Ignoring Padilla case, Blankley suggested Bush administration curtailment of civil liberties applied only in capture of foreign terrorists

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

In his Washington Times column, Tony Blankley wrote: "After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration rolled back very few civil liberties. Aside from establishing a regime for handling captured foreign terrorists, the curtailments largely consisted of common-sense enhancements in the power of intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects and access their personal records." Contrary to Blankley's suggestion, Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was held without charges for more than three years.

In his February 12 Washington Times column, Tony Blankley wrote: "After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration rolled back very few civil liberties. Aside from establishing a regime for handling captured foreign terrorists, the curtailments largely consisted of common-sense enhancements in the power of intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects and access their personal records." But contrary to Blankley's suggestion that the administration rolled back civil liberties in the capture of only "foreign terrorists," Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen apprehended in Chicago, was held without charges for more than three years.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Padilla was apprehended in May 2002 on a material witness warrant; the administration claimed he had been plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" in the United States. Bush designated him an "enemy combatant" in June 2002, and he was taken to the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, and held for three years without charge. As a June 27, 2002, CNN.com article reported, Padilla's court-appointed attorney highlighted the fact that Padilla had not been formally charged while contesting his detention. From CNN.com:

Padilla's court-appointed defense attorney, Donna Newman, called for Padilla's release in a document known as a petition for habeas corpus. In her petition, Newman noted that Padilla has not been formally charged with any criminal activity.

"There is insufficient evidence for the government to obtain an indictment," she wrote.

"Among the rights which the government has violated are: his right to due process, his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, his right to counsel and his right to a grand jury," she continued.

In February 2005, a federal district judge in South Carolina ruled that Padilla could not be indefinitely detained and ordered the United States to either charge or release him. After the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's decision in September 2005, Padilla appealed to the Supreme Court. Just before the Supreme Court was to decide whether to hear the case, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced at a November 22, 2005, press conference that a federal grand jury in Florida had indicted Padilla on terrorism-related charges unconnected to the original allegations of a "dirty bomb" plot. In response, Padilla's legal team accused the Bush administration of "clearly trying to evade Supreme Court review."

On August 16, 2007, Padilla was found guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim overseas and conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists.

From Blankley's February 12 Washington Times column:

During wartime, there is a natural tension between civil liberties and national security. Security must take precedence. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration rolled back very few civil liberties. Aside from establishing a regime for handling captured foreign terrorists, the curtailments largely consisted of common-sense enhancements in the power of intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects and access their personal records. And the administration did so, in a limited way, because it rightly deemed these restrictions in America's national security interests. Bush's steps were modest, yet liberal journalists reacted as if he were the reincarnation of Stalin, or, more to their taste, Hitler.

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