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12/18/2003 Archived Entry: "A little justice for American citizens in the War on Freedom"


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The president of the United States does not have the power to detain an American citizen seized on U.S. soil as an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, in a serious setback to the Bush administration's war on terror.

What a concept! If the government believes Jose Padilla is guilty of a crime, they'll actually have to transfer him into the justice system, give him a hearing, charge him, let him talk to a lawyer, and show their evidence to a jury.

That's the good news. The bad news is the court seems to think Congress does have the power to authorize arresting American citizens and holding them indefinitely without charges, trial, or access to counsel. Where the court got that idea, who knows? They sure didn't get it by reading the Bill of Rights.

But at least this is very good news until and unless Congress comes up with an unconstitutional law the courts would approve of. (Oh yeah, they can also still hold him as a material witness ... another practice that's seen some sad abuse lately.)

Posted by Claire @ 02:20 PM CST

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