Padilla – Dirty Bomber? Oh no, we just meant he was dirty…

I had previously reported that Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested on American soil and held in solitary confinement in a military brig as an "enemy combatant" without charge for three years was going to be charged with a civilian crime and transfered from military to civilian authority. But the 4th circuit appeals court which had previously granted Bush the right to arrest anyone he wants with only a kangaroo court to review (note, however, that the president even objected to this ruling saying he has the right to arrest and hold anyone he wants, for any reason he wants, for as long as he wants without review from anyone) has apparently got its nose out of joint.

To understand the case you have to understand that eventually Padilla did get a lawyer and that lawyer filed a case on his behalf against the government asserting Padilla's rights as a citizen to have evidence presented against him. It was at that point that the government was forced to justify to the courts why they were holding Padilla. Although the government continued to maintain its assertion that it didn't actually have to justify anything it said it would still be 'friendly' about this and decide to provide some evidence, specifically the charges that Padilla was a "Dirty Bomber" who was on a mission to use nuclear material as part of conventional explosives in order to create 'contaminated' bomb sites in the US.

The 4th Circuit Court eventually ordered that Padilla at least had to have a Kangaroo trial (e.g. a trial with different rules of evidence than normally applied to U.S. citizens, see my original article for details). The government then responded by withdrawing Padilla's status as an "enemy combatant" and instead charging him, in a civilian court, with helping to raise money to finance terrorists abroad.

The 4th Circuit Court however didn't like this at all. After all, the Federal government had made specific allegations that Padilla was a "Dirty Bomber" and had used those allegations to justify holding him for three years. Now the government was suddenly throwing those allegations out and charging Padilla with something completely different.

The 4th Circuit Court has therefore ordered that the President cannot transfer Padilla from military to civilian authority and must continue with its current case against Padilla. To make things even more interesting it isn't completely clear that the court has the right to stop Padilla's transfer. This thing is likely to get a lot more complicated.

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