October 28, 2005

Can the U.S. government lock you up & throw away the key?

That's the question at the center of Jose Padilla's appeal to the US Supreme Court. Padilla has been held by the feds for more than three years on charges that he received training from al-Qaead and then planned to detonate a 'dirty bomb' in the US.

Padilla's appeal is asking the Supremes to determine when the US government can jail people in military prisons and how long these people can remain imprisoned.

"Their position is not only can we do it, we can do it forever. In my opinion, that's very problematic and something we should all be very concerned about," [Padilla attorney Donna Newman] said.

Civil libertarians say that the US Constitution forbids the government from holding people without charges, and that allowing such detentions would inevitably lead to abuses.

Federal courts, however, have given mixed rulings on this issue. A federal court in South Carolina has ordered the feds either to charge Padilla or let him go. When the government appealed that decision, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Dubya a blank check to use military detentions for people 'closely associated with al-Qaida, an entity with which the United States is at war.'

In the past, the US Supreme Court has not supported indefinite detentions, although changes in the Court's membership makes a future decision on this issue hard to predict.

The Court is not expected to make a decision as to whether it will hear Padilla's current appeal until sometime near the end of the current session.

Via AP.

Posted by Magpie at October 28, 2005 12:06 AM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

Actually "on charges" is incorrect. He hasn't been charged with anything.

Posted by: Chris Pierson at October 28, 2005 08:39 AM

The only reason I can think of for the feds to hold him incommunicado for this long is that it's going to turn out that they have no case against the guy, and they don't want to admit it. My hunch is they initially detained him and he shot off his mouth about wanting to blow up a readioactive bomb. The feds then jail him and only later realize that delusional braggadacio by a street kid does not a radioactive bomb make. (By the way, where was he going to get this radioactive material - at Wal-Mart?) My suspicion of this was hardened when the feds later switche to "he was going to turn on the gas in apartment buildings and blow them up!" What, no radioactive material involved?
This Padilla kid sounds like a real lowlife, but if the government can lock up lowlifes indefinitely, the next target will be whistleblowers, demonstrators, grumpy veterans and perhaps even bloggers. Now if you'll excuse me, there's somebody knowcking at my door, saying something about Homeland Secur

Posted by: Middle-Aged Artillery Veteran at October 28, 2005 09:10 AM