Thursday, January 05, 2006

Padilla Case

(photo credits: J. Pat Carter / AP)

This from the AP Wire: "MIAMI - Jose Padilla, the alleged al-Qaida operative held as an “enemy combatant” for more than three years, was transferred to civilian custody Thursday and made his first appearance in court on charges that he was part of a U.S. terror cell that recruited fighters and raised money for global Islamic holy war." For all of those that don't know, Jose Padilla is Boricua. Born in Puerto Rico and lived on the island until he was 9 yrs old (or so I have read, I could be wrong about that). The story continues as follows: "Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was making his first appearance before a judge since his arrest. He had been flown to Florida from a military brig in South Carolina and then taken to the federal detention center in downtown Miami. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, has been held by the Bush administration without criminal charges since his arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in May 2002 on suspicion of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” inside the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to use Padilla’s case to define the extent of presidential power over U.S. citizens who are detained on American soil on suspicion of terrorism. But before the high court could decide whether take up the case, the Bush administration indicted Padilla in November in civilian court. The charges do not involve the “dirty bomb” allegations, contending instead that Padilla joined a North American terror support network that sent him overseas to train with al-Qaida and to “murder, maim and kidnap” people on foreign soil."

This situation arises some things that all of us should be watching very carefully. First, Padilla is a U.S. citizen. He's being treated like some of these arabs that are in Guantanamo, like a foreigner. Second, his arrest was done on U.S. soil, not in the middle east. Third, this brings the most important issue of them all: the issue of presidential powers during wartime and what happens to US citizens indicted on terrorism charges. Is the Bush administration going too far on this case? Are US citizens to be tried under different rules for terrorism charges that should not apply to US citizens? A lot of things are possibly at stake and a lot of questions are being asked right now that involves the liberties, rights, and responsabilities of the government and its citizens. What is going to happen in this case and possibly others? This case is extremely important because it will serve as a precedent for future cases. How far immersed is Big Brother on the "privacy" of its citizens that it is trying to protect? Are they really trying to protect us? Are we safe? Time will only tell...

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