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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Is Padilla's Incarceration Justified or Immoral?

June 08, 2004

Re "You Have Rights -- if Bush Says You Do," Commentary, June 3: Concerning Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla's detention, Jonathan Turley is wrong and the Justice Department is right: A U.S. citizen's civil liberties are tolerated only to the extent that they do not endanger the lives or safety of other American citizens. If Turley believes the rights of an enemy combatant and potential mass killer should take precedence over our nation's security, fine. As for me and my family, I'll put my money -- and our lives -- on the Justice Department.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides in the case of Padilla, he continues to enjoy more civil liberties than the 3,000 people killed by his colleagues on 9/11.

Dennis Snee

Simi Valley

Losing "that moral distinction between ourselves and our enemies" falls on enemies who are blind to morals. "Once the president declares victory over our enemies, what will we be other than victorious?" Is Turley joking? We will be alive! Losing that moral distinction is temporary. Death is permanent.

Dolores Lazar

Los Angeles

So those in the Justice Department have now decided that they can broadcast their "case" against Padilla around the world, but affording him a trial would endanger national security. Is it truly national security or their own pride they are defending? After all, a decent defense attorney might point out that government intelligence is sometimes wrong. Consider those missing weapons of mass destruction and the botched arrest of the Oregon lawyer.

Padilla may be guilty, or he may not be, but we will never know as long as Star Chamber tactics are used to lock him away. There is a word for governments that lock up their citizens on the say-so of one all-powerful leader, and it isn't "democratic."

Lee Aydelotte

Huntington Beach

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