Magazine article Newsweek

Presidential Powers: A Court Pushes Back

Magazine article Newsweek

Presidential Powers: A Court Pushes Back

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Isikoff

The White House was repeatedly warned by senior lawyers that it was facing a major legal setback if it persisted with claims that the president was empowered to indefinitely lock up U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants" without access to counsel or a right to trial. Those warnings were borne out Dec. 18 when a U.S. court of appeals panel in New York ruled that "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla was being held unconstitutionally and should be released from a military brig. White House officials vowed to appeal. But some administration insiders said the fallout from the Padilla ruling could be far-reaching--and that it vindicated doubts expressed by some White House and Justice officials about the administration's tough stand. "This is worse than what we feared," says one who worked on the case.

Sources tell NEWSWEEK that debates within the administration over the Padilla case were far more intense than has been publicly acknowledged. Padilla, a onetime Chicago gang member who converted to Islam, was first arrested in May 2002 as he was returning to the United States from Pakistan. A month later, based on secret intelligence that he had been directed by Qaeda leaders to conduct surveillance for a possible radiological "dirty bomb" attack in D.C., Padilla was declared an "enemy combatant." He was sent to a military brig in Charleston, S.C. Neither family members nor his initial court-appointed lawyer has spoken to him since. Although Attorney General John Ashcroft first announced the decision, some top officials and White House lawyers later worried that such an assertion of power would never pass Supreme Court review. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.