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Two Americans challenge the administration's contention that the president's commander-in-chief powers give him authority to declare U.S. citizens "enemy combatants" and hold them in military custody without free access to lawyers or the courts, through which they could challenge the allegations made against them that lead to their detentions.

  • A ruling for the administration would allow the military to hold not only Jose Padilla and Yasir Hamdi but to declare additional U.S. citizens enemy combatants and hold them indefinitely, with only minimal oversight from the courts.
  • A ruling against the administration, even on narrow grounds, would likely give combatants the right to contest the evidence used against them and could restrict the administration's ability to declare other citizens enemy combatants. Because Padilla won in a lower court, the military could be forced to release him, in which case he would likely be immediately arrested by the FBI to face criminal charges. The administration might also ask Congress to explicitly give the president the power to declare citizens enemy combatants.