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Appeals Court Says President Has Right to Detain Padilla

Posted: September 22, 2005

A panel of a federal appeals court based in Richmond, Virginia, recently ruled that President Bush has the authority to indefinitely detain Jose Padilla, without charge, as an enemy combatant.  The appeals court cited the powers granted to the President by Congress after the September 11th attacks as the authority for President Bush's actions. 


The military has asserted that Padilla was an Al Qaeda operative who fought in Afghanistan and contemplated various terrorist plots in the United States. 


When Padilla was first arrested in May 2002, the government alleged that Padilla planned to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in an American city.  However, when the case was recently heard by the federal appeals court, the government argued that the new reason Padilla should be detained as an enemy combatant is that he fought against American forces in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda. 


As the result of 2004 Supreme Court rulings regarding challenges to the Administration's detention of suspected terrorists, the government also conceded that Padilla is entitled to some kind of hearing so that he can challenge his status as an enemy combatant.  What kind of hearing this should be has yet to be decided and will probably be the subject of future litigation.


Padilla's lawyer has said that he would appeal the court's ruling to the United States Supreme Court.

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