Padilla Lawyers Link Case to Wiretapping Probe

Lawyers for "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla have filed a brief with the Supreme Court urging it to take Padilla's case, linking it to the National Security Agency wiretapping controversy.

The brief, filed yesterday, uses strong language against the government for its treatment of Padilla, who was arrested as an "enemy combatant" in June 2002 and indicted by a federal grand jury last month.

"The government continues to defend this sweeping view of the president's power to substitute military rule for the rule of law," the brief states, "and seeks now to expand it further, arguing that the very authorities that it says justify the indefinite detention without charge of citizens also justify widespread spying on citizens without judiciary warrant or congressional notification."

The filing further states: "The government's most recent move is only the latest in a series of strategic maneuvers calculated to insulate its treatment of detainees in the 'war on terror' from judicial review. The government has now changed its story about Padilla for the fourth time in three years."

The filing comes a week after a federal appeals court refused a Bush administration request to transfer Padilla from military to civilian custody to stand trial on terrorism charges. The Dec. 21 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that the judges were concerned about the appearance that the Justice Department was trying to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing an earlier ruling from the Fourth Circuit that Bush has the authority to detain Padilla, an American citizen, indefinitely without trial as an enemy combatant.

The New York Times reported today that other defense lawyers in terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine if the NSA illegally used wiretaps to gather evidence against Muslim men with ties to al Qaeda.

The indictment naming Padilla and four others was unsealed in November after it was returned by a federal grand jury in Miami. While the charges allege Padilla was part of a U.S.-based terrorism conspiracy, they do not include the government's earlier allegations that he planned to carry out attacks in America.

"The indictment alleges that Padilla traveled overseas to train as a terrorist with the intention of fighting a violent jihad," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference. Gonzales declined to comment on why none of the allegations involving attacks in America were included in the indictment.

Padilla, a Brooklyn-born Muslim convert, had been held as an enemy combatant in Defense Department custody. The Bush administration had resisted calls to charge and try him in civilian courts.

ABC News' Ariane DeVogue contributed to this report.

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