Court overrules Bush on 'terror' law

The US president has been told he does not have the power to detain indefinitely an American citizen seized on US soil as "an enemy combatant".

    Bush has been told he is not above the law

    In a serious setback to the

    so-called war on terror, t

    he US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled

    on Thursday that only the US Congress can authorise such detentions.

    The court then

    ordered the government to release Jose Padilla from military

    custody within 30 days.

    Padilla is a suspect in an alleged al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States.

    "Where... the president's power as

    Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the domestic rule of

    law intersect, we conclude that clear congressional

    authorisation is required for detentions of Americans on

    American soil," the court ruled.

    'Flawed' decision

     

    "Where... the president's power as

    Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the domestic rule of

    law intersect, we conclude that clear congressional

    authorisation is required for detentions of Americans on

    American soil"

    US appeals court ruling

    It said the government can transfer Padilla, a

    US citizen who is being held incommunicado in a Navy prison,

    to a civilian authority that can bring criminal charges against

    him.

    "Padilla will be entitled to the

    constitutional protections extended to other citizens," the court

    panel said.

    However, immediately after the ruling the Bush administration said

    it would seek a stay of the court decision.

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the court's ruling

    "troubling and flawed".

    Padilla

    was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare airport 18 months ago as he

    arrived from Pakistan.

    He was transported to Manhattan federal

    court system where he was held as a material witness in a

    federal grand jury investigation of the September 11 attacks.

    Al-Qaida 

    On 9 June, 2002, the Bush administration classified him as

    an "enemy combatant" and he was transferred to a Navy prison in

    South Carolina.

    His New York lawyers sought his release as well as access

    to their client.

    Bit federal prosecutors argued Padilla should not have

    access to attorneys because they said he posed a threat to

    national security

    .

    They also believe defense lawyers could

    unwittingly be used to pass messages to al-Qaida operatives.

    In recent arguments before the appeals panel, Deputy

    Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that after the September 11

    attacks Congress gave the president

    the

    right to detain American citizens indefinitely.

    Primacy of law

    Around 600 'enemy combatants'
    are detained at Guantanamo Bay

    In his dissent, Circuit Judge Richard Wesley said, "In my

    view, the President as Commander in Chief has the inherent

    authority to thwart acts of belligerency at home or abroad that

    would do harm to United States citizens."

    But the court disagreed, although it emphasised its ruling is limited to the case

    of an American citizen arrested in the United States.

    It does not, however, apply to those seized on

    a foreign battlefield or while actively engaged in armed battle

    against the United States.

    Padilla's challenge was supported by the American Bar

    Association, the nation's largest legal association, as well as human rights groups.

    "The court's holding reaffirms that even in the

    post-September 11 world, the President of the United States is

    not above the law," said the Lawyers Committee for Human

    Rights.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained

    Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained

    On the anniversary of UN Resolution 242, Al Jazeera explores the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.

    Robert Mugabe: Portrait of a presidency

    Robert Mugabe: Portrait of a presidency

    Some key moments in the life of the man who led his country from independence in 1980 until November 21, 2017.

    When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?

    When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?

    In the US, Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on Thursday, November 23.