Lawyers Say U.S. Is Toying with Padilla
WASHINGTON -- Lawyers for Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen facing terrorism charges, accused the Bush administration Friday of playing games with the nation's courts by repeatedly changing its reasons for holding the former Chicago gang member as an "enemy combatant" for 31/2 years.
"Though its factual allegations have changed with the prevailing winds, the government's actions have been strategically consistent," wrote Padilla's attorneys, Andrew Patel and Donna Newman. "At every turn, the government has sought to manipulate the federal courts' jurisdiction and evade judicial review."
In a filing with the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Patel and Newman urged the court to transfer Padilla immediately from military custody to civilian authorities in Miami.
Last month, a grand jury in Miami charged Padilla with being part of a North American terrorism support cell that raised money and recruited fighters to wage violent jihad outside the United States.
His transfer is being delayed while the 4th Circuit reviews the responses it has sought from lawyers on both sides since the indictment. The court wants to know what effect the indictment has on a ruling it made in September that gave Bush wide berth in detaining citizens indefinitely without charges.
Patel and Newman urged the appeals court to wait to rule on whether to void its September decision until the Supreme Court decides whether to hear Padilla's challenges to the president's wartime powers to hold U.S. citizens without charges.
Solicitor General Paul Clement told the Supreme Court on Friday that Padilla's challenge is irrelevant now that he has been indicted.