Rules of evidence
The NYT has an Op-ed piece by Ruth Wedgwood supporting the detention of Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant and criticising an Appeals Court decision that he should either be charged or released. Wedgwood doesn’t mention many of the more disturbing aspects of the Padilla case such as the fact that he is being held incommunicado and that the government disclaims any obligation to announce the arrest/disappearance of enemy combatants, even US citizens on US soil.
But what struck me was the central claim that such processes are necessary because
Federal rules of evidence do not permit the consideration of intelligence reports as proof for criminal convictions, no matter how reliable the informant
. Wedgwood doesn’t spell this out, and it seems surprising to me that there exists such a general principle. I’d be interested to hear from anyone better informed regarding the US legal system on this topic.
Supposing this is correct, my immediate reaction is that it would be better to relax the rules of evidence in terrorism cases than to accept indefinite detention without trial. However, I’d be interested to hear the views of others on this.