Friday, September 09, 2005

The disturbing case of Jose Padilla

The Washington Post is reporting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has overturned a lower court ruling and determined that Jose Padilla can be imprisoned without charge or trial, indefinitely, at the will of the President.

Further information can be found at:

A few years ago, I purchased a shirt with an American flag on it, and the words "liberty and justice for all." About a week later, Padilla was imprisoned without charge, and since then I have been unable to bring myself to put that shirt on.

This decision rests upon the fact that "Padilla associated with the military arm of the enemy, and with its aid, guidance, and direction entered this country bent on committing hostile acts on American soil." What I don't understand is who determined that this is true. Does Padilla admit this? If so, I have no problem with his detention. Were these facts determined by a jury of his peers? That would be legit also. Unfortunately, it sounds as though these facts were determined solely by the President. It's possible that these facts were reviewed by judges (who rely on the President for their promotions), which would be better than just accepting the word of the President, but still would be a violation of the right of the people (represented by a jury) to review government actions that deprive any citizen of his liberty, as encoded in the fifth and sixth amendments of the US constitution.

Civil libertarians warn that this decision means that the President can detain anyone indefinitely on a whim. I'd like to know why this isn't true. Any suggestions?

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