Suspect asks to be charged
Jose Padilla, an American citizen, was detained in Chicago by government authorities in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. He is being held as an enemy combatant and has yet to be charged with any crime, though he is suspected to have been involved in a plot to plan the detonation of a dirty bomb. Today, his lawyers appeared in court and asked that Mr. Padilla be charged with a crime.
This is a perfect illustration of the problems associated with the enemy combatant designation – we do not know to whom it applies or what legal rights those accused of being enemy combatants have. There is no notion of due process and no legal precedent to detain individuals under this designation.
TYL previously endorsed an initative by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to give the detainees legal status and to formalize a process for the review of military decisions to hold enemy combatants.
The government very likely has a good case for holding Mr. Padilla. However, there is no legal process to review the case, ensure that the law is upheld, and ensure the protection of detainee rights. If we are asking other nations to establish and follow the rule of law, shouldn’t we do so ourselves?