prison spokesman said 87 inmates were still taking part in the strike that began on 8 August. Lawyers for the prisoners put the figure at 210.
Ten prisoners were being fed through nose tubes and were in a "stable" condition, the spokesman added.
A lawyer said the inmates were prepared to strike until they got a fair hearing and humane treatment or died.
This is the latest in a series of hunger strikes since 2002 by detainees held as part of America's declared war on terror.
The last occurred between June and July this year, and the prisoners' lawyers say it was so severe that 50 men had to be intravenously fed.
Prison spokesman Sergeant Justin Behrens said the number of prisoners taking part in the latest hunger strike had dropped since it began in August.
"Ninety-two was the max on hunger strike but it has now dropped down to 87," he told the AFP news agency. "Ten of them are being fed through medical assist."
Military officials did not reveal how many inmates had refused food for a whole month.
But Gitanjali Gutierrez, of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, said the strike had become "much more severe".
The detainees began striking in 2002 because of their "uncertain future", he told the BBC.
"Now they are striking because of their indefinite detention without any fair process, and because of the inhumane treatment they're experiencing on the base," he added.
The brother of a British inmate reportedly on hunger strike called on the UK government to intervene.
Abubaker Deghayes said his 36-year-old brother Omar had not eaten for nearly five weeks.
"I'm really worried. Something really needs to be done. We can't just allow people to be oppressed and tortured," he said.
The US prison at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay is tightly controlled and closed to public scrutiny and has long been the centre of international concern and controversy, says the BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington.
As most inmates are held as enemy combatants they are not protected by the Geneva Convention and can be held indefinitely, says the US government.
Shades of the KGB or Stasi.
The only reason I think they threw away the key is because Al-Qaeda is infiltrated, spies, moles, doubleagents etc. If the .gov did not really believe they hadda case he woulda walked, but if this guy walks he woulda walked right into CIA associate guys and exposed them . When the allies cracked Enigma in WW2 they kept with business as usual, not giving the enemy any clue that their plans were compromised
Today it's Padilla for being a terrorist, tomorrow it's Austin O'Dwyer for making terroristic threats.....
Anybody who cheers this needs because "Padilla's a scumbag terr" needs to realize that it ain't that far a stretch from Padilla to YOU in the name of "well, ___ could be the next Timothy McVeigh. He owns lotsa guns and ammo and rants on the internet. Nobody needs three AR15s and 2000 rounds of ammo unless they are about to start a WAR!"
I hope .gov buys a line of Black Marias that get good MPG. Ain't ya heard, there's a gas shortage.
Let's recount to this point:
You don't really own the property you've been paying taxes on.
According to recent posts on arfcom 2nd don't count in an "emergency."
STFU 60 days before an election- like incumbents needed another break!
And now I might miss the last season of "King of the Hill" if my behavior seems a bit suspicious to "someone."
Why do I keep hearing Simon and Garfunkel? "Slip sliding away. Slip sliding away.........
Meet your new Supreme Court nominee:
Oh well. The Bill of Rights was an interesting experiment while it lasted.
Gosh I wonder what's on television!
I heard the freedom to type "dupe" is the next to go!
It is EXERCISED quite a bit on me.
This is an outrage. Captured Confederate soldiers got trials! . . . . didn't they?
Wanna bet the the supremes trash that decision?