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Bush Promises to Strengthen Homeland Security; Is White House Setting A Dangerous Legal Precedent in Padilla Case?; Does Tom Ridge Expect to be Head of Homeland Security Department

Aired June 11, 2002 - 16:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. President Bush is promising his plan to strengthen homeland security will help keep the heartland safer.

(AUDIO GAP)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: ... traveling with the president here in Kansas City. I'll talk about the political strategy behind his trip.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. Did the president overreach legally when he signed off on holding dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant?

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, an interview with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Is he expecting a promotion to the cabinet?

Thank you for joining us. As you saw live on CNN just a short while ago, President Bush has been reminding people in Missouri that they, too, are vulnerable to terror attacks, and that his administration is working hard to protect them.

Our new White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is with the president in Kansas City. Hello, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Hello, Judy. That's right. Actually, the president was focusing on pushing forward this homeland security agenda here, saying that he wants the department to be underway. It's really a very ambitious plan. We're talking about putting it into motion by January 1, the beginning of the new year.

Really focusing not only on pushing Congress, but also taking his case to the American people, on the road. Saying this is about the water that we drink, the air that we breathe. Even talking about border security, saying that the most important part of the president's agenda at this time is America's security. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to know who's coming in, and why they're not going out. We need to know what they're here for and how long they say they're going to be here for. And that requires a management plan and focus, and technology. And I'll be honest with you. We've got a long way to go to make sure that they -- what they call the INS is working the way we want it to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Now, Judy, the president got some good news today after meeting with congressional leaders, that they hope to actually approve of this plan by September 11, the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. It is really on a fast track, at a dizzying pace, but it looks like he does have some support -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Suzanne, politically, what does the president need to accomplish on trips like this one?

MALVEAUX: Well, he really needs to convince the American people that there are a number of elements of his department. That he needs to push Congress to make sure that they approve of this.

One of the things that he actually talked about was the water treatment program. Is that, in fact, if you have these type of threats, that it's really important to have it within one agency, an agency that can actually identify the threats, analyze the information, make recommendations, and then also act on those particular threats.

That this is really going to cut down on a lot of the bureaucracy, the delays, the confusion, because this is one of the major criticisms of the administration, is that they're looking at this mammoth agency. How are they going to put more than a hundred of these agencies together? How are they going to manage 170,000 employees? This is something that a lot of people are asking questions about.

Why it is that we're here at the Kansas City water treatment plant, this is one of the model programs. This is a place where local officials and state officials are working with the federal government. They've also received funds from the EPA of some $53 million, for water treatment plants like this one.

So it really is an example the president is hoping to highlight, this type of facility. And also, pushing for -- that this homeland security department would be able to work with local and state officials.

WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, traveling with President Bush. Thanks very much.

And now, to look a little more at what the president had to say today, joining us, our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. And also Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Jeff, why is it necessary for the president to go out on the road to talk about all this? JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, the belief in this White House, and I guess in the ones before, that when you leave Washington -- you go out into the great heartland for once -- and you get live coverage on all the cable news networks. And you get more coverage, and you link the president directly to the people.

Because, I must say to you, Judy, that this very briefly -- the slogan you saw behind the president, "Protecting the Homeland," is a very powerful message. I have some skepticism ever about whether reorganize the government really resonates in the hearts and minds of America.

So to convince the public that this is a major step forward to protecting them, I think it fights -- it's kind of counterintuitive to what Americans often believe. And that's a selling job that they believe the president can accomplish best outside of Washington.

WOODRUFF: How do they bridge that gap, Ron?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I think they have a receptive audience, in the sense that terrorism has reasserted itself in polling in last few weeks as the top problem that the public wants Washington to focus on.

Judy, this is a big change from earlier this year. When the conflict in Afghanistan wound down, we saw other domestic issues, like the economy, even education in some polls, move past terrorism. And many Democrats, even some Republicans, thought that those concerns would be the primary issues they would be talking about by this point of the year, and certainly by the fall election.

