Saturday, December 17, 2005
Attorneys for Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen facing terrorism charges, accused the Bush administration yesterday of playing games with the nation's courts by repeatedly changing its reasons for holding the former Chicago gang member as an "enemy combatant" for 3 1/2 years.
"Though its factual allegations have changed with the prevailing winds, the government's actions have been strategically consistent," wrote the lawyers, Andrew G. Patel and Donna R. Newman. "At every turn, the government has sought to manipulate the federal courts' jurisdiction and evade judicial review."
In a filing with the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, Patel and Newman urged the court to transfer Padilla immediately from U.S. military custody to civilian law enforcement authorities in Miami.
Last month, a grand jury in Miami charged Padilla with being part of a North American terrorism support cell that raised money and recruited fighters to wage violent jihad outside the United States.
Padilla's transfer is being delayed while the 4th Circuit reviews the responses it has sought from lawyers on both sides since the indictment. The appeals court wants to know what effect the indictment has on a ruling it made in September that gave the president wide berth in detaining U.S. citizens indefinitely without charges.
Patel and Newman urged the appeals court to wait to rule on whether to void its September decision until the Supreme Court decides whether to hear Padilla's constitutional challenges to the president's wartime powers to hold U.S. citizens without charges.
Solicitor General Paul D. Clement told the Supreme Court yesterday that Padilla's challenge to presidential authority is irrelevant now that he has been indicted. Urging the high court to reject the appeal, he wrote, "The intervening events have, at a minimum, seriously undercut any other basis for review in this case."