US District Judge Jeffrey White has ruled that Jose Padilla has the right to sue John Yoo, the government lawyer who wrote the memos that approved the torture of terrorists, including torturing Padilla (according to his suit).
Padilla — a US citizen — was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and was declared an “enemy combatant”. Originally the Bush Administration accused him of plotting with Al Qaeda to detonate a “dirty bomb”. He was held in a Navy brig without charges for almost four years, but eventually was tried on lesser charges of conspiracy to provide money and supplies to Islamic extremist groups. He was found guilty and is now serving a 17-year jail sentence.
His suit covers his time in the brig. During that time, Padilla says he was detained illegally and tortured, which violates his constitutional rights (remember, he is a US citizen, and was arrested in the US, not on a battlefield).
The Justice department had argued for the dismissal of the suit, claiming that courts had no power to scrutinize high-level government decision-making, especially in wartime. Of course, if we agree with this premise, then the endless war on terror means that the government can arbitrarily arrest and torture anyone it wants to, anywhere, any time, without even charging them with a crime.
What is ironic about all this is that Judge White was appointed by Yoo’s boss, George W Bush. I’m still waiting for some right-wing-nut to accuse White of being a liberal activist judge.