The original "dirty bomber" suspect, U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, is finally going to trial, as a defendant in a conspiracy trial in a federal court in Miami. Details from the AP:
Padilla, a 36-year-old former Chicago gang member and Muslim convert, has been in federal custody since his 2002 arrest at O'Hare International Airport. He was initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States and was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant at a Navy brig, but those allegations are not part of the Miami indictment.
Padilla was added to the Miami case in late 2005 amid a legal battle over the president's wartime powers of detention involving U.S. citizens. His lawyers had fought for years to get him before a federal judge.
"The crimes he has been charged with pale in comparison to the initial allegations," said University of Miami law professor Stephen Vladeck. "This is a far cry from being a major front in the government's war on terrorism."
Instead, Padilla and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, both 45, stand accused of being part of a North American support cell for Islamic extremists in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. All have pleaded not guilty and face possible life in prison if convicted.
The Padilla case is a real dog all around. If he was guilty as charged, absolutely nothing in the war on terror was gained by denying him rights and pushing back his trial (let's ignore for a second the way the charges have been shaved way, way down). If he's not guilty, then his captivity undermines government claims that they're not on some sort of extra-Constitutional bender when it comes to detainees.