WAR ON TERRORISM Court supports president
Jose Padilla has been held without charges for more than three years.
WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the president can indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil in the absence of criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member who was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. The government contends that Padilla trained at Al-Qaida camps and was planning to blow up apartment buildings in the United States.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen, has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case triggered a legal battle with vast implications for civil liberties and the fight against terrorism.
Attorneys for Padilla and a host of civil liberties organizations blasted the detention as illegal and said it could lead to the military's being allowed to hold anyone, from protesters to people who check out what the government considers the wrong books from the library.
In its ruling Friday, the 4th Circuit overturned a lower court and came down squarely on the government's side.