But what we're seeing is the capacity of the White House -- through the president's schedule, through his speeches, through proposals and the sort of the impetus of events, like the arrest on Monday -- has enormous capacity to force this back in the public eye.

That has important political implications. It eclipses some of those other domestic issues the Democrats want to talk about. It also keeps the focus on an area where Republicans are very strong, and that is the lead they have in polls on defending the homeland and national security.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron and Jeff, thank you both. We appreciate it.

We want to move now to a courtroom where there has been a hearing involving the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid. CNN's Susan Candiotti is there. This is in Boston.

Susan, you want to bring us up to date on what was being discussed there?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy.

The key today -- and this is slated to be a two-to-possibly- three-day hearing -- is because of a defense motion to try to get certain statements that alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid made after he was arrested. They want those statements to the FBI thrown out. Of course, these statements would be very critical for the prosecution team. To the defense, they could be very damaging for the alleged shoe bomber. So, that is what this hearing was all about.

Now, what was most intriguing about the hearing today, which went on for just a couple of hours, was, No. 1, getting an opportunity to see Richard Reid in court. Gone is the long ponytail. He has short hair now. He was wearing a standard prison jumpsuit with short sleeves and not sneakers on his feet, but slip-on canvas shoes.

Again, what was different about this hearing was that, for the very first time, we had an opportunity to hear courtroom testimony from one of the Miami-based flight attendants for American Airlines who was on board American Airlines Flight 63. And she described some of those very terrifying moments aboard the plane.

Judy, can you still hear me?

WOODRUFF: Yes, I can.

CANDIOTTI: We seem to have a little break-up here. Great.

WOODRUFF: Yes, go ahead, Susan.

CANDIOTTI: If I may continue, this flight attendant by the name of Carole Nelson talked about how, all of the sudden, she heard screaming on board the flight, yelling from one of the flight attendants that the other attendant had been bitten.

She went running down, climbing over seats, she said, to get to the coach section, where Richard Reid was sitting. She saw him struggling and fighting. She said that -- quote -- "He had wild eyes. He was like a wild animal." And she said that he looked at her several times with what she called an attacking glare.

She said, at one point she did agree to bring water to him after he had been given two shots, sedated by some doctors who were speaking French and who were aboard the flight, one of those shots being Valium. She said it calmed him down a little bit, but that when she gave him a plastic glass of water, he leaned forward. And, after the third sip, on the fourth time, she said, he appeared to lunge at her and grabbed the glass inside his mouth.

Finally, she said, she spoke with one of the passengers who was guarding him before everyone left the plane. The passenger told this flight attendant that he asked Richard Reid, "Man, what were you trying to do aboard this flight?"

And according to the passenger, Reid's response was -- quote -- "It is written. Wait and see."

Now, again, the whole idea behind this hearing is the attempt by the defense to suppress these statements that he made. And this argument will go on for a couple of days. And the judge ultimately will probably, we are told, make a written decision about this somewhere down the road.

The trial, Judy, is scheduled for November -- back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Susan Candiotti outside that courthouse in Boston with that hearing with regard to statements that will be allowed made by Richard Reid.

Now, separately from that, in New York today, the lawyer for the so-called dirty-bomb suspect, Jose Padilla, urged a federal court there to release her client, saying that his military custody is a -- quote -- "constitutional concern." The judge said that he would consider the motion, but it is not clear if the court now has any jurisdiction in the case.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick spoke with Padilla's lawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawyer Donna Newman last client Jose Padilla Friday. He was at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center in 23-hour lockup, she says, on a maximum-security floor used for suspected terrorists.

Padilla, who goes by the name of Abdullah al Muhajir, was held for a month on a material-witness warrant, the Justice Department never filing formal charges.

DONNA NEWMAN, ATTORNEY FOR JOSE PADILLA: My client was not a prisoner. And any movement was with what we call the three-piece suit, which includes the wrist irons, the leg irons, and the belt with the shackle.

