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Published: Wednesday, 12/21/2005

Appeals court won't transfer terror suspect to civilian custody


WASHINGTON In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court today denied a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody.

The three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also refused the administration s request to vacate a September ruling that gave President Bush wide authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely without charges on U.S. soil.

The decision, written by Judge Michael Luttig, questioned why the administration used one set of facts before the court for 3 1/2 years to justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month.

Luttig said the administration has risked its credibility before the courts by appearing to use the indictment of Padilla to thwart an appeal of the appeals court s decision that gave the president wide berth in holding enemy combatants.

Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago s O Hare Airport as he returned to the United States from Afghanistan.

Justice and Defense Department officials alleged Padilla had come home to carry out an al-Qaeda backed plot to blow up apartment buildings in New York, Washington or Florida.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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