Terrorist Jose Padilla’s Latest Appeal: Takes on “Enemy Combatant”
By Ellen Cannon
Lawyers for Jose Padilla convicted of plotting terrorism asked the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia yesterday to reinstate a lawsuit alleging he was tortured at a brig in South Carolina and illegally detained as an “enemy combatant”. The lawyers are attempting to get the Virginia Court to overrule the decision of a South Carolina federal judge who dismissed the case and ruled that Jose Padilla had no right to sue government officials.
Oral arguments took place yesterday in Richmond, Virginia. Legal experts view the appeal as getting at three fundamental Constitutional issues centering on the legal rights of “enemy combatants.” The three issues are: (1) Whether U.S. officials are entitled to “qualified immunity” against claims that they are unconstitutionally and unlawfully seized, detained, abused, and tortured a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil; (2) Whether “special factors” preclude a Bivens remedy (a Bivens claim involves whether an individual alleging a Fourth Amendment violation, such as unreasonable search and seizure, can sue the offenders under the Constitution) for the unconstitutional seizure, detention, abuse, and torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil; (3) Whether the district court erred in holding that Plaintiffs lack standing to contest Jose Padilla’s ongoing designation as an “enemy combatant.”
The appeals case is formally called Lebron v. Rumsfeld, in which Jose Padilla and his mother, Estella Lebron, are appealing a district court’s dismissal of a Bivans claim against former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high government officials including Leon Panetta, for alleged civil rights violations arising out of Padilla’s detention at a South Carolina military base from 2002 to 2006. According to Alan Rozenshtein, “This appeal is one of the numerous War on Terror related Bivens cases that have been making their way through the courts. Like Vance v. Rumsfeld, in which the Seventh Circuit upheld a Biens cause of action for two U.S. civilians who alleged that they were tortured by the government while working as military contractors in Iraq, it raises particularly interesting and challenging legal issues given that Padilla is also a U.S. citizen.(www.lawfarblog.com,10/26/11)
Jose Padilla has a long history of gang involvement in Chicago. In 2002 he was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, on suspicion of plotting to set off a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city. Padilla was a Muslim convert and was recruited by Al Qaeda.
The Padilla case made headlines not only for his alleged activities but also as a result of President George W. Bush orders to authorities to hold Padilla as an “enemy combatant.” He was interrogated in a military jail where he was detained in isolation for than three years. In 2007, Padilla was charged and added to the Miami terror support case.
A federal grand jury indicted Padilla along with Adham Hassoun, Kifah Jayyous, Mohammed Youseef, and Kaseem Daher, for offenses relating to their support for Islamist violence overseas. Padilla was convicted in August 2007 on three counts: conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people abroad, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism, and providing material support for terrorism. (Ellen Cannon, knotmove.com)
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on September 19, 2011 that Chicagoan Jose Padilla received too lenient a sentence for his 2008 conviction linking him to the terrorist activities of Al Qaeda. The majority of the three judge federal court panel ruled that the “district court committed numerous sentencing errors in its decision to give Padilla a seventeen year sentence. In addition they argue that the sentence was too lenient for anyone trained to kill in an Al Qaeda camp.(Ellen Cannon, knotmove.com)
Former white House lawyer, David B. Rivkin, the attorney famous for crafting the successful constitutional challenge to Obama Care, as well as other attorneys from the law firm Baker Hostetler, will represent Mr. Rumsfeld. (officialwire.com/ 10/26/11)