FEYERICK: Shortly after their meeting, without her knowledge, Newman says, Padilla was moved to a military brig in South Carolina. He was no longer a material witness, but what the government calls an enemy combatant, the attorney general accusing Padilla of scoping out targets where a radioactive bomb could potentially be set off.

NEWMAN: My client is a citizen. Nothing has changed with respect to that. The last time I looked at the Constitution, he still had constitutional rights.

FEYERICK: Padilla's lawyer disputes the government's claims that Padilla had been uncooperative. She criticizes the attorney general for publicly accusing Padilla of a crime without filing any formal charges.

NEWMAN: Because I think it is necessary that Mr. Padilla's voice be heard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: The original information on Padilla comes from a top al Qaeda leader, a man by the name of Abu Zubaydah. He is in U.S. custody. He never named names. But, according to sources, he did give intelligence agents enough information so that they were able to piece it together and track Padilla down.

Now, the lawyer says she is troubled that the government would actually use information from Zubaydah. She says that his reliability and creditability are questionable. Now, the charges, the criminal charges would have had to have been filed against Padilla today. That was the deadline. Instead, he is now being held by the U.S. military. And he can be held indefinitely -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Deborah Feyerick reporting from New York -- thanks, Deborah.

We are going to take a break. When we come back, I'll be talking with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Now, with us from Kansas City, Missouri, where we just heard President Bush speaking, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

Governor Ridge, first of all, some comments today, hearings on the Hill about the proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security. Leading Republican in the House, Dick Armey, among others, said that there are "concerns" -- and I'm quoting him -- "that the president's plan does not involve the full participation of the FBI and the CIA." What do you say to those lawmakers who have that real concern?

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: I would say to my former colleague Dick Armey -- and the Republicans and Democrats who, like Dick Armey, I believe, are ultimately going to be very, very supportive of the president's initiative -- that we do have a proposed Department of Homeland Security

A very critical element in the new department has to do with the creation of one place, under one roof, where we fuse the information from the CIA and from the FBI and from the NSA and from the drug enforcement agency and Coast Guard and Customs and INS. And I would hope that we could move ahead very aggressively on the president's proposal. And if there were to be other reforms or any other ideas that were dealing with the CIA and the FBI, that that could be done at a later time.

Having said that, we will work with the members of Congress in both parties to try to address their legitimate concerns about information gathering and information fusion and information sharing.

WOODRUFF: So when he says, "We may have to" -- meaning Congress -- "may have to pull the FBI and the CIA more fully into the new department than was proposed," is that a possibility?

RIDGE: Well, I think, when I go to the Hill tomorrow, I'm going to spend some time tomorrow with the members of the House of Representatives. And on Thursday, I'm going to go up and brief the members of the Senate. And then in due time, I'm going up there to testify in both chambers.

And point in fact is that this new agency would be a customer of the CIA.

RIDGE: The new agency would be a customer of the FBI. We want them to do their work internationally, that is the CIA. We want the law enforcement work done under the reorganization plan of Bob Mueller to be done domestically. So we would ourselves -- we would see this new department as a customer of those two entities.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about some reaction yesterday after a number of congressional aides were briefed at the White House. A number of them afterwards zeroed in on the fact that there will be no new funding in the coming fiscal year for this new department. You're talking about the second biggest department in the federal government, something like 160,000, 170,000 employees, but no new money for it.

RIDGE: Well, the $37 billion, which is the figure associated with the new consolidation -- the new reorganization will be found in the 2003 budget that will be considered at a later date this year by the Congress of the United States. And I think with the appropriate budget amendment, once they determine the size and the scope of the new Department of Homeland Security, there certainly will be a means to fund that department.

So I think technically they are right, but also there is a technical way to deal with it once the new department is created.

The $37 billion is based upon recommendations, many of which the president has put in his 2003 budget.

RIDGE: So I think, again, technically they're right, particularly if the new department is organized and is enacted and told to begin work on January 1 of 2003 and the new budget wouldn't take effect until six months later. But that can be amended and we can take care of that.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying that that can be dealt with, that a budget can be put together before then. I don't want to get hung up on that.

