Order questions Bush administration credibility
From Phil Hirschkorn
Thursday, December 22, 2005; Posted: 12:37 a.m. EST (05:37 GMT)
"(CNN) -- In an order questioning the Bush administration's "credibility before the courts," a federal appeals court has rejected the government's application to transfer "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla from military to civilian custody.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the move of Padilla, 35, a U.S. citizen who has been detained for more than three years in U.S. military custody in a South Carolina naval brig, to Florida, where he now faces terrorism conspiracy charges.
The order, which leaves open the possibility of a Supreme Court review of the case, came just five days after Padilla's attorneys told the court in a brief the Bush administration has consistently "manipulated" courts to evade judicial review of its controversial handling of the case.
The government's actions have left "the impression that Padilla may have been held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake," a three-judge panel of the court said in its 14-page decision issued Wednesday."
I have no doubt whatsoever that it was the government's aim to avoid having the Supreme Court hear this case by sending Padilla on to a regular jail after - finally - formally charging him.
It's part of more widespread tactic being seen lately - to wit, seeming acceptance of court rulings while at the same time accomplishing the same results by other (or even the same) means.
For instance, look at all the wiretap orders that have been denied judges. The government - rather than appealing those decisions - simply lets those go and keeps handing out more and more wiretap requests (which makes one wonder how "vital to national security" those requests were to start with - or whether they were just fishing expeditions). At the same time, that tactic prevents higher courts from ever hearing the cases, and thus from being able to hand down any decision that would rule on the legality/illegality of the whole process (the government wanting to avoid an adverse ruling at all costs, of course).
Also, we've got a couple of "delayed rulings" waiting in the wings while the government works on their appeal to the adverse rulings concerning the use - indeed, even the Constitutionality - of both NSL's and their "gag" clauses. The government made sure that their "appeals" weren't ready before the 'patriot' act re-authorization vote this month - and they were especially adamant about having felony, 5-year prison sentence plus fines, punishments added to the 'patriot' act (Sections 116 and 117). (They also tried to have "administrative subpoena power" for F.B.I. agents added to the bill, but that was denied inclusion across-the-board - you need to remember that fact the next time the government tries to slide that in somewhere - and they will).
I look forward to having the Padilla case heard by the Supreme Court (although perhaps the government will hold off on its' appeal until they can get Alito installed).
In the meantime, I wish that the other judges would hand down their rulings and order them into effect to force a show-down on those issues, too.
You should, too - in these cases, it's not how many of us write our legislator's that matters - it's how the courts rule, whether they make those rulings stick - and whether they make those rulings well. Pete