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Will Padilla's case be heard?

The Justice Department says a victory by the convicted terrorist would harm national security.

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Convicted Al Qaeda conspirator José Padilla is fighting to get his day in court.

The man once accused of plotting to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb" in the US is pressing for a full judicial examination of some of the most controversial aspects of the Bush administration's war on terror.

Lawyers working on Mr. Padilla's behalf have filed a 43-page civil lawsuit seeking to hold former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others responsible for the years Padilla spent in an isolation cell in the Charleston, S.C., naval brig while being held without charge as an enemy combatant.

Padilla, a US citizen, wants a judge to declare that what happened to him during the Bush administration was illegal and unconstitutional.

At a hearing in Charleston on Thursday, Justice Department lawyers will ask a federal magistrate judge to dismiss the complaint, including all allegations of constitutional violations.

The stakes are too high to allow such litigation to proceed, they argue in their brief to the court. A Padilla victory "would strike at the core functions of the political branches, impacting military discipline, aiding our enemies, and making the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attack," the government's brief says.


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