I want to ask you about just one comment, Senator Lieberman yesterday saying that federal employee unions' concern that parts of this plan could undermine collective bargaining. I mean, just in a few words, what do you say to that?

RIDGE: I say as a former governor that had to deal with many, many unions, I can understand their concerns. There are multiple unions involved. We want to understand and appreciate the importance of the collective bargaining rights that they have earned, and it'll be our intention to bring the union leaders in in the next several days to just begin the discussion with them in furtherance of our mutual goal, and that is to enhance the security of this country, to protect our way of life, to protect our fellow citizens. And I'm confident that once the leaders of these unions understand the mission, patriots all, they can join in with us.

And I do appreciate and understand that we need to protect collective bargaining rights, and I agree. I had a conversation about that very issue today with Senator Lieberman himself.

WOODRUFF: Governor, yesterday on "Inside Politics" Bob Novak, the syndicated columnist, I know you know him...

RIDGE: Sure do.

WOODRUFF: ... said that he has been talking to people inside the White House. And with all due respect to you, he says a number of the people he's talking to don't believe you're the right man for the job to be the secretary of this new department.

WOODRUFF: Is that a job you want?

RIDGE: Well, I do know Bob, and I did read about the comments. And right now, the president has directed me, and the Office of Homeland Security that we've put together as a result of his presidential directive, to focus on two primary missions.

And the first mission is the day-to-day business that we were tasked with on October 8. And that is to do everything we can to coordinate activity to ensure that we are safer and better protected every single day.

And the second task -- the second very important task, is to work with the congressional leadership, to match their leadership with the president's leadership, in order to create a new Department of Homeland Security. In time, there will be an answer...

WOODRUFF: So, do you want the job?

RIDGE: And in time, there will be an answer. And right now, my job is to focus on the two jobs the president has already given me.

WOODRUFF: All right. And finally, Governor Ridge, you said in an interview recently that July 4th may represent an opportunity for people wanting to do great harm to this country. A lot of people gathering together to celebrate Independence Day. Do you have -- is there information out there about potential attacks, or any sort of threat on July 4th?

RIDGE: Well, we've heard -- first of all, we know that targeting symbols was very much at the heart of the horrific events of 9/11. And there aren't too many more significant days in this country's history than July 4th. So, all things being equal, the symbolism associated with that day -- and of course, we've heard, and the press has reported, some rumblings about the potential activity on July 4th. But we haven't seen or heard anything with any kind of specificity, or any direction that would cause us to change the status that we presently have the country on.

From New York to California, we are at an elevated level of risk, and there's nothing for us today to change that for July 4th.

WOODRUFF: But if you did get that kind of specific information, we assume you will...

RIDGE: We would certainly share it.

And again, that's one of the most significant challenges of this country dealing with the new threat of the 21st century, the notion that there would be those who value death, and we value life, which gives them a strategic advantage, and that they would target citizens in -- defending of our country for 200-plus years, we've never done that in war. So it's a non-traditional war. The enemy really are shadow soldiers. They hide behind the very diversity that makes America strong. And clearly, July 4th is a very important, symbolic date to us.

But if there is specific information, well, obviously, we're going to share it with the responsible parties. But to date, there's no reason for us to do anything other than to follow the president's admonition, be alert, be aware. We are in an elevated level of risk. We know there are Al Qaeda operatives around the world. And presumably, I think we have to say that there are unquestionably some in this country.

WOODRUFF: Well, we hear you.

The director of the president's Office of Homeland Security, Governor Tom Ridge.

Governor Ridge, thank you very much.

RIDGE: Nice to join you. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. Thank you.

Question: Is the president's push for a Homeland Security Department a political stunt, as some critics suggest? Up next: Mr. Bush's plans and his motives in the crossfire with Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University: Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

Gentlemen, I was going to ask you about this notion that the White House is not asking for funding for at least another year for this new Department of Homeland Security. But when I just asked Tom Ridge about this, he said: "Well, that's a matter that's open for negotiation. Maybe we'll -- we've got some wiggle room there."

