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Two days after he announced he was leaving the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, Judge J. Michael Luttig said he was exhausted, surprised, and angered by some of the press coverage he received. So angry, in fact, that he called Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to make it abundantly clear that his on-the-bench objections to the Justice Department’s handling of the Jose Padilla case played no role in his resignation. “The Padilla case had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision to leave the court — nothing at all,” Luttig told Legal Times on May 12. In December, after the government transferred Padilla, a U.S. citizen with alleged terrorist ties, from military to civilian custody, Luttig opined that the move cast doubt on the credibility of the government’s claim that he was a terrorist threat. The Wall Street Journal, which had an article on the Padilla case in the works for weeks, grafted it into the resignation news, reporting that the clash between Luttig and the government over Padilla “culminated” in his resignation. But the article’s lead author, Jess Bravin, says that neither that word nor the rest of the piece connotes a cause-and-effect relationship. “Judge Luttig says that was not the reason he resigned, and our story doesn’t say it was, either,” says Bravin. Luttig, who is taking the job of senior vice president and general counsel at the Boeing Co., said, “This is a decision about my life and my family, not about a case.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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