WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government will hold suspected American terrorist Jose Padilla indefinitely and will not bring him before a military tribunal, according to congressional and U.S. officials.
Justice officials made their case in a closed meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, arguing the United States has the legal power to hold Padilla until President Bush decides the war against terrorism is over.
"They say it's not punitive, it's just purely prevention to stop him from attacking us," said one congressional official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's going to stay in the can until we're through with al-Qaida."
Government officials had said there were no plans to put Padilla before a tribunal; officials told the Judiciary Committee on Thursday that the decision is now final.
During the briefing, the Justice Department also sought to allay concerns about the legal implications of Padilla's citizenship.
Padilla, a Muslim convert and former Chicago gang member, is being held by the military. He's accused of being part of a plot to detonate a radiological weapon -- or "dirty bomb" -- in the United States.
He worked out of Lahore, Pakistan, and twice met with senior al-Qaida operatives in Karachi in March, government officials have said. During the meetings, Padilla and the others are alleged to have discussed the radiological weapon plot, as well as proposals to bomb gas stations and hotel rooms.
In the committee briefing Thursday, government officials said that previous court cases, including a 1942 Supreme Court case, show that even citizens can qualify as "enemy combatants" -- the legal term the Justice Department argues allows a person to be held without trial. An American captured with German saboteurs in 1946 was executed under the ruling.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.