What do you think is going on, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, it's a little early, I think, for Democrats to start criticizing this new plan and its funding.

I mean, already you're seeing them go out on tangents. Senator Lieberman earlier today said that he was worried that federal employees might have less leverage in their salary negotiations if all these different departments are consolidated into one. I think the Bush administration can say fairly plausibly: "Look, you called for massive reforms. Here's a massive reform. Let's figure out how exactly we're going to do this before we start arguing about the money."

WOODRUFF: Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Judy, the truth is -- and it is a tragic truth -- al Qaeda has plenty of funding. We need more funding for defense than they need for offense. I don't think it's a stretch for the president to tell the American people the truth. We have to do more to protect our homeland. I think it's a terrific idea. He came to it belatedly, but I salute him for coming to this idea of consolidating these departments.

I'm surprised the right wing is already attacking Tom Ridge, who seems to be a very able guy who was never given the tools. He hasn't still been given the tools yet. And I think they ought to give him a chance. And they also ought to give him the funding he needs. I thought, in the interview with you, he was hinting that he hasn't given up the fight yet, that he is going to try to get the money we need to defend this country.

WOODRUFF: Well, and, Tucker, in the same vein, they're saying it is now going to be several more weeks, probably early July, before they can get the details of the new department up to the Hill. Given that, this whole timetable is being pushed back, is it not?

CARLSON: Look, it is enormously complicated taking all these different groups and putting them into one.

And it's hard -- I mean, one of the reasons this was done in such incredibly strict secrecy in a bunker beneath the White House is because there's such natural resistance from bureaucrats who will lose their power in the consolidation. So, I think it is natural that it takes a long time.

And, to Paul's point, I don't know what right-wingers he has been having lunch with, but I think Tom Ridge has gotten a pass, correctly, from virtually everyone on the assumption, A, that the public isn't fully aware of what he's actually doing, and, B, that it's a really difficult fight and has been from day one. Bush, by the way, in virtually every speech he gives, says again and again and again: "We need to spend a huge amount of money fighting terrorism. And we will."

WOODRUFF: But I think, Paul, you were maybe referring to what Bob Novak said on the show yesterday, which I cited to Governor Ridge. And that is that he's hearing at the White House there's not universal support for Ridge moving on to head up this agency.

BEGALA: Right. And Bob -- I don't have a lot of lunches with Bob, I have to say, because he makes me pay.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But he certainly has a lot of lunches with his White House sources. He's very plugged into that right-wing machine over that at the Bush White House. And he picks up these vibes.

And I think it's unfair -- I have to say -- again, I'm a Democrat. Tom Ridge is a Republican. But he has got to at least be given a chance to do the job. And, again, he needs the funding. I like the fact that he's taken his case to you and to the voters through I.P. and CNN to say that he needs the funding. And I think that was a very public declaration of independence from Ridge. And I like seeing it.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, I want to ask both of you about the two Nevada senators, Ensign and Reid, arguing in the wake of this dirty- bomb, the arrest of the suspected terrorist planning to use a dirty bomb. They're now saying this supports their position that transporting nuclear waste from different sites across the country is one more argument that nuclear waste should not go at Yucca Mountain -- Tucker.

CARLSON: It is just exactly the opposite.

Both of them have to say this. We have Senator Ensign, in fact, on "CROSSFIRE" tonight to debate this very topic. But they're required, really, to say this, because they're, of course, representing Nevada. But Yucca Mountain is exactly the answer to terrorist threats. This material is stored at 39 different states, 131 sites, all of it relatively vulnerable to terrorism. Get it in one central site. That is obviously the answer, Yucca Mountain.

WOODRUFF: Paul?

