It appears to be crumbling. Money quote:
After he was arrested in 2002, Jose Padilla was considered so dangerous that he was held without charges in a military prison for more than three years - accused first of plotting a radiological "dirty bomb" attack and later of conspiring with al-Qaeda to blow up apartment buildings with natural gas.
But now, nearly a year after his abrupt transfer into a regular criminal court, the Justice Department's prosecution of the former Chicago gang member is running into trouble.
A Republican-appointed federal judge in Miami has already dumped the most serious conspiracy count against Padilla, removing for now the possibility of a life sentence. The same judge has also disparaged the government's case as "light on facts," while defense lawyers have made detailed allegations that Padilla was illegally tortured, threatened and perhaps even drugged during his detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina.
The Justice Department denied the allegations of torture last week and is pursuing an appeal of the conspiracy ruling in hopes that the charge will be reinstated.
So an American citizen, detained without due process for three years, accused of terribly serious crimes, and allegedly tortured, may not be found guilty, after all. And people wonder why many of us have concerns about the way the Bush administration has handled military detainees.
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