CNN BREAKING NEWS
Judge Says Padilla Can See Lawyers
Aired December 4, 2002 - 10:32 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, we have another breaking development also this morning. Our Deborah Feyerick is checking in for us this morning from federal court. There has been a new development in the case of the so-called accused dirty bomber Jose Padilla.
Deborah Feyerick checks in now with the latest on that. Hello, Deb.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Leon. Well, you may remember Jose Padilla was the man who was accused by the attorney general of plotting to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb in the United States. It was a dramatic pronouncement at the time.
Padilla was allowed to see his lawyers, but then all of that changed when he was designated an enemy combatant. Well, right now, a judge has just ruled that the president is right, under the Constitution and by law to detain enemy combatants. However, the judge ruling in this case said that Padilla does have the right to meet with his lawyers. He has been prevented from doing that ever since the summer. He is being held in a Navy brig in South Carolina. The government had wanted to transfer the whole case to South Carolina. However, the judge said, No, it's going to stay in this jurisdiction.
Now, the attorney general was very strong with his pronouncement that Padilla was involved in this, and then all of a sudden, Padilla just seemed to disappear. His lawyers had argued that he did have right to counsel, that he should be allowed to see his lawyers, especially as a United States citizen, and this is what this was all about. Was the president right in holding him and designating him as an enemy combatant, especially since, formally, no martial law has been declared.
Now, according to the government, they just didn't want him to have access to his lawyers because they were very concerned that he might pass along certain sensitive information, but his lawyer wrote in the motion that was filed, Padilla has been in solitary confinement for over five months. At this point, the only information Padilla could possibly have to pass on to al Qaeda is how to sleep with the lights on.
But right now, the judge is saying that the government can qualify him as an enemy combatant, they can hold him, however, in somewhat of a blow to the government, they're saying even though he's an enemy combatant, he can meet with his lawyer, so a pretty big deal here in federal court -- Leon. HARRIS: Deborah, do we know whether or not this hearing will have any sort of bearing at all on the other cases -- I believe there are two other U.S. citizens who are also being held as enemy combatants Do we know anything about that?
FEYERICK: There are other citizens -- yes, there are other citizens who are being held as enemy combatants, and yes, it could definitely have an impact. This case with Jose Padilla was going through the federal court system. It was already active, very much in play when all of a sudden the president plucked him and said, No, he is an enemy combatant.
So it was making its way through the legal system and then brakes were effectively applied. Now, the judge's ruling can definitely apply as precedent to these other people who are also being held in the United States.
HARRIS: Got you. Deborah Feyerick reporting live for us from our New York with that breaking development there in the Jose Padilla case. Thanks, Deb. We will check back with you later on.
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