Jose Padilla

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José Padilla, a Brooklyn-born U.S. citizen, was initially arrested on May 8, 2002, by the FBI at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport under a material witness warrant issued by the District Court for the Southern District of New York "in connection with the government's ongoing investigation into threats of terrorism." [1]

Padilla is also known as Ibrahim, Abu Abdullah the Puerto Rican, Abu Abdullah al-Mujahir.

Enemy Combatant
On June 9, 2002, President George W. Bush signed a memorandum designating Padilla as an enemy combatant and directed the Secretary of Defense to take him into custody.

Padilla was "transferred from control of the U.S. Department of Justice to military control" the same day. He was then "held" in the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. He was not "charged with a crime" and did not "have access to a lawyer in his detention." [2]

Indicted
After three years in detention, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced November 17, 2005, that Padilla, "held without charge for more than three years as an enemy combatant," had been indicted "in what the federal authorities said was a plot to 'murder, kidnap and maim' people overseas," David Stout reported in the November 22, 2005, New York Times.

Gonzales said that "Padilla had conspired as part of a 'North American support cell' to send 'money, physical assets and new recruits' overseas to engage in acts of terrorism and that he had traveled abroad himself to become 'a violent jihadist'," Stout wrote.

"Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor, who specializes in national security, theorized that the government had secured the indictment against Mr. Padilla so that it could sidestep a Supreme Court showdown over when and for how long American citizens could be held in military prisons," Stout reported.

Bush Administration Rebuked by Court
On December 21, 2005, in "a sharp rebuke," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied "a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody."

Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote on behalf of the Court that the Government's "actions have left not only the impression that Padilla may have been held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake — an impression we would have thought the government could ill afford to leave extant."


Background

Padilla was "accused of plotting heinous acts of terrorism, particularly the setting off of a 'dirty bomb'. He [was] accused of conspiring with members of al Qaeda, and planning to scout for that terrorist organization, using the benefits of his U.S. citizenship." [3]

Padilla, like Yaser Hamdi, was held "without bail, criminal charges, access to attorneys or the right to remain silent." On June 9, 2001, the Department of Justice designated Padilla as an enemy combatant. [4] [5]

On June 12, 2002, "government officials admitted that they had no physical evidence linking Padilla to a bomb plot--no bomb materials or even documented attempts to obtain bomb materials, no diagrams, not even a chemistry textbook." [6]

"Soon after that, it came out that most of the government's case against Padilla rested on information given to them by Abu Zubaydah, a former Al-Qaeda operative who had been feeding U.S. investigators with a steady string of warnings and doomsday predictions--none of which ever came to pass--ever since his capture in late March." [7]

"Padilla's indefinite detention, without access to an attorney, has civil libertarians up in arms. That's why the Cato Institute, joined by five ideologically diverse public policy organizations -- the Center for National Security Studies, the Constitution Project, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, People for the American Way, and the Rutherford Institute--filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Padilla v. Rumsfeld, ... before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York." [8]

Updates

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said June 11, 2002, that Padilla -- who also goes by the name of Abdullah Al Muhajir -- may never face trial.

"'Our interest is not in trying him and punishing him,' Rumsfeld said. 'Our interest is in finding out what he knows.'"

On July 28, 2002, Friends of Liberty posted "Jose, Interrupted: Where Is Terrorist Jose Padilla?":

"In a sequence of events that should turn every American literally white with terror before the awesome power of our media apparatus, a former gang member-turned-would-be terrorist was dug up out of a pit after being held illegally for a month, offered to the entire world as public enemy number one for about ten minutes, and then tossed back into purgatory, apparently to be officially forgotten for the rest of eternity."

In December 2003, the federal appeals court ruled that "President Bush does not have power to detain American citizen Jose Padilla, the former gang member seized on U.S. soil, as an enemy combatant," the Associated Press reported December 18, 2003.

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