September 10, 2005

As if the U.S. hasn't been getting enough bad news lately.

We now find out that it's okay for the US government to lock someone up and throw away the key.

A federal appeals court has ruled that it's legal for the president to label a US citizen an 'enemy combatant' and have that person held in prison indefinitely without charges.

The ruling came in the case of Jose Padilla, who is accused of plotting a 'dirty bomb' attack on the US. Padilla was arrested in 2002 and has been held in a military prison since for more than three years. He has not, however, been charged with a crime, let alone brought to trial. This past March, a federal court judge in South Carolina ruled that the government must either charge Padilla with a crime or release him.

Today's unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the earlier ruling, and affirms the power of the president to detain a US citizen believed to be associated with al-Qaeda:

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."
Padilla's attorney says that the new decision will probably be appealed to the US Supreme Court. He also warns that the Circuit Court's ruling today may have grave implications for all US citizens:

"It's a matter of how paranoid you are," Andrew Patel said. "What it could mean is that the president conceivably could sign a piece of paper when he has hearsay information that somebody has done something he doesn't like and send them to jail ? without a hearing (or) a trial."

Via AP.

Posted by Magpie at September 10, 2005 11:24 AM | US News | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |