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U.S. Citizen Held in Al Qaeda Plot

June 13, 2002

Re "Detention of a Citizen Questioned," June 12: How we deal with terrorism is going to determine what kind of a country we're going to have. Arresting American citizens on suspicion of plotting to commit terrorist actions and holding them without charging them or allowing them legal representation smacks of a police state, no matter what justification we use.

Yes, we need to protect ourselves, but at what cost? If we have evidence against terrorists, let them be charged, tried and given the maximum sentence under the law. To simply hold them and try to extract information from them smacks of something I am reluctant to describe.

Don Howard

Oak Hills

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I am having a hard time climbing aboard any effort to free Jose Padilla, the "dirty"-bomb suspect, even though I agree in principle that traditional rules such as habeas corpus would ordinarily apply.

I simply don't want this guy out on bail, running around trying to take down our major financial and/or government institutions by contaminating them with a radioactive bomb. If freed, why wouldn't he attempt to complete his goal, and why should we take that risk?

The way I see it, the U.S. either evolves quickly to deal with terrorists or it dies. Our traditional legal protections were set up for traditional criminals. Terrorists are different, in that their goal is not personal enrichment or revenge against a specific individual or two. They want to destroy or destabilize our entire system. Look at 9/11. Not only were thousands of people killed, our whole economy took a very strong hit from which it has yet to recover. I only hope the Supreme Court, if the Padilla case gets that far, sides with the Bush administration and finds a way to keep terrorists locked up.

Frank Shofner

Lake Forest

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When the USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress, we were assured that it would never be used against American citizens. I deplore the intentions of Padilla (Abdullah al Muhajir) to detonate a dirty bomb, but I find it more frightening that he has been arrested and can be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant without being charged.

The brilliance of the Constitution is how it protects even the rights of terrorists. To take away Padilla's constitutional rights threatens us all. Timothy McVeigh killed scores of Americans but was given a fair trial. We should demand the same for Padilla.

Leslie Anderson

Altadena

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It has been nine months since Sept. 11, and after reading the main articles on the front page on June 11, I do not feel any more secure and have a bad feeling about what could happen in the future. Al Qaeda has demonstrated that it still has the intelligence and the will to plot and execute terrorist plans. President Bush smoked them out of their holes and got them running, but can he bring them to justice?

Kenneth Kendall

Torrance

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I am tired of watching the political cat and mouse game that the Bush administration continues to play with the American people and the Congress. Why is it that the arrest of Padilla is just coming to light now? If he was arrested in May and the plot to use a radioactive bomb was uncovered then, why are we just hearing about it now? Is it only to help the FBI and CIA out of the dirty little mess they find themselves in now? It doesn't make sense to waste money on setting up a satellite link to have Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft tell us from Moscow that they arrested someone back in May.

Sorry, but I will not be quieted. I am tired of the erosion of the Bill of Rights.

David Bell

Los Angeles

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Now that we have arrested Padilla in this dirty bomb incident, I hope that those demanding that we racially profile Arabic Muslims would please shut up. It certainly would not have helped in this situation. Or are we now going to profile Latinos and Hispanics as potential terrorists?

James Fujita

Rancho Palos Verdes

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