Interesting. An article in today's New York Times, Padilla Lawyers Urge Supreme Court to Block Transfer, reminds us of the original claims made by the administration against Jose Padilla. They claimed, way back when, that Padilla was conspiring to release a radioactive bomb in the US. This claim has been used time and again by the administration to justify its conduct in the war, specifically in regard to the interrogation, treatment, and classification of detainees as enemy combatants.
Padilla even makes an appearance in the infamous August 2002 DOJ memo by attorney John Woo that makes torture possible - an analysis retracted two years later - and that also concludes that the President has virtually unlimited power as Commander in Chief. It is in the section on the powers of the Commander in Chief that this excerpt appears.
The case of Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhahir, illustrates the importance of such information [ed - info obtained from interrogations]. Padilla allegedly had journeyed to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met with senior Al Qaeda leaders, and hatched a plot to construct and detonate a radioactive dispersal device in the United States. After allegedly receiving training in wiring explosives and with a substantial amount of currency in his position (sic), Padilla attempted in May, 2002, to enter the United States to further his scheme. Interrogation of captured al Qaeda operatives allegedly allowed US intelligence and law enforcement agencies to track Padilla and detain him upon his entry to the United States.
Huh. None of this is relevant anymore, it seems. Apparently, the administration is only interested in criminally prosecuting Padilla for fighting against US troops alongside members of al Qaeda (something which he should be prosecuted for, by the way). Seems that there's no penalty for conspiring with al Qaeda leaders to set off a radioactive bomb here.
So tell me. Why doesn't this matter anymore? Is it that presenting the evidence in open court will threaten national security? Or perhaps the evidence was gained in torture sessions? Certainly the reference to this case in a memo written for the sole purpose of providing a legal justification for, oh, let's say aggressive interrogation techniques makes one wonder.
Here's hoping the Supreme Court remembers that it is an equal branch of government and that they back the appeals panel decision to block the transfer of Padilla from military to civilian court - and that they rule on the president's authority to unilaterally declare an American citizen to be an enemy combatant, and then to detain that person without charges for an indeterminate period of time.