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Mukasey Punts on Indefinite Detentions of U.S. Citizens
Spencer Ackerman –
Among Michael Mukasey's most controversial decisions as a judge was to sign a material-witness warrant for suspected (and now convicted) al-Qaeda affiliate and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, which allowed his detention after his mid-2002 arrival at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A month later, the Defense Department declared Padilla an enemy combatant -- a decision that the Justice Department revoked three years later to bring Padilla to criminal trial. Mukasey wrote in an August op-ed that Padilla's trial showed that "current institutions and statutes are not well suited" to trying terrorists since Padilla's counsel-free "confession" of being involved in a dirty-bomb plot was inadmissible.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked, in light of Mukasey's involvement with the Padilla case, whether Mukasey thought the law -- and particularly the September 2001 authorization of military force for Afghanistan -- permitted seizing U.S. citizens on U.S. soil indefinitely without charge. Mukasey cited the 2004 Hamdi case as upholding the president's ability to detain U.S. citizens on the battlefield, but said he "can't say now" whether the "battlefield" applies to the United States. It remains unclear whether Mukasey thinks U.S. citizens captured at home in terrorism-related investigations can be indefinitely detained.