The Enemy Combatants
Jose Padilla, held in a Navy brig for more than three years without charge as an "enemy combatant," finally faced the bar of justice in Miami criminal court this week. He drew a 17-year prison sentence for conspiracy and supporting terrorism.
The Padilla case could provide a preview to the eventual fate of another enemy combatant arrested on American soil, Qatari national Ali Salah al-Marri. Marri is awaiting a decision on his legal rights from the full federal appeals court in Richmond. In the event the court rules against the Bush administration and orders Marri's release, the Justice Department could bring a criminal case against him, as it did with Padilla.
Government lawyers have argued that the president had the wartime authority to detain Marri, but a three-judge panel ordered the government to charge Marri in a civilian court or free him.
The Post investigated the Marri case last summer. He was arrested in Peoria, Ill., shortly after 9/11, and has been described by the government as an al Qaeda sleeper agent sent here to carry out a second wave of attacks. Since 2003, he's been held in the same South Carolina brig that once housed Padilla.
Padilla traveled a similar legal path, but unlike Marri, he is a U.S. citizen, and as the appeal in his case lofted toward the high court the government hedged its bets, bringing criminal charges against him and two co-defendants in Miami. As the 4th Circuit judges mull Marri's case, they may be waiting for guidance from the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by the end of June on whether Guantanamo Bay detainees have a constitutional right to contest their confinement, and whether the military hearings provided them are adequate.
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Posted by: True Patriot | January 28, 2008 9:34 PM