[Mb-civic] Padilla Is Indicted on Terrorism Charges - Washington
swiggard at comcast.net
Wed Nov 23 04:30:02 PST 2005
Padilla Is Indicted on Terrorism Charges
No Mention Made Of 'Dirty Bomb' Plot
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 23, 2005; Page A01
Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber" who has been at the center of
fierce legal and political struggles for more than three years, has been
indicted on charges that he conspired to murder individuals overseas and
provide support for terrorists, according to federal court documents
The indictment abruptly moves Padilla's case out of the shadows of his
confinement in a U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina, where the
Brooklyn-born former gang member has been held since President Bush
declared him an enemy combatant in 2002. The indictment, handed up by a
federal grand jury in Miami last week, names four other defendants.
The Bush administration hopes that the indictment will effectively
derail the possibility of an adverse ruling from the Supreme Court in
the Padilla case, which could decide to limit the government's ability
to detain U.S. citizens as enemy combatants.
But Padilla's lawyers said they will continue to pursue their legal
challenge with the high court, and legal experts said the outcome is far
"The indictment is doubtless a strategy by the Bush administration to
avoid a Supreme Court ruling that would likely hold that U.S. citizens
cannot be detained incommunicado as enemy combatants if they are
detained on U.S. soil," said I. Michael Greenberger, a former Justice
Department official who teaches law at the University of Maryland.
"There is also some respectable chance that the Supreme Court will not
bite on this strategy."
Padilla was initially arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
in May 2002 after the government alleged he was plotting a radiological
"dirty bomb" attack, but the 31-page indictment unsealed yesterday makes
no mention of such a plot. It also does not include separate
allegations, outlined by the Justice Department in 2004, that Padilla
had plotted with high-ranking al Qaeda operatives to blow up U.S.
apartment buildings using natural gas.
Instead, Padilla is charged with being part of a violent terrorism
conspiracy rooted in North America but directed at sending money and
recruits overseas in order to "murder, kidnap and maim" individuals,
according to the indictment.
"The indictment alleges that Padilla traveled overseas to train as a
terrorist with the intention of fighting in violent jihad," Attorney
General Alberto R. Gonzales said at a news conference in Washington.
"Those trained as terrorists engage in acts of physical violence such as
murder, maiming, kidnapping and hostage-taking against innocent civilians."
The new charges rely on evidence gathered separately from Padilla's
confinement and interrogation in military custody, meaning the
government does not have to worry about the admissibility of such
evidence in civilian courts, Justice officials said.
Padilla could face life in prison if convicted of taking part in a
conspiracy to murder. The two other charges against him, which involve
providing material support to terrorists, each carry maximum sentences
of 15 years in prison.
Padilla's lawyers argue that his military confinement is
unconstitutional under a 2004 ruling by the Supreme Court, which found
that another U.S. citizen held as an enemy combatant, Yaser Hamdi, had a
right to contest his incarceration. Unlike Hamdi, who was detained in
Afghanistan, Padilla was arrested on U.S. soil.
The lawyers filed an appeal last month asking the high court to limit
the government's power to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens such as
Padilla, and the Justice Department is due to submit legal arguments in
the case by Monday. Gonzales said the criminal case should make
Padilla's appeal irrelevant, because he was seeking to be charged or
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