Thursday, November 24, 2005

Three years, 198 days

On May 8th, 2002, Jose Padilla, a US citizen born in New York, was arrested while disembarking from a plane at Chicago airport. He was detained for a month on a material witness warrant, during which the then-Attorney General, John Ashcroft, trumpted his arrest as foiling a mjor terror attack and accused him of plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a major US city. But rather than being charged for this, he was designated an "enemy combatant", transferred to a Navy brig, and denied access to his lawyer. And that's where he stayed, for three years and 198 days - until yesterday, when he was finally charged - though not with any plot to build or detonate a radiological device. Instead, Padilla has been charged with providing material support for terrorists and conspiring to wage "violent jihad" by kidnapping, murdering and maiming people overseas. Rather than being driven by any principle, the charges seem to have been laid in order to preempt Padilla's upcoming Supreme Court appeal, which would have been heard soon and would likely have declared his detention illegal.

Think about this process for a minute. In the UK, they're arguing about 14 vs 28 vs 90 days detention without charge. In the US, the "land of the free", the de facto standard now seems to be three years, 198 days - or longer, if the President thinks he can get away with it. So much for Habeas Corpus...


It would be interesting how someone decides you are a P.O.W or not.

Previously it was pretty easy, if you were captured wearing the wrong uniform you went to a POW camp for the remander of the war.

Is there any rules around deciding what happens if you are caught wearing no uniform? I think in the WW2 you were shot as a spy.

Anyway are there an international conventions on deciding this?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 11:25:00 AM

But the "War on Terror" isn't like a war between nations where one side an declare defeat. This is a conflict that will be ongoing, there isn't going to be a neat end to this. There isn't ever going to be a victory day like there was in WWII.

Posted by Muerk : 11/24/2005 12:25:00 PM

I always wondered when V-T Day (Victory Over Terrorism) would be or would look like or would be celebrated.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 11/24/2005 12:35:00 PM

President Bush sitting alone in a lavish bunker. Pan outide to total wasteland, the smoking ruin of the earth filled with the dead.

"Hurrah for V-T Day." speaks the last man standing...

Posted by Muerk : 11/24/2005 01:08:00 PM

Anon: sure - the Geneva Conventions. But the current US Attorney-General thinks they're "quaint".

Padilla wasn't captured on the battlefield; he was arrested inside the US, by ordinary law enfocement agencies. He was not engaged in any military activity at the time. There's no case for treating him as a POW, let alone an "enemy combatant". Instead, he's an ordinary US citizen, and should have been treated according to ordinary US laws: charged or released.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/24/2005 01:19:00 PM