22 November 2005

Jose Padilla Indicted

In an act of gamesmanship, Jose Padilla has been indicted and will be transferred from military to criminal custody after being held for three years as an enemy combatant. The decision seeks to leave standing a ruling favorable to the governments ability to, on the President's whim, hold U.S. citizens captured in the United States as enemy combatants, which was being appealled to the United States Supreme Court, by rendering the issue moot.

The charges also represent, at least, a fourth interation of U.S. claims about what Padilla did wrong. Initially, the military claimed that he planned to explode a dirty bomb in this country, then they claimed that he planned to burn a U.S. apartment building. Then, the government claimed that he wanted to return to the battlefied. Now, he is charged with conspiracy to carry out terrorism attacks overseas.

"The indictment alleges that Padilla traveled overseas to train as a terrorist with the intention of fighting a violent jihad," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference. . . .

Padilla faces life in prison if convicted on the three charges - one count each of conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap people overseas, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy. . . .

The charges against him and four others allege they were part of a North American support cell that sent money, assets and recruits overseas "for the purpose of fighting violent jihad." The others indicted are: Adham Amin Hassoun a Lebanese-born Palestinian who lived in Broward County, Fla.;, Mohammed Hesham Youssef, an Egyptian who lived in Broward County; Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a Jordanian national and U.S. citizen who lived in San Diego; and Kassem Daher, a Lebanese citizen with Canadian residency status.

Hassoun also was indicted on eight additional charges, including perjury, obstruction of justice and illegal firearm possession.

Hassoun, a Palestinian computer programmer who moved to Florida in 1989, was arrested in June 2002 for allegedly overstaying his student visa. Prosecutors previously described him as a former associate of Padilla.

Of course, the governments conduct thusfar in the case raises a whole host of procedural questions. For example: Is Padilla entitled to credit for time served? Should speedy trial calculations be made from the date he was arrested in Chicago? Is the case in any way "fruit of the poisonous tree" by involving evidence gathered as a result of interrogation of Padilla while in custody without the presence of an attorney? Is the habeas corpus petition really moot, or should it be considered as a recurring issue relevant to future proceedings and likely to escape review (much like abortion cases) if the administration pursues its current litigaiton tactics? Can or should Padilla file a civil rights suits for his treatment thusfar? What is the timeline and is a statute of limitations implicated? What kind of bail is appropriate to set in the case?

From the government's point of view, even if their case falls apart, obtaining a United States Court of Appeals ruling in their favor, and preventing it from being overruled, if they succeed in that goal, may be victory of enough.

Talk Left has links to the original documents in the case.


Dex said...

"...even if their case falls apart, obtaining a United States Court of Appeals ruling in their favor, and preventing it from being overruled, if they succeed in that goal, may be victory of enough."

-- do you think that's the only reason they went ahead with the case? or maybe some more traction for cheney's pr offensive, or what?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I think that preserving the precedent which they felt that they were likely to lose upon appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was the primary motivation.

The administration is under pressure to show that it is really going after terrorists as well, of course.