BEGALA: Well, in fact, we're going to put these on trucks and trains, this high-level radioactive waste. And they're going to be rolling nukes and rolling targets for al Qaeda. We're going to have 100,000 shipments, 100,000. They will go within a mile of one out of seven Americans; 50 million of us are going to be within one mile of one of these shipments almost around the clock for the next 38 years. It's nuts. It's unsafe. It's unsound. It's unscientific.

And we'll debate this tonight. John Ensign is coming on, a Republican, who has actually seen the light on this. And, well, actually, John Sununu, our former host here, is going to come on and defend the indefensible from the nuclear industry, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll be watching at 7:00.

Thank you both. Great to see you. Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala, great to see you. Thanks.

BEGALA: Thanks, Judy.

CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily": California Governor Gray Davis has unleashed his first negative ad against Republican challenger Bill Simon. The ad blames Simon for the 1993 failure of a Savings & Loan where he served as a director. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DAVIS CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Simon's mismanagement cost depositors millions. And the bailout for his mistakes cost taxpayers $90 million more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Bill Simon denies any role in the S&L failure. He says the governor is trying to distract voters from his own problems.

As primary voters head to the polls today in Maine, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Dakota, one of the most interesting races is in Maine's 2nd Congressional District. In terms of geography, the district is the largest east of the Mississippi. And a crowd has gathered to try to represent the area in Congress. Six Democrats and four Republicans are running for the open seat, hoping to replace Democrat John Baldacci, who is running for governor.

North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles tells "The Raleigh News & Observer" that he is going to keep wearing his trademark eyeglasses. Some advisers apparently think the glasses should go. Bowles, however, calls them his -- quote -- 'Harry Potter' glasses." There is no political sorcery involved. He says he just wouldn't be himself if he quit wearing them.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" will be around in few moments.

Wolf, what's coming up?

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Thanks, Judy.

There may be a break in the search for that missing 14-year-old in Utah. I'll speak live with a Salt Lake City police chief and get the latest. Also, much of Colorado is on fire. We'll get a helicopter tour of the devastation. And Joe diGenova and Roy Black will debate the dirty-bomb suspect's legal rights.

It is all coming up right at the top of the hour -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, we'll look forward to that. Thanks.

Well, our Bill Schneider is here now with more on the controversy over the way Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty-bomb suspect, is being treated -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, consider two Americans who have been caught collaborating with the enemy. John Walker Lindh is going on trial. Jose Padilla is being held in detention as an enemy combatant. What's the difference? Quick. Get a lawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Part of the controversy here is whether the president can essentially look at a bunch of defendants and say: "All right, you're going to go to federal court. You're going to go to Cuba. And you, in this case, are going to sit in a Navy brig, possibly indefinitely."

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The administration claims Jose Padilla has forfeited his constitutional rights by joining the enemy: no criminal charges, no access to a lawyer.

LARRY THOMPSON, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is being detained under the laws of war as an enemy combatant. There's clear Supreme Court and circuit court authority for such a detention.

SCHNEIDER: The precedents go back to World War II, a 1942 case in which the Supreme Court allowed an American citizen to be tried and executed as a Nazi saboteur, and a 1946 case in which a circuit court allowed the U.S. to hold an American citizen fighting for the Italian army as a prisoner of war. Some legal experts say those precedents are shaky.

TURLEY: These cases have always been viewed as the Supreme Court's darkest hour. And, in fact, some of the justices later expressed regret.

SCHNEIDER: Like the decision allowing the U.S. to hold American citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps. The administration's defense is simple: "We're at war."

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This guy Padilla is a bad guy. And he is where he needs to be: detained.

SCHNEIDER: The argument for holding someone, even an American citizen, as an enemy combatant isn't legal. It's military.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We're not interested in trying him at the moment. We're not interested in punishing him at the moment. We're interested in finding out what in the world he knows.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: So, why is Jose Padilla being held in detention, while John Walker Lindh gets his day in court? Because Padilla has information that the government wants. And, in wartime, that overwhelms the legal issues.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. "WOLF BLITZER" is next. I'm Judy Woodruff.

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